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90 percent of parity, and that appropriate and proper methods are adopted and enforced to handle our present surplus of commodities.
The CHAIRMAN. I wish to say the committee was very happy to come to North Carolina, and we are glad to have been able to at least give a chance to all those who came to be heard, and we hope from what we obtained from you and others we will be helped in preparing a suitable bill for enactment next January.
Mr. Cooley. I want to say for the people of my district, and I think generally for the people of North Carolina, that we are grateful to you and members of your committee for having provided this forum in which our farmers and farmers from adjoining States could come and present their views directly to men who are dealing daily with their problems. I think it has been a very constructive hearing and I am sure that members of the committee will profit by the information which has been given here.
Most of all, I want to commend you publicly here in my district and in this tobacco growing area for something you did and have perhaps forgotten long ago. I want to say that it was Senator Ellender of Louisiana who engaged in a terrific debate on the floor of the Senate and, as a result of his efforts, largely through his efforts, our tobacco program was actually saved when 2 North Carolina Senators were trying to insert into the tobacco program a 15-acre minimum allotment which all of us knew would be disastrous. Senator Ellender, I remember, engaged in a debate with the North Carolina Senators and I conclude he knew more about the tobacco farmers' problem than the North Carolina Senators at that time knew.
I want to add they were not the two North Carolina Senators who are in Congress now.
Senator SCOTT. We have two good ones now.
The CHAIRMAN. I remember the occasion.
We will stand in recess now until we meet in Montpelier, Vt., on Friday next.
(Whereupon, at 5:45 p. m., the hearing was recessed, to reconvene at 9 a. m. Friday, November 18, 1955, in Montpelier, Va.)
(Additional statements filed for the record are as follows:)
STATEMENT FILED BY T. W. ALLEN, CHAIRMAN, TOBACCO COMMITTEE, North Caro
LINA STATE GRANGE, RALEIGH, N. C. I am T. W. Allen, chairman of the tobacco committee of the North Carolina State Grange.
It is needless for me to say that the tobacco farmers of North Carolina are in favor of the tobacco program as it is now constituted. They have proven this by voting almost unanimously in several referendums. Of course, we all recognize that changing conditions will automatically make minor changes necessary.
Under the program, we have kept supply in line with consumption, and never in the history of the program has there been a scarcity of tobaccol. We admit that unusually favorable weather conditions the past year have created a surplus at the present time. Therefore, we recommend that the 1956 crop be reduced to the extent that this surplus will be gradually disposed of.
The cost of production has increased to the extent that there is practically no profit in the production of tobacco. It is, therefore, evident that anything less than the support price of 90 percent of parity would be disastrous.
We commend this committee for their interest in agriculture and for their efforts in trying to determine the wishes of the farmer, and I wholeheartedly urge you to continue the tobacco program on the same basis that it is now constituted.
STATEMENT FILED BY W. S. ADKIBSON, JR., CLOVER, VA. I am W. S. Adkisson, Jr., of Clover, Halifax County, Va., and I am appearing in behalf of the Halifax County Farm Bureau. On October 28, 1955, at a membership meeting for the purpose of adopting resolutions the following resolution was adopted: We believe that the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1954, as amended, together with the soil fertility bank plan offers the best solution to the problem of farm surpluses.
Our reasoning is that the key to the farm trouble is to find more, better, and faster methods of unloading surpluses rather than building more and more surpluses by going back to 90 percent of parity. Estimates are that except for market depressing surpluses, the consumption of United States farm products in 1955 will be only 1 percent less than production. Under the soil fertility bank plan as proposed the Government will rent part of each farm and retire the rented acres from production. These diverted acres are to be planted to grasses and soilbuilding plants such as clover and alfalfa,
STATEMENT FILED BY 0. A. CARSON, Galax, VA. I am a farmer from the mountains of southwest Virginia, and I would like to express my gratitude for the opportunity of appearing before you at this hearing.
We all realize the serious condition of the Nation's agricultural economy and hope and pray that a just and workable solution may be found. We certainly do not want the passage of unsound legislation for the sake of importunity.
Many farmers in Virginia feel that high, rigid supports have only aggravated the situation and has worked to the detriment of the average American farmer. Being a producer of livestock, I am certain that high, rigid supports have hurt rather than helped me. They have increased the cost of feed and other items which I have to purchase and has helped to hold back the consumption of the product which I produce. As you of course know, it was under this system of high, rigid supports that huge surpluses of farm commodities were built, up. Surely, we have had enough of this.
While flexible supports are far superior to rigid supports in that they will eventually lower our surpluses, I feel that they are not the ultimate answer but are only a stopgap measure. I would like to recommend that a thorough study be made of the farm program advocated by the Potato and Vegetable Growers Association, which is based on the principle of a land fertility bank. While I dislike subsidies and controls, it seems more practical to me to pay a farmer not to produce than it does to pay him for a product which he has produced but which is not wanted or needed. This method at least eliminates the cost of production, transportation, and storage while maintaining or increasing the fertility of the soil.
It is regrettable that so many man-hours have been expended by our leaders in wrangling over the merits of one method of price supports over another when they could have been used to explore for the fair, just, and honorable methods to expand our markets, particularly our foreign markets, which we have lost to such a great extent. Consumption of our efficient productivity is the true answer to a prosperous agriculture.
Again I think you for this opportunity of being heard and trust that some real good for the American people, and most particularly the average American farmer, will come from these hearings which you gentlemen have been holding.
STATEMENT FILED BY P. C. CONNER, ELK CREEK, VA. As a farmer I wish to make a statement regarding the present agricultural situation. I believe that my remarks will express the opinion of the majority of the clear-thinking farmers of my home county of Grayson County, Va. It is generally agreed that the conditions of the American farmer are not too good as compared to other segments of our economy. Granted also that there is an upward surge in the sentiment of the farm population that some legislative action be taken to alleviate these conditions it is hoped that you will not support a program which might be a rapid or temporary panacea at the risk of developing a program which would be economically unsound over a long period. In this connection I wish to make it clear that I do not favor a return to the high rigid
support system for agricultural products—a system which insures the farmer a high price for a product for which there is already a surplus and will increase further the present surplus. The Government cannot justifiably continue indefinitely to pay the farmer to produce a product for which there is no need. I am in full accord with the principle of the flexible price-support system now in effect except that full cross compliance should have been included. However, I realize that it alone will not solve the problem. In addition to the flexible support system I should like to support the basic principle of the program! suggested by the United States potato and vegetable growers to reduce overproduction of agricultural commodities by an overall reduction in commercial crop acreages, observing the principle of complete cross compliance which prevents one segment of agricultural from benefiting at the expense of the other, and the establishment of a national soil fertilization stockpile. We have already the facilities and personnel in the State and county ASC committees set up to operate such a program.
I respectfully urge that you give your fullest consideration to the basic principles of the above plan.
STATEMENT FILED BY J. E. DODSON, CHULA, VA. We are considering America's largest industry-agriculture. In wealth per man-unit the largest user of electricity. The largest user of our railroads, the largest buyer of manufactured metal, and the backbone of American life and stability.
Now drifting as a ship without a rudder, and as sure to destroy the prosperity and economy now enjoyed by our brothers and sisters not in agriculture, as a rudderless ship on a rocky shore with pounding waves.
Today and for the last 2 years farmers are going deeper in debt draining their bank accounts and the fertility of the soil and forest at a more rapid pace to survive the pinch. Many pieces of farm machinery would be replaced this week if the farmers had the price in reserve.
Can we find reason in our minds how anyone can buy on a high market and sell on a sliding-down market and continue in business? I believe the answer is "No." Yet I believe we all can agree that the American farmer is making his purchases in most cases in a much higher market and selling on sliding and fluctuating markets.
I firmly disagree with those who believe a sliding parity payment will stabilize agriculture even with rigid controls. Who could produce a commodity at cost based on 80 or 90 percent of parity and come marketing time, parity payment would be down below cost of production?
Or can we expect a producer or a manufacturer to cut his production below the point of overhead cost? I believe we would come up again with the answer, "No."
A 90 percent of parity and rigid control would be more acceptable and better for the producer. Yet that has a lot of trouble for the producer. Can we find a manufacturer, a merchant, a broker, or anyone who could survive on 90 percent income against 100 percent expenditures?
It has become quite fashionable these days to publish and broadcast the tremendous subsidies being paid agriculture when our Federal Government subsidizes our merchant marine engaged in foreign trade. Likewise manufacturers of many articles, airplane carriers, and others which you gentlemen are aware.
For instance, July 1953 issues of News and Reports, Washington, D. C., Postmaster General Summerfield asked to compare subsidy paid to agriculture with that of second-class mail from July 1, 1933, through June 30, 1953, and he stated: “Agriculture cost for the 20 years was less than $800 million, while second-class mail cost us $2,400 million." Have you seen these figures make headlines? I haven't, but every time the Department of Agriculture releases cost of present support to the farmers, which is too frequent, will make the lieadlines or the front page. This I believe to be unfair because it helps to destroy good will between the producer and the consumer. I do not believe this will help to prevent a failing farm program.
It burns me up when I hear farin organizations and influential people stating that agriculture is being socialized. When there is so much of American business and other functions of Government receiving help from the tax dollar. What is good for Pete, should be good for Tom. If not we fail to back up our form of Government.
Democracy in my way of thinging is simply living and let live-"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." When we won't do that, then it's your duty, gentlemen, to see that Tom is not overrun by Pete.
Now if all the wheatgrowers or all cottongrowers or all tobaccogrowers or potatogrowers or any other farm commodity should go into an agreement to produce any given commodity to meet the consumer demand, it would not work without your help in making laws to block the nonproducer from flooding the market with any of our basic commodities soon as that commodity was showing a return over cost of production. That was the downfall in all past efforts on the part of farmers doing something to improve his conditions. There was no law to stop thousands of nonproducers of a commodity switching to production of that commodity when the return was to his advantage, without taking into consideration his increased production would crowd the market and send the price down. Yes, give us controls with teeth in them is my plea.
During World War I, I was in Europe and there I saw American merchandise sold on a competitive price and, no doubt, it is doing so today. If so, you know how it is being done. I do not; but it is my belief that there is Government support in some way.
With the millions of our brothers and sisters in Christ in need of our surplus farm supplies I ask you to consider very strongly this outlet and see if the need of such a movement for the American farmer and the stability of our America, and the filling of hungry stomachs abroad would not overweigh our State Department's objections to such a move. To me it is a Christian duty and, I am sure it would please God.
May I close by quoting verse 38 of the sixth chapter of Luke, Revised Standard Version:
“Give and it will be given to you; good measure pressed down shaken together running over, will be put into your lap, for the measure you give will be the measure you get back."
STATEMENT FILED BY PAUL D. McKEE, CHILHOWIE, VA. Mr. Chairman, and members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, I am Paul D. McKee, a dairyman and beef cattle producer from the mountains of Virginia. I also produce some 50 to 60 hogs and keep from 125 to 150 head of breeding ewes. I also produce burley tobacco. My entire income is derived from my farming operation and I think that having had experience with both supported commodities and nonsupported that I have some observations that apply to the problem at hand.
I think that I am correct in assuming that support prices were applied during wartime to encourage production and to provide farmers reasonable protection against price collapse and thereby provide for orderly market adjustments.
As a wartime measure this program was justified but since the end of the war period these supports maintained at high rigid levels without regard to supply and demand have caused an accumulation of about $8 billion in surplus commodo ities which is held in Government storehouses. These huge surpluses are wrecking our domestic market and limiting the farmers freedom to manage his own business. We have priced ourselves out of the world market and are presently serving as an umbrella for European goods.
We hear a great deal about price supports at 90 percent of parity as opposed to the present flexible price support of sliding scale. As I see the situation, neither the flexible support price system or 90 percent rigid support prices will entirely remedy the situation. Don't get me wrong, I think that the American farmer is entitled to 100 percent of parity at the market place but he will never achieve this by the Government giving incentive payment to farmers to produce goods for which we have no market.
The fallacy of the control program is that we have controlled acreage but not production. For instance last year the cotton acreage was reduced 12 percent and from reports the production has increased 14 percent. This has been true on all the other supported crops. Tobacco yields per acre hare doubled since support prices went into effect. Better farming methods due to improved machinery, farm research, and better fertilizing methods hare completely nullified the effects of acreage reduction.
The flexible price support program as I see it is designed to act as a brake, We can compare it to a heavily loaded truck on a slick road. If we apply the
brake suddenly we end up in disaster. However, if we apply the brake gradually we have an excellent chance to avoid disaster.
We are told daily that tlexible price supports are not working. As a dairyman, I am convinced that the lowering of price supports was a lifesaver for that industry. The dairy interests were forced to get out and sell milk and milk products. During the past 12 months the Government bought 55 percent less milk and inventories of dairy products dropped 60 percent. We were told at a dairy meeting a few weeks ago that during the month of September not 1 pound of butter went into Government storage under the support program.
What then is the answer to this problem? Frankly, I don't know, but I do know this: A program to be a success must first control production and allow the surplus to move out of storage.
Secondly, it must apply to all segments of the farming industry. Failure to control diverted acres has shifted the problem of surpluses to other commodities. A lot of this acreage goes into feed crops which in turn stimulates the production of livestock, poultry, and dairy products.
Since 1952 there has been a reduction of 23.8 million acres planted to wheat, cotton, and corn as a result of acreage controls. During the same period there has been an increase of 25.9 million acres planted to sorghums, soybeans, barley, oats, and rye. On October 1, 1955, we had 200 million bushels more oats than last year. In sorghum grains the jump was from 11,348,000 bushels to 44,862,000 bushels. Barley, rye, and soybeans also increased tremendously.
On October 1 reports indicate that there were 19 percent more cattle on feed than the same date a year ago. This report coupled with the record number of hogs being marketed indicated to me that the surplus grain and forage crops from the diverted acreage is being marketed through livestock.
The third requirement for a workable program is that it must be acceptable to the public. We cannot continue to hold the support of the general public to a program that holds up prices and creates a burdensome surplus at the same time.
The fourth requirement of this program is that it be based on consumer de. mand. We must create a market for our products. The dairy industry has increased consumption of milk through an organized educational and selling campaign. Other commodity groups are beginning to do the same thing.
The fifth requirement is that we expand our foreign markets to absorb more of our surplus products. This requires that we go in for competitive pricing rather than subsidized dumping of United States farm products.
Sixth, any program worked out should be on a long term basis rather than an emergency program.
There is considerable pressure politically to go back to 90 percent rigid support prices on the basic commodities. This program has put us virtually out of the tobacco business and failed us in the dairy business. I started with 2.2 acres tobacco allotment and am down to 0.6 acre and will be reduced to 0.5 acre next year. In a report coming out of Washington this week, a spokesman for the tobacco branch stated that to get the supply of burley tobacco in line, production should be cut 50 percent next year. Anything less than 1 acre of tobacco is an uneconomical unit so far as I am concerned and I am perfectly willing to donate my 0.5 acre to the cause but I shall resist with everything I have any effort to place high rigid support prices on my cattle, sheep, hogs, and dairy products.
Back in the mountains of Virginia we produce a brew known as moonshine. It has been known to produce a hangover and the favorite remedy of our mountain people for a hangover was known as “the hair of the dog that bit you."
Of course, this cured the “hangover” for that day and even though it produced a bigger and better “hangover” the next day, it was no cause for worry. The same remedy could be used over and over.
This seems to be the same kind of thinking that the people who are advocating going back to 90 percent rigid support prices are using.
In conclusion, I should like to quote from Genesis 2.5: verses 29–34. "Once when Jacob was eating pottage, Esau came in from the field and was famished and Esau said to Jacob. “Let me eat some of that red pottage, for I am famished.' Jacob said, 'First sell me your birthright. Esau said 'I am about to die, of what use is a birthright to me.' Jacob said, 'Swear to me first.' So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentils, and he ate and drank, and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despiser his birthright."
I recommend that every farmer in this Yation give this passage of scripture his careful consideration.