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an investment of $35,000 or more and a labor day of 15 hours makes for himself. The only man who could operate under these conditions is the family farmer, and he can't because his boys won't stay with him. They go away to earn these high wages and his girls won't either. One of our former dairy helpers with four little children is staying home and keeping house while his young wife earns $35 or $50 per week in a factory selling most of its products to the Government. These conditions I know and know too well for we operate the oldest dairy farm on Kanawha River, for 50 years in continuous operation, and I am going to tell you gentlemen something you may not believe. I have been in the dairy barn practically every morning and evening for 4 months feeding our cows because I had no one who knew the cows and their production, and the only reason I can be here today is that one of our old men is there in my place.
III. Surely the Congress can do something to see that these Federal educational agencies such as vocational agriculture, vocational rehabilitation, and the Agriculture Extension Service train unemployed men and women for dairy work.
Two years ago, I wrote our West Virginia Congressman, Mr. Byrd, who represents the coal-mining counties of Kana wha, Fayette, Raleigh, etc., of the need of training unemployed coal miners with a farm background for dairy work. They are used to rising early and have mechanical ability and most of them have a farm background. Neither Mr. Byrd nor myself was successful in getting any cooperation.
The farmers in the Southwest can get Mexican help but we have no help. We are penalized because we don't plant our quotas of wheat but our help with mechanical ability is hired away from us and we have no one to sow our wheat or sudan grass so our milk base goes down.
IV. The milk base as set on pounds of milk is unfair to the dairy farmer under present labor conditions. Now I am going to ask you to ask the United States Department of Agriculture to ask the Agricultural Economics Division to make a study of this and find out if I am not right.
The dairy farmer's price of milk is based on the pounds of milk produced monthly from September to January, or October to February. If he produces 40 gallons per day during these fall and winter months, and 100 gallons per day from April to August, he will receive class I price for only 40 gallons of milk and about $2.50 per hundred for the rest. The base should be set on the average monthly production for the year or, better still, on the number of dairy cows.
The cost of producing milk is based on the cow. It is the cow that you feed, that you breed, that you pay the vet for when she calves, gets mastitis, acetonemia, sterility, sore feet, etc., etc. It is the cow that you house, spray, shear, curry, milk, and care for. The only costs based on pounds of milk are filter discs, milk cans, and refrigeration. Your labor bill is the same for 25 cows as for 50. If the dairymen are encouraged to keep more cows, those low producers can nurse the calves and will help the soil conservation program by keeping acres in pasture, thus preventing erosion, will eat a lot of surplus grain and oil meals, and keep acres out of grain production, thus giving the grain and cotton farmers a better price for their product.
Give the dairyman a break. If any farmers deserve it, he does. He works the longest hours, has the greatest investment, sacrifices the most, and receives the least.
V. The Federal milk orders are administered under the USDA. In some ways they are unfair to the dairy farmer. They operate on a minimum base to be paid to the dairymen and the distributors pay that minimum price.
They figure the cost of milk according to one of several different formulas and usually give 50 percent weighting to the national wholesale and retail indexes.
The railroads, utilities, electric and telephone companies base their prices on true costs plus interest for their bondholders. Our milk prices should be based on our true costs, not on how able the town man is to buy his wife luxuries, fine furniture, and a fur coat-Bossy already has a fur coat. She grew it.
Milk is as much a necessity as drugs, and you know how the drug manufacturer charges.
VI. The price of class B milk for manufactured products was $3.15 last summer but we dairymen only got $2.25 for our surplus milk last summer, and the haul bill and association dues had to come out of that; so we got about 47 percent of parity for our surplus milk last summer. Milk that cost us $6 per hundred to produce. The Milk Control Commissioner of Pennsylvania is paying the dairymen around Pittsburgh $6.05 per hundred for their milk.
VII. When you gentlemen appropriate matching funds for the States for highway construction don't forget the farmer back in the red-clay hills who loses money waiting to get his cattle to market or can't get his milk in on time to catch the through milk trucks on the big highways. Fix it so a certain percent has to be spent for him.
VIII. Our health departments are only interested in sanitation in the summer months. They let other milk produced under lower standards come on in the winter when milk begins to be scarce. The health departments are very hard on the dairymen in June and interfere with his corn plowing, haymaking, etc., thus increasing his costs as much as $1,000 per year, then when milk gets scarce they let class B milk from a long distance come in by tank trucks, and milk adulterated with milk powder, on the market.
This is something our State legislature can do something about. It can make the office of the State health commissioner appointive by the governor and removed at his good judgment, and the dairy farmers can request his retirement at their will. Health inspection of milk should be under the supervision of the USDA.
In conclusion I will quote you from one of my first cousins who is now about 42 years of age and who was born and reared on his parents' dairy farm which same is the oldest shipper to the Valley Bell Dairy in Charleston, W. Va. He says "Any dairyman who says he is making money today is a damn fool or a damn liar, one." Now I will add another, if he isn't a damn fool or a damn liar, he is a damn rascal.
POINT PLEASANT, W. V A., November 5, 1955. Senator HARLEY M. KILGORE,
Senate Office Building: The dairymen of the Kanawha and the Ohio Valley would greatly appreciate a Senate hearing on dairy problems at Marietta or Parkersburg. It is just too far for us to go to Raleigh, N. C., under the present labor situations and we don't know whether we will have anybody to milk the cows. The dairymen from Ohio, l'ennsylvania, West Virginia, and Kentucky haven't had a chance to get their opinions voiced.
ISABELLE C. Wilson, Chairman of the Mason County Farm Bureau Dairy Committee.
STATEMENT FILED BY RAYMOND BALENGER, PRESIDENT, WEST VIRGINIA FARM
BUREAU, BUNKER HILL, W. VA.
The livestock, dairy, and poultry producers of West Virginia are concerned and disturbed with the prospects of the next session of Congress taking action to turn back to the discredited high, mandatory price-support plan for the so-called basic commodities.
Livestock, dairy, and poultry producers in West Virginia represent nearly 95 percent of all farm income in the State. Only about 5 percent of our farmers produce any of the basic commodities, or have received benefits in any form from the high price support and commodity loan program of the Federal Government.
During the last 2 years we have made an honest effort to make the thinking of our West Virginia farmers known to our Representatives in the Congress. We continue to stand on these fundamental beliefs :
1. The high, mandatory, rigid price-support program was written and designed as a wartime incentive plan to encourage farmers to expand the agricultural plant and greatly increase production for wartime needs.
2. At the close of the war, it was evident that an adjustment would have to be made in the inflated agricultural plant, the Congress succumbed to the baseless cries of scared politicians, and failed to pass the needed legislation to make this adjustment the least painful to all concerned.
3. The direct result of continuing the high incentive program after the end of the war has been a constant drop in farm prices and net farm income, halted only by the Korean war months. We emphasize that this drop of some 30 percent in farm income was almost wholly produced while the high, mandatory price-support program was the law of the land.
4. We believe it is foolhardy and disastrous to the country as a whole to return to a program that produced the present problem. We believe the variable price. support program should be given a tryout.
Our West Virginia farmers see little or no need of spending their already short supply of money on a trip to Raleigh, N. C., for the purpose of telling you our position. We believe this unnecessary since we pay a dollar a year into the American Farm Bureau Federation which we believe has done an excellent job of representing and protecting our interests before the Congress. Frankly, our farmers have been so nearly prostrated by the operation of the high, mandatory price-support program on wheat, cotton, peanuts, tobacco, rice, and corn, that they can ill afford the cost of the travel to your widely scattered field hearings.
If any organized group of farmers in West Virginia differs with our organization on this issue, we have yet to hear about it. In fact, we are hard put to find any individual farmers in the State who are willing to even debate the advantages of the rigid price-support program. We have had discussions on this issue at the community, county, and State levels, and we have never encountered any sizable group in favor of the rigid price-support program. We can only conclude from these facts that our position on this issue represents the opinion of most farmers in West Virginia.
A good example of how the variable price-support program has already worked from our standpoint, is the case of supports on dairy products. A lowering of the supports on these products by the Secretary of Agriculture a few months ago to the minimum level, has already resulted in significant adjustments in the total production of milk and milk products, a general increase and improvement in prices at the farm, and the Commodity Credit Corporation has stopped buying these commodities. This has already meant a reduction in the surplus stocks, which have been a drug on the market for these products.
To further clarify our position, this is what we would have Congress do about the farm problem :
1. Leave the price-support program alone as it now stands on the books, with only minor amendments to perfect the program. This means giving the variable price-support program a tryout for the first time.
2. Adopt a soil-fertility-bank program designed to store up soil nutrients, rather than crop surpluses. While this program will likely be of little direct benefit to our farmers in West Virginia, it will have tremendous indirect benefits in the way of controlling diverted acres.
3. Take more steps to restore our world market for agricultural products. We believe the 30-percent loss in exports of farm commodities since the end of the war is one of the biggest factors in our present difficulties.
4. Give more consideration to the 75 percent of the farm producers of the country who do not produce the so-called basic commodities, and have long been penalized by programs designed for the favored few among the Nation's farmers.
5. Do everything possible to take purely political considerations out of solving farmers' problems.
6. Take steps to stabilize the costs of living and production, and put an end to the seemingly endless spiral of wage increases that are immediately passed on to the consuming public in the form of higher costs.
We ask that this statement be read and made a part of the field hearing at Raleigh, N. C., on November 15, 1955.