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practice and we mean the new brucellosis program. The consumer under today's wage scale works less time to pay for a quart of milk than ever before. Labor is advocating a 30-hour week for a 40-hour pay. Labor now has a minimum wage scale of $1 an hour where the farmer is taking less pay per hour along with 14 to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. Again, we wish to reiterate the importance of cost of production plus a fair profit is not unfair or unjust for the man who has a farm of average investment running into the thousands of dollars.
One man's milk is as good as another and no premium should be paid to any producer regardless of location with modern transportation and facilities as they are today. We recognize that in the past there was a necessity for a premium for the close-by producers to keep up a uniform production due wholly or in part to poor transportation and facilities in getting milk to the marketing area in some months of the year.
Huge surplus piled up in Government warehouses have a tendency to depress prices, also to replace sales of current production, such as the school lunch program. Further advertising of larger consumption of milk and milk products, including our Armed Forces at home and overseas would stimulate the market. In conclusion we stress the importance of—
1. Cost of production plus a profit.
4. Higher prices for class III. Let us be ever mindful of Thomas Jefferson's statement, “That Government that governs least governs best."
The CHAIRMAN. Our next witness is Mr. Zelnick. Give your full name for the record and your occupation.
STATEMENT OF JOSEPH ZELNICK, FREEHOLD-LAKEWOOD-FARM
INGDALE COOPERATIVE OF FARMINGDALE, FREEHOLD, N. J. Mr. ZELNICK. My name is Joseph Zelnick. I am a commercial poultry farmer of Freehold, N. J. I have been sent here, gentlemen, by the Freehold-Lakewood-Farmingdale Cooperative of Farmingdale, N. J., a cooperative comprised of about 100 egg farmers. Unfortunately, being unfamiliar with the procedures of senatorial hearings, I did not come with a previously prepared text, although I do have my main points written down, so I will beg your indulgence while I make a few remarks.
The CHAIRMAN. Proceed, sir.
Mr. ZELNICK. I will try not to be repetitious. I wish that I could come here and say that the picture in the poultry industry was a bright one, but it is not. Certainly not in the area from which I come.
The past 2 years have been very critical for the poultry farmer, the egg farmer mainly, that is, in our area.
Our egg-feed ratio, that is, the income from eggs, has not been sufficient to pay for feed, let alone for other costs, such as maintaining our buildings, feeding our families, and keeping up our farms in general.
Our debts have been mounting. Our buildings have been deteriorating. And, in fact, the problem has been such that it has been disrupted.
The poultry industry in our area is essentially a family unit. In most cases it is operated by the farmer, his wife, and in some cases his children and an occasional hired help.
The situation is such that for the past period most of us have had to look for part-time, and in some cases full-time work off the farm
in order to be able to survive, in order to be able to put food on the table.
Just as an example, I have four neighbors, on either side of me, one right next to me, and the other is about a quarter or a half mile away. In each case one member of the family has to work outside to maintain the farm or else they would not be able to stay on the farm. The same is true in my own case.
As was mentioned before and I will not go into detail—there are the foreclosures, and the failures in the past 2 years in our area have been numerous.
I would like to make one brief remark on the family farm setup as I see it as an individual. I feel that the family farm setup as such is one of the bases, one of the solid bases, of our whole economy. I know that in the poultry industry we increased production during the war to keep up with demand. We expanded. We also kept up with all sorts of technological advancements. We have maintained progress on an equal basis almost, you might say, with other types of industry. I think this is a credit to us, because we have done this without necessarily increasing the size of the operation. We have done this. We have maintained our individual family enterprise. But the situation now is becoming such that we cannot continue much longer.
Yes, there have been fair prices for the past few months. But in the period of 1954, from the beginning of that year, it has been so disastrous that there will have to be for a long time high prices for us to make up the losses we incurred.
I am a relatively small producer, possibly between 3,500 and 4,000 birds. I have within the last year went into a debt of over $6,000. That was ending of March of last year. The debt kept mounting after March of this year and I am not sure what it is now. I am afraid to have the accountant come around and check the books.
The important thing, gentlemen, is that we need help. I am not here as an expert, but I can offer a few suggestions.
I would like to say that I see the help that the poultry farmer needs to maintain his operation in two classifications. One is immediate help. And the other is the long-range point of view.
I speak mainly here for the egg farmer, the one who derives his income solely from eggs. There are thousands of them in our area.
Just as an aside, I would like to say just to show you the picture briefly as it exists in our area, we have a cooperative store that is connected with the feed co-op part of it, that sells equipment to the farniers.
During the late forties and early fifties that store gradually rose until it did a volume of almost $200,000 yearly in business. În the fiscal period ending as of September 1955, the volume of our co-op store was $60,000. That was not because we dropped our inventory. That was not because we lost our membership. Our membership is still the same as it was before, but it was because the poultry farmers did not have the money to buy the equipment and to keep up the buildings. In fact, the newspaper in our area, the press reported that in our whole area the volume of retail business has dropped about $50 million from the year before, which is a tremen
dous drop for a small area such as we represent. And that is attributable mainly to the plight of the poultry farmers.
Our picture therefore is not a bright one, but a desperate one. We need immediate help. That can be done, I feel, in a few ways.
First of all, as was said before, the release of grains to us. This would give us cheaper feed and a more favorable egg-feed ratio.
Also, I think that the marketing agencies of the Government could find outlets for our so-called surpluses.
By the way, we are told we have a surplus, and at the same time I read in magazines and newspapers that in a few years from now there will be additional people at the table; that the present expansion of the agricultural industry will not be able to keep up with that increased demand.
I would like to say I think it would be of benefit to see our farmers maintain their farms so that they can keep up with the demand that will be there in the future. We cannot do it now.
A school-lunch program would be a very good outlet for us and it would certainly help affect our price. Other consumer outlets could be found.
I think one thing that would help us immediately would be a mortgage moratorium, because we are faced with a serious crisis now. We have to replace our flocks in order to be able to stay on our farms. We do not have the money to buy new chicks, to feed and raise them. By the same token, if we keep the old birds, we are told, and we know, that old birds are not profitable. So we are caught in between the devil and the deep blue sea. We have to find a way at least to replace enough birds to take care of the normal mortality that takes place on the farms.
And a mortgage moratorium would relieve us of certain payments, at least we would be able to siphon off some money towards that direction.
As to the long-range help, well, I think it was stated before by one of the representatives from our area that we would like equality under the law.
We feel in the past few years the poultry and egg industry has expanded to where it is one of the important segments of the agricultural industry as a whole. We are not opposing the dairy or grain or any other farmer. They are entitled to make a living and to make a living off their farms. We want the same rights that any other farmer has. We want the right to make a living from our farms. We need stability in our industry. Our prices are governed by speculative engagements on the market. There are many times when the prices drop 5 cents or more from 1 market day to the next. In my case a drop of 5 cents, a small farmer as I am, represents a loss of about $60 on 1 shipment. It is really more than I can take, but when that price starts to go back up it takes a few weeks to rise again those 4 or 5 cents. That is very important to us.
We feel—at least many of the members of my organization, the organization which I represent—that the Brannan plan is a very satisfactory plan. True, Senator, it would take money to administer it. It would take money to put it into operation, but it takes money now to put other plans into operation. It takes a lot of money, for instance, to help the shipping industry of our country, which is not
an agricultural industry. It takes a lot of money to help other manufacturing industries of our country. And I think that money should not be the main concern at the moment in helping an industry which is very basic to our economy.
I would like to say that as far as I see the Brannan plan it does not conflict with the man keeping as many birds as he needs. I, for instance, have about 4,000 birds. The Brannan plan, I think, would take care of most of those 4,000 birds. If, however, I wanted to keep 6,000 birds, the 4,000 birds could be supported under the Brannan plan and the other 2,000 birds the man has to take a chance. If the market looks good, he will take a chance with them. If it does not look good, he will operate with the 4,000 birds and be content to make a living.
You know, I think anyone who came on the farm thinking that he was going to get rich I believe is well deluded now. Certainly he has no illusions about that now.
All we want to do is to be able to make a living and stay on the farm.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Mr. Zelnick.
STATEMENT OF STANLEY A. PISECK, NEWPORT, N. Y.
Mr. PISECK. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I have part of my testimony typed and part is not. I will have that typed and send it to you.
The CHAIRMAN. All right; you may have a seat and give your full name and occupation.
Mr. PISECK. My name is Stanley A. Piseck and I am a dairy farmer in New York.
Our economy is composed of three great segments: Agriculture, labor and industry.
I put agriculture first because it has contributed most to our wealth and growth by producing the food and fiber so necessary in our great Nation's growth and expansion. It becomes necessary that all these segments continue to be healthy and prosperous so that our Nation stays economically sound and socially secure.
In the past few years, we have witnessed the continued healthy growth of labor and industry while agriculture is stranded at the brink of bankruptcy. Today both labor and industry returns are the highest on record while agricultural income has slipped fully 25 percent. No economy can long withstand this disparity without encouraging total collapse of our great economic structure.
It becomes the duty of the political party in power to right this serious economic situation or expect to be superseded. The farmers of this great Nation of necessity must become an important part of this great change.
A few years ago under a previous administration both agriculture and labor have run to the highest peak ever on record. That the 90-percent price support program has materially aided in the creation of this great income cannot be denied, and any reasonable human will readily concede it. In our own great dairyland of the metropolitan
New York milk area the dairymen in 1948 received a blended return of $5.08 for 3.5 percent milk in the 200-210 mile zone. In the past few years while cost of production went up fully 15 percent the dairymen's return has slipped down to the $4 mark. The dairymen have lost from $1 to a $1.25 per hundredweight, the very money they need to buy the products of labor.
Our economy is running on the momentum of a previous administration and the ability of organized labor of not only holding the line but improving wages and working conditions—there is a serious threat of slackening, and perhaps a sudden stop, unless immediate steps are taken to bolster agricultural prices.
That there are definite reasons for this tremendous loss of return to our national agriculture is very apparent.
Today labor sets its own wages by its own labor leaders, and prospers. Likewise, industry sets its own prices for its products of manufacture.
Today agricultural prices are set by dreamy-eyed economists, secure by their own inflated salaries, and the tremendous loss suffered by our agricultural masses is no skin off their shins.
Our first step in the readjustment of our economy must of necessity be the return to farm leaders, the sacred light to run their own business, and negotiate the prices necessary to create purchasing power for agriculture so necessary in the purchase of the products of labor and industry. Economists must be used only in an advisory capacity and not in the driver's seat. No party, no economists inherited a sacred right to exploit the humble masses that comprise our great agricultural population.
I have added a few words, to give you added information.
For 25 years perhaps I have done more work among them than any individual in our area. I am going to give you the digest of my experience.
In the years 1933 to 1934 and 1935 I took active part in large area meetings throughout the State of New York. This gave me a fine opportunity to study not only the milk producers themselves, but the type of land they were farming, and the real possibility of milk production. I traveled the countryside from one producer meeting to another, urging milk producers to own their own local milk plants, with ample milk-surplus manufacturing facilities to take care of the surplus at the point of production.
In all of these travels I made it a point to write down my observations and reactions, so as to formulate my views and opinions in the importan discussion of milk marketing. I found that theer were many thousands of farmers suited only for fall and winter production, and this group should not be tampered with because they were doing a good job of producing milk, even though their cost of production was high, with little or no chance to lower it.
On the other hand, there was also a much larger group of dairy farming that enjoyed excellent lush pastures that supplied đairy herds with such an abundance of fine pasture grasses that the dairymen could cut down on the grain feeding and do so temporarily at least. Each of these groups are an important segment of our dairy industry. It is our duty to creathe a milk-price structure that will give the utmost in milk prices without disrupting their customary production pattern. And a sound milk-marketing plan will do the job.