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Not only that, it will help control the runoff and check soil erosion which is detrimental to fish in the streams of the watersheds.
If there is included in the program the idea that has been advanced for a timber bank, and we hope that is included, we can see even greater benefits from the standpoint of wildlife production, because the planting of trees, the reforestation of marginal areas on farms that are suitable for that type of use, will produce cover for many kinds of wildlife.
We feel that any comprehensive conservation program must take into consideration not narrowly just the soil and the water, but all the natural products of the land.
Now agriculturalists generally speak of range or grass as having a place in the program when they talk about turning these reserve areas back into
grass. We think it is equally sound, not only sound but necessary, to consider timber in the picture, and we think it is equally valid, sound, and necessary,
you are going to have a comprehensive conservation program, to take into consideration wildlife resources. Wildlife also is a natural crop of the land.
Many farmers are ardent hunters and fishermen and among them are some of the finest sportsmen I know. Many of them are members of the sportsmen's clubs that make up the State organizations belonging to the National Wildlife Federation. I know many farmers are members of the Isaak Walton League.
Many of these farmers are naturally and personally interested in wildlife conservation, and many would like to include in their conservation acreage reserve, or in their soil bank, certain practices that would be especially beneficial for wildlife; that is, practices that would be aimed at wildlife production and wildlife conservation.
So we think that it would round out the whole program if included in the legislation is permissive authorization to include those wildlife practices.
The CHAIRMAN. Such as?
Mr. CALLISON. Well, for example, assuming that forestry is going to be a part of the program, a farmer or his 40 acres that is going to be set aside as an acreage reserve may decide to plant trees for future crops of pu
of pulpwood or other timber products. If he devotes a few acres of that 40 acres, perhaps only a half acre would be sufficient in some cases, to certain trees and shrubs that are especially valuable for wildlife food and cover, then the production of that area could be greatly increased as far as wildlife is concerned. It would balance out the whole conservation picture.
Another example, out in the Dakotas, in Minnesota and in the area that is known as the prairie pothole country, there have been many potholes and prairie marshes drained and turned into wheatfields and cornfields in the past decade or two.
Now, it would be a very simple operation for a farmer to retire his conservation acreage out in that country by stopping up the drainage ditch and letting that field revert to marsh. This would reproduce what was once there, an excellent piece of habitat for waterfowl production.
That country is the most valuable area in the United States for the production of wild ducks and geese. It is our greatest single water
fowl producing area. There the drainage has gone on through the years, and it has added to the crop surpluses for which we are seeking a solution. Such drainage has greatly depleted the wildlife resources and value of that country for that purpose.
Certainly that particular practice and the same thing would apply down in parts of your State where drainage has taken place, Senator Ellender-certainly that would not in any way produce or add to any of the different commodities that are in surplus, but it could provide for the farmer actually a cash return in the form of fur crops, for example.
Muskrats produced in potholes and marshes of the northwestern prairie pothole country may return as much as $15 to $35 an acre in muskrat peltage. The same thing is true along the eastern seaboard, in the States of New Jersey and Delaware, for example, and you know it is true also in Louisiana.
So that, should farmers wish to use that kind of practice on some of their reserve acreage, it could return to them some cash returns, but in no way would it add to any of the crops that are problems because they are surpluses in our economy.
The CHAIRMAN. In other words, what you want in the law is a provision that if he does that, he should be compensated ?
Mr. CALLISON. Yes.
Mr. CALLISON. That would be another conservation practice which would be authorized and permitted on his conservation acreage reserve, along with reseeding it to grass or planting it to trees, you see. And if I may, I would like to suggest some wordage that might be written into legislation.
And in order to do that, I would like to refer to some bills that have already been introduced. In the House, Congressman Johnson of Wisconsin, and others, have introduced bills proposing a soil bank program, and they refer to a conservation acre reserve.
The CHAIRMAN. What is the number of that bill? Mr. Callison. H. R. 8137. Now, with the approval of the Farmers Union with whom Mr. Johnson had worked on this particular legislation, additional words have been put into the title.
To establish a conservation acreage reserve to promote conservation improvement of agricultural soil and water.
That was the previous wordage. Now it reads: Agricultural soil, water, and related resourceswhich gives the program latitude which we think it should have.
In section 5 (a) of the same legislation these words are put in to authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to enter into annual agreements with individual farm operators under which the operator agrees to put into effect on certain specified acres in the conservation acreage reserve for his farmsuch practices and uses as may be specified by the Secretary for the purposes of conserving and improving the soil, water, timber, wildlife, and range resources.
I think it can be done just that simply. This same bill also provides
The CHAIRMAN. Would you limit the amount of the land you would put in this conservation area to these practices, or leave it to him to put as many acres as he desires ?
Mr. Callison. Yes; I mean, it would be up to the individual farmer to decide whether he wanted to put in any practices that would be primarily directed at wildlife or timber.
Senator AIKEN. This legislation would apply to that land which is taken out of the farm cropland?
Mr. Callison. Yes; that's right; the retired acreage, or the acreage reserve.
Senator AIKEN. I am glad that you have come up this afternoon, because I had hoped that someone somewhere would recognize what the permanent and possibly the greatest benefit might be from this legislation.
Everybody seems to regard it as a means of lifting the farmers' income, and actually it is something that is going to add to the pleasure and the income, perhaps, of everybody in the whole country. This is something for everybody.
Not everybody is a farmer, but almost everybody likes to go fishing, or hunting, or picnicking, or camping, or take vacations. If they don't, there is something wrong with them.
And also you have pointed out the possibility of earnings from some of this wasteland. That has been part of my business in the past, you know, and I know cases where an acre of wasteland can actually yield more income than 10 acres of cultivated land.
Take the big demand for winter berries—you know what they are for Christmastime. The market is nowhere near supplied with them, and yet on an acre you could produce any amount of them, and have cover, too. I think I come from a part of the country that appreciates the value of this wasteland.
Mr. CALLISON. That is true. We don't like to call it wasteland because we think any land has a use.
Senator Aiken. No, it is not. I am speaking of that in the romantic sense, not actual wasteland.
Mr. CALLISON. Senator, I should like to leave a copy of this bill where I have marked and read those particular sections, for your attention and that of the committee personnel.
The CHAIRMAN. We will file it with the record. (H. R. 8137 is as follows:)
[H. R. 8137, 84th Cong., 2d sess.) A BILL To establish a conservation acreage reserve, to promote conservation improve.
ment of agricultural soil, water, and related resources, to stabilize farmers' income, to adjust total agricultural production to consumer and export needs, to maintain an abundant and even flow of farm commodities in interstate commerce, and for other purposes
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That this Act may be cited as the “Conservation Acreage Reserve Act of 1956."
SEC. 2. It is the policy of Congress that farmers shall be encouraged to make the fullest and best economic use and conservation of the Nation's soil, water, and related resources; that the first priority for use of such resources shall be to provide needed food and fiber for the growing population of the Nation; that adequate safety reserves of all staple commodities and products shall be maintained ; that provision shall be made for full production of farm commodities required for all needed exports through normal channels of trade and for augmented exports to relieve starvation, shortages of clothing, and famine in other nations, to promote economic development, and to bolster other United States foreign economic and diplomatic policies; that these needs shall be met with sufficient but not excessive supplies, thus facilitating the even flow of interstate commerce; and that farm soil and water resources not required to fulfill the
foregoing needs shall be conserved and handled in a manner that will improve their fertility and keep them in readiness to meet unforeseen emergencies as well as long-range normal future needs for increased farm production.
SEC, 3. As used in this Act
(1) the term "agricultural commodity" means any product of the soil which is produced from annual seeding and which is produced in significant amounts for commercial purposes.
(2) The term "Secretary" means the Secretary of Agriculture.
SEC. 4. (a) The Secretary of Agriculture (hereinafter referred to as the “Secretary") is authorized and directed to determine and proclaim, prior to November 15 of each year, a National Conservation Acreage Reserve for the succeeding crop year. . The National Conservation Acreage Reserve for any crop year shall be a number of acres equal to the number of acres, if any, by which
(1) the sum of (A) the total number of acres determined by the Secretary to have been used within the continental United States for the commercial production of agricultural commodities during the crop year immediately preceding the year for which the National Conservation Acreage Reserve is being determined, and (B) the number of acres within the continental United States which were diverted from their normal use during such year by reason of operation of acreage allotments and marketing quotas, exceeds
(2) the total number of acres determined by the Secretary to be needed for the commercial production within the continental United States of sufficient quantities of all agricultural commodities to meet domestic and export needs for such commodities and to maintain adequate safety reserves
to meet emergency needs for such commodities. (b) The National Conservation Acreage Reserve shall be allocated among the several States in such a manner that the Conservation Acreage Reserve of any State shall be the number of acres which bears the same ratio to the National Conservation Acreage Reserve as (1) the total number of acres determined by the Secretary to have been used within such State for the commercial production of agricultural commodities during the year immediately preceding the year for which the State Conservation Acreage Reserve is being determined, bears to (2) the total number of acres determined by the Secretary to have been used within the continental United States for the commercial production of agricultural commodities during such year: Provided, That if one or more States do not utilize its entire conservation acreage reserve, such unutilized portion shall be transferred by the Secretary to other States.
(c) The Conservation Acreage Reserve of each State shall be allocated among the several counties in such State in such manner that the Conservation Acreage Reserve of any such county shall be the number of acres which bears the same ratio to the State Conservation Acreage Reserve as (1) the total number of acres determined by the Secretary to have been used within such county for the commercial production of agricultural commodities during the year immediately preceding the year for which the County Conservation Acreage Reserve is being determined, bears to (2) the total number of acres determined by the Secretary to have been used within the State for the commercial production of agricultural commodities during such year: Provided, That if one or more counties in the State does not utilize its entire Conservation Acreage Reserve, such unused portion may be transferred by the State committee to other counties in the State.
(d) The Conservation Acreage Reserve of any county shall be allocated among the several farms within such county in such manner that the Conservation Acreage Reserve of any farm shall be a number of acres which bears the same ratio to the County Conservation Acreage Reserve as (1) the total number of acres determined by the Secretary to have been used on such farm for the commercial production of agricultural commodities during the year immediately preceding the year for which the farm acreage reserve is being determined, bears to (2) the total number of acres determined by the Secretary to have been used in such county for the commercial production of agricultural commodities during such year: Provided, That if one or more farms do not utilize its entire Conservation Acreage Reserve, the unused portion may be transferred by the County Committee to other farms in the county.
Sec. 5. (a) The Secretary is authorized to enter into annual agreements with individual farm operators under which the operator agrees to put into effect on certain specified acres in the Conservation Acreage Reserve for his farm such practices and uses as may be specified by the Secretary for the purpose of conserving and improving the soil, water, timber, wildlife and range resources, and
the Secretary agrees to pay such operator a conservation reserve award with respect to each acre in such reserve in an amount equal to the value, based upon the parity price, of the expected gross income minus production costs exclusive of taxes and other costs of landownership, in the area where the farm is located, of the commodities which the Secretary determines would be produced on such acre were it used for commercial production during the crop year for which the contract is made: Provided, That the Secretary, before prescribing the practices which individual farm operators may put into practice on the Conservation Acreage Reserve, shall consult with the Secretary of the Interior, and the State Committee established under Section 8 (b) of the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act of 1938 shall consult with the State agency having jurisdiction over matters relating to conservation of wildlife, such consultation to include consideration of the effect of proposed and recommended practices upon wildlife resources.
(b) The determination for the purposes of this section of the amount of any conservation reserve award shall be made by the local committee established under section 8 (b) of the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act of 1938, as amended, in accordance with standards promulgated by the county committee established under such section. Each such county committee shall determine and proclaim for the purposes of this section the usual gross income, production costs, and landownership costs for each agricultural commodity commercially produced within the county. Such determination of the county committee shall be final unless disapproved by the Secretary after public hearing held in the county after due notice.
(c) The Secretary is authorized (1) to provide in any contract entered into under this section for a right of entry on the farm with respect to which such contract is entered into for the purpose of measuring acreage in commercial production and ascertaining that grasslands and other resources are not being used for con.mercial production of livestock or milk, or products thereof, and (2) to require that the farm operator certify under oath or affirmation that no acres included within the Conservation Acreage Reserve have been utilized for grazing, nor in any other way for production of milk, beef cattle or calves, or any other crop or livestock production of commodities for sale during the period covered by the contract.
Sec. 6. Whenever any contract entered into under section 4 requires the institution or continuance of soil or water conservation or improvement uses and practices on any farm, the Secretary shall reimburse the operator of such farm for costs incurred in providing such uses and practices by making a conservation incentive payment to such operator equal to 50 per centum of such costs.
SEC. 7. The maximum amount of any conservation reserve award under section 5 with respect to any farm operator's unit for any year shall be $2,000, and the maximum amount of any conservation incentive payment under section 6 with respect to any such unit for any year shall be $1,000.
Mr. CALLISON. Senator Thye has introduced a bill which is presently before this committee, S. 2871. In his bill, which is very brief but which is aiming at a reserve acreage program or soil-bank program, he uses this language:
To authorize the use of such lands for soil building, development of forest resources, promotion of wildlife refuges, and soil and water conserving practices.
That is fine, that is exactly what we would like to see written into the legislation that comes out on this program, but we would suggest there that the language, instead of "promotion of wildlife refuges, which means closed areas where there shouldn't be any hunting or fishing, "promotion of wildlife conservation,” or “wildlife management,
The CHAIRMAN. Will you identify that bill by number?