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it has been in the family for 100 years, and he has been willing to stay there with it. There is no adjustment he can make. When you pinch down on that acreage, that is the end for him.
Now, this proposal that I make-and I have got the figures on just how many were affected if this minimum had been adopted for 1956 allotment-I am talking about these very small ones, down to 4 acres or less. In my home State a small farm minimum allotment would have affected 53,645 farmers. In Alabama, 64,274 farms would have received some relief. Now, these are figures worked up by the Department of Agriculture. In North Carolina, there would have been 59,167 affected, and in Georgia, 38,594.
Now, gentlemen, what are we going to do about this? I am fairly familiar with the Cotton Belt. Skipping, now, east Texas and Louisiana and Arkansas for a minute, when you start east and cross the Mississippi River and go about 40 miles across that rich delta land and hit the hills of west Mississippi, from there to the Atlantic Ocean, thousands of people are being driven off their land because of the operation, the pinching operation, of this law.
Senator HUMPHREY. Is that under the allotments?
Senator STENNIS. Yes, that is under these allotments that put it down on the historical basis. They are the smallest operators to start with. Their history is not perfect from year to year as to how much acreage they have. You can say there is some blame on them or there is some blame on the State committees. But the big factor is that these men are being driven off their land, and it is not morally right; it is 10t politically right.
Senator THYE. Mr. Chairman, I would just like to ask Senator Stennis one question.
The CHAIRMAN. Senator Thye.
Senator THYE. Senator, is there any possibility of those little farmers diverting and developing any other type of farm operation or agricultural enterprise on that land?
Senator STENNIS. Yes. Those of them that are able to hang on and stay there are doing that now, Senator.
Senator THYE. How would they convert? Would they convert to livestock, or
Senator STENNIS. Well, in the area where I live, yes; that is one of the most immediate things. They convert to various things. They are going somewhat into truck crops and these diversions have beneficial effects. But my point is, this thing has gone so far you are drilling right down in the quick of the tooth. You are right on the nerve, and you just press so hard on them as to their cotton acreage that they cannot keep their heads above the water. They must have something of a money crop, some kind of basic crop to build around.
Senator THYE. On an average, how big would their farm unit be in acreage?
Senator STENNIS. Oh, these farms run—the little places in cultivation-maybe 5 to 20, and sometimes more. But this cotton acreage is down to, say, less than 2 acres, or less than 3 acres.
Now, this is no theory with me. I have been out on this land, these little places that I have known all my life. I know the people. I have known their fathers and their grandfathers, and I know the land and I know who lives there.
Senator THYE. Senator, if you drive them to the cities, what would they have to do?
Senator STENNIS. Let me get back to my thought.
Senator STENNIS. Taking allowance for all the natural transition that is going on and the change that is coming about, still this thing operates too fast and too severely on them.
Now, you drive them into the town or the city. We hope there is a job of some kind there for them, and some of them are finding jobs. But my point is this: Back there on that little farm unit is the soundest group that we have. We should try to keep that family there and let them continue to grow some cotton and other agricultural commodities; let the wife or let the father, or let the son, or 2 out of the 3, get the job in town if they can, but live there on that land. When they leave it, you know it goes down. It is bought up by someone. It is put into something else. The family, their community, their church, and so on, are gone.
Senator Young. Would you yield at that point ?
Senator Young. As I recall, a witness at the Louisiana hearings stated that when the small farmer that you spoke of, and for whom you make a good case, goes broke, the big operator comes along and takes over that little land and produces even more per acre.
That is one of the reasons why the yields have gone up:
Senator STENNIS. That is right. I cannot justify my position here, now, on the grounds that it is going to increase yield, or that it is sound from a dollar-and-cents standpoint. I will not say that. The other man will get the best of the argument. But that is not the kind of business we are in. We are dealing with human beings.
Senator HUMPHREY. You are talking about the social pattern.
Senator STENNIS. We are dealing with human beings, yes. We are dealing with women and children. And we are dealing with private enterprise in its very best expression. These people get out there and earn a living by the sweat of their brow and their own initiative.
The CHAIRMAN. The Senator will recall that this committee recommended a bill to take care of the very thing that you are now complaining of last year but it was defeated by the Senate.
Senator STENNIS. That was on a temporary basis.
The CHAIRMAN. Now, the Senator has a bill pending before this committee, as I remember, asking for a 1 percent instead of a 2 percent set-aside.
Senator STENNIS. Yes.
Senator STENNIS. Yes. I will tell you why. After getting into this thing further, gentlemen, I think this: That you ought to have a section in your bill providing for a 1 percent reserve as additional acreage and take another 1 percent out of your present national average, and that this, added together, will meet the situation that I am talking about. That is why I said 2 percent. Only 1 percent would be added to your national acreage.
The CHAIRMAN. There is a certain percentage of the national acreage now that could be used to correct inequities; is there not?
Senator STENNIS. Yes, I know that. But
The CHAIRMAN. But what the Senator is asking for is a 2 percent increase over and above the allotment?
Senator STENNIS. One percent increase over the present allotment; and then another percent within present allotment for these small farms.
The CHAIRMAN. What would the Senator do with the extra 1 percent?
Senator STENNIS. Well, it will take 2 percent, really, to do the job. That is my point, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. And that will be over and above the national allotment?
Senator STENNIS. Only 1 percent above the national allotment. Just add 1 percent and earmark it for this purpose and then take 1 percent out of the present national allotment and earmark it for the same purpose. And that will meet your situation.
Senator HUMPHREY. That would be a directive, in other words, to the State committees in the allotment or parceling out of these land allotments?
Senator STENNIS. Yes.
Senator HUMPHREY. So that these smaller farmers would be sure to get a 2 percent increase, so to speak, in their allotment?
Senator STENNIS. Well, they would get enough acreage to bring them up to this minimum that we talk about here of 4 acres, or 80 percent of the highest acreage planted
Senator HUMPHREY. I get you. Senator STENNIS. And that will keep his head above the water. Now, gentlemen, let me say this with all deference to every group. These committees do a fine job. They have a thankless task. They have an impossible task. But by and large, it is necessary for this little pittance of acreage to be marked right here in the bill, if you want to get to this group that I am talking about.
Now, our State committee has done a better job on the 1956 acreage than it did on the 1955 acreage, and they deserve a lot of credit. But where you have so many of these farms within the limits of one State, there is just not enough acreage to meet this situation.
Senator AIKEN. What amount would you say is necessary to keep their heads above water? What income per year?
Senator STENNIS. Oh, if you go to trying to put a dollars-and-cents income as being necessary, that is such a relative question. It is where they must have outside income to really keep their heads abore water already, I mean, outside of cotton. I am not pleading to let these people make a living solely on cotton.
Senator AIKEN. I take it you do not agree with this Committee for Economic Progress, headed up by Mr. Reuther and Mr. Patton, that 950 0 of the farms producing less than $2,500 a year should be liquidated in the next 4 years?
Senator STENNIS. Oh, no, sir; the very opposite of that. No. This is not an efficiency program that I am talking about.
Senator AIKEN. You think it is possible for many of them to stay on the land and earn something off the land, too, do you not?
Senator STENNIS. Oh, certainly; yes, sir. Senator, you are exactly right. I have been all over my State last fall, and that is the very
thing that is so apparent in these communities where this acreage reduction is affecting them. It is possible for them to stay on their land and get a job in town, or one member of the family to do it, but when we just run them off of this land, there is where your deterioration starts
. The family is liquidated. It is gone. The community goes down. Someone comes along and buys that land up, but it is no longer a home.
Senator THYE. Would the Senator yield at that point ?
Senator THYE. What are you endeavoring here is to maintain that little family out there on that rural acreage or home that they have, and make it possible to keep that unit there, rather than to have the children running in the streets of some town where their parents are possibly faced with unemployment.
Senator STENNIS. Yes, sir.
Senator THYE. You still want them to grow some vegetables and supplement their income somewhat, but you want to give them enough acreage so as to keep that family unit together?
Senator STENNIS. Exactly. You stated it; and make it possible. That is the key word. I am not asking them to be given anything.
Now, I do not see, gentlemen, where a large operator can complain at this relatively small amount.
Senator Aiken. You think that would mean a couple of hundred dollars a year, perhaps, for a family that is making $500 now? It might get them up to $700? Senator STENNIS. Yes; that is right. And he is not making the
mash him down here to an acre or an acre and a half or 2 acres, you see.
Senator AIKEN. I see.
Senator STENNIS. I appreciate the time very much. I think you gentlemen fully understand this question.
I want to emphasize that to reach them, you have got to write it into this bill.
Senator AIKEN. Would this extra 1 or 2 percent come out of the total acreage, or would that be an addition?
Senator STENNIS. My request is 175,000 additional acres, new acres, over the allotment.
The CHAIRMAN. Over and above the allotment.
Senator STENNIS. Yes; and then take 175,000 acres that are within the allotment, and that would give us 350,000 acres that would fully meet this situation.
Senator AIKEN. We have a 3-acre minimum now for those who previously grew over 3 acres; is that correct?
Senator STENNIS. No. We have no 3-acre minimum.
The CHAIRMAN. We had a 5-acre minimum, and that was done away with
Senator STENNIS. Yes, we had the 5.
The CHAIRMAN (continuing). Because the cotton farmer went out of business then. He did not plant it. Instead he went into the cattle business, and made a failure, and now he wants to come back into the cotton business.
Senator STENNIS. That is all right.
The CHAIRMAN. You understand, I am not complaining about that, but I am just saying that at one time we did have that in the law.
Senator STENNIS. That is right.
Senator HUMPHREY. His cattle prices went to pot, Mr. Chairman. He got cleaned out.
Senator STENNIS. The law contained provisions that at one time protected this situation. But it was changed, as the chairman said, and that is when this little fellow really got shook out and where he hit the bottom.
The only way to put him back in is with amendment of the present law.
The CHAIRMAN. If you talk to our California and Arizona and Nevada friends, we might be able to put this through.
Senator STENNIS. I would be glad to talk with them. I am sure if they understood this, they could not object.
The CHAIRMAN. They did object last time. That is why it did not pass.
Senator STENNIS. I know.
Senator Young. Senator Stennis, we have the same thing in the spring wheat area. The small farmers are the ones that are getting hit the hardest.
The CHAIRMAN. I remember Senator Case put in an amendment in the bill that would kill the cotton provision, and that killed the whole thing.
Senator STENNIS. Thank you very much.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much, Senator Stennis. Is there a statement you desire to file?
Senator STENNIS. Yes; I have it here.
The serious situation which faces our farmers prompts me to come before your committee and stress the need for early enactment of legislation which will come to grips with our farm problem.
This committee is to be commended for the fine hearings at the grassroots level which you held this fall. I know that the information collected there will be extremely helpful in formulating a forward-looking agricultural program.
OTHER SEGMENTS OF ECONOMY PROSPER
Agriculture is faced with one of the most serious problems of our time. While our effective workers in industry are enjoying a buying power greater than erer before in history, farm buying power and income are going steadily downward. During the last year corporation income increased by 26 percent. The average worker's income increased 7 percent, while the farmer's income for the last year has decreased by 11 percent. During the past 7 years our farm costs have gone up 18 percent, prices have gone down 10 percent and the farmer's net io. come has gone down by 25 percent. We cannot expect other parts of our economy to stay strong and prosperous when one of our basic segments, the farm economy, continues to be caught in the cost-price squeeze.
I am greatly concerned with our surplus agricultural commodities and particularly as they relate to a continued downward adjustment in cotton acreage allotments. The 17.391 million acres allotted in 1956 represent a 700.000-acre reduction in allotment over the previous year and will be the smallest acreage planted since the early history of cotton acreage production in this country. This reduction in allotment combined with the rise in cost of farm production and the reduced price of commodities has imposed a serious financial burden to our farmers.