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The CHAIRMAN. Proceed, sir.
Mr. Swim. We are concerned with the welfare of the small farmer and poultryman in California, as well as the Nation at large, believing that present economic situations have placed the small farm operator and poultry raiser in a serious financial and economic position. In a large number of cases he has been forced out of business. In my own county, which is Sonoma County, where over 2,000 farmers are trying to make a living off of poultry raising, the total poultry income was $8 million less than 1953. This is in spite of the fact that more eggs were produced in 1954 than in 1953. This information was taken from the Agricultural Commissioner's Annual Report. These small commercial egg producers' annual income, as you see, has been so greatly reduced and makes it almost impossible for him to stay in business. If he continues, he must enlarge his flock to a point where he becomes a large commercial operator. Very few of us are in a position to do this; therefore, the poultry business would be left in the hands of the large operators.
This condition has been brought about first by the past and present high Government price supports on grains, which are principally our poultry feeds. These support prices have piled up huge surpluses of these grains, forcing us to pay high prices for these products while our products must be sold in the open market, much of the time below the cost of production.
Cost studies made through the agricultural extension service of the University of California over the last 31 years have shown the average yearly price of market eggs to vary only slightly from year to year over that period. Today the price of a dozen eggs is very close to the price received 31 years ago, while the cost of feed is nearly 100 percent higher over the same period of time. During this time labor costs have advanced about 300 percent. Thus the poultryman is caught in a two-way squeeze. We never know from day to day what we will receive for our products.
În view of this we offer for your consideration the following recommendations:
First, that any price support or subsidy have a limit on each producer, thus eliminating the larger commercial farmer and, in some cases, speculators and processors.
Second, that a support be maintained for all segments of agriculture. Therefore assuring us an income equal to other groups of agriculture, and consequently maintaining a strong national economy.
Third, that the poultryman be given access to the large and burdensome surpluses of feed grains, thus helping to balance their economic position.
Fourth, as an immediate relief to the market egg producer, we recommend that the Government buy, at once in the open market, large amounts of present egg surpluses. These purchases should then be disposed of at once through public school free-lunch programs and to the low-income group. We recommend that none of these purchases be stored against next year's production, but be disposed of at once.
The CHAIRMAN. Would you give us an amount? You say that there ought to be a limitation on the amount paid.
Mr. Swim. Well, it has been suggested as $2,500.
The CHAIRMAN. You mean, that is the top payment to any producer?
Mr. Swim. Yes.
I append a copy of the report as made by the University of California.
The CHAIRMAN. That will be made a part of the record at this point.
(The tabulation is as follows:)
Summary of poultry management studies in California since 1925
Dollars per hen
Cents per dozen eggs sold
| hundredpullets died culled
The CHAIRMAN. We will next hear from Mr. Pfaffinger.
STATEMENT OF FRANK X. PFAFFINGER, PRESIDENT, POULTRY
MEN'S COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, VAN NUYS, CALIF.
Mr. PFAFFINGER. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen: My name is Frank X. Pfaffinger. For 11 years I have been a poultryman engaged in commercial egg production in a poultry plant which has been continuously operated by members of my family since 1911.
I also serve as president of Poultrymen's Cooperative Association of Southern California which is owned and operated by some 2,300 poultrymen. This association manufactures and distributes feed to its members, markets their eggs, and acquires for them supplies needed in poultry production.
By unanimous action of its board of directors, I have been asked to speak for the association as well as for myself in opposing Government supports or subsidies in the poultry industry.
We well remember the disastrous dried-egg program of the Federal Government which was in effect soon after the termination of World War II. It was very costly and wasteful and as long as it was continued resulted in preventing the adjustment of production of poultry and poultry products to existing demands. Similarly, high support prices for other agricultural commodities have inevitably resulted in extremely burdensome surpluses. We believe that the maladjustments in supply and demand for poultry and poultry products can and will be more quickly and more economically corrected by the industry itself than by Government through supports or subsidies.
We oppose all agricultural supports to guarantee operating profits and favor them only for prevention of economic disaster to agriculture.
Prices paid by poultrymen for grains and other feed commodities have been unduly high and many times there have been market shortages when burdensome supplies were in Government hands. Feeders of such commodities should be entitled to the same consideration as is accorded growers of feedstuffs.
Farmers' cooperatives, as a means of self-help in agricultural industry, are of tremendous importance to the Nation's economy. We believe they should continue to be encouraged by the Congress, and we deplore the actions of those Members of both Houses who would destroy them through punitive legislation,
Poultry research by the United States Department of Agriculture should be intensified in order to assist the industry especially in the enlargement of its market outlets and in the control of poultry diseases.
Thank you for the opportunity to present our point of view, which I believe reflects the desires of the majority of commercial poultrymen of southern California.
The CHAIRMAN. The next witness is Mr. Griset. Give your full name and occupation for the record.
STATEMENT OF RAYMOND GRISET, VICE CHAIRMAN, RANCHO
SANTA FE, CALIF., LIMA BEAN ADVISORY BOARD, AND MEMBER, BOARD OF DIRECTORS, CALIFORNIA LIMA BEAN GROWERS ASSOCIATION, RANCHO SANTA FE, CALIF.
Mr. GRISET. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I am the vice chairman of the Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., Lima Bean Advisory Board, and a member of the board of directors of the California Lima Bean Growers Association.
The first organization represents all of the lima-bean growers, and the second organization markets and distributes 60 percent of the lima beans in California. This crop is restricted to the State of California entirely. We have had only a few years experience with the support program.
Since we are a small industry, with less than 500 growers, it is possible to get a pretty close look at the problems and the feelings of these growers.
There are a few of us who feel that the support program has solved our problems either long or short term. Many of us, too, are a little ashamed that we have needed and accepted help from the Government program. It would be safe to say that all of us who have had any direct contact with the distribution of our crop have seen the distressing effect of the program that is felt all throughout the channels of distribution. It is difficult to interest people in handling a product when the chance of doing so at a profit has been reduced.
Perhaps an incident from the experience of the California Lima Bean Growers Association will serve to illustrate both the effect on the markets and the feeling of the growers.
Last spring at a meeting of the association directors, the manager read a letter from the association broker in the Donora area of Pennsylvania in which he tried to explain why he was selling fewer beans than in the previous year.
In the stores where he sells beans, he found himself competing with beans given free to unemployed miners under the relief program. He was not criticizing the miners for taking the free beans for their distress was real enough. He was not, strangely enough, worried about the bean growers whose beans he was trying to sell, because as he said, “After all, you got your money."
And, indeed, we had.
His primary concern was that he was caught between 2 Government programs, 1 to help the distressed miners, and another to help the struggling farmers, and his business was being ruined. His letter served to emphasize to the association directors, the effect of the support program on the beam business.
There we were already planting our 1955 crop, finding it difficult to sell our 1954 crop because we were in competition with the beans that we had sold to the Commodity Credit Corporation from the 1953 crop. Although the support price had been reduced at the rate of about $1 each year that we had used the program, we still had more beans than we could sell in 1954.
And let me say here that we are not finding fault with the flexible support idea. The fact that we were still planting more beans than we could sell in 1954, despite two successive reductions in the support