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Senator ANDERSON. I did not rehearse this witness. He is a longtime friend. But I do think you would be justified in ruling any further remarks of that nature out of order. [Applause.] The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Boodry, are you ready now? Give us your full name and your occupation.
STATEMENT OF DAVID E. BOODRY, LYMAN, NEBR. Mr. Boodry. Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee, my name is David Boodry. I own and operate a small farm in Goshen County, Wyo. As an American farmer, I see nothing wrong with agriculture, from an agricultural standpoint.
Price supports are more of a deterrent than a help. Parity prices mean nothing to the farmer who loses his production by floods, hail, and acts of God.
Prices, of course, we know were all forced up during the war. The demand, not only from our own country but from our allies, brought these prices up.
As in all wars, the cry was, “Food will win the war.”
The scarcity of farm labor brought on the demand for mechanized equipment. The horse was too slow. A man with a tractor could accomplish more than 3 or 4 men. Tractors, combines, and all sorts of power machines replaced manpower. The average farmer is proud of the part he plays in the economy of our country, the land of free: enterprise and free people.
The average farmer has chosen his line of endeavor because of the freedom it entails. The average farmer tries to adjust his ups with the downs. To explain further, in times of good prices or plentiful production, he provides for those years of drought and famine, as do all of us who believe in the precepts that gave and preserved us as a nation.
I speak of the average farmer, of which I believe I am one, for in the community in which I live about 95 percent of them have about the same income. We discuss our crops, our finances, our production and prices. The average farmer realízes he must adjust his wartime production to a peacetime economy.
At the present time, he is caught in the squeeze, not of his making. For several years, legislation for special interests and organized groups has been enacted into laws and rulings which have reacted to the detriment of agriculture. These laws and rulings have increased the cost to the consumer of manufactured goods over the raw products as much as 90 percent in some instances. Agriculture is a consumer as well as a producer.
I recall a purchase I made a few days ago. It was an ordinary 10-tine silage fork. Ten years ago I bought this fork, one like it, for $4. Now it costs $9.50.
A belt for the blower on my feed grinder could be bought in 1944 for $3. Today it costs $8.50.
Tractors, combines, hayrakes, and so forth, have advanced in the same proportion. These raises in prices, according to the retailer, are costs reflected in the raises given to the steel manufacturer, or because of raises he gave to labor, because of his cost of living, and so forth.
Should American agriculture, one of the noblest of all vocations be placed in the embarrassing position of being a recipient of doles and subsidies from the Federal Treasury, when it is capable of feeding the world?
Should we, as agriculturists, be deprived of our rights of liberty and justice to all, because other segments of industry have sought to get the lion's share of our national income?
Should American agriculture relinquish its freedom, its American way of life, for a rule book, on which to plow and what to plant?
There are no 36- or 40-hour weeks in a livestock or irrigated farm. And many of us are quite content in the freedom we enjoy if we can do our work in 120 hours. If that were not true, we would not be farmers.
When you are asking for grassroot opinions that would enable you to enact laws suitable to agriculture, your pursuit is really and truly laudable.
As I stated in the beginning, I am a small operator. I own my own farm of 240 acres. I came to Wyoming over 32 years ago with my wife and $200 borrowed money. Ten years prior to that I was an auto mechanic.
Since coming to Wyoming, I have engaged in nothing but agriculture. I have 70 head of cattle in the feedlot; adequate feed supplies to finish them out for market; 20 head of hogs, which happen to be slipping a little right now.
I have plenty of cash assets and bonds to take care of my future, I hope. I do not owe anybody a dime. I have one daughter. She is married now, but I sent her to college for 4 years.
I still have the same wife I married over 35 years ago. I never have been in jail.
What I have accomplished was not done sitting on my haunches, and howling about the ills of agriculture, because agriculture can take care of itself if left alone. I think Secretary Benson is doing a fine job.
If there are any farmers hollering about agriculture, I advise them to quit the farm for there seems to be plenty of more lucrative jobs. And if revisions in laws are to be made, I would suggest that revisions in other lines of industry be made which are causing so-called squeezes in agriculture.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Boodry, as I understand your formula, it is to get everybody to start back at scratch, which would include industry, labor, and so forth. In other words, if labor, industry, and farming were put on the same basis, you think the farmer, of course, could well take care of himself.
Mr. Boodry. I think that agriculture could well take care of itself.
The CHAIMAN. Suppose that we cannot do what you suggest. Suppose that labor remains with these high wages that you have indicated, Congress is unable to cope with that situation. If that be true, is there anything that you would offer, anything that you would suggest to maintain this balance which you say is now out of balance, because of the laws that are now on the statute books that help labor and industry?
Mr. Boonry. I cannot quite understand how we can keep advancing the price of labor.
The CHAIRMAN. I understand that. The question I am asking you is this: If Congress will not do what you suggest, if Congress
will not pass laws taking away from labor the powers that they now have, the rights they now have under the law, if we are unable to cope with the situation as to industry, and all of that, would you still want the farmer not to be protected in any way?
Mr. Boodry. Perhaps I am taking a selfish point of view of this
The CHAMAN. You have indicated here that you are all right. You have worked hard, and during the war, I suppose you made plenty of money by selling commodities high and saving it. It is not every farmer who did what you did. On these trips, I find that some formers, went too far in debt. The fact that they bought radios and television sets and a lot of equipment is probably what caused industry to keep on advancing as it has. That has kept the pocketbooks of the laboring man flush.
Mr. BOODRY. I will have to be frank with you, Senator, and answer that I could not give you that answer, because I have made no study of those things.
The CHAIMAN. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF ANDREW CHITWOOD, CLOVIS, N. MEX. Mr. CHITWOOD. Mr. Chairman, and Senator Anderson, I am Andrew Chitwood, a rancher and farmer from Curry County, N. Mex. I have been a lifetime farmer and rancher, if you please. I was born and reared on the farm and still have my interests there.
I am a member of the New Mexico State Legislature, having served two terms in the house of representatives. I also am the chairman of the agricultural committee.
The CHAIRMAN. You can give us a solution to the problem, I am sure.
Mr. CHITWOOD. No, sir, I am afraid not.
I appreciate the opportunity of being here, and I will attempt to give you, not only my views, but the view of many of the agricultural people that I have contact with throughout the State of New Mexico. I have this prepared statement here that I will present. I will start with the statement and anytime you want to ask a question, I will be happy to try to answer it.
The CHAIRMAN. Very well.
Mr. Chitwood. I am Andrew Chitwood, a dry land farmer and rancher of Curry County. My son and I own and operate 2,400 acres of wheat and grain sorghum land in Curry County in addition to my grasslands and livestock raising activities.
Having gone through 5 years of severe drought and crop failures at a time when prices were good, we now find ourselves at a point of no return, due to drastic cuts in acreage allotments, the high cost of machinery, repairs, fuels, labor and other costs of production.
The present price of agricultural products times the reduced acreage that we may plant, plus the fact that we must protect our diverted acreage, just will not pay the high costs of operation, interest, and We are told that the huge mountain of surplus of agricultural products are causing the low prices, yet the consuming public, including the housewife find prices still going up on all of these finished products they have to buy.
It is common knowledge that we have a surplus, Army, Navy, and Air Force and each group has stores of guns, ammunition, planes, ships, and other necessary equipment, but they are called defense reserves, so let's take a new approach to this agricultural problem and set up a defense food and fiber storage or a world food basket if you please, and get away from that old nasty word of surpluses.
At the beginning of World War II we had a surplus of agricultural commodities, yet they were consumed before we ended the war. Today, we have just about as much agricultural surplus as we had at the beginning of World War II.
If these surpluses, or defense armies, navies, and air force are necessary, then we must assume that a defense food basket is necessary, for food and fiber is vital to our defense.
In setting up a defense food basket, we would want it large enough to run this country and her allies 2 or 3 years, so that the amount of overproduction each year, divided into the size of the food basket, would give the number of years to fill the basket. If it takes 3 years to fill the basket, we would be filling it one-third each year, then as each year's surplus goes into the basket, one-third of the older products are taken out and disposed of through world trade, thereby keeping a fresh supply on hand at all times for any emergency that might arise, but definitely dispose of the older or obsolete products, and not carry any more surplus.
The Secretary of Agriculture should designate commercial grain sorghum areas, where these crops have been produced prior to 1951, and price supports be maintained in these areas at not less than 10 percent below the price supports on corn; grain sorghums produced in noncommercial areas should be reduced in the same proportion as price supports on corn produced in noncommercial corn areas.
It is also necessary that the 15-acre or 200-bushel producer of wheat, without a penalty be eliminated, and to qualify for the production of wheat for market, he must have a wheat allotment for his farm, and quality milling wheat be used as the basis for price support, therefore we need extensive revision in United States grades and standards of wheat for export and domestic use.
Now as to diverted acres, they should be the percentage of national cut, as applied to any commodity, and on each individual farm, under allotment, along with a soil-fertility bank, payment for the control of those diverted acres, and to help preserve the soil for future use.
The CHAIRMAN. Before you go to the next paragraph, about this soil-fertility bank, I imagine what you contemplate is that these acres will be set aside ?
Mr. CHITWOOD. Right.
The CHAIRMAN. The land would not be used in competition with other producers, say, of livestock, to be specific in what I mean, as we have in the Southwest, the West, and the North. A lot of people who use their diverted acres to plant feed grains compete with people who grow nothing but feed grains.
Mr. CHITWOOD. That is right.
The CHAIRMAN. They have done damage to those people, and your idea would be to set diverted acres aside and not to have them used, they would remain in fallow, or they would be nonproductive, except to increase their fertility ?
Mr. CHITWOOD. Right.
Mr. CHITWOOD. Senator, I feel as you have noted— I have specified here that those acres that have allotments be used as diverted acres. That would include, naturally, only those crops that are allotted.
The CHAIRMAN. I understand. Mr. CHITWOOD. But, by the same token, the person who is being supported at an equitable price, if they are to be supported at all, it should be an equitable price, should not mind leaving out their diverted acres from production.
The CHAIRMAN. What do you mean by an equitable price? How would you attain that goal?
Mr. CHITWOOD. Of course, that goal is—what is known as the parity formula.
The CHAIRMAN. Would you give it a percentage of the parity formula or the whole of it?
Mr. Chitwood. No; I would not particularly be interested in giving a percent of the parity formula for this reason: If we do not move the surpluses that we now have, even 150 percent of parity would not answer the problem because the mountain of surplus would continue to grow, and your acres would continue to decrease. That is the adverse reaction to a controlled program. If you allow any overproduction to build up, you keep cutting the production itself.
If you do not happen to get it just exactly right each year, and you never know what nature is going to do with the return she is going to yield from a crop you plant.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, what would you call an equitable return?
Now, in order to induce him to do that, would you want to give him a fixed sum, percentagewise or whatever way you want, of parity?
Mr. CHITWOOD. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Would you want it to be fixed in the law with a
The CHAIRMAN. We have tried the old ways. If you have some new ways let us have them, because we are anxious to hear from you in that regard.
Mr. CHITWOOD. Under the revised parity formula, all of these other costs of production were supposed to be included in parity, were they not?
The CHAIRMAN. Labor costs were added, but not the farmer's own labor; just hired labor. There may be something wrong with the parity formula.
Mr. CHITWOOD. That is right. That was the thought that I had in mind there.