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It has been going on in this way the last 2 years, so that we got the short end of it. Whether something can be done along that line, I do not know. As I said, the only way by which it could be handled is as I have suggested. So far as this committee is concerned, it would not have any jurisdiction.
Mr. TRENTHAM. That is all.
Is Mr. Albert Matlock here? Please step forward. Give us your full name for the record.
STATEMENT OF ALBERT MATLOCK, GRIER, N. MEX.
Mr. MATLOCK. My name is Albert Matlock. I have a prepared statement that I would like to enter into the record.
The CHAIRMAN. We will be glad to put it in the record at this point. (The prepared statement of Mr. Matlock is as follows:) Due to the approximate 30 percent decrease in net income of agriculture since 1947 and due to the fact that we have been operating under direct rigid 90 percent supports for a number of years, I am of the opinion that 90 percent direct rigid price supports are not the answer to the farm problem. We have just now gone under a flexible price support system and are willing to give it a fair trial, but the program is certainly in error when the Congress of the United States leaves it at the discretion of the Secretary of Agriculture to support nonbasic crops at any price he chooses.
This is what he did in the case of grain sorghums just because there was a used-to-be feed processor in his personnel group and this man suggested that the Secretary support grain sorghums and other nonbasic crops at 70 percent of parity. The purpose of this was to discourage the planting of these nonbasic crops on diverted acres, the acres that were taken out of the production of wheat, cotton, corn, rice, peanuts and tobacco because of allotments.
If the Secretary had said that he would support nonbasic crops that were under price supports at 10 percent of parity, these diverted acres would have gone into the production of grain sorghums and other nonbasic crops because the producers of basic crops gain their livelihood from that particular commodity and on their diverted acres they are only looking for a catch crop. There are some areas that gain their livelihood solely from the production of grain sorghums, therefore, it becomes the responsibility of the Congress of the United States to control diverted acres so that the non-basic-crop producers of America will not be completely bankrupted.
Diverted acres are one of the biggest problems facing American agriculture today, and it certainly should be the responsibility of Congress to place controls on these diverted acres. This is the program that I would suggest be given a careful study and adopted by the Congress of the United States. In declaring what each producer should have as diverted acres, when growing a crop under allotments, whether it be basic or nonbasic, that he be required to leave out of production the national percentage of out in the crop only that is under allotment that he might be farming on his particular farm. He should not be required to leave any acres out of production if he is not farming a crop that is under allotment.
When the producer of allotted crops leaves these acres out of production he should draw a soil-building payment in the form of a soil-bank payment. It is not the responsibility of American agriculture alone to preserve the fertility of the soil for future generations unless each and every agricultural commodity were bringing into the pocket of the producer 100 percent of parity. The nonbasic producer cannot produce his crop at 70 percent of parity and allow acres coming out of the production of basic crops to ruin his chance of getting any more than the loan rate for his crops.
Therefore, I would urge that diverted acres be controlled and that grain sorghums be supported at not less than 75 percent of parity. I also urge that the Secretary of Agriculture be required to designate commercial grain sorghum areas. To qualify for a commercial grain sorghum area, the area must have been in the production of grain sorghums prior to allotment in 1951 and 64440—56—pt.
those commercial areas would be the only areas eligible for price supports. I would also further urge that the 15-acre or 200-bushel producer of wheat without a penalty be eliminated and that to qualify for the production of wheat for the market he must have a wheat allotment for his farm.
Another problem facing agriculture is that the production cost is still rising by leaps and bounds while the price of agricultural commodities are decreasing. Agriculture cannot sell its wares from 60 to 75 percent of parity and then buy the things that they need in the production of these wares at 100 to 120 percent of parity. That gap must be brought closer together.
Our exports and trading with other nations must be stepped up. I believe on way is to cut out the provision that one-half of the agricultural products sold to foreign nations must be shipped in American-flag ships. It would be a lot better just to pay the maritime commission industry a direct subsidy out of the Federal Treasury and let it make the headlines in our Nation's newspapers for a while. I also think it should be made known that several multimillion dollar sales of United States agricultural products to foreign countries have been lost because of the fact that these countries could not transport all the products in their own ships; instead of having so many headlines telling of the many thousands of dollars lost because of the price supports on agricultural products.
We must stop calling agricultural products that are not needed for immediate use surpluses. We must rename these so-called surpluses to a national food bank or some similar title. We are spending billions of dollars on national defense. The defense of our country still depends largely upon men to operate military equipment efficiently, and men can be efficient only when they are well fed. It is only good planning that we should have a several years' supply of food and fiber on hand at all times in case of war, plague, drought and for many other reasons, which might be beyond the control of man. We must never lose sight of the fact that food and fiber is a vital part of our national defense and certainly agriculture should get its proportional part of the national defense moneys that are now being spent in America. Agriculture is sick today and everything possible must be done to bolster the agricultural economy.
Mr. MATLOCK. A lot of these points have been touched on this morning.
The CHAIRMAN. Will you highlight it and touch those that have not been touched on before.
Mr. MATLOCK. One that I would like to highlight is diverted acres. I think that is one of the biggest problems facing American agriculture today. It certainly should be the responsibility of Congress to place controls on these diverted acres. This is the program that I would suggest be given careful study and adopted by the Congress of the United States. In declaring what each producer should have as diverted acres, when growing a crop under allotments, whether it be basic or nonbasic, that he be required to leave out of production the national percentage of cut in the crop only that is under allotment that he might be farming on his particular farm. He should not be required to leave any acres out of production if he is not farming a crop that is under allotment.
The CHAIRMAN. That is about all we could do, anyhow. In other words, if a farmer has X number of acres of cotton or wheat or whatever crop is protected, your idea would be that on those diverted acres that he not plant anything that may get in complication with some other crop, either protected or not protected ?
Mr. MATLOCK. To an extent, that is it. The man that is producing grain sorghums for a livelihood, and we have certain sections in the high plains area of this State of New Mexico and Texas, that produce that solely for a livelihood—they have been in the production of grain sorghums for years and years and years—they should not have to leave out of production any acreage until they go under an allotment program.
Now, then, the whole setup is because we have taken 38 million acres out of production of the basic crops, and those 38 million acres went into the production of the nonbasic crops. That is where we are in a pinch.
I would like to state for the record that I am a farmer and rancher of Curry County, N. Mex. I gain my livelihood entirely from farming and ranching. I have been in that line of business all of my life. I know nothing else.
I have studied the farm program to a great extent, and I feel like those diverted acres, the Cargo Preference Act, is another thing that is causing us trouble. I feel like those two things might be some of the answers.
I am a firm believer in the flexible price support system. I think it should be given a chance to work, but I realize that the price support, flexible or nonflexible, rigid, shall not work and cannot work under a surplus that we are now faced with.
The CHAIRMAN. There is no doubt that is the main problem we have there on any program. We have to do something about the surplus.
Mr. MATLOCK. On these diverted acres the man should be allowed a soil-building payment or whatever you might call it. I do not want you in any way to think that the producer of the nonbasic crops which are not under allotment should have to be left out. I am not in favor of a 10 percent cut directly across the board. The people that I have talked to in my rounds are not in favor of that, either, from where I hail from.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Mr. Matlock.
STATEMENT OF ANTHON H. LEE, THATCHER, ARIZ. Mr. LEE. Mr. Chairman and members, my name is Anthon H. Lee. I come from Graham County, Ariz. I am a producer of cotton, both long and short staple, sheep, and alfalfa. I have 224 acres in an irrigated region of about 40,000 acres.
I am completely opposed to the high, rigid price support program. It is directly opposite to every concept of the free enterprise system. It involves Government in our business to the extent that we are told not only what price we will receive, but how many acres we can plant. Such a governmental program has a tendency to perpetuate certain people and parties in power, because authority becomes vested in persons or political parties and the power they exert is contrary to all fundamentals of free citizenry.
As a result of these high supports we have encouraged overproduction and production on land which otherwise would not have been put into basic crops. This overproduction has created surpluses which called for rigid acreage allotments. Acres diverted from basic crops have gone into competition with the long-time producers of nonsupported crops.
I believe we should immediately abandon the program of high rigid price support which have created the situation we are in now. Surpluses should be moved out in an orderly manner in every way possible. Secretary Benson's proposal of selling these commodities to any foreign country should be adopted. We should aim toward eventual elimination of all support programs but should do it gradually by first using the flexible price program.
As an example of why I oppose support programs, the range-cattle business has always operated without supports, and today is in the best position of any segment of Arizona agriculture.
I have a brother, 3 nephews, and 4 good friends who have always been interested and busy in the cattle industry in Arizona. So I know what I am talking about.
Thank you. The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, sir. Next is Mr. Cottingham. Give us your name in full. STATEMENT OF GREER COTTINGHAM, QUAY COUNTY, N. MEX.
Mr. COTTINGHAM. Mr. Chairman, my name is Greer Cottingham from Quay County. That is over on the east side of New Mexico.
I am directly milking cows, in other words, we are in the dairy business.
I appreciate the fact that Senator Ellender has mentioned the dairy business 5 or 6 times today. It must be kind of on his mind.
We are at the present time not hurting particularly. We are pretty well satisfied with the setup at the present time.
Of course, cheap feeds are helping us to produce our milk. I believe we are supposed to be at the present time at about 8212 percent of parity.
The CHAIRMAN. Are you selling grade A milk? Mr. COTTINGHAM. Yes, sir. The CHAIRMAN. You have a marketing agreement ? Mr. COTTINGHAM. No. There is no working milk marketing order in the State of New Mexico.
The CHAIRMAN. There is not an overproduction in New Mexico? Mr. COTTINGHAM. We hope not. That moves around from area to area, just like everything else does.
Senator ANDERSON. Do you sell in the Tucumcari market? Mr. COTTINGHAM, We sell in that area. We do not have any working Federal orders in the State of New Mexico. We do have a tristate dairy association which has just come up in the Panhandle of Texas. I am very well acquainted with that.
We are very proud that we are up eight-tenths percent consumption on milk. We have moved from 3 to 9 percent more of cheese and milk products this past year.
Even though we are up in production with our increased amount of consumption, I believe we have moved nearly one-half, according to the records, of our surplus, which we are more than proud of.
The CHAIRMAN. You mean here in New Mexico? Mr. COTTINGHAM. I mean as a whole. Unless my magazines are wrong, we have moved approximately one-half of our surplus. I do not say that we did not give that away, et cetera.
The CHAIRMAN. We did not move it. We gave it away. Your magazine article is wrong. Mr. COTTINGHAM. We are interested in getting shut of them. The CHAIRMAN. We sold milk products as feed for hogs.
Mr. COTTINGHAM. That is right. We will not have to use so much grain stuff.
The CHAIRMAN. It cost the Government plenty of money.
Mr. COTTINGHAM. We are just as interested in getting as much out of the grain as these people. They need it for a livelihood.
We do hope at the same time that we hold a minimum price with them, so that we can feed our cattle and produce our milk along the same lines as we are at the present time. The best way I can figure it is that we are working on less than a 6 percent margin of profit.
The CHAIRMAN. Gross sales? Mr. COTTINGHAM. Yes, sir. Wait a minute. That is on gross sales of raw milk. The processor-you do not have to say it off the recordhe is still working on a 25 to 26 percent margin. I would probably be doing the same thing if I were in his shoes. And I just say more power to him.
We are getting along pretty good at the present time. We do hope something will be worked out with these people on these grain sorghums especially in our part of the State. We hope that they can work that up to a point that they can receive a livelihood, because in many instances that is the only way they have of making a living.
So far as a solution to the program is concerned, I could not say it might be a feasible solution, but I do know this, as long as we have as many pounds or bushels or hundredweight of this grain in storage, any type of program is not going to work too efficiently until that stockpile is depleted.
Senator ANDERSON. You are interested then in trying to see these grain sorghum people get some help in your part of the State ?
Mr. COTTINGHAM. Naturally, they cannot buy my products.
STATEMENT OF FRED HEIMANN, UNION COUNTY, N. MEX. Mr. HEIMANN. Mr. Chairman and Senator Anderson, my name is Fred Heimann. I am from Union County, N. Mex. That is in the northeastern part of this State. I am certainly glad to have this opportunity. I appreciate your coming down here, Senators. It makes me feel like I am a little closer to Washington than ever before.
My business is producing cattle, feeders, and so on. I have been at it since 1908.
The CHAIRMAN. How many acres have you? Mr. HEIMANN. About 40,000 acres. The CHAIRMAN. Do you own that? Mr. HEIMANN. I own about 32,000 and the rest of it I lease. The CHAIRMAN. How many cattle can you grow on that? Mr. HEIMANN. About 800. The CHAIRMAN. Eight hundred ? Mr. HEIMAN. Eight hundred head of breeding cows. And then I keep my yearlings. I keep my cows until they are yearlings and sell them as feeders.
The CHAIRMAN. Does it take as many as 40 acres to sustain a cow ?