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He would be privileged to plant those 350 acres in any crop of his choosing provided there was not a marketing quota on some of these basics that would prohibit him.
I would like to explain this one other way: I think that a fellow who produced broomcorn has got as much right to a Government program as basic commodities, as others, we will say, barley—they have got as much right to that.
Now, suppose that you follow that philosophy, and suppose that every commodity in the United States says, “We want a marketing quota program.
All right. You would wind up with a soil bank plan with a million people to administer it because you have to go out there on the farm and measure every little crop he has got, and this 100 acres that we took out of cotton in your illustration would have to be blank because every time you put a marketing quota on a crop you cannot plant your diverted acreage in that, so we would wind up in the soil bank because we would have all the acres taken out of the marketing crop.
Senator EASTLAND. I want to ask you this question: In my State, in Louisiana and all the South, farmers grow corn for use on the farm for consumption on the farm. Some of them sell that corn.
Now, if there were marketing quotas on corn, do I understand that under your proposal that farmers could not grow any corn on it!
Mr. HAMMOND. If it is in a commercial area he could not plant it.
Mr. HAMMOND. We do not propose to disturb the marketing quota program.
The CHAIRMAN. And you would put a marketing quota with a support price on all
grains produced ? Mr. HAMMOND. Marketing quota—it is almost that, but not quite accurate.
The CHAIRMAN. What would you leave out?
Mr. HAMMOND. You would not leave anything out on a marketing quota. If you put a marketing quota on a crop, the Secretary decides what percent of the acres to take out.
On this proposal we decide how many acres to take out of all the crops in the United States, and that would be his requirement for compliance with the soil bank plan.
The CHAIRMAN. Any further questions?
STATEMENT OF ALEX DICKIE, JR., PRESIDENT, TEXAS FARMERS
UNION, DENTON, TEX.
Mr. DICKIE. Sir, I am Alex Dickie, Jr., from Denton County, Tex I own and operate 1,500 acres of land in Denton County, Tex.
I am president of the Texas Farmers Union.
I run about 300 head of beef cattle, and I grow some oats and barley in rotation.
Against my operation at this time I owe $129,000 at 542 percent interest.
The CHAIRMAN. When did you buy your farm?
The CHAIRMAN. I see.
As I see it, my operation is as basic to me as any other farmer's operation in this country, because it determines whether I keep my farm or whether I send my children to school or how much money I make and, as I say, in the last 3 years it has cost me $21,000.
I had made money before that, and I had my operation going to where I could have made a living, and where I could have stayed with it. The CHAIRMAN. You still owe how much, you say? Mr. DICKIE. $129,000. Surrounding my 800 acres of black land, I have some 14 families who touch that farm, and 13 of those families, either the husband or the wife or the husband and wife, both, work to supplement the farm incomework full time. The 14th man has outside income on his wife's side.
In my particular case I teach in the veterans' agriculture program to supplement my farm income, and I say that picture is true in all Denton County, and in most of the farming sections of Texas, and these farms around me average in size some 200 acres, and they are as good black-land farms as there are anywhere, and yet they arə making their living from other sources.
I am not a 40-acre-and-mule farmer. I use the biggest diesel tractor that is made on rubber, and I irrigate 200 acres.
I have known all my life that I wanted to make my livelihood from farming, and I went to Texas A. and M. and took a degree in animal husbandry, and I took a master's degree in North Texas State College in economics. I say I prepared for this in that manner.
I paint this gloomy picture in agriculture because I tell you that something must be done very quickly to relieve this chaotic situation we face in agriculture.
The price decline is staggering. This past Monday I brought some fat calves down here that had been fed all their lives, and they brought 15 cents a pound on the Fort Worth stockyards.
A little over 3 years ago those same type calves brought me more than twice that figure.
I cannot think of anything, with the exception of what I am buying from other farmers, that my dollars do not buy less than they did when I was selling those calves for twice that amount of money.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you know how much the retail price has been during the last 3 years?
Mr. DICKIE. It is not anywhere near in line with what it should be, I know that.
The average age of the farmers is getting higher and higher. I believe it is maybe 57 years average age of the farmers, and I am going to tell you, and I believe you know it, that the only way that a young man now can get into farming is to inherit money or inherit his land. There is no other way for him to get in there and make a go at the present price of things.
The CHAIRMAN. He could do it if he had an oil well.
And these older farmers, as they die off, the land is going into fewer and fewer hands each year.
I hear the Secretary of Agriculture say that any red-blooded cattle raiser opposes these Government price-support programs, and he desires his freedom in a competitive market place.
I say the cattle raiser who comes down to Fort Worth to this open market looking for a free competitive market to sell his cattle, finds monopoly at its bulging best, which leaves him in a singular position, and he is totally unprotected.
I do not have time today to cover this entire disastrous picture, but I say to you that if you have any doubts about how the farmers feel on these programs, go to the farmer; don't ask the Farmers Union or the Farm Bureau or the meat packers, ask the farmer. Put these various proposals in the form of a referendum and let them vote. [Applause.]
Down to this point in painting a gloomy picture there will not be much disagreement with my testimony today. Everybody is going to tell you that we are in bad shape, and I believe you have been told everywhere you go, but do not make any mistake about my solution to it. I am going to get to that right now.
I think we are going to have to have 100 percent of parity on all farm commodities, with controls where they are necessary.
The methods by which this 100 percent of parity would be obtained would be through direct production payments to the farmer, purchase agreements, or loans, whichever fit the particular commodity better.
Senator EASTLAND. What you would do, if I understand you, is to let the market sink to its natural level, and make up the difference between what a farmer got in the market place
Mr. DICKIE. Yes, sir.
Senator EASTLAND (continuing). And a hundred percent of parity by check?
Mr. DICKIE. Yes, sir; on some commodities where that works better than the loan or the purchase agreement, go ahead and channel it
Senator EASTLAND. Yes, I see.
Mr. DICKIE. And I most certainly think there should be an outside dollar limit on an individual limitation to make sure that the farmowning corporations and your land barons do not get the lion's share of the money from this program.
The CHAIRMAN. Could you expand on that! What would be your limitation!
Mr. DICKIE. Well, that is I notice there is a House Agriculture Committee that just started its work in Texas to determine that.
I would call on the Legislature of this country to determine that figure. Senator EASTLAND. What is your judgment? We want your help. The CHAIRMAN. That is what I want to know.
Mr. DICKIE. I should think somewhere in line with other segments of our economy, so that I could live accordingly, with a fair return on my investment—say, if I make more than $25,000 a year, why, put that on a two-price system.
The CHAIRMAN. Would you want to be assured by some program of, say, $25,000 per year on your farm?
Mr. DICKIE. No, sir; I would not want to be assured of that. I would want to be assured that we have a hundred percent of parity up to a certain point. The CHAIRMAN. That point is $25,000? Mr. DICKIE. That is a living. The CHAIRMAN. Gross ?
Mr. DICKIE. If that is a figure arrived at, I think somewhere in that neighborhood.
Senator EASTLAND. What is your judgment now? What is it?
The CHAIRMAN. What would you do with a fellow who does not owe as much as you do? Here you owe $129,000. How much interest do you pay ?
Mr. DICKIE. 542 percent.
The CHAIRMAN. That is about $7,000 you pay per year in interest alone ?
Mr. DICKIE. Yes, sir; and I cannot—I know full well right now that I cannot pay interest, operating costs, and taxes on my land. I have not done it for the last 2 years,
and I cannot pay it another year under this program.
The CHAIRMAN. Now, suppose we had a farmer who had the same acreage you had, but who does not owe anything. Would you expect to get more because of your indebtedness or would you
be Mr. DICKIE. No, sir; no sir; I would not.
The CHAIRMAN. Of course, instead of getting a return by way of interest on your farm, you would have to pay it.
The CHAIRMAN. So that there would be a difference there between you and the other fellow. If he got 542 percent return, and you had to pay 512 percent, that would be a difference of about $14,000 between the two; is that right?
Mr. DICKIE. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. So that in reaching the figure of $25,000, you would account for that sum in a fair return on the acreage that the farmer owned ?
Mr. DICKIE. I say that would be a technicality that would have to be worked out by the Congress.
The CHAIRMAN. I know about technicalities. You know, we have got to get that from you fellows who propose it.
Mr. DICKIE. Yes, sir. I am giving you my interpretation.
The CHAIRMAN. 'It is easy for you to come before us and say, “I would like to have a hundred percent of parity on everything I grow.”
Mr. DICKIE. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. When you include chickens and turkeys and any other commodity
Mr. DICKIE. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN (continuing). That is grown on the farm, that is produced on a farm; you get into problems.
Mr. DICKIE. Yes, sir. I do not say-
Mr. DICKIE. I do not say we will not get into problems. But I say right now our problem is this: That the family-type farmer is being starved off the farm.
The CHAIRMAN. Would you consider your farm, an 800-acre farm, with 200 acres
Mr. DICKIE. Fifteen-hundred-acre farm.
Mr. DICKIE. I would call it such. I have one hired man, and I work full time, and operate it with one full-time hired man.
The CHAIRMAN. What is the average size of the Texas farm; do you know?
Mr. DICKIE. I would say 300 acres; that would be a guess.
Mr. DICKIE. Yes, sir. That is why I think that this family-sized unit would have to be determined in dollars rather than in acreage.
Senator EASTLAND. Mr. Dickie, what is the difference between your proposals and the old Brannan plan?
Mr. DICKIE. There is very little difference. I would say it was broadened some; wouldn't you?