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With the help of my father, I rented a farm and began to teach in the rural schools. From 1921 to 1939 I taught school and farmed and took an active part in the Grange, Farmers Union, and Farm Bureau.
In 1940 I was elected a member of the Kingfisher County AAA Committee of which I have been a member since that time. Because of my past activity, I have come in contact with most every farmer in our county and feel I can express some of their views.
We have less than 5 percent of the farmers who want no farm program of any kind. There are some who favor the two-price system, but the majority of farmers think we had better keep our present program, but that the support price should not be less than 90 percent of parity for the average-size farm and that there should be a more rigid penalty for those who overseed.
Our county is 30 miles square with around 572,160 acres of land of which 96 percent is in farms. 171,000 acres are in pasture which leaves 354,224 acres in tillable land of which 318,244 acres was planted to wheat in the historical period of 1951-53, which gives our county an allotment of 207,812 acres. This means that 35 percent of 146,412 acres are diverted acres from wheat. According to the latest Government census the average-size farm is 331 acres of which only 228 acres are in cultivation. That means the average farm will have a wheat history of about 200 acres with a wheat allotment of 130 acres. The normal yield in our county is 14 bushels per acre, which multiplied by 130 acres would produce 1,820 bushels of wheat.
The price support on wheat for 1956 has been set by Secretary of Agriculture Benson for our country of $1.81 if stored on the farm; or $1.68 per bushel if stored in commercial warehouses. More than 90 percent of our wheat is stored in commercial warehouses. This 1,820 bushels of wheat at $1.68 per bushel would gross this average farmer $3,057.60 if he owns his own farm. If he was a renter he would gross only $2,038.40.
The big problem is how can the average farmer operate after taking out his expenses of harvesting and seeding, etc., his living expenses, and purchase equipment needed to operate this farm, when the prevailing prices of machinery are $4,500 to $6.300 for a self-propelled combine; tractor that costs $2,500 to $4,700 ; wheat drill $650, and if equipped with a fertilizer attachment $810; 7-foot mower $325; spring-tooth harrow $210; 4-bottom plow $590, etc.
In 1950 there were 1,978 farms in the county, in 1955 there are 1,658, a loss of 320 farms. Why?
During the last presidential election my political party promised the farmers they would do everything possible to get 100 percent parity for the basic commodities, but instead we will actually receive 67 percent of partity, for the wheat placed in commercial storage. During the depression when wheat sold for 25 cents a bushel, this was equal to 65 percent of parity.
I feel that since my political party has failed to keep their promises, and since so many farmers have been forced to leave the farm, I would like to propose this change in the support program. That support prices be put on a graduated basis the same as income tax.
The first 1,000 bushels of wheat (or a designated number of pounds of cotton, rice, peanuts, tobacco, etc.) be supported at 100 percent of parity; second 1,000 bushels at 98 percent; third 1,000 bushels at 96 percent; fourth 1,000 bushels at 94 percent, scaling right on down until it would be unprofitable for the syndicate farmer to place all his wheat under Government storage.
Some changes must be made to give the small operator a break so he can stay on the farm where he belongs. Remember the old adage, "If you take care of your pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves," so it is with the farmers. If you will help the little farmer stay on the farm, the big farmer will do all right.
The people in our county have the general feeling and faith in Congress that the support price will be raised back to at least 90 percent of parity.
Again may I thank you for the opportunity and privilege to present my views before your committee.
P. S. Our county raised very little more than enough wheat to reseed. In 1954 our county made 3,083 wheat loans on 2,361,982 bushels for $5,385,398.91. In 1955, we made only 21 loans on 7,735 bushels. 1954 price support on wheat:
$2.25, stored on farm
1955 price support:
$2.09, stored on farm
21 loans on 7,735 bushels, $84,775.60 1956 price support:
$1.81, stored on farm
$1.68, stored in warehouse $1.68 divided by $2.52 equal 67 percent of parity.
Price support should be graduated like income tax. The first given number of bushels or pounds should be supported at 100 percent parity. For wheat:
1st 1,000 bushels, at 100 percent of parity
9th 1,000 bushels, at 84 percent of parity And continue right on down.
KINGFISHER COUNTY 1950 farms ----------------------1954 farms --------------
320 Acres of land--------
572, 160 Acres tillable------
354, 224 Acres with wheat history--
318, 244 Acres pasture--
135, 980 Acres 1956 wheat allotment
207, 812 Acres diverted wheat ----
146, 416 Acres average size farm--
331 Acres in cultivation-------
228 Acres pasture ----------
104 Acres wheat history --
200 County allotment-factor (percent) -
65.2 Acres wheat allotment -
130 Bushels per acre average wheat-yield.
14 130 acres multiplied by 14 bushels equal 1,820 bushels of wheat. 1,820 multiplied $1.68 per bushel equal $3,057.60 if he owns his farm. 23 of $3,057.60 equals $2,038.40 if renter. 1956 support price:
$1.81 per bushel farm stored
$1.68 per bushel warehouse stored (90 percent warehouse stored) The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Foster.
Senator YOUNG. I want to say I thought Mr. Foster was one of the best witnesses we have had thus far in the hearing.
The CHAIRMAN. That is very nice.
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM D. BRADLEY, ADDINGTON, OKLA. Mr. BRADLEY. I am William D. Bradley, from Jefferson County in the ranching business. I don't pretend to have a solution to this problem to putting agriculture on a stable basis.
I am from a farming and ranching country in Jefferson County in the south part of the State. We have quite a few small farmers and small ranchers. Our basic commodity is cotton and the cotton farmers this year are doing rather well. They are very happy with their support price. I think the election will show that. It goes overwhelmingly in favor of price support.
The CHAIRMAN. Are any of them saying anything about their allotment of acres ?
Mr. BRADLEY. Yes, sir. The small farmer has got to a point they have cut him 2 percent, 5 percent, 2.9 percent, until he is almost percented out.
The CHAIRMAN. When you say they are doing well, you mean the larger farmer or what?
Mr. BRADLEY. I mean as far as their price for what they are producing, sir. They continue, they like the price supports, I think I speak for the majority of them. They would like to have more acreage. The small farmer is definitely hurting in our area.
Now, then, so far as some of them that have been cut so deeply in their number of acres they have had to go to town to seek supplemental employment, that hurts our employment situation.
The CHAIRMAN. What do they do with diverted acres? Mr. BRADLEY. Most of the time in our area it is cattle grazing. The CHAIRMAN. Any sorghum ? Mr. BRADLEY. Yes, some; but there is no irrigation whatsoever. The CHAIRMAN. Proceed. Mr. BRADLEY. We need more basic commodities in my area for the small family-type farm. He is the one that is hurting. We all know that if the little man gets a living the big man will live off of him. We have no fear of that. I say keep money in the hands of the small man. It is a game of life, it is a game we played as children back of the barn with a bunch of pebbles using rocks for money. If we can keep these guys with money in their pockets the rest of us will get it some way. If you do not pay for the use of idle acres they will go into cattle producing or some other livestock business. I know the ranchers are hurt. The beef buying program and pork buying program is a social-you said not to bring politics into it, sir, so I can't say what it is, but anyway it hasn't helped the small man. It helped the packers. The meat in the markets hasn't gone down any.
I met out at Lubbock year before last with the Secretary of Agriculture and we brought this question up before him. Has it been mentioned to the restaurant association? We might bring down the price of beef where more people could eat it, more people could enjoy a living they are entitled to.
Beef is very wholesome. We all know that. We would like to see everybody in this great United States of course able to eat it. He said he had met with the restaurant association in Chicago a couple of weeks before. They said they couldn't bring down the price of beef but they would put larger portions of meat in their hamburger. That was his solution at that time.
The CHAIRMAN. Don't you find among the farmers of your locality or maybe in the State here, that they would not mind low prices so much, provided the consumer got the benefits of those low prices?
Mr. BRADLEY. We would not mind low prices if everything else we used was comparable to those low prices, but the spread in what we have to use to produce our products is going this way and what we are getting is going that way, and that is what happened in 1928, the old folks tell me. We don't want that to happen again.
Now then we have this cattle situation which I am more familiar with. It has been mentioned that the fact that we had cheap feed, that cheap feed is relative to the producers' angle. It has not been cheap to the fellow growing the cattle. We have not received cheap feed in the means of making a living, a living that we people of this great United States are entitled to. We are supposed to be the smartest nation on the face of this great earth. We should act accordingly.
If we have all this surplus that everybody is talking about, I don't know the policy of the Government well enough to explain this, but I am wondering when we make these large loans to other countries if there could not be stipulation in those loans that they would buy large portions of those products from us, such as beef, a surplus of beef, sure, instead of going to our neighbors to the south, Argentina.
We know those people have to live, too, but I don't think any country in the world has the standard of living that we have, so we have to arrange our program here at home to fit that standard of living.
Some one mentioned this fact, I would like to bring this in. As far as the young men trying to go into farming and ranching, this is an impossibility. The ĜI's have been taken care of in town, I am getting off of this, but it refers to our farm program. The GI's can go to town and buy a home where they have a job, but the GI's on the farm, there is no means under this living sun where he can borrow enough money to start in the farming business and operate it as a success with the amount of capital he can borrow. It is impossible. That has hurt the farm population.
None of the young fellows are coming back to the farm. They are going to town where they can make a living that they think their wife and children are entitled to. We have people in this counrty that say we dont need anything in the cattle business. A lot of those fellows are using oil wells for nurse cows. We boys out here trying to make a living for our wives and children are having trouble.
The spread between the beef buying—I was in the emergency relief board yesterday at Oklahoma City to see when we could get some pork in the lunch programs and the price it was going to cost is going to be higher due to the fact that it is being handled through this hog-buying program the way it is set up at the present time. So it isn't feasible, it isn't working.
The CHAIRMAN. You stated the problem. I wonder if you have a solution. What would you do in my place as a Senator ?
Mr. BRADLEY. If I were in your place I would have all the people that I knew of that I could hire that were experts in this line to study this problem and to try to figure out something to keep money at the grassroots of the land down at our basic industry.
The CHAIRMAN. I thought, since you are living with it, you would be able to give us a solution.
Mr. BRADLEY. I have several ideas but it would take me until late tomorrow afternoon to explain them. I think any 1 of 6 would be better than what we have now.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF BILLY KIRTON, OKLAHOMA COOPERATIVE
DAIRIES, PLANTS, AND MILK PRODUCERS, ENID, OKLA. Mr. KIRTON. Mr. Chairman, honorable members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, my name is Billy Kirton. I am a farmer, a representative of dairymen and a member of the board of directors of the Gold Spot Dairy, Inc., at Enid, Okla.
The CHAIRMAN. We called Mr. Joe Human. Mr. KIRTON. I have been designated to present the statement relating to some of our problems in the place of Joe Human.
The CHAIRMAN. Who did that? Was that done by Mr. Human himself? Mr. KIRTON. Yes. The CHAIRMAN. You may proceed. Mr. KIRTON. Also listed there, Mr. Charles Young is listed and his statement is also presented with my confirmation.
The CHAIRMAN. All right. We will place it in the record. Proceed. Mr. KIRTON. Mr. Joe Human of Stillwater is president of our Oklahoma Association of Cooperative Dairies and Bargaining Association, and has been scheduled as a witness before this committee, but he requested me to present this statement for him.
The CHAIRMAN. You may proceed with your own views.
Mr. KIRTON. Now, then, we have, you gentlemen have discussed the self-help program to some extent. Would you like for me to
The CHAIRMAN. What self-help program are you talking about?
Mr. KIRTON. This is the self-help program that has been prepared by the National Milk Federation.
The CHAIRMAN. We have had that program discussed many times, and I would like to ask you this: Are you thoroughly familiar with the program submitted ?
Mr. KIRTON. Now you say "thoroughly.” I am only a farmer.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you know that this program envisions the
The CHAIRMAN. Would you want to withdraw that from Congress? We are the legislative body, are we not?
Mr. KIRTON. I sincerely believe the milk cooperatives of Oklahoma sincerely believe it would provide a great relief to the distress of the dairy industry.
The CHAIRMAN. I understand that. That is the purpose. But I am saying to you, Do you think it would be possible for us to pass a law that would take away from Congress legislative powers and transfer it to this board ? Mr. KIRTON. You know that much better than I. The CHAIRMAN. Do you think it would be right to do that? Suppose the law does provide for that, would you say it is correct? Mr. KIRTON. These nominees are selected The CHAIRMAN. By the President. Mr. KIRTON. No, the nominees are selected by milk producers. The CHAIRMAN. They are finally appointed by the President.