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STATEMENT FILED BY KEATS E. SODER, SECRETARY-TREASURER, OKLAHOMA WHEAT
RESEARCH FOUNDATION, OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLA.
I represent the Oklahoma Wheat Research Foundation which is composed of representatives of the State's wheatgrowers, the elevator handlers and the miller processors; therefore, I speak for the entire wheat industry of the State with reference to present wheat research and the need for further research.
We could easily speak for an hour or more and to the point on the need for wheat research alone. To fully appraise the need for all agricultural research would, as you know, take days. Our principal points are eight and can be made in just 2 minutes.
(1) Each farmer cannot do his own individual research.
(2) Federal funds invested in agricultural research have paid tremendous dividends-not alone to the farmer—but to the entire American population.
(3) We have a 1955 population, a 1955 income, a 1955 tax load, a 1955 challenge to our productive resources—but a 1940 Federal budget for agricultural research,
(4) Federal funds for all research in the last 15 years have increased 300 percent-while agricultural research has gone up only 85 percent or just enough to cover devaluation of the dollar.
(5) Oklahoma, the Southwest, and the Nation—all need a wheat safe from drought, safe from wind, safe from floods, safe from insects of all sorts, safe from rusts and diseases that cut heavily into yields and income and, one that above all, that will make an appetitizing loaf of bread.
(6) Yes, we have a temporary surplus of wheat, mostly of such poor quality that foreigners won't buy it. However, our population is gaining at such a rate we in our lifetime will see a wheat shortage unless we increase our wheat production through breeding and research.
(7) We here in Oklahoma are helping to solve our own wheat problems and the wheat problems of the Southwest. We have built a $200,000 wheat research laboratory at Oklahoma A. & M. College. We have built a $120,000 greenhouse there too. We're releasing a new variety of of wheat that will outyield every other variety from Nebraska and Iowa to Texas and New Mexico. And, all this was done with exceedingly little help from Federal funds.
(8) We wish to commend President Eisenhower and Secretary of Agriculture Benson for their stands on increased agricultural research. It takes genuine statesmanship to work and to vote as you gentlemen of the Senate have, for an adequate and intelligent agricultural research program. We of the Oklahoma Wheat Research Foundation commend you and urge most respectfully that you redouble your efforts in this regard. We call your especial attention to the need for funds for adequate work on wheat, its diseases, insects, and quality problems.
On behalf of the officials of the Oklahoma Wheat Research Foundation we express our sincere appreciation for the efforts of this committee.
STATEMENT FILED BY I. L. STEWARD, PAULS VALLEY, Garvin COUNTY, OKLA. I am I. L. Steward of Route 2, Pauls Valley, Okla. I live on and operate a 640-acre stock farm. I vote for and submit to marketing quotas on two of my main crops-cotton and wheat.
In the outset I think surpluses are a blessing. Any other nation in the world would be very glad to have our surpluses. We need to maintain a large carryover of all basic commodities, against disaster at home and abroad among our friends, the free nations.
Surpluses cannot be stored without the ever normal granary. Ever normal granary cannot be maintained without price support, because such a reserve as would be needed, would depress the price. Any appreciable price drop would remove the small producers, thus eventually giving corporation farming interests the entire production field.
It is my opinion that the flexible price support will do the same thing and that the process of elimination has already started.
I further believe that a 75 percent of parity will continue to pile up surpluses, but the family-size farmer will not long survive to share in the production.
It is my considered opinion that rigid 90 percent parity price support, or something comparable is essential to survival of the farm family.
I am convinced that without the farm family, our whole national economy will be adversely affected.
I believe it necessary that we continue our efforts at soil building, to store fertility against our needs a few years hence. I do not believe our economy is so geared as to allow for a vigorous enough soil building program without Gorernment cost-sharing assistance. And it is my belief that if a good enough job is to be completed on time, the rates of assistance will need to be raised and the total ACP appropriation be increased.
Restoring depleted acres to profitable production is a long and costly operation. It will cost $25 per acre in cash and an equal amount of labor, and require a minimum of 7 years' time to make the conversion on a single acre. A farmer who is making his living on the farm just doesn't have it in his power to build back what his forefathers have wasted, without cost-sharing assistance.
STATEMENT FILED BY S. C. SPITZER, CHEYENNE, OKLA. I, S. C. Spitzer of Cheyenne, Okla., would like to present my views on the question at hand from both the farmer's and the small-business man's angle.
I am definitely for not less than 90 percent of parity and 100 percent of parity is not too much considering the prices of all other things on the market. Farmers sell cheap and buy high and we know that can't go on forever without ruining the entire economic setup. Farm machinery would have to be reduced 40 percent to be comparable to the prices that the farmer gets, most everything is just as badly out of balance.
The REA must also be protected along with the rest of the farm program, There are those who would take this away from us if they could and farmers need eletricity at a price they can afford to pay.
Along with my farming I operate a grocery store, gas station, and cream station. Since farm prices have fallen so drastically I have been asked to sell on the credit more during the past year than at any time during the past 20 years. These people are my friends and I know that they are trying desperately to pay as they go, but it is impossible for many of them. I can't compete with the big business when it comes to buying on a large enough scale to sell as cheap as they do, yet they make a much larger margin of profit than I do, and they refuse credit to their customers. It is the small-business man and small farmer that makes the wheels of industry keep turning, but it is them that takes the kick in the pants on every turn. Doesn't America need the common man any more? Someone has to do the work of producing food and fiber or those on Wall Street will wake up some morning and fail to find any bacon and eggs for breakfast.
In my particular case, I can't make a living on the farm and my friends and customers are being forced to ask for so much credit, that I can't make it in the grocery business either. Give farmers 100 percent of parity and his dollar will make the complete circuit and avoid economic collapse. Please help Mr. Benson to see the light.
STATEMENT FILED BY F. J. STURMA, OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLA.
THE “BURR" UNDER THE SADDLE OF OUR FARM ECONOMY We, again, approach the gridiron of the quadrennial political game, and again, the principal ball to be kicked is labeled "Farm economy." However, this subject is so deflated that it's doubtful either side will find it resilient enough to effect a field goal.
The farm problem (which is a major concern to our whole economy) has now plagued us for a number of years. Trillion words of compassion and lakes of crocodile tears are a constant flow of therapeutic offering, while the malady is gradually reentering the acute stage-I use the adjective "acute" advisedly.
The program of parity price support was enacted as a depression and wartime measure intended to serve a double barrel purpose. One-to sustain the “family unit" farmer during the period of 10 cents per bushel corn and the slaughtering of little pigs. Second-give incentive to, and support of, increased production of foodstuff for the huge military campaign, both domestic and abroad.
The program was effective in both categories including the spawning of a new unsavory philosophy and, giving birth to a new crop of producers, who hasted to take advantage of our Government's philanthropy and launched a program of mass production, with the consequent result of overproduction. It is this type of producer who supplies the burr under the saddle of our farm economy. To get a factual corroboration of this indictment, one has only to read the many reports on “Who gets the support dollar ?” “What's becoming of the marginal farmer?" etc.
The historical individuals who settled the plains of this great Nation, broke sod, raised crops to feed their broods, saw them mature, marry and strike out in search of a nest of their own ; thus, with the sporadic ingression of an outsider, they set the foundation on which our entire economy, today, is resting.
What are we doing to perpetuate this agrarian population? Are we offering any inducement to the surplus population in the conglomerated metropolis to voluntarily disperse and seek means by which to provide their own paycheck? The answer is obvious; farm boys and girls, by the millions, are in a steady exodus seeking employment in towns and cities, why?-Glamour of the city life, 8-hour day, 5-day week, plus the ever-increasing capital investment necessary to a livelihood on 160-acre farm, are a combination of magnet and deterrent. In the old nostalgic days, $5,000 was sufficient for a deluxe start on a 160-acre farm-today, you would need a microscope to find anything left of $20,000.
Just the other day, a young grocery checker made a comment on a cut of meat I was buying—"My! How I enjoyed these cuts when I was home on the farm"— why aren't you out there now? I asked-Answer, "Mr., nothing I would like better, but it takes a fortune to get started and we don't have it.”—This literal picture is a pretty good example of why our rural area is depopulating. If this trend is continued, we might in the next generation become a nation of few Barons and a multitudinous proletary.
We are taxed to finance a Marshall plan. The amount that doesn't stick to the fingers of the foreign politician goes as an indirect subsidy to our manufacturing industry—that in substance means that we get to use a residue of our money to pay our own wages. This altruistic program is morally right and economically sound "only" so long as it is necessary as an expedient, pump primer. However, continuing the program as a stimulus to our domestic economy, will put us in a situation of the man priming a pump which has a leaky valve, and before he is aware of the fact, the primer is down in the well.
This is the situation we are in with reference to price supports to farmers. The consumers (including the producers) are taxed to pay for commodities which we can't use nor sell, and for obvious reasons fear to give away. Sure, the goods are in storage as a book balance, but being unable to sell them for what they cost, plus the huge annual shrinkage, adds up to the billions of dollars in total loss.
Mr. Adlai Stevenson, in his recent Wisconsin address, committed what many of his colleagues might consider as a political indiscretion when he stated, quote, “In my opinion, it is doubtful that 90 percent, or even higher, parity will solve the farmers' economic problem." By omitting to qualify that statement, Stevenson left the door open to further debate. The premise, nevertheless, remains an incontrovertible truth-only-so long as the current system of paying parity support is in operation,
Previously, I stated that the plan was put in operation to sustain the familyunit farmer when the whole farm industry was on the brink of bankruptcy, and the door is left open to mass exploitation of the well-intentioned patronage.
Should Congress be courageous enough to repeal the present law and enact a new program with airtight rules purposed to support-only- the family-unit farmer whose main objective is to earn a good living and raise his family in wholesome surroundings, instead of supporting mass production which, by virtue of the current parity support, encourages and presents a lucrative, speculative enterprise, then, and only then, will a parity support law merit existence. Currently imposed acreage allotments only aggravate the small operator's dilemma.
The inconsistency of across-the-board support hits us with a staggering force when we are told that less than 20 percent of the producers get more than 80 percent of the surplus commodity dollar. This followed up with a decline of 2 million farms from the 1930 figure-plus the increased population economically forced on the labor market doesn't present a pretty picture.
Some economists, labor leaders and sociologists are showing an advanced symptom of "auto-itis," but if nothing is done to put the farm and farmer on a sensible equilibrium, their phobia might become justified.
When a doctor prescribes a medicine for his patient and it adds to the patient's distress, it's better to throw the bottle out the window and trust to nature, when no new remedial medicine is available. I am reminiscent of Senator Magnuson's favorite admonition in conclusion of his lectures in the postwar twenties—“Time has come yhen ve must take dee bool by dee tail and look heem sqvare in dee eye.” STATEMENT FILED BY HENRY J. THIESSON, CORN, OKLA. We live in a very good community with land of high quality. We grow wheat, cotton, alfalfa and about all feed grains, known in this state, in the way of crops. Then we have also, considerable herds of both dairy and beef cattle.
The farmers here, were hurt by the drought but they always had something that yielded an income until the prices started to slide downward in 1952.
With everything the farmers buy going higher, and the prices they get going lower, the farmers can no longer meet expenses and, all of them that can possibly do so are seeking outside employment, to thus add to their income, in order to be able to stay on long enough for a change to come.
We know that it is not the regular family farmer that produces the burdensome surplus. This type of farmer, is at the same time a heavy consumer, of both farm and factory goods.
Some of our small farmers have had their cotton acreage cut down to 2 acres. They can't handle such small acreages of any one crop and make ends meet, and yet, if they don't plant their alloted acres in cotton they loose out entirely.
We feel that it is unjust to control the acreage of the family-type farmers except that they be required to grow a proper acreage of soil-building crops, to insure the future fertility of the land.
We feel that we are being bled white without seeing the consumer getting the advantage of our loss.
We were induced to plow up a lot of grass during the war years so as to produce the needed extra amount of food and fiber. Now at the present prices paid for our crops, we are unable to put this land back into grass without financial help.
There should certainly be a reasonably low limit put on the size of the checks that one farmer can receive from the Government in payment under the farm program. The large checks enable the super farmers to buy up still more land and thus aggravate the already serious situation.
The Communist dictators would not fear our armed might if we did not also have plenty of food.
There are 400 acres in my farms.
Quality is always a very good help in selling anything. We used to let all cotton buyers cut into our cotton bales and butcher them up until they looked very bad. We still ship our grain across the oceans with a lot of dirt in it. It costs just as much to freight dirt as it does to freight grain. It would certainly help to have our grain, especially the wheat, clean when it goes to foreign markets. Other countries do this. Big farmers are buying up farms just to get the allotments which they then assemble on one farm and leave the other farms without any allotments. This hurts neighborhoods and should not be permitted.
The future generations are not here to defend their rights. It, therefore, becomes the duty of our Government to see to it that our soil fertility be maintained.
It is very important that the farmers get their supply of electric current at as cheap a price as possible, since power is a very important item on the farm.
Land should be classified according to mature and amount of slope. Land that slopes enough to wash should be terraced. The Government should demand this where owners will not do it willingly. Too many buy up land and misuse it in a way that exhausts the fertility very fast. This will in time weaken our Nation. My people came from Russia and we know how they think. If we did not have plenty of food now, they would tackle us I feel sure.
STATEMENT FILED BY J. L. WILSON, SECRETARY-TREASURER, FARMERS UNION,
LOCAL No. 51, ALVA, OKLA. I don't see as there is much to say about our farm prices. Why do we have to take 90 percent of parity or 75 percent and the sliding scale when we have the weather to contend with, wet and dry, hot and cold? We have to pay 100 percent parity and more. Where is our Constitution? Is it lost? Where it says equal rights to all and special privileges to none. Why don't the Secretary of Agriculture tell the factories they will have to take a sliding scale for what they sell?
STATEMENT FILED BY RALPH WILSON, JONES, OKLA. A farm program should make possible a fair return from labor and investment for an efficient operator, with the least possible amount of regulation and controls.
It seems to me we have made a step in this direction, but to turn back to high rigid supports would be to undo all the progress that has been made. The large surplus has been a threat to our market.
We should determine and make public what is an adequate and reasonable reserve for any crisis, and the Federal Government stockpile enough farm products to carry us through it; for this would be for the welfare of all people. This would not be a surplus, and should not be referred to as such; and it should not have a depressing effect on the market until such time as it is needed.
At no time should the market be free from the direct effect of supply and demand.
I believe in the same percentage of parity for farm people that other segments of our economy enjoy, but this cannot be obtained by price alone, for it is the total income that affects the spending. If we have 90 or 100 percent support with 30 or 40 percent acreage reduction, are we any better off than to just have a flat 50 percent support.
We need a system of orderly marketing, but we also need to remember that a product has not been marketed when it is in Government loan. I believe we need more research to expand our markets on present products, and possible use of new crops. If we must have lay-out acres, then take them completely out of production.
I believe our lawmakers should use extreme care in trading legislative support, lest we all lose our freedom of enterprise—the very thing that has made America great-and the only thing that can keep her great.
I have the utmost confidence in Mr. Benson, simply because I believe he will do what he thinks is best for the Nation as a whole, without any regard for his political popularity.