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agriculture? Can't you set up a 3- or 5-year or 10-year cotton program? Maybe we can't get rid of this surplus over about a million bales every year; nobody knows until we throw this million bales on the market in January and observe the reaction. But build a program for 3 or 5 years, a cotton program that will take into account that if necessary the production will be 1 million bales less than the quota in order that that 1 million bales may go into the annual quota to be consumed domestically or in export. Then in an orderly manner you would close out these surpluses.
The CHAIRMAN. Would that have the tendency of reducing acreage? Mr. PACE. Yes, sir. But in my judgment, Mr. Chairman, if you give the cottongrowers of this Nation a 3- or 5-year definite fixed program that will take into account the final and forever elimination of this enormous surplus where they can do the other things recommended to you in research and promotion, I think they will take it and I think they will like it.
Senator SCHOEPPEL. Would you go to bales rather than acres, when these people can put new lands in better production practices, for cotton, wheat, soybeans, et cetera?
Mr. Pace. We tried bales on cotton under the old Bankhead plan. The Congress hasn't been favorable to it because it gives you some certificates in your pocket for 50 bales of cotton for you to walk up and down the road and offer them at a premium.
Senator SCHOEPPEL. What about these farmers who farm their lands better and fertilize more and do what they did in the potato business?
Mr. PACE. That takes care of itself because the national allotments is made each year on the basis of normal yields and as the yields go up it takes less acreage to produce it. It is a little slow but it takes care of itself over a period of 2 or 3 years.
Senator SCHOEPPEL. The trouble we have now is we have cut these acreages so low we are driving people out. What about that?
Mr. PACE. A lot of people sitting in this audience may not agree with me but, Senator, if I can produce as much cotton on 5 acres as I have normally produced on 10 acres, isn't that better for me?
Senator SCHOEPPEL. There is no question
Mr. PACE. Has it reduced my income any? It has not because it takes lots less insecticide to fight the boll weevil on 5 acres of cotton on land than it does on 10 acres. It takes less cultivation.
I don't know, I think you do have the problem of diverted acres but if I think a producer can produce twice as much on half as much land, I don't see how he has been so materially hurt.
Senator SCHOEPPEL. I agree with you there, but we are starting with topheavy surpluses. You were going to tell us how to eliminate the surplus. I am talking about this period of time when we are trying to reduce the surpluses that are a drug on the market. They affect prices, pile up storage charges, and I know some of them are spoilable. Mr. Pace. Yes, sir; that is the reason
Senator SCHOEPPEL. Fortunately, in cotton you have an excellent point. I wish we could store wheat for 25 years and forget it, but we cannot.
Mr. Pace. I understand and I would not want to comment even in your presence, but I understand you have so much wheat you couldn't even give it away.
Senator SCHOEPPEL. Some nations of the world don't want us to give it away.
Mr. Pace. You certainly have that problem. Mr. Chairman, my recommendation is you set up some permanent programs. There has been a lot said in the last 2 years about stabilizing agriculture. The farmer, no businessman could live the life the farmer lives when he doesn't know what is going to be his situation the next year.
The CHAIRMAN. The permanent program you are suggesting as I understand for cotton is that we curtail the amount that is to be produced in the future by a million bales and let that take some of the surplus off until you get it all down. Mr. PACE. Yes, it will take time.
The CHAIRMAN. That means, as I suggested, a further decrease in the present allocation of acreage. Mr. Pace. It would mean to the extent of 1 million bales a year. The CHAIRMAN. Yes. Mr. PACE. I think producers would be willing to do that, but I haven't finished. There is something you have to do as part of that picture and that is to stabilize support level at not less than 90 percent of parity.
The CHAIRMAN. How about quality ? Mr. Pace. Mr. Chairman, I am willing to go just as far as the experts say on quality. I don't think that the Commodity Credit Corporation was ever intended to set up to support the price of an unmerchantable commodity, whatever it might be. I don't think you are going to find any complaint among the farmers of this State on that.
The CHAIRMAN. How about the length of staple? Now the law supports cotton on a basis of 78 Middling, and there is a proposal to make it 1 inch Middling. How about that?
Mr. Pace. I have no objection to that, but I seriously object if it is going to have the effect that I am told of reducing the support price of cotton by 212 cents a pound. I have no objection to making the 1 inch or 14%. But I am told when you do that that in itself reduces the support price on cotton 21/2 cents a pound. If you reduce it 21/2 cents a pound that way, reduce it about a cent a pound under modernized parity, and present indication here is that the support price on the 1956 crop of cotton can easily go to 75 percent of parity. I hope the Secretary certainly in his sound judgment will never let it go that low.
I agree with the witness this morning that there needs to be, Mr. Chairman, as quickly as possible, if you are not going to repeal it, that you put stops on the flexible support. My recommendation to this committee is that the flexible support be repealed as quickly as the Congress reconvenes and I will tell you why.
I believe I had the privilege of sitting in conference with the distinguished Senator from North Dakota when that legislation was up. I think it is founded on a false theory. It was founded on two false theories. One was that if you reduce the support price they would grow less of the commodity History shows they grow more. They necessarily have to. The other was that if the price goes down they will shift to some other commodity. And I would like for somebody to tell me what a cotton or corn or peanut farmer of Georgia can shift to under existing conditions.
Somebody told me a few weeks ago, shift to tobacco. I said of all the closed corporations I know that acreage allotment on tobacco is locked up. The Senator from Kansas doesn't want us to shift to wheat.
Senator SCHOEPPEL. We would like for you not to.
Mr. PACE. Mr. Chairman, I don't know whether you know it or not, but that is what flex has done.
The CHAIRMAN. I know about it, I think. Mr. Pace. I hope you know enough about it to hate and despise it as I do. I can't tell you but about two commodities which I know about, cotton and peanuts. Do you know what is happening in the trade today on peanuts? There is a possibility of peanuts dropping to 75 percent of parity.
Ordinarily these peanut butter manufacturers buy a year's supply. They make it into peanut butter, ship it to warehouses across the Nation, and maintain a large supply. Do you know what they are doing? They are buying from hand to mouth.
What would you be doing if you had some 90 percent parity commodity on the market and there was a chance of you getting it at 75 within a matter of a few months?
Senator YOUNG. Is not the support price of wheat, under the present formula going to be reduced next year and the year after that and the year after that? No one is going to buy wheat unless he has to have it the next day.
Mr. Pace. Thank you, Senator. What is happening in cotton? I know about that because I have some textile friends and they will tell you straight to your face, “No; we are not stocking cotton. Why should we stock cotton when it will probably be 80 percent of parity next year?”
If you let flexible support prices stay in effect you have destroyed the market, the orderly marketing, for farm commodities. Worse than that, equally as bad at least, you have put complete and utter instability under agriculture in this Nation instead of that stability that we have heard so much about. Do I make myself clear? I hope so.
One other thing, and I am done. You talked about diverted acreage. You asked how much we should pay for diverted acreage. I want the standard on that, too. I think what I would like to know is an answer to a question: What is the most precious thing in America today? Outside of our wives and children and grandchildren? What is the most precious thing in America ? It is the fertility of our soil. Without it the Nation perishes, and with it we have little concern for the future. How important is it, I want to ask, in the light of the rapidly growing population of America; in the light of the possibilities arising out of this international situation, how important is it to the defense of America that we maintain and build the fertility of our soil ?
Mr. Chairman, if I may make one brief reference, there were years and years that maybe like you are today, you gentlemen are, if you will pardon the reference, down among the trees, you are listening to people, this, that, and the other, the diversity of views, diversity of organization. I was down there and I couldn't see the forest. I was down there like our distinguished chairman is now, down there fighting and I was down there fighting among the trees. But for 5 years now I have been out of the woods.
Senator Young. You have not slipped a bit. Mr. Pace. For 5 years I have been sitting on the side of the road and I have been trying to look at the thing, the whole forest. I am concerned about the philosophy of agriculture. I think it is just as important to maintain the fertility of our soil and the prosperity of the people who cultivate that soil as it is to maintain a defense system for the defense of our Nation.
I read in the papers that the Congress appropriated $34.5 billion for the defense of our country and I am for every penny of it. But how inconsequential would be a sum sufficient to maintain our fertility and to bring about prosperity among the farm people.
Now I recommend to you, Mr. Chairman, that idle lands, diverted acres-call it what you may—that their use exclusively-I am going beyond the trees, I am going beyond the grass, Senator, because the cattle population is pretty good now and I don't know how much more grasslands we need if we are going to keep the cattle growers out of trouble—but that every acre of it had to be ued exclusively for building the soil, and then I would pay him, Mr. Chairman, on the basis of 5 or 10 years, whatever you want, a sum equal to what his return would be if he had planted that into the customary crops.
I hear fantastic figures of $1 or $5 or $10 an acre. Well, maybe that is the test of the welfare of the producers. But it is strange to me if you agree with me that we must maintain that land fertile that we must keep it fertile to feed that 200 million we will have in just 14 years and then the 250 and 300 million we are going to have. If you think it ought to be done, I don't care what it costs. It is not going to cost $34 billion a year, but I would not quibble and I would not hesitate to listen, Senator, if a man with your keen mind and knowledge would explain it to the consumers of this Nation that they, above all others, are interested in the fertility of the soil because they are the ones that will suffer. The farmer will be able to produce enough at least for himself and his family, but one thing the consuming people of this Nation of agricultural commodities needs, they need the maintenance of the fertility of the soil of this Nation.
My recommendation is that you appropriate every single dollar to be sure that it is done.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. All right. Next are Dr. Harry Brown and Sidney Lowrey. Will you gentlemen give your name in full and occupation?
Dr. BROWN. Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, my name is Harry Brown; my present occupation is farmer. Mr. LOWREY. I am Sidney Lowrey, general farmer. The CHAIRMAN. You may proceed. STATEMENT OF DR. HARRY BROWN, MOUNTAIN CITY, GA.
Dr. BROWN. Mr. Chairman, I have only a very short statement to make. I shall begin it this way. Livestock as we propose here, Mr. Lowrey and I represent it, covers the classes of beef cattle, sheep, and hogs. Others have testified as to the dairy situation and still others are scheduled to testify on the poultry situation...
It is our deep conviction that no price-support program can be effective without control of production. We feel that in the case of these classes of livestock the control of production is, as we see it, a very impractical sort of thing to try to enforce. Therefore, our negative statement is that we do not want price supports for these classes of livestock.
Our recommendation is that when we get into such situations concerning any particular one of these classes of livestock that they be given the opportunity through appropriate amendment to the Agricultural Act to establish or vote marketing agreements or something of that sort as it is used now, for instance, in Georgia and other peach-growing States in the production of peaches. We feel that when we get into a situtation as the Nation is just now with hogs, that there is an obvious necessity of doing something about it and the Secretary of Agriculture has made a move in that direction, as everybody knows, in the last few days concerning hogs.
I should like to refer in that connection to testimony given a little bit ago by Commissioner Phil Campbell. If we want to improve and permanently improve our efficiency in production of these classes of livestock we need to eliminate, insofar as science points the way, we can eliminate our problems associated with livestock diseases. We feel that elimination of those things—and we know now that there is a method by which brucellosis, as an example, can be eradicated. We have pretty nearly eradicated I believe, in certain parts of the country at least we have practically eradicated tuberculosis in livestock.
So it seems to me that one of the soundest directions in which we could move would be to have the provision so that when we get into a situation like hogs are in right now, that there be a means by which the growers themselves can decide how to work it out, and that they be encouraged to dispose of, through a culling process, the unprofitable animals in the different herds so that there might be more efficient production through eliminating the least efficient animals.
As to the problem which you mentioned, Mr. Chairman, particularly last night and which has been mentioned several times already concerning what to do with the diverted acres, I just wish to endorse what both Mr. Wingate and Mr. Pace said concerning the use of the diverted acres. If we will look at that from the point of view of the matter of national defense and the generation ahead, I think we could do nothing more sound. And we must remember, I think, not just what he said and the way he said it this morning, but what Mr. Wingate said about as long as we continue to do like we are doing we are going to have double our population in a certain length of time.
So far as I am able to observe we are going to continue to do like we are doing in that regard.
In that connection, I have told some of the fellows since we have been here what I heard Tennessee Ernie Ford give as his thought for the day over the television program a few days ago. Those of you who listen to him on the radio or television-he has a program on both-remember that he concludes his program with a thought for the day. That thought the other day was that when you have enough money to burn the fire has gone out.
Now our farmers in this section of the country, at least, don't have money to burn and the fire has gone out in some respects with some of us, but we do have a concern and an interest in this increased population and feel it is somewhat our responsibility to provide for them in the best way we can.