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STATEMENT OF GEORGE D. BELL, CALLISON, S. C. Mr. BELL. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, my name is George D. Bell. I own and operate a farm at Callison in the lower section of Greenwood County, within 2 miles of where my father and grandfather owned and operated farms. For five generations or more my people have been farmers.
While I am a member of the Grange, I appear_before you today speaking for no organization. Mr. Chairman, I know the farm conditions in my community and of my friends and neighbors. These people are family-sized farmers, trying desperately to survive this present farm depression in an economy manipulated by the Government from top to bottom.
The CHAIRMAN. Will you please tell us what is the average sized family farm in your area?
Mr. BELL. I would say, Mr. Chairman, they range anywhere from 50 to possibly 300 acres, 250 acres; something like that.
The CHAIRMAN. In cultivation ?
The CHAIRMAN. What I would like to find out is what is the average sized family unit.
Mr. BELL. In total acres in the farm?
The CHAIRMAN. In addition to that, they have pastureland and woodland.
Mr. BELL. Yes, sir. The CHAIRMAN. How much would that amount to? Mr. BELL. I would say the average sized family farm would consist of approximately 150 acres.
The CHAIRMAN. That would include 40 to 50 acres in cultivation and the rest in woodland and pasture.
Mr. BELL. That is right.
The CHAIRMAN. Would you know whether or not that is about the average sized farm for South Carolina, throughout the State!
Mr. BELL. I would not.
Mr. BELL. Our farmers are generally unorganized. What little organization they have is loosely knit, usually with no united and often divergent purposes. The farmers have no high-priced public relations men to tell their true story to Congress as have other organizations.
We have no way of informing the people that our net income, countrywide, has dropped 27.5 percent since 1948 and has rapidly fallen since the spring of this year; while, during the same period, wages have increased and business profits have reached an all-time high. We have no way of telling the people the consumer pays a smaller percentage of his income for food and the farmer receives a smaller part of each dollar paid than ever before in history.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you know what this is today?
Mr. BELL. The average income that the farmer, the part the farmer got 9 years ago was 52 cents on the dollar and today it is 42 cents.
The CHAIRMAN. Forty cents is the latest figure, 40 cents out of the consumer's dollar.
Mr. BELL. It is going down fast.
Mr. BELL. We constantly hear a howl about the large farm surpluses the Government has in warehouses over the country. I honestly believe the few hundred million dollars invested in cotton, under the pricesupport program, is just as essential to the security of our country as the more than $100 billion invested in war material, about which we hear nothing. It looks like it depends on whose foot the shoe fits.
The manufacturers and their labor are making more than they have ever made before and the farmer is making less. And these manufacturers generally receive cost-plus contracts while the farmers get well under 100 percent of parity.
About the only time the farmer's side gets presented to the public is when some Congressman or Senator with the moral fortitude to espouse an unpopular but just cause uses the congressional forum to speak the truth. These courageous men may never hear from us, but you can rest assured that we are grateful and won't forget you. We don't have the opportunity of appearing at your hearings in Washington and we do appreciate especially your coming here to give us an opportunity to tell our story. We feel honored that a Senator from South Carolina is one of your committee.
The CHAIRMAN. He is a mighty valuable member to the committee. In connection with what you were saying about publicity harmful to the farmer you may not know that in the past 2 or 3 years we have had, I presume, the farmers of the Nation blackened, as it were, in trying to show the cost of these programs. I well remember in 1953 when the present administration took office we had before our committee the question of price supports. We had nothing else before our committee but that. And yet a statement was made by the present Secretary of AgricultureI don't think he did it through, shall I say, meanness, but I will be charitable to him and say he might not have known any better—the statement made showed that, or it attempted to show that the Government lost from June 1933 when these programs started, until that day when he appeared before us, over $16 billion, but every farm program was included in that cost-soil conservation, REA, and everything else.
The next day I, then chairman of the committee, asked for the facts and what did it show! I am not here to criticize anybody, you understand, but I don't like the most important segment of our whole economy, the farmer, criticized. Nobody likes that. Let me point out to you—and this is as of June 30, 1955, this last June 30-taking in all the support programs we have had, these so-called basics which include cotton, corn, wheat, peanuts, rice, tobacco, the entire loss during all that period was only $392,648,091, with cotton showing a profit to the Government of $267,243,797.
Now, that was the picture. On all of your losses covering perishables—and in that is included this tremendous loss that we suffered on Irish potatoes, almost a half-billion dollars, almost a half-billion in that time the entire loss, excluding the wartime consumer subsidy costs which was in effect charged to the farmer, was much lower than represented. Do you remember that during the war there was a subsidy paid so that the consumer could get food cheaper? Do you remember that?
Mr. BELL. Yes, I remember that.
The CHAIRMAN. Even that was charged, but after we took that off, the figures as of June 30, 1955—that is, this year—the entire pricesupport program on every article, everything we supported, was only $2,117,006,646. That includes, as I said, the amount of loss on Irish potatoes and poultry, eggs, dairy products. Dairy products alone out of this huge sum—I say "huge” because it is big—was over $700 million. Compare this miserly small sum to what our Government spent for industry, to let industry go from peace to war, and you might get a figure as much as $55 billion, but you never heard any hue and cry about that, not a word. So today the farmer is in a
You are saying here that they don't organize like other segments of industry do. Well, it is my hope that some day they will organize. I hope you can see what could happen to labor, to industry, and everything else. What would happen to all your cotton mills in this State if the cotton farmer were to get out of business? What would happen to all of the canning plants throughout the Nation if the producers of food were to call a halt? Did you ever stop to think of that?
Mr. BELL. Yes, sir; I have.
The CHAIRMAN. What would happen to our armed services? What could a soldier do without food and fiber? Where would he be? Now that is why this committee is going around this country. I have five little grandsons and a granddaughter. I haven't seen them this whole year more than 2 or 3 days at one time, but I want a good life for them. Gentlemen, this is a serious problem we are facing right now. The producers of our very life's blood, food and fiber, are in trouble. Unless Congress does something about it the whole nation will suffer, and not just the farmer.
That is why the best heads have to get together; we must forget politics and we must forget partisanship. It doesn't make any difference if it is a Republican or Democrat, when we sustain losses they are both hurt. I hope that within the next 2 months at the most, after this Congress meets, we will be able to present to the Congress with your help—that is why we are here—some form of program that will make available to the farmer his just portion in this economy.
You know, I find in all these hearings that the average farmer would not mind nearly so much receiving low prices if the consumer would get the benefit of that low price, or if what he buys goes down as does what he sells, but he is in a pinch, in a squeeze, and that is what we hove found all over the country. I have attended every meeting and the facts show that what the farmers buys is up and what he sells is down and the consumer does not benefit a thin dime from these lower farm prices. That is where the trouble lies. If there is anything we can do to solve that you can expect that we shall try our best.
If any of you, whether you are on this list or not, can help us in solving this problem, I think it is essential that you stand up and speak.
Mr. BELL. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, I would like now to tell you the conditions in my county. I live in Greenwood County and the conditions in Greenwood County in my opinion are prevalent over all the counties, certainly of the Piedmont section.
In 1919 Greenwood County had 71,000 acres planted in cotton. To meet boll-weevil conditions that hit us in 1920–21, we reduced our acreage in 1929 to 41,500.
Mr. DORN. Voluntarily.
Mr. BELL. Yes, we had to change our methods to meet boll-weevil conditions.
The CHAIRMAN. That was in 1929 ?
Mr. BELL. Yes, sir. In 1939, partly by voluntary reduction and partly by acreage control we had 19,100 acres. Our cotton acreage has since been reduced by acreage control to less than 5,000 acres, which is either 1948 or 1949, one year we had 9,000 acres in cotton and then the other year we had something over 9,000 acres.
Now the gentleman I was talking to who was supposed to know said you would have to drop to the 1948 year.
Mr. BELL. I was asking about what it would be next year and this is the information he gave me.
Our cotton allotment acreage of 1956 will be determined by dropping the first year of the base period when over 9,000 acres were alIotted and substituting in lieu thereof the year 1954, when 4,485 acres were allotted. In addition to this substantial decrease in allotted acreage brought about by a change in the years comprising the base period will be added whatever cut in acreage the Secretary of Agriculture or Congress might see fit to make it.
This decrease from 71,000 acres in 1919 to an estimated 4,000 acres or less in 1956 in a section with a history of approximately 200 years in cotton production is most astounding. Cotton has always been the chief money crop of our farmers since 1790, and is today.
This 95-percent cut in our basic money crop has made it impossible for family-sized farms to survive.
The CHAIRMAN. Under the law as it now stands the base is the last 5 years, but 1949 is not included. Mr. BELL. He did give me the right information then. The CHAIRMAN. Yes, I am sorry to say.
Mr. BELL. Many of our farmers have been forced away from the farms to seek other employment. There cannot be a further acreage reduction without affecting those still operating a family-sized farm. The further reduction of the cotton acreage in my county will make it imperative to unite these small farms into big operations, thus destroying altogether the family-sized farmers who have contributed so much to the stability of America. I tell you, gentlemen, that the family-sized farm is just as American as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and the Constitution, and should not be allowed to pass from the American scene.
Gentlemen, our rural schools have gone, the post offices and churches are going. They are taking away our fourth-class rural post offices,
and that will affect our churches and finally the people are going to have to move out of the country and you won't have the familysized farms and it will all be, you might say, kind of similar to these collective farms in Russia. That is what seems to me to be the trend.
The CHAIRMAN. I do not think you need worry about that. I have just returned from Russia.
Mr. BELL. All of the attributes remaining to make rural life worth while are depending on you for survival. I have never heard of a Communist operating a family-sized farm. And to preserve this unit of what I consider essential to the preservation and welfare of this Nation I offer the following proposals for your consideration:
And this is the idea of a farmer who just thinks this way, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. That may give us the spark we need.
Mr. BELL. No. 1: Stop allocating public funds to develop desert and cactus growing regions into gardens of Eden to produce crops of which we now have a surplus in competition with other sections of our country naturally adapted to the growing of such crops.
The CHAIRMAN. I don't suppose you have California and Arizona in mind, and New Mexico?
Mr. BELL. They are making some fine cotton and a lot of it per acre on irrigated lands.
2. Our cotton acreage allotment system and the huge surplus held by the Government as the result of its administration of the 90-percent-parity, price-support plan has caused the following practices and conditions inimical to the interests of our Nation and the welfare of the cotton farmer:
(a) Our cotton acreage reduction has encouraged and made profitable a corresponding increase in cotton acreage of foreign countries much of which has been promoted by domestic firms and corporations with domestic capital.
The CHAIRMAN. Where did you get that information? Mr. BELL. From our exports and from what they say the world consumption is and we are not selling it. I also saw a piece in the paper the other day of a large brokerage firm; I am not going to call any names, As we go on the acreage reduction and take the cotton out of this country, they spend money in Mexico and Brazil expanding the production of those countries and this particular firm had spent approximately $30 million in the last few years.
The CHAIRMAN. Those are good Americans doing that.
We decrease ours and they increase theirs, much of which has been promoted by domestic firms and corporations with domestic capital. They take our money, and our people do this. That is my information. It could be wrong.
The CHAIRMAN. You are correct about that because I have been to South America and I saw what they did in Brazil, I saw whạt they did in Peru. I won't mention names either, but some of those same firms operate here in South Carolina.