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The CHAIRMAN. It has been easy enough as it is. I don't see why you want to improve it. They have always voted 98 or 99 percent. Mr. BASKIN. I agree.
But I think
Mr. BASKIN. It is just a point in passing. If controls had not been taken over as in 1948, you will recall there was considerable disagreement as to whether or not—I believe the export requirements that year were estimated on a rather freehand basis to such extent that controls were removed in 1948 and that removal of controls is very largely responsible for the surplus built up since that time.
It is my opinion it never should have been removed.
is a point now which probably goes far afield but I think it is a definitely related one. The vastly expensive program of reclaiming land should be discontinued except on an experimental basis until such time as this land is needed for future generations to feed and clothe the ever-increasing population of our great land. I cannot refrain from pointing out that most of our cotton surplus today is being produced by millionaires on land reclaimed from the desert at vast Federal expense. Does this make sense? I think it does not.
Much to my surprise I noted when recent State cotton allotments were announced that all States which recently entered cotton production received increases in their allotments while the old cotton States sustained decreases. By way of emphasis I have already pointed out, this was in my manuscript, part of my own farm and the acreage reduction. The reduction in my acreage is not intended as a complaint. I voted all along and expect to continue always to vote for controls so long as we are guaranteed a support price for our products.
I would like to close by saying that we South Carolina farmers would be more than happy to settle for a Democratic 90-percent support price while we are waiting for our Republican 100 percent at the market place. I would be glad to try to answer any questions
The CHAIRMAN. Are there any questions? Thank you, Mr. Baskin. (Mr. Baskin's prepared statement follows:) First, I would like to welcome you to South Carolina and to commend you for the effort you are making to ascertain the needs and desires of our farmers. I fear it is very difficult in these times for our representatives to really know what our farmers want, and what is best for them.
I am here today to talk to you in a dual capacity. First I want to speak as president of our State association of soil-conservation district supervisors, which has a membership of 220 supervisors in 44 districts over the State. We want to express our appreciation to each of you for the support you have given to our soil-conservation service. As each of you know, there is, to say the least, intense competition between the various divisions of the Department of Agriculture serving our farmers. In addition to the crippling reorganization of the service that took place 2 years ago, an attempt was made by Mr. Benson to seriously reduce the appropriation for this vital work of conserving our resources for unborn generations. I think it is a sufficient testimonial to the importance of our work that instead of reducing our funds as recommended by the administration, you actually gave us a moderate increase. We think this increase was justified, and that our appropriation must continue to increase. You may be interested in a matter of simple arithmetic. During the past 10 years, you have doubled the appropriations for this work—in this time, the number of farmers being served has also doubled. This looks like an ideal
balance until you realize that during this same period of time, our costs of operation have also doubled. Thus you see, that we are actually in a much worse position than we were 10 years ago. We farmers recognize the necessity for balancing the budget, and want to see it done, but we feel that our appropriations must be increased from year to year if we are to continue to expand our program. Incidentally, we supervisors feel that the supervision of this program by farmers has been very successful, and could well serve as a model for other programs.
Those of us who have been working with the problem of soil conservation, (I have been a supervisor for 10 years), are convinced that we must control surface water before we can control soil erosion. I want you to know that Public Law 550 which established the small watersheds program, is the most important step ever taken in this direction. The supervisors did not need the recent New England floods to convince us that if water is not controlled where it falls, then big dams cannot control it after it enters major rivers. We know further that any reservoir which does not have an effective program of soil and water control on its watershed, will soon be filled with silt. The law needs some improvements, such as: (1) less redtape and (2) larger Federal cost share in certain widely beneficial projects, but it is basically sound.
And now, gentlemen, I wish to abandon my role as president of our association, and talk to you as a dirt farmer, which I presume is what you came here to hear. I began farming upon my release from military service in World War II, and am just completing my tenth years as a general farmer. I am here today because I am greatly alarmed at the economic situation we farmers find ourselves in. I fear that if something isn't done and done quickly, we are going to be in a position that will make the early thirties look like a picnic. Then, we were all in serious trouble, which made it easier to bear. Now, we are in a situation where in the past 5 years farmers have suffered a 23 percent decline in income, while the income of the remainder of our people has increased by a much larger percentage. All that the farmers are seeking is simple economic justice.
I have followed press accounts of your hearings very carefully. It has often been said that these hearings are politically inspired. In the first place, I do not agree that politics is necessarily a bad word. Would those who abhor politics in a farm program have us take our problem to our service clubs or to the church? There is no solution to our problem except through national legislation, and that gentlemen, means politics.
Now in case there are those of you who suspect that I am about to engage in partisan politics, let me set you straight. I must reluctantly confess that I am one of those gullibles who accepted the 1952 promise of 10 percent parity made at Kasson, Minn. I was one of those who led the fight for the present administration in this State.
Now, we find ourselves with an apostle of the Mormon Church as our Secretary of Agriculture. Let me say here that I onsider M Benson to be one of the very finest men in Government service today, or for that matter in my lifetime. He is a man of highest character, great intellect and apparent administrative ability. It is a great tragedy for him and for our farmers that his basic philosophy is completely out of step with our times. During these past 3 years, in apparent innocence, he has gone up and down this country making statements and speeches which have turned the consuming public against the farmer and his system of parity prices—which name I think should be changed to either fair or minimum prices. He has succeeded in destroying our parity program and has come up with no substitute therefor. Frankly, I would like to see a man such as Mr. Benson in position to impose his ideas of clean living, forbearance, hard work and honest hard times upon us all, but such cannot be; therefore, I see no alternative but for Mr. Benson to go.
It is inconceivable to me that a great Nation such as ours can pass laws which guarantee labor a minimum wage of $1 per hour, and at the same time stand and wring its hands while its farmers toil from sun to sun 6 or 7 days a week at 25 cents per hour. I say again, all that we farmers are asking is simple economic justice. Mr. Benson has recently made much of the fact that while our net farm income is declining, actually our per capita income has increased, this by virtue of the fact that thousands of our small farmers have been liquidated. Is this a fact to be proud of? Do you know that 13 million rural people are now feeding a total population of 165 million people—and that statisticians tell us that by 1975, 10 million of us will be feeding 200 million. This leads me to believe that within the very near future our problem of surplus will become one of
shortages; but we take no comfort from this, because we know from our ex, perience in World War II that our Government is much quicker to impose ceiling prices than to give us support prices.
Within the past month our Department of Agriculture released with greatest fanfare an announcement that during the past year it had lost $800 million on its price-support program. This was bare-faced headline material for every publication in our land, for ever radio-TV commentator and comedian, and was intended as ammunition to destroy all chance of a rigid price-support program, Gentlemen, I ask you, is it fair for the Department of Agriculture to take the part of the prosperous consumer, as against the farmer who is in serious economic trouble? Does not the Department of Labor represent the laboring man? Does not the Department of Commerce represent the commercial interests of our Nation? Why is Mr. Benson so determined that the consumers' interest shall be protected, while the farmers' interest is being sabotaged? Are we not entitled to expect a fair share of the national income?
Why didn't Mr. Benson see fit to have his propaganda experts tell the whole story when he exploded his $800 million bombshell? Why didn't they remind the people of a recent congressional committee report which showed subsidies of $300 million each to our airlines and to our maritime interests or for that matter, why doesn't the Commerce Department report such figures? Why doesn't someone point out that since World War II industry has received $40 billion subsidy in the form of contract adjustments, plant amortizations, and tax rebates. There was also a minor matter of a $25 billion loss on war equipment taken off industry's hands, which amounts to a $65 billion subsidy to industry in the past 10 years.
Why doesn't someone tell the people this story? I'm sure you realize that since World War I we have given away to foreign nations $135 billion. We have given away $45 billion since War II with over $11 billion appropriated but not yet given away as of July 1 last. On top of all this, we have spent $600 billion in three wars saying foreign nations from conquest. Now we farmers do not necessarily oppose this, but we fail to understand why in the face of all this, our Mr. Benson, in whom our President has such complete confidence, does not feel justified in fighting for just 90 percent of a fair deal for the farmer with whose welfare he is charged.
And now, gentlemen, as I bring my general remarks to a close, and try to make a few specific recommendations, let me make a confession. I am not a statistician nor do I have the services of a battery of statisticians to substantiate my position, or to destroy that of Mr. Benson, but I do study all the information brought to me by our excellent agricultural publications, from which I secured the figures quoted above. However, I do subscribe to the service of our finest private agricultural advisory service. You may be interested to know that they are forecasting an additional rise of 2 percent each year for the next 5 years in the cost of supplies we must buy, while at the same time we must expect a 2 percent decline in prices we receive each year over the same period of time. This will leave us exactly 20 percent worse off in 1960 than we are today. This is indeed a dreary prospect which requires immediate and drastic action to prevent. I would like to present the following specific recommendations :
1. Immediate abandonment of flexible price supports with return to rigid price supports on basic storable commodities.
2. Rigid acreage allotments which are realistically related to the probable requirements regardless of the severity of cut.
3. Require that all acreage retired from cash crop production be placed in soilbuilding and soil-conserving crops which will not be marketed from the farm.
4. Steps be taken to see that all regulations are complied with in a uniform manner in all States. (It is difficult to believe that the astronomical yields being reported in some States are being produced on standard size acres-king size.) 5. The farm program should be administered in a more open and above-board
Farmers should be allowed to vote controls on or off themselves by a simple majority, which is done in all democratic processes. This woudl prevent a politically conscious Secretary from voiding control as was disastrously done in 1948.
6. The vastly expensive program of reclaiming land should be discontinued, except on an experimental basis, until such time as this land is needed by future generations to feed and clothe the ever-increasing population of our great land. I cannot refrain from pointing out at this time that most of our cotton surplus today is being produced by millionaires on lands reclaimed from the desert at vast Federal expense. Does this make sense? It does not. Much to my sur
prise, I noted when recent State cotton allotments were announced, that all States which recently entered cotton production received increases in their allotments while the old cotton States sustained decreases. By way of emphasis, I now farm 600 acres of cropland which until War II was operated as 4 farms, on which more than 400 acres of cotton were grown by 20 families. Today the cotton allotment on this land is less than 140 acres and I have 5 families left.
It would be of great help if those who are so interested in disturbing the peace ful relations of our people would demonstrate a little more understanding of our économic problem.
7. I recommend that you continue to provide for increased research, extension service, soil conservation, and other worthwhile activities of the Department.
And now as I close, may I thank you for your kind attention, and assure you that we farmers of South Carolina would be happy to settle for Democratic 90 percent of parity while we are waiting for our Republican 100 percent at the market place.
I would be happy to try to answer any questions you may have to ask.
STATEMENT OF JAMES M. COTTINGHAM, PRESIDENT, DILLON
COUNTY FARM BUREAU, DILLON, S. C. Mr. COTTINGHAM. I am James M. Cottingham, president of the Dillon County Farm Bureau. I would like to take a different viewpoint.
The CHAIRMAN. That is what we want.
Mr. COTTINGHAM. I look at it as a World War II veteran from the standpoint of national defense. I think our national defense should be our primary concern even though we are concerned with our surpluses. Carryover of cotton at the present time is approximately the same as it was in 1939. If you remember we reduced our surplus from that time until 1946 when actually we had a very small carryover of cotton. It was reduced at a profit to the Federal Government.
The CHAIRMAN. That is because of the war, or course. We don't want another war.
Mr. COTTINGHAM. I don't want another war, but world war III could be forced upon us just as the Korean war was by the Commies who are still pushing us. Should we have to take over China, Russia, and Eastern Europe to win a war forced upon us we would have a population of a billion people there which would have to be fed and clothed if we treat them as we did the Germans and Japanese after World War II. It seems that our surpluses we have at the present time would be needed in that case.
The CHAIRMAN. When that comes you are going to lose your liberty because we couldn't undertake that.
Mr. COTTINGHAM. If we are forced into the third world war we have to win if we expect to keep our liberty.
The CHAIRMAN. Another World War and you will lose your liberty. I think I know what I am talking about. You will bring on this Government such controls that we may have to take out the Statue of Liberty in the New York Harbor.
Mr. COTTINGHAM. We can put them on and take them off as we did in World War II.
The CHAIRMAN. What I have in mind is this. Another World War and we do what you suggest there to feed all the Chinese, we couldn't produce enough food. You would have to give it to them. What would that mean to our Government?
Mr. COTTINGHAM. We fed the Germans and Japanese after World War II and gave them what we had.
The CHAIRMAN. Look at our present situation here with the debt. When we started doing that, our debt was big, but it is now almost $278 billion.
Mr. COTTINGHAM. That is true, but we are enjoying the greatest prosperity this country ever had except for the farm population.
The CHAIRMAN. Don't say prosperity. That is a false prosperity in my judgment. Until you get the farmer on his feet and enjoying this the same as other segments of society, I don't say we are very prosperous. That is what we are trying to do now, to get the farmer in the economic picture where he can benefit the same as the laboring man and industry.
Mr. COTTINGHAM. Yes, sir. Apparently the Agriculture Department was surprised by the outbreak of the Korean war. In 1949 they said we had plenty of cotton, were going to clamp on controls. In June 1950 when the Korean war broke out we had a shortage of cotton instead of a surplus. From the viewpoint of war preparation I would like to bring out the fact that although our present surplus looks large, if we had a national emergency at the present time it would change over in a hurry.
The CHAIRMAN. Don't forget that during the Korean war, the first year of the Korean war, 1950 and 1951, we had a marketing quota on cotton. The war wasn't on. Nobody knew what to expect of these dirty, nasty, yellow Communists. I would like to say all I could about the Chinese, they are in there, they attacked us, but nobody anticipated that when controls were voted for the 1950–51 crop.
Mr. COTTINGHAM. World War III is no more remote than the Korean war was in 1949. The Agriculture Department should be prepared for such emergency.
The CHAIRMAN. I hope to God we never have it.
Mr. COTTINGHAM. I would like to bring out the fact that billions of dollars have been given to corporations through fast tax writeoffs and war preparation and national defense and I would like to say that a few million dollars paid on storage for vital commodities that would come in handy in case of war shouldn't be looked upon as a great waste, as some people seem to think.
The CHAIRMAN. I stated that a while ago. Have you anything positive to offer us as to how to solve the problem?
Mr. COTTINGHAM. I would like to maintain that storable commodities like cotton can keep 50 years without deteriorating, can be valuable as a strategic stockpile, as vital as the vital minerals we import.
The CHAIRMAN. You can't store wheat as long as you can cotton. Cotton is about the only one you can do that with.
Mr. COTTINGHAM. You could probably rotate stocks in storage and rotate them out before they begin to deteriorate and then buy on the
open market enough to replace that. The CHAIRMAN. That is if you could keep supply and demand in balance; we are not doing it.
Mr. COTTINGHAM. We are advocating controls to keep balance of supply and demand.
The CHAIRMAN. You think that even the wheat program could be worked where you would get it in balance?
Mr. COTTINGHAM. I don't see why it could not be.
The CHAIRMAN. All right. I guess you would emphasize quality instead of this chicken feed they are growing to make flour with.