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The CHAIRMAN. I didn't vote for that. Mr. MANNING. I appreciate you didn't, but I want you to listen. You did that because you knew everything in the world was up so that you had to have a decent living and it took it. Nobody would condemn you that is informed on the situation at all. But personally, I am speaking now for myself, if I had reached down into the Treasury of the United States and put $7,500 on my salary which amounted to 50 percent of my salary and then would fail to do something for the lowest and only low-paid class in North America, I wouldn't feel like kissing my beautiful granddaughter or beautiful grandchild or beautiful wife goodnight.
More than that, I wouldn't feel like meeting the Lord of all of us on the last day because there is poverty coming in this land of great abundance because we are out of gear and God knows our prosperity can't last with the upper section enjoying unprecedented income and the farmers enjoying not a dime. It is up to you gentlemen. God gives you the strength to act on what you know is right because I know Johnston and Thurmond, have known them for years and thank each of them for the position you have taken as to the farmers of the United States and you, too, Senator, being one of the leading men in the land for us and I am aware of it. All I pray is God will give you the courage to do like you did for the minimum-wage people and everything else in the land. That is all I pray, God bless you all.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you ever so much.
I am Houston Manning, of Latta, S. C., 62 years of age and have farmed all of my life, having no other business whatever. I am most familiar with cotton and tobacco as these are the two crops which I have produced for sale for 40 years. However, I know that hogs, cows, rye, and oats, and other grains and other agricultural products cannot be made at the present prevailing prices, and that the situation now leads toward destruction for both the farmers and finally, for our Government structure itself. No economy can stand with the great difference in the top of our economic prosperity of today and the bottom which has a great portion of our people facing financial ruin. There is an old axiom that "prosperous agriculture means prosperous and contented people."
Cotton and tobacco are nonperishable products and, as such, can and should be treated differently as perishable products, and cotton which, with steel, is the woof and warp of American life, as well as of all civilized countries, is such great part of our industrial life as to deserve special attention. It is said that of each dollar produced by agriculture that the ultimate value in trade amounts to 7 or 8 times that and, so you see $15 billion that the farmers get really amounts to over $100 billion annually to us in commerce.
Cotton is practically nonperishable as it will keep for 100 years without much deterioration if kept in dry storage. I would not know how to begin to suggest that you help to get reasonable and good prices for the very perishable things, such as a lot of our food crops, but with cotton and tobacco, it is entirely different and a supposedly called surplus can be kept and dealt with in a manner as to secure a living from their production, if you only have the will to do so. Our tobacco program has and will, if you only keep it working, bring us a very fair return for our labors. Of course, we have to keep supplies limited as we cannot continue raising more than we use and hope to keep the price at a profitable level.
Now, I want to call to your attention the fact that most of the cotton textile industries are in fine shape and making plenty of money, and if we can take the word of the presidents of the three leading firms, they are expecting the fine times to continue through next year, as they have come out in the past few weeks and said just that. In truth, they should be feeling good. For, 80 by 80 print cloth, 4 yards to the pound, and the chief product produced from cotton is selling at 20 cents per yard, or 80 cents per pound, with cotton on the New York Exchange quoted from 28.75 cents to 33.50 cents per pound, whereas it
sold from 17 to 18 cents per yard or at approximately 70 cents per pound when cotton was at the limit of 45.39 cents established by Chester Bowles. Cloth away up while cotton is off 35 percent we cannot possibly endure it much longer.
Gentlemen, while I shall speak in great respect for you who represent the most august body of the world (see Supreme Court once held that distinction but not anymore, in my opinion), but, the situation in the farming areas is such that we must deal plainly with it as well as intelligently, and as courageously as we are able. And, that, I fully intend to do. If it were felt that you were Senators of closed minds and decisions there surely would be no need of our gathering here today as well as all over the four corners of our America. For, America is my first concern today, and then the welfare of our agricultural classes who labor in the most basic industry of all, that is, furnishing food and fiber for our people.
Would like here to state that I get most of my information from the Wall Street Journal, the U. S. News & World Report, the Congressional Record and from daily newspapers. Of course, I read other publications but the vast majority of my information comes from the mentioned four sources and from my knowledge of farming in growing of cotton and tobacco for 40 years and from my contacts in the business world. It is only natural that you members of the Senate and the Congress, with your very great and many responsibilities, would not be as well informed on some aspects of the agricultural situation as are some who have devoted all their time to them during their whole lives. And, I feel that is the very reason you are here today.
To remedy any situation, we must first look into the cause of it and then act accordingly. First, I want to lay most of the blame for the present plight of the farmer on the Congress of the United States. For a truth, that is where most of it belongs, as it has been the laws passed by the Congress and the rates and regulations given force by agencies established by Congress that has caused prosperity to reign everywhere except on the farm. By acts you have fixed the minimum wages far above that which any farmer can pay at present or prospective prices of the farmers' products; you have raised the income of every member of our defense forces, to name the Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, and the Marines; you have raised the pay of every postal employee and of every civil service employee, and in fact, you have raised the pay of every employee of our Government, some to the great jump of 50 percent at one time as you did for the Federal judges and all others in the Department of Justice. Your instrumentalities created by Congress, such as the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission have all served to impose on American people the highest rates in all our history, rates which were undreamed of until a few years ago. As an illustration, when the railroads went before the Commission they were blessed with a "temporary” raise in rates which gives them $900 million per year and it has been extended yearly until week before last, when they made it permanent. We could go on thusly for hours, but time will not permit it, but let me mention one of your great benevolences to you and see the results. General Motors enjoyed your tax relief legislation to the extent of $236 million per year and so following the $584 million per year profits, unprecedented profits in all history, they are this year claiming for the first three-quarters a rate of profits of $1,200 million and they are now coming out in their appreciation, and raising the price of every car which they produce. How, in the name of God, can farmers compete with an all-time high in prices in everything produced by industry and by commerce and by Government acts and regulations, which prices are from 25 to 100 percent higher than they were 5 years ago, while our prices are 34 percent lower. While on the subject of General Motors I purchased a Buick Roadmaster in 1951 for $3,124.26 while cotton was bringing 45.39 cents and seed brought $25 per bale above ginning and, today, with cotton bringing from 28.75 cents to 33.50 cents on the New York Exchange and my seed lacking $3 of paying for ginning, we find the Buick Roadmaster priced at $4,200 plus and every other car, truck, tractor, farm implements, household appliances and furnishings up accordingly. Everything for everybody up, up, and up, month after month, year after year except for the farmer who has been in reverse for so long that we are today flat on our bellies and you know and God knows that we can't stand it much longer.
Let us be realistic, gentlemen of the committee, and if you do, one thing that I am now going to call to your attention should serve to move you to help the cotton farmers in our unprecedented distress. In 1932 and 1933, the Federal
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budget or appropriation amounted to $4 billion and the public debt we owed amounted to $20 billion and cotton was 6 cents per pound. Today and for several years our, or your appropriations, have been approximately $70 billion and the national debt is near $300 billion and cotton is quoted on the New York Exchange at from 28.75 to 33.50 cents. So, we find that cotton prices are about 5 times as high as 1933 while appropriations are 17 times as high and our national debt is 15 times as high as they were in 1933, a very grevious time for all of us. For a truth, gentlemen, it does not take Solomon, neither does it take a financial wizard to sense the greatest danger which lies in such situations. And while we farmers are going fast into bankruptcy we, with everyone else, are being taxed beyond all reason to give away to peoples overseas from $10 billion down to $412 billion annually. And, yet, old Ezra T. Benson tells us that the way to help us to get on our feet is to cut support rates from 90 percent to 75 percent of parity and to think you gentlemen followed him in it all. It seems almost unbelievable to me. And, the way he brought it all about seems to me to be the most dastardly action in all our governmental history. He, Ezra T. Benson, Secretary of Agriculture, which Department was formed with the first and foremost aim being to help the agriculture classes of America, set out in every possible way by misleading newspaper articles and speeches made all over our country to mislead the American people, and especially the consumers of farmers' products, into believing that they were being robbed and that the Government was going bankrupt in their efforts to help the farmers get a living out of the soil. Everyone of you, regardless to which political party you belong, know that he put out the impression that the Government had lost about $20 billion in supporting the price of agriculture products thereby undermining the opinion of the people in the wisdom of the Congress in helping the farmers. But when he was put on his oath before your committee, where the perjury law would get him, he admitted that the losses sustained during 20 years amounted to $1,100 million, or only $55 million a year.
Now, $55 million per year, when you were appropriating $70 billion per year, $10 billion of that being given to people overseas will serve to relieve us farmers from the charges of bankrupting our Government. And, with old Ezra and his like coaching, you gentlemen got right into the game. The first thing you did to help us was to hunt up a little more ungodly formula for figuring “parity” on farm commodities and one of the results was to take a cent or two off of the parity price for cotton. God help you to open your eyes and your hearts and strengthen your spines to the realization that the formula that went back to the first of this century was most unfair to us. The period from 1909 to 1914, so-called a favorable period for the farmers, was the same period in which I, who lived on a farm, formed my opinion that I didn't want to follow agriculture as a business as I had observed that most everyone else in the land seemed to have more gainful occupations and I had made my mind up to go to Harvard and study law. But having contracted tuberculosis, the leading doctors in the land advised me not to do any office work but, instead to live out in the open on a farm. That is the only reason I am here today. Suffice it to say that any man who believes that 34 or 35 cents per pound for cotton give farmers of today “a just share of the national income," as President Eisenhower spoke of on the statehouse steps just over the street out there in September 1952, before 60,000 South Carolinians, in these days of high prices, has to be classed as ignorant of the subject or of impure heart and as no friend to the farmer.
Again referring to the President's speech over there in 1952, I do not pretend to know what the candidate for the Presidency said in Minnesota or in the Dakota speeches as I only read about them, but these are his words to us that September afternoon as to his attitude on the farm situation. Now, listen, gentlemen, to his exact words: “There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. I stand for 90 percent of parity support for our farmers and more too, if necessary, to give them their just share of our national income.” Now, the all-time sad experience of my lifetime, with the one exception of our sending our boys to bleed and die in Korea without sending the might of the American flag with them, is the fact that a man who had gained the confidence of the American people, and more, the love of them, to the extent that he was given their overwhelming endorsement for leadership, and the good man that we all know him to be (there is no doubt in that fact) should be so misled by such a little thing as Ezra to go to the length of sending most everybody in the Department down to Congress to work against 90 percent support for our farmers and have them to inform Congress that he would veto 90 percent parity support prices.
Gentlemen, everyone of you know full well that a man who would pull the $2 million cheese deal has no business in the Cabinet of the President of the United States and our beloved President should have had the intestinal fortitude to have asked for his resignation on the first inkling of the news of that deal. The distance from dishonorable government to no government is not very great. I would never have dreamed that Eisenhower would have kept Secretary Benson after that deal.
Gentlemen, we cotton and tobacco farmers have always overwhelmingly, about 9 to 1 in most cases, and in some very much great percentage, voted for any control that the Department has suggested. For a truth, 1 acre with profits is better than 10, a hundred or a thousand with losses. And, we know that you cannot support prices with uncontrolled supplies or production. But, you must remember that farmers do not have the power to have a fixed yield, or output, as do the manufacturers of steel, iron, coal, oil textiles, and the like, as our production depends mostly on the will and pleasure of our common God who doeth all things well. And, we would be little and puny men indeed to think of 10 million bales of cotton as a curse instead of the great blessing that they are.
Gentlemen, if the old arch double-crosser of history, Molotov, did not open the eyes and the minds of the President, the Secretary of State, and the Congress of the United States this last week, all that I can say is that you have not eyes to see. He did away with that smile, and to think of all the hopeful world leaning on a smile of that old hypocrite and trusting any good from Soviet Russia. He took off the smile and informed everybody that the freedom-loving people everywhere had better heap up surpluses of cotton, foods, guns, cannons, shells, military forces, A-bombs, H-bombs, radar and everything else that we might use if we have any hopes of remaining free from their domination. Not one spoken word at Geneva indicates that they have any idea of freeing one soul that they have enslaved, and, on the other hand, every act and scene over on their side proves their aim is more enslavement of other people and we seem to be their chief target. God help you all in high authority to see their aims.
Ten million bales of cotton at 30 cents a pound about the present price on the exchange would amount to about $112 billion. Gentlemen, cotton is real wealth, not like money, the medium of exchange, but a product that this amount of 10 million bales would turn into 10 or 12 billions of dollars in the commerce and industry of the United States annually. Instead of taking such little and shortsighted views of our farmers' production, let us all this night thank our Heavenly King that He has been good enough to see that we have food and fiber in abundance to feed our stomachs and clothe our backs. And, then, let's set about, in spite of Ezra and Ike, to see that the men who feed and clothe us shall not go unrewarded for their successful labors that give us good assurances for the coming year at least.
Now, how can we do for our farmers? We can determine what a fair parity price is by taking into consideration all the things the farmers have to buy, including labor at a cost equal, or more nearly so at least to what most all other Americans are earning in gainful employment in the commerce and industries of our country and let's look and see what the Government employees, teachers, preachers, lawyers, doctors, the labor union members, the railroads, the mines, and factories, and all the men of all our commerce and industries getting paid, and meet them with a fair parity figure. And, then, let's see that the cotton mills of America give them that fair price for their cotton. You have told them all that they had to go down in their pockets and pay a living price for labor through minimum wage law and, in God's name, where is the difference in that and setting a prescribed price for us? And, then hold us to the American demand for cotton or, if not, at least set up a two-price system. We Americans cannot compete with Hindus and the like in producing anything on earth. I have in my hand a clipping in the papers during the last 30 days written from Bombay, India, saying that the women over there work for 15 cents a day, not an hour mind you, 15 cents a day, and the men are paid the big sum of 20 cents per day. How can any man or set of men find a way for farmers living in the land where everybody, or least the average man, reecives $1 per hour or more, to compete in price with those who are paid 15 or 20 cents a day? The mills would not mind one bit where you set the price of cotton if they only knew that you would not set a lesser price on it during the next month or two. They don't want you to set it high today and then, let it drop where a competitor can underbuy them the next day or the next month. They too cannot possibly compete with Hindi, Chinese, or Japanese labor anymore than we farmers can. We cannot enjoy the highest living standards the world has ever seen and sell in competition with anderpaid, underfed, and underclothed people of other lands.
I know that I have taken too much of your valuable time. But, I just must call to your most earnest attention to one of the greatest obstacles or handicaps in the way of the farmers of America and that is the operation of cotton and grain exchanges. While I am unfamiliar with the grain exchanges but, through observation and experience I have learned of some very unfair rules and regulations that govern the sale and delivery on the New York Exchange. There is daily trading on New York Cotton Exchange from seventy-five to two hundred thousand bales per day, usually about 150,000 bales per day. If you buy a contract of 100 bales of cotton, say for this December delivery, there will come at about November 23 or 24 (first notice day), that is the day that the seller has to start with, and will last for 20 days. Now, while the seller has 20 days to give you notice that he desires to deliver the purchased 100 bales of cotton, he can select any time any day during the 20-day period to give you notice of delivery. Now, how long does the buyer have to tell him whether he wants him. to deliver the cotton or sell back on the exchange? He has 20 minutes at the most. Think about it, gentlemen, 20 days for the seller and 20 minutes for the purchaser of the contract. But, that is not all; the seller can deliver cotton at any one of about a dozen points in the United States. Say a buyer lives in Columbia here and would like to have his cotton delivered here in Columbia, the seller can deliver it in Houston or Dallas, Tex., a point from which it would cost you from $7 to $10 per bale to get it to your desired location. And, further still, he can and does deliver a class of cotton unwanted by the spinning industry. So, you see, there is no way on earth for the exchange seller to help the farmers, but, instead, they forever practice trading in such a way as to hinder the farmer from getting a fair price. In proof of this, I have been most reliably informed that not one contract bought on the exchange has ever been delivered during all the trading that has been carried on in one of the leading broker houses operating on the exchange because of the above facts which hinder a buyer from taking delivery of the contract. And, for further proof that the seller does not anticipate any delivery of cotton bought on the exchange, there are today less than 7,000 bales, mind you only 7,000 bales of cotton, certified for delivery on contract. If that is not conclusive proof that the New York Exchange is run, if not exclusively so, for gambling, it is nearly so run. And, too, it can't work but one way as far as the effect on the price of cotton, as they sell from 50 to 60 million bales annually.
Now, Honorable Senators of the United States, in whom all of us have put our trust and in whom rest great and tragic responsibilities, do for us, the men who clothe and feed you, just what you did for your own good selves when you fully realized that times and prices had put you in short financial supply and you voted yourselves increase in your salaries in an amount from $15,000 to $22,500 per year, or a jump of 50 percent at one time. Remember, gentlemen, you increased your income, or pay at least 50 percent while that of the farmers has been decreased 35 percent, for the cotton farmers at least. If you are good enough, fair enough, and strong enough to do for the lowest paid people in America the same percentage way you were able to do for yourselves, why, no one can find fault with you. However, if the speaker did not have the same courage to do for the men who are flat and who furnish us with the prime necessities of life that he had done for himself, he would not feel worthy to kiss an innocent baby boy or daughter or a true and pure wife goodnight, nor worthy to meet our loving Lord the last day.
My last say is that God will help you be men enough to act in such manner as to save our American way of life. For, on you and you alone rests the future of our country, as "a chain is no stronger than its weakest link,” and our prosperity cannot endure half in unprecedented prosperity and half in dire poverty, and while we farmers are now flat on our bellies, God in his own way and wisdom will pull you others flat unless you are wise enough and strong enough to lift us up.
The CHAIRMAN. Colonel Manning?