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Mr. SULIN. When we are under controls it all reflects back, sir, right back to where our tobacco is.
Mr. COOLEY. You are not under controls ?
STATEMENT OF HARRY C. FERBEE, CAMDEN, N. C. Mr. FERBEE. Harry C. Ferbee. I haven't got a brief. I didn't know I was going to be called on.
The CHAIRMAN. Your name is on here as being a good farmer. Mr. FERBEE. Some think I am and some think I am not.
The CHAIRMAN. Have you any suggestions to make as to how best to solve this problem?
Mr. FERBEE. I don't know that I can contribute much. I might contribute a little. As I see it, the control program that we have had hasn't done much to cut the overall picture. Control tobacco, put it in grass, make more cattle, what have you done?
Control on corn and put it in milo; what have you done? It looks like something has to be done along that line.
The CHAIRMAN. You mean to control total acres?
The CHAIRMAN. That is one of the problems we have to deal with. Mr. FERBEE. I also think there is merit in the suggestion made to not compel a man to plant or lose his acreage. If he could lay out 2 or 3 years without losing his acreage you might have less acreage in some of those commodities.
The CHAIRMAN. Would that not end up in freezing the acres on a farm whether they plant it or not?
Mr. FERBEE. I would not mean do it over too many years. But you take during the potato acreage control, I am a potato farmer although I grow a lot of other things, the Department asked North Carolina to cut so much and I will use California as an example, they asked her to cut, we stayed in line and a little less, California increased every year and the next year they got the benefit of that increase in making their allotments for another year. I don't see how you can hardly work that.
Mr. COOLEY. You know you cannot have a potato support price unless you have controls. We fixed that in the law.
Mr. FERBEE. Personally, I would like to see some way the market could control potatoes.
Mr. COOLEY. You cannot control production of potatoes. We tried it and it failed disastrously and cost the Government almost $500 million.
Mr. FERBEE. I am not in favor of it.
Mr. COOLEY. We enacted the law under which you cannot have price supports on potatoes unless you have acreage allotments and marketing quotas.
Mr. FERBEE. I agree with you.
Mr. COOLEY. Is there a single Federal law on the books now that either you or anybody else in this room want to repeal outright or do you advocate the enactment of a single new law that is not now on the books which would give the Secretary of Agriculture any more power than he now has?
Mr. FERBEE. You ask me a question I don't know if I am capable of answering.
Mr. COOLEY. We have numerous laws and I voted for them over a period of 21 years and if there is 1 law which I voted for in those 21 years which somebody wants repealed, I want it named and numbered so that I may look at it.
Mr. FERBEE. I wouldn't say we have any laws that are not good. I think they need improving on.
Mr. COOLEY. Do you know of any authority the Secretary of Agriculture should have that he does not now have?
Mr. FERBEE. It looks like he has enough now.
All right, Mr. Carper. Give your full name and your occupation,
The CHAIRMAN. What is your occupation ? Mr. CARPER. I am a farmer; partially I am a farmer, I will qualify that statement, Senator. I come from an area of Virginia which is a county, that is Montgomery, in southwest Virginia. Southwest Virginia agriculturally is very diversified. Of course we consider it diversified although we do not enter into the production of many of the price-supported commodities. The money that we as farmers derive for a living comes from livestock. And as most of the men and women here, and particularly from our area, realize we have no support on it. We are caught in a price squeeze. It is the opinion of the farmers of our area—I am not speaking for all of southwest Virginia, though, I am from the resolutions committee that met yesterday in Richmond for the Farm Bureau and I do know the position that resolutions committee has taken on some of the issues concerning agriculture as far as the Farm Bureau is concerned in the Commonwealth of Virginia. But as for the farmers of Montgomery County we are in favor of flexible parity and we are also in favor that it not exceed a maximum limit of 75 percent and that it be cut down as soon as possible.
The CHAIRMAN. Lower than 75 percent?
The CHAIRMAN. On what crops would you suggest ? Mr. CARPER. All crops that have price supports today. If we have a surplus I would like to see them cut down. That is my own personal opinion and the opinion of the farmers in our area. .
The CHAIRMAN. Do you think that would have the tendency of causing the farmers to grow less? Mr. CARPER. I do.
The CHAIRMAN. The facts don't bear that out, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. We have had the flexible price supports on dairying. In 1953 90-percent supports were continued, as you may recall, by Mr. Benson and the production in 1953 was 121 billion pounds of milk.
Mr. CARPER. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. The flexible price support was put on last year and production was increased by almost 2 billion pounds of milk and this year with the flexible price support we will have the greatest production of raw milk ever known, 124,200 million pounds, or an addition of over 3 billion pounds more than we had under 90-percent price support. How do you account for that?
Mr. CARPER. I will say this: There are certain modifications and certain methods we feel that could be used and I am almost positive that I heard and I will say that some people that don't talk so loud up here, you can't hear them back there and you can't hear them, that is not your fault and not the fault of anybody in the room, but at the same time we feel like when America ranks 13 among nations of the world in consumption of milk, one of the greatest foods we have, if the farmers of the Nation are interested in selling dairy products with the population we have, that we can radically reduce that surplus.
We feel that, by advertising and other methods and with proper information coming from our Department of Agriculture, we feel that condition can be improved but in order to continue we do feel that if we had a soil bank and take acres out of production and not have them diverted from one source to another—and I happen to know personally of areas in the eastern part of our State in the Peanut Belt with farmers with 50 acres and they diverted, they didn't divert, they diverted; when they had controls on peanuts they put them in barley and other grains, and came into southwest Virginia and bought cattle and put them in direct competition with us.
Of course I am a farmer and I have to be a contractor to live. We have had 3 years of disastrous drought in our county and with falling farm prices and increase in commodities, we have to buy it is extremely difficult to make the ends meet and of course our farm is not so small. We have around 1,500 acres and we can produce quite a few cattle. We produce quite a few sheep, too, but at the same time I find the contracting much more lucrative than I could farming, though basically I would rather remain on the farm if we could get an agricultural program worked out whereby we can make a legitimate and honest living and stay there, and enjoy the hills of southwest Virginia.
The CHAIRMAN. When did you start farming ? Mr. CARPER. I was born on the farm and I live on the farm now, that has been in the name that I have for the last five generations, and I hope to remain there if taxes don't get to the point I can't stay on it.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you propose taking all price controls? Mr. CARPER. I didn't say take them all off. The CHAIRMAN. Reduce them? Mr. CARPER. Reduce them and if they don't have parity, the way we feel about it is this
The CHAIRMAN. What would be the advantage of reducing them, make the farmer poorer ? I want your point of view. By the way, may I state to the witnesses here that the questions that I ask or other members of this committee ask, as well as those asked by Congressman Cooley, are not to be interpreted as the way we feel about the problem. I am trying to take the negative when a witness takes the affirmative side, as we believe that is the best way by which we can get all the facts out. Let us not be judged by the questions we ask.
Mr. CARPER. We realize that there is a surplus in the major commodities that I have in mind, I don't know them all, possibly, but it seems to me the major stockpile of farm commodities is in wheat, corn, and cotton.
The CHAIRMAN. And tobacco. Mr. CARPER. Yes. Of course we are not entering into production of cotton or tobacco in our immediate area, although there are areas in Virginia that do enter into it. Yet at the same time if there is a surplus in wheat, and we know it is enormous, and also in corn, we in our area do not, we did at one time but under controlled acreage we do not produce enough wheat to feed ourselves and wheat has to be imported and it is practically the same way with corn now, though it is not as critical as wheat yet with reduction in wheat acreage it is not profitable for us to grow it, and furthermore, if we wanted parity on it we wouldn't get it because we have no facilities for storing and have to transport it hundreds of miles. We feel because of our geographical location we are not treated fairly in that respect. I don't want to penalize the wheat man in the West but I feel he can take a cut easier than we on the small farms in southwest Virginia, and the Commonwealth of Virginia, too.
I don't know exactly the number of acres per farm in Virginia, but it is relatively small and I would assume it would be approximately the number of acres found in North Carolina inasmuch as we are neighboring States and engaged in practically the same endeavor.
The CHAIRMAN. I am going back to the question I asked: What would be the object of reducing the price of wheat or price of cotton ? Mr. CARPER. I didn't say that, I said reduce parity. The CHAIRMAN. That is what you would do? Mr. CARPER. It would destroy the incentive to overproduce.
The CHAIRMAN. That is the theory back of the flexible supports, that you will get in the market place a hundred percent of parity if you grow just what the demand is. Mr. CARPER. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. That is the theory back of it but some of us don't think that that will work. Now, you think it would.
Mr. CARPER. I am not in a position, I do think it would, if we had wholehearted support.
The CHAIRMAN. I gave you dairying. Dairying is one of the commodities in which we have the flexible price support along the same line as you are now asking be placed on corn and on other commodities.
Mr. CARPER. Sure.
The CHAIRMAN. As I have indicated to you—and the testimony is replete to show that in all of these commodities whenever it is left to the farmer to produce with a lower price, he will always try, I don't blame him, to grow all he can in the hope that he can make both ends meet. That to my way of thinking is the reason why we have had this vast increase in the production of milk in the last 2 years. You have had price supports on milk—that is, 90 percent—through 1953.
Mr. CARPER. That wasn't flexible.
The CHAIRMAN. No; they were rigid, but the amount of milk produced was 4 to 5 billion pounds of milk less than on a flexible basis. That is my point.
Mr. CARPER. I see that and see it very clearly after you state those figures.
The CHAIRMAN. That is in the record; here it is from the Federal Government. You take back in 1947, 1948, 1946, we had production with price controls on of 117 billion pounds of milk, but it is only since the flexible price support has been put on that commodity that this year and last year are the biggest production years in history. Mr. CARPER. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. That to me confirms the proposition that when you do reduce the price to the farmer under this flexible price-support program as we have for milk, that the tendency is to make all you can so as to make both ends meet.
Mr. CARPER. I am not supposed to ask you a question but it is your opinion from what I gathered from your remarks
The CHAIRMAN. You can ask questions on statistics.
Mr. CARPER. You are of the opinion that if we have controlled acreage and if we take acres out of production in corn and we have flexible parity, that it will increase production of corn.
The CHAIRMAN. Of course if you have the quota system and cut the acreage, you wouldn't.
Mr. CARPER. That is what we are in favor of.
The CHAIRMAN. The point I wish to make to you is simply this: That it has been stated so many times by many witnesses across the land that the increase of the surplus in corn and surplus in wheat and surplus in cotton has not been caused by the high price supports. We had a Government in Washington that asked the patriotic farmers of this Nation to grow all they could because of the war in Asia, in Korea. None of us knew how long that would last. The year that the was ended the farmers were asked to produce all they could. Yet because they produced all they could they are now being penalized and kicked around.
I think they ought to be blessed for that rather than be kicked around. If you had spokesmen would would be more sympathetic and give the facts to the American people, the consumer, as to why this thing was done, why this increase took place, you might get more sympathy from the consumer. I think that all of this is a blessing in disguise and it is my considered judgment that if the controls had been placed on the production of these commodities during this Korean war we wouldn't have all the surpluses. We had controls, for instance, in cotton, marketing quota in cotton was 1950–51. In 1950–51, with controls we reduced the cotton bales from 16 million bales in 1949 and 1950 to 10 million bales in 1950–51. The next year when the Korean war came on, the same year, the lid was raised, the farmers were told to plant all you can. They did plant and raised it from 10 million to 15 million. In 1952–53 the same request was made and they kept up production to 15 million the same as the year before.
Mr. CARPER. Yes, sir. Therefore, we have to take acres out of production.
The CHAIRMAN. That is what we are trying to do. If this law that is now on the statute books had been permitted to work in normal