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I am in thorough agreement with you that we want to let this thing go back to free enterprise as soon as we can. I am with you on that. It may take a long time to do it, but as long as you protect certain segments of society, why others that suffer ought maybe also to be protected.
Thank you, sir. Next is Mr. Barrett. Will you give us your full name for the record?
STATEMENT OF EVANS H. BARRETT, KEENE, N. H. Mr. BARRETT. My name is Evans H. Barrett of Keene, New Hampshire, dairy farmer.
The CHAIRMAN. Have you anything new to add to what has already been said?
Mr. BARRETT. I do not know as I have anything new. I just feel that the quicker Government gets out of business, and gets out of farming, the better off the farming industry is going to be.
The CHAIRMAN. Would you want us to go to Washington next year and cancel out the law that now gives you the right to get into these marketing agreements and get a pretty good price?
Mr. BARRETT. So far as I am concerned, I wish they would cancel everything they have given to the farmers. I can pay my own bills. And when I cannot pay them, I can drive nails or I can nail on shingles. I have not got to farm.
Every farmer in the United States has the opportunity to farm or not farm, as he sees fit.
The CHAIRMAN. They are not all carpenters, you are. Mr. BARRETT. I am not a carpenter, but you do not have to be a carpenter to get $2 an hour. And all of these farmers are working for 50 cents.
The CHAIRMAN. So you would be satisfied if we could arrange for everybody to start from scratch?
Mr. BARRETT. They do not have to start from scratch. This forever ladeling out from Washington, I believe that the administration of the benefits we get on the farms cost three times the benefits we finally derive from the tax money that is taken from the people and ultimately gets back to the farmer.
The CHAIRMAN. Is there anything else? Mr. BARRETT. I just want to go on record as saying that these people that are looking for payments of subsidies want to run and look at Russia. If they want socialized farming, let them go to Russia. We have got a free country, and we have got free enterprise. And everybody is his own master here in these United States. It just seems too bad to me that these people get right up and look at Russia and sit right here and tell you they want to be paid to farm. [Applause.]
Senator HOLLAND. I wish the gentleman would stop long enough to say one thing more for the record. Just what do you produce? You say that you are a dairy farmer?
Mr. BARRETT. I milk 100 cows. I set 5,000 sap buckets, cut a little cord wood, and in spare time I am a city counseller.
Senator HOLLAND. I congratulate you on your activities. What is your acreage of ownership? Mr. BARRETT. I own probably 400 acres and rent 6 more. Senator HOLLAND. Thank you, sir. The CHAIRMAN. Thank you.
There is one more, Mr. Colby. Will you proceed and give your full name for the record ?
STATEMENT OF JAMES COLBY, LITCHFIELD, N. H. Mr. COLBY. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, before I start, gentlemen, I want to assure you that my attitude is not antagonistic. I realize the tremendous task that you gentlemen are trying to accomplish. If there is anything I can do, I want to help. I have no little narrow perspective of this thing. In fact, I have no gripes, so far as I am concerned personally, but I am terribly griped with the condition of agriculture in this Nation as you gentlemen have expressed here today that you are griped about.
I have just a very few brief statements. They say that brevity is the soul of wit. I think that I will be the briefest witness that you have listened to today.
The CHAIRMAN. All right. I hope that you have a solution to the problem.
Mr. COLBY. I am a vegetable grower, cultivating approximately 500 acres of land each year, sweet corn for market, potatoes, cabbage, cucumbers, green and wax snap beans, shell beans.
Senator HOLLAND. Where?
Mr. COLBY. In the town of Litchfield on the Merrimac between Nashua and Manchester .
The CHAIRMAN. Where is your market? Mr. Colby. The market is 98 percent of the Boston area. Springfield, and the Worcester area.
The Nation's farm economy would be sabotaged by a return to high rigid price supports. That has been stated and reiterated many times.
The New England farmers in particular would suffer even more than they are now suffering if the Federal Government acceded to the high pressure campaign now under way to place more rather than less emphasis on socialized agriculture.
The CHAIRMAN. Why do you call that socialized agriculture? Many have said that this afternon, socialized agriculture. Do you know that none of these price-support programs could go into effect except that the farmers vote for them? That is the law.
Mr. COLBY. It may be that certain farmers do vote for them.
The CHAIRMAN. That is the law. None of these programs could go into effect unless two-thirds of those voting say, "We want to go into it.” How in the name of commonsense can you and others call that socialized agriculture? Please tell me. The same thing goes for flexible price supports. They vote for that. You could not put any of these programs in effect unless the farmers of this country voted for them. Please understand that. Mr. COLBY. Yes; I appreciate that very much.
Rigid supports were inaugurated to stimulate production during the war emergency, but having accomplished that purpose, they are now responsible for the wasteful production of burdensome surpluses.
A little mention was made of the school-lunch program. I am very proud of that thing. If all of the losses that this program has sustained in this country were added up, I think that the wonderful effect that the school-lunch program is having in this country, those losses could be forgotten about.
They do not solve but rather increase the farmer's problem. The vegetable growers nationwide have been the major recipients of the resulting inequalities.
The Nation's farm policy badly needs overhauling whereby some floor-price plan would be put into effect that would benefit every segment of agriculture and not just the privileged few. Such a program would get the Government out of agriculture and it should compare favorably with the laws that now afford protection to industry and labor and it woud not be at the expense of the taxpayer. A floor price without any price incentive. I am willing to be counted on the side of flexible supports and am sure they are more attractive to the average consumer as it results in less cost to the taxpayer.
I wish to emphasize the real need today is to get the Government out of the farm program.
I have said in my original piece here that the sooner the better, but I will qualify that. I do not say the sooner the better. I say as quickly as can be done without bringing chaos.
I wish to take the opportunity here to endorse the practical, efficient, and economical way Secretary Benson is trying to administer the present plan. I see no need for the politically inspired panic over his good, honest judgment.
It might interest you gentlemen to know that there has been an awful lot of time spent on potatoes here today. If potatoes could be sold on a quality basis, a specific gravity test, instead of by appearance the most beautiful appearing potatoes eat the poorest, it would help. They are grown for human consumption. If they can be put on the specific gravity test for humans to eat, we would not have nearly as much trouble as we have had.
The CHAIRMAN. What do you mean? Mr. Colby. Specifically, the specific gravity potato is a potato that a person will bake and when you break it, it will break open just like a bag of flour and you want to eat a potato like that.
The CHAIRMAN. That is the Idaho potato? Mr. COLBY. Not necessarily. We grow them just as good, probably a little better in New Hampshire than they do in İdaho.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, sir. Mr. COLBY. It has been a pleasure, gentlemen. I certainly appreciate the work that you people are doing. Thank you.
The CHAIRMAN. All right.
Now Mr. Sykes, I understand that you will appear in the place of Mr. Jones.
Will you give us your name in full for the record, please, and your occupation ?
STATEMENT OF CHRISTOPHER B. SYKES, VICE PRESIDENT, NORTH
WORCESTER COUNTY DAIRYMEN'S ASSOCIATION, ASHBURNHAM, MASS.; ALSO REPRESENTING CENTRAL MASSACHUSETTS DAIRY ASSOCIATION, SOUTHEAST QUALITY MILK PRODUCERS' ASSOCIATION, NORTH CENTRAL MASSACHUSETTS DAIRYMEN'S ASSOCIATION, AND SOUTHEAST WORCESTER COUNTY DAIRYMEN'S ASSOCIATION
Mr. SYKES. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, my name is Christopher B. Sykes, Ashburnham, Mass. I own and operate a dairy farm in Ashburnham, where the 1955 tax rate is $74 per thousand of valuation, and this year I have paid about $900 in real estate and personal property taxes to the town. This means that each one of my present milking herd of 32 Jerseys must produce nearly $30 worth of milk per year year to pay the taxes alone. The attractiveness of high industrial wages in large nearby communities keeps the available supply of farm labor at very low levels and creates a correspondingly high level of farm wage rates if good labor can be found. I mention my own high fixed costs only as an example, but I can assure you that they are typical of dairy farmers everywhere in Massachusetts.
I am here today to represent about 700 dairy farmers whose milk is marketed under controls administered by the Milk Control Commission of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This is by no means the total number of such farmers, but is rather the number represented by the 5 associations who have since a year ago last April opposed the attempt to extend the area covered by 3 of the 5 Federal order milk markets in Massachusetts.
These associations are: Central Massachusetts Dairy Association of which Arthur Schofield, president, and Fred R. Jones, director, are present; Southeast Quality Milk Producers' Association, Inc.; NorthCentral Massachusetts Dairymen's Association, Inc., of which Edward Baronas, secretary, is present; Southeast Worcester County Dairymen's Association; and North Worcester County Dairymen's Association of which I am the vice president and which is also represented here by Toivo Lamsa, treasurer.
I should first like to comment on the ballot which was mailed in the recent referendum held after the United States Department of Agriculture's decision to extend the Boston Federal market to include the towns of Framingham, Natick, Weston, and Wayland. Recipients of this ballot were asked to vote not on the question of whether or not the Boston order should be extended, but rather on whether or not there should be an extended Boston market. I have been told that, in the opinion of the Boston Market administrator, if there had been 33.4 percent “No” votes, the Secretary of Agriculture would have been obliged to suspend the entire Boston order. In other words, the referendum was not held on the real issue, which was and is extension of the Boston market and not its continued existence. I do not believe that anyone questions the necessity of the Boston order, and it would have been ridiculous to suppose that the outcome of the referendum could have been other than it was, overwhelmingly in favor. In addition, all amendments to the Boston and other orders were voted on as a group and not as individual issues, and I submit that, if such referenda.
are to have any significance whatsoever, the ballots should be so drawn up as to permit a vote on each question separately.
The CHAIRMAN. Was the procedure that was used in accordance with law? Mr. SYKES. It is an interpretation of the law, sir. The CHAIRMAN. Who did the interpretation? Mr. SYKES. The United States Department of Agriculture. The CHAIRMAN. Do you think the interpretation is wrong?
Mr. SYKES. We are contesting it in the Federal district court in Washington at present.
The CHAIRMAN. We will soon find out, I hope.
With further reference to voting procedure, we have serious doubts as to the validity of the United States Department of Agriculture's present interpretation of the provisions of the Agricultural Marketing Agreements Act of 1937, as amended, in that it permits all producers shipping milk to an already established Federal market to vote on its extension together with the producers who ship to the area which is marked for annexation.
It is also my understanding that, during the qualifying month of April 1955, a loose sales connection between country plants and certain distributors in Massachusetts was enough to establish the eligibility to vote, in this recent referendum, of large numbers of producers shipping to these country plants when in fact it was doubtful if even a small percentage of their production was sold in the area proposed for extension.
It is our contention that the eligibility to vote on such extensions should be confined to those producers all of whose sales of milk are initially made in the area which the extension proposes to include. An identical position was taken only last Wednesday, November 16, by the delegate body at the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation in a resolution of which I shall quote the pertinent part:
Be it further resolved, That the Massachusetts Farm Bureau shall press for such amendments as may be necessary to prevent the extension of a Federal market into a new district unless such extension is approved by at least twothirds of the dairy farmers whose entire milk sales are initially sold on a regular and continuous basis in that district.
We were confident enough of our convictions in this matter so that, on September 19, 1955, the Central Massachusetts Dairy Association, backed by the other associations I have mentioned, filed a bill of equity in Federal district court in Washington, D. C., which has justly resulted in the placing of a restraining order upon the United States Department of Agriculture which prevents them from proceeding with the proposed extension of the Boston market until such time as a hearing on the merits of the case and the voting procedure can be held.
Senator HOLLAND. Would you permit a question there?
Senator HOLLAND. This is new to me. I think it may be new to other members of the committee. Does it mean that the Boston milkshed does not include some of the lesser but important markets in Massachusetts ?
Mr. Sykes. Very definitely, sir.