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to the excellent work of the various associations that have handled tobacco, and the willingness of our people to abide by the decisions that were correct, we have had an excellent program throughout our years. And what we are here assembled today to do is to see whether or not the grower, big and little, want to continue the tobacco program, and that is the question before us.
, Now, during the period of time I have been here I have seen lots of things happen. Once I had to pass a bill to keep people from growing tobacco, two crops on one piece of land in the same year. I believe, Brother Todd, the 25-percent cut you referred to was when I introduced a bill to restore 15 percent of it.
Certainly it is not my desire in any manner or form to hurt the little growers, or to hurt the big growers, or to hurt any grower, but all of us are in the hotbox together today, and something has got to be done.
Today the average burley tobacco base is eighty-two-hundredths of an acre, and 60 percent of these bases are protected behind a shield, namely, the five-tenths of an uncuttable base and they do not have to bear any of the burden of carrying on the program.
When I came to the Congress, the minimum protected acreage was an acre. What would have happened to the program with the average base only eighty-two-hundredths of an acre if the minimum was still an acre? Why, of course, the program would have to go out the window because it would be unreasonable to let people raise all of the tobacco that would be raised if the minimum protected base had remained
Please be assured that I deeply appreciate the gentlemen who are today defending the minimum acreage allotment but I want to say to them that when I reduced the minimum acreage down from an acre to seven-tenths their predecessors protested very vigorously and made the same fight that these gentlemen are today, and I am assuming if these gentlemen had been there they would have resisted removing the acreage down to seven-tenths.
Again it became necessary in 1965 to reduce it to five-tenths of an acre to save this program, and we did so. Had it remained at an acre. the tobacco would really be growing out of our ears now, so thick that we would not know what to do with it. It has been very amply testified to here today, that we cannot control production by merely saying that the person can grow a number of acres, because all we do is to buy more fertilizer, we spread more manure, we put on more nitrogen, and we use every kind of additive or particle that we can to increase production. We have done a remarkable job of it, but we have just about produced ourselves out of the business.
Now, I introduced a bill, and I do not take any pride in this particular bill I introduced. I want to explain to you the difference between that bill and Senator Cooper's bill. The first difference is that Senator Cooper, if I remember correctly, provides in his bill that, if the acreage cut is going to be in excess of 15 percent, the cut be made under a poundage basis; but if it is going to be less than 15 percent, it be under the acreage basis.
My bill provides that all cuts in the future shall be strictly on poundage basis.
The second change is that where Senator Cooper's bill provides leasing allotments, mine provides for sale and leasing, which gives the owner of the base, regardless of his age, his financial condition, whether he is going to remain on the farm, whether he is going to sell his little tract of land, or whatever he might want to do, to either lease or sell, as he chooses.
The third change I have made in Senator Cooper's bill, with the help of the Department, was to increase the 5,000 pounds which he said could be leased to 15,000 pounds. I did that specifically for the reason that I wanted anybody who wanted to remain on the farm, and goodness knows, it is hard enough for these people to be down on the farm in this day and time, to have enough tobacco to raise that there would be some incentive for them to stay there.
I restricted the sale and lease to county, because I did not want to see some sections of a State where they have lots of money, where they can outbid the fellow in the poorer section to buy and lease up all of these bases, which would result in big, monstrous growers of tobacco, and that is the reason I was in favor of restricting it to within the county, so that no section of any State would be impoverished by the moving of tobacco away from that section to a central spot where somebody might be allowed to raise large crops of tobacco.
The only other change of the bill I introduced' was to provide in the bill that if any action was taken by the Secretary under the present law, and my bill became law that everything the Secretary might have done under the old law is wiped out, and he would have to start all over under the new law.
Now, I am telling you all, every one of you members of this subcommittee, and myself, and everyone else, that we are at the crossroads so far as this tobacco program is concerned. I have patched it up over the years. I expect in the course of that time I have had 15 or 20 bills that I have introduced and passed that I thought were helpful to the tobacco program, and were recommended by the majority of the tobacco growers. Certainly I do not want to hurt the little grower, or the big grower, but Lord knows, that you cannot run a program where 60 percent of the people today are protected and the other 40 percent have to take all of the loss, and if a 35- or 40-percent cut comes in this year, you are going to see that 60 percent climb up close to 70 percent, where you have only 30 percent of the people. carrying the burden, and one more cut would just about wipe them out.
So, I am pleading with this committee and everybody else to enact what I consider a fair and equitable tobacco program, and if we will all work together, and all cooperate, we will not have any problem, just like we have had none in the past.
I have a lot of little growers myself. I do not want to hurt them. It so happens that maybe I have a larger average of large growers than anybody else.
Let’s all get together and work out a satisfactory poundage program.
Mr. ABBITT. The next witness we have thank you so much, John, for those remarks. We appreciate your being here and helping the committee.
We now have the Honorable Tim Lee Carter.
Mr. WATTS. I hate to leave, but I have got some appointments at my office, and I will be there the rest of the time. Thank you very much.
Mr. ABBITT. Congressman Carter, we are so pleased to have you with us, and we know of your great interest in the program, and you have taken a vital interest in all tobacco legislation that has been here, and we are glad to hear from you at this time. STATEMENT OF HON. TIM LEE CARTER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF KENTUCKY Mr. CARTER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
In my district of Kentucky there are 35,763 burley allotments. Of this number, 20,317, or 37 percent of the allotments, are of one-half acre basis or less. As it happens, I have talked to all tobacco farmers in the past, and I intend to protect their interest to the best of my ability.
In 1965 and again this last year, or the year before, we were faced with the labeling of cigarettes. Perhaps you remember this. This bill came through the committee, of which I am a member. I fought to keep the label small and as innocuous as possible. Some of the leading newspapers in the country said all manner of evil against me because I fought this tough label.
The same papers today favor poundage, strangely enough. If I had not fought this label, it would have been in large letters in red on both sides of the cigarette pack, and I have a pack right here.
What I was fighting for, actually, gentlemen, was for the right of the tobacco farmer to make a living. Now, I did not want the small farmer or the large farmer either denied the right of making a living.
What I am asking for today for the small farmer is that he retain a small base, enough on which he can make a living. In a sense all he wants is the crumbs that drop from the rich man's table. Of course, I know the values of the poundage, and I am willing to support the poundage program, but this program as it is presently proposed exempts no farmer from cuts regardless of the size of his base.
Furthermore, it would allow the sale or leasing of tobacco bases.
It is my sincere and earnest feeling that the poundage proposal must be amended to provide for a poundage allotment limit beneath which cuts could not be made in the allotment of those farmers who have only a half acre. This limit should be fixed at, say, 1,600 pounds per half acre, and then graduated according to the acreage allotment below this half-acre level.
I further believe that this proposal should be amended to provide that bases may not be sold. When the small farmers really learn the substance of the poundage proposal, and I assure you that most small farmers have not learned of this, they will note that it permits allotments to be bought and sold. They know also that over the years the larger farmers who have money will purchase the allotments of the small farmer, and that before too long all of the tobacco allotments will be owned by the wealthy.
This, of course, will diminish the profits of the small farmer.
I realize there is much objection to the growth of tobacco, and to support prices for tobacco. However, this commodity has been grown
in the United States for over 350 years, and has served as a source of income during all of this long period. The farmers of Jamestown, Va., depended on it. The farmers of the Carolinas, Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee now depend on it, and in my area the cultivation and sale of tobacco serves as a supplement to the small farmers from their other crops, cattle, chickens, and seasonal jobs.
It is, in fact, the largest cash crop in our State. It is with this that the small farmers pays his store accounts, his physician, and others at the end of the year.
Most of the men who have visited me from Lexington to Louisville advocating the poundage system, and preaching doom, death, and disaster without poundage are men of great wealth. Many have had bases from 40 to 100 acres, and cuts in their poundage might make their trips to Jamaica or the Bahamas or Biminy a little less fruitful. Cutting the small farmer's poundage, on the other hand, would take meat and bread from his table, and with such a forced dimension in income, there would be an increased migration from rural to urban areas, compounding the problems already existing in our Nation's cities, as well as depriving our farmlands of the stout yeomen who have been the backbone of our rural America for years.
It is my feeling that the poundage program has not been adequately explained to the small farmer. To me, lots of them have had it explained as if it were the same acreage-poundage program voted on 2 years ago. Many of the larger farmers send into my office votes taken 2 years ago in the acreage-poundage program to induce me to support the bill.
Their statements are extremely misleading, for the bill voted on 2 years ago did not include cuts for our small farmer.
In the upcoming referendum on the system under which burley should be cultivated, not only should the issues be made clear, but in addition I believe that the farmers must be given a choice between two or three alternatives first, to continue the present acreage allotment system; second, to establish a poundage program; or a soil banking program to permit farmers to retire 50 percent of their acres, and such a program could be financed by a half-a-cent tax on each package of cigarettes.
At the end of the last week I sent out a questionnaire to the burley farmers in my district which I expect to be returned in the near future. My objective in doing so is to determine which program these farmers will favor, and I intend to base my vote on this issue, on the responses I receive from the questionnaires.
As I stated previously, I am willing to support the poundage program, but I believe that it should be not an impoverishment of the small burley farmers. My recommendations to this committee are, therefore; first, that the poundage proposal be altered to provide a limit beneath which cuts could not be made on farms, for farmers whose allotments are half an acre or less.
Such an amendment should fix a definite poundage for five-tenths acre of tobacco of 1,600 to 1,750 pounds.
Second, the poundage bill should be amended, not permitting the sale or the leasing, the sale of allotments.
Third, that the poundage bill must be presented clearly to all farmers, without attempting to cover up the fact that poundage grown by
small farmers can be and will be cut. The fourth alternative which I think should be considered is the possibility of a soil bank program. As I have stated before, this would be by which a farmer might retire as much as one-half of his base with 12-cent tax on each package of cigarettes.
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity of being before this committee. I think that most of these gentlemen present realize that I strongly have supported the tobacco program and I continue to do so, but I have small farmers in my area, many of them, and they depend upon
tobacco for a livelihood, and I ask consideration for them. Mr. ABBITT. Thank you very much, Congressman. We appreciate so much your being here.
Mr. MIZELL. Mr. Chairman, if I might. First, I would like to say that all of us who have an interest in the tobacco industry of this Nation are forunate to have a man like Dr. Carter, who serves on the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee, from which comes legislation that sometimes seems to take an arbitrary view of our interests, with the attack that has been made on the interest.
Again, I say we are fortunate to have a man like Dr. Carter serving on that committee at such a vital time. He is one of those that led the fight to see that the labeling placed on cigarette packs would not be on the front, and in red letters, but rather on the side. I think we owe him certainly a debt of gratitude, and Dr. Carter, I want to say that I appreciate your statement, and I share your concern for the small producer who vitally depends on the dollars from his small allotment to sustain his farm.
Mr. Chairman, I did have my figures mixed up a while ago when I stood corrected; 47 percent of the producers in Kentucky are minimum producers, but they grow on only 17 percent of the total acres that produce burley in Kentucky.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, Dr. Carter.
Mr. ABBITT. I ask unanimous consent that the statement on the part of Senator Cooper, given this morning before the Senate, be made and put in this record here.
(The prepared statement of Senator Cooper, above referred to, follows:)
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN SHERMAN COOPER, A U.S. SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF KENTUCKY, BEFORE THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE AND FORESTRY
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate very much the courtesy of the Chairman, Senator Talmadge, in arranging for an early hearing on the bill, S. 789, which I introduced on February 11, and of Senator Miller and Senator Eastland in hearing the witnesses today, at a time when Senator Jordan, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Agricultural Production. Marketing, and Stabilization of Prices, is unable to be with us. I know that in addition to the witnesses who are here today from Kentucky and other burley producing states, representing farm and grower groups and other interested segments of the industry, we have with us a number of farmers from Kentucky-members of the Kentucky Farm Bureau who visit Washington each year, and who of course are always and especially interested in the tobacco price support program.
I will not take much time, because it is important that the Committee have the testimony of the Department of Agriculture, there are a number of witnesses who wish to address the Committee, and I have stated my views earlier.