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Mr. O'NEAL. This is the completed bill as reported out, H. R. 11499.
Senator BANKHEAD. I suppose they made some additions.
Senator THOMAS of Oklahoma (presiding). Has that bill passed the House ?
Mr. O'NEAL. No, sir; it has just been reported unanimously by the Banking and Currency Committee of the House.
Senator THOMAS of Oklahoma (presiding). Are you prepared to state whether or not the other two organizations join you in the opinions you have just expressed?
Mr. O'NEAL. The Grange, Mr. Brenckman here, made their appearance on the bill, and so did Mr. Simpson of the Farmers' Union. I think he cooperated, generally speaking, although he prefers, I think, the Frazier bill, but he thinks this is a helpful step. His testimony was given before the committee.
Mr. Chairman, there can be oodles of money put out and it is all helpful, but I just want to come back to this fact: Senator Bankhead brought it out in his questions of Mr. Simpson. Unless you get confidence, a restoration of faith by the people of this country in agricultural commodities and in land, things that our civilization has stood for, you fail.
I would say, by all means drive for the bill just presented. May I implore you that you gentlemen give us this bill as the report of this committee, give it to us quickly, as Mr. Baruch so well says in his letter here. You can pass it if you are of one mind.
The farmers throughout the Nation are in a desperate situation. The only farmer who is happy in America to-day is the farmer who is what we might call the marginal farmer, who has barely made a living out of his land all of his life. The farmer who has been a high producer, a scientific farmer, is the man who is out of business in most instances. The little marginal farmer, whose wife and children and himself are slaves to the land, and have always been, is about the only man who is successful, because he has no heavy taxes, he has no great needs. But the great mass of American farmers are in a desperate situation.
I might illustrate that by myself. I was down in my town, seeing my own farm in Alabama. My banker said, “Do you want any money?” I said, “No, I don't want any money.” He said, “I have plenty of money." He happens to be an exception to the general banking situation. “You don't want any money?” “No.” “Why?" I said, “I can not afford to produce cotton at 51/2 cents a pound on my plantation. I am letting my people have everything they made last year, without paying their debts. I carry them over, and I have no faith or confidence in the future of American cotton. If the people on the place can get by I'am willing to help them, but I don't need your money.”
He said, “As a farmer I am going to tell you something. You have sent me all this stuff that you farmers are standing for. I agree with you. It should be done. I am for the Goldsborough bill. I am for money at lower interest, as Senator Frazier proposes in his bill, in refinancing agriculture, I am for all of it. But none of those things will do us any good. You told the story when you said you did not want any money, and I am willing to loan it to you.”
Now, picture that, Mr. Chairman, with the farmers of this country: How can the wheat farmer, who plants only, wheat—as little as he can--get by? Or the cotton farmer or the livestock farmer! If there is any group in this Nation that has practiced faith, hope, and charity, it is the American farmer. But he has got black despair in his heart. He does not know which way to turn or what to do.
Gentlemen, you can pass this bill if you will stand up for it. It is fair in all of its phases. It will give that faith and confidence back. If we can refinance the farmer on a sound basis, fair basis, liberalizing the credit system, we should do it. The farmer has got to pay those bills with hogs, cattle, corn, and wheat. He has in the past paid his bills. If the American farmer takes bankruptcy to-day something will happen in this Nation.
Senator THOMAS of Oklahoma (presiding). They don't have enough money to pay their fees in the bankruptcy courts, isn't that correct, let alone anything else?
Mr. O'NEAL. That is right.
Senator FRAZIER. Mr. O'Neal, I understand that your organization as a national organization has not indorsed this S. 1197, this refinancing bill.
Mr. O'NEAL. We have not, Senator. We have not had it before our group for consideration. We are not against it, though, Senator. We are not opposing it.
Senator FRAZIER. I have had resolutions from some of your organizations on it.
Mr. O'NEAL. Yes; that is right.
Senator FRAZIER. You realize it would be mighty hard under this bill you propose to get the cost of production under the regular rato of interest of 7 per cent, because that includes the cost of production, the rate of interest you put in.
Mr. O'NEAL. Yes, we put that in.
Senator FRAZIER. If you can get a lower rate of interest such as provided for in Senate 1197, of course it would be much easier to get the cost of production.
Mr. O'NEAL. Yes; it would. We are for getting a lower rate of interest, because we have certainly paid the interest bills for a number of years.
Senator THOMAS of Oklahoma (presiding). Does any member of the committee have any other question to ask Mr. O'Neal? If not, Mr. O'Neal, we thank you for your helpful suggestions.
Mr. O'NEAL. Thank you, sir.
Senator THOMAS of Oklahoma (presiding). Mr. Brenckman, do you care to make a statement?
Mr. BRENCKMAN. Yes.
STATEMENT OF FREDERIC BRENCKMAN, WASHINGTON REPRE
SENTATIVE THE NATIONAL GRANGE
Mr. BRENCKMAN. My name is Brenckman, and I am the Washington representative of the National Grange.
The attitude of our organization with reference to the legislation under consideration was discussed in considerable detail at two previous hearings before this committee by L. J. Taber, the master of the National Grange.
As the members of the committee well know, the Grange has for some years supported the export debenture plan to give farmers equality under our protective tariff system. Personally, I feel that the debenture plan is morally sound and I think it is workable. However, we have never suggested making it mandatory. We simply wanted to leave it optional with the Farm Board.
At our last meeting, which was held in Madison, Wis., in November, we passed some resolutions on this question, and, among others, we said:
In place of the stabilization operations of the Federal Farm Board, we favor the adoption of the export debenture plan or such similar method of bringing our exportable crops and livestock products under the protective system as can be developed on a sound and economic basis.
We made our resolution sufficiently, flexible so if for any reason Congress should not adopt the debenture plan, we would be in favor of supporting any other plan that is sound and workable.
We hope that there may be some legislation at this session that will be sound and workable and that will be beneficial to agriculture.
There has been some discussion here this morning before the committee about the number of farmers who are being forced off the land. Last summer, when the railroads of the country were asking for a 15 per cent increase in freight rates, I appeared before the Interstate Commerce Commission and made a statement for the National Grange. I compiled a table then showing the number of farms that had been transferred by reason of delinquent taxes, mortgage foreclosures, or bankruptcies, during the five years from 1926 to 1930, inclusive. As we are all aware, the great part of that period was one of the most prosperous in the history of this country during times of peace.
The table shows that during those years there were 153,598 farms sold for delinquent taxes, that 529,252 farms were sold through mortgage foreclosure or bankruptcy, and the total farms
Senator BROOKHART. Does that include settlements that were made, or actual foreclosures ?
Mr. BRENCKMAN. Yes.
Senator BROOKHART, Sometimes, you know, a debtor will turn his farm over and there will be no foreclosure. Does that include settlements of that kind ?
Mr. BRENCKMAN. This is foreclosures and bankrupties combined.
Senator BROOKHART. But in addition to foreclosures and bankruptcies, a great many farmers will say, “Come and take my farm."
Mr. BRENCKMAN. Yes; I realize that.
Mr. BRENCKMAN. This includes foreclosures and bankruptcies. Now, the total of farms lost to their owners through tax delinquency, mortgage foreclosure, and bankruptcy through those five years was 682,850 farms, more than one-tenth of the total farms in the United States.
Nothing could be more serious in its consequences to American society than to have the farmers forced off the farms, or to have them lose title to their farms.
We hope that Congress may be able to pass some legislation that will help to bring up the commodity price level, to restore commodity prices. What we are after is not so much an inflation as a restoration of values.
On top of that, if anything can be devised that will work for lower interest rates, anything that is sound and workable, we are certainly in favor of that. Our organization has not specifically indorsed the Frazier bill, but we have not said anything against it. We are willing to leave it to the judgment of this committee and of Congress.
We are certainly in favor of the Goldsborough bill, which has just been reported out by the House Committee on Banking and Currency, and we believe that if that bill is passed and it is placed into operation, it will be a great help in restoring the price level.
Senator Thomas of Oklahoma (presiding). Have you any further suggestions to make, Mr. Brenckman?
Mr. BRENCKMAN. No; that is all I have to say, Mr. Chairman.
Senator BROOKHART. Just a question or two, Mr. Brenckman. I think the trouble with you people is that you are too modest, you are too bashful, you do not ask for half what you are entitled to. At the beginning of the session, at the very first, when No. 1 bill was up before the Banking and Currency Committee, there appeared the big bankers and the big railroad presidents. They came in and they asked for $2,000,000,000 out of the Treasury of the United States. Not a one of them claimed they would use all of it. They said, “We probably won't use most of it, but we want it available so we can use it if necessary.” And they got everything they asked for. You are just asking for 712 cents a bushel on corn, one-half a cent a pound on rice, 21 cents a bushel on wheat, 2 cents a pound on cotton, and 2 cents a pound on tobacco, which is a bagatelle compared with what those fellows asked for and got from Congress at the last session.
Mr. BRENCKMAN. Senator, I always thought that the debenture plan was very fair and a very moderate proposal. It is simply intended to give the farmer some measure of equality under our tariff system, and we still hope that there may be some chance of putting it into effect, and if it can not be worked immediately, it will be on the books at some future time. But we want relief now, and I think that one of the best things we can do is to bring up the price level of agricultural commodities.
Senator BROOKHART. You heard Mr. Stone say that a billion dollars would do it, half as much as we took out of the Treasury for the railroads and the banks, didn't you?
Mr. BRENCKMAN. Yes.
Senator BROOKHART. He said five hundred million for cotton and wheat; and he said that was about half. You remember that?
Mr. BRENCKMAN. Yes.
Senator BROOKHART. So, if we gave you half as much as we gave to the railroads, we could give you cost of production prices at once.
Senator THOMAS of Oklahoma (presiding). Any further questions or suggestions? If not, we thank you, Mr. Brenckman.
Mr. BRENCKMAN. I am glad to have this opportunity to appear
Senator THOMAS of Oklahoma (presiding). Is Mr. Hearst present? Mr. Charles E. Hearst, vice president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, and president of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, and chairman of the legislative committee.
STATEMENT OF CHARLES E. HEARST, VICE PRESIDENT AMERI.
CAN FARM BUREAU FEDERATION AND PRESIDENT IOWA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION
Mr. HEARST. Mr. Chairman, you have got me properly there. I have my home in Des Moines, Iowa. We have the largest farm búreau organization in the United States.
I want to appear in support of this composite bill, and I do not want to go into the details of the bill, because you have already had it explained.
I want to go a little further. I suggest that when the farm groups agree on farm legislation, such as we are doing to-day, and get together on a project such as this, it to my mind represents a large cross section of all of the farmers of the United States, and we hope and expect that we will have consideration at the hands of this committee and at the hands of Congress.
It is a difficult thing to get these 6,000,000 farmers throughout the United States, each operating their own individual unit, to come to a mind, to get together back of any one specific piece of legislation for their benefit, because their interests are so diverse; but here is an instance where these national organizations have appeared before you in unity, making proposals that a few years ago would not have been possible. But coming down through the years, since our big fight with the McNary-Haugen bill, we have found, each of us, that perhaps the thing that we stood for at that time, feeling that it would lead us out of the wilderness, possibly would not have done that thing as well as it was thought.
We are now agreed that there is merit in three different plans. We are advocating those plans together, because they may be used jointly or individually in marketing products,
The whole significance of this effort is to bring a better price to the farmer for his products, gentlemen, as you know. There is little use for me to dwell upon that situation long, but I do want to say to you men—it has been told you and you realize it, but not so well as those of us who are right out on the firing line--that agriculture is in a desperate situation. The word “ desperate" is not too strong. The plight of agriculture has reflected itself in the business of this Nation, and the Nation is in a desperate situation. That can not be denied.
A few years ago it was difficult, almost impossible, to secure consideration from some of our industrial groups who are strong in their influence, to get them to admit that the success of agriculture was necessary to the success of this Nation. The last few months has shown those same people very ardently supporting the theory that there can be no continued prosperity in industry in this Nation until we have a more prosperous agriculture and until agriculture regains its buying power.