« PreviousContinue »
is appropriated) we do secure from the Department of Commerce and Labor data regarding the exports and imports of farm products and farm animals, and arrange them in a way that they can be readily seen by people interested, which is not done by the Department of Commerce and Labor. That is a small part of the work, however; that is a small matter.
The CHAIRMAN. You get that from Mr. Austin's bureau?
Mr. OLMSTED. Yes; we get advance sheets if we can, and if we can not wait until his report is issued we segregate from his report the items that pertain particularly to agriculture and bring them together.
The CHAIRMAN. But you do not send out any men to collect that information?
Mr. OLMSTED. No, sir; not that information. The CHAIRMAN. But you rely on his bureau ? Mr. OLMSTED. We get the information from his bureau. The CHAIRMAN. And he transmits it to you? Mr. OLMSTED. That is all. The CHAIRMAN. Does he get any information from your bureau for his work?
Mr. OLMSTED. Oh, yes; he uses our figures all the time in his annual publications—his statistical abstracts.
The CHAIRMAN. Does he have any men out in the field collecting statistics?
Mr. OLMSTED. Not of the kind we furnish him; no, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Does he rely altogether on your bureau for statistical information in relation to agricultural matters?
Mr. OlMSTED. So far as I know, he does; yes, sir. He publishes our figures from year to year as we give them to him.
The CHAIRMAN. So that there would be no duplication of work in his bureau in that respect?
Mr. OLMSTED. No, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. He would be simply taking the results of the work your people do?
Mr. OLMSTED. That is the idea.
Mr. OLMSTED. Once a year, in a little appendix, or as a part of his statistical abstract.
The CHAIRMAN. It is not such a tremendously little appendix, is it?
Mr. OLMSTED. Well, I mean that that part of it is small compared with the great mass of the data he publishes in his appendix. He compiles those figures and gives them general circulation.
The CHAIRMAN. The only duplication, then, in that respect would be
Mr. OlMSTED. In the matter of printing.
Mr. OlMSTED. Yes; and it gives additional circulation to these facts that the people want. It reaches a set of people that our figures might not reach.
The CHAIRMAN. And the only duplication of statistics, so far as you know, connected with your Bureau is on the part of the Census Department, and that is in relation to the one item of cotton, and that is only a very small matter?
Mr. OLMSTED. Yes; and that is not a complete duplication, for this reason: The Census Bureau only does one thing in regard to cotton; that is, they report twice every month during the picking season as to the amount of cotton ginned.
The CHAIRMAN. Do they have men out in the field to collect that information?
Mr. OLMSTED. They do. They have a large force. They spend much more on that one thing than we spend for our entire Bureau.
The CHAIRMAN. What?
Mr. OLMSTED. Yes, sir. There is a larger amount of money appropriated for the Census Bureau to collect that class of information than we spend on our entire Bureau for all of our work for all crops. That is my information.
The CHAIRMAN. I do not quite appreciate the force of that. It seems to me
Mr. OLMSTED. I can tell you why it is.
The CHAIRMAN. Let me ask you this question right here. They deal with getting the same kind of information that you do?
Mr. OLMSTED. No, sir; it is not the same kind of information. We deal with the same subject, but it is not the same kind of information. We both deal with cotton.
The CHAIRMAN. What is the relative importance of the two kinds of information!
Mr. OlMSTED. I will explain to you.
Mr. OLMSTED. At the beginning of each year our Bureau makes an estimate, based on the best obtainable information, of the area planted to cotton at the beginning of the year. The Census Office never does that. During the growing season, from month to month, our Bureau collects and publishes information showing the condition of the growing crop each month.
The CHAIRMAN. You have to have men in the field, then?
The CHAIRMAN. And the Census Bureau is also collecting statistics on the basis of the area planted ?
Mr. OLMSTED. No, sir; they are not.
Mr. OLMSTED. During the growing season we make estimates from month to month, based on the best obtainable information, as to the condition of the growing crop, which we publish. The Census Office does not do that at all. In December of each vear we make a forecast, long before the crop is harvested, of what the probable quantity of cotton produced will be.
The CHAIRMAN. That is just a conjectural estimate?
Mr. OLMSTED. That is an estimate. It does not purport to be anything but an estimate. It is not an actual count.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes; but that is the estimate of which some people complain?
Mr. OLMSTED. That is the final estimate of the year. That is only one branch of our handling of the cotton statistics. The Census Bureau, on the other hand, does an accurate piece of work. They do not make an estimate at all, but they collect figures and make an actual enumeration, twice every month, of the quantity of cotton ginned, and publish that. Their final report as to the quantity of cotton produced (which is the quantity ginned, of course) does not appear until along in March or April, I am not sure which, of the following year.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you make any report as to that?
The CHAIRMAN. Do you make any report from time to time as to the amount of the cotton ginned?
Mr. OLMSTED. No, sir; we do not. We have no means of collecting that information. The Census Bureau does that. That would be a duplication of work, if we did that. They do that.
The CHAIRMAN. That, really, is the only definite information about the whole crop? The rest is all conjectural, is it not?
Mr. OLMSTED. Yes, sir; they give definite information as to the quantity of cotton ginned at the end of the season.
The CHAIRMAN. And is not that the only real definite information we get in any way about the cotton situation?
Mr. OLMSTED. It is the most exact information; it is bound to be, because it is an actual enumeration. But the point is this: The final report of the Census Bureau as to the quantity of cotton ginned is not made until along in March or April, while our forecast is made at a tinie when the people seem to want it, at the time it has always been made, in December. Ours is an estimate; it is a forecast.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you not use the Census Bureau reports as a basis for your estimate?
Mr. OLMSTED. We do as far as we can. I have used them myself this year for the first time; but my predecessor did not use them for some reason; I do not know why.
The CHAIRMAN. That is to say, they did not avail themselves of the only definite information?
Mr. OlMSTED. They did not avail themselves of the only definite information. I have used it, and I always shall use it, in connection with all the other information I can get.
The CHAIRMAN. But your predecessors did not avail themselves of the only definite information available?
Mr. OLMSTED. It would seem that they never did. If they did it, I do not know it. The CHAIRMAN. But you are doing it now! Mr. OlMSTED. I am doing it.
The CHAIRMAN. When you have men in the field for the purpose of making estimates of the acreage and watching the process of development and growth, why can not those same men get the same statistics that are now being procured by the Census Bureau?
Mr. OlMSTED. Simply because we have not enough of them. It
takes a large army of men to collect those ginning statistics. We only have 15 traveling men altogether on salary. It would be impossible for 15 men to collect all those ginning statistics. There are 30,000 gins in the United States. The Census Bureau has a salaried man in every county in the .cotton-producing section.
The CHAIRMAN. And the Census Bureau does not collect anything but cotton statistics?
Mr. OLMSTED. That one item of cotton statistics is all they care for; and they spend more on that than we spend on the whole business of
my The CHAIRMAX. On the whole business? Mr. OLMSTED. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Of what practical value, prior to this year at least, have those statistics that have been collected by the Census Bureau been to the cotton manufacturers or the cotton growers of this country?
Mr. OLMSTED. That is a question that the cotton manufacturers and the cotton growers could answer better than I could; but I believe that the Census Bureau figures are of great value.
The CHAIRMAX. In what way have the figures that are collected by the Census Bureau under these circumstances proved of value to the men engaged in that industry? I do not assume that they have not been of any value, but I want to know what value they have?
Mr. OLMSTED. In this way: They begin early in the picking season, and every two weeks they make a report as to the quantity of cotton ginned during the preceding two weeks. Now, my idea is that the manufacturer and the grower, or anyone else interested, can take those figures and can form in their own minds some sort of an estimate, comparing them with preceding years, as to what the total crop will probably be. They can not make an accurate estimate, of course, because the figures have shown that the percentage ginned in various years varies very greatly-one year is no criterion for another year: but they can get some idea of what the total crop will be. That is the only object of the thing, anyway; that is all it is for. That is the only object of the investigation, and that is the value of the Census Bureau figures, and their big value, their great value. They are a great help to me; they were this
year, I know. I would not want to do without them. The CHAIRMAN. They seem to furnish the only absolute basis
Mr. OLMSTED. No; we have very many other sources of information, Mr. Littlefield.
The CHAIRMAN. How do you get that information now on cotton production?
Mr. OLMSTED. We get it from various sections of the country by correspondence. In the first place, we have some field agents who travel continuously over the field and investigate conditions, not only for cotton, but for all crops growing in their districts. Cotton is given undue prominence because it is so important in the minds of the people who handle it; but they investigate everything--wheat, corn, and everything else. With me cotton is only one product out of many crops.
The CHAIRMAN. I understand. How many men have you traveling in the field ?
Mr. OLMSTED. In the cotton States we have six; but then, in addition to them, we have in each State in the South a State agent who operates in that State only.
The CHAIRMAN. What does he do?
Mr. OLMSTED. He has a large corps of correspondents, and he also travels over his State so far as possible and collects information from his voluntary correspondents scattered all over the State, who report to him. He tabulates their reports, and in connection with their reports he gives his own personal observation and knowledge of the situation, and he reports to me. That is two sources of information that I have--the field agents and the State agents. Then I have in every county a man who has two or three people reporting to him, and this man is called a county correspondent. He makes a report to me once a month. He is unpaid; his services are voluntary.
The CHAIRMAN. He simply writes a report to you?
Mr. OLMSTED. Yes. We give him seeds and books and things of that sort, but we do not give him any money. Ile reports to me once a month. That is three sources of information we have. Then we plan to have in the principal agricultural townships of every county à correspondent who reports to me every month. That is four sources of information. At the beginning of the year we call on ginners for information as to the probable acreage planted in the vicinity of their gins.
The CHAIRMAN. You say "call on them.” What do you meanthat yo'l write to them, or call on them in person?
Mr. OlMSTED. We send them a printed schedile, which they are requested to fill out and send back to us in a penalty envelope that we inclose with it. That is five sources of information. Then we have a large list of good farmers, rather better than the ordinary, I think, that we call the individi al farmers list. We send them a schedule, and they report to me here in Washington. That is six sources of information. Then we have, in the case of cotton, a list of correspondents called special cotton correspondents, composed of bankers, merchants, agricultural implement dealers, dealers in fertilizers, country merchants, and men of that sort, scattered through the cotton-growing region, whom we send schedules to, and who report to me personally.
There are seven sources of information that we have, each independent of the other, and no man who reports on one list is included on any other list, so that they are all independent of each other. Now, those seven sources are brought together and tabulated in the office in this Division of Domestic Crop Reports. Five of them are separately and independently worked out and placed in parallel columns, side by side, for my use in tabulating the final estimates of the Bureau each month. There I have seven sources of information twice a year, and always at least four sources (never less than four; I always have my State agents, my special field agents, my county and my township. correspondents) every month. I have four sources always, and in months where it is very important I call on these additional sources, so that I have from four to seven sources of information every month, reporting independently. I get in that way a