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with renewed hope. It will reduce their burden. It will reduce the size of their load. It seems fundamental to me that we must have a more equitable distribution of the earnings of society:
Senator FRAZIER. Are the farmers of South Dakota right familiar with this farm relief bill?
Mr. EVERSON. Oh, yes. We have discussed it. By the way, we have a' number of inquiries for copies of it. It has not been widely discussed among the members, but a number of the leaders have discussed it. The counties and districts have gone on record favorable to it.
Senator FRAZIER. I have some letters from various farmers' union locals in South Dakota with regard to it.
Senator THOMAS of Idaho. How many farmers are there in South Dakota?
Mr. EVERSON. I think about 70,000, Senator.
Senator THOMAS of Idaho. How many are members of the farmers' union?
Mr. EVERSON. About 8,000 farm families.
Mr. TALBOTT. Mr. Everson, the 1925 census report gives you 79,000 farms. Mr. EVERSON. Thank you for the information.
Are there any other questions?
Senator FRAZIER. I think that is all.
Mr. EVERSON. I might say, just in conclusion, that the farmers in South Dakota, now that they have no crop, in order to stay in South Dakota, are compelled to purchase feed and seed for putting in their next crop. They are not going to be able to meet their interest and taxes on their present indebtedness and purchase seed and feed, and stay there, unless some relief is afforded. They are not going to be able to continue.
Senator THOMAS of Oklahoma. Our information, Mr. Chairman, is that this condition is general. If the farmers are not able to pay their taxes and, because they are not able, the city people are not able to pay their taxes because they live off the farms, what is going to happen to your school districts and your cities and towns because of the nonpayment of taxes?
Mr. EVERSON. In my judgment, some of them are not going to be able to function. Many of them are not going to be able to function.
Senator THOMAS of Oklahoma. Are there any schools closed yet, to your knowledge?
Mr. EVERSON. I have been told some of them have been closed. I do not have any particular one in mind that I know of. I do not know the particular schools, but I have been so informed.
Senator THOMAS of Oklahoma. Unless something is done, is it not your contention that it will be impossible to carry on the schools?
Mr. EVERSON. Impossible.
Senator THOMAS of Oklahoma. The cities will have to close their schools?
Mr. EVERSON. Yes, sir.
Senator THOMAS of Oklahoma. And other expenses incident to the management of city government will have to be stopped, and those activities closed ?
Mr. EVERSON. I think that is true.
Senator THOMAS of Oklahoma. In other words, we are getting to an impossible situation, and very fast.
Mr. EVERSON. It is an impossible condition, Senator; yes, sir. Mr. TALBOTT. If you will pardon the interruption there, Mr. Chairman, they have closed schools in my State.
Senator THOMAS of Oklahoma. I wanted to develop that, if it be true.
Senator McGILL. To a large extent?
Mr. TALBOTT. Quite largely in the drought area, due to the noncollection of taxes, of course.
Mr. SIMPSON. I will call next upon Mr. T. E. Howard, of Colorado.
STATEMENT OF T. E. HOWARD, REPRESENTING FARMERS' UNION
Mr. HOWARD. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I want to qualify as a witness here. I homesteaded in 1906 in the nonirrigated district of Colorado, in Cheyenne County. I lived on my own farm there until I finally accepted the position of State officer of my organization on salary. I still maintain my homestead.
Senator FRAZIER. Out of your salary?
Senator THOMAS of Oklahoma. If you should lose your salary you would be in a bad fix, would you not?
Mr. HOWARD. I am in a bad fix now.
Commencing in those earlier years, I interested myself in the organization of the farmers of my county; later in the State organization. For two years now I have been chairman of the national board of directors of the Farmers' Union. In such capacity I have addressed many meetings in various States throughout the Middle West, which might be properly described, of course, as the fruit basket of the Nation.
All these years I have kept a continuous and close touch in my State with perhaps more farmers than any other man in the State. I believe I know how their mental processes are arrived at. I am in every agricultural county in the State of Colorado at some time during the year. I address thousands of members of the Farmers' Union each year, as well as thousands and thousands of nonmember farmers.
We find ourselves now, gentlemen of the committee, in a condition in American agriculture where not just one thing is wrong. We find ourselves, with regard to transportation, dealing with a Government-subsidized transportation utility, subsidized to the extent that the rates are guaranteed, and, I am sorry to say, not just guaranteed on the actual capital investment. I believe a close investigation would disclose the fact that the railroads are watered 300
per cent. There is no one thing alone that is wrong. Marketing is different with the farmer than with any other class of citizens in this country. We buy our supplies at the other fellow's price, and pay the freight on them to our door. We sell our commodities at the other fellow's price and pay the freight on them from our farm to his door.
Every time in legislatures, or in the Federal Government, when we come, not seeking a privilege but when we come to ask that this basic industry of all industries shall be given the right to live and exist, in order that the family unit farms of this Nation may be maintained, we are told that something is wrong with our plan.
These men here from nine States are leaders in their respective communities and in their respective States. They are in touch with the mental condition and the economic condition of their communities and their States. They are all telling the same story here, and we might as well understand that agriculture, as a family unit industry, is a bankrupt industry.
There seem to be those in the governmental life of this country, and especially in private life in the Eastern part of the United States, who are only interested in agriculture to the extent that the farms continue to produce.
May I suggest, gentlemen of the committee, that that is not good. citizenship. Agriculture, being the basic industry of this Nation, could utilize hundreds of thousands of families that have been driven off the farm, if agriculture were made a profitable industry.
We hear about unemployment, and know all about it. I am on the governor's committee in Chicago to help deal with the unemployment question there. Seven million people are unemployed in this. country to-day, many of them farm families that have been driven off the farm by this system that we are discussing here. There are many unemployed and hungry people in the cities of this country with their families. The local communities and State governments are sorely hit, sorely tried to secure funds to keep them from actual starvation. In my State suicides are taking place on the farms and in the cities because of the economic condition which confronts the individuals. We are filling our insane asylums in this country with: men driven wild because of their life savings being swept away.
This bill that we are discussing here harms no one. I fear Mr. Bestor was wrong in his analysis of the weakness of this bill. In one place, the Federal land bank speaks as a governmental agency, and in another place it speaks as a private banking institution. Opposition to the issuance of this much more currency, regardless of who takes the bonds, whether the Federal reserve system, or any other system, should not enter into the discussion of a situation whereby the farmers of this Nation are being driven off the farms and are becoming tenants. May I submit here that if I know the American farmers, they do not propose to become serfs and peons. Eggs are selling in my State at 8 or 9 cents a dozen; butter fat at 15 to 17 cents a pound; milk at 212 cents a quart. Hogs, livestock, fruit, and vegetables are all so far below the cost of production that it merely means an additional mortgage on their homes.
I testified in a freight-rate controversy in Colorado recently and had the figures. I had bills of sale and freight bills to show that on one carload of fruit on which the producer lost money, traveling within my State only, an intrastate shipment, it would have been necessary to have transported through the air a carload of cattle that sold on the Denver market that same day-a certain carload of cattle—and it would have taken the gross return for that carload of cattle to have paid the freight on the carload of peaches, and we had 1,000 carloads of peaches rot on the trees.
I received a letter here, via air mail this morning, and have not read it. I am sure, however, that it helps tell the story for Colorado.
Here are two freight bills for apples, from Paonia, Colo., one an intrastate shipment, and the other to Kansas City. On both these shipments of our fruit, the one producer was asked for $35 to help pay the handling charge—$35 more than his net return. In fact, he received no net return. He was duebilled for $35, and the other one for $55.
Senator FRAZIER. What did they do—ship them more apples? Mr. HOWARD. There is not a farm commodity in the United States selling at the cost of production. May I make this statement, gentlemen, that all the new wealth created in all the agricultural States of this Nation will not pay the interest and the tax bills this past year. That can only mean, then, an additional mortgage or a foreclosure. If the income of a State or a nation is less than the outgo, then bankruptcy stares us all in the face. That is the case with agriculture.
May I suggest one more thing! There are only five sources of new wealth in this country: that that comes from the farm, from the oil wells, from the mines, from the timber, and from the sea. There is no other source for new wealth.
Senator THOMAS of Oklahoma. What was the last one?
Mr. HOWARD. The sea—the water. May I say to you, gentlemen, that east of the Ohio River not one State that is classified as an agricultural State has produced enough weath of all descriptions to pay the interest and the tax bill in that State. pay
I do not take kindly—and I believe that my association are of the same mind—to criticisms by departments, boards, bureaus and commissions, agents, inspectors, supervisors, and directions of all the various divisions of government, injecting themselves into this subject of the rehabilitation of agriculture. I believe you gentlemen of the committee must agree that those of us who are engaged in it possibly are fairly well informed about it. We do not inject ourselves into the arguments about a dole for the big industries and banking institutions of this country, which the Government has kindly extended to them. But may I suggest that that $2,000,000,000 will not buy a meal, and it will not remove one speck of rust from any industrial wheel in this Nation. This bill will. We know how to remove the rust from the industrial wheels of this country. Reestablish the purchasing power of the American farmer, and we will buy 1,000,000 pairs of shoes to-morrow. We will buy a thousand carloads of paint the next morning. We will buy radios, if you please. We will exchange our Ford cars for better ones. We will start the wheels of all industry turning:
You either commence at the basic industry to rehabilitate this Nation, or you destroy that basic industry, not as a producing industry, but as a family-unit industry, and that is what we are interested in. We have to confront mass production. The agencies of Government have told us to increase the acreages and thus produce more scientifically and economically. I think a great crime has been consummated here in the name of American agriculture when that kind of advice was put out. The smaller unit family farms, gentlemen of this committee, are the only things on which this Government can rest, and it can not rest on the basis if that family-unit farm is destroyed as a home-ownership proposition.
Mr. EVERSON. Your idea, then, is that what we need is more price and less advice?
Mr. HOWARD. That is correct.
We have, then, the proposition of first giving us hope and courage by rehabilitating our mortgages that we know we can not pay. This will give us that courage. Next, we are going to ask you in Congress to grant us the right to do certain things that you grant to every other industry in the marketing of our wares. Not only does this bill affect the purchasing power of the people of this Nation, but I may as well say to you that we propose to support Senator Wheeler's bill. We
you to review with us, before this session is over, some provisions of the tariff bill. We are broke and we know it. The farmers of this Nation are still a conservative people. I emphasize the “ still."
All over this Nation, however, conditions prevail which enable a busted farmer to gather the idea that if the Government is against him, and for every other kind of industry, he is possibly not going to be so conservative. This is just a condition, gentlemen. This is not the voice of a threat. I am trying to interpret to you the mental condition of the farmers of this Nation.
Senator THOMAS of Oklahoma. Threats are being made, are they not?
Mr. HOWARD. They are being made, Senator.
Senator THOMAS of Oklahoma. Would you care to read that into the record ? [Handing a paper to Mr. Howard.]
Mr. HOWARD. I have here a folder. Similar ones are found in various places. The folder reads:
UNEMPLOYED MASS MEETING, SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6, DUNCAN, CORNER EIGHTH
This meeting is called for the purpose of remedying conditions that have become unbearable. For more than two years we have waited patiently for Congress to come to our aid, but not one single line of legislation has been passed for our benefit.
Therefore, in self-defense we are forced to take action to protect ourselves.
We want every person from 16 to 60 to be here and join this unemployment army.
To pay taxes until they furnish work for the unemployed.
If you are tired of being a vagabond upon the earth, come to this meeting, join it, and put your power and influence behind it.
The whole world is invited. If possible, send a delegate from every place you can get the word.
UNEMPLOYED COMMITTEE OF 25. Senator McGILL. Does it say where it is from? Mr. HOWARD. No, sir.
Senator THOMAS of Oklahoma. It mentions a town, but I am not advertising that.
Mr. HOWARD. Now, gentlemen, in my State—and I do not doubt that the same thing has transpired in these other States-we asked for a moratorium on Federal land bank loan payments. There are