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If he meets that qualification he remains on the farm, provided he shall stay on the farm the balance of 1943.
The same applies to one who has been drafted from the farm.
Mr. FULMER. Regardless of the age of the man in the service, if he qualifies under that provision, having served a major portion of 1942, which would clearly indicate that he is definitely a farmer, the son of the a farmer, or a tenant or wage earner on the farm.
Mr. Durham. This would not apply to the soldiers who are in the various theaters of operation; it would not apply to those farm boysalready in theaters of operation?
Mr. FULMER. Oh, no; this applies to those who are in the United States.
Mr. DURHAM. It just applies to those who are in the United States?
Mr. ARENDS. Regarding these fellows on the farm, would it be mandatory upon the draft board to give these boys deferment or would the boy have to apply for deferment, or his employer apply for deferment for him?
Mr. FULMER. The boy would have to apply for it, or this father, or his employer.
Mr. ARENDS. That is one difficulty that we face at the present time in the country today. A lot of these boys are so patriotic they are not going to go in and ask for defcrment when they could get it, and it has happened time after time that the draft board would like to defer some individual but will not do it because the boy has not asked for that deferment. How are we going to get around that?
Mr. FULMER. That is true, when they call them in the first instance. I know one young man personally who has an old mother, who runs a farm. He says, "I know I should not be taken; there is nobody to leave with my mother and we will just have to sell the mules; but I am not going to open my mouth.” And they called him.
Now, under the provisions of my bill, either the son or the father or the employer could make the request and the boy would receive a furlough, but still be in the service and be allowed to wear his uniform when he goes back home to engage in this work.
Mr. ARENDS. Of course, the mistake that was made was in taking these boys off the farm originally, where they are so essential to agriculture. That is where the difficulty comes in.
Mr. FULMER. There were two things in that connection; just as in the case of this young man that I referred to a moment ago who realized that he should not have been inducted, he should have remained on the farm, but he would not ask for it; and there was this case that I referred to of the local draft board who felt that one should stay on the farm and the other should be taken but, they figured if they took one and left the other they would get into hot water, so they took them both.
Nr. ARENDS. I have argued right along that there should be some sort of recognition given to these boys who remain on the farm, a badge or a button of some kind, in order to indicate that they are remaining on the farm to produce the food that is so necessary to win the war. I think perhaps that would help to persuade some of them to stay where they belong.
Mr. FULMER. The ones I have talked to have said, “If we came back and were still in the service, we would be glad to do it.”
Mr. ARENDS. You made one other statement that I was interested in. You said that you know nothing would be done about this. Why do you say that, that nothing will be done about this?
Mr. FULMER. Well, so far as this year is concerned, it is rather late to do anything about it. My committee has been very active in holding hearings with the various heads of the agencies, and submitting to each of them, as well as to the President, a definite statement of the facts, and urging that something be done. But up to this good hour nothing has been done about it, except quite a lot of talking, and up to this good hour Congress has not done anything about it.
Mr. ARENDS. I thought perhaps you were prompted, in making that statement, by the President's message of the other day in which, once more, he blames the farmer for any future condition that may arise even so far as inflation is concerned.
Mr. FULMER. It is a pitiful condition that the farmer is in today because of the many rules and regulations, the Government red tape, the lost motion, the confusion and the kicking around of the farmer, saying that he is receiving too much for his products now, while giving every consideration to everybody else.
Mr. ARENDS. That is right.
Mr. FULMER. Those who are able to come to Washington and get in on the ground floor, those who have their dollar-a-year men here, can get everything they want, including profits, while all of the large newspapers of the country come out daily with editorials kicking the farmer and kicking labor.
So you cannot blame any farm boy for leaving. Mr. Chairman, I want to say this in closing. When I was a boy on the farm, we did not have much. We had plenty to eat. But we were all happy. We did not know much about what was going on in the rest of the country. We went to church on Sunday. We had what we called a good time.
I used to be in a general mercantile business, furnishing farmers; I did some banking, and some buying and selling of their products and am engaged in a good, big farming business today. I want to say to you that the time is at hand when the boys and girls of the rural areas of the country are not going to remain on the farm. The old people are going to stay there the balance of their days.
Something is going to have to be done to give to that class of people, to that group of people, millions of whom have lived in poverty and have grown up in ignorance, unorganized, forced to accept any price that is offered for their product and, on the other hand, forced to pay a price which was fixed, perhaps by a monopoly; contending with droughts and floods, insects, and everything else on the face of the earth; hoping that next year things will be better-something will have to be done to give to that class of people the hope of better conditions.
These young boys and girls are not going to stay on the farm and it is getting high time that something be done to remedy that situation, especially at this time when food will mean more in winning this war as well as winning the peace, than anything else.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Fulmer, your statement is a very strong and convincing presentation of the problem of the farmer, and I agree with everything you say,
Your principal objection to the legislation that has been passed by the Congress is that, as usual, we authorize the department or the agency of the Government that is to administer the law, to write the rules and regulations; and they confuse the problem and really obstruct its administration. You think, if we write a manpower bill, which we are going to try to do, we ought to put in it mandatory provisions that will require the selective service to do this, that, and the other, and require the War Department to do likewise.
Is not that the main suggestion you are making?
Mr. FULMER. That is exactly what I suggest, out of my long experience here in Congress and for the last few years as chairman of the Agriculture Committee. Largely the bills have been written by the various departments. I do not always accept their bills. Very often I throw them in the wastebasket. But even after we pass legislation here, with every good intention, we put in a provision that the Secretary of Agriculture shall have the right to write rules and regulations governing the administration of the bill. Then they proceed to write rules and regulations, passing judgment on the purpose and intent of the bill, in order to do the things that they want to do and all they want is to get all the money we will let them have, and hire all the employees they can get, and then they put into operation all kinds of programs and rules and regulations and we get the cussing.
The CHAIRMAN. In other words, as chairman of the great Committee on Agriculture which studies the problems of the greatest industry we have, you do as I do, as chairman of the Military Af. fairs Committee; we get out these bills and take them to the floor of the House, and in justification of the provision permitting the departments to write the rules and regulations, we argue that the bill cannot be administered otherwise, and that we have got to trust somebody. So we have been trusting somebody and getting things into a state of confusion.
Mr. FULMER. What has happened in the last few days clearly illustrates what I am talking about. When the soil-conservation program was established, money was paid to farmers to buy seed and fertilizer and to do certain things on the farm to build up farm soil. The farmer eurned every dollar of that money. It was never intended to be used or to be considered as part of a payment to reach a so-called parity price. The bill that was passer definitely stated that, but they changed the thing around and the other day we passed another bill, the Bankhead bill, to call to the attention of those in authority the law that was passed by the Congress and the intention of the Congress. The President has vetoed that bill and it comes back to the Congress. So ma be it would not make much difference whether you put it in there definitely or not.
The CHAIRMAN. Of course, Mr. Fulmer, I have voted for a lot of these bills, along with you. But I am opposed to all of this regimentation of the farmer. I think if they would let the farmer alone, perhaps fixing a price so that he could get some fair return, he would work his own way out.
Your bill is a problem for this committee in the sense that it provides automatically for the wholesale furloughing of men from the armed forces. It applies, of course, only to men within continental United States, because it would be unreasonable to undertake to go to the battle fronts and take them there.
Mr. FULMER. With the qualification that the boy has worked on the farm a major portion of 1942.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes. That is for the purpose of not allowing a man who has been running back to the farm for perhaps 30 days to say, “I am a farmer," in order to evade military service. Mr. FULMER. That is right.
The CHAIRMAN. The situation is the result of unusually high wages, high earnings in war industries throughout the country, more of them than existed ever before in the history of the world; plus the fact that the draft law has taken many of the young men from the farms. High wages have taken the remainder of them. So that these days it is almost impossible to operate a farm. Of course, it is possible to take a large tractor and use it on a large farm, to put it in mass production and some can get along that way. The ordinary small farmer is being exterminated by this program.
Mr. FULMER. To show you how far they are willing to go in spending money, they came to me some days ago and wanted a bill passed giving the Department of Agriculture the right to insure production on the farm. In other words, they stated if the farmer will buy the seed and plant the seed, if he finds because of the shortage of labor that he cannot cultivate the crop, we will pay him for everything up to that point. Then if he goes on and cultivates the crop but gets to the point where he cannot harvest the crop and he has got to give up, we will pay him for everything up to that point.
Now, that is ridiculous. That just means that a farmer will take a chance, because he has got nothing to lose, and the money will come out of the Treasury.
Mr. HARNESS. Mr. Chairman, you Democrats are talking like Republicans now. We have been trying to make you see these things
for 10 years.
The CHAIRMAX. We might talk like Republicans, but we never act like them.
Mr. HARNESS. That is why you are in such a mess.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Fulmer, I want to ask you one other question. Do you think the Army would not furlough men for harvesting purposes, when the crops are made, in sufficient number! I understand General Marshall has said that they would be furloughed for harvesting in the fall, so that the crops would not be lost.
Mr. FULMER. I have a provision in H. R. 1728 along that line. But after visting the President with that suggestion, he agreed that that could be done without interfering with the training of anybody.
For instance, we called to his attention the fact that there are thousands of bales of long-staple cotton still in the fields in Arizona, and there is a large Negro camp close by, as well as a white camp. They could easily designate 300 men to go over here today and pick cotton; and if need be, 300 the next day—that is, 300 other men-and get the crop in. He said that that could easily be done and he agreed that it was a good thing to do.
The CHAIRMAN. I want to ask you this other question. If they go out and harvest a cotton crop, who is going to pay them for the work that they do? Are they going to be paid by the Army or what adjustment is going to be made in taking care of that man's crop, for which he would have to pay whatever labor he hired?
Mr. FULMER. I referred to the cotton in Arizona, but as far as the cotton in the South is concerned, that would not be necessary there, because we would not need them. I think they could get plenty of help from the little villages and towns in that part of the country.
But it would be wonderful in the harvesting of fruit and certain other types of crops that have got to be harvested. Anybody can pick peaches and apples, that kind of stuff.
It would be impossible for the farmer to pay those people, but the farmer would pay the amount of money that he would have had to pay anybody else to do that work, and it would be paid into the Treasury of the United States.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Fulmer, you come from the cotton South. In 14 or 15 States, cotton is your staple crop and it feeds into the textile industry. But do you not really have a surplus of cotton, and if you did not produce a bale this year, would there not be enough cotton for all purposes, taking into consideration what is in storage ?
Mr. FULMER. We have a surplus in cotton, but it is of the lowgrade short staple cotton, because of the manner in which those in authority have utilized our cotton. As usual, the Army and the Navy say they must have the best, and they have been shipping over 1-inch staple cotton, the very best quality, under Lend-Lease; whereas, prior to the war, we never did ship any cotton above seven-eighths or an inch staple, and much of it low grade. They have taken all the good cotton and have left the other on hand.
The CHAIRMAN. When you made your statement with reference to the young men and young women on the farm, and narrated your own experience, not only as a young man on the farm but as one who has dealt with farmers, and your own experience in Congress, I could not help but think of what Napoleon said, after he had been to Russia and gotten licked, that the army marches on its stomach.
I think you are convinced, as this committee is no doubt convinced, that we have got to have food as a weapon in the war.
Mr. FULMER. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. If you have any solution to the problem that you can give us, or any suggestion that will help us in writing our bill, we shall certainly be glad to have it.
Mr. FULMER. I would be glad to see some such provision as I have suggested put into your general manpower bill, if that is what you are going to report.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Sparkman, have you any questions?
Mr. SPARKMAN. I have one or two questions, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Fulmer, as I understand, H. R. 1728 does three things, briefly stated. First, it provides for the deferment of essential farm labor. Second, it provides for the furloughing of farm labor to return when needed. And third, it provides for the use of units of the armed forces for harvesting crops. Now, it is that third provision which you propose to drop ?