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to be done more to convert to a war footing than the industry of agriculture.
It is unfortunate, and to some extent I feel like the farmer who closes the barn door after the horse is stolen, that no basic approach, either in these two bills or in any of the other bills before the committee, has tackled the problem of really converting agriculture to a war footing. On the contrary, the basic objection that we have to H. R. 1728 and S. 729, and the basic objection that we had to the Tydings amendment, was that these bills express, in our opinion, a desire to meet certain problems growing out of the fact that we are at war, as they show themselves in agriculture, by protecting agriculture against the necessity of converting to a war footing.
H. R. 1728 particularly neither approaches the problem of farm labor nor approaches the problem of the mobilization of farmer manpower, in our opinion, from the point of view of converting agriculture to a war footing so as to make the most effective utilization of the manpower available. On the contrary, it tends to immobilize instead of mobilize, manpower in agriculture for war purposes. It in effect immobilizes manpower in agriculture with the unconscious or intentional result of maintaining agriculture as usual on a peacetime basis.
I do not believe it takes any long, technical discussion to make the point that the agricultural wage labor market under peacetime conditions in the United States was organized, insofar as it was organized, on the basis of a surplus labor economy, an economy of hit and miss, an economy whereby there were always pools of cheap labor around to be called upon when needed, an economy of practically starvation wages in most sections of the country, an economy involving frequent violations of civil liberties, an economy in which a large proportion of farm labor was almost second-class citizenship labor.
The record will show that in the last 10 years, since I have been actively working in the field throughout the United States, the only scrap of legislation passed by the United States Congress with respect to attempting to put the labor market in agriculture on a sound footing was the act passed in 1937 dealing with the sugar-beet industry, whereby certain minimum wage rates were established for agricultural workers in that industry, which had to be paid as a condition for the farmers to receive certain prices and subsidies.
With this disorganized, or, rather, call it an organized farm labor market based on a surplus economy, naturally under the wartime conditions a whole series of problems arise. I want to state flatly that on the basis of the figures showing the number of farm laborers and the number of people working in agriculture in 1942 as compared to 1941, there was no over-all farm labor shortage. There was a great deal of ballyhoo, there was a great deal of panic headlines, but there was no over-all farm labor shortage.
There was, with respect to specific areas and specific seasonal peaks, a tight labor market, which occasioned increases in wages and which in some cases occasioned the actual necessity for Farm Security Administration and other agencies to bring labor to that particular tight labor market.
H. R. 1728 and S. 729 make the problem worse, so far as mobilizing manpower in agriculture, rather than being a step in the right direc
tion. It in effect freezes "every individual who was engaged in agricultural occupation or endeavor in any capacity during any part of the calendar year 1942.” That refers to farmers, sharecroppers, farm tenants, as well as to agriculture wage labor.
This freeze takes place on the basis of no attempt to distinguish between those crops and those operations that are essential to the war and those that are nonessential to the war.
Mr. SPARKMAN. May I interrupt there, Mr. Chairman?
Mr. SPARKMAN. Do not both of the bills relate directly to the order handed down by the Department of Agriculture—I believe it was 164—defining war crops?" I am sure that one of the bills does. Senate 729 does.
The CHAIRMAN. That is the Bankhead bill.
Mr. HENDERSON. The Bankhead bill in its present form does. I believe H. R. 1728 does not.
Mr. SPARKMAN. I think you are right on that, but Senate 729 does.
Mr. HENDERSON. The important thing here is that you have had in agriculture in this country, call it an organized labor market, if you wish, or an unorganized labor market, as I would prefer, based on an excess supply of labor. Under these wartime conditions, that type of labor market and that type of disorganization cannot meet the problem of effectively utilizing our manpower.
H. R. 1728 basically attempts to freeze or immobilize the pre-war status—at least, the status as of 1942. No effort is made to distinguish between essential and nonessential crops. No effort is made to distinguish between the agricultural worker who may be replaceable and the worker who may not be replaceable. That holds true, of course, for the farmer as well as the wage worker.
No effort is made to distinguish between those workers who may doing a little bit of productive work and those workers who may be doing what we would consider a necessary minimum standard amount of productive work with relation to agriculture.
I cannot interpret H. R. 1729 in any other terms than an attempt to immobilize the peacetime status, so far as possible, of the manpower situation in agriculture.
I do not wish to go into the details of what is essential and what is nonessential in agriculture with reference to the war, but it seems to me clear that one of the first steps in an effective mobilization or utilization of manpower, whether it be farm labor or a farmer, is the distinction between what crops we need to win the war and what crops we do not need to win the war.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you know of any kind of crops that we do not need?
Mr. HENDERSON. I think a great deal of the short-staple cotton crop could be cut down. I think a great deal of the tobacco crop could be cut down. We can take a small but typical type of crop, the socalled iceberg lettuce in the Imperial, Salinas, and Salt River Valley regions. It has no vitamins. It is not essential to winning the war, but you have some 10,000 workers tied up there.
I mention this in spite of the fact, Mr. Chairman, that to cut this crop out would mean the loss of some 10,000 organized workers in
The CHAIRMAN. Do you not think there should be some authority to transfer those 10,000 workers from those lettuce patches to some wheat fields, for instance?
Mr. HENDERSON. I certainly do.
Mr. HENDERSON. I am not arguing against legislation. I am arguing against II. R. 1728 and S. 729.
The CHAIRMAX. What S. 729 attempts to do is to defer all workers that are already engaged in agriculture of any type or were engaged during the last year over a principal part of the time and includes the Tydings amendment. It would use a type of compulsion by saying that if you did not stay on the farm the board might send you to the Army.
Are you for that? You want the agricultural workers—do you not-in your industry?
Mr. HENDERSON. I am not opposed to the effective utilization and the immobilization or
The CHAIRMAN. Remobilization?
Mr. HENDERSON. Or remobilization of agricultural farm laborers or farmers on the basis of legislation or Executive decree that in effect converts agriculture to a wartime footing.
To use an example that has always impressed me, the conversion of the automobile industry or refrigeration industry or similar industrial industries that were making consumable goods certainly involved a tremendous readjustment and certainly involved the wiping out of a great many subsidiary businesses, and yet it was done because it was recognized as necessary to the conversion of these industries to a war footing. In the case of automobiles there were large numbers of subsidiary businesses that were practically wiped out.
I say the same thing has got to be done in agriculture; that you cannot convert agriculture to a war footing and at the same time maintain the normal peacetime usages that have prevailed in agriculture both with respect to employment of farm labor and with respect to growing of crops and also with respect to various other aspects of the agriculture industry.
· Mr. SPARKMAN. Mr. Chairman, may I ask some questions right there?
The CHAIRMAN. Yes.
Mr. SPARKMAN. I would like to get clear just what you mean by converting agriculture. Of course, we all can see the conversion of various types of industry, but that involved very largely a change-over completely. Where they were making one product they changed over and started making another product, but I do not quite see where the analogy lies with reference to agriculture. I wish you would tell me, very briefly, what needs to be done specifically to convert agriculture to a wartime footing.
Mr. HENDERSON. There needs to be certainly a complete knowledge of the resources with respect to land and with respect to labor power, both farmers and farm labor. There needs to be a knowledge and a schedule of what are the crops necessary and the amounts necessary to the winning of the war
Mr. SPARKMAN. Right there you have named three crops that you thought there could be an elimination of. The first one you mentioned was short-staple cotton. Of course, you are aware of the fact that there is today a shortage of long-staple cotton?
Mr. HENDERSON. That is correct.
Mr. SPARKMAN. And you are aware of the fact also, I presume, that short-staple cotton, a great part of it, can be used to manufacture military products for which we have in the past been using long-staple cotton?
Mr. HENDERSON. But not in the volume in which short-staple cotton is being grown.
Mr. SPARKMAN. You also know that short-staple cotton is useful in the manufacture of munitions and, furthermore, that out of cotton, regardless of whether it is short staple or long staple, you get very valuable products from the seed, which, after all, is two-thirds of the crop ?
Mr. HENDERSON. That seed, with reference to the production of oil, can be much more efficiently produced, so far as manpower hours are concerned and so far as other factors are involved, from either peanuts or soybeans.
Mr. SPARKMAN. What about the protein, the cottonseed cake?
Mr. HENDERSON. There are adjustments that have got to be made and that are not pleasant.
Mr. SPARKMAN. And, of course, you realize that when it comes to the soil it is not like converting a plant, where you shove machines back or cover them up, and install other machines. You have just a certain type of soil to work with, and that soil will grow only certain types of crops.
Mr. HENDERSON. I would agree with you, sir, to this extent: That the problems of converting agriculture to a wartime basis are different, more complicated, than I believe they are in industry, basically because agriculture involves so many independent producers, so many producers who operate on the basis of a great variety of interrelated and interdependent crops that make up their business as a whole. You just cannot cut out
Mr. SPARKMAN. Then you also acknowledge that --
Mr. HENDERSON. However, I insist that my position and my main point, and the only thing I am trying to stress here, is that the problem of converting agriculture to a wartime footing, either through legislation or through Executive decree or administrative set-up, has not been tackled fairly and honestly, and that these bills, H. R. 1728, and the others, are going in the wrong direction rather than in the right direction, insofar as they tend to immobilize and freeze the existing pre-war situation in agriculture.
Mr. SPARKMAN. You did not know that Mr. Fulmer, in appearing before the committee in behalf of H. R. 1728, proposed an amendment which would have brought his bill practically in line with Senate 729? Therefore, it seems to me that in stressing the measures we might keep that in mind.
The CHAIRMAN. Let me ask the witness a question, if you will.
Representing the farm group generally, what this committee is disturbed about is that because of low wages on the farms and high wages in industry there has been a migration of workers from the farms to the industrial plants throughout the country, until the farms are without labor. How are you going to get those laborers back there unless there is some way, by legislation or otherwise, to reassign them back to the farms?
We have got to have farm labor before you can run a cannery. We have got to have farm labor to produce the vegetables that the cannery processes. How are you going to do it without some kind of control of these forces to prevent the transferring of workers because of the selfish interests they have-higher wages?
Mr. HENDERSON. The problem will not be solved by freezing labor, because the conditions we have is not effective during peacetime.
The CHAIRMAN. Where are we going to get somebody that we haven't got and that we need for the farm?
Mr. HENDERSON. The problem in part can be solved, as I have stated before, by the necessary studies and programs that will convert agriculture to a wartime basis, so that manpower in agriculture is utilized on the necessary essential crops, so that it is utilized on farms that are more efficient rather than on farms that are less efficient.
Mr. SPARKMAN. Would you move the people from those less efficient farms, submarginal lands?
Mr. HENDERSON. If the studies show it is to be necessary; yes.
Mr. HENDERSON. I might give you an example, sir. House Joint Resolution 96, which we are vigorously opposed to, again took a step backward in connection with that question. We submitted testimony before the subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate, and I refer you to the rather detailed program on pages 272, 273, 274, and 275, with respect to the problem of mobilizing farm labor to meet these probably really tight labor situations in certain specific seasonal peaks with reference to certain crops and with reference to certain areas.
Again I repeat that you cannot solve these concrete problems that are appearing in agriculture, and I do not deny that they are appearing as specific concrete problems, by general over-all freezing of present conditions. It is also a matter of distributing the labor that we have got.
I would question very seriously right at this moment that there is 9 general over-all labor shortage, and by farm labor I mean wage labor and sharecropper labor and certain types of farm tenants.
Mr. SPARKMAN. What about the independently operated family farm ? There is hardly a day that I do not get a letter from some of them. I got a letter this morning from a farmer who is 70 years old, and his only son, who has helped him, is in the Army.
Mr. HENDERSON. There is no question that with respect to individual farm cases there must be a large number who have been hit either by the draft or by the drift of someone on that family farm producing unit going into industry because of the discrepancy in wages.
Mr. Johnson. What is your answer to the chairman's question ! How are you going to fill those gaps? That is what we would like to 1:now.
The CHAIRMAN. That is what we are trying to find out.
Mr. HENDERSON. In the first place, you have got to more nearly make farm wages comparable to in lustrial wages, even if that involves a direct subsidy on the part of the Government to a farmer
Mr. SPARKMAN. Suppose it involves rewriting the parity formula!