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Mr. HENDERSON. My opposition to that is that it is shifting to a general solution rather than to a specific problem. I mean to say that in those cases where you have a situation where the farmer or farmers need farm labor as a result of too low wages, if the problem cannot be solved by other measures than a subsidy to those farmers, then those farmers should receive a subsidy. However, to talk generally about changing parity level means a whole series of direct consequences flowing from that in the form of increased cost of living and upsetting the price structure generally, as well as giving a whole lot of farmers who do not need subsidies in effect a subsidy in the form of a higher level of their farm prices.
Mr. SPARKMAN. Why do you argue in favor of increased wages for the hired hand who helps produce the crop, and yet you argue against the higher wages for the independent farmer who produces the crop? After all, the price he gets for his crop is the only wage that he receives.
Mr. HENDERSON. On the contrary, sir, I take the position that, again, where there might not be a justification—and in my opinion there is no justification—for a general increase in farm prices, there may be, with respect to certain commodities that are determined to be essential to winning the war and of which there is a shortage for a variety of reasons, justification for a price increase in order to produce the quantities necessary of that commodity.
May I put it this way. I am not opposed to the conversion of agriculture to a war footing even if it means greater profits or greater income for some individuals or groups in that field. I was not opposed to conversion of industry. The problem is to convert, first. industry to a war footing, to get away from business as usual in industry. The problem now is to convert agriculture to a war footing. The problem is not essentially whether or not they are going to make profits as large or whether they are going to make more profits than usual. They have in industry, and I expect they will in agriculture.
That is not the key problem. The key problem is whether or not you actually convert agriculture to a war footing so that you get a production of those crops which are essential, so that you have the utilization of your available manpower on those crops which are essential, so that you will have the fertilizer available and the machinery available utilized efficiently with reference to winning the war; and the question of price and profit is secondary, although an important question, and should be considered from the point of view of stimulating the production of the crops decided upon as necessary and to produce them in the volume necessary.
Mr. SPARKMAN. Let me ask you this. I do not know. It sounds to me like a lot of theory. I am trying to think of it from the practical standpoint. Inasmuch as I come from a cotton area, my knowledge is limited to cotton. When I get to talking about tobacco and lettuce or some of these things, I have got to rely on what somebody else says, or his theories on it. I assume we are all subject to those same limitations.
Let me ask you, What is your agricultural background?
Mr. SPARKMAN. What was it?
Mr. HENDERSON. That is right. My father is still a dairy farmer in Erie, Pa.
Mr. SPARKMAN. Your background, then, has been primarily that of a dairy farmer?
Mr. HENDERSON. I would not call it primarily that, because I left the farm. I worked in steel mills
Mr. SPARKMAN. When did you leave the farm?
Mr. HENDERSON. I left the farm at about the age of 14. I worked in a greenhouse 3 years since then. I have worked in a steel mill. I have been to college. I have been a teacher. I am a labor leader today.
Mr. SPARKMAN. Where were you a teacher ?
Mr. SPARKMAN. Well, you have never had any experience in the growing of tobacco or lettuce or cotton or corn?
Mr. HENDERSON. I have never owned a farm; that is correct.
Mr. SPARKMAN. I assume this does not apply as much to the dairy business as to these crops that you have got to grow out of the ground, and yet it does to some extent, because they have to get the feed out of crops that grow out of the ground.
You realize that the factors relating to farming are more fixed than those relating to industry generally, because it is where shift the type of soil that you have got to work with; is that not true!
Mr. HENDERSON. Yes; but I do not get the point.
Mr. SPARKMAN. You are talking here all the time about converting to a war footing, and I am trying to get something specific. In other words, I dare say that the lands in the State of the gentleman from Iowa would not produce cotton and probably not peanuts or soybeans. He has got to continue to grow corn. Down my way I have got to continue to grow cotton, with a limited amount of peanuts, soybeans, and things of that type; and I suppose the tobacco farmer has got to continue to do the same thing, and I do not know that we could
that tobacco is nonessential or that lettuce is nonessential, because those are being consumed in great quantities by the armed services.
Mr. HENDERSON. This seems to be beside the point, in view of the testimony I am giving.
Mr. SPARKMAN. I think you ought to be specific instead of general. I am trying to get you to be specific.
Mr. HENDERSON. I am opposing H. R. 1728, and along with that S. 729.
The CHAIRMAN. You are opposing H. R. 1728 and you are supporting S. 729?
Mr. HENDERSON. No; I am opposing S. 729.
The CHAIRMAN. Let us confine it to the question of manpower. How are you going to get manpower back to the farm? That is our problem.
Mr. HENDERSON. So far as mobilization of farm labor is concerned, I referred you to the detailed testimony
The CHAIRMAX. I have heard of that, Mr. Witness, but the difference between you and me is that I spent the first 25 years of my life on a farm, using a pick and hoe and plow, or whatever I had to work with, and I did not get to Columbia, and you seem to have been there. I would like to get at this problem of getting the farms to produce.
Mr. HENDERSON. All right. On your specific question, may I point out that H. R. 1728, while it freezes the labor supply you now have and the farmers you now have on the farms, does nothing to redistribute, does nothing to utilize this labor effectively, does nothing to make an effort to let the problem of essential versus nonessential crops
Mr. Martin. May I ask a question there, Mr. Chairman?
Mr. MARTIN. Does it make that approach impossible or does it impede that further approach?
Mr. HENDERSON. I think it does, sir. Mr. MARTIN. How? 'Mr. HENDERSON. In that it again creates, like the Tydings amendment did, a patchwork attempted solution, which only turns out to be another bill that clutters up the results and again clutters up administrative channels and does not come to the heart of the problem.
Mr. MARTIN. How does the deferment of farm labor, as specified in the first section of H. R. 1728—the reassignment of those boys in the armed forces, as set out in subsection (b), who were actually engaged in farming in 1942—or the assignment as set out in section 3 in H. R. 1728, making available farm labor, impede the efficient production of agricultural products? This bill is to make agricultural labor available for agriculture. How does that impede progress in agricultural production?
Mr. HENDERSON. Because, I am trying to say, sir, the problems of having adequate and efficient manpower mobilization in agriculture are not problems of just freezing the situation as it exists.
Mr. MARTIN. You have to start with an adequate labor supply, though, and the impression I have is that we are short of an agricultural labor supply in some very essential agricultural areas.
Mr. HENDERSON. That is correct, and those problems of shortage mean a specific approach to those crops in those areas where such shortages exist, with the necessary mechanisms or administrative agencies to mobilize a supply for those areas at the proper time, instead of a general negative freezing of the situation.
Mr. Martin. This is an effort to get a supply of agricultural labor. How does that impede any scientific or efficient effort to utilize that labor after you have it?
Mr. HENDERSON. Because, sir, particularly with reference to one area in this country, namely the cotton South, including also tobacco and other crops down there, there has been and still is a large surplus of labor, and I may quote figures from the U. S. E. S. to prove this for the purposes of the record; and the freezing of all this surplus labor on crops which are to some extent nonessential is absolutely immobilizing the labor supply and preventing it from being properly mobilized for those areas where there is a shortage.
The CHAIRMAN. The witness has repeated that six or seven times, and we want to get down to the manpower question here in a practical way. I would like to ask one question, and then I am going to yield to Mr. Costello.
Did you ever have an organization of any kind on the farms or among any of the farm groups with which you work?
Mr. HENDERSON. I represent, so far as the actual farm workers on farms are concerned, over 60,000 workers.
The CHAIRMAN. I mean, have you a union organization among sharecroppers or people of that kind ?
Mr. HENDERSON. Yes, sir.
Mr. HENDERSON. That is correct. I am the general president of the union, which has within its ranks farm workers, wage workers, sharecroppers, tenant farmers.
The CHAIRMAN. How long after you left Columbia did you organize those groups?
Mr. HENDERSON. I have been working out in the field for the past 10 years.
The CHAIRMAN. Ten years?
Mr. HENDERSON. United Cannery, Agricultural, Packing and Allied Workers of America, affiliated with the C. I. O. In addition to the farm wage workers and the sharecroppers, we also organize the processing or packing workers in the various fields having to do with agricultural commodities. The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Costello.
Mr. COSTELLO. You have stated your opposition to both these bills, H. R. 1728 and Senate 729, but I understand you favor the TolanKilgore-Pepper bill?
Mr. HENDERSON. That is correct.
Mr. COSTELLO. Does not that bill provide for setting up a new board which will have control over the allocation of manpower ?
Mr. HENDERSON. That is correct.
Mr. COSTELLO. And also provides for the training and placing of the manpower?
Mr. HENDERSON. That is correct.
Mr. COSTELLO. It places no limitation as to how they are to do that. It is just general legislation which sets forth that the new commission shall have the power to train and to place this manpower, which means, therefore, that they would have power to carry it out in any way they saw fit. They could go to the South and move the cotton picker and send him up to Vermont, if they wanted to, under that authority. That would give them far more power than either of these two bills, and they would have complete control of the farm workers over the country. Is that not correct?
Mr. HENDERSON. If the problems that they uncover and the specific meeting of the war needs demonstrate the need to do so, I would be in favor of that.
Mr. COSTELLO. It would go much further than even the Wadsworth bill would go.
Mr. HENDERSON. That would be to attack the problem of converting the agricultural industry to a war footing and the creation of mechanisms to do that, rather than freezing all things as they are.
The CHAIRMAN. I have spent the best part of my life on the farm and worked on the farm, and as a farm hand I received very low wages, with all the hardships that go with it. You are a scholar from Columbia, and I am not, and still I do not understand what you mean by converting agriculture to a war footing. As I understand it, to get it to a war footing is to get it to produce as much as possible. How are you going to do it without manpower!
Mr. HENDERSON. You are not going to do it without manpower. It is not being utilized effectively. There are areas in this country where there are in effect surpluses.
Mr. Chairman, I wanted to give you just a few examples of some of these surpluses for the purposes of the record.
The CHAIRMAN. I beg your pardon. Mr. Costello has the examination.
Mr. HENDERSON. On the basis of figures given us by the U. S. E. S. in their regular reports, which are available to this committee
The CHAIRMAN. We can get those figures from them, Mr. Costello.
Mr. COSTELLO. As I see this bill, Mr. Henderson, the Tolan-KilgorePepper bill would actually grant a far wider authority than the Wadsworth bill would; is that not correct?
Mr. HENDERSON. I am not talking specifically on the Wadsworth bill, which other people have. I want to make my position clear, sir. I am not opposed, and my organization is not opposed to whatever steps are necessary to utilize agricultural labor and the farmers in the way of shifting their occupations and stabilizing them with relation to needed war work. We are not opposed to that but we insist, to use a phrase, that you do not pass legislation which, instead of mobilizing and utilizing and stabilizing labor with reference to what is necessary to win the war, takes a peacetime status, a situation as exists in agriculture in large part, and simply freeze that.
Mr. COSTELLO. Of course, the legislation does not do that, because it is based largely on the situation in 1942, which was not a peacetime period, and far from it. Actually the bills that you are opposing, if you have any objection to them, would be on the ground that the bills do not go far enough, that they are limited, that they provide only that the men who do not work on the farms shall be denied a deferment and if they are in the Army they shall be granted a deferment provided they go back on the farm and stay on the farm.
Instead of being in favor of that, you are in favor of a bill which would authorize some new commission to be set up which would have the power to transfer workers from plant to plant, from industry to industry, from area to area, in the course of the needs of war mobilization. This legislation that you are recommending would permit this new commission, that may be appointed of totally unknown indi