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The CHAIRMAN. Have we ever loaned money for railroads, except in time of war?
Mr. Swing. After the war was over.
Mr. Swing. I was voting after I got here; I thought the war was over. I came home in 1921.
The CHAIRMAN. I am asking seriously.
Mr. Swing. There was some relief bill for the railroads involving Federal money.
The CHAIRMAN. It was as a result of Federal operation, as I remember it.
Mr. Swing. It was in 1921.
The CHAIRMAN. It was as a result of Government operation, to pay up the bills that had arisen.
Mr. SWING. It was for the relief of the railroads.
The CHAIRMAN. But it was not for the purpose of lending money directly to the railroads, as I understand your statement to be.
Mr. Swing. Well, I do not understand the details, but it was at least a bill to aid them in their refinancing.
The CHAIRMAN. But was it not as a result of Government operation?
Mr. O'CONNOR. It was compensation for condemnation, was it not?
Mr. Swing. No; it was a postponement of our claims on them, or something like that.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, it was not anything like the present proposition before us.
Mr. Swing. No, sir, but it was a bill for the relief of the railroads. I think I recollect the Edge exportation bill in the interest of the manufacturers.
The CHAIRMAN. I do not remember about that.
Mr. Swing. I do not recollect whether it was passed by Congress, but I did not hear any serious condemnation of Mr. Edge's exportation bill for the benefit of the manufacturers of the country, to encourage exporting of our manufactured products abroad.
Now, talking about precedents and going too far, we are loaning money for seed, and have loaned money for seeds for the farmers. We are loaning money for food and for their stock. This proposition does not come anywhere near any of those provisions of law. This is just simply a question of whether there is a real pressing need to assist a large number of farmers upon these districts, and the answer is unquestionably, that there is, and that unless this relief or some similar relief, is granted, the farmers are going to be forced off of their farms, in a considerable number of these districts, and either the land will go back or the land will be taken over by corporations.
Mr. MICHENER. What is the difference between these farmers in the levee and drainage districts and the farmers out in my section of the country who are losing their farms every day through foreclosure proceedings and must leave their farms? What is the difference in principle?
Mr. Swing. That has been well answered several times
Mr. Swing. The farmers of your district have the problem of financing their farms, as individual problems of their own. They
borrow money from the bank, maybe to buy the farm, maybe to put improvements on the farm. Every problem one of those individual farmers from one of these districts has, so likewise every farmer in this district has identically those same individual financial burdens which he individually is financing through his local banker, just like your farmer is financing his individual financial burdens through his local banker. In addition to that, the farmers on these districts are having to bear the burden of great public internal improvements, the levees, the drainage, and all of these other things. That is what makes the distinction between the farmer on the district and the farmer off of the district. Now, after we have done this, the farmer is still in the same situation. This bill is merely to put the farmer on the district upon somewhat nearly the same footing as the other farmer.
Mr. PURNELL. Does the individual farmer on these districts get any additional revenue from his land by reason of these improvements, that the people outside do not get?
Mr. Swing. No, sir. Mr. PU'RNELL. Then what is the object of doing it at all? Mr. Swing. Well, I am coming to that. Originally this land was cheap land. Somebody said it was worthless land, that it was given to them, but the fellow who took the land in the first instance, who voted for the bonds, who helped to get the drainage in and build the levees, or whatever else was started, of course, that man has sold out and gone. The man who gets the land to-day did not get it for nothing, he did not get it cheap; he paid the prevailing price for farm land, the same as he would pay for anything else.
Mr. PURNELL. Some of this land that was bought 10 years ago is not worth to-day 40 per cent of what was paid for it.
Mr. Swing. Well, that is a general condition throughout some sections of the country. That is true of the farmers in the district and off of the district.
Mr. MICHENER. This particular land was so-called handicapped land in the beginning.
Mr. SWING. Yes, in the beginning.
Mr. MICHENER. And the district was organized for the purpose of financing, they thought they could finance it, to place this land on a par with the other land. They attempted to do that, and they find that they have failed in their attempt. Therefore they still have the handicapped land, and now you are asking the Federal Government to come in and carry the handicap.
Mr. Swing. Here is what we are asking the Government, and we might as well face the picture, whether we are going to support these communities or whether we are going to let these communities sink and fade out of the picture, and then have on our hands these large number of farmers. That is the problem, and we want to know what to do. Unless some relief is extended to them, some of them in a considerable number of these districts are going down for the last count.
Mr. O'CONNOR. I was very much interested in your answer to Mr. Purnell. Let me cite an example that raises the same question in New York. In Manhattan there is a population of 1,800,000 people. Ten years ago there were about 200,000 people out in Queens district, the Borough of Queens, and today there are a mil
lion and a half people in Queens. They went out there and they settled there. It had to be improved, with highways and sewers. They are now paying more taxes than Manhattan and their assessments for sewers and highways in this newly settled borough are so huge that they are carrying an added burden as compared with the old settled part of Manhattan. Everybody feels sorry for them These assessments run $1,000 or $2,000 on one house, for instance. Now, that is the situation that Mr. Purnell has in mind.
Mr. Swing. No, you can not say that there is any general class of cities, as cities, or any class of counties, as counties, that are faced with this acute condition, because it is not only acute but it is a chronic condition, that is confronting these districts. I know of no county-some one told me there was one county that had defaulted on its bonds, but I know of no city or no county that has issued bonds at a low rate of interest, over a long period of years
Mr. O'CONNOR. Well, one of the biggest cities in the United States
Mr. SWING. Where is that?
Mr. O'Connor. At Fall River, in Joe Martin's district, has completely defaulted in its bonds.
The CHAIRMAN. It is something like Chicago. Mr. SWING. Well, I do not know about Chicago. That is because of some peculiar local conditions. But that is not true in these local farm districts.
Mr. PURNELL. Mr. Swing, I do not want to keep pursuing the same thing, because it has been asked a number of times, but I want to get it a little clearer. As I understand it, you say that these farmers in the drainage and levee districts have a dual obligation?
Mr. Swing. Yes, sir.
Mr. PurNELL. They have this drainage obligation and then they have another obligation which you say is analogous to the farms out in my country.
Mr. Swing. Yes, sir.
Mr. PURNELL. Let us talk about the one that is analogous to the obligations of my farmers. They have mortgages on the land.
Mr. Swing. Certainly.
Mr. PURNELL. Now, what I want to get at is this. Do not the drainage obligations increase the value of that land?
Mr. SWING. They do.
Mr. Swing. Yes, and your argument would be applicable to the original holders of the title, but the title has been sold and resold. not once but many times, until to-day the holders of these farms have paid identically the same prevailing value for farm land as originally paid.
Mr. PURNELL. But they had knowledge when they made the purchase.
Mr. Swing. Had knowledge of what?
Mr. Swing. Oh, yes, of course, but that does not help them to meet it. It does not relieve the pressure of the present situation. The question is, whether these communities are to be supported and kept alive as thriving American communities, whether this great contribution to the natural wealth of the country is to be served and preserved, or whether we are going to scrap it and throw it into waste.
Mr. PERNELL. Now, I do not think I could be charged with being unfriendly toward farm relief legislation of any kind or character. You are attempting here to save individual farmers. That is the ultimate purpose, is it not?
Mr. Swing. American communities, agricultural communities.
Mr. PURNELL. The purpose is to save them, and the very life of these farmers is dependent upon it!
Mr. Swing. Yes, sir.
Mr. PERNELL. Now, if you do that, you might just as well take in these other hundreds of thousands of farmers who are also, not exactly in the same condition but in a condition which means ruin to them.
Mr. Swing. Well, you get up your bill and we will be for it, if you want to provide a proper method whereby your farmers can be taken care of. This bill does not deal with individual farmers. The Government deals with the district just like it is dealing with reclamation districts. Under the present law the water users of a reclamation project may organize a district and issue bonds, and the Government will take them. Personally I prefer to have the Government dealing with subdivisions of the State, and not with individuals. But if you can find a proper method to give relief to your farmers I think it is the most important thing that Congress can do, to find something that will definitely help the farmers. We have tried by different methods to increase the price of his products and we have failed, dismally failed. Here is a chance to reduce the cost of his products, and that can be worked out, and you know it can be worked out, because it will cut his cost from 6 per cent or 612 per cent to 3 per cent or 342 per cent. Now, do you want to grant some relief, farm relief, if you will call it that, or don't you! The fact that it does not include every farmer is no reason why it should not include as many as 5,000,000, if you can help that many at one time.
Mr. MICHENER. But would it be fair to single out 5,000,000 individual farmers who are in competition with the other 25,000,000 farmers and assist them to the disadvantage of the other men?
Mr. Swing. There would never be any legislation passed by any Congress for anybody if you had to have the rule apply which says that this legislation must benefit everybody or benefit nobody. If two houses are on fire, because you can not put out the fire on both of them, you would not refuse to put out the fire on one of them and let them both burn. I say, if you can save 5,000,000 people, that is something worth while.
The CHAIRMAN. How many of these districts are there in your State?
Mr. Swing. I do not know; there are two or three. I happen to know of one which is on the Colorado River, which in 1920, before
the river broke in, had about 5,000 people. The river broke in in 1922 and a large part of the land was inundated and the farmers were driven off, and a number of them never came back, on account of the problem of continually fighting this river. Over one-half of their present indebtedness is due to fighting the river problem. In my opinion this bill would keep that community as an American community, and if something like this is not done, every man, woman, and child, 3,000 of them to-day, will have to get out of there if they have to walk.
Mr. MICHENER. I voted for your Boulder Dam bill on this very same argument that you are making here to-day.
Mr. SWING. Yes, sir.
Mr. MICHEN ER. And I voted for your Boulder Dam to do the thing that you said it will do.
Mr. SWING. And that dam will do it.
Mr. MICHENER. And now you are here making the same argument
Mr. Swing. That dam will do it as soon as construction is up high enough to operate it. But in the meantime this community is burdened with this debt which is incurred for fighting this river for the past 15 years.
I wish to present this resolution. You seem to think that we people come in here as a sort of Populist proposition, bringing in some wild farm-relief proposition. I wish to refer to one great section of the United States Chamber of Commerce. It is not always that I can quote their recommendations with approval. The western division of the United States Chamber of Commerce adopted the following resolution :
FINANCING RECLAMATION PROJECTS Whereas the National Farm Bureau and water users of the arid States, at a meeting held in Reno, Nev., some time ago, and a convention of governors of the 11 Western States held in Salt Lake City on June 27-28, 1930, did, after careful consideration, adopt the following resolution : Be it
“Resolved, That this meeting approves the principles of this resolution and recommends the immediate consideration thereof by the directors of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States for such action as in their judgment seems best :
"Whereas one of the heaviest burdens borne by the farms in irrigation, reclamation, flood control, levee, and drainage districts is the immense amount of interest to be paid annually upon their outstanding bonded indebtedness; and
“Whereas most of these districts were brought into being during the war period and immediately subsequent thereto; and
" Whereas when the majority of these districts were organized agricultural productions were at a high peak, both in quantity and price, and the cost of construction of the necessary works and the cost of financing were correspondingly high; and
“Whereas most of the districts were financed upon a 6 per cent or higher basis and were compelled to suffer discounts on the sale of their bonds ranging up to as high as 15 points, and the maturity dates of the bonded obligations were in many instances fixed at early periods in the belief that the great demand for agricultural products and high prices would continue; and
“ Whereas since the break in the world's markets in 1920 and the great agricultural depression which followed and has continued, the farmer has found it difficult to meet the enormous burden of interest charges upon the