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Senator BANKHEAD. The Extension Service is the chief arm of the Department of Agriculture. We would expect the Department of Agriculture to avail themselves of all their resources and agencies.
Senator POPE. I suppose the Agricultural Administration Act with its provisions and benefits for reduction of acreage would apply to these tenant farmers who purchased ?
Senator BANKHEAD. My thought would be that the contract of sale would provide for diversification on the farms in accordance with a well-balanced farming program, and would require them to do that. Of course, I think that is largely an administrative measure and you must leave a lot of latitude. It is very important to have a sympathetic administration.
Senator POPE. I suppose many of these tenant farmers or the owners of the land are now contractors with the Government in the matter of acreage reduction?
Mr. TAYLOR. That is right.
Senator POPE. I presume that would go on, and this would be something additional to that?
Senator BANKHEAD. We wouldn't want to make that mandatory because the A. A. A. is intended as a temporary program. Here is a long-range, 50-year program. We would like to use at first all agencies we have, but we would not want to make their use compulsory.
Mr. TAYLOR. There is one thing. I think it says it is not the purpose to increase production.
Senator BANKHEAD. Of your surplus crops.
Mr. TAYLOR. I think in the South I know it well enough to say that there are some lands now in production that ought to come out. It seems to me where you take the farmer off submarginal land there is no objection to opening new land.
Senator BANKHEAD. There is no absolute restriction. Of course, over a period of 50 years we expect a great many new acres to be brought in. This was laid down as a policy that we were not intending to bring in a great group of additional farms when they are not needed in commercial crops.
Senator POPE. In other words, the administration under this corporation, as provided for, would have to be coordinated with all the other agricultural programs?
Mr. TAYLOR. That is one of the most fundamental things.
I submit for the record a statement furnished me by the Director of Census showing the total number of farms in the United States, the number operated by tenants, and percentage of all farms operated by tenants by divisions and States; also the following letters from Dr. S. H. Hobbs, of the Department of Rural Social Economics, University of North Carolina; Dr. Clarence Poe, president and editor of Progressive Farmer and Southern Ruralist; Mr. Fank Fritts, of New York, formerly with the Subsistence Homesteads Division; and Hon. Elwood Mead, Commissioner, Bureau of Reclamation, Department of Interior:
Total number of farms; number operated by tenants; and percent of all farms
operated by tenants, by divisions and States
1 Less than one-tenth of 1 percent.
Re S, 1800.
MARCH 1, 1935. Senator John H. BANKHEAD,
Washington, D. C. DEAR SENATOR: I regret that my professional docket here will make attendance at the committee hearing on March 5 very inconvenient.
I am, however, deeply interested in this bill. For what my opinion may be worth, I think the objective of this proposed legislation is 100 percent right and that the dimensions of the proposal are not out of scale with the requirements of the situation.
This is not a mere artful device for whipping the depression. It is not a mere matter of justice to the farmer as a class. It is not an artifice for inducing a national economic balance. Its effect in these directions will be marked and will be favorable. But we are dealing here with a deeper and more far-reaching problem of the gravest national concern.
The birth rate in American cities of above 250,000 inhabitants stands at less than 80 percent per generation of the requirement for perpetuating the blood lines of their populations. The birth rate on American farms stands at approxįmately 150 percent per generation of the rate required to perpetuate the stocks. The American population is mobile; the best examples elect to seek their fortunes where they believe they will have most favorable opportunities to rise in life.
When our farm populations are living mean, pinched, and disillusioned lives, what happens? Only one thing can happen. In the sense in which an actuarial table is true, the best examples of the farm populations select themselves for city life, the culls remain on the farms. According to our city birth-rate statistics, it takes five generations of city life on the average to destroy a blood line. The farm breeds them, the city destroys them.
Whenever the rural-urban migration continues for a long time selective in favor of urban life, the gradual effect on the national character must be the same effect as we would have in a breeding stable from which we selected each generation the best examples, as best we could select them, and sent them away to be raced, breeding only from the culls left behind. After a while there wouldn't be any race horses worth looking at.
Cities have never in all history been self-perpetuating in birth rates.
I think that in the growth of our Nation across the continent, new frontiers have always furnished sufficient attraction to be constantly inducing selective urban-rural migration in favor of the rural. Hence, the sturdy stock characteristic of our country today.
As I feel, however, with the frontier gone for a generation or more, the statistical situation of our country today in this respect is a matter of gravest national concern. I would suppose that the unabated effect of the kind of rural-urban selective migration that we have had over the past 30 years would be tending to destroy our national cultural and intellectual life about as fast as all our effort in public education can restore it. Maybe we are slipping. There are no instruments to record it. The motion is as invisible as that of a glacier.
For these reasons I would spend a billion dollars of public money, and regard it as spent in the interests of the whole people, to make farm life attractive again to the best men and women of our land. I didn't say the richest—the best and the most ambitious. I want to see a lot of them go to the farm, not as a retreat, but as a manner of living that is highway satisfactory.
I think the most difficult problem involved in the whole bill has to do with its administration. I like the corporate form and the specific provisions thereof. If the right man-power can be found to clothe the structure, this enterprise will be the contribution of this generation to the centuries. Respectfully yours,
FRANK FRITTS. PROGRESSIVE FARMER,
Raleigh, N. C., March 5, 1935. Senator J. H. BANKHEAD,
Washington, D. C. DEAR SENATOR BANKHEAD: I was at breakfast a few mornings ago with a group which included two of your fellow Senators (Senators Bailey and Nye) when someone asked:
“Do the tenant farmers of the South really want to become home owners ? And if so, how can they be helped ?
“ The vast majority do”, I answered. " But there's no effective salesmanship behind farms and homes. Suppose we had a system for selling farms and homes half as aggressive, scientific, enterprising, and inescapable as our wide-awake American automobile industry has built up. In my opinion, with such a system, the sale of homes would quickly quadruple.”
It was only a few days after making this statement that I received your letter outlining your far-reaching plan for helping tenants buy farms, and to me this plan seemed to fill just the want I had previously expressed. For a score of years the Federal land banks have been willing and anxious to help the right kind of tenants buy homes. But at best this willingness and anxiety have been of a passive sort. The Federal land banks have waited for the ambitious tenant to find the farm, negotiate a sale, and come to them. On the other hand, what you propose is that the Government shall virtually go to the tenant and offer good farms at fair prices and on very easy terms. It will put behind home ownership at last the same aggressive salesmanship and skillful financing methods that have made “ world beaters ” of such American industries as life insurance, automobiles, and tobacco.
The supreme need for converting tenants into landowners has been recognized by the wisest rural leadership in both Europe and America for more than two generations. Such pioneers as Col. L. L. Polk, founder of the Progressive Farmer, were crusading on this subject with pen and tongue and through farm organizations away back in the eighties. But while Europe began to do something about the matter, the United States did almost nothing. So nearly a quarter of a century ago the Progressive Farmer sent me to Europe to study European system of rural cooperation and home ownership.
And to show how far behind America still is with regard to this matter, it may be well to summarize what European countries were doing as far back as 1912 when I featured these European plans in a part of our continuous campaign of education on the subject :
1. In Ireland I found that (under the act of 1903) the British Government had advanced to many thousand tenants the full purchase price of land, repay. ments to be made in 6872 installments of 314 percent—234 percent being interest and 12 percent sinking fund.
2. In England I found that a tenant could buy a “small holding” by paying one-fifth cash, the rest in semiannual installments over 50 years.
3. In Denmark I found that the Government would lend about 90 percent of the value of a properly equipped small farm, repayments to be made in annual installments of 4 percent–3 percent for interest and 1 percent sinking fund.
And so on for other European countries. When the Federal land bank was organized here in the United States a little later I tried to have it made more emphatically an aggressive agency for converting tenants into home owners. It is a pity that it was not done then. The delay in doing the right thing is only an additional reason for doing that right thing with supreme vigor now.
Home ownership (as I long ago stressed in my European studies) is a foundation of good citizenship and of all rural progress. As I then said, agricultural prosperity depends on three things: (1) Land ownership; (2) education; (3) cooperation-with ownership as the foundation and cooperation the capstone.
Not until general home ownership replaces tenancy can we build a great rural civilization in the South. Happy is the land that is tilled by the man who owns it ”, said James Oliver. Give a man secure possession of a barren island and he will make it blossom as a rose said another philosopher. “ The ownership of land is a patent of nobility as Dr. Seaman A. Knapp used to say.
The supreme need now is to develop a mighty agency which will be active and not påssive in promoting home ownershipan agency that will put two powerful new forces behind the sale of homes
(1) As enterprising salesmanship as American manufacturers put behind their products; and
(2) As easy financing as Europe has given its aspiring home owners.
You will render an everlasting service to America and especially to the South if you enlist the cooperation of all rural agencies in working out the wisest possible program to this end. Your first bill is naturally tentative. Its heroic purpose is far more important than its exact form. Especially important is it to work our plans looking to
(1) Wise choice of prospects;
(2) Fitting these new landowners into communities with other small farm. ers of the same race and interests;
(3) Encouraging organizations of these small holders for cooperative buying, selling, and community progress; and
(4) Providing for the wise agricultural guidance they will surely need through county farm agents and others.
I profoundly regret that on account of other engagements I could not attend today's hearing, but you are at liberty to use this letter in any way you wish, and I hope you will call on me for all the further cooperation I can give you in your great enterprise. Sincerely yours,
CLARENCE POE, President and Editor.
THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA,
Chapel Hill, March 2, 1935. Senator JOHN H. BANKHEAD, United States Senate Office Building,
Washington, D. C. MY DEAR SENATOR: I am in receipt of your communication of February 28, inviting me to appear before the Senate Committee on Agriculture to speak on your bill to create the Farm Tenant Homes Corporation. Let me assure you that I sincerely appreciate your invitation and would accept for the fact that I have been confined to my bed with influenza for a week. I am certain that I will not be able to make a trip for several days.
I received a copy of this bill from you a little over a week ago and studied it carefully. I would have written you earlier except for my sudden illness.
I wish to say that I heartily approve of this bill. The tenant farmer, especially the tenant farmer of the South, hasn't missed much of being the forgotten man in all of the agricultural legislation that has been passed up to date. I believe that it is generally agreed that he has not gotten an even break in the Agricultural Adjustment Administration. The various credit acts that have been passed by Congress which were finally coordinated under the Agricultural Credit Administration in 1933 gave little or no consideration to the great mass of landless people in the South. I am speaking particularly of the cropper tenant.
It has been my opinion for a good many years that the greatest social economic problem of the South is the problem of farm tenancy. I have often said that the South cannot develop a high type of rural civilization with an overwhelming mass of tenants, especially of the cropper type. Your bill offers the first major attempt on the part of any unit of government in this country, Federal or State, to convert worthwhile tenant farmers into farm owners. As you well know, practically every civilized country in the world has worked out and initiated land settlement programs designed to convert the landless man into a farm owner. These countries have been so successful with their programs' until at the present time the United States has almost the highest tenant ratio in the world, and the South has much the highest ratio in the United States.
I think that it is safe to say that the tenant situation in the South today is about as bad as can be found in any important agricultural region in the world, and it appears to be getting worse instead of better. I believe that there is no group of people in the United States whose standard of living is as low as that of the cropper tenants of the South or whose outlook for the future is so hopeless. And these tenants are not mainly Negroes as is often assumed but considerably more than half of them are white people.
A very large share of the Federal relief funds that have been spent in the South during the last 2 years has gone to the tenant farmers. This enormous expenditure has given them relief but relief of a temporary sort only. Your bill will make, landowners out of scores of thousands of tenants and will, therefore, offer relief of a permanent sort.
Since the Civil War the South has been blighted by the curse of excessive tenancy of the worst kind found anywhere in this country. The tenant rate has increased practically every decade since the Civil War and would have increased much more rapidly except that hundreds of thousands of tenants have escaped to the cities or have been driven out by the boll weevil. Few tenants within recent years have found it possible to rise into ownership of their farms.