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The major need to insure an efficient, satisfying, and wholesome rural civili zation in the South, and in the United States for that matter, is home and farm ownership. There is little hope for the rural South under the present situation. Your bill gets at the tap root of the social economic ills of the South, and I certainly hope that it will be enacted into law. If 75 or 80 percent of the farmers of the South owned their homes and farms, the South could develop a rural civilization that would compare favorably with that of any region the world. Sincerely yours,
S. H. HOBBS, Jr.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
BUREAU OF RECLAMATION,
Washington, March 6, 1935. Hon, John H. BANKHEAD,
United States Senate. DEAR SENATOR BANKHEAD: I am writing you to express my regret at not being able to be present at the hearing on your bill S. 1800, and my belief that an improvement in the condition of farm tenants is one of the fundamental needs of American agriculture.
So long as this country had a great area of fertile public land which could be homesteaded, the tenant always had an escape from conditions which were unsatisfactory. Now that that land has disappeared we must provide an escape for unfortunate tenants by means of credit and more enlightened rental policies.
What good laws for the protection of the tenant can do is shown by the agriculture of Scotland. There, instead of a yearly rental, the normal rental period is 20 years. A tenant holding a farm for that length of time has a sense of security approaching ownership. He has an incentive to maintain and increase fertility, and under the Scotch laws if he does improve the farm that gives him an added claim for renewal or compensation for betterments if there is no renewal.
The board which your bill sets up would be in a position to bring about reforms in rental practices and in increased opportunities for ownership which are now sorely needed. Sincerely yours,
ELWOOD MEAD, Commissioner.
(Senator Bankhead submitted the following table showing the city and farm percentage of population in 1900 and 1930 in the Southeastern States:)
City and farm percentage of population, 1900 and 1930
(Secretary Daniel C. Roper submitted to the committee a report made by the committee of special advisers on reclamation and rural development appointed by Hon. Hubert Work, Secretary of the Interior, Nov. 9, 1926. The committee was composed of Howard Elliott, Daniel C. Roper, and George Soule. The investigation was made in the southeastern States. The report of the special advisers contains the following statement:)
The investigation made under your direction makes it clear that the loss of country population has been great in the South in the past 5 years—so much so as to be a matter of grave concern, since it is a symptom of maladjusted agriculture. What is true in these Southern States is broadly true of the Nation as a whole.
In view of the fact that from the country has always come a goodly proportion of sturdy men and women who have been potential in making the United States the great Nation that it is, this important drift from the country deserves the thoughtful consideration of our statesmen and publicists.
The problem is national and is economic and social as well as agricultural. It is so varied and complex, so deep-rooted, and so interwoven with other national and international problems, that it is incapable of quick and easy solution.
No single specific will solve it. Nevertheless, it is incumbent upon all who are in positions of responsibility to plan as well as they may, with a long future in view, so that the agricultural situation and life on the farm may be improved.
It has taken a long time for present conditions to develop, and it will take a long time to restore a better balance between city and farm, between manufacturing, mining, transportation, and agriculture in its many forms. Yet to bring this about is now one of the paramount tasks of the Nation.
In consideration, therefore, of the future welfare of the country, and of the South as an important part of it, it is well to direct attention to this situation. All parts of the country and all classes of people are more closely tied together in these days of quick communication and rapid transportation than ever before. For the farming regions and population to be unable for a long period to have reasonable living conditions and success for their toil, as compared with the towns and cities and those living in them, is not a healthy state, and in time will react on all. What to do to improve the situation is a national problem.
There was included in the report of the special advisers a table compiled by Dr. W. W. Long, Clemson Agricultural College, Clemson, S. C., showing the rates of interest and terms of payments granted by foreign countries to land settlers. That table is as follows:
Senator BANKHEAD. I think we had better quit until morning. We will adjourn until 10 o'clock tomorrow morning:
(Whereupon at 4:30 o'clock the committee adjourned to meet tomorrow, Wednesday morning, Mar. 6, 1935, at 10 o'clock.)