« PreviousContinue »
975. Amend act rel. to import duty on coffee imported into Puerto Rico.
TO PROVIDE FOR PROTECTION OF LAND RESOURCES AGAINST SOIL EROSION, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
MARCH 29, 1935.—Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the
state of the Union and ordered to be printed
Mr. JONES, from the Committee on Agriculture, submitted the
(To accompany H. R. 7054)
The Committee on Agriculture, to whom was referred the bill (H. R. 7054) to provide for the protection of land resources against soil erosion, and for other purposes, having considered the same, and hearings having been held by the Committee on Public Lands and the Committee on Agriculture, report thereon with a recommendation that it do pass with the following amendments:
Page 3, line 12, strike out the word "and" and the diagonal bar "?".
Page 3, line 13, strike out the diagonal bar“/” and the word “or”. Page 5, line 2, strike out the word "which".
Page 5, line 3, after the word “and” and preceding the word “shall” insert the words "the Secretary of Agriculture".
EXPLANATION OF THE BILL
The preamble, section 1, sets forth the objectives of the bill, outlines the basis for a Federal policy of erosion control, and provides that the Secretary of Agriculture shall direct and coordinate all Federal activities with relation to soil erosion. Unless soil erosion can be controlled on farm, grazing, and forest lands, the prosperity of the United States cannot be permanently maintained. Control of erosion is essential to prevent the wastage of soil, conserve water, control floods, prevent the silting of reservoirs, maintain the navigability of rivers and harbors, protect public lands, and to keep from Federal relief rolls the populations of regions threatened with abandonment. These aspects of the problem justify Federal responsibility for the carrying out a national erosion control program.
Subsection (1) of section I authorizes such surveys, investigations, and research as may be necessary for the purposes of the act, publication of the results thereof, the dissemination of information concern
ing proper methods of erosion control, and conduct of demonstration erosion-control projects. Surveys, investigations, and research are essential in order that the fundamental information may be gathered upon which effective erosion-control measures must necessarily be based. Authority is needed to publish the results and disseminate information as to methods of erosion control in order that all operators of land may be informed as to the best methods of protection from erosion. Authority to conduct demonstrational projects is required, so that the demonstrational program which has been inaugurated by the Soil Erosion Service may be expanded to cover all representative soil and climatic regions. These demonstration projects are considered essential and integral parts of the proposed program.
Subsection (2) of section I authorizes various types of preventive measures which are necessary to control erosion. The language of this subsection is necessarily sufficiently broad to permit an effective, balanced, and adaptable use of all known practical methods of erosion control and of any new measures which may be developed in the future.
Subsection (3) of section I authorizes agreements with, and financial or other aid to, any agency or any person, insofar as may be required for the purpose of controlling erosion. The agreements or aid would be subject to such conditions as may be deemed necessary and as are authorized by the act.
The aid authorized in this subsection will be necessary because, in general, the owner of private lands cannot bear the entire cost of controlling the erosion thereon. He has neither the technical knowledge nor the financial resources. Over tremendous areas, land destruction has proceeded to the point where it would be impossible to persuade or force the owners to assume the entire burden of control, nor would it be just to do so. Fundamentally, they have not been responsible for the erosion which has occurred. In the disposal of the public domain, settlers were encouraged to acquire the public lands and to cultivate them. With the transfer of ownership went no restrictions, instructions, or advice as to methods under which the land should be used in order to protect it from erosion.
Acting in good faith, the settlers used their land in the light of the best information available. Since it was not the initial fault o the settler that his land became subject to erosion, it would not be right to require him to bear the entire burden of repairing damage done or of preventing future damage. Furthermore, the interest of the Nation in controlling erosion far exceeds that of the private landowner. An individual may destroy his land, move away, obtain a position somewhere else, accumulate capital, and purchase new land. For the Nation, land destroyed is land gone forever. This drain on the national resource is not immediately fatal, but, if the destruction continues unchecked, the time will come when remaining land resources will be insufficient to support our population on an adequate standard of living. The cost to the Nation of such changes would be incalculable. Moreover, erosion directly threatens vast Federal investments in dams and channels and annually requires the expenditure of large sums for dredging operations. The only practical method of eliminating these hazards and costs is to control the erosion on private lands, and it would not be equitable to require the owner of these lands to make expenditures for the protection of Federal investments.