« PreviousContinue »
and no naked people or people going around in rags can it be said that too much has been produced.
I hope, therefore, that you may be able to work out an adequate farm relief measure but I feel confident that if you will give due consideration to the provisions of the present measure you will find that it is economically unsound, difficult of administration, and doubtful if not practically of no value to the farmer. In fact, in my own mind, I think it will produce a greater disaster than any that the farmer has experienced in the past. The hog producers want hogs left out of this bill.
Now I speak with authority on that. I have interviewed a great many farmers in our community and I haven't yet talked with one farmer that is favorable.
Secretary Wallace stated last week that this bill is an experiment. If it is the desire of the Secretary of Agriculture to experiment, I trust that you will not permit him to experiment with hogs. If you wish to help the farmer it can be done in three ways-lower governmental expenses, lower our taxes, and give us relief with our mortgages. And I think we will go along. That is my story.
Senator Norris. You haven't any other remedy for farm relief except those three you suggested?
Mr. STREETER. That is all I have to suggest, Senator.
Senator Norris. You think that would bring prosperity to the farmer?
Mr. STREETER. It will be a wonderful help.
Senator Norris. In the first place, you realize, I presume, that so far as Congress is concerned, the reduction of taxes to the farmer would be a very small item. Most of his taxes come from local taxation, State taxation, county, and municipality, and so forth?
Mr. STREETER. Yes.
Senator NORRIS. So far as we are concerned, your method is confined to two remedies?
Mr. STREETER. Yes; I think that is true, as far as you can go with it here.
Senator Norris. One way would be to try to lower the interest rate of the mortgage indebtedness?
Mr. STREETER. That would help wonderfully.
Senator Norris. You realize that on that we are terribly handicapped; we can't compel a man holding a mortgage to cut it down, and neither I presume could a State under our Constitution?
Mr. STREETER. If you start right here in Washington, Senator, and show the people where you are going to cut expenses and costs, I believe it will continue right along the line clear down to the farmer. I think the mortgage holder will also fall in line and be more lenient.
Senator Norris. I think that is true, and as I understand it, Congress will try to do that before this session is over and probably have such an amendment on this very bill when it is passed; but I don't want anyone to get the idea that that road is free from difficulties and some impossibilities probably, because we would be at the mercy of the mortgage holder. It would have to make it to his interest to compromise or he wouldn't do it.
Mr. STREETER. Yes; but I believe that if the mortgage holder feels that the farmer is gaining a little, eventually he is going to be able to reduce or pay off that mortgage.
Senator NORRIS. Do you think the farmer can get out unless he can get higher prices for his commodity, even if all the mortgages were cut in two and the interest cut in two? He coundn't get out, could he, unless there was some method brought about so that he could get a higher price?
Mr. STREETER. I have serious doubts. I would like to say this, there is quite a different feeling, Senator, among the farmers in the last two weeks. Two weeks ago I went out to buy some corn. There is lots of corn in the country but they didn't want to sell, everyone of them, you would think they had gotten together.
Senator NORRIS. What price were you offering?
Senator NORRIS. You couldn't blame a farmer for not wanting to sell his corn for 15 cents?
Mr. STREETER. Oh, no; it would be selling it at a loss. But that was all it was worth to ship it.
Senator NORRIS. Before that farmer can pay off that mortgage, if you reduce it, wipe it out entirely and forgive it, which is an impossible thing and we can't expect that
Mr. STREETER. No.
Senator NORRIS. You have got to let him get more than 15 cents for corn?
Mr. STREETER. Absolutely.
Senator NORRIS. If he didn't owe anything on his farm, he couldn't live and pay his taxes?
Mr. STREETER. You are absolutely right.
Senator NORRIS. Then it seems to me that another one of your remedies almost disappears. It would help some, I concede, but it wouldn't save this situation. Then you have got nothing left of your remedies except that of reducing governmental expenses here, salaries and so forth, and the consolidation of bureaus. That might help a little but it wouldn't be very much for the farmer, would it?
Mr. STREETER. Well, perhaps it would be more mental.
Senator KENDRICK. Pardon me, Senator. Mr. Streeter, is it not true that there is a widespread movement under way now on the part of the State and county and municipal governments to reduce their own taxes and put their financial houses in order to meet this very situation?
Mr. STREETER. That is being undertaken, Senator.
Senator KENDRICK. I hardly know a State that isn't reducing its budget of expense, many of tħem to the extent of a flat 25 percent reduction in the last legislature. Also, it is an interesting thing here to state that I saw corn sold in the Senator's State at 10 cents a bushel and bought thousands of bushels of it at that to feed cattle and those prople worked out of that somehow. It was a long time ago but there were lower prices than the present price on commodities.
Mr. STREETER. Of course we have seen lower prices.
Senator NORRIS. They may work out of this in time if they don't do anything, undoubtedly,
What would happen when the poultry and egg people were informed that a compensating tax would be placed on their produets? I don't see how you could enforce such a tax. There are thousands of little ranches all over the country selling poultry at the door. My sister operates that way in California. She sells a couple of hundred fryers a year to people driving in the yard. You couldn't collect a tax on those people. I don't know why you want to boom the poultry business at the expense of other parts of the meat business.
How are you going to prevent substitution of fish when the bill, on page 7, refers to any competing agricultural commodity? Mr. Loomis made some suggestions about the language of the bill last night but if you are going to include meat in this bill, it seems to me you ought to take out the word “agricultural” on page 7 and also the same language is used on pages 15 and 16 in 5 or 6 places. Fish isn't a competing agricultural commodity but it is a competing commodity. Unless you take out the word “agricultural,” 'I don't see how you could get any application to fish.
I have received several unsolicited wires from our affiliated organizations in the West, since reaching Washington, every one protesting against the inclusion of cattle in this bill. I am not going to offer them in my limited time. These have come from New Mexico, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming, and I have been in contact, before coming East, with stockmen from other States adjoining, and the feeling is very strong against the inclusion of cattle. We realize fully the seriousness of cattle. We realize fully the seriousness of the situation. We know that more cows in the country mean more calves, and that meat consumption must be increased and not decreased. We can conceive of no industry where it would be more difficult to control production under the working of this law than the livestock industry. Land may lie fallow without protest, but the processes of increase or decrease in production of cattle in particular are slower and more difficult.
There are some things that can be done to help the situation, such as shutting off the huge imports of foreign oils—there is more than a billion pounds of oil imported into this country annually-which come in competition with our fats. Our association has pleaded for 25 years for an adequate tariff on hides and has been repeatedly denied. We do not see in this bill any method of controlling the imports of these raw materials which are serious indeed. There seems no application to the compounds made of cottonseed oil which come in competition with hog and beef fats. Give us such assistance as you can in the ways I have mentioned, and I believe it is the consensus of opinion of Western cattlemen today that they will continue to fight their own battles and to hope that artificial measures of this kind will not later have to be applied to our commodity.
Senator NORRIS. Referring to your reference to freight rates, I wish you would elucidate a little more. You spoke of freight being
. paid several times. Give us an illustration.
Mr. Mollin. The South is the long-time breeding ground. Cattle are moved from the South up possibly through the Denver market to ranges in Nebraska or Wyoming or Montana or South Dakota. A
A great many of the sand hill operators in your State, Senator, don't have cow herds. They buy young steers in Texas, then they may move from western Nebraska down to a feed lot in eastern Nebraska or Iowa or Illinois, or they may even go on down there and go to somebody that is buying stock cattle and let them run a year or two. There might be still a third movement before they go into the feed lots. Then they go into Chicago as fat cattle. Then the finished product is distributed from Chicago throughout the East.
Senator NORRIS. Have you ever in a particular instance made a computation to show just how much transportation there was in a beefsteak in New York City?
Mr. Mollin. No, I haven't, Senator.
Senator NORRIS. There would be more than the ordinary person thinks of, wouldn't there?
Mr. Mollin. Yes, sir; it would be very startling. I do know that some of our stockmen who testified in this recent hearing in Denver on sale and transit complained that on shipments to Kansas City the marketing charges last fall were almost a third of the gross. That was on mixed cows.
Senator NORRIS. That beefsteak probably first started away down in southern Texas?
Mr. MOLLIN. Yes.
Senator Norris. And from Wyoming it was shipped again to eastern Nebraska, probably?
Mr. Mollin. Yes, sir.
Senator Norris. And from there it was shipped to Chicago, where it was killed?
Mr. MOLLIN. Yes.
Mr. MOLLIN. Yes. Then there might be another movement yet before it got to some town in New York.
Senator NORRIS. Exactly. So as a matter of fact while Congress hasn't given it any consideration and the great bulk of men interested in it like your organization and the farmers generally don't appreciate how much transportation there is in these farm products from the time they originate until they reach the consumer
Mr. Mollin. Yes, sir; that is true.
Senator NORRIS (continuing). It is one of the important things involved in it?
Mr. Mollin. One of the most important.
Senator NORRIS. But we don't find anybody or very many people at least saying anything about it?
Mr. Mollin. Well, we have petitioned for lower rates and reopened docket 17000 which was just decided recently and now we have just gone back to the Commission and petitioned for a general decrease. I don't think there is any single thing that could be done today that would do more to start the wheels of commerce going than to reduce those freight rates.
Senator NORRIS. I know it will help very materially. You and I may have an exaggerated idea of its importance but it is very important and very material and doesn't receive very much attention.
Senator KENDRICK. Is it not true, Mr. Mollin, that your association has made fruitless efforts to reduce the charges in the yards on the movement of livestock?
Mr. Mollin. The marketing charges?
Mr. Mollin. Well, we haven't gotten any place with yardage charges but the Commission charges have been quite generally reduced in the past 2 years under the operation of Packers and Stockyards Act.
Senator KENDRICK. Are there not also abuses at the present time in the charges for feed and forage and grain in the yards?
Mr. Mollin. Yes. That is a peculiar situation, Senator. Corn has gone down so low that the margin that the packers and the stockyard administration allowed of 40 cents when they made some of these decisions a year or two ago is now out of line. That as a handling charge for corn didn't look so bad when corn was a higher price but now when corn is 10 cents a bushel and the Packers and Stockyards Act allows 40 cents, it is out of line. I think there are greater abuses in outlying feed yards than in the marketing centers. There have been numerous reductions in feed charges.
Senator KENDRICK. May I ask the margin between the cost of forage and hay on the farm nearby the stockyard and the price charged in the stockyards?
Mr. MOLLIN. The Department is allowing ten to twelve dollars a ton as a margin over the delivered cost. Of course, you know the system there is pretty expensive. People call up and they want hay right then and they have to have men there to deliver it. They allow ten to twelve dollars margin, but there have been three or four reductions on feed charges at most of the markets. However, with this almost valueless condition of farm commodities, they still look high, but most of it is handling charge. In the outlying feed points, railroad operated, the sky is the limit in some places.
Senator CAPPER. Mr. Mollin, you made a very strong statement, particularly from the standpoint of the buying feeders and shippers and those who are engaged in the livestock industry on a large scale. The typical Kansas farmer is one who has a quarter section of land and some steers and cows and a bunch of pigs. I am wondering whether
you feel that you speak the wishes also of that man. I don't doubt that you speak for those men engaged in the livestock industry in a larger way. I wonder if you feel that you speak for the small farmer who I say has got just a small herd of cows and steers and some pigs and whether your stand would be to his interest?
Mr. Mollin. I don't pretend to speak for the small farmer. They don't belong to our association, and I would rather that you took your cue from their own representatives. I have told you what I think about the general application of the bill as a general proposition to meet. We think that cattle and sheep should certainly be eliminated from the bill. What worries us about it is that provision for compensating taxes. If you leave hogs in, are you going to put compensating taxes on beef and lamb? We have got this increased production in cattle and this year and next year we know we have got to eat more beef in this country. It has got to be eaten. So if there is anything done here artificially to tend to retard consumption, we will be in an awful jam.
Senator KENDRICK. I think you have given a wrong impression as to your association. As I size it up, your association is one of many members. Your membership includes how many?