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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 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 them 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,
Mr. STREETER. I think so. I was talking to an old gentleman, a large shipper of livestock, and he said, “Charlie, these conditions right now are very similar to early in '71 or '72. The farmers all over this county brought in their hogs to your father, turned them over to him. There was no agreed price. Your father shipped those hogs to Chicago and farther East and he waited 6 months before he got his money from the packers. Then he got actual money, no checks or drafts, and he put it in his saddlebags and went around to these different farmers and paid them for their hogs. They grew out of that and became prosperous."
Senator NORRIS. That operation, while it was possible, was a hardship even then, but it would be an impossibility now?
Mr. STREETER. Oh, yes.
Senator NORRIS. You couldn't buy corn from these farmers and have them wait 6 months to get their pay?
Mr. STREETER. They can't wait.
Senator NORRIS. That is an impossibility. You might as well forget it.
The CHAIRMAN. We are much obliged to you, Mr. Streeter.
The CHAIRMAN. We will now hear Mr. Blalock, of the cooperative organization of North Carolina.
Mr. Blalock, please state your name, address, and occupation.
STATEMENT OF U. BENTON BLALOCK, GENERAL MANAGER OF
THE NORTH CAROLINA COTTON GROWERS COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATION AND PRESIDENT OF THE AMERICAN COTTON COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATION OF NEW ORLEANS, LA.
Mr. BLALOCK. My name is U. Benton Blalock. I am a cotton farmer, and general manager of the North Carolina Cotton Growers Cooperative Association and president of the American Cotton Cooperative Association of New Orleans, La.
Senator Thomas of Oklahoma. Where is your farm located?
Senator THOMAS of Oklahoma. You are a cotton farmer in the main?
Mr. BLALOCK. Yes, sir.
Senator THOMAS of Oklahoma. How much land have you planted to cotton ordinarily?
Mr. BlaLOCK. Ordinarily about 300 acres. I also raise livestock and fruits and grain. As an organization the American Cotton Cooperative Association is favoring the House agricultural bill for the following reasons: First, we believe it will not only be a real benefit to our more than 248,000 members of our association but it will be equally beneficial to all cotton producers. We stand for a speedy enactment into law of the bill because our planting season is now upon us, having already started in the lower part of the belt, and unless something is done to help us control acreage, we are threatened with a substantial increase in acreage over last year's acreage. The United States Department of Agriculture is not allowed to give out a report on intentions to plant on cotton but an authority, one we consider very reliable, was responsible for the estimate that the cotton acreage will be increased this year more than 7 percent over last year's acreage unless something is done and done speedily to help us hold it down.
We are supporting this bill because it is a nation-wide bill, having for its purpose the raising of price levels of nine of our basic farm commodities. The raising of price levels on the nine major crops will eventially reflect higher price levels on all other farm commodities.
We are backing this agricultural program because it is the agreedupon proposal of nearly all of the farm organizations and cooperative associations. Representatives of these farm groups met here in Washington some two weeks ago and after much serious consideration and discussion, uninfluenced by outside agencies, unanimously agreed that American agricultural conditions were so desperate and so acute that they should be treated as an emergency proposition and that the President of these United States and the Secretary of Agriculture should be given full authority and wide latitude to lift American agriculture out of its more than a decade of depression. We need a general agricultural bill, flexible enough to handle all basic commodities. A plan that will work on one commodity successfully might not work so successfully on another, but we cannot stop here, however. If we are to look to the rehabilitating of American agriculture as a way out of this general business depression, the farm-mortgage debt of this Nation must be refinanced on a lower interest rate and easier payments, and the almighty-sacred gold dollar that this Nation has worshipped so long and so devoutly must come down off its high pedestal or some other change made in our monetary system. It is absolutely unfair and impossible to expect the farmers of this Nation to meet their mortgage indebtedness and their tax payments so long as our American dollar can buy 4 or 5 times as much of the farmer's commodities as it did in normal times.
It was brought out in the testimony yesterday how in war times we encouraged and taught the American farmer to speed up his production as a patriotic duty. In my opinion, this is one of the causes for our having overproduction today. We taught the American farmer how to operate in high gear but have not taught him how to get back into low gear in production or even into intermediate. If the situation was not so tragic, it would be amusing to listen to some of the testimony in opposition to this bill. They all claim to want to help the farmer but it is quite noticeable that the remedies they proposed usually shift the burden to some other group: Reduce the value of farm mortgages, lower the interest rates, lower the freight rates, reduce the tariff, and above all, keep the Government out of "my business.
One of the doctors testifying yesterday claimed to represent a group of farmers. After viewing the patient, he was in favor of a policy of doing nothing, letting nature take its course. Following this course for the past several years has brought the farmer down to the condition where he is now paying 106 cents for what he is buying and receiving 46 cents for what he sells as compared to pre-war prices. We think it is high time to change the prescription if the patient is to live.
I read about the desperate plight of our western brother farmers, of their sufferings on account of low prices for their products, of their banding together in a Custer's-last-fight attitude to save their homes and farms from foreclosure, but the conditions of the cotton farmer of the South is a stern reality to me. I know that the landlords are unable to pay their mortgage indebtedness and that rents are not equal to taxes. I know that tenants have been reduced to mere serfs. I know that farm laborers with their measly daily wage of 40 cents a day cannot even buy the bare necessities of life for themselves and their families.
It is absurd to even think of still following a policy of letting nature take its course under conditions like these. We have a President in the White House, elected on a promise to give American agriculture a new deal. We believe he was sincere in making that promise. Give him the machinery as carried in this bill and we believe that the President will carry out his promise to American agriculture.
That concludes my statement, Mr. Chairman, with the exception that I would like to show just how we are stepping up in overproduction in cotton, and I would like to have some of these doctors to advise us where we are headed if we continue to let nature take its 'course.
In 1929, July 31, 1929, we had a carry-over of American cotton of 4,517,000 bales; July 31, 1930, that overproduction had stepped up to 6,187,000 bales; on July 31, 1931, it was 8,919,000 bales.
Senator Norris. That is the carry-over you are speaking of now?
Mr. BLALOCK. No, sir. It is estimated this year we will have something in the neighborhood of 13,000,000 bales carry-over.
Senator KENDRICK. Can you give us the annual consumption of cotton along with those figures?
Mr. BLALOCK. Yes, sir. Consumption of American cotton in the world by months
The CHAIRMAN (interposing). Have you the total by years?
The CHAIRMAN. In order to show this picture as it should be, it might be well to start back about '26 or maybe '25.
Mr. BLALOCK. 1926, the total consumption of American cotton in the world, starting with 1925–26 was 14,000,000 bales. I will give it to you in round numbers. The next year it was 15,748,000; 1927–28 15,576,000; 1928–29, 15,226,000; 1929–30, we dropped back to 13,000,000; 1930–31, and that is as far as I have the figures, we dropped to 11,113,000 bales.
The CHAIRMAN. And in '32?
Senator THOMAs of Oklahoma. How much cotton have we in the world at this time?
Mr. BLALOCK. I think I have a report issued by the Department of Commerce on March 20 on that, Senator.
Senator THOMAS of Oklahoma. How much cotton have we on hand in the world now, all the cotton in the world?
Mr. BLALOCK. I don't believe I have those figures before me, but we have in this country in public storage and in compresses and warehouses, according to the March 20 report of the Department of Commerce, 9,379,000 bales. That doesn't take into consideration that held abroad.
Senator NORRIs. In addition to that, as I understand your testimony, notwithstanding this enormous amount of cotton we have on