« PreviousContinue »
· Then after the war, in 1921, 1922, 1923, and up to 1929 it was again almost equal to your valley counties in production. Since 1929 they have not had anything. They have had crop years, but Canada's grasshoppers came over the line and swept the crop clean in 1932, The grasshoppers have reproduced very well in North Dakota, and the counties along that border in that particular area, with fine soil and great productive ability have been completely out of the game since 1929, and not produced anything at all, part of the time due to drought and part of the time due to the scourge of grasshoppers.
The southwestern part of the State. I have in mind Adams County, Senator, for years considered one of our best wealth-producing counties of the State, and they likewise have been so unfortunate that if a base period less than 15 years were used for the purpose of finding the proper rate for premiums of insurance they would be out of it entirely. That applies, as I say, to not less than 15, and I will say nearer 25 counties in my State.
Added to this, I would be derelict in my duty to the farmers of my State, and also of eastern Montana, if I did not bring to the committee's attention the fact that our legislature passed a joint resolution asking for a 15-year base period. That is another reason I should have it in the record, and I understand that Montana, whose witnesses will testify here, passed a resolution for not less than 10 years as a base period, for the benefit of eastern Montana.
Senator POPE. I understand also that the Governor has issued a proclamation calling for a crop insurance day in North Dakota.
Mr. TALBOTT. Yes; in Montana. Governor Ayers, of Montana.
Senator SCHWELLENBACH. Doesn't this bill cover it as well as we can in a bill, on page 7, line 17: "for a representative base period subject to such adjustments as the Board may prescribe.” · Mr. TALBOTT. That is right. I said in opening my remarks that I did not want to give this testimony for the purpose of writing it into the law, but for the purpose of information for the committee, who will have to carry this legislation through Congress, and I think it is vital, and I feel, as I say, that I would be derelict, in my duty to my people if I did not bring these things to the attention of the committee. Of course, Senator Frazier, who is a member of this committee, knows of the facts that we have, and will no doubt bring them into the discussions that will no doubt be had on the legislation.
Senator POPE. I think that will be helpful to the board of directors of the Corporation in considering this matter. Of course, the testimony has appeared that they do not have accurate individual production records back of, say, 5 or 6 years, but they do have the power to adjust, to the best of their ability, the actual production back of that time.
Mr. TALBOTT. Let me say, Senator, that that may be true in-of course, the people who draw this bill must have a national picture, naturally. So far as North Dakota is concerned, Senator, we can go to the assessors' records and get a fair average production for the last 20 or 30 years, so that does not apply. We never had the Government conscious of these records until the triple A act was passed. Then they began to use them for the purpose of triple A performance. But so far as our State is concerned-and I think you will find that true in some other States—there is available now records that are as accurate as any records you could very well get.
Senator POPE. Would those records be as to individual farms?
Mr. TALBOTT. Oh, yes; absolutely. You see, the assessor took the production and the number of acres and all of those things over a period of years in the State of North Dakota. I am not sure, however, as to how many States that condition will be found to be true. I know that is not true in all cases but it is in the case of North Dakota. I am not sure whether the regulations would permit the board, the operating agency, to discriminate as to the base period as between States. It seems to me that it would be sensible and practical if such could be done, but in my candid judgment, Senator, the vital floor and base for this legislation to become practical and equitable to everybody is that the longer the base period the more equity there will be in it for all regions. They cannot disadvantage any region by having the base period spread out a long distance, because in a short period you could just as easily catch a high surplus area, with the exception of the present past year, we will say—but a long period of time would average the base, you see, even in a surplus producing area where there were not crop failures, and with every crop failure there would still be a leveling out of production, so it would be uniform and a better, à sounder thing for everybody, including the Government, than to have a short period for a base.
Now, I think that is all I have to say, unless there are some questions. Senator POPE. Are there any questions? Mr. THATCHER. May I ask a question, Mr. Chairman? Senator POPE. Yes. Mr. THATCHER. Mr. Talbott, I think it would be helpful to the cause of the producers here if you would offer some testimony with reference to the attitude of your State organization on this matter, county organizations and the people over the State, the action over the State since this has become current news over the Nation.
Mr. TALBOTT. I should say for the record that immediately after this legislation was proposed, our farmers were highly elated with the thought that there would be such legislation, or could be, but constantly their fear has been that this base period would be narrowed up, because the Department was using a base of 6 years to figure out the actuarial figures on the proposed legislation, and I have been bombarded from the very time last fall that we began to discuss this in the way of legislation, and apparently the burden of the thought was only that the base period would not be uniform for everybody and give everybody an equal chance. However, they are almost 100 percent for this legislation, and I do not think you will find two farmers out of 100 in the State that are opposed to it, not even in the Red · River Valley, do you think, Senator?
Senator FRAZIER. No; I think practically all of them are for it.
Mr. TALBOTT. I want to repeat that the only fear, the only sentiment that I have found in opposition to the bill in any way—and not opposition to the legislation but the fear that the base period would be narrowed up so that it would not give everybody an opportunity to participate in the legislation. I think that is the same identical fear that has spread into Montana over the eastern half of the State. Otherwise I do not think there is any piece of legislation that has been proposed in Congress for agriculture that has had the uniform enthusiasm that has been shown for crop insurance and the ever normal granary, in my territory.
Senator FRAZIER. Along the line of the base period, there is another question that enters into the percentage, or the amount of insurance. On page 7 (reading]:
Such insurance shall not cover losses due to the neglect or malfesance of the producer. Such insurance shall cover a percentage, to be determined by the board, of the recorded or appraised average yield of wheat on the insured farm for a representative base period.
One of the men from the Department submitted a table here of average yields, and they stated that an average of 6 to 8 bushels per acre was about right. What is your opinion on that question?
Mr. TALBOTT. Well, it is easy to understand how they found such a figure as that, Senator, because they used the 6-year period, and the drought area, comprising the major part of the wheat States is disadvantaged by figuring a 5- or 6-year base. Kansas probably in 1932 would raise their average a little higher than probably any other section. Maybe Oklahoma might come in in the same way. Maybe all three of the Southwestern States that one year having an abnormally high crop would raise their average level, but we did not have an abnormally high crop in 1932. You remember we just had probably a little better than an average crop, not much more than average, and the rest of that time in the Northwest, in eastern Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, during this base period from which those figures were taken the crop was almost a blank, or part of the Red River Valley. So that those figures are very far out of line. As a matter of fact, Senator, I think you will find in checking the assessors' records and all the available records we can get, that the average over a period of 15 or 20 years in North Dakota, and I will say for 50 years in North Dakota, if you will, that the average production of wheat has been approximately 11 bushels to the acre, the Statewide average, and we believe that if normal conditions return, as scientists tell us they will, that we will in the future come back to that average, and I think we are safe in using a long period to base premiums on, because we are due to come to such a cycle, and inevitably we are getting closer to a cycle of more production all the time.
Senator FRAZIER. We hope so, at least.
Mr. TALBOTT. That is a natural belief. Otherwise we might just as well begin putting the bows on the wagon and start moving.
Senator POPE. Some of them have done that. Mr. TALBOTT. I am sorry to say that we have lost a lot of mighty fine farmers from our State because of that.
Senator FRAZIER. Under the law of averages the drought areas are entitled to several good crops, it seems to me.
Mr. TALBOTT. Yes. Of course, we have a lot of fun about it and joke about it, but seriously that is a fact, that the worst period we can take for actuarial figures in figuring the premium base is the last 5 years.
Senator FRAZIER. You spoke of Bottineau County. I have in my office a picture of the grain elevators at West Hope in that county just before the World War, when they held the world's record as the largest primary wheat market, and Bottineau County held the State record for 5 years straight in that time for production of wheat in the States, and in the last 5 or 6 years they have not produced wheat enough to feed their own people nor forage crops enough to feed their own livestock, and they have had to sell off half their cattle.
Mr. TALBOTheat to the acre.ishel wheat. Mirshel
Mr. TALBOTT. I remember Senator Magnussen produced over 50 bushels of wheat to the acre in Bottineau County. Probably you gentlemen never heard of 50-bushel wheat. Mr. Shumway ridicules the idea that North Dakota can produce 50 bushels of wheat on an acre, but we do that, have done that in Bottineau County, and that is the reason I picked that county in the beginning of my testimony, because it is an outstanding high-producing country when conditions are at all normal. But they have been unfortunate, as some of the other counties have in this period. So these figures here, while I have no quarrel with the actuaries, you understand—they have taken what they had and what was available, yet they are eminently out of line as a future base for collecting premiums. I am sure of that, but I don't want to criticize them because these are what they had before them.
Senator POPE. Thank you very much, Mr. Talbott. We are very glad to have had your statement.
Mr. THATCHER. The next witness will be Mr. Leo Doheny of Brady, Mont., member of the State board of the Farmers Union of Montana, speaking for that organization in support of this bill.
STATEMENT OF LEO DOHENY, BRADY, MONT., MEMBER OF THE . STATE BOARD OF THE FARMERS UNION OF MONTANA
Mr. DOHENY. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, I have just a few words to say. I will say that our wheat raisers of Montana have been dreaming of something like this bill. Over a term of years, 10 or 15 years, the farmers in our State have raised a lot of wheat. If it had been distributed out over the years with any fair prices at all they would not be in the fix they are in today, and that is why they think this crop insurance is going to help them, especially if you can hook it in with the ever-normal granary and spread it out over a term of years. - It is not only what they lose on the failure of the crop in that year; they probably would not have had as many poor years as they have had, only for that. They lose the crop. Then they have no money to properly work their ground with, and then along comes the next year and they have no moisture conserved at all, and he is out the next crop-year too, and that is why they are so greatly in favor of something of this kind, to give them some income every year, and I think, and we think, that if this was put into effect it would not be long till they would not have to have all these relief agencies pouring money into that section of the country the way they have been. All they have gotten out there for years in some sections is just what they could get out of the Government, seed loans, feed loans, resettlement grants, and what have you. And I do not think that condition would be there at the present time if we had had this crop insurance and ever-normal granary.
The farmer does not want grants; he does not want relief, unless it is absolutely necessary. It is no fault of his that these conditions have come about, and he is just as proud as the other fellow, and he don't like it.
Senator POPE. And don't you think that under such a program as this, where he felt that he had been paying his premiums and therefore was entitled to receive indemnities in case of drought, that he would feel better in his mind?
iven hopeless on things to the should. He
Mr. DonENY. He certainly would. He would feel a whole lot better. They have got to the stage now where—well, they have a different slant on things. They have been receiving it so long that it looks hopeless, and some of them, I will say, I think have practically given up. They have no place to go. They might as well stay there as go any place else, and it is a sad predicament they are in, because there are lots of families there that need medical care and cannot get it; they cannot send their children into town to go to high school because they haven't the wherewithal, and there has just got to be something done, and we think that this is one great step in the right direction, and as Mr. Talbott mentioned, our State organization has gone on record in favor of the crop insurance and ever normal granary idea. They also memoralized Congress here a week or 10 days ago, and as you know, the Government has issued a proclamation to make February 20 Crop Insurance and Ever Normal Granary Day.
So that is the picture and the sentiment of the people in our State, but as Mr. Talbott said, unless they get a base pretty much the same, a long-time base, there are 25 counties in our State that a big percentage of them just could not take out insurance. They just could not do it. Their base would be down. As I say, over a term of years they have produced a lot of wheat and it would give them a pretty good average if it had just been distributed out, or the income from that amount of wheat distributed out, over the years.
Senator Pope. In addition to taking as long a base period as possible, of course if this cycle had run and if crops now increase, very naturally that would have the effect of bringing up the average production upon which they would operate.
Mr. DOHENY. Yes; but it is the present base that they would get to receive benefits from. I hope we are running into another cycle of production of better wheat years.
Senator Pope. We all hope so.
Are there any questions? If not, we thank you very much, Mr. Doheny.
Mr. THATCHER. Our next witness, Mr. Chairman, will be Mr. D. L. Manning, from Great Falls, Mont., who is the representative in that State of a regional grain cooperative, the Farmers' Union Terminal Association, servicing some 250 cooperative grain elevators in the spring wheat area. Practically all of the cooperatives in Montana, grain cooperatives, are affiliated with that regional, and Mr. Manning represents the regional in relation to the farmers' elevators in Montana and the farmers generally, and he will testify to the desire of the farmers out there for such a program as we have before you.
STATEMENT OF D. L. MANNING, GREAT FALLS, MONT., REPRE
SENTING THE FARMERS' UNION TERMINAL ASSOCIATION Mr. MANNING. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee: In the group of elevators that Mr. Thatcher spoke of I presume there are some several thousand farmers who are stockholders. It has been my privilege over the past 6 or 7 or 8 years to meet with not only the board of directors of those elevators but untold numbers of the individual farmers, and during our visits the discussion of crop insurance alwars came up, and I want to state for the benefit of the committee that in the wheat-raising area, and particularly referring to Montana,