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and have for many many years been earnestly and honestly and conscientiously working to promote the agricultural welfare of the Southeast.
I wish to explain that for the past 10 years I have been an active member of a group of representative men of the Southeastern States who during the past two presidential administrations endeavored to secure the passage of a bill that would provide for the establishment of some southern farm settlements as demonstrations of financing methods that would enable experienced farmers of the tenant class, and others, to purchase farms and make them pay for themselves.
The chairman has referred to Secretary Roper's statement in regard to that effort in 1926 when he was a member of that committee. I was in touch with that and have been ever since.
Some of my fellow workers in this attempt were more particularly impressed with the value of the proposed settlements as demonstrations of model farming which would aid in improving the farm practices of the Southeast.
I would like to make it clear that while I believed with my fellow workers that the proposed settlements of men of proven farm experience and the character and will to succeed, under proper supervision, would be marvelous demonstrations of proper farming systems for our region, which would greatly encourage the adoption of better practices; and that they would also be unusual opportunities to demonstrate the value of rural cooperation in production, marketing, buying of supplies, and all the benefits of social community effort; I felt their chief value would be the demonstration of proper financing which would give deserving farmers with an ambition for farm ownership such easy terms of payment as would enable them to win through.
Private capital has developed a successful system of easy payments for the purchase of urban homes; but the average investment necessary for a farm is so much larger than for a city house and lot, and the source of income from which farm payments could be made is so different, that I felt we needed demonstrations by our Federal Government to prove to private capital that under proper conditions experienced farmers could pay out on their farm purchases and might be financed with safety.
I believed that a group of farmers who were all striving to attain ownership, if located together in a settlement where they could have the benefit of mutual cooperation and competent supervision, could individually offer better security for the money invested than individual farm purchasers scattered here and there.
But Senate bill 1800 proposes to give scattered individuals the opportunities that I thought would have to be offered to farmers in groups, and I believe will solve the problem of increasing farm tenancy and lead the way toward establishing agriculture on a foundation of land ownership that will insure the future agricultural prosperity of this country.
In closing I wish to state that the Association of Southern Agricultural Workers is an organization that takes in all of the agricultural college, agricultural experiment station, and extension forces, and representatives of commercial organizations like myself, who
have been working for better agricultural conditions in the Southern States. I would like to read into the record the following resolution passed by the Association of Southern Agricultural Workers : RESOLUTION PASSED BY ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHERN AGRICULTURAL WORKERS, IN
CONVENTION AT MEMPHIS, TENN., FEBRUARY 3, 1934 Whereas the Association of Southern Agricultural Workers, collectively and individually, know from their own contact and experience that while the ambition to own a farm is still alive the achievement of that ambition is unusual and becoming more so every year.
We know that the development of our present system of agriculture is due almost entirely to the practice of getting the desire to farm, plus the ability to do so and the willingness to work hard, against the value of the land.
We know that farm tenancy is steadily increasing, particularly in the South, while the possibilities of winning through to ownership are as steadily diminishing; and we consider this situation a serious menace for the future of southern agriculture.
We know that other nations, particularly in Europe, have recognized this danger and have expended vast sums and effort to encourage farm ownership.
We realize how increasingly difficult it is becoming for farm-minded men to acquire the stake necessary for the usually required initial payment in the purchase of a farm.
We feel that the present plan for loans to aid farmers to keep their farms is a recognition of the value of farm ownership to the welfare of the Nation.
Therefore, we believe it right and proper for this association to suggest the doing of something to encourage and aid that class of farmers who seem to have been overlooked. These men of farming ability, upon whose attainment of their ambition for farm owning depends the future development of agriculture in this country.
It is believed that, given a fair deal in the matter of price and purchase terms, the obligations of a group of such men, all working for the same purpose and making use of all the benefits of cooperative community effort ; that the obligations of such men will furnish adequate security for the investment of the large amounts of private capital necessary to finance them.
All that is needed or expected of our Government is to finance and conduct some demonstrations that will prove the needs of farm-minded men who can furnish proof of ability as farmers may be safely and profitably financed by private capital.
Once this is done our Government may properly withdraw to an attitude of encouragement in an advisory capacity only.
I would add that since our committee was extended at Atlanta, President J. R. Ricks, of the Association of Southern Agricultural Workers, who is dean of the agricultural college and the director of both extension work and the experiment station in Mississippi, appointed as the two additional members of our committee, Director of Extension Harry L. Brown, of Georgia; and dean of the Agricultural College and Director of Extension I. O. Schaub, of North Carolina. As these appointments were made only last week, our committee has had no opportunity to meet before this hearing came úp, but the president and other members of the executive committee of the Association of Southern Agricultural Workers have authorized me to appear as chairman to make this statement of our belief in the purposes of the Farm Tenant Homes Act of 1935, and our hope for its early passage.
The resolution continues :
Whereas be it resolved, That this association go on record as believing it right and proper for us to bring this matter to the attention of our present Federal administration, either through the appointment of a committee to at least prepare and forward resolutions making such suggestions to the Governor of the Farm Credit Administration, the Secretary of Agriculture, and the President of the United States; or by authorizing such committee to represent our association in personally submitting these ideas to the Government officials named.
This is the vision as we saw it a year ago when we met in Memphis.
I thank you.
Senator BANKHEAD. Thank you, Mr. Jackson.
(Whereupon, at 12:15 p. m., the subcommittee recessed until 2:30 p. m. this day.)
The subcommittee reassembled, pursuant to recess, at 2:30 p. m., Senator John H. Bankhead presiding.
Senator BANKHEAD. Mr. Rankin, please come around. State your name and your business. STATEMENT OF B. K. RANKIN, EDITOR AND PUBLISHER OF THE
SOUTHERN AGRICULTURIST, NASHVILLE, TENN. Mr. RANKIN. My name is B. K. Rankin, and I am editor and publisher of the Southern Agriculturist, Nashville, Tenn.
Senator BANKHEAD. Mr. Rankin, you are familiar with the bill under consideration here?
Mr. RANKIN. Yes, sir; I have read it.
Senator BANKHEAD. We will be glad to have your comments upon it, your suggestions, and any information which you want to give us. Mr. RANKIN. Senator, may I stand in addressing you? Senator BANKHEAD. Certainly, sir. Do as you like. Mr. RANKIN. I like to stand.
My interest in this matter is not new. As editor of a publication which reaches 800,000 homes all over the Southern States, I have given thought and effort along these lines extending back several years, and for the year just passed, I do not think we have had a single issue in which we have not had an editorial headed “ Every farmer a landowner." It has got to be so much of a hobby of mine that people know what I am going to talk about within 5 minutes after I have met them. The conception I have of the matter is something entirely apart from the lease idea, but that the Government shall be something of a big brother to the type of person who can take care of himself. We have all over the South, and I am sure it is also true in other parts of the country, a large number of tenant farmers, share-croppers, and even some laborers, who in themselves are excellent farmers, and if given the proper opportunity would become independent upstanding citizens. To me this whole subject is more a human document than a business matter or even what we have been accustomed to term a matter of relief.
Right now I have on my desk dozens of letters written in, frequently by the wife of a man who is asking the procedure by which they could become landowners. I don't think any argument is necessary to convince anybody that a landowner, a home owner, is a better citizen than the shiftless gypsy type of person that is produced by tenancy and the so-called "share-cropping” system. I had not read this particular measure until I was on the train com
ing to Washington but it seems to me to cover practically every point that I had thought of and had suggested to me.
I like it particularly because of its breadth. In certain respects it is as wide open as a bootjack. We are embarking upon an effort that necessarily shall involve a lot of cutting and trying. Any effort to limit the authority of the men who will have the administration of this measure would in my opinion be a mistake.
I am also pleased by the fact that after being in Washington and having talked to a good many people that I have yet to find the first opposing voice. I would say that I have interviewed a dozen Senators, some of them friends of long standing and some of them men to whom I simply introduced myself. Some of them did not know anything about the matter, and some of them did know about it, but after I finished talking to them, there was not one but said, “I don't see how I could oppose it.” That statement embraces Senators from the industrial States of the East and from the South, the Middle West, and the far West.
In addition to that I have talked to people in the Department of Agriculture and I understand that the Secretary this morning gave his very hearty endorsement to the whole plan. I have not seen him, but I have seen other men high in the Department there and as I say I have yet to meet any opposition to this bill.
Of all the measures that have been proposed under this present administration for rehabilitation or relief, this is the only genuinely self-liquidating one. Since I was here in Washington a week ago, I have been to New York and I tried the idea out purposely on a number of important business men there, men whose pocketbooks would be affected by any form of new taxation. The first question they would ask was, “ How much is this going to cost me, frankly?' I said, “This is one thing that is not going to cost you anything. It is going to make new customers for you. It is going to make better customers for you.'
From the standpoint of the people in the communities where this thing will operate, you can see very readily that this is one measure that injures nobody.
Senator POPE. Mr. Rankin, do you anticipate any opposition on the ground that it creates a new bureau or board or organization here to be paid for by the public, adding to what some people think are already too many such organizations? I am in thorough sympathy with the bill, I will say that, and with your point of view, but I am just anticipating objections. Do you think that that objection will be made ?
Mr. RANKIN. That is the first objection that these men in New York raised but when you go ahead and show them that the thing is not really going to cost anything, that we except it to be selfliquidating and pay its own way, why, that fear is dissipated.
Senator POPE. They are not opposed to bureaucracy very much if they don't have to pay anything?
Nr. RANKIN. That is the point exactly. I don't know whether you gentlemen have felt out the method of administering this act, but I am going to give you my idea of how I think it should be done. I think it should be handled through the division of extension, because you have the machinery already there. You have got to have local boards. You have got to have
some local supervision. My own idea would be that you would make no loan in a county that wasn't up-and-coming enough to organize a board and serve without salary. The only salaried man would be the county agent, I would say, in the local community, The simple reason is that the local banker, the local merchant, and the extension workers would welcome this thing because it is going to lift the whole community.
Senator POPE. To what extent would you say in your experience that this money would be paid back by those tenant farmers who buy land?
Mr. RANKIN. The only measure that I know to apply to that is the experience of the crop loans and my information is that the repayments on those have been splendid, running in some places as high as 98 and 99 percent, and maybe even a 100 percent, though I don't know.
Senator POPE. That is probably exclusive of the drought regions? Mr. RANKIN. Yes. I am talking about the crop loans.
Senator BANKHEAD. In that connection, Mr. Rankin, do you not think that a program of this sort which has permanent assets behind the loan, the land, the improvements to the land, would be a more secure loan and there would be less percentage of loss than on
Mr. RANKIN. I certainly do. It seems to me that our whole Government rests on the land, that that is the basis of the whole thing.
I was discussing that with Mr. McRae this morning. Mr. McRae has had wide experience in the handling of land and he is of the opinion—I think I quote you correctly, Mr. McRae—that the thing is safe?
Mr. Hugh McRAE. I think it is self-liquidating.
Senator Poře. Do you have some idea as to the limit of the amount of land that would be sold in your locality, say, where you are familiar with the land and its productivity ?
Senator BANKHEAD. You mean the quality of the land?
Senator POPE. Yes. What would you say as to your locality, Mr. Rankin?
Mr. RANKIN. I could not answer that definitely. I have not given that very much thought. In general the bill specifies, and I am in thorough sympathy with it, that the land that is used shall be land that is already cultivated land. There is no intention, as I understand it, to bring new land into cultivation.
Senator POPE. I was wondering if you had thought of a limit on the number of acres that might be sold to the individual farmer, whether or not that should be fixed ?
Mr. RANKIN. That would vary with the character of farming very much. For instance, in cotton and tobacco, a man can make so much on 3 to 5 acres. In wheat, he could not do it. I was discussing that very subject with Senator Capper, who happens to be in the same business that I am and who is an old friend of mine. The first thing he said was, “ Well, how will that affect us out in Kansas ?" I said, “Senator, it is very evident that this thing fits this cotton and tobacco like a glove, but how many farmers have you got out in Kansas who don't raise wheat?" He said, “I haven't