« 上一頁繼續 »
Mr. THOMPSON. That is my opinion, sir.
Mr. KING. Mr. Thompson, you referred in your speech to that condition being due to the constant production of surpluses. The potato business is not necessarily different from any other business. If the price is insufficient to maintain the present production, will not production adjust itself in this industry as well as any other industry due to the lack of credit, the lack of confidence of the fellow who has the dollar to invest or to speculate in the potato business?
Mr. THOMPSON. I think that is a fair statement.
Mr. KING. You do not really mean that this thing is bound to lead us back into Federal regulation of price, do you?
Mr. THOMPSON. No; I did not wish to infer that. If we are to have a free economy on potatoes competing with supported commodities, labor supported through their unions, we apparently face some real problems to adjust ourselves to the conditions. I am not antilabor either in my remarks.
The CHAIRMAN. My question suggested the thought that unless growers were able in some way, unless there was some machinery or some mechanics set up by which they could regulate their production and keep it somewhere within the field of supply and demand-of course, just here in Aroostook County would not do the job, it would have to be done in a national way—there were no hopes of building an industry. I understood you agreed with that statement generally?
Mr. THOMPSON. Yes, sir.
Mr. King. It is purely a question of what regulates the supply. It works the same in the rest of the sections of the country as it works here. If your business is poor and insufficient credit available to maintain the high production, it will adjust, will it not, all over the country as well as here?
Mr. THOMPSON. If you wish to carry it that far, to the point where it is a survival of the fittest, that may be the answer to it. Other than that, I would think that some regulation governing the production and the marketing must be available.
Mr. King. The only alternative to a free economy is socialism, is it not?
Mr. McINTIRE. We have to press on here. Thank you very much, Mr. Thompson. On behalf of the committee at this time, Mr. Thompson served as the chairman of our host committee while here in Aroostook, and I certainly want to express on behalf of the committee our appreciation for his efforts in arranging the period when the committee was visiting the county.
Our next witness is Mr. Lee Good, of Monticello, Maine. Mr. Good.
STATEMENT OF LEE GOOD, MONTICELLO, MAINE Mr. Good. My name is Lee Good, from Monticello, Maine, Aroostock County. I have been a potato raiser all my life, and have lived here almost 69 years. _ I probably have grown up with the industry here in this section. I can remember when we hewed the fields out of the forests. Our fathers worked from sunrise in the morning until dark at night. We made a State here and a county of which we are proud. It is probably one of the greatest in America.
This potato situation, I remember back when I was a kid lugging a basket on my arm with a little stick in it of 12 or 14 inches to measure the distance to plant the potatoes. The rows were made with an old piece of wood dragged along to make rows 3 feet apart or so, so that we could drop the potatoes and cover them with an old horse hoe and a horse hitched to the horse hoe.
I remember when we used to spread the fertilizer in a teaspoon to get the fertilizer along the potatoes. I then remember when we came along and bought the first planter which cost $35. Nowadays it costs over $1,000 to buy a potato planter. I remember back when people felt they were going to earn their living by the sweat of their face and went out to do that. Now we have reached a point where the potato industry is probably one of the greatest in America, probably second, we will say.
Going back to 1920, we had 130,000 acres in the State of Maine. In 1952 we had 200,000 acres in the State of Maine. Acreage today has dropped down to 145,000 acres. The reason we did that was because we felt that maybe the acreage was too high. The more we dropped in acreage, the more other States planted in acreage. When six other major commodities went on subsidies or support, their surplus land they put into potatoes, pushing Maine practically out of the business entirely. People say, "Why do you not cut down ?"
Looking at it from a reasonable standpoint, that would be right. But we can cut down until we do not raise a potato, and the rest of the United States can raise potatoes enough-all that the public can consume. Our average yield per acre in 1920 was 212 bushels per acre. Now our average yield-and this is in round figures is probably 450 bushels per acre. We have learned how to distribute the fertilizer; we do not have to distribute it with a spoon any more. We have learned how to take care of them. And when the new insecticides came into being, we do not have failure in all the States not only in Maine, but all the States, the leafhopper, aphid, and so forth. We can control them by this DDT. I remember when the Geiger Chemical Co. released a few barrels to be experimented with up here in Aroostook County. They came up with Dr. Ferguson from the chemical company, and he and I worked all summer and made 15 experimental tests and found that we had almost 100 percent control of aphid and leafhoppers. We were not worried then when we got a dry spell of their killing off our potatoes.
We are proud of the industry. We like to look at these fields, 50 and 75 acres in the field coming on; and when we can raise 50, 150, or 200 barrels to the acre we think it is prosperous. We feel that it is something that people should be proud of. The production has grown.
Now then, you will say, "Why is it that we are not consuming it?" I do not know. I know in 1920 we consumed 160 pounds of potatoes per capita. In 1952 we consumed 110 pounds. We have dropped off 50 pounds. Some people said it makes people fat. I do not believe that, and nobody else believes it. But nevertheless some people think it does.
We know that there is more population today than there was then, but nevertheless we have got this problem to cope with. We have it here before us. Someone says, “Why do you not make starch ?" In 1920 we produced 5,000 tons of starch in Aroostook County; and in 1950 we produced 45,000 tons of starch. I am of the opinion--and I am speaking personally now—that we can divert our offgrade potatoes probably into starch or something else, or what have you, whereby we might be able to take care of them. But I do not believe that the potato industry, whether it is in Maine or anywhere in the United States of America, with six other commodities supported and every other commodity supported and wages paid and organized and machinery paid and everything controlled, can exist without some kind of a control in some way, shape, or form, or subsidy-whatever you may call it. [Applause.]
If we are going to support one, let us support them all. Let us not have class legislation. If we are not going to support one, let us not support any. I think the potato industry will take its chance with any other commodity in America if we will only have a free hand and give us a chance to go alone. But you cannot tie the hands of one industry and turn the others loose or give the others support.
I know that there has been a great question about grading potatoes. I made a few recommendations here of my own. I talked them over with a few of the boys. I would just like to read a few of them here. Personally I believe that some Government control in some way, whether it be quotas or support price, should be enacted. I believe the McIntire bill should be passed immediately. Now, I will go a little further. I think it should have been passed. We have the 1932 amendment today: Money has been allocated by Congress to take care of this situation, and the potato industry cannot get a dollar of it in any way, shape, or form for diversion programs—that is, if I understand it correctly—or taking the offgrade potatoes off of the market or putting them into any diversion program, whether it is a Federal program, whether it is a starch program, school lunches, or whatever it may be.
I say that it is just dead wrong. The McIntire bill should have been passed, and we would have had something. You say, "Well, we will do it when we get back.” Maybe. But what is going to happen? Congress does not work in a minute. They have to have time to think it over and they have to analyze all of these things and they will not meet probably before January 1 anyhow. And this bill cannot possibly become of any use and service to us until after probably long in the spring, and this crop of potatoes which we are facing today, 375 million bushels, with Maine probably having 70 million—if this thing continues and nothing happens, we will probably get a 70million-bushel crop in the State of Maine. I
say here there will be thousands of barrels of potatoes that will never be dug if this protato price reaches a low level as it reached last spring. Here we had thousands and thousands of barrels of potatoes, and we could not sell them except for 75 cents a barrel—costing the producer $3 a barrel to raise them. I say the thing is dead wrong.
Now, then, getting back to another thing I want to call your attention to, that multi-million-dollar bill that was passed for the drought area. Every man is in favor of anything to help any other group of people. But what is the difference whether they call it an act of God, whether they have lost a certain amount of their cattle by drought, or whether we have had a calamity price decrease here, until people have lost practically everything they have got by calamity of price That is what we have had here.
I know of men today with families who were not able to plant on their farm, and the farm is lying idle today. I know that to be a fact. They are working out by day's work today, and there will be thousands of barrels of potatoes that will never be dug unless this reaches a higher level than 75 or 80 cents a barrel.
We cannot go on this way. I am really proud to stand before a group of men who are willing to take the time to come up here and gather the information that you want to gather. I believe that you men might be able to write a program that will be able to put agricultural commodities and the agricultural program on a sound, sane basis. We do not want $12 a barrel for potatoes; we do not want $7 a barrel for potatoes. But we do not want to lose everything we have got this year, and then next year not know what we are going to get. I
say it is really constructive when you men come up here. When I heard you were coming here I thought it the most constructive move I had heard of in many months. I hope you men will be able to write a program because we surely need it. I guess that is all I have to say.
Mr. MCINTIRE. Thank you very much, Mr. Good. I do want to state for the information of those assembled that the bill to which Mr. Good referred has been reported out favorably by this committee. Congress is in recess, the Senate did not hold any hearings on a similar bill on the Senate side; and of course must, by virtue of the circumstances, lay at least until the 1st of January or the second session of the 831 Congress before that bill or any other legislation would be processed
Mr. PoAGE. May I give Mr. Good a word of encouragement about the sale of potatoes. I know the saying that potatoes make you fat. They say the same thing about dairy products, wheat, and a lot of other products
. But I have traveled around a good part of this country and have seen a good many audiences, and I do not believe this group is any fatter than the ordinary audience that I see in other sections here. So I do not believe there is anything to that.
Mr. MCINTIRE. Thank you very kindly. We are going to have to press on and withhold questioning until we make sure we get all the witnesses in. We appreciate your contribution, Mr. Good. The next witness is Mr. Luman P. Mahaney, a potato grower in Easton, Maine. Mr. Mahaney, if you will step up, please, and place a statement in the record as to the size of your farming operations, I am sure it will be of interest to the committee.
STATEMENT OF LUMAN P. MAHANEY, EASTON, MAINE Mr. MAHANEY. Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, I am Luman P. Mahaney, a potato grower of Easton, Maine. My entire income is from agricultural products, principally from potatoes. Naturally I am very interested in the future of the potato industry.
As a potato grower, I strongly urge the passage by Congres at the earliest possible time of the McIntire bill known as H. R. 3895. At the present time I feel Irish potatoes are discriminated against in that no funds from section 32 may be used for their purchase. Potatoes were placed in this position by a law passed by the 81st Congress. I do not believe that it was the intention of Congress to deprive the potato industry of these benefits.
Potatoes are of such importance as a food to our people and the size of the industry is so large that they should have equal recognition with any agricultural product in future farm programs. I am also concerned with what will happen to cropland acreage that may be taken out of basic commodity crops if the acreage of these crops are cut. It is my hope that this acreage will not be used to grow potatoes because it would help defeat any program we may develop to keep potato production in line with national consumer demand.
Mr. MCINTIRE. Thank you very much, Mr. Mahaney. We appreciate the statement which you have made. Did you place in the record the size of your farm operations?
Mr. MAHANEY. My farm is 280 acres, approximately 147 of cropland.
Mr. McINTIRE. About how many acres of potatoes do you grow a year?
Mr. MAHANEY. I grow 50 acres, and I have leased 20 acres to my son
Mr. McINTIRE. Thank you very kindly. We are going to get through the witnesses first, and then we can come back and any member can make a note of the witness he would like to direct his questions to. The next witness is Mr. Stanley A. Wathen, president of the Potato Industry Council of Maine and a potato grower.
STATEMENT OF STANLEY A. WATHEN, PRESIDENT, POTATO
INDUSTRY COUNCIL OF MAINE
Mr. WATHEN. Mr. McIntire, Chairman Hope, and members of the Agriculture Committee, we do want to thank you all for coming up here to gather this information from the farmers in our State. We think it is a fine gesture on your part, and what I have to say will be fairly brief. This is my own statement. I am speaking for no group. I am speaking just as an individual with a rough draft of my own.
My name is Stanley A. Wathen. I am one of the larger growers in the industry. I feel that as potato growers, we should be included in any long-term farm program. We are the major vegetable crop, and if certain segments of the industry are to have protection, we should have the same privileges without discrimination.
Just what kind of a program would be the best suited to our needs is hard to determine at this moment. I would like to see some consideration given to a crop-insurance program that would insure the potato grower of at least 50 percent of parity or some reasonable figure that would keep him from going broke. I do not propose a figure that would give him any profit or even all of his money back. I would also want the producer to contribute to such a program by accepting a tax levied on himself of an undetermined amout per acre. The details of such a program would have to be worked out at the national level by a committee.
I believe that there should be some restrictions so that each farmer would be limited to the amount of potatoes that he should sell off his acreage. This could be readily taken care of with marketing quotas or a marketing agreement which could be determined each season