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Therefore we feel that this program should be increased instead of decreased. Milk prices have been lowered in the last 6 months. Labor has gone up. I don't hire very much labor, only in haying time, picking up potatoes. What I did hire, I had to pay a dollar and a half an hour and I was glad to get them, because we have to buy so much machinery to take the place of labor.
Taxes and insurance have gone up. This same place I was born on and have lived for the past 63 years when father was alive, with no more buildings—less if any–with no more acreage—he was paying at the time $50 a year taxes. With a few more head of cattle and a few more machinery, I am paying $300 taxes. Of course that is due to the schools that have come into the towns, educational, which we do not regret, but that has to come out of our income. We have no other means to pay this.
So I hope you committee people will consider this and give us an increase in our minerals instead of a decrease. It is an honor and a privilege for a farmer from the county of Litchfield to appear before you here today. I want to thank you.
The CHAIRMAN. We thank you very much.
STATEMENT OF CARLTON PICKETT, MASSACHUSETTS FARM
Mr. PICKETT. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, my name is Carlton I. Pickett. I am the executive secretary of the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation, and I want to tell you how glad I am that you have made a beginning at trying to understand the divergent viewpoints of agriculture in this region.
As you have already been told, our organization is even now in preparation for a very full canvass of the situation, where we will get out onto the farms, where the fellows who cannot be in here today also have an opinion, and by the end of the year we will be able to give you the result of thousands of opinions.
At this time I do not think that any of us can speak except pretty much what our own particular views are, although there are 1 or 2 subjects that have been discussed up and down the State to such an extent that I am going to touch on them briefly.
I think that some of the national farm programs on the whole are presently reacting against the best interests of the New England farmer, the New England consumer, and the New England industrialist. The rigid support prices currently in effect upon the raw materials which we must buy for our products cannot help but make themselves adversely felt, and they add to our problems of cost and of prices. Consider that within the 5 New England States we produce annually some $200 million worth of dairy products alone, and an equal or slightly larger amount of poultry products, and that all of that production is dependent upon these highly supported products of the Grain Belt of the Midwest, I do not have to draw you a picture of how we feel in New England, as a majority of farmers, about high, rigid supports.
On the other hand, we believe that the flexible parity price support that was voted some years ago, which the Congress in its wisdom saw fit not to allow to go into effect yet, should be given a trial. We believe that it will work, that it can work, and we think that this program that we are currently under can never work. It will continue to pile up surpluses and headaches for Government, for farmers, and the public. Soil conservation is of deep concern to each one of us. As a matter of fact, so sacred is the name of whatever is done under its mantle that it is probably not even to be questioned lest even city people rise up against you.
But, gentlemen, I could never personally persuade myself that the erosion of soil is as important as the erosion of character. New England farmers are pretty independent folks. Even after 20 years of constant indoctrination into the idea that it is a proper function of Government to pay farmers for practices they should do as good businessmen, there are relatively few of us who actually believe it. We suspect that the cause of soil conservation could be furthered more by a concentration of energy and effort in the permanent work being so well done through our local soil-conservation districts, but naturally, if we are told long enough and often enough that farmers deserve to be subsidized because big business is being subsidized, even we may begin to believe it.
But at the present time, although our farmers take their checks the same as anybody else, I can assure you there would be a sigh of relief if the tax bill instead were lower and the payments forgotten.
The cost to Government is uppermost in the minds of most of the farmers whom I have talked with over the last dozen years.
We would willingly, I truly believe, swap all the benefits so-called of Government subsidies for a real reduction of taxation. And we believe that reduction of taxation can come only after balancing the budget, which certainly must call for decreases rather than increases in appropriations along all lines. And that includes appropriations for agriculture.
Our education, my education, in foreign trade is particularly limited, but we recognize that we cannot expect either a stable industrial health or agricultural prosperity here in Massachusetts without foreign trade, and naturally we are particularly dependent upon it, and practices that are restrictive are detrimental.
We know, too, that it is useless to ask for a relatively free interchange of goods while urging that our own particular commodity receive something in the way of imports in that category.
For example, there is currently discussion before the Tariff Commission in Washington as to whether to restrict the importation of Canadian oats into this region. To do so would seem to us bad policy and a costly burden to our industry. And still another example, we do not really mean what we say when we preach and advocate freer trade.
Whatever program the farmers may decide they want—and I will not attempt to tell you until we have canvassed them--it is positive that their greatest emphasis will be placed upon a program of research. This we think is a proper and beneficient function of Government, to help people do for themselves the things which they may not know how best to do. I have noticed in the releases that came over the radio concerning your committee's study, that it is your intent to talk with as many farmers as possible, and that you also hope that the people in the cities in the major consuming areas will study the information which your committee developed.
In order to intelligently develop that information, we know that you must realize that vastly larger segments of farm people must be contacted than is humanly possible in this short time here and today. We farmers hope that city people will interest themselves not only in the cost of storing up butter or the cost of paying farmers for lime and superphosphate, or the cost of other commodity support programs, but that they will tell you people, not just grumble amongst themselves.
I think there has grown up in this Nation the dangerous delusion that the farmer cannot possibly compete with the rest of the economy on an independent basis. I cannot accept that, gentlemen. Yet it has become almost accepted as economic fact that he can't run his business like anyone else. The idea of bargain sales for farm products, clearance sales, if you want to call them that, seems never to occur to our lawmakers or to a large part of our policymakers.
Yet here in New England we farmers have to put on bargain sales. We have to put on clearances when we have too many eggs, we have to sell them at a loss to get rid of them and the market goes up again.
The greatest political mistake in history is this set idea that elections cannot be won without pampering us farmers. I think farmers are no fools. They have taken a look at what happens in the controls that inevitably follow the doling out of the right to plant and how much to plant and the right to produce.
I think that too much emphasis cannot be placed upon the fact that city people have got to interest themselves in these things. I touched on it briefly, but nothing has been done about it up to this point, and it begins to appear that farmers alone will never convince the Congress that they really do not want some of the utopian extravagances that they get, but only the things that they have asked for, such as the flexible price-support program,
and that when we speak through farm organizations, a few dissenting voices that can always be dragged to life by diligent efforts of the self-interested, do not in any way discount the fact that we are being properly represented and the minute that we aren't, we will be down there in Washington as individuals to tell you about it.
You see, we read the record up here. We do not always like what we see, gentlemen. We do not like the idea that when we have met throughout our State and studied these problems and decided upon the best solution, that there should be any doubt about it, and that when we say that we want flexible price supports, that there should be any doubt about it.
When we say we want a reduction in the expenditure for PMA payments, we mean exactly that. And when we call for less Gov. ernment in agriculture, that we are thoroughly sick of the amount of Government that we have had during the past 20 years, those are the things on which there can be no question. What kind of a new farm program farmers will want, only they and time can tell.
I would like to make one passing observation. I was very much disturbed, as no doubt your committee was, at the report in the Springfield newspaper this morning. I was not disturbed about the closeddoor policy, because I have been before committees and I have never seen a closed-door policy anywhere. I knew that you gentlemen had no closed-door policy.
· But I was disturbed at the report that I would be here as the main spokesman for farmers. I am here, gentlemen, as one individual who was invited by the commissioner of agriculture to come and tell you our views, and I thank you for your patience in listening. I wish we had time for the questions I know you would like to ask me.
The CHAIRBAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Pickett. I am sure there would be some questions if we had time.
The next witness is Mr. William Smith of Massachusetts.
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM SMITH, FEDERATED DAIRY
ASSOCIATION OF MASSACHUSETTS
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My name is William T. Smith. I represent the milk producers association down in Joe Martin's district. I didn't realize until late last night I was to be here, so in the interests of time, perhaps it is just as well that I did not prepare a long statement. : I did not think that I was right in recalling that 12 years ago I testified before this same committee and was quite shocked to find that the committee at that time was comprised entirely of Republicans, so I would like to extend to the Democratic members of the committee our welcome and hope that you have a very, very fine time here in New England.
Just briefly, I would like to put the Federated Dairy Association of Massachusetts on record as supporting the Federal-order program under the Marketing Agreements Act. It so happens that the market I represent has had the honor—if you can call it that of having had a Federal order the longest of any city in the United States; that is, uninterrupted by any judicial changes or anything of that sort.
We also feel that the program of research which has been so greatly pushed forward in recent times is something that we would commend very highly. We feel that perhaps something along the lines of this self-help program in the way of promotion and the removal of unwarranted surpluses is a program which should be continued.
We do feel, as has been so ably expressed here before, that we must record ourselves as being opposed to high, rigid, support prices because, as has been pointed out so ably, we are at the end of the line. We have to pay not only the high prices on our grains, but a tremendous freight cost in addition.
I had an interesting experience on the way up this morning. I went through two roadblocks. The truckers are having a little fun down in our country. They are asking for 20 cents an hour increase in wages. Not too long ago they approached our dairy farmers and wanted the dairy farmers to join the teamsters' union. We are going to have some fun when that happens.
One more thing and I am through. I do feel that perhaps this national tax equality group has been put back in their rightful place, but I hope that you men—and I am sure you never will get caught in anything that would damage the position of cooperatives. They certainly have done a remarkable job in enhancing the position of farmers throughout the country and I am sure that the Congress would want to continue to support cooperatives to the limit of their ability.
Thank you very much, gentlemen.
STATEMENT OF LORENZO LAMBSON, TOBACCO GROWER,
Mr. LAMBSON. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I, too, wish to record myself. My name is Lorenzo D. Lambson. I live in Southwick, Mass. I own and operate a tobacco, livestock, and general crop farm. Before I go any further I would like to say I am speaking here as an individual this afternoon, and not representing any group. The things that I say and tell to you are my observations over my lifetime of farming. I think I know the valley and some of the farmers in it.
Connecticut Valley agriculture and its problems are very familiar to me. Our valley raises about all the major crops except cotton and peanuts. By the way, I would like to talk off the cuff, but I was given 2 minutes and that is what it is.
We are not in favor of high, rigid supports. In fact, there appears to be no justification whatsoever for their continuance at this time. They were a wartime measure designed to stimulate production; they have served their purpose.
Likewise, it seems to me to be the height of folly to continue certain other high appropriations in the Department of Agriculture. I refer specifically to PMA soil-conservation payments. It is well known that the bulk of the payments in this State and elsewhere go to large progressive farmers who would use the practices anyway as normal to their farming operations.
The less the Government deals in buying and selling farm products, the better off farmers will be in the long run. I firmly believe the trend of fewer and more efficient farmers will continue. With the lure of high city wages and short hours, it is no real hardship if there continues to be a shift off the less productive farms.
We who live in the six Northeast States of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania have as our market 25 percent of the country's population. Our greatest need is for further improvements in marketing and more research for broader use of our products. Also, the quest for the most efficient unit production of crops and livestock must continue.
Finally, our farmers will be speaking their minds at their meetings this fall on current problems. Only in that way will we be able to obtain real grass-roots opinion.
Thank you, gentlemen.