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LONG RANGE FARM PROGRAM
THURSDAY, AUGUST 6, 1953
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Caribou, Maine. The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10 a. m., in the high school gymnasium, Caribou, Maine, Hon. Clifford R. Hope (chairman) presiding
Present: Representatives Hope (chairman), Dague, Harvey, Belcher, McIntire, Williams, King, Harrison, Poage, Grant, McMillan, Abernethy, Albert, and Jones of Missouri.
Also present: John Heimberger and Frank LeMay of the committee staff, and Walter Wilcox, Library of Congress.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order. I think before we begin our formal hearing it might be well for me as chairman of the committee briefly to state the purpose of our series of hearings, of which this is the second; and also to introduce to you the members of the Committee on Agriculture who are present today.
We are beginning this series of hearings for the purpose of finding out as much as we can from farmers and those who are directly interested in farming in all the leading agricultural regions of the country their ideas as to what changes, if any, should be made in the farm program in order to bring it up to date and make it a more effective instrument for maintaining and increasing agricultural prosperity in this country. Our hearings will probably total some 15 or 16 in number. This is the second one in New England. We had one at Amherst, Mass., on Tuesday, a very fine hearing. I am sure after looking over this fine audience here and the list of witnesses we have, we are going to have a very fine hearing here.
For most of us, anyway, this is our first visit to Aroostook County. We expected to see a lot up here. We have heard lots about it, so we expected to see some very fine farming country; and we have. We have not been disappointed. We have not seen all of it yet. We want to see some more before we leave. But the committee, I think, has all been inspired by the very fine type of agriculture that we have seen in our drive over Aroostook County so far. We are very grateful to our hosts up here who have made things so very pleasant for us.
I will not formally do it now, but I do want to mention courtesies that were shown us by the Great Northern Paper Co. Most of us had not had the opportunity to see a modern paper mill, and we had that opportunity yesterday and enjoyed it very much. That is one of your great industries up here in Maine. We also appreciate the courtesies that have been shown us by the Bangor & Aroostook Railroad Co. I know that is not the longest railroad in the United States, but it is certainly as well managed and equipped as any railroad I have seen anywhere in the United States. I think you people are fortunate in having such splendid railway service up here where you need good railroads. We are very appreciative of the courtesies which the Maine Public Service Co. showed us yesterday evening, and we are appreciative of everything that so many people have done to make our trip up here so pleasant.
We hope as a result of these hearings, which will continue through the fall, not only to gain something of the viewpoint of farmers with respect to farm programs and to have their suggestions, but the committee expects and hopes to become much more familiar with agriculture in all parts of the United States so we will have a better idea of the relationship between the different types of agriculture and different regions of the country,
We all realize that agriculture is not just one big industry; that the agriculture problem is not just one big problem—it is a great series of problems that have to be considered in relationship to each other. We think that our hearings throughout the country are going to give us a better opportunity to understand that relationship and understand different commodities and different areas, which require different legislation as far as the farm program is concerned.
With that I want to present to you the members of the committee who are here today. We have almost half of the members of the Agriculture Committee, which I think is a very fine representation because you would never be able to get all the members of the committee out to any hearings. We do not expect to; but you have, I will say, the cream of the committee here today. They are all very appreciative of this opportunity.
I am going to begin down here on the left and just introduce the members as we come along. The first member I want to present is Mr. Paul Jones, from Missouri, the great State of Missouri, a great agriculture State. Will you stand up, Mr. Jones? [Applause.)
Then we go on down to Oklahoma, and the next member I want to present is Mr. Carl Albert, of Oklahoma. [Applause.]
Then we go to the State of Mississippi, Mr. Tom Abernethy, of Mississippi. [Applause.]
Mr. John McMillan, of South Carolina, is the next member. [Applause.)
Mr. George Grant, of Alabama. [Applause.]
Mr. Bob Poage of Texas. [Applause.] I am sure you have all heard of Texas.
Now I will start down at this end and come this way. The first member there is Mr. Harrison, from Nebraska. [Applause.]
Mr. King, from Pennsylvania. [Applause.] Mr. Williams, from New York State. [Applause.) I will skip over the next member for the time being, because he needs no introduction in any event. The next member is Mr. Page Belcher, from Oklahoma. [Applause.]
We have two members here from Oklahoma and two from Pennsylvania. The next member is Mr. Ralph Harvey, from Indiana. [Applause.]
And here is our other Pennsylvania member, Mr. Paul Dague. [Applause.) Mr. Dague represents one of the great agricultural districts in this country, as he will tell you if you ask him, I am sure. He represents Lancaster County, and I am sure everybody has heard of Lancaster County, Pa., when it comes to agriculture.
My name is Hope, and I am from Kansas. [Applause.] Our committee considers that it is very fortunate in this session of Congress, and part of the last session
and we hope in many future sessions-in having as one of its members your own distinguished Congressman, Clifford McIntire. He is a Member who is respected by all of the members of the committee and all of his fellow Members of the House of Representatives as a most industrious member of high character who is always on the job and who has a profound interest in agriculture. Certainly all of us on the committee, I think, would agree that he is, while one of the newest members of the committee, one of the most valuable members of the Committee on Agriculture. [Applause.]
I am sure I do not need to tell any of those things to you folks, but I just do not want to be up here in this part of the country without telling you how much we really think of Clifford McIntire. I want him to preside here as chairman of the meeting today. So if you will take over, Mr. McIntire, we will proceed with our hearing.
Mr. McINTIRE. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. The Third District is indeed honored that the members of this committee accepted the invitation which I extended on your behalf and that in the schedule of hearings, Maine be included; and, if time permitted, we would be up to the northern part of the State. I want to point out particularly that, while this hearing is held in Caribou, it is and has been the intent that this hearing shall represent a hearing for all of Maine agriculture, and the schedule of witnesses will establish that fact.
Before we proceed I would like to place in the record by reading to you two telegrams which are addressed to me, and received here this morning. [Reading:]
Please extend my personal welcome to the members of the committee in their trip to Maine. We of Maine are honored and deeply appreciative of their interest in our State and its agriculture. I am sure that the people of Maine are grateful to you for getting the committee to Maine.
Senator MARGARET CHASE SMITH. The other telegram: Regret other commitments prevent my attendance at hearing on Maine agriculture being held in Caribou by House Committee on Agriculture. Our State and its people are appreciative of firsthand presentation of problems of our great agricultural enterprises to the distinguished members of this committee.
Senator FREDERICK G. PAYNE. Now we will proceed with the hearing. I might state for the record that it is our hope that time will permit an opportunity for 1 or 2 of those who are not scheduled to present their views here this morning, and we shall look forward to that if we have time. We have had the assistance of our Commissioner of Agriculture in arranging witnesses for the hearing. Effort has been made to assure representative crosssection of Maine agriculture and, insofar as possible, a cross-section of opinion.
These individuals are going to be the ones who are scheduled as witnesses, and I am sure that what they have to offer will be of keen interest to members of the committee. The first witness which we will call is Mr. Robert Pike of Cornish, Maine, a dairyman, very prominent in the dairy industry, and also a poultryman of that area and state chairman of the PMA committee. Mr. Pike.
STATEMENT OF ROBERT PIKE, CORNISH, MAINE, STATE CHAIR
MAN, PMA COMMITTEE
Mr. PIKE. Mr. Chairman, members of the Agriculture Committee of the House of Representatives, it is encouraging to the farm people of Maine to have you distinguished gentlemen pay us an official visit, and we appreciate your interest in our problems. Our basic problem here in Maine, as in other sections of the United States and of the world, is a need for sound conservation of our farm soils and woodlands. We have confidence that you recognize the very great value of permitting the application of reasonable assistance for preventing erosion and encouraging conservation so that maximum benefits to the area will result. We feel certain, also, you will appreciate the wisdom of local determination by qualified farmers and farm leaders of conservation practices most needed and beneficial to an area, and local administration of programs to carry them out.
As you observed in your short stay, our conservation problems here in Maine are not particularly spectacular or alarming if one rides through or flies over our State. Instead, they are made up of a variety of wasting, gnawing, creeping types of erosion, depletion, and deficiencies. Because of the complex nature of the ills of our farmlands, preventative and improvement measures necessarily become complicated. Some areas, some farms, have few soil erosion problems; others have many.
Some sections of the State show need for water storage or development; others, for drainage and diversion of excess water. Proper application of adequate mulch or humus material for soil improvement is a must on many farms; no problem at all on others. As you are well aware, and as every farmer knows all too well, the last thing the farm-earned dollar is spent for is building and conserving the soil on his farm. Food, clothing, and home come first; farm machinery and buildings, second; education, religion, and entertainment, third; improvement to the farm home, next; and if there is anything left, comes building and conserving the soil.
The general education of farm people in Maine for the last quarter century has done much to recognize and meet many of these basic conservation problems. In a more direct manner, the assistance from the agricultural conservation program and the soil conservation districts has accelerated the application of necessary conservation measures to the farm during the last 17 years. Continuation of all assistance, educational, financial and technical, is urgent if the progress made so far is to be maintained and additional problems of conservation are to be solved.
Because of the long history of farms in the area and our moderate rainfall and climate, establishing cover for our land is not too great a problem. But because of leeching, frequent applications of basic minerals are needed for proper maintenance of our legumes and grasses.
I would like now to present a bit of the progress made in the problems to be solved during the last 17 years that the agricultural conservation program has been on in Maine. During 17 years of agricultural conservation programs in Maine, an average of 12,500 farmers have participated annually, representing nearly all the commercial farms in the State. Prior to 1936 lime, one of our basic and most needed minerals, was used to a very limited extent. Only an estimated 3.000 tons was used annually. But with the encouragement of the ACP program, tonnage from 1935 to 1952 has averaged 63,000 tons annually.
Phosphorous, another very essential mineral, was used to a small extent. Since 1936, 217,000 tons of 20 percent superphosphate equivalent have been used under ACP. Potassium, another basic mineral, has been encouraged, with 32,000 tons of 50 percent muriate of potash having been used.
Sois testing began to be strongly encouraged in 1947, with over 75,000 soil samples taken on farms participating: Progress has been made in bringing up the pH level of Maine soils as well as phosphorous and potash.
The following 1952 soil test results show where we now stand. This table shows 60 percent of all soil samples with a pH of less than fivesixths. As you know, that is not high enough pH to give us the best clovers and the type of forage that we need for our livestock. Sixtyone percent are either low or very low in phosphorous. Sixty-five percent low or very low on potassium. I think you can readily see that, while our minerals program has done much, it still has a long ways to go.
Ănnual needs for Maine as generally estimated by the agronomists are about 250,000 tons of lime annually; 150,000 tons of 20-percent superphosphate equivalent; and 60,000 tons of muriate of potash equivalent. Our ACP farm woodland practices, over 17,000 acres have been improved by thinning, weeding, or pruning practices. An additional 1,600 acres have been set out with approved species of Maine forest trees.
This is a very modest beginning. A large percentage of Maine farm woodlands has been slaughtered by eager timber buyers. The result is thousands of acres of wasteland. ACP, SCS, and the Forest Service, along with the farmers of this State, have a real job on their hands to restore this wasteland to profitable timber production. There have been established 290 farm ponds for livestock and irrigation purposes. Sixty thousand tons of mulch material have been applied to orchards and vegetable lands to help conserve moisture and increase organic matter. Six thousand acres of cropland have been drained under drainage practices. Eighty-five thousand rods of diversion ditches and sixty million square feet of sod water bays have been constructed.
Seventy-five thousand acres have been contour farmed, cross sloped, or strip crossed, to help prevent soil loss and slow down runoff on our row crop farms. If Maine farmers are to be expected to further contribute to the total needed agricultural production of our great country, they cannot rest on the laurels won over these last few