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are certain problems that you just cannot solve except in certain ways. You either have to take your loss on your surplus out of the producer's pocket, or you have to take it out of the Treasury. It. does not make any difference how long you debate it. You can not get it out of the sky or from any other source. That is fixed.
Then, there is the question Mr. Hirth of overproduction, and your opposing forces against that are fixed. If you can not do it through the farm organizations of the United States, then you can not do it through any sort of an agency.
In the next place, for a term of two years, it means that the board, in order to meet this existing emergency, with agriculture in a state of utter collapse--and that is what it is, because anybody who puts a more mollified interpretation on it is not conversant with the actual facts—would have to go out and contract with private agencies to handle the surplus, meanwhile getting the cooperatives up to a point where they could more measurably handle it. Then, Mr. Chairman, in the final analysis, I think it is the finest challenge ever put up to the farmers of the United States, the highest premium that has ever been offered for the progress of the cooperative movement, when you say that at the end of two years the act can operate only through the farm organizations, which means that within the next two years the farmers of the United States have got to organize if they want to take this thing, in any case, from that time on. It will depend absolutely on their own resources.
Senator RANSDELL. Will you please explain, very briefly, why you limit the operation of this bill to the four products—wheat, swine, beef, and cotton ?
Mr. HIRTH. Because the emergency, Senator, for the time being, is most acute with reference to them. It does not mean that the board could not take under advisement the condition of oats, or barley, or rye, or beans, or any crop of considerable consequence. It would not concern itself with an insignificant crop.
Senator RANSDELL. Tobacco or wool, for instance?
Mr. HIRTH. Yes. Of course, it happens that on wool ordinarily we do not produce more than about half enough to supply domestic consumption, so the tariff ordinarily is fully effective on that, but any other surplus problem that causes distress, say, to the people of a given Stae, or two States, is clearly within the purview of this bill, and yet in the beginning the commodities that are mentioned aré those that are in greatest distress.
Senator RANSDELL. Do I understand that you do not take the ground that these four commodities must stand or fall with the bill, and that if you can not get them all the bill will fall? Or can you take part of them and legislate as to them and leave the others out? What would be the situation in that respect?
Mr. HIRTH. I do not think you could eliminate anything, Senator. For instance, we all confess that the wheat situation is a thing that needs a bill of this kind. When it comes to pork and beaf and corn, they are so closely interrelated that they are the basis of Corn Belt agriculture, really, because there is where your great meat production comes from. The three are interwoven with each other, so that you have to have those three commodities.
Cotton is such a dominant thing throughout the Southern States that we certainly would not be justified in bringing in a bill that did
not take cotton into account, so we have stripped it down to the things that need emergency help, leaving other matters that might be brought to the attention of the Federal Farm Board to be added later, making the jurisdiction of the bill broad enough that they can take up a question of that kind.
I do not see how you could get a bill more simple. Furthermore, it does not mean that if the bill passes, and if your Federal board is created, say, within 90 days, that they have to plunge headlong into this thing Undoubtedly the first thing that would have their attention would be the wheat crop and the financing of cotton, but they can approach it just as fast as they can, with due regard to caution. You have not a machine that has to be thrown into gear within 48 hours after it is created, and I repeat that I do not think that the farm organizations can ever bring a bill here more simple that this one. If this bill meets with the disapproval of Congress, speaking as the chairman of the Corn Belt committee, I will feel that we are all in." We have worked on it now for three or four years, and never have any set of men so conscientiously tried to bring a bill here that is free from the so-called chant that it is economically unsound. No bill has ever been so completely shorn of legitimate objection as this bill.
Senator FERRIS. Mr. Chairman, has this question been asked as to whether there is any farm organization opposing this bill, the farmers' union, or any other organization?
Mr. HIRTH. Senator, I do not know whether you were here yesterday morning, when I listed the different active organizations or not, but I did give a list of all the active organizations that are supporting it. I said at that time that never before, beginning with nationwide organizations, such as the American Farm Bureau Federation, and the farmers' union, have those organizations been as much in accord about any one measure as they are about this one.
Senator FERRIS. The farmers' union is in accord with this?
Mr. HIRTH. It is; and Mr. John Tromble, of Kansas, appeared as spokesman for the national organization. I am sure that Mr. Tromble would not have made that appearance without due authority. I do not think that there is any organization of any consequence that has appeared here protesting against it. If there have been organizations of that kind that have protested, I have not heard of it. There may be and I do not want to have what I have just said close the door, but I have not heard of any thoroughly representative farm organization appearing before the House committee objecting to this bill. Of course, there are certain farm leaders that want some other kind of legislation, but so far as the big organizations are concerned officially, there has never been the unanimity that exists back of this bill.
Are there any other questions, Mr. Chairman?
Senator HEFLIN. Mr. Chairman, we were talking yesterday about the cotton situation. We made a crop of 13,600,000 bales in 1924; in 1925 a crop of 16,000,000 bales. I think it is fair to say that we had not sold as much as 2,400,000 bales of the crop of 1925 before the price went down to 18 cents. Then, assuming that we will get for the 13,600,000 bales, the same amount as the crop of 1924, $30 a bale less than we got for the crop of 1924, there will be a loss to the farmers of the South $408,000,000. We have this situation. The boll weevil is very much more destructive some years than others.
Where his ravages are great the farmer will frequently put in more acres because of that. If the boll weevil destroys one field of cotton, perhaps he will get something from another. If we have a dry summer and the boll weevil is not so dangerous and destructive, he will make more cotton than he did the year before because of his precaution and his additional enterprise, and then he is penalized for his efforts to make his business a success, and when he produces cotton to see that the world has not a short supply, he turns up in the market place with a loss of $408,000,000.
Mr. HIRTH. Yes.
Senator HEFLIN. I agree with you that something ought to be done to relieve the cotton producers and the cotton growers of the situation that confronts them.
Mr. HIRTH. As I said yesterday, Senator, the corn belt, or the corn States, in 1925 produced 600,000,000 bushels more corn than they did in 1924. Ordinarily a great corn crop brings rejoicing and happiness, not merely in the corn belt itself, but throughout the country. It is reflected in business conditions, in your bank clearings, and in your commercial reports. They always exult over a great corn crop, because out in that great corn belt country we say that corn is king; and yet, notwithstanding that we produced 600,000,000 bushels more corn last year than we did the year before, that greater yield is worth to-day $300,000,000 less than the short crop the year before. That certainly is an ironical situation. Your cotton crop in 1924 was approximately 15 per cent less than the cotton crop of 1925, and when it sells for millions less than the shorter crop, certainly there is something wrong with an agricultural system of that kind.
As I stated yesterday, I do not think that anybody except the farmer would have remained as patient as he has during the ordeal through which he has been passing and which is growing more acute every day.
Senator HEFLIN. For instance just in that connection, the fertilizer people have advanced the price of fertilizer about $5 per ton this year, and I noticed in the paper the other day that the gasoline people had advanced the price of gasoline so much per gallon, in all the establishments where gasoline is sold. The farmer has been complaining that he has to pay increased prices for the things that he has to buy from time to time, and he has been asked what he is going to do about it. He says Nothing. I have to pay:” The farmer can not raise the price of his cotton nor his corn nor his wheat to meet these high prices that are put upon him.
Mr. HIRTH. He is absolutely helpless.
Mr. HIRTH. Mr. Chairman, if there are no further questions, I would like to make a short statement and then I will be through, but I would rather take care of the questions first.
I just want to make this concluding comment: I was before the House committee for practically five complete sessions of that committee, and when I wound up my statement I referred to the platform pledges of the Republican Party and the Democratic Party in the last presidential campaign, and I referred to those pledges in rather plain terms. After I got back to Missouri certain gentlemen of the House, for some reason that I do not understand, referred back to what I had said about the platforms, and said that I had tried to threaten Congress. When the newspapers published the statement out in Missouri I immediately disavowed any intention of that kind, but, nevertheless, I want to reiterate with all the firmness that I can' that the time has come when the farmers of the United States expect a showdown at the hands of Congress on this question, and when it can not be avoided by any mere gesture of legislation. Speaking for myself and speaking for the Corn Belt organizations, if we can not have legislation out of this Congress that means something then I would rather you would defeat all legislation that assumes to direct itself to this question.
Here is what the Republican Party said in its platform, after reciting at some length the distress of agriculture and the reasons assigned for this distress : ,
The Republican Party pledges itself to the development and enactment of measures which will place the agricultural interests of America on a basis of economic equality with other industry to insure its prosperity and success.
There is no equivocation, Mr. Chairman, about that language. That was not dealing in glittering generalities. It is a specific proposition to enact measures that will place the agricultural interests of America on a basis of economic equality with other industries. Perhaps the gentlemen who wrote that plank at Cleveland were just joking. Perhaps, as I said before the House committee, it is what we sometimes call political applesauce, but there were a number of millions of farm men and women scattered throughout the United States who voted for Mr. Coolidge and for Republican Members of Congress, who did take it seriously, and who believed that it was a solemn pledge on the part of a great political party that would be conscientiously redeemed.
Senator HARRELD. I will state that I was a member of the resolutions committee that adopted it, and I am still standing on that platform and ready to go.
Mr. HIRTH. All right, Senator, I am glad to hear you say that.
If anything went even further than that, it is the Democratic platform. After reciting its idea of the agricultural distress, it says this. It winds up with this pledge:
To stimulate, by every proper governmental activity, the progress of the cooperative marketing movement and the establishment of an export corporation or commission in order that the exportable surplus may not establish the price on the whole crop.
I do not think that two great political parties could have pledged themselves in more unequivocal language than that, and the time has arrived for a showdown. The farmers of the United States have reached a point where they can not be led around by the nose, and where they are not going to jump every time they hear the crack of the party whip. În Missouri, through the farmers' association, which is a dominant organization in the State, we have issued instructions through our board of directors for the last several campaigns, especially following the defeat of the McNary-Haugen bill, that our membership in the State shall support any Member of Congress who did the best he could to insure a square bill for agriculture, regardless of whether he is a Democrat or a Republican; and out of the 12 rural Congressmen we only lost 1 in the last congressional election, and that was not our fault.
I am not saying it as a matter of threat, because it is foolish to put any man, even a big man, in the attitude of threatening Congress, and I do not mean it in that sense, and it was very foolish for the gentleman on the other side of the Capitol to say that. But I again repeat—and I mean it with all the power I can put into it, that a real showdown is here, and that it is either some effective legislation, or turning us away empty handed once more; and, as I said å moment ago, rather than to tolerate a mere gesture of some kind, I would rather that we were sent away empty handed.
Senator HEFLIN. I think, Mr. Hirth, that the members of this committee know how you feel and know how the people that you represent feel. They see their business going to ruin. They are worse off now than they were last year, and while other industries and enterprises in the country are prospering, they are not prospering. Many of them are hard pressed to get money to pay their taxes, and many of them have lost the accumulations of a lifetime in the last two or three years. I sympathize with you and I want to do anything in the world I can to give you the relief you ask for.
Mr. HIRTH. Senator, agriculture has lost in farm wealth since the close of the World War—and I am not talking now about inflation; I am talking about normal farm values. Those values have shrunk to the extent of substantially $20,000,000,000, or the value of your entire American railroad system, and each day the thing grows more acute, and each day more banks fail, and there are more sheriffs' sales. Why should we not have reached a point where patience ceases to be a virtue? I want to say another thing. It is time for the protected East and other sections of the country to listen to the plea of agriculture. So far we have been perfectly willing to go along with the program. We realize that so long as the present disparity between wages in the United States and Europe exists the industries of this country need protection. All we have asked under this bill, or under any other proposal, is that the tariff be made as effective for us as it is for industry. But if we are once more turned away empty handed, then I want to issue a little note of warning to these gentlemen, lest they bring the pillars of the temple down on their own heads. If the farmer, in his desperation, can not do anything else but declare war on the system that is bankrupting him by the hundreds of thousands and destroying the banks, then these gentlemen had better remember that self preservation is still the first law.
Senator RANSDELL. Do you mind saying what you mean by a gesture of legislation? You have used that term several times. It sounds very rhetorical, but I do not know that I quite understand you.
Senator HEFLIN. Makeshift legislation.
Senator RANSDELL. We have some bills here that are called “ pink pill” bills, and others that are real bills, and I was wondering if you cared to indicate. I am like you; I do not want anything but a real measure.