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It is identical to the bill introduced by my distinguished colleague from New York, Mr. Daniel Reed, and it amends the Agricultural Act to exempt from liability under the act where all of the wheat crop is fed or used for feed on the farm or for other purposes.
Mr. Chairman, I represent a district where the agricultural interests are entirely dairy farmers and poultry raisers. We do not grow wheat to any great extent; in fact, I doubt if we have any farms that would grow as much as 30 acres of wheat in my entire district. And the farmers there have very much resented the fact that they could not use the wheat that they grew on their own farm for their own use, and especially for the feeding of their own poultry.
I was looking over my testimony the last time I appeared before this committee, and I would like to address myself to one specific thing, because in view of the discussion I have heard here this morning, I think it is becoming increasingly evident that this law is unworkable, and I am sure you will agree with me that an unworkable law is a bad law. At that time I told this story, which is true today in my district.
I made certain inquiries when I heard about this, and I received these protests, and said to my farmers, "How many of you have been called up before the district attorney, and what kind of trouble have you had as a result of this?"
The reply was, “Oh, well, very few, because we understand that instructions have been given to most of the district attorneys not to call farmers up under this act, as it is so unpopular."
Well, we have seen that happen before, notably in the Volstead Act, which some of us remember. And I think any law or any act that can be treated in that way--and I know it has been treated in that way in my part of the State, and for very good reasons—is bad, and should be corrected.
Since I testified before this committee before, I see now that the Department is coming up with a bill. While it does not go as far as my bill—and of course I don't like it as well—it is certainly a step in the right direction.
And I think the case was admirably stated a few minutes ago, if I may say so, by Mr. Jones, when you stated, sir, that it was merely a question of whether this wheat was to be kept on the farm. That is all we are asking for, at least that is all my farmers are asking for. It is all they are interested in. They consider the law and the act as it now reads as being completely un-American. It means that people are snooping on their farms which they resent, and in fact, in many cases do not permit. And for that reason I do hope this committee will do something at present to correct this law, so that it can be made workable.
And I would like to remind you again that our farmers of the Northeast get very short shrift and very small consideration from this committee.
Mr. ALBERT. Thank you for that very fine statement.
Our colleague from New York City, Mr. Anfuso, has offered this bill as a step in that direction, with the 30-acre limitation. He comes from the Northeast and understands your problem and he has suggested to me that we take this approach and go part of the way. That is the purpose of his bill.
Mrs. ST. GEORGE. I think it is an admirable step. And as I said, so far as my particular district is concerned, 30 acres would be eminently acceptable, because I don't think anybody grows more than 30 acres of wheat in the 28th Congressional District, but I hope that it will be just a step and that we will go the whole way.
Mr. ALBERT. Thank you very much. Any questions of Mrs. St. George? Thank you very much for appearing here.
Mrs. ST. GEORGE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SMITH. I want to make this statement for the record; Mrs. St. George said her district attorney would not do something. I want to say a number of farmers in Kansas have been fined under this law, and had to pay the fine. I think some 140 of them were fined.
Mr. ALBERT. Without objection the gentleman may place that information in the record, if he desires.
I note the presence of our distinguished colleague from Michigan, who is the author, I believe, of one of these bills, H. R. 5937. We will be pleased to hear from you.
STATEMENT OF HON. CLARE E. HOFFMAN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE FOURTH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN
Mr. HOFFMAN. It would be rather presumptuous for me to attempt to give the committee any worthwhile suggestions as to what it should or should not do. I can only convey to you the desire of the wheatgrowers in the Fourth Congressional District of Michigan, the thought that they are extremely resentful of the fact that they cannot use, as they wish the wheat grown on the acreage allotted to them. There have been several cases where they have entered pleas of "guilty" to the charges brought for disposing of wheat grown in excess of the bushels or acreage allotted, and of course are very resentful. They cannot understand why they cannot grow the desired amount of wheat and use it for feed on their own farms if they want. That is all. I thank you very much.
Mr. ALBERT. We thank you very much for your statement. We know you have testified on this legislation before. Maybe we can make some progress this year.
Mr. HOFFMAN. Thank you.
Mr. ALBERT. Dr. Miller, the committee will be pleased to hear you at this time.
STATEMENT OF HON. A. L. MILLER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE FOURTH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT OF THE STATE OF NEBRASKA
Mr. MILLER. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee. I will be very brief. There are a number of bills before you on this wheat problem.
I introduced H. R. 4413; I think it is very similar to Mr. Anfuso's bill and others, dealing with this acreage limitation. Some type bill ought to be adopted. I understand that the Department of Agriculture has now approved and presented a more conciliatory attitude toward the bills. They now recommend that a bill be adopted that
would permit the farmer to feed the wheat raised on his own farm without penalty.
I am a little in doubt how large the acreage should be. I think probably 30 acres is too large. I would much prefer it be kept to 15 acres. One difficulty you have in the question of wheat allotments, that when the 15- or 30-acre wheat farms are planted, it then figures in the allotment acres to the wheat-producing country. Wheat acreages are reduced. This should be changed.
In Mr. Smith's area, and my own area, there are some objections to this bill. I think we have a witness from my territory this morning. I think there is some objection to taking the 15 acres out. But I think the law has been unworkable.
The Department of Agriculture now approves some step in that direction. And I think Mr. Anfuso's bill, if you will keep it to 15 acres, perhaps would be more acceptable to the majority of the farmers.
Mr. JONES. The 15 acres, I think, if you cannot take the 15 acres now and do anything you want with it, what would be the advantage at all ?
Mr. MILLER. I think that is true, but there has been some overplanting sometimes on these acreages and then they get into trouble.
Mr. Jones. If you are going to limit it to 15 acres, the present law takes care of that.
Mr. Watts. You do not need any law if you keep it there. Mr. MILLER. I think it does at the present time. Mr. Jones. No point in enacting your bill if you will limit it to 15 acres.
Mr. MILLER. I think the bill, in the title of it, exempts certain wheat or other grain producers from liability under the act, where all wheat and other grain crops are fed and used on the farm and for other purposes.
As I understand it, out in Kansas and Nebraska, there has been a number of suits that have been filed by farmers relative to the overplanting and the use of the feed. I think, perhaps, the 15 acres does come under that feature of the exemption at the present time.
Mr. BELCHER. My understanding of the law is that up to 15 acres you can do whatever you want to with the wheat, you can feed it, you can consume it, or do anything with it, but you are not required to pay a penalty if you do not achieve 15 acres in any spot. This bill provides that you can go up to 30 acres. You can consume it all on the farm. You can feed it and keep it on the farm.
Mr. MILLER. Yes. That would be a broader approach. Mr. BELCHER. But you cannot sell any of it. With the 15 acres, Mr. MILLER. That is right. Mr. BELCHER. But with this you cannot sell any of it. It only gives a right to feed that up to 30 acres on the farm. I would like to ask a further question. Would you favor the removal of the 15-acre exemption, which spreads the wheat all over the United States?
Mr. MILLER. I do not think it is working. It operates against the wheat-producing area.
Mr. BELCHER. I think it is working too well. I think it has had the effect of taking the wheat from my district and spreading the
you can sell.
acres all over the United States, which later becomes a wheat district. In addition to that, we would have a reduction in the production of wheat this year, if it was not for this wheat excess that has been raised in these other areas.
Mr. MILLER. I think that is what I meant to state. It is not working, and in our wheat allotments there is no question that we have been cut down because of the 15-acre allotments all over the country where they never raised it before.
Mr. BELCHER. Every time you add 15 acres of wheat and sell it on the market, that creates an excess, and reduces the number of acres that can be raised by the farmers who have wheat acreages within the allotment, and you are penalizing the people who actually do comply.
Mr. MILLER. That would be true of the 30 acres, too.
Mr. BELCHER. As far as the 30 acres is concerned, that must all be fed. The 15 acres can be sold right in the regular commercial channels, and go to make flour or anything else. This must all be fed right on the farm. The only place where it would enter into the picture is that it might create more livestock.
Mr. MILLER. I would be satisfied with that position.
Mr. HILL. May I inject myself into this discussion? You were not in the room when Mr. Berger testified?
Mr. MILLER. No; I was not.
Mr. HILL. On page 8, he covers your statement completely. One reason I have always been suspicious about this bill, on page 8-I want to read this:
Based on the latest available statistics of the Department of Agriculture, the acreage seeded to wheat for harvest as grain in each of these States during the last few years was as follows:
I will just read you some of these, Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
In 1955 Mississippi had 18,300. In 1956 they had 18,000, in 1957 they had 150,000. That is what has happened to your 15 acres. you make this 30, why some of these small States will be taking all the wheat acreage of eastern Colorado, the Panhandle, and Kansas. That is the question that I ask; is that true?
Mr. BELCHER. It will not put any more in commercial channels. Mr. WATTS. I am assuming that most of that is cured by these people growing the 15 acres and accumulating history and getting bases, but this very bill we have before us stops that practice.
Mr. HILL. I think it is right here, the reason that this happened, cutting down the cotton acreage et cetera, and this land is put in wheat.
Mr. HILL. I am talking about a bill that takes care of that.
Mr. WATTS. Mr. Berger answered the question. He told me that under the present law, that if you got out there and planted a lot of wheat up to the 15 acres, that even above it you could accumulate a history that would give you a base in the next year and subsequent years.
My understanding of the provisions of this bill before us is that it will absolutely stop that practice, that the bases be frozen where they are. And you cannot run into the situation where Mississippi and
those States you talk about keep continually increasing their wheat production unless it will be used on the farms.
Mr. ALBERT. I think this bill is the best for the commercial wheat farmers. It will protect them.
Mr. HILL. I am using this to show Dr. Miller what happened. I might mention Louisiana, which is almost as bad. In 1955 it only had 17,000 acres of wheat; in 1956, 35,000 acres. And then in 1957, 90,000, going up from 17,000 to 90,000. If I had a moment of time, I can show that in the beginning of our whole program both Michigan and Missouri doubled and tripled their wheat acreage, just as soon as we began to set about a program for the wheat program.
Mr. MILLER. I hope that legislation can be adopted that will not upset the acreage allocation of wheat in the wheat-growing areas. We must recognize that, in some of the areas where they raise small acreages of wheat, they ought not to be penalized and called into court for feeding and handling their own wheat on their own farms. I doubt if it should be sold. It is difficult to keep it in balance, but I do know that the present law as it is working mitigates against the wheat-growing areas of the country, and wheat is raised now where it never was raised before. Thank you very much.
Mr. ALBERT. Thank you, Dr. Miller, for your testimony.
The Chair has a letter from our colleague from Pennsylvania, Mr. Stauffer, and a statement from a former member of this committee, Mr. Ostertag, as well as a statement from Mr. McGregor. Without objection, these statements will be inserted in the record and all members who are authors of the bills or otherwise interested in this legislation may insert their remarks at this point in the record. (The letter and statements referred to are as follows:)
CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES,
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D. C., May 7, 19.57. Hon. CARL ALBERT, Chairman, Subcommittee on Wheat, House Committee on Agriculture,
House Office Building, Washington, D. C. DEAR COLLEAGUE: I understand that H. R. 271, introduced by Representative Keating, of New York, has been referred to your subcommittee.
One of the most frequent complaints I receive from the farmers in my district is that grains grown for consumption on the farm by poultry and livestock are subject to the acreage-control provisions in the agricultural act. I feel that they have a justifiable complaint, and that this situation should be corrected.
Their poultry and livestock are not subject to price controls, and, since they feed their entire crop, they are not in a position to benefit from price controls applying to grains.
I wish to express my approval of H. R. 271, and sincerely trust hearings can be held and the bill reported to the House. Very sincerely yours,
S. WALTER STAUFFER,
Member of Congress.
STATEMENT BY HON. HAROLD C. OSTERTAG, OF NEW YORK Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity of appearing before you to restate my conviction that farmers should not be penalized for raising wheat for seed and feed purposes on their own farms.
As you are well aware, the Secretary of Agriculture and the President have both expressed similar views, and both have recommended that such wheat be exempted from liability under the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938. The