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Senate has agreed with them several times, and approved legislation such as is contained in my bill, H. R. 852. But, thus far, we have never succeeded in getting favorable action in the House. As the law now stands, it penalizes enterprise and the spirit of independence. It penalizes the small farmer in order to swell the income of the big one. It flies in the face of all the principles and guidelines that have made our country great.
It works a particular hardship on the poultry farmers in my section of the country. Most of them are trying diligently and even desperately to maintain an independent status, free of Government regulation and controls. In my judgment, they ought to be encouraged in that objective in every way. Certainly, they should be permitted to raise the grain they need for feed, without being penalized for it. I am confident that it was not the intent of Congress to place any such restraints on initiative and enterprise, and I earnestly hope that this committee will take corrective steps by acting favorably on the legislation now before you.
STATEMENT OF HON. J. HARRY MCGREGOR, OF OHIO
Mr. Chairman, I am glad to have the opportunity of appearing before your committee, the Agriculture Committee of the House of Representatives, relative to a bill I have introduced, H. R. 334, which is to further amend the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938, as amended, to exempt certain wheat producers from liability under the act where all the wheat crop is fed or used for seed on the farm, and for other purposes.
First, may I say that I am not a farmer, and I hope I am not one who tries to make people believe I am an expert in this field and one who knows all the answers concerning the agriculture program. I am somewhat like one of our colleagues, Mr. Chairman, who appeared before the Public Works Committee, of which I am a member, a few weeks ago relative to a flood-control project. The witness asked permission of the chairman to read a prepared statement. It was granted, and for about 15 minutes we listened to a very fine explanation of his particular project. Then, without hestitating a moment after he had finished his prepared statement, he said, “Mr. Chairman, there is no use for you or any member of the committee to ask me any questions, because this morning I do not have my hearing aid and I could not hear a word you say." I am not in that position, but I do admit I cannot answer technical questions and that Į my views are those of a layman. I want to join with you in this committee in helping to solve a very difficult, and, in my opinion, a very technical problem; namely, the agriculture problem. Each year I make a tour of the seven counties in my district and hold meetings at the courthouses of the respective counties. I invite any and all to come in and give me their views. Last year great emphasis was placed on the subject that the farmers were not allowed to grow Crops on their farm which were essential and necessary for feed and seed. Mr. Chairman, in this great land of freedom, it seems to me that a farmer should be entitled to grow on his farm the crops which are necessary for feed and seed. As said above, I do not know of the technicalities involved but, certainly, the philosophy as set forth in this bill is the philosophy of all.
Mr. Chairman, in the legislation, I specifically stated that the crop isn't to be removed from such farm; that such entire crop is to be used for seed on such farm, or is fed on such farm to livestock, including poultry, owned by any such producer, or a subsequent owner, or operator of the farm. May I repeat, certainly the requests made in this legislation, H. R. 334, simply gives to the farmer some of the freedoms that many of us have fought for. I recognize that my recommendation as contained in the bill possibly would be an experiment; however, I am sure we all agree that the farm program that we have had for many years would come under the same category and may I say, I don't think the experiment is working out very well.
This legislation, I think, will give some relief to our rotation farmer and to those who do not come under the category of the "big one-crop farmer." I honestly believe that this will be of some assistance to the farmer who finds that the price of the product he raises is going down, or at least it is not comparable with the increased costs of living or comparable with the costs of the products the farmers have to buy.
Mr. Chairman, I think this is one of the big problems and I hope you will agree with me that this little assistance given to the farm group will bring closer
together the prices the farmers receive and the prices they have to pay. I appreciate your consideration and knowing you all as I do, I am sure that this recommendation will be given every consideration. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF HON. ALVIN M. BENTLEY, OF MICHIGAX
It is a pleasure to appear before you in support of H. R. 4361, which I introduced last February 5, and similar legislation. These bills would further amend the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938, as amended, to exempt certain wheat producers from liability under the act where all the wheat crop is fed or used for seed on the farm. Excess wheat would be exempted from marketing penalties if the entire crop is used for feed or seed on the farm where grown. The acreage producing such wheat would not be counted in determining any future marketing quota for the farm.
This legislation was considered in hearings held by this committee 2 years ago. It passed the other body, I believe, on March 28, 1955. If my memory serves me well, it was never reported out of this committee but was offered unsuccessfully on the floor of the House as an amendment to another piece of legislation.
I can add little to the statement I made during the 1955 hearings. This bill is supported by the administration and its passage was again requested by the President on page 20 of his budget message. I think the Department of Agriculture's letter to Chairman Cooley of March 4, 1955, ably sets forth the reasons for the administration's position. The bills are also supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation with the proviso that wheat producers who would qualify under these provisions would be ineligible for price supports on any other crops during the year in which they may have exceeded their wheat acreage allotments.
Obviously, I can only appear here to represent the farmers of my own district. With the committee's permission, however, I would like to give the following results from my annual congressional questionnaire over the last 4 years so that the committee can observe the thinking of my own constituents :
In 1954 I asked the question whether price supports should be kept at 90 percent of parity. The vote was exactly 2 to 1 in favor of 90 percent. In 1955 I asked the same question and this time opinion was equally divided between those replying.
Beginning in 1956, I achieved occupational breakdowns of those persons answering my questionnaire. In that year, only 28 percent of my farmers voted for 90 percent of parity, 31 percent for flexible supports, and 35 percent for no supports. This year, 1957, only 20 percent voted for 90 percent of parity, 28 percent for flexible supports, 37 percent for the soil-bank program, and 30 percent for no supports. In other words, among the three choices of high, rigid, or no supports, this is the second straight year that the largest number of my farmers have voted for no supports.
It is because I feel that most of my farm constituents want to get the Government out of farming altogether and because I feel that H. R. 4361 is a small, but important, step in that direction that I again ask for favorable action by this committee on my bill or similar legislation.
STATEMENT OF HON. RICHARD H. POFF, OF VIRGINIA
Mr. Chairman, my name is Richard H. Poff, and I have the honor to represent the Sixth Congressional District of Virginia.
On May 4, 1955, I introduced H. R. 6019, and on January 3, 1957, I introduced the same bill, H. R. 879, which is one of a number of bills of similar import now before the committee for consideration. I am not so much interested in the passage of the bill which bears my name as I am interested in the passage of legislation which will effectuate the principle involved.
The farmers of the district which I represent are small farmers. Most of their farms are small in acreage but they are fertile, well managed, and productive. While most of the farms are diversified and self-contained units, much of our farm income is derived from the sale of beef, pork, poultry, and dairy products.
Insofar as possible, with limited acreage, our farmers try to raise their own feed supply. What they cannot raise, they are forced to buy at a price greatly inflated by the Government subsidy on grains produced in the West.
Few, if any, of our small farmers raise enough wheat for sale on the open market, and still fewer raise enough to participate in the benefits of the pricesupport program. Indeed, farmers in the State of Virginia annually receive less than four-tenths of 1 percent of the wheat benefits under this program. Ordinarily, our farmers consume their entire wheat crop on the farm in the the form of feed and seed. In spite of this fact, and in spite of the fact that they receive no price-support benefits, they are nevertheless subjected to the requirements of acreage allotments and to the marketing penalties under the Agricultural Adjustment Act. This strikes me as grossly unjust.
The Congress has the power to restrict acreage and impose marketing penalties on agricultural production only by virtue of the interstate-commerce clause of the Constitution. The purpose of the act, as an essential corollary to the price-support program, is to regulate the production of grain which has an impact upon supply and price as affected by interstate commerce. While I realize that there are Supreme Court decisions which hold to the contrary, I have never been able to understand how the production of wheat which is consumed by the producer and never sold has any effect whatever upon or any relation to interstate commerce. How can it affect either interstate or intrastate com. merce when it never enters the channels of commerce or reaches the market place?
If this legislation becomes law, as I earnestly trust it will, a little farmer who consumes all of his wheat crop in feed or seed will be able to harvest as much wheat as he chooses, without regard to allotments or penalties. For my own part, I interpret the legislation to include not only wheat for seed and feed for livestock, but also wheat for flour for human consumption on the farm. It is becoming more and more apparent to our little farmers that the pricesupport program is geared to the productive capacity of the big western farmer who tills thousands of acres of flatland with highly mechanized equipment and produces tremendous volumes of grain subsidized by the Government. When our little farmers buy this grain for feed and seed, they are, by paying these high subsidized prices, actually furnishing the "support" in the price-support program. Here, by the passage of this legislation, the Congress has an opportunity in some small measure to rectify this inequity and relieve the small farmer of the restrictions and penalties of the program from which he gets no benefits.
I wish to take this opportunity to thank you for the opportunity of presenting my views, and I most respectfully, but nonetheless vigorously, urge favorable consideration of this legislation.
STATEMENT OF HON. HAL HOLMES, FOURTH DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON
I appreciate the opportunity the committee is giving me to make a statement in behalf of my bill, H. R. 5128. It was introduced for the purpose of exempting wheat farmers who use all of their wheat on the farm from full penalty under the present act.
Under the provisions of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938, wheat farmers are allowed limited allotments in an effort to hold down surpluses. The farmer is, I believe, under this act as it now stands, penalized beyond logic. It is the purpose of this statement to point out that the act, while it may not have been the original intention, penalizes the farmer in his allotment, although he does not sell his wheat in the commercial market, or offer it to the Government. Some farmers use their grain to feed their stock, and for seed or other purposes.
Since it is the purpose of the act to keep as much surplus wheat as possible from flooding the markets, I should think that a bill to amend the act to give the farmer who abides by this, credit for on-the-farm consumption, would be welcomed. These farmers that my bill would assist are farmers that use all their wheat on their farm, for seed and feed, and for other purposes. They do not offer their wheat on the open market in competition with the farmers whose grain is put into the commercial market.
I therefore ask that the committee favorably consider H. R. 5128, to relieve the farmer from the allotment restriction when his grain is consumed on his farm.
Thank you for allowing me to present this statement.
STATEMENT OF HON. KENNETH B. KEATING, OF NEW YORK Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I appreciate this opportunity to present my views on H. R. 271, and other bills to exempt wheat producers for liability where all the crop is used on the farm where it is produced.
H. R. 271 would amend the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 to exempt wheat producers from any obligation under the act to pay the penalty on, deliver to the Secretary of Agriculture, or store the farm-marketing excess with respect to any wheat crop harvested in 1955 or subsequent years. This exemption would be subject to the conditions that (1) none of the wheat crop is removed from the farm; (2) that the entire crop is used on the farm for seed or feed; and (3) that the producers on their successors comply with all regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Agriculture for the purpose of insuring compliance with these conditions.
The problem of the farmer who is penalized for using his own wheat for seed or to feed his livestock is one that has troubled a great many farmers in my section of the country. I have received numerous complaints from these farmers who have been forced to pay fines simply because they overstepped the limits set by the present law.
It seems to me contrary to all we have been brought up to believe in, when a man in stopped from raising enough wheat merely for his own use, and if he raises above a certain amount, he is subjected to a fine by the Federal Government.
While I concede there may be merit in the principle of the wheat-marketing quota, it seems to me that here the idea is being carried to a harsh extreme. Wheat used exclusively on the small farms in my district does not enter any marketing channels. It follows, therefore, that it does not have any appreciable impact on the factors which govern the price paid for wheat to those farmers who produce it as a cash crop. As I understand the purpose of the act these bills propose to amend, it is to protect the wheat producers who make their livelihood from such production. I do not believe it was the original intent of Congress to make the market quota provisions so restrictvie as to tamper with the fundamental right of a man to raise enough to take care of his own needs.
As I have indicated, the general principle of enforcing compliance of these minority groups of producers with a program determined by the majority, may very well be the only sound way of making the marketing quota system work. But surely, Congress should act to correct this law if it is needlessly regimenting operation of small farms which produce only for self-consumption.
It has always seemed to me that a man's right to use the product of his own property as he sees fit is a fundamental one in the American way of life. So long as he does not interfere with the rights of his neighbors or other property owners, and so long as he does not use the right in an improper manner, his rights should not be infringed.
I am sure all of us want to see as little governmental interference with the operation of individual farms as possible.' We want the maximum of freedom which is possible and still make the overall programs of the Agriculture Department work.
By removing this unfair restriction on our smaller wheat producers who use the wheat for their own use, we will not only be cutting down Government interference with their operations. We will be removing a roadblock in the way of efficient and equitable management of their own farms. By letting these farmers run their own show, we will be relying on the traditional American doctrine of giving every man an opportunity to help himself.
Mr. Chairman, as to the specifie form this legislation should take, I am, of course, perfectly willing to accept the recommendations of the Department of Agriculture. As I understand it, the Department's suggestions go even further than my proposal and would (1) make exemptions retroactive to 1954 rather than 1955; (2) include wheat used for human consumption on the farm ; (3) permit removal of wheat from the farm for certain specified purposes; and (4)
provide for a refund of penalties paid by a producer who obtains an exemption under the act.
These broadening recommendationns are, of course, perfectly satisfactory to me and I would certainly hope they would be included in any bill reported by the committee.
Whatever form the final bill may take, the general principle to be sought is clear. I think this law is all wrong when it says a man is a criminal if he raises too much wheat-even if it is for use only on his own farm. I think it is time we took this tyrannical law off the back of our smaller farmers. By reporting favorably H. R. 271, or a similar measure, this committee can go a long way toward removing this inequity from our statute books.
Mr. ALBERT. The Chair recognizes our distinguished colleague from this committee, Mr. Williams, who is the author of one of these bills, and we will be glad to hear from you at this time.
STATEMENT OF HON. WILLIAM R. WILLIAMS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE 34TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Mr. WILLIAMS. Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, in the interests of time, I might say that this little bill I have here is identical with a number that you have before you, such as Mrs. St. George's bill, Dan Reed's and others.
I have long believed that the farmer growing wheat for his own use, feeding it on his farm, whether it be in flour, and consuming it himself, or consuming all of it on the farm, ought to have the privilege of growing as many acres as he wished for that purpose. I am not concerned, and I don't believe that the people that I represent are, New York State, with the soil-bank features or wheat history, on those farms. They merely wish the privilege of growing what wheat they want to consume on that farm.
And this compromise bill that you gentlemen are giving consideration to in preference to the others, I think, is a step in the right
I am happy to go along with it, except with the quota of 30 acres, and I hope that you gentlemen might increase that a little. Up in our State we have a great many poultrymen that I believe would be interested in growing more than 30 acres for their own use. not interested in any part of a wheat program for farmers in New York State except for the wheat that they grow for their own purpose and consume on that farm.
We are not interested in the soil bank provisions, or history for wheat on those farms, just the privilege of growing what we want to use ourselves.
Mr. ALBERT. What do you suggest would be the acreage that would satisfy the vast majority of little farmers in New York State?
Mr. WILLIAMS. Let me repeat again that I am very happy that you are giving consideration to the Anfuso bill, and increasing it to 30 acres. I did hear you mention that 35 might be more agreeable. Mr. ALBERT. I asked the Department whether they had any figures. Mr. WILLIAMS. I understand they have no limitation on their proposal at all. I have none on mine. But my compromise above 15 acres will be very acceptable to the poultrymen and dairymen in New York State. We are not interested in a milling operation or anything of that kind, or the soil bank, so far as it applies to wheat up