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there. We would appreciate the privilege of growing more wheat and using it on the farm.
Mr. ALBERT. Thank you very much.
Mr. ALBERT. Mr. Henderson, do you have a statement to make ? STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN E. HENDERSON, A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE 15TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT OF THE STATE OF OHIO
Mr. HENDERSON. My name is John E. Henderson. I am the representative of the 15th District of Ohio. The majority of my comments will be directed toward a bill which I have introduced a couple of times, and which is identical, I believe, with the bills of Mr. Williams and the bill of Mrs. St. George. My bill would exempt from controls all wheat that is raised for feed or seed, and consumed or used on the farm.
I believe this legislation is needed because it would remove unnecessary and undesirable Government interference in farm operation, particularly for small farmers who have been so beset by controls in
These farmers obtain a minimum of benefits from the controls which have tended to restrict their freedom to decide for themselves how they should manage their land. Wherever these controls can be lifted or eased without causing an imbalance in farm prices, we should strive to provide such legislation.
Last year, when I appeared here to urge favorable consideration for this bill, I introduced into the record a letter which I received from Secretary Benson, explaining the Department of Agriculture's feeling in the matter. The Department has endorsed the purposes of this legislation. The President has also discussed the need for this amendment in his various messages to Congress.
It is my understanding that the Department's attitude has not changed much. I would like to point out to the committee that the small farmers in souheastern Ohio have expressed themselves in favor of such legislation.
I conducted a poll in 1956 in which 80 percent of the people responding favored the enactment of this legislation. I am convinced that southeastern Ohio farmers are not alone in their feelings on this matter. Rather, I believe the results of this poll are representative of the opinion and attitude of the small general farmers throughout the country. As things stand now, producers of wheat for feed must curtail their operations in the same manner as those who produce crops for the market. They are subjected to the same penalties as those who violate the quotas and extend their acreage production for the market.
The significant difference lies in the fact that farmers growing wheat for feed and seed do not dump their crop on the market and are not asking for or receiving Government checks in the price-support program. This production is not the cause for disturbing market prices. This is the only feed crop where the production is so strictly regimented. Corn and other feed grains are not regulated in
For this reason, it seems most improper to me to continue to single out wheat producers for such unfair treatment. I realize, Mr. Chairman, that this legislation has created adverse feelings in the minds of many large producers, and one would be apt to say that large producers oppose the amendment, that it would harm the price bas ance of wheat in the market place. I do not believe that would happen. I do not believe that such consideration should be permitted to defeat sound legislation.
Nerertheless, if the subcommittee shares the sentiment that even the slight unfettering of the American farmers recommended in my bill might tend to embark upon a feeding program detrimental to the general agricultural economy, then I would recommend that the subcommittee adopt a policy which might appear in the nature of a compromise. Such a compromise would give relief to a great many honest-minded small farmers by raising the acreage restrictions over those which now prevail.
Therefore, I do wholeheartedly support the bill which Mr. Anfuso has introduced, and which is being presently considered by this subcommittee. I believe it is a step in the right direction. At a later date, a second and further step might be taken which would result in a complete unfettering from controls of those who raise for feed and seed purposes wheat on their own property. Thank you. Mr. ALBERT. We thank you. Are there any questions? If not, the committee appreciates your very fine statement. Are there any other Members of Congress present? Are there any Members of Congress, Mrs. Downey, who have indicated that they want to be heard, who are not here this morning? Mrs. DOWNEY (the clerk). We have several who said they would file statements for the record. You have taken care of them.
Mr. ALBERT. There are no others who have said that they wanted to come here in person. Mrs. DOWNEY (the clerk). No. Mr. SMITH. Mr. Wharton said he was interested in this, and asked if it would be possible that he could come over or send in a statement.
Mr. ALBERT. Without objection his statement will be placed in the record, The committee will be glad to hear Mr. Baker of the National Farmers Union at this time.
STATEMENT OF JOHN A. BAKER, COORDINATOR OF LEGISLATIVE
SERVICES, NATIONAL FARMERS UNION
Mr. BAKER. Mr. Chairman, it is always a privilege to appear before this committee, and subcommittees of this committee. For the record, I am John A. Baker, coordinator of legislative services, National Farmers Union. We appear in support of H. R. 6784. As members of the committee know, Farmers Union strongly supports the principle of effective and workable marketing quotas. Marketing quotas or similar devices are essential if farmers are to have anything approaching an equality of bargaining power in the market.
Marketing quotas for wheat or other commodities are effective because they enable farmers to keep total market supplies in reasonable balance with domestic and export demand at farm prices and income fair to farmers and consistent with other national welfare objectives. In the absence of adequate marketing quotas or similar program, wheat price or income protection is unworkable or too costly for the national interest or both. If neither marketing quotas nor a support program are in effect, wheat must be produced and sold in competition with corn at the feed price.
At any point on the scale above the feed price, a few additional bushels of wheat will tumble the price of wheat to the feed level.
Wheat, you might say, has a very high inelasticity of price. More wheat brings the farmer consistently less total income than less wheat will.
Therefore, maintenance of an effective and workable wheat marketing quota program or similar device is absolutely essential to the economic future of the wheat farmer.
To be workable and effective the program must maintain an effective control on the total market supply of wheat. Proposals to exempt various quantities of wheat from the control mechanism under various circumstances would, if adopted, result either (1) in weakening the program to the extent that total market supply is increased or demand is decreased thereby; or (2) on requiring that additional reductions be made in the marketing quotas of producers not covered by the proposed exemptions.
The proposals before your committee would reduce to some extent the total demand for wheat and other grains by allowing certain wheat producers to produce more wheat for their own use than is allowed by existing law. Using their own increased production of wheat, such favored producers would thus be in the market to buy less wheat or other grain produced by farmers who produce and sell commercially.
Moreover, under existing law allowing certain wheat producers to increase their acreage of wheat from year to year results in a transfer of wheat marketing quota bases from farms still subject to quotas to those who would become exempt.
These results obviously would be a hardship to the major commercial producers. Such producers would obviously consider such action as unfair treatment and a serious weakening of their wheat program.
However, the long-range continuation of the wheat quota program is not only vital to commercial wheat producers but also dependent upon widespread support of people and farmers generally, including noncommercial producers of wheat.
Noncommercial wheat producers, whose own commercial sales of other commodities may not be protected from administered-price market forces, do not feel that the law should force them to go into the market to buy grain, including wheat, that they are voluntarily willing to produce for their own use.
To allow noncommercial wheat producers to increase the production of wheat for their own use is to reduce to some extent the commercial demand for wheat and other grain. But not to do so is to continue in force a requirement on noncommercial producers that, in the
absence of a complete well-rounded farm income protection program for all farm commodities, is unfair to noncommercial wheat producers who use what they produce for their own feed needs to produce commodities to be sold in an unprotected market.
Commercial wheat farmers have no desire to maintain a program that works an unfair hardship on other farmers. Moreover, they also understand that no program can be maintained legislatively through the years if it works unnecessary and misunderstood hardships on a large number of participants. For this reason we believe that changes are needed in the existing wheat marketing quota law.
However, these changes must be carefully considered so that they will largely remove the major irritations and hardships to noncommercial wheat producers without adding unduly and unnecessarily to the problems of commercial wheat producers.
In no event should the nature of such revised legislation be such that it would allow the basic wheat marketing program to be seriously and gravely weakened. Nor should the amendatory legislation' be such that it could be interpreted as a negation of the marketing quota principle.
In our opinion, H. R. 6784 is a bill which delicately balances these various interests in wheat marketing quota legislation. The special provisions that Mr. Anfuso has worked out through consultation with representatives of both commercial and noncommercial wheat producers appear to us to provide (1) appropriate and needed adjustDents required to meet the special problems of noncommercial wheat farmers; (2) but still protects the essential integrity and effectiveLess of the wheat marketing quota program in its general application.
I would like to commend the chairman, Mr. Albert, and Mr. Heimburger, the committee counsel, and other members of the committee, Tho have worked so diligently and sincerely over the past weeks and Donths in working out this very delicately balanced bill, that Mr. Anfuso has introduced. A problem of this kind just does not pop ad unannounced on a blank sheet of paper. It takes work, and we uppreciate the work that you gentlemen have given to the drafting a sill which we think does reconcile these various interests in the proposal
Section 1 of H. R. 6784 prevents the use of this special authority for a large-scale feeding operation by restricting the exempted acres to 30 per farm. For example, it would exempt Safeway Stores in Colorado or in Ohio from being up 20 or 30,000 acres of land to produce wheat for cattle feeding operations. It would, on the other and protect and make it possible for the small family farmer in poultry or eggs, or dairy or beef or hogs, to grow wheat for his own
Mr. ALBERT. And with this limitation? Mr. BAKER. A limitation is absolutely necessary. Jfr. ALBERT. I think so, too. Mr. BAKER. Nor does the bill eliminate the 15-acre minimum in Tisting law as has been suggested by some. We hope you will not eliminate that 15-acre minimum. This section, and section 2, also, provides that acreage exempted from operation of the quota protum shall not be used to build up the historical base for future
quotas. This closes an unfair loophole that would otherwise be opened up, by even the 30-acre provision of the proposed bill, if it were not closed in the latter part of section I and in section II.
Fundamentally we are opposed to requirements that so-called commercial corn and wheat acres be called upon to carry the entire burden of needed market supply adjustments. This is particularly true with reference to corn, but we see unless we stop the trend now building toward the same monstrosity, in the case of the wheat program. While H. R. 6784 does not go as far as we would like in reducing the size of the noncommercial wheat area, section 3 of the bill is, in our opinion, a step in the right direction. It is, also, a needed precausion for commercial areas against the expansion of the loophole created by exemption of certain wheat production from operation of quotas.
Mr. Chairman, in net we believe that adoption of H. R. 6784 will strengthen rather than weaken the wheat marketing quota law. Therefore, we urge your favorable consideration. We appreciate being invited to give you our views on this proposal.
Mr. ALBERT. Thank you very much.
Mr. BAKER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. ALBERT. Are there any questions? I think your statement covers the bill very well.
Mr. HILL. I want to ask John one question. Does your organization favor a section in this bill that would be retroactive, and somehow or in some way work out a wheat retroactive program that would take away the fines that have already been levied on overplanting of wheat for consumption on their own farm?
Mr. BAKER. Mr. Hill, from the standpoint of those, let us say, unfairly injured, sympathetically, I wish it were possible to do it. On the other hand, the statement that the Department witness made here today about the administrative difficulty of it, and I believe Mr. Albert and Mr. Watts pointed out, the otherwise unfairness of it with respect to a producer who did go on at great hardship to himself and complied, I think that it is best not to make this retroactive.
Committee counsel raised this question with me earlier, and I have tried to think about it from all angles in the meantime, and it just seems to me it is like a lot of the considerations of a lot of retroactive changes in law, ordinances and various other things, from the standpoint of the injured person it would seem to be a humanitarian thing, and a fair and kind thing to do, but on the other hand, you are unfair to those who went by the law and regulation as they were in force at that time.
Mr. HILL. We would not be unfair to them if the Congress reimbursed them. Suppose a Supreme Court decision comes along some day and knocks the whole thing into a cocked hat, that you cannot fine a man for feeding his own crop on his own farm. Some smart lawyer will get into that. The Supreme Court questioned the right of a congressional committee. I am not a lawyer-who would imagine that the Supreme Court would make such a statement. I just point that out as an illustration.
Mr. BAKER. Earlier this morning it was stated the same Court has already ruled on the constitutionality of this. That was my understanding from such earlier testimony.