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SYDNEY ANDERSON, Minnesota, Chairman.
IRVINE L. LENROOT, Wisconsin. FRANK H. FUNK, Illinois.
ARTHUR CAPPER, Kansas. HATTON W. SUMNERS, Texas.
CHARLES L. McNARY, Oregon. PETER G. TEN EYCK, New York.
JOSEPH T. ROBINSON, Arkansas.
PAT HARRISON Mississippi.
IRVING S. PAULL, Secretary.
CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES,
Washington, D. C. The joint commission met pursuant to call at 10 o'clock a. m. in the caucus room, House of Representatives, to begin hearings under Senate concurrent resolution 4, Representative Sydney Anderson (chairman) presiding.
The CHAIRMAN. The commission will come to order. We have met this morning for the purpose of hearing the farmers and representatives of farm organizations touching the subjects of investigation under Senate concurrent resolution No. 4, which resolution will be put in the record at this point by the official reporter.
SENATE ConcuRRENT RESOLUTION No. 4.
Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), That a joint commission is hereby created, to be known as the Joint Commission of Agricultural Inquiry, which shall consist of five Senators, three of whom shall be members of the majority party and two of whom shall be members of the minority party, to he appointed by the President of the Senate, and five Representatives, three of whom shall be members of the majority party and two of whom shall be members of the minority party, to be appointed by the Speaker.
Said commission shall investigate and report to the Congress within 90 days after the passage of this resolution upon the following subjects:
1. The causes of the present condition of agriculture.
2. The cause of the difference between the prices of agricultural products paid to the producer and the ultimate cost to the consumer.
3. The comparative condition of industries other than agriculture. 4. The relation of prices of commodities other than agriculture. 5. The banking and financial resources and credits of the country, especially as affecting agricultural credits.
6. The marketing and transportation facilities of the country.
The commission shall include in its report recommendations for legislation which in its opinion will tend to remedy existing conditions and shall specifically report upon the limitations of the powers of Congress in enacting relief legislation.
The commission shall elect its chairman, and vacancies occurring in the membership of the commission shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointments.
The commission or any subcommittee of its members is authorized to sit during the sessions or recesses of Congress in the District of Columbia or elsewhere, to send for persons and papers, to administer oaths, to stimmon and compel the attendance of witnesses, and to employ such personal services and incur such expenses as may
be necessary to carry out the purposes of this resolution; such expenditure shall be paid from the contingent funds of the Senate and the House of Representatives in equal proportions, upon vouchers authorized by the committee and signed by the chairman thereof.
The CHAIRMAN. The commission will hear this morning, first, the representatives of the National Board of Farm Organizations, and the chairman will ask Mr. C. S. Barrett, the president of that organization, to present the representatives of his organizations. Mr. Barrett, you may proceed.
STATEMENT OF MR. C. S. BARRETT, CHAIRMAN OF THE
NATIONAL BOARD OF FARM ORGANIZATIONS AND PRESI.
Mr. BARRETT. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the Joint Congressional Commission of Agricultural Inquiry, speaking for a very large body of organized farmers, I want to begin by thanking the Congress of the United States for giving us this opportunity to place before you the facts concerning the business of the farmers of this Nation. In presenting our case we approach the subject in no narrow or sectional spirit.
The National Board of Farm Organizations, the National Farmers' Union, and affiliated organizations, which speak for farmers in every State where food or raw materials are produced, impressed by the necessity for the official announcement of the truth concerning our industry, decided a few months ago to ask Congress to create the body I am now addressing.
We were very glad to find that agriculture everywhere agreed that the plan originally suggested by the National Farmers' Union was deserving of support. Now, the farmers in every section of the United States have registered their approval of the proposed method of reaching the truth.
With the earnest, sincere, and energetic cooperation of agriculture there are good grounds for the hope that you will be able, before your labors end, to give the country the truth regarding the condition of our industry and the causes for it. And may we also hope that you will be able to propose to Congress remedies for the evils which, through your diligent research, you will undoubtedly uncover.
I am well aware that Congress is not omnipotent. I know that your powers are limited. There are certain constitutional limitations, but none of these will operate to bar you from discovering the truth. If the Nation knows the truth, it is not impossible that, with the cooperation of the States, the municipalities, and organized honesty everywhere, that effective remedies will be found.
When the National Farmers' Union, in concert with other bodies, decided to ask Congress to adopt this method of arriving at the truth, we believed that a system of permanent readjustment could be evolved. Of course, the impelling cause for the demand that Congress create your commission and arm it with the powers recited in the resolution, was the present condition of agriculture.
We saw ruin and misery everywhere, and this ruin that had overtaken the farmers spread to the cities. It closed factories and stopped the wheels of industry everywhere, depriving 5,000,000 of our robust citizens of employment. Of course, we understood that it was necessary to arrest this progress toward national disaster.
But after all, we realized that these evils were symptoms rather than diseases and that the real trouble lay deeper. It was not open to superficial vision. It was necessary to probe deeply, to go many fathoms beneath the surface. Having found the real trouble which, in the first clause of the resolution creating the commission, you are instructed to discover, it will be possible also to find the remedy.
The farmers who earnestly besought Congress to adopt this resolution to create the commission had in view a possible permanent
remedy for the malady from which agriculture is suffering. We believe that the evils from which our industry is suffering are permanent. They are not spasmodic. The troubles of the past two years are simply aggravations of a continuing malady. The causes are the same, but the disease has become more ma nt.
Farmers would cooperate in any effort to give temporary relief. If legislation now pending or to be proposed gives promise of alleviation, agriculture will not fail to give such legislation its hearty support.
I would like, however, to impress on you the fact that agriculture never has been in a large sense a free and untrammeled institution. It has been forced to yield a very large percentage of its legitimate earnings to interests which "toil not neither do they spin.' It has paid excessive prices for services which often are not performed, and it has been penalized in a thousand ways from a thousand directions to satisfy unjust exactions.
In penalizing agriculture men and systems have handed additional penalties down to the customers. The results have been unhappy in the extreme. Excessive prices to the consumer for agricultural products and ruinous returns to agriculture for its services to society have been the rule for years passed.
Systems of distribution, systems of finance, systems of transportation, and practically all systems which serve or pretend to serve the public have exacted enormous tolls from the farmers and have further increased these tolls to their customers.
Millions of men and women have left the farms, tenancy is rapidly increasing, and the country which should be devoted mainly to agriculture has now about two-thirds of its available capital invested in other fields. Why are all these things so? This is something which we are hoping the commission will discover and establish.
Gentlemen, you are asked to find the causes for the present condition of agriculture. If you find these causes it will be necessary for you to cover practically the entire economic field of the United States. No avenue which leads to or from agriculture will be able to escape your probe. It will be necessary for you to explore finance, transportation, distribution, foreign markets, and foreign credits, reign shipping, and all fields through which or by whose agency farm products reach the consumer.
It will be necessary for you to examine the Federal Reserve Board and other agencies and bureaus of the Government. If you would arrive at the whole truth you must make big business yield what it knows. The Chamber of Commerce of the United States, the great trusts such as the Steel Trust, the Coal Trust, the Credit Trusts, and the Money Trusts—should be compelled to give you the facts concerning their operations. Unless this is done it will be impossible for you to answer the questions addressed to you in the resolution.
All these great aggregations of capital are engaged in some way in operations which affect agricultural interests. Let these men and systems lay their cards on the table just as my colleagues in the agricultural field are willing to do. If they do this, it will be entirely possible for you to reach the truth and propose constructive remedies.
The Bureau of Census of the Department of Commerce says the farms of the United States, not counting machinery, live stock, grain, and other provisions, are worth $67,000,000,000. In this vast capitalization there is not a drop of water. There are no artificial securities, no bogus bonds.