Mr. LUKENS. I had one other matter I wanted to present, Mr. Chairman. On November 22 this letter was written, coming from the office of the Reguladora Comision, signed N. E. Bates, agent (reading):

[blocks in formation]

GENTLEMEN: We are in need of the average monthly prices of binder twine, both sisal and manila, from 1900 up to date, and we thought that perhaps you had these statistics and would care to assist us by furnishing the information. If the same has to be gotten from your records, we are quite willing to pay for the clerical work that this will entail.

Hoping that you will be able to assist us in this matter, and anticipating our thanks,

we are,

Yours, very truly,


In reply to that, on November 24, I sent them the opening prices of binder twine as reported in the Farm Implement News, and stated whether they had been advanced or cut by any of the twine concerns. I told him (reading):

We are unable to give you the average monthly price of binder twine for the period you name. The best we can do is to give you the opening price and state what happened as the season progressed, whether the price was advanced or cut. So far as sisal twine is concerned we looked this information up for another party some months ago, and are therefore able to give it to you without delay. We can not give you the information about manila without going over our files, which will require considerable time, and as this is a very busy period we hope you will not need the information for several weeks. If you do, we will try to get it for you earlier.

The following table shows

Mr. FISHER. You gave him the table?

Mr. LUKENS. The following table gives for the years from 1900 to 1915, inclusive, the opening prices as taken from our files, and then under the head of "remarks" what happened during the season.

The Reguladora has issued here a pamphlet entitled "Yucatan: An American monopoly," giving the prices of binder twine for the years 1900 to 1915, inclusive, and some other statistics about fiber, and the January price of fiber in each of those years. The evident intent is to show the spread between the January price of fiber and the price of binder twine. In every year of the years 1900 to 1915 they have used the figures that I gave them except in 1915, when apparently the figures has been deliberately altered to show a spread that did not exist between the price of fiber and the price of twine. Mr. FISHER. Give that in detail, won't you?

Mr. LUKENS. For 1915 I stated that the opening price was 71 cents, and that it was advanced to 81 cents and remained firm. Their booklet says that the price in March was 9 cents; in April, 9 cents; in May, 9 cents; September, 9 cents; October, 9 cents-all those months being in the year 1915, when there was no published price of 9 cents so far as our information went.

Mr. SPENCER. You are not the only source of information on that subject in the United States, are you? You do not know what other information they had on the subject?

Mr. LUKENS. My purpose in reading this is to show that I believe an attempt was made to deceive the public in these prices.

Mr. SPENCER. Do you know what information they had?

Mr. LUKENS. No; I do not.

Mr. SPENCER. Do you mean to say they got it only from you? Mr. FISHER. How can he know?

The CHAIRMAN. That can be brought out later.

Mr. SPENCER. They got it from the Cordage Trade Journal.




Mr. BAKER. Mr. Chairman, I have two things I want to say. is about the patronage of the International Harvester Co. along the line of the questions as to whether an attempt was made, which amounted to 17 per cent of our patronage—

Mr. FISHER. One-seventeenth.

Mr. BAKER. That particular issue was a special issue devoted to tractors. That is a very live question just now, and the International Harvester Co. took two extra pages in that issue. As a rule it runs only one page per week, and in only six issues during the past year has it run over 1 page.

The CHAIRMAN. How many pages of advertising per week do you have?

Mr. BAKER. We have about 28 to 30 pages average for the whole year, and the International Harvester Co.'s business is a little over 52 pages per year-about 56 pages per year. In other words, it is in the neighborhood of 4 per cent of our total advertising, and we have about 400 customers. We have some dozens of customers, any two of which use far more than the International. Mr. FISHER. How about the John Deere Co?

Mr. BAKER. The John Deere interests together use about 20 per cent more than the International.

It is a

The other point is simply this. I can give my own knowledge. fact that this campaign was undertaken exclusively as a piece of newspaper enterprise for the good, not so much of the trade as ultimately for the farmers, because we know he is the man who will pay the bill. The cordage manufacturers were uniformly adverse to giving us any information or encouraging us in any way, and we did it ourselves simply as a matter of newspaper enterprise solely and entirely, and without any inspiration or incitement from anybody. And the best proof of that is this fact. The International Harvester Co. runs just as much business in these other implement papers as in ours, and our paper circulates in only a part of the country. The International Harvester Co. also runs a very much greater amount of advertising in a large number of agricultural papers reaching the farmers, and yet the International Harvester Co. has done nothing whatever to incite any of these other papers to do anything. We did it ourselves on our own initiative, and we are the only ones that

did do it.

Senator GRONNA. Did you ever consider that ultimately the farmer pays for all these advertisements?

Mr. BAKER. That is exactly why we agitated this twine question. The dealers and manufacturers themselves are not keenly interested in this

Senator GRONNA. I referred to the advertisements.

Mr. BAKER. Oh, certainly. We realize that. We realize that our income comes finally from the farmer, and that is why we are trying

to do something occasionally to square ourselves with him. [Laughter.]

Senator GRONNA. May I ask you what your position is with reference to the manufacture of twine by the State prisons?

Mr. BAKER. I have left that matter entirely to Mr. Lukens. I have never thought of interfering in that.

(Thereupon, at 2.05 o'clock p. m., the subcommittee adjourned to meet on Tuesday, February 29, 1916, at 10 o'clock a. m.)





Washington, D. C.

The subcommittee met in the committee room, Capitol, Senator Joseph E. Ransdell, presiding, at 10.05 o'clock a. m., pursuant to adjournment.

Present: Senator Ransdell (chairman), Senator Gronna, and Senator Wadsworth.

Mr. SPENCER. Mr. Chairman, in connection with the statement of Mr. Lukens, who appeared before the committee on Saturday, I would like to read into the record a short statement printed in the last issue of his paper, just as showing its attitude. This is an editorial from the Farm Implement News of the issue of February 24, 1916 (reading):


From the standpoint of the farmer, the advance in the prices of agricultural implements is of little consequence. Had it come at a time when prices of farm products were low and agricultural prosperity absent, the result would have been quite different. But with farmers getting about $1.15 for wheat, 70 cents for corn, 40 cents for oats, more than 7 cents for hogs, and prices correspondingly high for other products, the advances which increasing cost have made necessary in the implement trade will be nothing approaching a hardship. The primary cause of the advance is the same in both cases. The great war has given the farmer extraordinary prices for his products and now it will require him to pay an advance on farm operating equipment.

Mr. Mayer suggests that I read also an advertisement printed on page 22 of the same number. [Reading:]

To implement dealers:

Two weeks ago I urged you to ask farmers to write to their congressional representatives demanding passage of resolutions calling for an investigation of the sisal fiber monopoly.

The next day the Senate ordered an investigation of binder-twine prices, and the investigating committee, which is now holding hearings in Washington, is receiving testimony relating to every phase of the subject, including the monopoly of sisal and the exorbitant prices charged by the Sisal Trust.

The important thing now to be done is to have farmers write to members of the investigating committee telling them what the effect of the trust's operations will be on the cost of harvesting grain and how the trust is in a position and has already begun to exact an enormous tribute from grain growers. It will be well also for you to write to members of the committee. The committee is composed of Senator Jos. E. Ransdell, of Louisiana, chairman; Senator A. J. Gronna, of North Dakota, and Senator J. W. Wadsworth, of New York. Mail or telegrams addressed to them in care of the United States Senate will reach them.

No matter what you have done before in the fight against the greedy Sisal Trust, write to some member of the committee and urge representative farmers of your section to do the same. Western and northwestern dealers and farmers should write to Senator Gronna, eastern to Senator Wadsworth, and southern to Senator Ransdell.

The Sisal Trust is endeavoring with the aid of crafty lawyers to show that the fight is in the interests of the big twine producers and that the farmer will not be affected by its control of the sisal supply.

You who know that the ultimate consumer must pay all of the advances in the price of the fiber should, in the interests of your customers, do what you can to offset the impression that may be received from the trust's representations.

C. A. LUKENS, Editor Farm Implement News.

Mr. FISHER. You did not prepare that for him, did you, Mr. Spencer?

Mr. SPENCER. If I had I could not have prepared it any better for the purpose of proving what I started out to prove. [Laughter.] The CHAIRMAN. Senator Gronna has something which he wishes to submit for the record.

Senator GRONNA. Mr. Chairman, I have received a telegram which I believe I will ask to have incorporated in the record. This telegram is from one of the pioneers in our State. He is a very able and influential man. He is not a farmer. He is an implement dealer and merchant, and he is a member of the State senate. I will read the telegram, as it is very brief [reading]:

Hon. A. J. GRONNA,

Washington, D. C.:

HILLSBORO, N. DAK., February 28, 1916.

Farmers here are much interested in Sisal Trust investigation. The present rise in fiber incurs a loss to the farmers of this State alone of over $700,000.


The CHAIRMAN. You could not tell us how he estimates that $700,000 loss?

Senator GRONNA. We have under cultivation 16,000,000 acres of land. Of course, that includes everything.

The CHAIRMAN. Corn and everything else as well as the small grains?

Senator GRONNA. Yes. Of course, that would be 32,000,000 pounds, figuring 2 pounds to the acre.

Mr. FISHER. That would be the average?

Senator GRONNA. That would be the average; yes. I do not

know how he estimates it.

Mr. FISHER. He probably took the difference in price between this year and last year, and the quantity of grain, and estimated it on that basis.


Mr. SPENCER. Mr. Evia, please state your full name.

Mr. EVIA. Domingo F. Evia.

Mr. SPENCER. Where is your home?

Mr. EVIA. My home is in Merida, Mexico.

Mr. SPENCER. Are you interested or engaged in the growing and production of sisal?

Mr. EVIA. Yes, sir; I am a farmer myself.

Mr. SPENCER. How long have you been so engaged?

Mr. EVIA. Why, about 12 years.

Mr. SPENCER. Was your father engaged in that same business?

« ForrigeFortsett »