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Mr. FRENSDORF. I would say in the neighborhood of a cent and a quarter to a cent and a half. I am not positive on that point, however.
The CHAIRMAN. He said the cost of manufacture was slightly more than the Stillwater.
Mr. FRENSDORF. Yes, sir.
Senator GRONNA. What would you have to sell twine at, based upon the price quoted by the Reguladora at 7§ in New York? Mr. MAYER. Seven and three-eighths.
Senator GRONNA. Seven and three-eighths in New York.
Mr. FRENSDORF. Seven and three-eighths in New York; that would be probably more than 7 Jackson, would it not?
Senator GRONNA. Yes.
Mr. FRENSDORF. You can easily figure that. That would be at least-if it would cost a cent and a half, it would be 9 cents, and our profits on that would make it 10 cents, if we got a cent profit.
Senator GRONNA. So that the increase in price would be about 3 cents?
Mr. FRENSDORF. Yes, sir. At least that increase in the price of sisal. You see, a 3-cent raise would be about 40 per cent. The increase in the cost of sisal, as compared with our figures that you asked me to get for last year-you asked me to get the average cost of our sisal last year. I have it here and I will read it:
Hon. EDWARD FRENSDORF,
Care New Willard Hotel, Washington, D. C.
MICHIGAN STATE PRISON, Jackson, Mich., February 21, 1916.
DEAR MR. FRENSDORF: Your letter of February 19 at hand. Note that you wish information as to the average cost of fiber during the last fiscal year. From July 1, 1914, to June 30, 1915, the average cost of sisal fiber delivered to the Michigan State Prison was $4.473. As you know we are now paying for the same grade of fiber $7.25 delivered at factory.
With kindest personal regards, I remain, yours, very truly,
NATHAN F. SIMPSON.
It is even a little higher than that, I judge, but I do not know what the last quotation was, but at this time it was $7.25. That is all he said. You see, there is an increase of 60 per cent in the cost of sisal. The CHAIRMAN. What is manila quoted at now?
Mr. FRENSDORF. I do not know.
The CHAIRMAN. You do not deal in manila?
Mr. FRENSDORF. Not at all.
The CHAIRMAN. Have you any other suggestions that we have not asked questions in regard to?
Mr. FRENSDORF. The other point was that I was asked if we were given credit by the Comision Reguladora, and I took that up with the warden, as per your request, and I have a letter from him under date of February 21, which I will read. [Reading:]
Hon. EDWARD FRENSDORF,
MICHIGAN STATE PRISON, Jackson, Mich., February 21, 1916.
Care New Willard Hotel, Washington, D. C. DEAR MR. FRENSDORF: Your letter of February 19 received. Note your inquiry as to whether or not the Comision Reguladora has furnished this institution credit. In answer will say that the comision has recently made the following terms of payment for sisal purchased-90-day draft. I assume that when these drafts are
accepted the same are discounted in the New York banks. I will say, however, that these terms are the same as previously given us by fiber houses in New York. Trusting that this is what you require, and with the kindest personal regards, I remain Very truly, yours, NATHAN F. SIMPSON.
So that there is nothing out of the ordinary and no new departure along that line. I guess that they all feel that the State of Michigan is amply able to pay, and that they are not taking any chance.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there any other points that we have not asked you about which you wish to say something on?
Mr. FRENSDORF. Well, all I have to say is that, representing as we do not only the manufacturer, the State, but the farmers, who are our clients, we are, and I guess most every Congressman down here from a grain-growing section is, very much alarmed at the situation. The present situation is not so much to disturb them as what the future may be for them.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you agree with Mr. Loring that the present price of sisal is too low, as compared with other products used for similar purposes?
Mr. FRENSDORF. I could not say that. I have never found a product yet when I was in the market to buy it that was too low, and I am in the wool business.
Mr. SPENCER. May I ask, Mr. Frensdorf, will you furnish the committee a list of your purchases of sisal, of persons from whom you purchased it, the dates, and the prices?
Mr. FRENSDORF. I think I can. The request was made just for the average.
Mr. SPENCER. No, no. I do not want the average.
Mr. FRENSDORF. That is what they asked me for before, and that is what I wrote for, and that is why I have got it in that way.
Mr. SPENCER. But you can do that, and send it here within the next 10 days?
Mr. FRENSDORF. Yes, sir; how long back do you want me to go? Mr. SPENCER. Just as far as you can.
Mr. FRENSDORF. I would hate to go back to a previous administration.
Mr. SPENCER. Why?
Mr. FRENSDORF. The warden who was acting at that time was given two years in another penitentiary.
Mr. SPENCER. Will you go back to the beginning of your adminis
Mr. FRENSDORF. Yes, sir.
Mr. MAYER. What we want is a tabulated statement as to the sisal you purchased, the quantities you purchased, when purchased, of whom purchased, and the prices you paid therefor, and also the price that you charged for binder twine during those five years. Mr. FRENSDORF. All right.
Mr. FISHER. Mr. Frensdorf, have you any knowledge of the comparison of the prices at which you bought sisal and the prices at which your competitors in private business-that is, not public institutions-bought sisal?
Mr. FRENSDORF. At times I would say that we conferred, but I could not tell anything about what their average was.
Mr. FISHER. What is your impression as to whether you had to pay more or less than they?
That is why I am
Mr. FRENSDORF. I do not think anything more. so proud of these figures. I do not think anyone underbought us
Mr. FISHER. And how about previous years?
Mr. FRENSDORF. Well, I was not so proud of them always. Sometimes some of them outguessed us.
Mr. MAYER. You never have bought any sisal since you have been connected with the prison, in Yucatan?
Mr. FRENSDORF. No.
Mr. MAYER. Your purchases were all made through Montes or Peabody, in the United States?
Mr. FRENSDORF. Yes, sir.
Mr. FISHER. Did you ever buy from the Mid-State, so far as you can recall?
Mr. FRENSDORF. No, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Gentlemen, we will have to take a recess at this point, in order that Senator Gronna, Senator Wadsworth, and I may attend in the Senate Chamber on an important matter which is to come up this morning. We will reconvene when that matter has been disposed of.
(The committee thereupon took a recess, from 10.55 o'clock a. m. until 12.45 o'clock p. m., when the hearing was resumed.)
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Frensdorf, you had a friend, the representative of the Gleaners' Association, whom you wished us to hear?
Mr. FRENSDORF. His name is Grant Slocum, and he is the supreme secretary of the Gleaners' Association.
The CHAIRMAN. We would be very glad to hear from you, Mr. Slocum. Kindly give your name, sir, and residence.
STATEMENT OF GRANT SLOCUM, SUPREME SECRETARY GLEANERS' ASSOCIATION, DETROIT, MICH.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there any points, Mr. Slocum, on which you could enlighten this committee on the subject we have in hand? If so, we would be very glad for you to proceed in your own way.
Mr. SLOCUM. Of course, I am not in a position to enlighten you on the subject. I only come as representing this organization, and I came on a double mission: First, in reference to the interstate shipment of twine, the prison-made product, which is not before this committee, so that part is outside of what I may have to say. But I bring an emphatic protest against any proposition which has for its object the organization of a combination, benevolent or otherwise, which will interfere with the price of binder twine.
You ask why we know that something is happening or has happened. I want to be as brief as I can because I see you have been very patient and taken an immense amount of testimony.
Previous to the year of 1908 binder twine in the State of Michigan was selling from 14 to 16 cents a pound. There was absolutely no telling what the price would be. It was fluctuating all the way from 18 cents, possibly, to 14 cents, never below that. Through our organization we secured an appropriation by the legislature of the State of Michigan of $125,000 to establish a binder twine plant. In that year, to show you that a combination did absolutely exist at that time, when we had the prison factory that made 1,800,000 pounds of twine
the dealers of the State were called-and I was merely invited thereto see what would be done with that product. The dealers would not give the prison factory a price until the International Harvester Co. or the other companies had set their price.
So the prison factory was up against it; no one to sell their twine to until the larger concerns had made their prices. As an upshot of the whole affair, I took the contract to handle 800,000 pounds of twine among our members. It was handled on a cooperative basis absolutely, and the price of twine immediately dropped to $8.20 a hundred. The CHAIRMAN. You mean 8.2 cents a pound?
Mr. SLOCUM. Yes, 8.2 cents a pound. I was speaking by the hundred. In the year 1909 we paid $7.75. The farmer paid that. I know nothing about the dealers. The farmer paid in 1910, $7.50; in 1911, $7.50; in 1913 the same; in 1913, $8.75; in 1914, $8. Mr. FISHER. When you said "the same," you meant what? Mr. SLOCUM. $7.50; in 1915 it was $7.50.
Mr. SPENCER. Let us get those figures right. I think you have confused them some. What was it in 1908?
Mr. SLOCUM. $8.20 a hundred pounds.
Mr. SPENCER. I thought you said it went up as high as 14 or16 cents. The CHAIRMAN. Prior to that time it was away up?
Mr. SLOCUM. Prior to that absolutely; that is what we paid in 1907. The price at retail was 16 cents-14 or 16 cents. had been 12 cents previous to that.
Mr. MAYER. Never as low?
Mr. SLOCUM. No; 1915 it was $7.50; in 1910 it was $7.50; in 1911 it was $7.50; in 1912 it was $7.50; we had three years the same; in 1913 it was increased to $8.75; in 1914 it was $8; 1915, $7.50. Now, this year, as near as we can figure, the farmer in our State will pay either $9.75 a hundred or $10.
Senator WADSWORTH. Are you speaking of the price of prisonmade goods?
Mr. SLOCUM. Yes; our prison-made goods, and that regulates the price of all twines sold in our State.
Senator GRONNA. You have reference to sisal twine?
Mr. SLOCUM. Yes, I have reference to sisal twine. I do not think farmers use very much of any other kind of twine in our State, or in any of the adjoining States.
Mr. SPENCER. A gentleman testified, by the name of Loring, that the Plymouth Cordage Co. did not follow the prison prices at all; that he made his prices higher or lower and paid no attention to the prison prices.
Mr. SLOCUM. It is very evident that when they make as much twine as they do in Minnesota and Michigan, which produces its 12,000,000 pounds, that they must pay some attention.
Mr. SPENCER. It struck me that way, but he said not.
Mr. SLOCUM. I am going to make this statement, that in 1912 twine sold in the State of Illinois for 5 cents a pound higher than in Michigan. Now, you may ask why that was. I do not know anything about what the dealer pays. Many times I realize that the local dealer in a certain town, realizing that he has not competition, will put up the price. I know that to be true. But we have shipped twine to Iowa and saved the farmer 4 or 5 cents a pound. For the
last three years prices have been quite general-not so much difference between the States.
The CHAIRMAN. Will you not go back and tell us a little more about the prices paid for twine prior to 1908? That is very interesting
Mr. SLOCUM. I will say this-I do not like to give you anything but what is absolutely facts and I did not have time to go back. I want to say that it has never been less than 14 cents to the farmer until we had prison-made twine.
The CHAIRMAN. You do not know what the dealers had to pay? Mr. SLOCUM. I do not know, of course-it was as high as 18 cents to the farmer.
The CHAIRMAN. About how many years ago? Do you recall that? Mr. SLOCUM. I will say since 1900.
The CHAIRMAN. To what do you attribute the very great cheapening in price, beginning with 1908?
Mr. SLOCUM. Absolutely to the entrance of the prison factories into this game.
The CHAIRMAN. That was true in your State. They entered in about five or six years ago, but it was testified here
Mr. SLOCUM. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. But in Minnesota they had been in over 20 years? Mr. SLOCUM. I do not think they were manufacturing any great amount at that time, however.
The CHAIRMAN. Did I understand, Mr. Wolfer, that you were making a considerable amount then?
Mr. WOLFER. We started with one business in 1895, hard fiber, and that was increased from time to time quite rapidly until we got up to 500 spindles.
The CHAIRMAN. And did you not begin to manufacture quite extensively, if I understood you correctly, about 1901 ?
Mr. WOLFER. Yes, sir; in 1900 we had at least 400 spindles.
The CHAIRMAN. So you were really making a very considerable amount of binder twine long prior to 1908?
Mr. WOLFER. I will say this: We sold binder twine at 19 cents a pound in 1905.
Mr. SLOCUM. Of course, I do not presume a pound of Minnesota twine ever reaches Iowa. It has not to my knowledge. When the farmer wants twine, 100 pounds or 500 pounds, he usually waits until about harvest time.
The CHAIRMAN. You said "Iowa."
Did you not mean Michigan?
The CHAIRMAN. You live in Michigan?
Mr. SLOCUM. But, we have a membership in Iowa. The farmer goes to buy, and when he gets into the harvest field to-morrow the wheat is ready, and ordinarily he did not buy his twine a week before, or two weeks before or a month before, so he pays the price the dealer charges him.
I would much prefer to have you gentlemen ask any questions. The CHAIRMAN. I should like to know a little more about this organization, Mr. Slocum.
Mr. SLOCUM. Our organization was organized 21 years ago. It has two branches, one a fraternal-benevolent branch, the membership of which is farmers, living upon farms.