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property laws) is insufficient to provide an economically adequate family farm unit, exception to the standard limitation should be made for that specific project. These instances are extremely rare. The rare-exceptional case provides no justification for abandonment of a principle of public policy and a legal practice which for more than 50 years has been a bulwark of protection to the family farm in the West.
I have read or heard all the arguments of the opponents of the water limitation. Every one of them is grounded in selfishness, in a factory-in-the-fields philosophy, and in an unholy desire to achieve legal monopoly of the land and legal exploitation of fellow men.
In the face of this kind of argument, one is moved to reiterate the words of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah. Facing a trend in his ancient time toward land monopoly, he cried: "Woe to those who join house to house, who add field to field until there is no more room and you are made to dwell alone in the midst of the land” (Isa. 5:8). Thank you.
STATEMENT OF C. EDWARD BEHRE FOR THE FRIENDS COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL
My name is C. Edward Behre. I represent the Friends Committee on National Legislation, 104 C Street NE, Washington, D. C. This organization is widely representative of the thinking of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), but it does not purport to speak for all Friends, since the demo cratic organization of the Religious Society of Friends does not lend itself to official spokesmen.
Quakers have a long-standing interest in issues affecting social and human welfare, as well as in peace. We do not pose as experts in the complicated field of irrigation law, but many Quakers are farmers and we want to preserve the basic values in family farming which may be affected by changes in the 160-acre water limitation on reclamation projects. I myself, know something of the West and formerly owned 960 acres of wheatland in the Columbia River Basin, which I sold to the Government about 10 years ago.
The Friends Committee on National Legislation believes that the basic objectives of the 160-acre limitation are sound. The 160-acre limitation aims to preserve the social and individual values of family farming. It affords pro tection against undue concentration of landownership. It serves to avoid the evils inherent in migrant farm labor which often characterize large-scale corporation farming. As successful family farming declines, the sinews of community life are weakened.
While emphasizing the social and community values of family farming, we want to make it clear that we appreciate that the 160-acre limitation is necessarily an arbitrary one and that changes in economic conditions and in farm technology have tended to raise the acreage needed to sustain a satisfactory family farm operation. We also recognize that there may be a wide variation of factors affecting size of unit for satisfactory operation among projects and between individual farms in any given project. Nevertheless, we think it would be a mistake to repeal the 160-acre limitation.
We want to commend Secretary of Interior Seaton for his forthright stand on the long-debated Kings River contract (California), and particularly on his declaration that he finds it his duty "not only to conform to the technical provisions of the law but also, within whatever discretion (he) may have, to seek compliance with the principles on which the legislation rests.” In this decision Secretary Seaton stands firmly for the people and the public interest against the forces of monopoly.
We support the Secretary of Interior in his contention that individual owners should not be released from the water limitation by prepayment of contract payments. Indeed we would go further and challenge the concept that full and final payment of the obligations of a district to the Federal Government ends the applicability of the acreage limitations. We do not think this concept is valid for the following reasons :
1. In multipurpose projects the proportion of the costs allocated to irrigation involves a substantial element of subsidy: (a) Some of the costs are charged to nonreimbursable benefits such as recreation and fiood control. (0) Absorption of costs by power revenues serves to minimize the cost allocated to
irrigation. (c) Interest on the investment is not included as a cost of irrigation.
2. Even if the financial interest of the United Statee were fully met, the public retains an interest in the water itself comparable to its interest in any public utility. In the case of an irrigation system, the public values at stake are not those subject to control through control of rates. They are those endangered by removal of existing limitations in the distribution of water. The control inherent in the 160-acre limitation is analogous to that sought through the preference clause in the distribution of public power.
In a statement transmitted to your subcommittee on December 19, 1957, the Department of Agriculture suggests that size of farm units in reclamation projects be based on (a) providing labor income to the farm family comparable to nonfarm work and (b) providing optimum efficiency in the use of all farm resources-land, labor, and capital. We would agree that these are sound criteria, provided that "optimum" efficiency is interpreted as "reasonably acceptable" efficiency, which is what the Department's statement apparently intends. (See lines 2 and 3, p. 45, committee print of April 25, 1958, on acreage limitation.)
However, we think these criteria need to be supplemented by some consideration of community values and of possible trends toward monopolistic control and the evils of migrant labor. The emphasis should be on people rather than dollars.
Mr. Chairman, in your letter of September 10, 1957, you asked the Secretary of Agriculture to suggest a practical formula for determining size of a farm unit held by a single owner. The response of the Department of Agriculture makes it clear that it is not feasible to set up any formula better than the arbitrary 160-acre limitation now. The Department states : "Not enough economic studies have been made in irrigated areas to be able to establish the acreage required for efficient farming under all climatic, soil, and type-of-farming situations."
Lacking a better formula, it behooves the Congress to retain the limitation now in the law. The data on economic returns from a wide variety of irrigated farms presented by the Department of Agriculture on pages 48 to 53 of the committee print of April 25, 1958, indicate that returns under the present limitation are generally satisfactory. Indeed they indicate that in some situations the 160-acre limit may be unnecessarily high and that the criteria suggested by the Department could be met on a smaller acreage.
The tabulations show few instances where the net income is less than $5,000, and these are always in association with acreages less than 320 acres per family. The data for the Vale Owyhee project in Oregon show a maximum return with 140 acres. The data for the Columbia Basin show generally satisfactory returns although the units established there are well within the 320 acre family base of the general reclamation law.
In the light of these data, which appear to be fairly comprehensive, we think caution should be exercised in authorizing projects where climatic and soil conditions are so unfavorable as to require more than 320 acres or irrigated land for a family to make a satisfactory living.
In summary, we feel strongly that the 160-acre limitation should not be amended. Its application does not seem to contravene, in most situations, the application of the principles for determining the size of farm units suggested by the Department of Agriculture. We suggest that when exceptions seem necessary they be made the subject of special legislation with a specific acreage limitation stated in each case. Thus each exception would be submitted to the scrutiny of congressional inquiry and action. But the door would not be open for general disregard for the basic social and community values of family farming.
In regard to the three bills specifically mentioned in the notice of this We support S. 1425 by Senators Douglas. Morse, and Neuberger. The payment of interest on excess lands is no reason for abandoning the objectives of the 160-acre limitation.
We take no position with respect to S. 34-18 by Senator Barrett.
We are opposed to section 1 of S. 2541 by Senator Barrett. As stated above, we think exceptions should only be made by congressional action. We doubt the wisdom of section 3 of S. 2541 for the same reason that we support S. 1425.
Senator BARRETT. The committee will recess until 10 o'clock tomorrow morning in room 318, Senate Office Building:
(Thereupon at 4:45 p. m., a recess was taken until Thursday, May 1, 1958, at 10 a. m., in room 318, Senate Office Building.)
ACREAGE LIMITATION (RECLAMATION LAW) REVIEW
THURSDAY, MAY 1, 1958
UNITED STATES SENATE, SUBCOMMITTEE ON IRRIGATION AND RECLAMATION OF THE COMMITTEE ON INTERIOR AND INSULAR AFFAIRS,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10 a. m., in room 318, Senate Office Building, Senator Clinton P. Anderson (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Senator Anderson. Also present: Senator Barrett. Senator ANDERSON. The committee will be in order. Dr. Vass, will you state your name and your connection with the State of Wyoming, and proceed.
STATEMENT OF A. F. VASS, PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS, UNIVERSITY
Mr. Vass. Mr. Chairman. I am A. F. Vass, professor of agricultural economics, University of Wyoming. I had charge of the teaching research work in agricultural economics, soils, and crops, at the University of Wyoming and State experimentation for some 30 years, during which time I lived on the State experimentation farm in Laramie Valley in an area very similar to the Green River Valley lands under consideration in this hearing, except that the altitude at the State experimentation station where I lived is 1,000 feet higher than the lands in the Green River Valley.
I am here not only at the suggestion of Senator Barrett of Wyoming and Byron Wilson who is chairman of our natural resources board and other Wyoming citizens who are interested in a sound economic development of our natural resources, but because I am interested and have worked on this problem for many years as a research worker at the university.
I am, at the present time, a member of the land limitations committee of the National Reclamation Association and a member of the natural resources committee of the United States Chamber of Com
There is one most important thing on which all seem to agree up to this point, and that is a fair-sized farm unit on which a man has an opportunity, by good farm organization and management, to earn a living for himself and his family.
We may differ slightly on how to secure the above results due to our own personal experiences that differ in the different areas. It is only natural that those from the Ivy League or from the deep South
or the Corn Belt have somewhat different ideas on how to approach those things than the people who come from the wide open spaces.
As there had been complaints about the frequent failures of new settlers on recently opened Federal reclamation projects, the department of agricultural economics at the University of Wyoming made an extensive study of what was happening on the Riverton and the Shoshoni projects.
Detailed production and financial records were taken of 146 farms in the above areas in order to determine what factors were making for
success, and the factors that contributed most to failure. Some of those units had been open for 4 years, some for 3 years, 1 for 2 years, and 1 for 1 year. We are interested in studying what changes were taking place as time went by and the cropping system and the yields and the change in acreage and so on.
I will not attempt to give you the detailed report on our findings, but I do have a report here for the record that I believe will answer many of the questions that have been raised.
For example, the average acre per unit on these 146 farms was 108 acres of irrigated land, and we found no increase as time went on at the end of 4 years. We did not find any cases where the wife had taken up a unit or where any of the children had taken up units. .
Those things may occur in time, but I don't know how a wife gets a unit. The men have to draw it and they have to be selected. So we didn't run into that.
Senator BARRETT. Dr. Vass, that is a very important point. As a matter of fact, when the Bureau of Reclamation opens these projects it divides the units into 160 acres or less and mostly less, and it permits each settler to get but 1 unit; is that not right?
Mr. Vass. That is my understanding.
Mr. Vass. The aim of the study was to study what factors were contributing most to the failure as well as what factors contributed to
With that in mind, we were hoping to come up with some recommendation as to what might be the logical way of preventing these losses.
The most important factors in preventing satisfactory returns, as we concluded from the study—and in these studies we took detailed financial records of every individual farm by visits and interviews, and we had all the receipts and expenses, and they were very complete because most of these fellows were borrowing money from some of the Federal agencies and had to keep records of their receipts and expenses.
Senator ANDERSON. Wait a minute, you left me up in the air. You said the most complete factor was, and then you went off and didn't say what it was.
Mr. Vass. I will come back to that, Senator. First, the small size of the farm unit that average 108 acres of irrigated farmland, this extremely small acreage, in this age of mechanization with its increased acreage that woman can handle, resulted in the inefficient use and high cost of machinery per acre.