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Mr. TAYLOR. In the original conveyance of public land to a homestead applicant, the Secretary is limited to establishing a farm unit at not to exceed 160 irrigable acres.
Senator BARRETT. What was the purpose for the exception? Was that out in the Columbia River area, that you said the Secretary had discretion to set the acreage sufficient to support a family-size farm?
Mr. TAYLOR. Senator, what I meant by that was to refer to the language which I have just read, which the gentleman from the Bureau has elucidated.
If I understand him correctly, there is in another law which binds the Secretary in the disposition of public land a ceiling limit. I was referring to the family-farm requirement that is embodied in the reclamation law.
Senator BARRETT. So the answer to Senator Anderson's question is that while the Secretary had discretion to set the limitation for family-size farms, nevertheless, because of the other restriction of the law, he cannot go above 160 acres?
Mr. TAYLOR. There are 2 limitations to 160 acres in different laws. The one about which I am speaking and am most concerned is the one which limits the deliveries of water to land in private ownership.
Mr. DOMINY. I have one other comment that will clear up the second question Senator Barrett just asked with reference to the Columbia Basin project, Mr. Taylor.
The difference under the Columbia Basin authority is that even on private lands the Secretary is required to establish farm units on a family farm concept and may establish them at less than 160 acres.
Senator ANDERSON. I was in the House of Representatives and on the committee that wrestled with the Columbia Basin Act. We put them in, all right, that way, but I would also say that we did it on the advice of people that supposedly had checked carefully what the requirements were going to be, and we made the units way too small. We had expert testimony, but the passage of 15 or 20 years has made the testimony not too good. We would have been much better if we had put a family-sized unit that could be economically farmed and could result in some profit for the person farming it.
The units looked pretty good on the map. I will never forget how nice the map looked with all these homesteads. The trouble was that nobody could live on one and make a living.
Mr. TAYLOR. The limit is set at water for 160 acres on private land only, and this represents a figure that the 57th Congress regarded as far in excess of the normal requirements of a family, and therefore a very liberal basis for offering private landholders benefits from the
If water monopoly was not to be prevented, Congress would not have consented in the first place to the granting of Federal aid for irrigation.
Founders of reclamation were willing to aid private landowners by bringing them water cheaply, but thought it improper to spend public funds for this purpose unless monopolization of the benefits by the few could be prevented.
Opponents of Federal aid to western reclamation in the 57th Congress grounded their opposition in large part on their fear, and their prophecy, that large landholders would reap the major benefit.
Congressman George W. Ray, of New York, charged :
* and so we find behind this scheme, egging it on, encouraging it, the great railroad interests of the West, who own millions of acres of these arid lands, now useless, and the very moment that we, at the public expense, establish or construct these irrigation works and reservoirs, you will find multiplied by 10, and in some instances by 20, the value of now worthless land owned by those railroad companies, the title to which they obtained through grants from the Government for building great transcontinental railroad lines (35 Congressional Record 6685).
Western sponsors of Federal reclamation, sensitive to these eastern charges and themselves opposed to seeing the benefits of Federal aid go mainly to the few, were no less vehement in their antimonopoly declaration than their eastern opponents.
Congressman Newlands told the House that
* * * by the perversion of the existing land the sources of water supply are gradually being monopolized by the owners of cattle herds and the controllers of the great cattle ranges. Their purpose is to obtain the title to the water and by this means to control the land, prevent settlement, and perpetuate the monopoly which they now hold. If the Government does not act promptly it will be difficult for it to move at all. * * * Irrigation means the multiplication of the small homes and of the small herds * * * (35 Congressional Record 6685).
The leader of eastern opposition, however, was unmoved by repeated assurances from western Congressmen that the excess land provision in the national reclamation bill could be relied upon as a guaranty that his gloomy prophecy would fail, and the large corporacons would not get the water.
Today this subcommittee and this Congress hold the fate of Congressman Ray's pessimistic prediction in their hands. Two of the bills now before you, S. 2541 and S. 3448, would help realize Congressman Ray's worst fears.
They do not seek to stop the flow of public aid for private landowners from the Treasury; they oppose only the device within the law that insists on distributing these benefits widely.
A third bill before you, S. 1425, by Senators Douglas, Morse and Neuberger, would validate the promises of the original western friends of reclamation and deny the monopoly outcome charged and predicted by its original eastern opponents.
No one is required to take water from a reclamation project, or to dispose of any of his excess landholdings unless he is willing to do so in order to obtain water supplied by public aid.
The essence of the transaction between Government and private landowner is that the landowner calls upon the Government to provide him with water. If he does not want water for his excess lands under the excess-land provision, he is not required to ask for it.
Whatever his reasons for choosing or declining Federal aid for his excess lands, the choice is his. To make his choice easier, the Federal Government stands ready to furnish large landholders-whatever their choice—with cheap and permanent water up to the needs of 160 acres.
Senator ANDERSON. Could you stop there and let me go back?
At the bottom of the page where you say that S. 2541 and S. 3448 would help realize Congressman Ray's worst fears—his worst fear was with these railroads that held these land grants would be able to irrigate them and have a great deal of worthless land turn into very valuable pieces of property.
With the exception of the Southern Pacific land in the San Luis Valley do you know any area where that might be true? The Santa Fe Railroad picked up the old grants given to the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad Co., and they have disposed of a great deal of them. Certainly they have disposed of the great percentage of their land that might be developed.
The Southern Pacific has done pretty much the same with the exception of this tract in the San Luis Valley, I thought.
I Mr. TAYLOR. I was thrown off for a moment by your reference to the San Luis Valley. I thought of San Luis Valley, Colo. I think
you are referring to the Central Valley project in California.
Senator ANDERSON. Yes, we have already disposed of the San Luis area in Colorado.
Mr. TAYLOR. Yes. The Southern Pacific, according to a letter published in the House hearings, states that they hold 150,000 irrigable
Senator ANDERSON. Not in Colorado; in California.
Senator ANDERSON. We have waived 160-acre limitation in Colorado in the San Luis Valley.
Mr. TAYLOR. You modified it?
Senator ANDERSON. All right.
feel there are many areas of great expanse of railroad land where the railroad land has not been sold?
Mr. TAYLOR. Senator, I hope you will understand this, in order to save the time of the committee and not to fill the record, I am giving only sample statements.
Čongressman Ray in the particular quotation referred to the railroads. There are other statements in the record that refer to other kinds of large holdings. I did not mean to beam this on the railroads particularly except that they may remain large landowners seeking benefits from Federal reclamation projects.
Senator ANDERSON. May I ask you this: Have you gone through the record of that 57th Congress?
Mr. TAYLOR. Yes, sir.
Senator ANDERSON. It is interesting because I have just been going through the first volumes of the magazine-it was not called the National Reclamation-it was a predecessor of the Nation Reclamation Association.
Mr. TAYLOR. The proceedings of the National Irrigation Congress?
Senator ANDERSON. Yes. Mr. TAYLOR. I share those historical interests with you, Senator. Senator ANDERSON. I find this among my book collections that I picked up at some time. Book collectors are like pack rats. Mr. TAYLOR. Have you the report of Major Powell on the arid
Senator ANDERSON. Yes.
Mr. TAYLOR. I am sure you are familiar with the passage in his report which is dated, I believe, about 1878?
Senator ANDERSON. I do not know it that well.
Mr. TAYLOR. May I invite your attention to that passage, in which he said that the danger in the future of the development of the arid West is that water will be monopolized by the holders of large ownerships of land, and that it is the responsibility of the legislature to see that the water rights shall not be monopolized in the same pattern as the land was taken up in the first place.
Senator ANDERSON. Of course, that was a period where a great many observations were made by some of these early explorers that did not prove to be quite true, but I would be very much interested in reading that.
Mr. TAYLOR. I think he foresaw the problems which you are considering before this committee now and currently.
Senator ANDERSON. I was just going to say to you that as I went through the proceedings of these irrigation congresses, I did not findI may have hastily skipped through them—this great concern over the 160-acre limitation.
Mr. TAYLOR. Senator, if you wish, I would be happy to give you the page references. It was a very serious concern.
Senator ANDERSON. I do not want you to put any extra effort on it. If you have the page references, sometime if you would send them to me, I would like to read them again.
Mr. TAYLOR. I will do that because I assure you it was a matter of very greatest concern to the founders of reclamation that water should not be monopolized.
Senator ANDERSON. You understand what I am asking is not for the benefit of the committee, but for the education of its members.
Mr. TAYLOR. I would be no less happy to furnish it for your personal information than I would be for the committee itself.
Senator ANDERSON. Thank you, sir.
Mr. TAYLOR. Senator Anderson, may I just make one remark with reference to S. 2541 in particular!
I regret the Senator from Wyoming is not present, but I would like to just say that I have sympathy for the problems of the settlers on his projects. I wish that in resolving those problems, he would not introduce bills; the almost certain effect would be to make legislation available for the use of persons who wish to destroy the reclamation law completely in other areas.
If he wishes to take care of his people and if the Congress of the United States is disposed to vote money for reclamation projects where it takes a large area of land and a large amount of water to support a family, then I wish that would be handled on a separate basis and would not involve language which jeopardizes the excess land provision all over the United States.
Senator ANDERSON. Senator Barrett is far more able to speak for himself than I am.
I do want to point out, though, that this is the problem under which we all seem to be dragging. We bring up a bill that has a specific exemption in it, and there is tremendous protest and a constant plea is made, "Why don't you people bring in something that revises the whole principle if it is so essential to do it, and not take these little tiny piecemeal methods such as you used in the San Luis project in Colorado.
Senator Barrett tried to accommodate those people who wanted that done.
Mr. TAYLOR. I was not asked by Senator Barrett or anybody else to assist in the drafting of his bill. Had I been invited, I think I could have made suggestions so that it would not jeopardize the reclamation law in the Central Valley of California or anywhere else generally where it might be applied.
If he should ask me in the future, I would be happy to give him my counsel, whether he took it or not.
Senator ANDERSON. I was about to ask you, then, to submit to us the language that you think will accomplish the purpose Senator Barrett has in mind, namely, that of a general bill which he was asked by Senator Douglas to present, and how it might be changed and still protect the Central Valley situation in California.
I want to say to you that I am in a strange position here. I have uniformly voted to preserve the 160-acre limitation. As I said the other day, I tried to defend Commissioner Straus when he was under attack for fulfilling the law of the land.
I would like to see what you have to suggest with regard to that. I am of the opinion that the Central Valley of California is quite different from the Riverton project of Wyoming and needs much different treatment.
Furthermore, they were in before us only a few days ago with a California project that seemed to involve drainage more than it did the supplying of additional water. So we get into new problems steadily.
Mr. TAYLOR. Yes, indeed.
Senator ANDERSON. I do not know what the law is with reference to providing drainage as compared to supplying water.
Mr. TAYLOR. You will find a reference to that in my testimony, Senator, later on. It is a passing reference, but I think it is very much to the point. It concerns the use of words to conceal purposes in order to accomplish certain results.
I hope that this committee will not be misled by the use of words such as “drainage" or "flood control” to fail to see the essential purpose of irrigation.
It is hard to see in this opportunity and option afforded by the excess-land provision, an imposition by the Federal Government on private landowners, although great efforts have been made to give them that appearance.
To accept such a distortion as truth would imply either that Congress has been ungenerous in supplying subsidized water for up to 160 acres permanently—and temporarily beyond that at the private landowner's option-or else that private benefiting landowners ought to be permitted to stipulate to Congress the conditions on which it spends money out of the Public Treasury.
Of course it is for Congress, representing the general interest, and not for private citizens—landowners or otherwise—to say upon what terms public aid will be given to them.
The benefits conferred on private landowners by Federal reclamation are substantial.
These benefits vary from project to project and within projects. Some basis exists, however, for approximating what the dimensions of these benefits may be.