ment in a direction opposite from that approved by Congress in the Preemption, Homestead, and Reclamation Acts.

This fact was a source of genuine concern to those who sought, and obtained, the Nation's generous aid for reclamation on the condition that the benefits of Federal money, and of water, would never be monopolized.

At the Fourth National Irrigation Congress, held in Albuquerque, N. Mex., for instance, Territorial Governor William T. Thornton, of New Mexico, said.

“In a large majority of cases under existing conditions, the utilization of the waste waters is impracticable by private enterprise, and the instances heretofore mentioned as being successfully realized, are in connection with large properties privately owned (with one exception) by titles derived from the Spanish and Mexican Governments.

"The policy of our Government is to prevent the acquisition of large bodies of the public domain by a few persons, and to see that it is reserved for homestead and preemption rights for her citizens, believing it to be better that each inan should be the owner of his own home.”

[ocr errors]

"It is certainly on a line with the present policy of the Government, that the work should be conducted by the Government to prepare homes for her citizens that each individual may be the owner of his own homestead, look to the Government for his water supply, and not be subjected to the grasping avariciousness too often found to exist where private corporations own the water” (Proceedings, 1895, p. 18).

The cosponsor of the National Reclamation Act of 1902, the Honorable Francis G. Newlands, told the Sacramento Valley Development Association at Red Bluff, Calif., in 1905 :

“Now, what national machinery have you? You have the machinery of the National Reclamation Act, intended, as your Governor has remarked, to meet the demands of the homeseekers of the country. Guarded in every way against monopoly and speculation, intended to secure to every man of industry an area of land sufficient, according to the soil and the climate or productiveness, for the support of a family, and sufficient for that alone [applause], it is also intended to break up existing land monopoly. How is that accomplished? We realized in the framing of that act that it would not be fair to apply it only to the public domain, for within reach of every governmental project lie lands in private ownership, thirsting for water to be supplied by national aid, and we felt that it was as much the duty of the National Government to supply agricultural communities that were thus imperiled as to create new agricultural communities.

"And so we provided that water rights could be secured for lands in private ownership within the reach of Government projects, to be guarded against monopoly by preventing any proprietor from securing water rights for more than 160 acres, the amount of land fixed in the bill.

"Here let me say that in my own opinion California has no greater curse than these large landed estates. [Applause). To the Spanish or Mexican land grants was added the concentration of large areas of land secured from the Federal Government, part of the national domain, obtained either under lax laws or by evasion or maladministration of the laws. I have no word of censure to apply to the men who own these grants, or who now own these large areas of land. I only condemn the policy which made land monopoly possible on this coast and throughout the arid region.” [Applause.]

In 1919 the California Commission on Immigration and Housing, in its report on large landholdings in southern California said:

"Outside Imperial County, which has been settled only since 1900, the large holdings are, in the main, an inheritance from Spanish-Mexican times. Though many of the enormous grants have been divided or reduced in size, there are few that have been broken up into small holdings. In some cases they remain virtually intact; in some cases two or more have been joined into one immense holding; in most cases the major part of each of these grants is today a large holding in the possession of an individual, a family, or a corporation” (p. 13).

"The old concentration of land ownership which comes down from the SpanishMexican times has in a large degree persisted; and superimposed upon this is the new concentration of ownership afforded by modern wealth. *** A remedy, thoroughgoing and of immediate application, is needed" (p. 32).

In 1942 in its report on the status of unorganized labor in California's industrialized agriculture, the La Follette committee stated :


"Early Spanish and Mexican colonial agriculture in California was marked by the creation of a pattern of land settlement and use which is still characteristic of much of California agriculture. That pattern is the ownership and cultivation of land in large tracts, worked by gang labor. The early Spanish and Mexican grantees used a primitive Indian labor to establish a type of farming in which a disproportionate share of the benefits of the enterprise went to the few individuals who owned the land and directed its use" (S. Rep. No. 1150, pt. III, 77th Cong., p. 220).

“Whatever effect the Homestead Act may had upon the development of agricultural patterns in other sections of the country, the settlement of California proceeded with but slight conformity to the intentions of its proponents. Recenly a commentator summarized the workings of the land laws in the early period of development:

" 'Land monopolization in California dates back to the Spanish and Mexican periods when large grants were made to favored individuals. After investigation by an American commission, 588 of these claims amounting to 8,850,143 acres, or an average of 15,051 acres each were confirmed' (s. Rept. No. 1150, supra, p. 221 ; quotation taken from The Homstead Law in an Incongruous Land System, by Paul Wallace Gates).

"Thus the pattern of land settlement, established in the Spanish and Mexican periods, was carried over into the American regime in California between 1850 and 1870. This concentrated landownership did not preclude the possibility of the development of a system of operation and subdivision which would have been in conformity with the working family-farmer concept that was the more usual development in other sections of the country. It did, however, provide the framework for the development of large-scale agriculture which has, in fact, continued to develop. As the available statistics of the period show, these large units, when brought under cultivation, were worked by wage laborers. Only to a limited extend did the large landowners in California operate their holdings through tenants" (S. Rept. No. 1150, supra, p. 223).

In 1940 the same Senate subcommittee published a staff study that stated :

"Some of the holdings were acquired as one unit; others represent accumulations of many smaller units. It is interesting to note, in this connection, that, although many of the large Spanish and Mexican land grants have been broken up, several still persist. Some, like the 202,900-acre Rancho Santa Margarita in San Diego County, or the 26,000-acre ranch of the same name in San Luis Obispo County, have their original areas nearly intact, although they have fallen into American hands. A few, like the Fatjo family's Rancho Moro Cojo in Monterey County, remain in the hands of the descendants of the original grantees. Others, or portions have been consolidated into single larger holdings, as in the case of the Irvine Ranch in Orange County, which is made up of parts of several of the earlier Spanish royal grants. Others have been absorbed entirely into larger holdings, as was Jose Antonio Dominguez and John C. Fremont's Rancho San Emidio by the Kern County Land Co." (hearings, pt. 62, P. 22774).

The Senate study includes an account of the Di Giorgio Fruit Corp. which had at that time an annual bill for farm labor of $2,200,000, and hired from a low of 1,100 to a high of 5,200 farmworkers at the peak of the season. It does not indicate that any of its extensive acreages rest on original Spanish or Mexican grants (hearings, pt. 62, pp. 22784–22785).

In the southern portion of Central Valley, the great Miller and Lux holdings were built in substantial measure upon Spanish or Mexican grants. Power over water sometimes followed title to land. After winning legal control over the natural stream flow of the Kern River in 1886, Henry Miller gave two-thirds of it back to the Haggin (predecessor of Kern County Land Co.) interests he had just defeated before the California Supreme Court.

"Did Henry Miller rest satisfied with the decision which gave him and his associates all of the water of Kern River? Not at all. He immediately said, "There is more water than we can use, and it does not come at the right time of the year. It comes in a great flood early in the spring, and in the hot months of summer the river is dry.' So he said to his late antagonists, 'You builds me a reservoir, and I gives you two-thirds of the water,' and the difficulty was solved" (Edward F. Treadwell, The Cattle King, 1931, pp. 93, 94).

The Kern County Land Co. (the successor to Haggin and Tevis' California holdings) is a leading beneficiary of Federal construction of Isabella Dam, completed in 1954, for which no repayment contract has yet been signed. On it the Senate subcommittee study reported :

[ocr errors]

"At the beginning of 1939 the Kern County Land Co. owned about 1,100,000 acres in Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, and California. The holdings were divided as follows: About 60,000 acres in Oregon, over 105,000 acres in Arizona, about 517,000 acres in New Mexico (all owned through subsidiaries operating in those States), and something like 413,500 acres in California, of which a great part (in 7 different large ranches and several smaller ones) is in Kern County and the remainder in San Luis Obispo County. Most of the California lands were originally acquired by Haggin & Tevis. It is interesting that only one of their acquisitions was a Spanish or Mexican grant: This was the 17,000acre Rancho San Emidio, granted by the Mexican Government to Jose Antonio Dominguez and bought by Haggin & Tevis in 1878 from the heirs of John C. Fremont and of Dominguez. Over the past 30 years the company has disposed of many thousand acres of its California land, but recently it has attempted to sell only scattered parcels and town lots; indeed it has added some 4,000 acres to its California holdings since 1933.

“Besides land, the company owns all of the capital stock of the Kern County Canal and Water Co. which in turn owns in whole or in large part and directs 14 companies supplying water for irrigation in Kern County. Six of these companies furnish water to irrigate the company's own lands; 8 are public utilities selling water, under regulation by the State Railroad Commission, not only to company lands but also to outside consumers” (Senate committee hearings, pt. 62, pp. 227–97).

The recent volumes by Tom Loa on The King Ranch of South Texas list holdings of 513,006 acres attributed specifically to Spanish or Mexican land grants, owned by Richard King at the time of his death in 1885 (p. 418).

Nearly 200,000 acres more which were purchased by Mrs. King from 1901 to 1906 originated in Spanish and Mexican grants (pp. 533-534). The actual total of lands originally in such grants probably was much larger, but was not so labeled in this record.

For other data on land in Spanish and Mexican grants, some of which found their way into King holdings, see Taylor, An American-Mexican Frontier, pages 179-188.

Senator DOUGLAS. May I also warn against letting this become a partisan political issue. It should not in fact, it cannot-justly be so considered for the family-sized-farm principle has been endorsed a dozen times by both Republicans and Democrats, both by platforms and Presidents.

We have a way of getting off the issue, and considerable misinformation is disseminated about this reclamation law. It is branded an "anti-American" limitation on the amount of land a farmer can own. It is nothing of the sort. I have indicated that it is profoundly American in its philosophy. As far as reclamation law is concerned, a farmer can own any amount of land to which he can acquire title.

This law only limits the amount of water subsidized by the Federal Government, paid for in large part by taxpayers from the Midwest and East, which a reclamation official can deliver to an individual owner. And that limitation is enough water to irrigate 160 acres, which in practice means in community-property States—and now in other States as well, 320 acres for a man and his wife.

I assure you that 320 acres of irrigated land is not the kind of an operation that could be called marginal or "peasant” farming. It is more likely to be a very competent, wealthy man's operation.

In some irrigated areas, with 365-day growing seasons and specialty crops, it is in fact a millionaire's operation, providing riches almost beyond the dreams of avarice.

I mention here the Salt River region around Phoenix.

[ocr errors]

I have here a reference to a brochure put out by the Fresno "160 acres of water: The story of the Antimonopoly Law," by Angus McDonald, and I read from page 17:

This brochure by the Fresno Chamber of Commerce, designed to entice new farmers into the Central Valley, listed the amount of irrigated acres needed to support a family as follows:

I invite the attention of the Senators to this: Oranges : 20 to 30 acres. Not 160 acres, not 320 acres, not 480, not 640. Apricots: 35 acres; peaches : 30 to 40 acres. Grapes and raisins: 40 to 50 acres. Figs : 60 to 80 acres. Alfalfa : 80 to 120 acres. Cotton : 120 to 130 acres. Grain and flax: 320 acres.

I have been in these irrigated areas, and I have seen square mile upon square mile of citrus fruits and other fruits. I have seen cotton growing in the Central Valley and also in Arizona.

What I am trying to say is that while 160 acres may be less than needed to maintain a family in high altitudes with short growing seasons, where about all you can grow is hay and apples, that this is far more than is needed in low-altitude hot areas with long growing seasons.

Also, the misinformation has been spread that the Congress never intended this reclamation restriction to extend to private lands or supplemental water projects, but only wished it to apply to public lands that were irrigated and homesteaded.

If you will read the background history of these great congressional debates on land policy, you will find the contrary is true.

Perhaps that was a lustier age. But when Representative Mondell of Wyoming, then the great Republican leader in the House, brought out the legislation on the House floor, he explained that the acreage restrictions was deliberately intended to break up large holdings if they came under Federal reclamation.

He minced no words about it, and the legislative intent was clear when Congress ordained that this restriction applied in cases of socalled supplemental water, or on private lands benefited by Federal irrigation investment.

May I invite, perhaps unnecessarily, the attention of the present Senators from Wyoming on this committee to those statements of their predecessor, Majority Leader Mondell.

The record shows when Representative Mondell presented and received congressional approval of the 160-acre rule, he said:

This provision was drawn with a view to breaking up any large landholding which might exist in the vicinity of Government works. Could anything be more explicit?

Now, for a half century the Congress has always, when it took a good look at this issue, stood by the principle of the family-sized farm, thereby accentuating their conviction that corporate agriculture is not what the United States wants, particularly when achieved or fostered through Federal irrigation subsidies.

And I am here today to support and protect that reclamation law which is the primary concern of this western committee and specifically applies only to the 17 Western States where the need for irrigation is greatest, although it clearly establishes policy affecting the whole Nation.



At the risk of becoming a common scold and an interfering “buttinsky”-I am well aware of the problem which a Senator draws upon himself-I must continue on that course. Currently, individual and little-noticed exemption legislation to the basic reclamation rule is slipping through Congress with such increasing rapidity it can wreck this fine program.

Most of these so-called single project exemptions go through on a sort of “yes, but” agreement that gives lip service to the reclamation principle, but finds individual reasons for casting it aside on some particular project. I have opposed, as the Senator of Oregon has, many of these individual exemptions, rarely with success, and shall continue to do so. But this should be considered in a broader context.

Mr. Chairman, I want to congratulate the committee for getting out an excellent memorandum under date of April 25, last week, on acreage limitation and reclamation law, copies of which you

undoubtedly have before you.

Beginning on page 7 of the memorandum there is a list of specific exemptions to this 160-acre limitation arranged chronologically. I will repeat them.

The Boulder Canyon project dealing with the All-American Canal in the Imperial Irrigation District in California. The Colorado-Big Thompson project, Colorado.

The series of water conservation and utilization projects under Public Law 847, 76th Congress, especially the Eden project in Wyoming

The Truckee River storage project, Nevada-California.

The Humboldt project, Nevada, providing that the excess land provisions are not applicable to land in Washoe County Water Conservation District or in the Pershing County Conservation District.

The San Luis Valley project in Colorado.
The Owl Creek-Missouri River Basin project in Wyoming.
The Santa Maria project in California.
Excess land acquired by foreclosure.
The Washoe project in Nevada-California.
The small reclamation projects to which my amendment is directed.
The East Bench unit, Missouri River Basin project, Montana.
The Columbia Basin project, Washington.
The Kendrick project, Wyoming,

In addition to those listed in the staff memorandum, we should note the Mercedes division on the Rio Grande, which passed in 1958, the Tri-Dam project in California authorized for the engineers to build, the San Luis project in California, not yet passed, but posed (S. 1887), the Fryingpan-Arkansas project* (S. 60) which passed the Senate in 1957, and various administrative rulings of the Secretary of the Interior.' These are referred to on pages 27, 31, and 32 of the staff memorandum. In addition, I have been conducting a running discussion with the Secretary for some time with regard to this interpretation of the law, under which by administrative order upon payment in full by the district, he has stated that there would be a release of the acreage limitation. This administrative action also threatens the family-farm principle of reclamation law.

Mr. Chairman, I ask consent that copies of my correspondence with Secretary of the Interior Seaton on these issues may be printed


« ForrigeFortsett »