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would come under the concept of the excess land law, where through interpretation and practice, once the land becomes in private ownership, that a family no longer is limited to one unit but the man can have 160, the wife 160, and other members of the family might acquire 160, and the question might arise as follows:
On the Seedskadee project, when your bill is enacted, and the units were laid out averaging, say, 220 acres, would the limit for man and wife still be 320 once it comes in private ownership and the land is available on the market place for sale and trade or would the limit become 440, because we have exchanged the 160-acre maximum limit to the 220 acres required for a family farm?
You may wish to consider that in your deliberations on the bill, as to whether that question is involved or whether it is significant.
Senator BARRETT. I would like to find this out, Mr. Dominy. Under this new procedure that you outlined here, do I understand that you have to settle the farmers on a project and find out from experience that they cannot make a living under the 160-acre limitation law before you would come in, as you propose here in section 2, and ask to be re. lieved from those provisions?
Mr. DOMINY. I want to make it abundantly clear, Senator Barrett, that in the type of detailed investigation that we pursue today in getting a project authorized, I believe that in every instance where there is a question about the adequacies of a farm unit within the existing 160-acre limitation, that fact will be known to us and we will have an opportunity to provide adjustment for it by report to Congress before we put settlers on the land.
I know it will not be news to you that in the early days of reclamation the lands were not classified. It was common opinion among everybody that a nice lying piece of land with a good growth of sagebrush on it must be fine land if we can just get water for it.
We developed many projects without any soil analysis, without any pits being dug and without a careful analysis of the quality of the land. We also in the early days pretty arbitrarily decided that 40 acres was sufficient under irrigation.
It was considered that if 160 was sufficient on dry land, surely 40 would be enough on irrigated land. So in many of the early projects the settlers were put out on 40-acre tracts. It was not until recently that public land tracts over 80 acres were provided under irrigation.
We are trying to avoid the very valid claim that is made in the West that it takes three groups of settlers on a given farm before it is a going farm.
You have to starve the first two families out. They are the ones who pick up the rocks and build the fences and build the buildings and put the manure on and plow up the alfalfa and put the productivity into the land and they have to leave broken in spirit without making an adequate living because the first time a recession comes along they do not have any reserves to carry them through. So they
In many cases it has taken about three generations to build the farm up to where it would support a farm family. Usually that came about by adding two or three 40-acre tracts together. We are trying to avoid
We feel that the Government has been remiss in the past by holding out an opportunity that proved to be a liability rather than an opportunity.
Senator BARRETT. Senator Douglas indicated the last time we had one of these bills up to increase the acreage limitations and waive the excess-land limitations that he thought we ought to have a general bill that would correct the situation and not come in project by project.
The effect of the suggestion made by the Department is that we still must stay on a project-by-project basis, with legislation waiving the limitation?
Mr. DOMINY. That is true. We arrived at that conclusion. I think we shared the views that were expressed here during the past few days by many witnesses, that the 160-acre limit has for its origin a very fine motive. We do not want it defiled, nor do we want it repealed. We feel that Congress itself should continue to be the judge in those cases as it has been in the past where a specific adjustment, relaxation, or amendment should be considered on a given set of circumstances and then confined only to the project specifically considered rather than place in the administration, the executive department, broad authority along those lines.
Senator BARRETT. Are there any questions?
Mr. LINEWEAVER. Mr. Chairman, I would just like to observe that has been the position of the Department of Interior under succeeding sections.
Senator BARRETT. Yes, there is no question about that. The question was whether or not the time had come to take another look at the 160-acre limitation and to try to devise a formula that would enable the Secretary to handle these situations to meet the changed conditions of the times and to do it on an administrative basis rather than coming to Congress.
If there are no other questions, we thank you very much, Mr. Dominy. Mr. DOMINY. Thank you, sir.
Senator BARRETT. Mr. Heisig, we would like to hear from you. STATEMENT OF CARL P. HEISIG, DIRECTOR, FARM ECONOMICS
RESEARCH DIVISION, AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH SERVICE Mr. HEISIG. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
It will not take me but a very few minutes to make my statement. I might say by way of explanation that the Department of Agriculture was asked to make some comments and observations on the general question of farm size of reclamation projects. We were not asked to comment on any specific bills that are before the committee.
Senator BARRETT. That is correct.
Mr. HEISIG. The Federal reclamation projects create opportunities for many people through development of new irrigation and provision of supplemental water for areas already irrigated. Values of land are increased, in some instances substantially, where irrigation water is made available at moderate cost to farm operators.
To distribute the increase in land values, limitations are placed by reclamation law on the acreage that may be owned. But tħese limitations in some situations may prevent establishment of farm units that are large enough for efficient farming operations or that provide
adequate income opportunities. The need, therefore, is to find some reasonable balance between providing adequate income opportunities and unnecessary concentration of land ownership.
Establishment of “family farms” on reclamation projects can accomplish this reasonable balance. The concept of the family farm has been accepted throughout our history and has played an important role in agricultural and land policy. It is a workable concept even though difficult to define specifically.
Successful Federal reclamation projects can provide income opportunities to farmers that are comparable generally with those available to farmers elsewhere or with people employed in other occupations. The reclamation farm should be large enough to permit operation of the farm at a level of efficiency that makes it reasonably competitive with other farms.
It should be large enough to provide the farm family with an income for their labor and management comparable to that which they could achieve in alternative farm or non farm occupations.
Farms that will meet these standards may vary widely in acreage from one reclamation project to another, or even within a project, depending upon length of growing season, quality of soil, topography of land, markets, and many other factors. These determine or affect the crops grown, yields obtained, costs, and income.
Farms in an area with a short growing season or poor soil, where only grain and forage crops can be grown, must be considerably larger in acreage to produce satisfactory incomes than farms without these limitations.
The acreage required to provide reasonable efficiency of operations and an acceptable level of living varies with the kind and intensity of farming.
A small acreage in intensive crops may be as efficient and provide as much income for the family as a much larger acreage in extensive crops.
Studies made in the last few years indicate that the acreage required to provide a return to the farm operator for his labor and management of between $3,000 and $4,000, after making allowance for interest on his investment, ranges as low as 40 acres for a grape-cotton farm in San Joaquin Valley of California to as much as 200 to 250 acres for farms in irrigated areas where crops are limited to lowyielding hay, pasture, and small grains.
If the objective is for larger incomes, farm sizes must be adjusted upward accordingly. A range in farm sizes on reclamation projects is desirable, as in other farming areas, to accommodate variations in management capacity, size of family, soil types, and other variables.
There is no one figure for the acreage required for a farm to meet the "family farm” goal under the many varied situations encountered on reclamation projects.
Under present reclamation law there are no limitations on the acreage of land a farmer may operate. On most projects only the acreage
be owned is limited to 160 acres for any 1 individual or to 320 acres for man and wife. Farmers can gain control of land resources by renting as well as by ownership.
Sizes of operating units may be and frequently are adjusted by renting. However, opportunities to rent land are not always available
and in some areas inadequate sized farms tend to be perpetuated to the disadvantage of the people and communities affected.
Throughout most of the irrigated areas of the West, 160 irrigated acres is larger than the average farm now and larger than the minimum acreage required to operate efficiently and to provide income comparable with other opportunities.
Present limitations on landownership do not appear to prevent ownership of farm units large enough to provide reasonably adequate income opportunities except in a few areas where farming is limited to extensive crops. It seems desirable, however, to permit some administrative flexibility in establishing maximum ownership units on projects that will be devoted to extensive farming such as grain and forage.
That completes my statement, Mr. Chairman. I might add that with respect to Senator Morse's comments yesterday morning on the Department material that is in the back of committee print of April 25, at the time this was submitted to the committee last fall we did not have any results of studies on reclamation projects where the growing season is short with a high elevation, so that none of those appear in this tabulation.
Since that time we have some preliminary results of 2 studies that we have made, 1 in Montana and 1 in Wyoming, in that type of situation and those studies do indicate generally that to provide the sort of income level I have talked about here, $3,000 or thereabouts, it would take probably 200 to 250 acres of land to provide that sort of income.
Senator BARRETT. Is that the Seedskadee project in Wyoming?
Mr. HEISIG. One is the Seedskadee and some of the poor bench lands of the east Missouri where that study was made.
Senator BARRETT. Could you put those reports in the record as to those two projects?
Mr. HEISIG. I don't know whether we have a formal report. We can put some of the results in brief form if you would like to have them.
Senator BARRETT. If you will I will appreciate it very much. The report insofar as the Seedskadee is concerned is quite similar with the report made by the Bureau of Reclamation.
Mr. Heisig. Actually the report there was done by the Department of Agriculture in cooperation with Interior and the results that Mr. Dominy presented are just about identical with what we have in our report.
(The following information was subsequently received from Mr. Heisig:)
Data from preliminary studies of farming opportunities on the proposed Seedskadee irrigation project in Wyoming indicate that returns available to
farm operators to pay for water and for their labor and management on farms producing crops adaptable to the area are as follows:
These incomes are calculated on the basis of projected price levels adopted for use in determining costs and benefits of resource development projects. Moreover, they assume that the farms are fully developed and fully productive. Costs of irrigation water must be subtracted from the amounts shown to obtain the final net returns the farm operator would have to pay him for his labor, management, and for support of his family. For example, if costs of water were $5 an acre, the 160-acre farm would produce a net labor income for the farmer of $3,085, $2,521, and $1,452 respectively, for each evaluation area. The evaluation areas reflect different qualities of soil found in the proposed projet area.
Preliininary studies also have been made of farming opportunities on the East Bench unit, Missouri River Basin project, Montana. A proposed plan has been made to establish farms of 128 irrigable acres on class 1 land, 155 irrigable acres on class 2 land, and 220 irrigable acres on class 3 land. Net incomes avail. able to the operator for his labor and management and to pay water charges are estimated as follows:
These data also are based on the assumption that the farms are fully developed.
Senator BARRETT. The committee will stand in recess until the call of the chairman.
(Whereupon, at 4:30 p. m., Thursday, May 1, 1958, the committee recessed, to reconvene at the call of the Chair.)