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We live in an area where we farmers compete with absentee investors for the ownership of farmland. Prices farmers pay for their land is based on the ability to return this money through farming the land. Much of the absentee investments are merely seeking a place to store their money, thereby unreasonably raising the cost of farm land.
Because Federal funds are used to develop the land covered by the 160-acre limitation, we do not want this limit removed. Removal would have the effect of using the money we pay in taxes to help the very people who are today pricing the owner-operator out of the market in our locality.
We firmly believe that rural communities of owner-operators are better communities than rural communities of renters or rural communities of hired help. We consider it socially wrong to remove the 160-acre limitation.
We do not object to the principle of developing new land. We feel it will be needed if our country is to continue to grow. We never want to see the day when food becomes scarce. However, we feel that the 160-acre limitation is consistent with the idea of having Federal programs do the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people.
We respectfully request that the Interior Committee retain and perhaps strengthen the 160-acre limitation. Yours truly,
JAMES L. MURPHY, President.
THE RURAL LIFE ASSOCIATION,
Richmond, Ind., May 27, 1958. Senator CLINTON P. ANDERSON,
Chairman, Subcommittee on Irrigation and Reclamation, Senate Interior
Committee, Senate Office Building, Washington, D. C. DEAR SENATOR ANDERSON: I am writing to you as president of the Rural Life Association urging that the 160-acre water limitation be retained as provided in the Reclamation Act of 1902. The Rural Life Association and its members are greatly interested in safeguarding the family farm. As new legislation is proposed relative to the above matter, we urge on behalf of the association that all necessary steps be taken to safeguard the family farm. We feel that the 160-acre water limitaation is a vital safeguard toward helping to assure the interests of the family farm. Very sincerely yours,
RUFUS B. KING, President.
TEXAS WATER CONSERVATION ASSOCIATION,
Austin, Tex., April 16, 1958. Re S. 1425 and S. 2541 to amend land limitation provisions of the Federal
reclamation law. Senator CLINTON P. ANDERSON, Chairman, Senate Subcommittee on Irrigation and Reclamation,
Washington, D.C. MY DEAR SENATOR: I find it will be impossible for me to be present for the hearings on the above-numbered bills April 30.
Therefore, I have prepared a written statement which Judge Guy C. Jackson, Jr., of Anahuac, Tex., president of the National Reclamation Association and president emeritus of the Texas Water Conservation Association, will file with your committee at the time he testifies.
I am enclosing herewith copy of my statement from which you will note we are opposed to S. 1425 by Senator Douglas, et al., and urged the early enactment of S. 2541, by Senator Barrett. We hope you can agree with our views. With kindest personal regards and best wishes, as always, I am, Most respectfully yours,
J. E. STURROCK, General Manager.
STATEMENT OF J. E. STUBBOCK, GENERAL MANAGER, TEXAS WATER CONSERVATION
ASSOCIATION, AUSTIN, TEX. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, my name is J. E. Sturrock. I reside in Austin, Tex., and am general manager of the Texas Water Conservation Association, a statewide organization representing all major classifications of water use, including irrigation.
I have also been a member of the land-limitations committee of the National Reclamation Association since 1946. During the intervening 12 years I have studied and analyzed the land-limitation provisions of the Federal reclamation laws and their application and administration from a practical standpoint throughout the 17 Western States.
With this background, I desire to submit the following observations and recommendations to the committee for its consideration with respect to S. 1425 by Senator Douglas, et al., and S. 2541 by Senator Barrett, to amend the landlimitation provisions of the Federal reclamation laws.
S. 1425 was introduced February 28, 1957, by Senator Douglas (for himself and Senators Morse and Neuberger) and having for its purpose to amend the Small Reclamation Project Act of 1956 to make it conform "* * * to the excessland requirements set forth in the third section of section 46 of the act of May 25, 1926 (44 Stat. 649) if the project furnishes irrigation service." This would mean that the 160-acre (in one ownership) land-limitation provisions of the Federal reclamation laws would apply to small projects.
The applicable provisions of section 46 of the act of May 25, 1926 (44 Stat. 649), supra, read as follows:
"Such contract or contracts with irrigation districts hereinbefore referred to shall further provide that all irrigable land held in private ownership by any one owner in excess of 160 irrigable acres shall be appraised in a manner to be prescribed by the Secretary of the Interior and the sale prices thereof fixed by the Secretary on the basis of its actual bona fide value at the date of appraisal without reference to the proposed construction of the irrigation works; and that no such excess lands so held shall receive water from any project or division if the owners thereof shall refuse to execute valid recordable contracts for the sale of such lands under terms and conditions satisfactory to the Secretary of the Interior and at prices not to exceed those fixed by the Secretary of the Interior; and that until one-half the construction charges against said lands shall have been fully paid no sale of any such lands shall carry the right to receive water unless and until the purchase price involved in such sale is approved by the Secretary of the Interior * * *.
The subject of excess lands under the loan and grant program set out in the Small Projects Act was discussed at great length during the time the numerous bills were before Congress to initiate the program. As finally passed, the Small Projects Act requires that interest must be charged on the portions of the project costs chargeable to the irrigation of lands in excess of 160 acres in a single ownership.
The Small Projects Act was amended in May 1957 so as to meet the technical objections of the President and permit the provisions of the act to go into effect. During the debate on this matter an attempt was made to reopen the question of whether the interest formula embodied in this act should be replaced by the more rigorous land limitation provisions contained in the reclamation laws. Senator Douglas, author of S. 1425 now before the committee, offered an amendment to this effect on the Senate floor on May 23, 1957, but it was defeated.
Both the interest approach, as in the Small Projects Act, and the recordable contract approach, as contained in section 46 of the act of May 25, 1926 (44 Stat. 619), supra, have the same purpose, that is, assuring that interest-free funds are not used to support large scale irrigated farming enterprises and to encourage the maintenance of family-size farms on Federal projects. From a practical standpoint, it is clear that it is not necessary that both be applied and that to apply both would result in administrative confusion and unworkability of either.
Therefore, in view of the lengthly discussion in Congress over whether the Small Projects Act should include an excess land provision at all and, if so, how it should be handled, we submit that the matter should be allowed to rest where it now is. It may eventually prove the approach taken in the Small Proj. ects Act is more workable and will be at least as successful as that in the act of May 25, 1926, in achieving the objectives of that act.
For these reasons, we urge the committee to recommend that S. 1425 be not enacted.
S. 2541 was introduced by Senator Barrett in July, 1957, for the purpose of amending the land limitation provisions of the reclamation laws so as to permit the Secretary of the Interior to fix the size of farm units on Federal reclamation projects at more than 160 irrigable acres in certain circumstances.
This bill would incorporate two new principles into reclamation law: (1) Provide that the Secretary of the Interior could increase the 160-acre maximum for particular projects in which a larger area is necessary to support "an average size family at a suitably profitable level.” (2) Permit the owner of excess lands to receive project water by agreeing to pay interest on his share of the repayment obligation instead of filing a recordable contract for the sale of his excess lands. This latter provision, which was first suggested by Congressman Engle, of California some years ago, is limited to supplemental water projects and projects in which the lands have been cultivated for at least 10 years prior to project authorization.
S. 2541 has been approved by the land limitations committee, water policy committee, legislative committee, board of directors, and the annual convention of the National Reclamation Association in Phoenix last November.
The Texas Water Conservation Association endorsed the bill at its 13th annual convention in San Antonio last October,
During the past 20 years a number of project authorization acts have been passed by Congress in which the acreage limitation provisions have either been relaxed or eliminated entirely. Examples include the Colorado-Big Thompson project, June 16, 1938; Truckee storage project, November 29, 1940, exempts lands of the Washoe County Water Conservation District and the Pershing County Water Conservation District, Nev., from the excess land provisions ; San Luis Valley project, Colorado, June 27, 1932; Owl Creek unit of the Missouri River Basin project in Wyoming; Washoe Reclamation Project Act, August 1, 1956, Nevada and California ; east bench unit of Missouri River Basin project in Montana, July 24, 1957, and Casper-Alcova Irrigation District, Wyo., September 4, 1957.
These and other developments indicate there is a growing awareness in Congress of the need for a general amendment of the land limitation provisions of the reclamation law in keeping with present-day farming practices and living standards.
We have witnessed tremendous changes in the agricultural economy of the West since the Reclamation Act of 1902 was enacted. In the 56 years since the law was enacted we have passed from the 1- or 2-horse and mule plows and cultivators to the tractor age and the 2 or more row cultivators, plows, combines, etc., which cost large sums to own and maintain, making it necessary for the farmer to increase his cultivated acreage in order to maintain a reasonable standard of living. It is estimated that it is necessary for a farmer farming 160 acres of land successfully to have invested from $20,000 to $25,000 in farm equipment. This is in addition to land, buildings, home, etc. Under present-day conditions, it is much cheaper for a young man to educate himself in the field of law, medicine, or other of the professions than it is to undertake a career in agriculture. More and more of the Nation's young men are entering the professions or going into the industrial labor market in order to maintain the American standard of living for themselves and family.
The pattern of land ownership has also changed considerably since the Federal Reclamation Act of 1902 was enacted and since the act of May 25, 1926, was passed. In 1930 the average-size farm in Texas was 252 acres and today is more than 500 acres. Any attempt to enforce the 160-acre land limitation provisions on the projects which will furnish a supplemental water supply to private lands having an existing economy built up over a period of many decades in which the pattern of land ownership is the result of economic development created by private capital, enterprise, and local initiative, is unjust, unworkable, discriminating, and confiscatory.
In Texas, which is not a public land State, there were 6,962,234 acres of land under irrigation in 1957 with water supplies developed by local agencies and private enterprise. This includes thousands of acres of ricelands which cannot he cultivated to rice year in and year out. The better practice being to farm rice 1 year and pasture the land 2 years. Therefore, the 160-acre limitation is wholly unworkable in the Texas Rice Belt. It is equally unworkable in the Rio Grande Valley, the Pecos Valley, and other areas like the ranching area where 160 acres is not an economic unit.
We submit that the principles embodied in S. 2541 represent a fair and appropriate solution of the problem which is continually presented by the rigid provisions of the present reclamation law. This bill, if enacted, will retain the basic principle of the acreage limitation laws and will at the same time permit the establishment of reclamation projects in areas where the agricultural economy has already developed a land ownership pattern which is not consistent with the 160-acre limitation. Under this bill the owner of excess lands will have the choice of either selling his excess holdings or else giving up the advantage of interest-free Government financing on that part of the project cost which is allocable to his excess lands.
Therefore, for the reasons set out above, we respectfully urge the early passage of S. 2541.
VISALIA, CALIF., April 28, 1958. IRRIGATION SUBCOMMITTEE, Senate Interior Affairs Committee, Washington, D.C.
(Attention Senator Clinton P. Anderson, chairman.) This association composed of the public districts now distributing all of the Central Valley project water from the Friant unit (Friant, Kern, and Madera Canals) has passed the following resolution upon learning of the thousands of acre-feet of water to be wasted which could be put to beneficial use in this area. We understand that you intend to hold hearings to discuss ramifications of reclamation law land limitation provisions. We wish to bring to your attention the present serious waste of water which could be used to recharge the underground reservoirs in the areas served by the San Joaquin unit of the Central Valley project. Law prevents delivery of present surplus supply to excess lands, even though flood damage results from present reservoir spill down the San Joaquin River to the Pacific Ocean and such damaging releases are now expected to continue for 60 days. If deliveries could be made to excess lands through present facilities underground storage would be benefited and flood damage mitigated. Cyclic storage is one of the primary functions of the Central Valley project and cessation of pumping by excess ownerships would give tremendous impetus of the ground-water-recharge program so vital to the long term aspects of the project. We urge consideration of remedial legislation and prompt action so that the same benefit can be realized during the present period.
A. A. DANIELLS, President, Friant Waterusers Association.
SAN ANTONIO, TEX., April 17, 1958. Senator CLINTON P. ANDERSON,
Chairman, Subcommittee on Irrigation and Reclamation of the Senate
Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, Washington, D. C. DEAR SENATOR ANDERSON: A few moments ago I called Judge J. E. Sturrock the executive director of the Texas Water Conservation Association at Austin to discuss with him the statement he proposes to file before your Subcommittee on Irrigation and Reclamation for its April 30 scheduled hearing on S. 1425 and S. 2541.
The observation and recommendations made by Judge Sturrock in his statement are heartily concurred in with our Texas farmers.
Many meetings and discussions relative to the provision of Federal Reclamation Laws and particularly in regard to the question of land reclamation have been held by them. There is little doubt as to their conclusions; they certainly do not favor the proposed legislation of S. 1425 by Senator Douglas at all.
Texas farmers have found that the markets in which they compete for the consumers' dollars frequently confronts them with situations requiring a great deal of flexibility in their operations. It is not always possible to meet these conditions unless they have elbowroom. They are therefore in favor of the legislation, proposed by Senator Frank Barrett in his bill S. 2541. Please add our plea to those submitted by Judge Sturrock. Sincerely yours,
MARTIN C. GIESECKE.
WALLACES' FARMER AND IOWA HOMESTEAD,
Des Moines, Iowa, April 28, 1958. Senator CLINTON P. ANDERSON,
Senate Office Building, Washington, D. C. DEAB SENATOR ANDERSON: I am much interested in the fate of the 160-acre water limitation of the Reclamation Act which your committee is discussing. Here in Iowa, we aren't directly interested in the irrigation area as such, but we are interested in the family farm and its maintenance.
Our people, as you know, dread the prospect of factory farms, and are strongly inclined to favor here in the Middle West some limitations on benefits to what we consider oversized farms. In irrigated territory, as I understand it, 160 acres is an efficient unit, not too small for sound operation. I hope very much that the limitation may be retained. Very sincerely,
DONALD R. MURPHY, Director, Editorial Research.
NATIONAL RURAL ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATION,
Washington, D. April 29, 1958. Hon. CLINTON P. ANDERSON, Chairman, Irrigation and Reclamation Subcommittee, Senate Interior and Insular Affairs Committee,
Washington, D. C. DEAB CLINTON: It has come to our attention that your Senate Subcommittee on Irrigation and Reclamation plans to hold hearings on the subject of the 160acre limitation in the reclamation laws on April 30. Because of the relationship of these provisions to the Federal family farm policy and in turn to rural electrification, I had hoped that I would be able to appear as a witness, but now that appears to be out of the question due to conflicts in my schedule. Therefore, I would like to ask that you enter this letter and the enclosed resolution in the record of these hearings.
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association represents nearly all of the rural electric cooperatives and power districts which are a part of the REA program. More than half of all the rural electric systems, or about 540 of them, are west of the Mississippi River.
The rural electric systems are now serving 5 million farms and other rural establishments throughout the United States, and the family farm is an important segment in this group of consumers. It is doubtful that the rural electric systems, particularly in the West, could exist without the family farm consumer and it is also very doubtful that the family farm would continue to enjoy electricity if it were not for the rural electric system.
These statements are based on the following facts:
(1) The rural electrics have brought electricity to and are serving the thinly populated areas of the country. The national average number of connected consumers of REA borrowers per mile of line is only 3.1. Many Western States average 1.2 to 1.7 consumers per mile and some rural electric systems in these areas serve less than 1 consumer per mile,
These figures mean two things : First, any substantial loss of consumers would strike a mortal blow at the rural electric systems. Second, if the rural electric systems fail, for loss of consumers, the prospects of continued service on an area coverage basis in those regions become dark indeed.
(2) Of the electrified farms in the country, more than half are served by REA cooperatives. This varies from 97 percent in North Dakota and 84 percent in Wyoming to zero in Nevada where none of the 2,100 electrified farms are served by REA cooperatives.
The latter figures emphasize how critical is the dependence of the family farm consumer upon the rural electric and vice versa.
It is because of this interdependence which has been constantly demonstrated through the 23-year history of the REA program that the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association has aggressively supported the Federal family farm policy. Moreover, it is our conviction that the 160-acre limitation in the reclamation laws in one of the foundation stones in the family farm policy.
For this reason we strongly oppose any weakening of the 160-acre limitation such as is provided for in the Barrett bills (S. 3348 and S. 2541). For the same reason we support the Douglas-Morse-Neuberger bill (S. 1425) which seeks to include the excess-land provision in the Small Projects Reclamation Act.