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In the San Joaquin Valley area a 160-acre irrigated farm in alfalfa nets over $17,000.
In the east side San Joaquin: Alfalfa 160 acres, $21,286; cotton, alfalfa, corn, 160 acres, $9,298.
Let us run down the list with less detail, just reading down the table:
Colorado: Greeley, 187 acres, $9,148 net; Paonia, 111 acres, $5,911 (before repaying project costs).
North Dakota : Souris, 143 acres, between $4,228 to $8,677 net; Cannonball River, 162 acres, $10,000 to $11,000 plus net.
Nebraska : Loup River, 71 to 112 acres, $6,430 to $9,683 net.
Every project in every State reported on by USDA shows that an irrigated acreage of about 160 acres produces not just a minimum income, but a good income. The Department recommends that it be given the authortiy to fix limits on a project-by-project basis so as to achieve the sizes of arms on each reclamation project which would be reasonably efficient in the use of labor, capital, and land resources, and which would provide farm families with income opportunities comparable to those they might obtain for similar effort and skill in other occupations.
Aside from the complexity of such a determination, let us bear in mind that the nationwide average family income before taxes in 1955 was $5,520.
Farmers on reasonable-sized irrigated farms are not rolling in clover, but the USDA report shows that the farms studied are yielding a decent income.
On the basis of the USDA's own chart the argument for scrapping the 160-acre limit because of "variations” falls flat on its face.
It has also been urged that improvements in farm machinery and the expense of such machinery make it impossible for 160-acre (or really it should be 320-acres) to be operated efficiently and economical. This aspect of the issue should be considered in the light of the fact that the acreage limitation covers water not land. All the reclamation law limits is the acreage to be watered by a Federal project—not the size of the farm or ranch of the owner.
I think the burden is upon the proponents of change to prove their case on this point-the USDA report on actual projects does not bear out this contention. Equipment coops and farm machinery rental are among possible methods of overcoming the equipment cost problem-where it exists.
We should have more precise data on the extent to which this is a problem on irrigated lands. Before this problem is used as a basis for further exemptions there should be comprehensive studies undertaken with the reclamation law anti-monopoly provisions in mind. This is not too much to ask where substantial Federal investments are involved. We should have more than horseback estimates, however expert the horsemen—and my high regard for horsemen is well
I suggest—I urge—that these hearings be only the start of a comprehensive study directed by this subcommittee in consultation with farm and reclamation organizations, so that fact will be substituted
And again, there is nothing magical about the figure of 160 acres. Perhaps it is outmoded. Perhaps variables in future projects will be so great as to require a different formula.
The United States Department of Agriculture has not proved its case, yet it presents the most comprehensive survey of the economics of irrigation projects, and I appreciate it.
The Department says the figures project-by-project are not comparable because the studies were made at different times. Very well, let us have a study in which the results are comparable. Let us, if need be, have a new set of fact finders, to take up where the fact finders of the 1920's left off.
If the principle of spreading reclamation benefits is not preserved-in action-then the future of Federal reclamation is imperiled.
We shall need larger scale irrigation to feed our growing population and to improve the economics of farming. There is much to be done in this field. Let us make sure that this essential program is not sacrificed to the greed of a few large landowners.
Senator ANDERSON. I do not know whether the Department of Agriculture representative is here or not. Mr. HEISIG. I am here.
Senator ANDERSON. I do hope when you testify that you will comment specifically on what Senator Morse has raised here.
Mr. Heisig. I think the statement that we have pretty much jibes with what the Senator said.
Senator ANDERSON. He took the statement you had? Apparently he took your figures in a report on the bill and has made his comments. I suggest you make a direct comment on what he has said this morning
Senator MORSE. In this study, Mr. Chairman and members of this committee, I certainly hope that you give careful consideration to the legislative language that you were going to use to implement whatever formula you agreed upon. I abhor granting discretionary au
I thority to nonelected administrative officers of Government. I think the Congress of the United States in too many fields does that. May I say to the Senator from Wyoming, Mr. O'Mahoney, that I agree to his point of view with regard to this on the field of foreign policy but I also think it is true in domestic policy and I think it is particularly true as I see this trend developing in this field of regulations and administering of our natural resources, a tendency of Congress to shuffle off what is considered to be its primary responsibility in setting up standards so exact and precise that an administrator functions only as an administrator and not as a legislator.
The Senator from Wyoming has been pointing out before the Foreign Relations Committee that in the field of foreign aid we have shuffled off too many of our legislative functions. I say, Mr. Chair
: man, and members of the committee, I feel that way in regard to broader discretionary power that is being sought in this field by the Department of Agriculture and by the Department of the Interior.
I think you ought to check their power. You ought to restrict the power they already have instead of granting the kind of discretionary power, if I understand the request correctly, which they seek in this field.
Senator O'MAHONEY. Mr. Chairman, may I interrupt to say that I have repeatedly given expression to the point which I think is clearly upheld by the publication of Executive orders and departmental regulations that Congress too frequently in meeting complex problems, instead of fixing the standards to which the Senator refers, gives to the Department the power to do by regulation what Congress should do by statute.
That in turn results in delegation of really legislative power to the executive branch of the Government and breaks down our system.
Senator Morse. The Senator has put it much better than I put it. Senator ANDERSON. I am very happy to have that statement, Senator Morse, and very happy to add to public testimony to the very fine contribution you made to reclamation by your activities in the Senate of the United States.
That is a quorum call.
(Thereupon, at 12:30 p. m. the hearing recessed to resume at 2 p. m.)
AFTERNOON SESSION Senator BARRETT (presiding). The committee will come to order. The first witness this afternoon will be Mr. Ed Lang from the Wyoming Natural Resource Board.
Senator Anderson has been detained for a bit and we will proceed with the hearing. He expects he will be here very shortly.
Mr. Ed Lang is the manager of the water resource department of the natural resource board of the State of Wyoming, and he will make a statement on two bills, S. 2541 and S. 3448.
We are delighted to have you here, Mr. Lang, and will be pleased to hear from you.
STATEMENT OF EDWIN R. LANG, CHIEF, WATER DEVELOPMENT,
WYOMING NATURAL RESOURCE BOARD
Mr. LANG. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My name is Edwin R. Lang, chief of water development of the Wyoming Natural Resource Board, 215 Supreme Court Building, Cheyenne, Wyo. I am appearing here today representing the natural resource board under the direction of board president, J. Byron Wilson, and under the authority granted the natural resource board by Wyoming Compiled Statutes, 1945, as amended 18-21 10.
The natural resource board is a duly constituted agency created and established in the executive department under the management and control of nine members, qualified electors of the State, with not more than five of the same party, representing each judicial district of the State, together with ex officio members, including the Governor, the highway superintendent, State engineer, State game and fish commissioner, commissioner of agriculture, and the president of the University of Wyoming.
The natural resource board is charged under this law with the fullest development of all resources in the State, including water, soils, forestry, oil and gas, minerals, and industry.
On April 11, 1956, the Congress of the United States authorized the construction of the upper Colorado storage project by the Bureau
of Reclamation, including as a part of that authorization 11 participating projects. One of these projects is the Seedskadee project, Iocated in southwestern Wyoming.
The Seedskadee project is located along the Green River approximately 35 miles north of the town of Green River, Wyo. The lands within the project area are situated along the Green River between the mouths of Fontenelle Creek and Bitter Creek and along Big Sandy Creek near its confluence with the Green River. This project would consist of the irrigation of approximately 60,000 acres of new land. Water would be supplied from the Green River.
The area contained within the Green River Basin in Wyoming consists of high rolling plateau varying in elevation between 6,00% and 7,500 feet. The headwaters of the Green River are located in the Wind River range of mountains to the north in the vicinity of Pinedale, Wyo. Elevation of these mountains varies between 10,000 and 13,000 feet.
In the Seedskadee project area, the average elevation is about 6,300 feet. The project area has a temperate and arid climate. Maximum summer temperatures reach 103° F., while winter temperatures reach a low of 290 F. below zero; the average annual temperature being 44° F.
The averag growing season ranges between 90 and 110 days. The average annual precipitation is about 812 inches, of which slightly more than 4 inches fall between May and September of each year.
The present land use in the vicinity of the project area consists of small isolated patches of irrigated areas of bottom lands along Green River, the remainder of the arid desert-like lands being used for the limited grazing of sheep during spring and fall.
Under the provisions of the upper Colorado River compact, the water allocated to the State of Wyoming will be more than adequate to provide a full supply for the Seedskadee project.
The construction of the Seedskadee project would permit the area to be developed for a general livestock-type of farming. The principal crops to be raised within the project area would be alfalfa hay, irrigated pasture, and small grains. These crops would be marketed as feed for livestock.
The stock anticipated to be raised on the project would be sheep, dairy, and beef cattle. Nearly all of the farmers' cash income would be obtained from the sale of livestock and livestock products. Within Wyoming and the neighboring States of Colorado and Utah, markets are available to absorb the increased production of the project.
The State of Wyoming is most interested in the development of the land and water resources within the State, but its primary consideration at all times is to establish a permanent and prosperous agriculture for its citizens who live on farms and derive their income therefrom. Our future rests on successful farmers, not on theoretical plans.
In view of the limited type of agriculture due to the climate of this area, it will be necessary to establish larger farms than are required in many other areas in the arid West. The existing Homestead Act and the acreage limitation contained in reclamation law will not permit the development of the Seedskadee project in economical farm units.
We believe in the principle of establishing prosperous family-size farm units, but also believe it should be done on the basis of providing the farm family with a suitable level of income and standard of living rather than on the basis of an arbitrary acreage limitation.
Numerous studies by State and Federal agencies of the agricultural potential of the Green River Basin have all indicated the need for farm units with more than 160 acres of irrigable farmland. With larger farm units, the Seedskadee project will make a substantial contribution to the agricultural income of Wyoming. The Seedskadee project will provide an opportunity to deserving individuals to obtain farms of their own. The project costs will be repaid within a 50-year period and the benefits of increased production will extend throughout the Nation.
With the above conditions in mind, the Wyoming Natural Resource Board believes that farm units should be established ranging in size from about 160 acres, when composed of the best land, to a maximum of about 320 acres of lesser productive lands, with the farm units varying in size within these limits, depending on the quality of the soil. In order to include nonirrigable land within the farm unit and to dispose of this type of land interspersed within the project, it is recommended that the maximum size of farm unit when including nonirrigable land be increased to 400 acres.
The Wyoming Natural Resource Board endorses the passage of Senate bill S. 3448 relative to the increase in size of the farm units within the Seedskadee project. It further recommends that similar provisions be extended to other participating projects having comparable soil and climatic conditions.
That can be accomplished through enactment of Senate bill S. 2541, which also is a subject for consideration at this hearing.
During the past 10 to 15 years, congressional consideration and action on this particular matter indicates that some modernization and revision of the existing general acreage limitation provisions of the reclamation law is needed. These provisions do not lend themselves to the wide variation of situations encompassed throughout the irrigation States of the West, either equitably or realistically. They are outmoded and obsolete.
For the earlier projects undertaken under the limitation provisions, it was possible in many instances to support a family on 160 acres. However, now that irrigation projects have moved up into the higher elevations and in areas where the growing seasons are shorter, it has become increasingly difficult to operate a 160-acre unit profitably. In addition, providing a supplemental supply of water for existing projects invariably presents difficult land limitation problems.
The board feels the time has come to face this problem squarely by amending the law as proposed in this bill to meet the changing conditions of the time.
Senator BARRETT. Does that conclude your statement, Mr. Lang?
This Seedskadee project will grow crops that will make supplemental feed for livestock, is that not right?
Mr. LANG. That is correct, because the project is adaptable to that type of cropping pattern.