The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on November 24, 1968 · Page 31
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 31

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, November 24, 1968
Page 31
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Page 31 article text (OCR)

falm React Port-Tlmw. Smday, Nov. U, 1 Bl General Electric HAIR CURLER Sfudy Says Poor Aided Little Are Farm Price Supports Effective? ftTym Im i 18 Nylon rollers in 3- different sizes. Rollers worm up quickly on heat contact in base. Indicator light on base lets you know when rollers are ready to use. Model HCD-1. Participation in the federal cotton program is mandatory." If a farmer wants to grow cotton he must accept an acreage allotment based upon his total land and the history of cotton production on it. Southeastern growers, fearful of competition from high quality cotton grown in California, made the program mandatory. Administration of farm programs is handled by three-man committees of area farmers in each county. The committees set the anticipated yield per acre on which the land retirement payment is based. . A farmer receives 50 per cent of the value of the crop it is estimated he would have harvested bad he cultivated the land. Some Negro farmers claim there is discrimination in the estimation of projected yields. Clarence Hall Jr. of Issaquena County, Miss., said "the projected yield of all small Negro farmers is put way below that of white farmers." Charles Cox, assistant deputy administrator for state and county operations in the Department of Agriculture, says however, that all complaints have been investigated and "very frankly, I've been extremely well pleased that we've found very little evidence of discrimination." The Agriculture Department tries to help the small farmer the one with cotton allotment of 10 acres or less had to pay out 40.2 cents a pound, more than be could get on the market. With between 50 and 200 acres of cotton the cost per pound dropped to 29.7 cents, but the costs stayed the same for the farms with more than 200 acres. Most of the commercial cotton growers argued that the $20,000 limitation, passed by the House but defeated in the Senate-House conference committee, would be ruinous. In Ford County, Kan.; farmers expressed amazement that one ranch in California . received a $4 million payment from the federal government. All the wheat and feed grain farmers in Ford County , received a total of $3.4 million. These have been drought years in western Kansas, and the price of wheat is down because of bumper crops in other areas. "I can go about two more years and then I don't know what I'd do; I guess go into the war on poverty," said Gerhard Gerdes, who farms 1,500 acres near Dodge City. "I hate government control but it looks like it's the only way we can operate." Gerdes said that with the price of wheat at $1.15 a bushel, far below the farmers' costs, no one no matter how big can make it without government payments. by permitting him to plant his entire allotment and still collect the diversion payment. But these payments average only $114.80 to each small farm. "The smaller farmer just can't make it," Richard Shaw said in an interview. Shaw farms 3,000 acres of cropland, 700 of them in cotton. Since he personally supervises his operation, Shaw's plantation could be called a family farm, even though he himself insists the term is an economic anachronism. Big planters like Shaw use large and expensive machinery like a cotton picker that works two rows at once and costs $20,000. "You can't own a two-row picker with 75 acres in cotton." Shaw said. Fred Cook, a USDA economist, underlined Shaw's point. Speaking to a group of planters on ways to cut operating costs, Cook told them a man should have at least 100 acres in cotton. "If you don't have at least this much, there's not much we can do foryou," he said. "There have been problems and faults with every farm program, with every program we've ever had," Shaw said. And one of those problems, he said is that the payments today to cotton planters are too high. But, he added, "without the government programs of the past few years we would not have as healthy an agricul I 18 97 clip 'n save . . liffliSiiiii ture." The cost of growing cotton is much higher in California than in Mississippi. The water - needed to grow cotton in central California costs farmers about $100 an acre. Wages also are high. The large Boswell Company's wage scale ranges from $1.80 to $2.90 an hour, and the company keeps nearly all its employes working all year. Agriculture Department figures for 1964 put the cost per pound in the Delta at 23.4 cents. The cost in the San Joaquin Valley was 31 cents. But the California cotton, a tougher higher quality variety, also brings a higher price from mills. In 1964, farmers received 34.3 cents a pound, compared to 29.4 cents paid Delta growers. The department's figures on how costs vary according to the size of the farm show a marked difference between the commercial farm and one of 50 acres or less. Again using 1964 figures, the department said the Delta farmer with between S and 50 acres of cotton had to spend about 28.4 cents a pound. With between 50 and 200 acres the cost per pounds dropped to 25.3 cents. On the plantation of 200 acres or more the average cost was 24.3 cents a pound. In the San Joaquin Valley the farmer with cotton acreage ranging from 5 to 50 acres T7 Sunday ... Monday . . . Tuesday November 24-25-26 In an attempt to stoo such large outlays, the House, passed a bill to limit payments to $20,000 to any one farm. But Senate conferees refused to accept it. Contrasted to this was Congress' acceptance of a little-noticed amendment to the 196S farm bill which will pay cotton growers a bonus of up to $150 million in price support payments this year. Introduced by Sen. Allen J. Ellender, D-La., chairman of the Senate .Agriculture Committee, the amendment took away the secretary" of agriculture's authority to lower the price support payment on cotton. Farmers, like Shaw, and economists say present ket conditions call for price support payments of about 9 cents a pound. The Ellender amendment forces the government to pay 12.24 cents a pound. Where do all the billions in farm payments go? The President's commission on rural poverty, using cotton as an example, but citing similar figures for rice, wheat, feed grains and sugar, put it this way: "The 10 per cent of cotton producers with the smallest, payments receive less than 1 per cent of cotton program benefits; the 10 per cent of producers with the largest payments receive more than half of these benefits; and the top 1 per cent of producers in size of payments receive 21 per cent of the benefits." Freeman dislikes the word subsidy, especially as applied payments for holding land out of production. "As a matter of semantics," he told the House Committee on Agriculture, "I do not think there is subsidy on cotton or wheat or feed grains producers. "They amount to rental payments ... It is not in the national interest to produce so much cotton and wheat and corn. And the government says that 'for one year we will rent so much of your land if you do not plant it'." Call it rent or subsidy. .114,617.466 went to 81 .887 farms that received payments $5,000 or more in 1967. But most of the nation's S million farmers received a lot less than $5,000. The average payment per farm in 1967 was $978. And rent or national Interest aside, farm production is rising despite the money spent to discourage planting. Last Oct. 1. the Department Agriculture predicted the 1968 wheat crop would be a record 1.6 billion bushels, 30 per cent above the average for the five years, 1962 66. Grain sorghum production is expected to be a record 777 million bushels, 33 per cent above the average for the same five years. Proudction forecast for other crops was corn, 4.6 billion bushels, 20 per cent above average; soybeans 40 per cent above average; oats, 3 per cent; hay 2 per cent and fall potatoes, 4 per cent. In cotton the program, with help from the weather, succeeded. When the program of direct payments to farmers for price support and land diversion was passed in 1965, there was a 16.6-million bale surplus of cotton. The land diversion program plus two years of disastrous weather reduced the surplus to 6.5 million bales. To reduce that surplus by 10 million bales cost the government $1.7 billion or about $170 a bale. There are 490.000 cotton farmers in a belt that stretches across the southern United States from the. Atlantic Coast to California. But 415,000 of them grow less than 50 acres, and most farmers say it takes more than double that acreage to make a living from cotton. cutdQuMoiites i ifc 3 ; i SAVE 8' JERGENS FACE SOAP 4 for 21 i il i iid I m i i ll iHirin 4 fc.n be N IttlM MM lif ll (snfHt Dipfrhntit coupon valid Mai Nov. 24-25-2S- 3 i ByDONALD M. ROTHBERG WASHINGTON (AP) -America's farm programs are multibillion dollar complex of subsidies, some of which undermine others, and all of fehich give little help to the small family farmer. One official view, as expressed by Secretary of Agriculture Orville L. Freeman, is to the contrary. "Today,": he says, "we have a wide range of programs aimed at underpinning and strengthening America's .family agriculture." But the President's National Advisory Commission on Rural Poverty has disagreed. Ii a report entitled "The Peopie Left Behind," the commission said: "It is clear that the price support and related programs do very little for the rural farm poor and nothing, directly, for the rural non-farm poor." The commission added that the existence of farm programs. "If defensible, must be justified on other grounds," Interviews with farmers from Mississippi to California found none who agreed with Secretary Freeman that the programs' aim is to strengthen family agriculture. "Talk of the family farm is a nostalgic longing for the past; it does not reflect reality," said Thomas K. Greer, general counsel for Salyer Land Co., a 60,000-acre family-owned farm in California. "No one in his right mind rould justify the payments the farmer is getting along with the market price," said Richard Shaw, a Mississippi cotton grower. "But I haven't heard of anyone sending a check back." An examination of the Agriculture Department's various farm programs showed: Farmers received more than $1 billion this year for holding land out of production, including one payment of $4,091,818 to a single corporate farm, J.G. Boswell Co., of Kings County, Calif. Farmers collected millions of dollars from various programs to help them increase production on the land they did plant. , That as a result, farm production continued to increase faster than the market could absorb it, thus forcing the government to lay out another $1 billion to support crop prices. Wealthy Americans are going into farming in a big way, but the suspicion persists, especially among some members of Congress, that that the rich are more interested in cultivating tax breaks than crops. Sen. Lee Metcalf, D-Mnn., . cited an Internal Revenue Service study that said 119 individuals with incomes of more than $1 million in 1965 had farm operations, and 104 of them reported losing money at farming. Cattle breeding, especially, has tax advantages that have led to a new business companies that specialize in setting up wealthy people as owners of cattle herds. Expenses are deducted from gross income. Profits from later sale of calves are taxed at the lower capital gains rate. But it is the . direct subsidies, the huge farm payments, that bother the congressmen, beset as they are with demands for more money for troubled cities. Cotton is king on Capitol Hill, primarily because Southerners dominate the agriculture committees of both Senate and House. It was for tak-. Ing land out of cotton produc-I tion that the Boswell company collected more than $4 mil-j lion. I A more prominent recipent , was. Sen. James 0. 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