« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
Mr. Rankin. In other words, you embarked in the last year on a policy of giving out these forecasts of prices and amounts of commodities available and you did that on cotton earlier in the season. I want to know what authority you have for making that report?
Mr. Olsen. That authority is contained in appropriation acts which authorized the department to collect and interpret and disseminate information fundamental to the interest of the farmer.
Mr. Rankin. Getting back to the interests of the farmer, back in the early part of the season this Bureau of Agricultural Economics that you represent here took it upon itself to give out a report, the inevitable consequence of which was to depress the price of cotton then in the field. It gave its boll-weevil report, which I have never been able to find any authority for in law, minimizing the boll-weevil ravages throughout the country. I wonder if you knew at that time the boll weevil was cutting the crop in some sections of the South 50 per cent, and if so why was not that included in the alleged boll-weevil report?
Mr. Olsen. I can not speak for the Bureau of Entomology. They issue that report.
Mr. Rankin. That was not given out by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics?
Mr. Olsen. No; the Bureau of Entomology handles that question.
Mr. Rankin. A little later the Bureau of Agricultural Economics did give the farmer another very serious black eye from which he has not recovered by giving out one of these outlook prognostications and saying to the world that the price of cotton was going to decline. Why was that given out?
Mr. Olsen. Let me go back.
Mr. Rankin. Are you responsible for that report?
Mr. Olsen. Personally?
Mr. Rankin. Yes; did you make that report?
Mr. Olsen. Did I personally?
Mr. Rankin. Yes.
Mr. Olsen. No.
Mr. Rankin. Did you have anything to do with that report?
Mr. Olsen. I was not in the city at the particular time that report was issued but I do not disclaim any connection with the report issued by the bureau as part of their program. Those reports have been issued, our outlook report, since 1922.
Mr. Rankin. You gave that report out before.
Mr. Olsen. That particular report?
Mr. Rankin. No.
Mr. Olsen. These particular reports you refer to are called price situation reports and have been issued by the bureau at least for the last two and a half years.
Mr. Rankin. Do you mean to tell the committee that the Department of Agriculture has before issued forecasts of the kind and prices of farm commodities when they were being put on the market?
Mr. Olsen. We have issued from time to time this monthly report.
Mr. Rankin. Will you get them and insert them in the record if it ever was done.
Mr. Olsen. I will be glad to give you copies of the reports.
Mr. Rankin. Can you tell the committee where the pressure came from for that report to be made?
Mr. Olsen. Pressure did not come from any outside source. It was one of the regular reports that are issued and it was issued along the same line that we issue every other report.
Mr. Rankin. You do not mean to leave the impression on the committee that is a report that has been issued regularly yearly?
Mr. Olsen. That report or a modification of that report has been issued for at least the last two years. It may not have been issued in this particular form but I can say this that I happen to recall that under date of August 15 a report of very similar nature on cotton was issued.
Mr. Rankin. When?
Mr. Olsen. Last year; last fall.
Mr. Rankin. I understand. When we asked the bureau about it they called attention to this report, to a former report of that same year—and that it was apparently a reiteration, but that report, since I have been a Member of Congress, has never been submitted before that I know of.
Mr. Olsen. I will be glad to bring to your attention these reports.
Mr. Rankin. A little later in the year you presumed to give a report on the carry-over of cotton. Why was that report made? Why did you not leave that to the Bureau of the Census?
Mr. Olsen. The Bureau of the Census has the carry-over figure for the United States. If you are going to give an appraisal of statistical position of a commodity you have to give it from a world point of view and in doing that we have to go beyond the census and draw upon other sources that are available.
Mr. Rankin. I will call to your attention some of the sources. Why, if you were going to do that, did you do that at the time when the farmer was marketing his cotton and it would do him the greatest injury?
Mr. Olsen. Had I realized the discussion to-day would have taken this trend I should have fortified myself with charts and other data. I think the advice that was given at that time if taken would have been exceedingly good advice for the farmers to act upon. Our charts conclusively show that, but without the charts I can not illustrate it.
Mr. Rankin. The Department of Agriculture used at that time the Manchester, England, international cotton federation for their statistics.
Mr. Olsen. As I recall; yes.
Mr. Rankin. Those statistics, as you claim, a recheck showed those statistics to be correct, and as a matter of fact those statistics were grossly inaccurate and Mr. Hester, of New Orleans, showed the department that they were grossly inaccurate but they had been given out and those inflated figures carried on to the estimate with the result that cotton was driven down to a point that it has not recovered from since.
Mr. Olsen. We did not state that estimate was necessarily correct. We said that as far as we could determine after a careful examination of all data that we thought this was the best available figure and used it.
Mr. Rankin. When you gave that out it went into the head lines. Do you not know and did you not know that it would have the effect almost of a governmental edict and would tend to depress the price of cotton to the injury of the man who was producing it?
Mr. Olsen. We are not authorized to collect all the data ourselves and there is a lot of fundamental material we can not collect so that we must be permitted to use the very best available outside data in analyzing various situations that the farmer must know about. Mr. Rankin. I will be perfectly frank with you in the beginning, and say that the farmers, the people throughout the United States, feel that if the Bureau of Agricultural Economics is going to pursue its policy of giving out statements to depress the price of their farm commodities at the time it would do them the most harm, that they would be better off if that office of the Department of Agriculture were abolished.
Mr. Jacobstein. I happen to have studied these outlook reports and I have used them myself for at least three years. You do not object to the outlook report. You object to giving them out at the time when the market may be affected.
Mr. Rankin. They met down there in April, 1923, and gave out an estimate of the number of acres of cotton that the farmers intended to plant and inflated it, and I will say inflated it advisedly. They gave out at least about 4,000,000 acres more than they planted the year before.
Mr. Olsen. I will add there not advisedly. If there was any inflation of any figures it was the result of error, not willful error. Mr. Rankin. I say advisedly.
The Chairman. This is very interesting. I am chairman of this committee. It seems to me this is rather setting up an attack upon the Department of Agriculture, which has very little to do with the bill under consideration.
Mr. Rankin. They gave out an estimate that was 4,000,000 acres above the amount planted the year before and drove the price of cotton down.
The Chairman. Can you connect it with the Census Bureau? Mr. Rankin. I will connect it with them. They are advising the committee what kind of a law to approve. The Chairman. In reference to the census?
Mr. Rankin. As a result they overestimated the amount of cotton that year approximately a million bales up to October or November and it cost us hundreds of millions of dollars. We passed a law to prevent that. We doubted whether they had any right under the law to give out these forecasts and we passed a law that year in order to be sure, but this last year when we had gone through the depression of low prices and were making a small crop, these official reports that I call attention to were given out by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and cost our farmers hundreds of millions of dollars. Now they say they are going to give out forecasts. I want to know their authority for giving them out, where they get the legal authority to do it when it is proposed to give out these forecasts.
Mr. Olsen. The report is in preparation now, and I suppose^it will be released at the latter part of next week or the beginning of next week. I presume I am safe in saying there will be no forecast on cotton. There will be a presentation of the supply and demand situation with reference to cotton.
Mr. Rankin. Are you going to correct the supply and demand situation, this carry-over figure you had in the last report?
Mr. Olsen. That carry-over figure is issued once a year. The basic data on which such a figure can be supplied are available only once a year, and I assure you that it was accepted as the best available data after very careful investigation.
Mr. Lozier. First, with reference to the date on which the agricultural census will be based I will ask you if it is not a fact that by November only a small percentage of the corn crop in the great Middle West is gathered?
The Chairman. Mr. Olsen suggested a later date than November 1.
Mr. Lozier. November 30. Is it not a fact that only a small percentage of the corn crop in the Middle West is gathered by December 1?
Mr. Olsen. It will vary with different seasons. Ordinarily I would say that by November 30 a large percentage of the corn crop has been gathered and that is a good basis for getting figures on production.
Mr. Lozier. Is it not true that 80 per cent of the corn crop in the Middle West, most of it, is not gathered until after January 1?
Mr. Olsen. No, that is not true.
Mr. Lozier. Is it not true that corn matures slowly and in the absence of freezing weather, as the result of rainy weather conditions the farmers are kept out of their fields and that throughout the great Middle West only a negligible percentage of the corn crop is gathered by the first of the year?
Mr. Olsen. In answer to that, I grew up on a Corn Belt farm and am familiar with the conditions there. In a normal year the corn crop is well harvested by December 1. There may be some carry-over into later months. I think I could supply the committee with estimates of the crop that has been harvested at that time.
Mr. Lozier. I was born and raised on a farm. I think I know something about the gathering of corn. Is it not true that throughout the great Middle West that as a result of weather conditions frequently the farmers can not get in the fields because of rain and mud; frequently corn matures slowly or in the absence of freezing weather it is not safe to gather or bin corn in considerable quantities, and that throughout the great West 75 to 80 per cent of the crop is gathered and binned after January 1?
The Chairman. What would you recommend as to the date?
Mr. Lozier. I am unalterably convinced, at least I am committed until the contrary is proved, that we ought to have this agricultural census taken in the spring of the year as of that date, for the reason that your corn crop has then been gathered and the surplus has been marketed and it is the only time you can get anything like an accurate census as to the production of the corn crop.
The Chairman. If we make it in the spring as you suggest, could you not take the population census by the same enumerator?
Mr. Lozier. That is my idea about it exactly.
The Chairman. It would be a saving of money if nothing else.
Mr. Lozier. Why should an agricultural census of livestock be taken in November. That is an abnormal time. It shows an abnormal condition. By November the feed lots in the Middle West are filled and crowded with cattle and hogs for the winter feed and fat cattle and hogs have not been marketed. They have just begun on the winter feeding. By April all those feed lots have been emptied by shipping of cattle and hogs to market. If you take that census in November you will take it at a time that will show millions and millions of cattle and hogs in the feed lots. You would have to rely on the memory of the farmers 12 months in the past for statistics as to the conditions in the preceding November.
Mr. Jacobstein. What date did Mr. Olsen refer to?
Mr. Lozier. November or not later than January 1. Why should not you wait if you want an accurate livestock census until the livestock feeding has been completed, and is it not true that with nine out of ten farmers on the first of the year, I mean in the spring the changes are made and the new year begins in March or April? The tenants have moved to their new homes and they have closed the year's feed. Everything has matured. Nothing is maturing in March or April. Everything is complete on the farm and they are beginning a new program. Why go back to November?
Mr. Olsen. You are getting this agricultural data as of the year the census is taken.
Mr. Lozier. We do not care when it is. We are not bound and no one ought to be bound by the arbitrary practice of the department in the past. We want to fix a date in 1930 and any succeeding census year which will reflect agricultural conditions.
Mr. Olsen Yes.
Mr. Lozier. We do not want to be bound by anything you have done or fixed in the past.
Mr. Olsen. You did not understand my suggestions. The census will be taken as of the year 1929. You will want to know the acreage and production of that year. That is true, I think.
Mr. Lozier. But it will be taken in April and in that way you you can get all the information.
Mr. Olsen. That is one of the difficulties. The later you postpone asking a farmer his production in 1929 the less adequate will be your data. Our experience shows you can not postpone too far the date that you ask for information for the period which you are getting it for.
Mr. Lozier. A man in April gives this information after it is gathered, more of it in April than in November, when most of it is in the field.
Mr. Olsen. A good part of the corn is in the crib and he has a good idea of what is cribbed and what is out. We are convinced you will get a much better figure then than in April. As to livestock I think you should discriminate between breeding stock and feeders. The data are there. You have the feeders there. This represents the feeder situation. If you take the census in April, what will you get then? In the case of hogs in some situations you will have your litters in and count your litters for some areas and in other cases the litter will not be in, depending on weather conditions.