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HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Thursday, February 9, 1928. The committee met at 10.30 o'clock a. m., Hon. E. Hart Fenn (chairman) presiding.
The CHAIRMAN. Gentlemen, before Mr. Olsen continues his statement of yesterday, there is a gentleman present representing certain allied grocers' organization who desires to be heard briefly in support of Secretary Hoover's recommendation, and if there is no objection we will hear him at this time. Will you give your name and whom you represent, for the record?
STATEMENT OF CHARLES WESLEY DUNN, NEW YORK CITY,
REPRESENTING THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF RETAIL GROCERS. THE AMERICAN GROCERS' SPECIALTY MANUFACTURERS' ASSOCIATION, AND THE AMERICAN PHARMACEUTICAL MANUFACTURERS' ASSOCIATION
Mr. Dunn. My name is Charles Wesley Dunn, of New York City. I am general counsel for the National Association of Retail Grocers, which represents the retail gorcers of the United States, whose number exceeds 300,000 in the aggregate. I am also counsel for the American Grocers' Specialty Manufacturers' Association, which includes about 200 of the leading food and grocery products manufacturers of the country. I am also counsel for the American Pharmaceutical Manufacturers' Association, which includes most of the pharmaceutical manufactuers of the country who sell to the medical profession and the drug trade. I am here to indorse the recommendation of Secretary Hoover that there be a census of distribution made by the Government. The distribution of grocery products and, to a lesser extent, of drug products, is undergoing a fundamental evolution at the present time, and the whole matter is so vast that it is necessary really to have a Government census of all the factors and processes of distribution, in order that the manufacturers and merchants may intelligently know what the facts are and be governed in the conduct of their business accordingly. That is all I have to say. We think it would be a great public service, and it is almost a necessary thing to do, for the intelligent conduct of business to-day.
The CHAIRMAX. In your remarks you said that these trades were undergoing a fundamental erolution. What do you mean by that?
Mr. Drxx. I mean by that, that the chain store has come into the distribution of grocery products in this country, and now does about 30 per cent, so far as we can find out, of the total business, which means the consequent elimination of the wholesale grocer to a certain extent, and of the individual retail grocer to a certain extent; and all of these changes, and factors in the changes, it is necessary for business to know. It is very hard, especially for the smaller merchants, who have no facilities for getting this information, to know
CHAIRMAN. Do the so-called chain stores belong to your asso
No, sir; I represent the individual retail grocers.
N. "Dhe chain stores do not belong?
Martelligent, You See with,
Mr. WHITE. I would like to ask the gentleman if the information collected and compiled will be an advantage generally to the consumers, who outnumber the grocerymen many, many times.
Mr. Dunn. I should think so, because the consuming public is entitled to know all the facts of distribution, and with such knowledge you would create sound public opinion in the mind of the consuming public. There has long been need of a census of distribution, and we think it is one of the finest things that Secretary Hoover has done to aid business and its intelligent conduct, to promote a governmental census of distribution in the interest of all concerned, both the consuming public and the trade.
Mr. RANKIN. What do you think of a census of agricultural distribution, the distribution of agricultural commodities?
Mr. DUNN. I can only speak generally as to that, because I am not interested, except as a consumer in the agricultural industry; but I think you would find it very interesting. I think the more we know about the facts of distribution in every respect in this country, the better we are off.
Mı. RANKIN. I agree with you there.
Mr. Dunn. You can only found a sound public opinion upon an intelligent, complete statement of the facts.
Mr. RANKIN. Will you state again whom you represent?
Mr. Dunn. I represent the retail grocers of the United States, through their national organization; also the food and grocery product manufacturers, through their organization; and also the pharmaceutical manufacturers, through their national organization.
Mr. MOORMAN. Who, if anybody, of whom you know represents the consumers, whether they be the urban consumers or the consumers at large or anybody who is interested on the other end of the proposition?
Mr. Dunn. I suppose the organization that would be most officially representative of the consuming public would be the General Federation of Women's Clubs. There is a National Consumers League which has its headquarters in New York; I am not familiar with its membership or ooperations, but if it is a responsible organization, and representative, it also would be close to the consuming public and could speak for it.
Mr. MOORMAN. You evidently have given some study to this proposition. Now, who is interested, either officially or otherwise, and especially active in getting the consumers' side of this proposition in this census, outside of the Census Bureau itself? Is anybody at all exercising themselves about it, on the part of the consumers, that you know of?
Mr. Dunn. I am not sufficiently acquainted with the situation to answer your question. I am only familiar with the feeling in our own industry.
Mr. MOORMAN. I am not blaming you; I am agreeing with you that it is all right from your standpoint; but I was just wondering if anybody was really looking after the interests of the consumer in the matter.
Mr. Dunn. I think we are all consumers here, and speaking as one consumer, I know that I would like to have the facts of the business in this country before me, so as to know just what is going on.
The CHAIRMAN. Is not there an implied interest in the consumer in the statement that has been made here, that if this distribution were ascertained it might have a decided effect on prices to the consumer? Perhaps you are not familiar with that? Mr. Dunn. No, sir; I could not speak on that.
The CHAIRMAN. The proposition has been advanced here that by a knowledge of distribution, there would be a cutting off of expenses, reduplication, etc., which occurs from lack of knowledge of distribution, and that this would result in benefit to the consumer? Mr. Dunn. I think it would.
The CHAIRMAN. That phase of the situation has been advanced before the committee.
Mr. Dunn. I think it would, for this reason, that the more you know of the facts of distribution, the more intelligently business will be conducted, and the more intelligently business is conducted, the more efficiently it will be conducted; and in that respect the consuming public will benefit necessarily.
The CHAIRMAN. Have these associations that you represent, of their own volition, at any time, attempted to make a canvass, or whatever you may term it, of distribution; have they attempted to do it on their own account?
Mr. Dunn. No, sir; it is too big, we have not got the money to do it; we could not touch it. I do not know of any organization that would touch it; and then it would not have the authority that a Government census would have.
The CHAIRMAN. I understand that. I probably used the word canvass instead of census.
Mr. MOORMAN. Would the figures which you seek for your organization show the spread between what the product costs the retailer and what he gets for it when he sells it? Would that be part of what you undertake to show?
Mr. DUNN. Well, my conception of the census of distribution is to show the factors and processes and the facts in their larger conception, so that you would have before you not only a broad, but at the same time a more or less detailed, picture of the distribution as a whole. Just how far you would go into the matter of operations and the spread of prices, I am not so sure. That would have to be worked out by those who had the census in charge.
Mr. MOORMAN. Is not that a thing in which the public at large would be most interested? · Mr. Dunn. Yes, sir; I think so.
The CHAIRMAN. Have you heard any opposition to this from any consumer?
Mr. Dunn. I have never heard any opposition in this matter, and I must say that in the industry
The CHAIRMAN. Or from anybody that you have talked to, among the retail dealers that you represent?
Mr. Dunn. No, sir; never. On the contrary, I think you will give the association such as I represent credit for trying to look at these matters in a very broad, fair, public way. We feel that this is a constructive move of fundamental importance. We have got to have the facts upon which to base intelligent business practice, and an intelligent public opinion as to business matters.
Mr. MOORMAN. Don't you think it should cover not only the cost to the members of your organization, but the effect on the consumer, and also going back to the producer? In other words, you have got to have the whole thing to make an intelligent picture, have you not? Mr. DuNN. Yes, sir. In that connection I might say that one of the finest things that Congress has done in many years was the creation several years ago of the joint agricultural commission. Our organization in the food industry cooperated with them in their investigations, and they have recorded a lot of valuable information for public use. This proposition should be carried further, however, and cover the whole field of distribution. · Mr. RANKIN. What was the scope of that commission?
Mr. DUNN. It was directed more to agricultural products, but it went incidentally into the manufacturing and food industries, as such, but, as I say, that was only incidental.
Mr. LOZIER. You refer to the joint agricultural commission on which Mr. Sidney Anderson served?
Mr. Dunn. Yes, sir.
Mr. RANKIN. What was the purpose of that commission; what were they supposed to do?
Mr. LOZIER. The report shows the commodities produced by States and by counties; the time during which the commodities were marketed; the prices of those farm commodities during different months in the year; the cost of production of the various farm commodities; the cost of production in Canada and the United States of wheat, rye, barley, and oats; the influence of freight rates on agricultural commodities; the question of rural credits; and a number of allied questions. I think it is the most valuable farm document that has been issued in many years. I have it bound in my office and refer to it very frequently. It contains tables which show the production, by States, of cotton and various other farm commodities, by years.
The CHAIRMAN. Is not that included in this proposition-cotton production and distribution? Mr. LOZIER. Well, it is a much more elaborate document. The CHAIRMAN. This contains 68 pages devoted to cotton alone. Mr. LOZIER. The bound volume is about four inches thick. The CHAIRMAN. I am just speaking of cotton alone. Mr. LOZIER. It is not only statistical but it goes into the philosophy of production, marketing, and allied subjects.
The CHAIRMAN. What I was getting at is this. That was in 1926 and 1927. Does not the Department of Commerce go into that very largely now? Mr. LOZIER. To an extent.
The CHAIRMAN. To what extent? Mr. LOZIER. Not so elaborately as in the report of the joint commission of the House and Senate.
The CHAIRMAN. Would you have another joint commission appointed?
Mr. LOZIER. No, sir; I am not asking for another joint commission. I am just calling attention to this valuable document. The report I mentioned goes into the philosophy of prices, cost of production, and practically every phase of agriculture.
The CHAIRMAN. That is an academic question.
Mr. LOZIER. It is not only statistical but it is a very valuable and practical public document in many ways.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes; but don't you think, Mr. Lozier, that the report of that agricultural commission, so-called, led to the publication of matters of this kind and documents of that sort?
Mr. LOZIER. Yes, I think so.
Mr. DE ROUEN. The most difficult thing there would be to arrive at the surplus and the quality of that surplus. That is the most difficult point.
The CHAIRMAN. We will now hear the gentleman from the Agricultural Department who did not conclude his statement when we adjourned yesterday. We thank you very much, Mr. Dunn, for your statement.
Mr. Dunn. I appreciate your courtesy in giving me this opportunity.
The CHAIRMAN. You may proceed, Mr. Olsen.
STATEMENT OF NILS A. OLSEN, ASSISTANT CHIEF OF THE
BUREAU OF AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS-Continued Mr. OLSEN. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, I would like this morning to present some facts with reference to the movement of farmers from one farm to another, and in that connection I call your attention to four charts showing these movements. The first chart shows the number and per cent of all farmers moving, both tenant farmers and owner farmers. The column that is significant is the third column of the chart. From this you will see that in the United States as a whole 14 per cent of all farmers, both owners and tenants, move annually from one farm to another. In the Northeastern section, in which we have grouped the New England and Middle Atlantic States, 7 per cent moved. In the North Central section, in which we include the East and West North Central States, 11 per cent moved. In the Southern States, covering the South Atlantic, East and West South Central States, 18 per cent moved. In the western group of States, including the Mountain and Pacific States, 10 per cent of all farmers moved. Now, I have with me here to-day a table which presents these data by States, and I will be very glad to have copies of it distributed to members of the committee if they desire to see it. I would like to ask that the tables go in the record, because I think they will illustrate the point.
The CHAIRMAN. This is Table No. 4?
Mr. OLSEN. This is Table No. 4, but it gives the State data that I was commenting on now, and which is not presented by the wall chart.
The CHAIRMAN. I think this will go in the record. We might insert at this point the portion showing the figures for the different sections of the United States.
(The statement referred to is as follows:)
TABLE 4.-Number and per cent of all farmers moving, crop year 1925–26