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Mr. THURSTON. Don't you feel that would be a service the Government should render in connection with any public-spirited citizens who wanted to promote that particular thing?
Mr. STEUART. Yes.
Mr. MOORMAN. I want to ask the doctor a question or two. I want to ask what he, as director, contemplates will be the benefits to agriculture of the added feature of distribution in this bill.
Mr. STEUART. I hadn't given any consideration to the benefits that would result to agriculture from a census of distribution. The only factors that I did consider in that census of distribution was its scope, that included all commodities that were dealt in and that would, of course, include agricultural commodities, the number of people engaged in their distribution, wholesale and retail, just like it does every other commodity.
Mr. MOORMAN. What I am asking of the gentleman who is charged with the responsibility of the procedure under the proposed bill is to definitely distinguish, if he pleases, and put into the record what he and his department, the Department of the Census, contemplates doing under the authority given in that bill that will be helpful to agriculture.
Mr. STEUART. I was just saying that the census of distribution would cover every man dealing in a mercantile way with agricultural products, just like it covers every other commodity. I didn't distinguish in my estimates on what is to be the scope between any classes of commodities. But it is certain that that census like every other census covers every transaction in every commodity.
Mr. MOORMAN. I will change my question then. Will the gentleman state any benefit or benefits that will be derived by those engaged in agriculture from the embodiment of this feature in the bill?
Mr. JOHNSON. Just a minute. The inference is that if it is not beneficial to agriculture we don't want it?
Mr. MOORMAN. By no means, sir.
Mr. MOORMAN. The gentleman can draw his own inferences, but he is not authorized from anything I have said, or any idea I have or any purpose, to draw such an inference. I am simply inquiring and attempting to find out what benefits are to be derived from it. I am in favor of it and not against it. Mr. JOHNSON. Well, then
Mr. MOORMAN. No, sir. I will ask my own questions, if you please. I am asking for the benefits that will be derived by agriculture.
Mr. JOHNSON. That leads to the inference that I was entitled to make and did make.
Mr. STEUART. It is my impression it will be of benefit to agriculture as it is to every other producer to know the number of people dealing in his commodity, the quantity of that commodity that is sold in different communities and that is consumed in that community, the number of people engaged in the wholesale sale of that commodity and the number of people engaged in the retailing of that commodity to the ultimate consumer. Take, for example, potatoes. The quantity of potatoes that are sold by wholesale dealers in the city of Washington, the number of retail dealers in the city of Washington engaged in retailing potatoes—I am just giving this as an example. If the per capita consumption of potatoes is not as large in Washington as it is in some other community, it may be that more potatoes could be sold in Washington to advantage. The same way for the consumption of shoes or clothing. That census of distribution will show the activities in different lines of commodities in different communities, and in the United States as a whole.
Mr. THURSTON. Will that compilation also show the amount of products handled or disposed of by the big cooperative associations?
Mr. STEUART. Oh, yes.
Mr. MOORMAN. Is it contemplated to make any separate report or issue any separate pamphlet or make any collection of data specifically with reference to things for the benefit of agriculture?
Mr. STEUART. Yes, sir; that is the way it is done now. You will find the dealers designated in each city, the number of them, and the class of commodity in which they are dealing. It is the first time that the Government has ever attempted to analyze distribution and I think that a good many people are of the opinion-I won't say whether they are correct or not-in at least some of the communities, that there are more people engaged in distribution than there ought to be, and in others that there are not a sufficient number. But nobody knows, and all the census is is to find the actual conditions existing in these different communities in this distribution matter.
Mr. THURSTON. Do you also deal with the prices of these commodities?
Mr. STEUART. Just the total. But I have not decided on the scope. The scope of that census must be decided by conferring with people who are interested in these different branches. If you are interested in agriculture, you would be the man that I would want to have attend a conference to decide upon the scope of the distribution census so far as it relates to agriculture. There will be no tendency, so long as I am running it, on the part of the Bureau of the Census to just arbitrarily say that this census of distribution is limited. The scope has got to be determined by conference with people who are interested in the different lines of activity.
Mr. MOORMAN. Doctor, I would just like to say for your information, if it is any information, and for the gentleman who interrupted the question a while ago, that I have repeatedly said I am in favor of this census of distribution, and all I am endeavoring to do is to try to have agriculture get the best that I can get for it. I am not trying to detract from that which is due anybody else.
Mr. STEUART. Certainly, that will be my object. Mr. Johnson. I hope the gentleman understands I did not mean to be at all critical. As I have stated here before I would like to see this census very generous for the agriculture census, and I am very much in favor of a distribution census. I am inclined to think that one of the things that might develop would be figures that would lead students to find out that there was rather too much side business living off the distribution of agricultural products. Something like that might be of enormous benefit.
Mr. MOORMAN. That is exactly what I am trying to urge, and what the Director of the Census said he was trying to reach. I was just developing that idea.
Mr. STEUART. I just gave that example of potatoes.
Mr. THURSTON. Of course, Mr. Director, the producer for foodstuffs is somewhat interested in the volume or quantity consumed in a given place, but I am inclined to believe he is far more interested in the question of the price that is paid for the product in a given community, because it is a well-known fact that at different times of the year corners are run, particularly on produce products, so that eggs of a certain quality here in the city of Washington might be retailing for 70 cents a dozen, whereas eggs of the same quality in New York or some industrial center may be retailing for 80 or 90 cents. Now, the producer is not only interested in the quantity that is disposed of in any community, no matter what agency may act as the distributing factor, but he is also interested in the price, and I think one of the objects that the men interested in farming are trying to bring out is the inequality of price charged for the same product in communities where the price should be substantially the same.
Mr. STEUART. As I said, I would not like to say that they won't have information about prices. It may be in there. What we will decide upon as to that scope I can't say now.
Mr. THURSTON. It would seem to me, without giving the matter deep study, that prices would be just as essential as quantity.
Mr. STEUART. I think so, too; but whether it is necessary to go to each dealer and get prices or not is a question.
The CHAIRMAN. Wouldn't there be a great difference in the fluctuation, too? Mr. STEUART. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. I don't say it would be insurmountable, but there would be a difficulty there.
Mr. STEUART. It adds to it.
Mr. LOZIER. As I understand you, Doctor, you stated that the aggregate prices of the commodity would be given in the city.
Mr. STEUART. Not the aggregate. We would ask each dealer, “How many potatoes did you sell during the year? What did you get for them?” That is, the total price.
The CHAIRMAN. You would get the average that way. Mr. THURSTON. What I was getting at was, if I understood you, the total amount of the commodity sold in the community and the approximate average price.
Mr. STEUART. Yes.
Mr. LOZIER. That would be for the purposes of comparison, valuable, because you could see that in another community of the same population the quantity of the commodity was so much and the price so much. Then anyone could make his deductions as to which one offered the best market for that particular commodity.
Mr. THURSTON. The quality being the same.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, Doctor, suppose you have got the aggregate sales and the total amount of the sales in money and in volume from the wholesaler, we will say, in Washington. Then you have got the total sales and the total prices from the retailer. From that it could easily be figured how much the ultimate consumer was paying too much for his potatoes in comparison with other places, if he was paying too much. It seems to me that would be a valuable feature, even to that slight extent, and what Mr. Thurston suggests we put in would be even more valuable. If we could ascertain the wholesaler's price and what the retailer got-the volume and the price.
Mr. THURSTON. I believe the consumer in the United States is just as much interested in the distribution and marketing of foods as the producer.
The CHAIRMAN. Oh, yes; I think that is the main thing in this section for distribution.
Mr. STEUART. It will serve both the producer and the consumer. It is that intermediate stage that we know very little about. It is to develop that intermediate stage between the producer and the consumer.
Mr. MOORMAN. I would like to ask the gentleman one other question. I will ask you to refer to the hearings before this committee, at page 153, and there you will see a statement of three reasons why the census of population and agriculture should be taken together. I put those three reasons in there, and I got them from your department, from those gentlemen who were representing the Census. I would like to have you read them now, where those three reasons conclude and show that the censuses should be taken together, and state what your conclusion is in view of this representation, and how you arrive at the conclusion now that they ought to be taken separately.
Mr. STEUART. Did I say they ought to be taken separately?
Mr. MOORMAN. I understood so, yesterday. I understood that that was your purpose.
Mr. STEUART. I can give you a few pretty good reasons for taking them separately.
Mr. MOORMĂN. You said you originally contemplated that.
Mr. STEUART. Yes; but I also accompanied that statement with the statement that I found it impossible for the agricultural interests to agree on a date that would be acceptable to those who wanted a correct enumeration of the population. Impossible. And therefore I separated the two in the law and put one in the fall of 1929 and the other at April of 1930. I didn't intend to say that I thought it was conducive to more accurate enumeration, but there are very good reasons why I think so.
Mr. Johnson. Incidentally you mentioned the additional cost. Mr. STEUART. Yes. Now, the first one is:
A more complete and accurate census of agriculture is secured by taking the two together, as has been shown by the experience of the Bureau of the Census in taking the census of 1920, which included agriculture and population, and a census of 1925, which included agriculture alone. The censuses of population and agriculture have been taken together and by the same enumerators ever since the first census of agriculture was taken in 1840.
I have talked with the man who prepared that statement and I am very glad I was not present at the time they appeared before your committee, because I think it much better for you to have their ideas without the chief being around at all. I talked with them and I told them that I was far from certain that an enumeration of both population and agriculture at the same time would lead to a more accurate enumeration of either; that I thought the accurate enumeration was controlled more by the composition of the men who did it. Their idea that more accurate information would be had and a more accurate enumeration made if both were taken at the same time was based on the fact that the enumerator would get more compensation
for visiting the farm, because he would be compensated for enumerating the population on that farm at the same time he enumerated the farm. Do you see? But if an accurate census of agriculture can not be taken until the wintertime or early spring, the question in my mind was, Would he visit the farm anyhow? I think that is worthy of consideration in the fixing of the time for the enumeration.
The second one was: It will prevent a duplicate enumeration or a duplication in Government work. If taken together, the field force will be employed only one-half as long as if taken separately. A census is a personal canvass. Hence, the enumerator on visiting each farm in the United States will secure the information for population and for agriculture on one visit. If taken separately it would mean two separate canvasses at two different times and only a few months apart.
Just what I said; but most of this population lives in urban centers and around cities. That is what we ought to enumerate and that is where we are going to have trouble getting the population.
Mr. MOORMAN. Why should you say you should enumerate that any more than the other population?
Mr. STEUART. My use of the word “that” is for the purpose of conveying the understanding that that is where we are going to have the greatest trouble. That is where the greatest amount of money is going to be spent.
Mr. MOORMAN. I don't really believe that is where you have had the most trouble.
Mr. STEUART. Oh, my dear sir; we have had our troubles there.
Mr. MOORMAN. You may have had your troubles there, but people that live in the rural districts are having more trouble at home. They are not getting a fair picture of the country, because you propose to take the census when a lot of them will be away and when you can't get a true picture of the farm at all.
Mr. STEUART. If the date we agree upon is not the date when most of the rural population is present, then we had better change it.
Mr, MOORMAN. Don't you gentlemen know that most of the people leave the country in the fall when the crops are laid by and go to the industrial centers to work in automobile factories and machine shops and other industries until the next spring when the time comes to plant another crop? Don't you know that is a fact?
Mr. STEPART. No; I don't.
Mr. STETART. A good percentage go out of the country into the cities. I think so. But the question is that you can't get it early enough in the fall to catch them before they leave. Now, it is not my desire to agree upon any date that would be detrimental to the agricultural interests or to the urban interests. I am trying to get at a date that will be best for all parties concerned.
Mr. THURSTON. I think the Census Bureau wants to make the enumeration at the time provided by the law.
Mr. STEUART. We will do that, but I am in hopes that we will all agree on a date that will facilitate our work in getting a correct enumeration.