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Senator Walsh of Montana. We ought to easily agree on this thing, Mr. Silver.
Mr. SILVER. We are here asking the passage of that bill, which we believe will do that.
Senator WALSH of Montana. Mr. Silver, this is the letter to which I referred. It is addressed to Hon. G. W. Norris, chairman of the Committee on Agriculture and Forestry. (Reading:)
I have your letter of recent date in which you bring to my attention a copy of H. R. 2373, which has passed the House of Representatives, and ask for my views on this bill in particular, and, in general, upon the subject which it covers. Apparently, this is about essentially the same measure as S. 983, concerning which I wrote you at your request on April 30 last. I asked the solicitor of the department to give me his opinion on the legal questions covered by the bill. Headvises me that he does not find anything in this bill that will permit agricultural associations to do any of those acts forbidden by the antitrust laws.
Mr. SILVER. That is the solicitor's opinion?
Mr. SILVER. I have nothing to say about it. He believes that. I do not think for a minute that the farmers would be out doing harmful things. But they want the authority to do cooperative marketing, and I do not believe it is a harmful thing to do it.
Senator Walsh of Montana. Yes; but we are not speaking about whether it is a harmful thing, or whether it is a harmless thing. You are afraid that your organizations, if they are perfected along the lines on which you desire to perfect them, will be prosecuted as in violation of the antitrust laws, are you not?
Mr. SILVER. Yes.
Senator Walsh of Montana. You tell us that the people who organized your farmers' associations under State laws are in jail, that prosecution was instituted down in Louisiana under the Sherman Antitrust Act, and you want to be relieved from that; but now I am calling your attention to the fact that if that is what you want, the Solicitor for the Department of Agriculture tells this committee that there is nothing in this bill that will permit you to do anything that is forbidden by the antitrust act; in other words, that you still remain subject to all the pains and penalties of the Sherman Act, no matter what you do. If that is the case, what do you want this legislation for?
Mr. SILVER. If that is the case, why should we not have it? If it does not authorize us to do anything we ought not to do, what is the harm, if we have our hearts very much set on it, and believe it is a helpful thing, and it does not interfere ?
Senator Walsh of Montana. I want to legislate so that you will not be subject to the antitrust act, and the Secretary tells us that this bill will not accomplish that purpose.
Mr. SILVER. I will not pretend to pass on it from the legal viewpoint. ,
We believe it is a helpful bill, Senator. Senator Walsh of Montana. Of course you say you want this bill just exactly as it passed the House.
Mr. SILVER. We would like to have it, because we had an unhappy experience a year ago in conference.
Senator WALSH of Montana. And the Secretary of Agriculture tells us that if you get that you will not get anything.
Mr. SILVER. This measure is like many other measures before Congress; there may be a difference of opinion there.
Senator Walsh of Montana. Yes; there is a very decided difference of opinion, because I think he is wrong.
Mr. SILVER. You do not agree with him, then, in that?
Senator WALSH of Montana. No, I do not; I do not agree with him at all.
There is another thing. Have you compared this bill, Mr. Silver, with the bill that was before us at the last session?
Mr. SILVER. In the main it is the same. I do not know that I can recall the language, but there is a little change in language on the first page there.
Senator Walsh of Montana. There is a very important change on the first page. The bill before us at the last session read:
That persons engaged in the production of agricultural products as farmers, planters, ranchmen, dairymen, nut or fruit growers, may act together in associations, corporate or otherwise, with or without capital stock, in collectively processing, preparing for market, handling, and marketing in interstate and foreign commerce, such products of their members.
But now this is changed so that it reads:
Mr. SILVER. I understand very readily that one is restricted to the membership, and the other would make it general; that anyone producing that product could avail themselves of those marketing facilities.
Senator Walsh of Montana. That is to say, that in the bill that was before us they would be restricted to dealing in the products of their members ?
Mr. SILVER. Yes.
Senator WALSH of Montana. But under this bill they could not only deal in the products of their members, but they could also go out and do a commercial business with people not their members, who had similar products to sell ?
Mr. SILVER. They could also handle the products of their neighbors who may not be members.
Senator Walsh of Montana. Who may not be members?
Mr. SILVER. That amendment or that change is satisfactory. It is not an amendment now, because the bill has been rewritten.
Senator WALSH of Montana. Has that matter been canvassed by your committee?
Mr. Silver. This bill has been sent, Senator, to our different State federations and county federations,
Senator Walsh of Montana. Was their attention called to the significance of this amendment ?
Mr. Silver. They had both the former bill and this. When you speak about calling attention to the significance of it, that might depend upon the mind, as to the significance of it; but they are aware of the differences.
Senator Walsh of Montana. Upon whose suggestion was that change made?
Mr. SILVER. I do not know.
Senator Walsh of Montana. You do not know where it originated ? Mr. SILVER. No; I can not tell you where it originated.
Senator Walsh of Montana. Let me inquire whether it is your understanding that under this bill, if a complaint is made to the Secretary of Agriculture that any organization claiming protection under this act is charging prices that are unreasonable, the Secretary would have the right to fix what price would be reasonable?
Mr. SILVER. I do not know whether I quite catch you, Senator. You mean whether he would have an arbitrary price-fixing authority there?
Senator Walsh of Montana. No; not an arbitrary price-fixing authority.
Mr. SilvER. Well, that is what I understood you to ask. I was not sure I did understand you.
Senator Walsh of Montana. No. Let us suppose, for instance, that this raisin growers association should be charged with having monopolized and restrained trade to such an extent that the price of the product was unduly enhanced, and it is found that they are charging 15 cents a pound for raisins when 10 cents is all that is reasonable, what kind of an order would the Secretary make in a case of that kind ?
Mr. SILVER. Senator, I am just a farmer. I do not know that I can tell you what kind of an order he would make, but if it was unduly enhanced he would certainly have the authority under that to say that that was too high a price.
Senator Walsh of Montana. And to say what price they should charge?
Mr. SILVER. I would not say that he could do that, but he could say if it was unreasonable.
Senator Walsh of Montana. Well, let us suppose that they are charging 15 cents, and the Secretary says that is unreasonable—that is too much.
Mr. SILVER. Then they will charge some other price, and he might determine that that was reasonable.
Senator Walsh of Montana. Then they would charge, we will say, 14 cents ?
Mr. Silver. It would seem to me, Senator, that could be so much better worked out if this bill was in working effect and tried out.
Senator Walsh of Montana. We want to try to find out, Mr. Silver, how it is going to work, and what is going to be done under it.
Mr. SILVER. Of course, and that is right; that is your duty; but to my mind I am not so suspicious of what the farmer may do. . Senator Walsh of Montana. All right; I think that is all. Mr. SILVER. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF MR. MILO D. CAMPBELL, PRESIDENT OF
THE NATIONAL MILK PRODUCERS' FEDERATION.
Senator DILLINGHAM. Please give the reporter your name, residence, and whom you represent.
Mr. CAMPBELL. My name is Milo D. Campbell. My residence is Coldwater, Mich. I am president of the National Milk Producers' Federation, whose office is at 1731 I Street, in Washington.
Gentlemen, I did not expect to appear before you at all. I have sat here and listened to the testimony for two days. I did not hear the first day or two of the testimony that was given, and I want to make an observation or two, not as a lawyer but from the standpoint of the farmer.
I apprehend that in the mind of the committee, as it would appear from the questions that have been asked, the farmers are here asking for some discriminatory legislation, for something that would relieve them from liability for wrongdoing that other occupations and industries were not accorded. I want to say that from my own viewpoint that is not the case at all. The legislation we are asking is relief from discriminatory legislation.
Until the antitrust laws were enacted in this country, everybody had a perfect right to associate with his neighbors in making sale of his products, whether they were from the farm or the factory or elsewhere. Then there came along the antitrust laws. They were asked for by the farmers of the country themselves, as against the great railroad corporations and other combines that were forming. Without going into detail, it was supposed that the farmers had been relieved from this legislation. At the same time that this legislation was placed upon the statute books of this country--the parent law being the Sherman law, the various States having adopted similar laws, the children of this one 'statute, largely-at the same time there was placed in the hands of all industry in this country, except the farmer, a medium through which they could escape liabilities under this law. They were given immunity from the penalties of the law through the corporation. The farmer was given that immunity-he was offered it--but it became impossible for him to adopt it or accept it. The farmer could not run his land into a corporate
a mould. It was impossible. Every other industry in this country could do it.
The farmers during the last year, so we gather from the Secretary of Agriculture, raised about $9,000,000,000 worth of products. That was the total of all that they raised upon their farms in this country, on the 6,400,000 farms. Not to exceed $5,000,000,000 of that was sold, and probably not that amount was sold in the market. The rest of it was consumed on the farm or fed to stock and sold in other forms; so that $5,000,000,000 would cover it. If we read and can interpret the reports of the Internal Revenue Department of this country, we learn that there was sold of manufactured products in this country last year $50,000,000,000 worth of stuff, more than $10 worth of manufactured products for $1 sold from the farm, from the 6,400,000 farmers. This $50,000,000,000 business or industry in this country had a medium through which it could combine, and practically all of it was sold through corporate methods.
We speak about monopolies, we speak about combinations, and we have heard it bandied about for years and years. There are half a million combinations formed in this country every day-every single day. Now, do not think I am exaggerating. I am not. Every village, every city, is passing the word around every morning, for example, as to what they will pay for butter to the farmer, and how much they will pay for eggs, or sell them for. It is a gentlemen's agreement. All of the business of this whole country, practically, is done through gentlemen's agreements, through understandings, etc. Much of it, and most of it, possibly, is in violation of the antitrust laws of this country. They can all easily escape except the farmers. Their farms are nailed down over 3,000,000 square miles. It is impossible to run them into a corporate mould. They must remain as the units; and woe to this country if the time shall ever come when those farms are moulded into corporate units and controlled by great corporations! It will mean the end of this Nation, gentlemen.
The farmers of this country are asking relief now from this discriminatory legislation, not intended to be such. We are claiming that the motives are correct and right; but there are laws that can not be universally obeyed. Airplanes are flying over the city of Washington daily. They are passing over my farm-over my private property. They are violating the law. They are trespassers. They have no business over my farm. They have not become so numerous yet that it has become necessary to pass legislation to permit them to do that, and yet they are violators of law. airplane that flies in the air is violating the law, and a thousand times violator on every trip it makes.
Now, we are coming for some kind of relief. We do not know how we are going to get it. We tried hard to get it. When we try we find out we are met by obstacles here and there.
It may be asked, Senator Walsh, why do we need this legislation? A reason has been demonstrated here in this committee room during the last few days. Sitting by your side for three days has been a gentleman, with his promptings, and I know of his testimony. I did not hear him testify, but I have heard his remarks, and I have inquired, and I have sat with him and talked with him personally to find what his motives were in this committee room fighting this bill, and I have found out. I asked him,
I asked him, “What farmers do you represent?” Why, some raisin growers. “Any consumers in the country?” “No; I do not represent the consumers. “Whom do you represent?” Finally pinning him down, “The packers."
Who are these packers?
Senator WALSH of Montana. Mr. Campbell, there is no secret about that at all. Everybody understands that Mr. Preston represents the packers that are fighting this bill. He said so. He told us he did.
Mr. CAMPBELL. I understand that.
Senator WALSH of Montana. We understand that he is a paid attorney.
Mr. ČAMPBELL. Yes; but just let me follow this out. I have not got through vet. It has been just that class of men, Senator, that are the fellows that are intimidating the farmers of this country all over the Nation. As the president of the National Milk Producers' Federation since its organization for five years, I have followed and known pretty intimately the conditions that existed in all these prosecutions. Five times we have been indicted, not under Federal laws--or excepting in one or two instances--but under the State laws that are similar.
Senator DILLINGHAM. Where have you been indicted under Federal law ?
Mr. CAMPBELL. The only Federal indictment was at New Orleans, as I recall, but we have been threatened with prosecution by the Federal courts all over the Nation.