« PředchozíPokračovat »
organization is such in negotiating the price with the middle man and it is through a process of negotiation; it is not absolute price fixing, on either side—that the effect of that negotiation usually determines the price of the other 40 per cent.
Senator Walsh of Montana. Yes; of course they insist on the .same price that you get?
Mr. MILLER. Yes.
Senator WALSH of Montana. Just one more question. If the committee should feel moved to change the language of the bill touching the remedy before the Secretary of Agriculture, would it comport with your idea that we should repose in the Secretary of Agriculture the power to determine what is a reasonable price and forbid the charging of any price greater than that?
Mr. MILLER. May I reserve answer to that question until after I have had an opportunity of consultation? It strikes me that when you get into the business of Government price fixing, and just what that would be, you are entering upon a road that it is very difficult to see the end of. Personally, I would have no fear of any impartial tribunal fixing the price of milk.
Now, whether that would be true as to all other lines of farm products I do not know; but may I again say, Senator, this bill at
I least provides a certain form of regulation and of supervision. The farmers for three years have been asking for this legislation, holding back their operations. Why would it not be at least safe to pass this bill in the form in which it left the House, and if it does not work out, if any of the evils that are contemplated develop, then it could be limited.
Senator WALSH of Montana. You would not like to submit that kind of an argument to the Senate of the United States, would you?
Mr. MILLER. Yes; based on the economics of the situation.
Senator WALSH, of Montana. Or to a committee of the United States Senate which is endeavoring to get light on what should be done in the situation; to ask us to pass a bill as it came from the House without considering the bill at all?
Mr. MILLER. No; I would not ask you to do that.
Senator Walsh of Montana. No; but you ask us to pass the bill as it came from the House and try it on.
We have some responsibility on it.
Mr. MILLER. May I express appreciation of your patience, Mr. Chairman, and of yours, Senator Walsh, in listening to me.
Senator Walsh of Montana. Of course, we will be glad to have you
take time you care to to consider the matter. My own understanding about it when this bill was before usI had not given special consideration to the language of the bill, but my understanding of the matter was when it was before us formerly-was that it was intended to repose in the Secretary of Agriculture the power to fix a price. I believe that the committee as a whole had that idea. I am perfectly confident now, upon a careful analysis of the bill, that it does not confer that power.
Mr. MILLER. No, sir.
Senator Walsh of Montana. And I gathered from what you said that it is at least a matter of doubt in your mind as to whether it would be wise to confer that power upon the Secretary.
Mr. MILLER. I consider that it would be of doubtful wisdom to confer upon any governmental power the right to fix the price upon any commodity; because in the end it would be necessary for them to fix the price upon all of the raw materials that enter into that commodity, and they must go back step by step.
Senator Walsh of Montana. Of course, you may well pause upon the question, because that gives the power to fix the price of every agricultural product produced in the United States, the magnitude of which almost passes human comprehension; and, of course, if the power is given to fix the prices for agricultural products it will be a little difficult to say where the line shall be drawn.
Mr. MILLER. I have been considering the matter in my own mind since you have spoken, and I will now answer your question. I do
I not think under any circumstances any Government bureau or Government official should be given absolute price-fixing power. Senator DILLINGHAM. Shall we take a
now until 10.30 o'clock to-morrow?
Senator Walsh of Montana. Yes.
Mr. MILLER. I take it that I may be now excused from further attendance? Senator DILLINGHAM. Certainly.
(Thereupon, at 1 o'clock p. m., the subcommittee adjourned until to-morrow, Thursday, June 9, 1921, at 10.30 o'clock a. m.)
AUTHORIZING ASSOCIATION OF PRODUCERS OF AGRICUL
THURSDAY, JUNE 9, 1921.
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Washington, D. C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to adjournment, at 10.30 o'clock a. m., in the committee room in the Capitol, Senator William P. Dillingham presiding.
Present, Senators Dillingham (chairman) and Walsh of Montana.
STATEMENT OF MR. WILIE M. GIFFEN, OF FRESNO, CALIF.
Senator DILLINGHAM. State your name, residence, occupation, and whom you represent.
Mr. GIFFEN. My name is Wilie M. Giffen. My residence is Fresno, Calif. I am engaged in the vineyard business, and incidentally am the president of the California Associated Raisin Co.
We did not come to Washington for the purpose of appearing before this committee in behalf of this bill. We were here regarding our suit with the Government, and after we came here we found that our association was being held up as a shining example of the worst that could happen in cooperative organizations, and was being used to discredit or to defeat this bill if possible; and some of the statements, we find in reading the transcript of the evidence, are so misleading that we felt that they should be corrected.
For the purposes of this discussion, I am going to assume that the statements made by Mr. Preston regarding our organization were absolutely honest statements. It would be inconceivable to me that Mr. Preston would make statements that were not honest, knowing that some time or other the truth would be known; but, assuming that they were absolutely honest, there were so many statements made that are entirely wrong that they show an entire lack of knowledge, I think, of the workings of the California Associated Raisin Co.
In addition to that, truth half told is more subtle in its influence than almost anything else and can be more damaging, and there are so many statements made in Mr. Preston's evidence where only half of the truth is told—the things that were unfavorable to us were told without the full statement of the conditions that it seems to me that they are extremely misleading:
I think it is necessary, if we are to have an understanding of this case, that I should trace with you very briefly the history of the raisin industry leading up to, as we see it, the necessity for the organization of the California Associated Raisin Co.
The raisin industry of the United States is practically confinednot altogether, but nearly confined—to the San Joaquin Valley in California, which is an interior valley that not so long ago was a barren desert. It is about 60 miles in width and about 250 miles in length, and is in the exact geographical center of the State. Fresno is the exact geographical center of the valley, and 90 per cent of the raisins grown in the United States are grown within a radius of 40 miles of Fresno. The entire valley, however, is suitable for the growing of raisins, and other parts of California. We are growing them there because we first got water there, and they are now spreading out over other parts of the State.
Fifty years ago the San Joaquin Valley was a complete desert. In the summer time we have an exceedingly hot summer, and in the summer time without any rain the vegetation all dried up, and we had but a very sparse rainfall, probably 7 or 8 inches, in the winter, and a little feed grew in the valley in the winter, and the sheepmen ranged their sheep there and took them back to the mountains in the summer. Forty years ago it became, instead of a pasture land, a wheat growing district, and wheat was raised on a very large scale. There were only a few farmers, but they had from ten to fifteen thousand acres each.
Senator DILLINGHAM. That was done under irrigation ?
Mr. GIFFEN. No; it was done as dry farming, Senator Dillingham; but the rainfall was so meager that most crops failed, and in the end practically all the wheat farmers broke
up. About this time some of the pioneers with vision took the water from King's River and brought it out over those hot plains, and they found that in spite of the heat and the barrenness of the country, with the application of water we could grow crops—crops that were not known anywhere else in the United States--and among these crops they experimented with raisins, and about 35 years ago they had proven that raisins could be raised successfully. About 40 years ago they started, and the first 4 or 5 years were experimental, but about 35 years ago they proved that they could be raised successfully. About 33 years ago my parents moved from Nebraska to the San Joaquin Valley, and I came with them. I mention that simply that you may know that I have a knowledge of what I am talking about. I went to work as a wage earner on the vineyards of California. At that time, by the time I was there, the industry was small; but it had been proven that they could be grown, and raisins were very profitable. They were selling for 6 cents a pound, which was an exceedingly high price at that time, and everybody was converting their wheat fields into raisin vineyards, and land was selling at boom prices, and vineyards were worth fron $500 to $1,000 an
I determined then as a young man that I was going some dayand it was the height of my ambition—to own a 40-acre vineyard in the San Joaquin Valley, which, as I felt, was all that anyone needed. I went to work for wages, saving up the money that I could, with the idea of trying to acquire this much coveted property.
Senator Walsh said, day before yesterday I think, that we had a natural monopoly out there; the land was restricted on which we could raisins, and we were running true to form, as all Califo
nd we thought the same thing, and we jeered at a man