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These 5,000,000 farmers, gentlemen, are the men who produced food for freedom during the war. They supplied the best-fed and most adequately nourished Army in the history of the world. They supplied the home-front workers in shipyards and bomber plants and in thousands of factories. They fed our allies, both those in uniform and the destitute and starving civilians, and today they are still feeding the hungry half of the world.
Their thanks has been harsh; charges of profiteering because food prices are high, although no higher than prices of all other commodities and of labor. For a decade they have broken all production goals and production records despite shortages of new farm machinery, and repair parts for old machinery, shortages for which bickering management and labor both are to blame.
Now you would slap the dairy farmer again by giving a substitute product every opportunity to imitate a dairy product, a process which will go on to include all dairy products. While your Federal Agriculture Department preaches the soilsaving wisdom of livestock farming, you would by one act give a body punch to the most technical type of livestock farming.
Our southern friends, both in and out of Congress, tell us that the substitute for butter today is made from oils of the soybean and the cottonseed, and that these, too, represent a sizeable segment of American agriculture.
Let me say now that our southern friends are being taken for a fast, rough, one-way ride. During the war years the oleomargarine industry built up an impressive statistical picture showing that its product was being made, to an increasing degree, from native oils. Naturally so, for there simply was no nonmilitary shipping in the South Pacific, and cocoanut oil was impossible to obtain. We all remember the wartime shortages of jute, rubber, pineapples, bananas, quinine.
But already imports of cocoanut oil are increasing. In a friendly way I would point to those imports as a handwriting on the wall. Oleo simply because of wartime shortages built up a statistical record which won the friendship of southern farmers and legislators. When these restraints on production of colored oleo are repealed, when oleo has used its friends, then it will go back to cheap foreign oils and the cotton and soybean farmers will wonder why in the world they deserted their northern friends. And they will remember that dairy cattle feed has brought to soybean farmers nearly three times the amount of revenue derived from oils used in oleo, and that cotton clothing sold in rural America is much more profitable a market than the cottonseed oils which go into oleo.
I believe that we have proven to you gentlemen that all Americans, workers in the cities and on southern plantations, benefit from a healthy condition of butter production, and should not be detracted from the truth by the $6,000,000 publicity campaign of the “monkey butter” boys.
2. Processors.—There are more than 4,000 creameries in America which make butter. Oleomargarine is made by scarcely 20 companies, most of them very large companies and all of them integrated into a financially and politically powerful trust. Some of you Senators have spoke and voted for the benefit of small business. Some of you have expressed friendship for farm cooperatives. Some of you have expressed concern over the growing control, in every phase of our American life, by a numerically small but financially powerful amalgamation of monopolies. Butter is made by thousands of small creameries, independently owned. It is made by hundreds of farmer-owned cooperatives. No person and no group controls any sizeable segment of the butter industry. Compare that democratic, competitive, American situation with this tight little monopoly of oleo makers.
3. Consumers.—It is hard to wipe away the torrent of $6,000,000 worth of crocodile tears, wept sympathetically for the poor housewife by oleo's public-relations men.
But let's be honest. Factual. The desire of those who produce cream and make butter is that no substitute for butter be permitted to imitate butter in a manner designed to fool the housewife. Certainly, then, the housewife should agree with our premise : Allow all wholesome substitutes, but insist that they sail under their own colors, that they not be permitted to falsify their true content by imitating a product of entirely different content.
Butter through Mother Nature has been given the color yellow. Yellow is our trade-mark. It has been the color of butter for 4,000 years. For comparison, consider a taxicab company which for scarcely 40 years has used yellow as its color and its name. If some of you gentlemen, Senators though you be, were
to go into Chicago today and start a cab company, painting your cars yellow, you well know there would be a court injunction issued against you before your cars had been on the streets an hour. That is because of a record of 40 years. Ours is 4,000.
Allow us to keep our trade-mark and to insist that no substitute be given carte blanche right to take our markets and fool the housewife. The makers of oleomargarine say it is a good, nutritious food. If so, it should have no hesitancy in selling for what it is, adopting its own color trade-mark, its own individualized package and container.
Several northern friends of oleomargarine, in this Congress and out, have said there is an economic argument for the vegetable oil substitute, that butter at 80 cents to $1 per pound is out of reason.
Well, last year I bought a fair $4,500 home for $12,000. Last spring I bought an $800 car for $1,800. Last night I had a $1 dinner for $2.50. The man who did a dollar-an-hour job in fixing my oil burner was paid $3 an hour, which wasn't too much considering that the 89-cent work shirt he wore cost him $2.25. We all grant that every commodity every American buys is far out of line with prewar prices—food, clothing, household utilities, everything.
So why pick on butter? Why the emphasis on “dollar butter" and not on overpriced cars, refrigerators, radios, pork chops, men's suits and children's underwear? The answer, again, is that $6,000,000 campaign which pointed continuously and forcefully at butter, always at butter.
I charge that butter is not overpriced, compared with other items of human need today. Certainly the making of butter has not been so profitable as to invite new competition. Dairying is failing to hold its own in this day when less exacting farming pays so well. In the decade from 1937 to 1948 milk cow numbers dropped a million, from 26,000,000 to 25,000,000, while human population in America increased during the same decade from 130,000,000 persons to 145,500,000. Cut the heart out of butter, gentlemen, and you'll rebuff the dairy farmer so sharply that a million babies--offspring of returned GI's—will be without a fluid-milk supply.
Dairying, far from deserving a rebuff, needs stimulation, cultivation, encouragement. The answer lies right in the hands of you gentlemen, in the United States Senate.
That is my case and my argument. It has been expressed poorly, by a farm boy from out of the barnyards of the Midwest.
The butter industry seeks nothing, save a chance to live and to be a friend of its associates, including its competitors. It would bar no competitor from the market. But it must insist that each food be identified in the market place, in fairness to each such food, but especially in fairness to the consumer.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much.
(Thereupon, at 1 p. m., a recess was taken until 2 p. m., day.)
(The hearing was reconvened at 2 p. m., upon the expiration of the noon recess.)
The CHAIRMAN. The hearing will come to order.
The next witness is Dr. Louis Koenig of the Armour Foundation of the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Will you be seated, please, and identify yourself for the reporter?
STATEMENT OF LOUIS KOENIG, CHAIRMAN, CHEMISTRY AND
CHEMICAL ENGINEERING DEPARTMENT, ARMOUR RESEARCH FOUNDATION, ILLINOIS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
Mr. KOENIG. My name is Louis Koenig. I am chairman of the chemistry and chemical engineering department at the Armour Research Foundation.
I should make it clear now that the Armour Research Foundation has no connection with the Armour & Co., meat packers, who, I believe, are manufacturers of oleomargarine.
We are a nonprofit institution set up by the Illinois Institute of Technology. Our services are devoted to research and development for Government agencies and for industry.
Our policy prevents us from testifying as so-called expert witnesses; that is, as to generally known facts. Our testimony must be restricted to the facts which we ourselves have determined, or redetermined, and the conclusions which we can draw therefrom.
It is our understanding that some statements have been made which appear to be contrary to generally accepted facts. These statements related to the bleaching which occurs during hydrogenation of the oils going into oleomargarine; specifically, cottonseed oil and soybean oil.
It had been said, apparently, that oleomargarine could be manufactured by hydrogenation and have a natural yellow color such, that, apparently, it might be confused with butter.
We were a little surprised at these statements, since it is somewhat accepted that a good deal of bleaching occurs during hydrogenation, and statements in various reference works seemed to confirm that.
We instituted experiments to determine it for ourselves, and it is the results of those experiments that I would like to put in here.
The CHAIRMAN. Is there any way to make it whereby the color would naturally be the color of butter?
Mr. KOENIG. Well, it may be colored.
The CHAIRMAN. I say "naturally”? Is there any way to make it yellow without injecting coloring material?
Mr. KOENIG. So far as we know, there is no way in which soybean and cottonseed oils can be hydrogenated to the consistency necessary for oleomargarine without losing practically all of the original yellow color which the oils have.
The CHAIRMAN. Is there any way to make it other than by hydrogenation?
Mr. KOENIG. Not from soybean and cottonseed oils.
Our experiments consisted simply of taking cottonseed and soybean oils, both refined and unrefined, but in both cases unbleached, and hydrogenating them according to the normal hydrogenation process to a consistency similar to that of oleomargarine. And we found that in the four corroborated cases in which we did that, there was a regular and easily observed bleaching,
I have here the color values which will put a quantitative significance on these results. I also have some samples, if you think it is worth while showing them.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes. Let us see what you have.
Mr. KOENIG. This is a sample of the cottonseed oil which we used before hydrogenation, and this is a sample of the product after hydrogenation (indicating].
You see that there is a considerable bleaching of color there.
This is a sample of soybean oil before hydrogenation, and this is a sample after hydrogenation. You will notice that there is a little greenish color in the hydrogenated soybean which is not present in the hydrogenated cottonseed. That is due to some chlorophyll pigments which occur in the soybean.
Just to make it more easily visualized, I have also brought a sample of butter, for comparison, and I have the quantitative data on the color of the butter. It is our opinion, at least, that there can be no confusion between the color of ordinary commercial butter and that of hydrogenated soybean or cottonseed oil.
The CHAIRMAN. That is a sample of butter at what time of the year? Or is that the standard maintained at all times of the year?
Mr. KOENIG. Well, I believe there is a considerable variation in the natural color of butter, and I believe that at certain seasons of the year it is artificially colored. This simply happens to be a sample of the palest available commercial butter which we could find on the market at the time.
I might say that the darkest color which we observed, after hydrogenation amounted to no more than about 12 percent of the original yellow color in the initial oils.
The CHAIRMAN. Your point is that you cannot make oleomargarine with a natural butter color unless you add color?
Mr. KOENIG. That is correct; from the soybean and the cottonseed. That about concludes my statement, Senator.
Senator GEORGE. Let me ask you: The Federal restrictions have required that your hydrogenation be carried to the degree that the oleo is white. That, of course, has influenced all of the chemists in the country who had anything to do with this problem, to say that you could not leave enough of the natural coloring in these products to have a yellow margarine, has it not?
Mr. KOENIG. Would you restate that, Senator? I did not quite
Senator GEORGE. Well, I said that the Federal restrictions have required that these processes produce a white margarine before it can be sold. Because they have a super-added tax of 10 cents on anything above that.
Mr. KOENIG. Yes. That is correct.
Senator GEORGE. And that has influenced the chemists in saying that you could not leave enough of the natural coloring in, of, say, soybeans, peanut and palm oil, and others, to give you a yellow margarine.
Mr. KOENIG. We say that in the ordinary process of the preparation of oleomargarine from cottonseed and soybean
Senator GEORGE. Well, you are confining it to those two things? Mr. KOENIG. That is correct. Senator GEORGE. Leaving out animal fat and any other sort of oil. You are also keeping in mind the Federal restrictions, which require that the hydrogenation be carried to the point where the margarine is a white product?
Mr. KOENIG. Senator, it happens that in going to the stage necessary for the proper plasticity of the product, you automatically bleach, in most cases below even the statutory requirement.
Senator GEORGE. Well, in my own short lifetime, which is not very long, I assure you, I can remember when oleomargarine was yellow without your coloring. And then, of course, there was some legislation, and you had to do away with that. You had to get it white again.
Mr. KOENIG. Yes. I believe you refer to the time when palm oil was being used.
Senator GEORGE. A little palm oil was being used in it. But do not tell me the chemists of this country cannot produce a yellow margarine with the domestic oils that we have now, if they are not restricted by the these Federal statutes.
Mr. KOENIG. Our experiments simply show that in the course of hydrogenation, to get the proper plasticity of the oil, the yellow color is almost completely destroyed. A yellow-colored margarine can be produced possibly from palm oil. Our experiments have not covered that, although the textbooks tell us that there is a considerable bleaching, even of the very dark palm oil.
Senator GEORGE. Well, of course. I do not like to have witnesses testify to something here that I personally know is not so. I used to sell margarine when I was a boy, that was as yellow as butter, and it had no artificial coloring in it.
Now, I know it can be made again. It cannot be done, of course, and meet all of these restrictive statutes that have been imposed from time to time. That is where the trouble is.
Mr. KOENIG. Possibly the oleomargarine that you speak of was hydrogenated not so far, let us say.
Senator GEORGE. I am sure it was not. That is exactly what I am talking about.
Mr. KOENIG. Partially hydrogenated material, that is, material not hydrogenated to the consistency now used, will have a color somewhere between these two samples which I showed.
Senator GEORGE. Well, I am sorry to hear testimony of that kind. You heard Dr. Lepper this morning say that it could be made yellow, did you
not? Mr. KOENIG. I believe he referred to the additional use of palm oil.
Senator GEORGE. Yes, sir. He said it was at one time palm oil, because they used a slight quantity of palm oil; but you cannot do that any more because every time you produce something, as a natural product, without the use of artificial coloring, those who are writing the restrictions come over here to Congress and get some more restrictive legislation if they need it.
What you do not understand, and what the dairy people do not understand is that this particular type of legislation is the most vicious thing that we have on our Federal statutes today, and ultimately State after State will be legislating against the products of some other State unless this thing is wiped out. And there will not be very much that can be done to help it, within the State. That is what I want to see eliminated, far more than I want to add to the value of cottonseed oil, although this would add greatly to cottonseed oil value if you increased the quantity of oil used in the production of oleomargarine, just as it would add to the value of soybean oil, if you could increase the quantity of that used.
But beyond all that, you cannot maintain, through any long period of time, legislation of this kind without inviting States to retaliate. And that retaliation is already in process. That is one of the most unfortunate developments in our life. It would be the most unfortunate development in the American economy.
Those are aïl the questions I have.