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STATEMENT OF HON. REID F. MURRAY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF WISCONSIN
Representative MURRAY. Reid F. Murray is my name.
I would not have the temerity it ask to appear here if it were not for the requests of the Badger Co-op and the Pure Milk Products Corp. of the State of Wisconsin. They asked all of the Representatives from Wisconsin to try to present some of the facts in connection with this controversy.
The CHAIRMAN. We are glad to have you here.
The schedule had been arranged before we knew that you wanted to come. I assume that you are speaking also for the other seven of your associates whose names are on this letter.
Representative MURRAY. Yes, sir, except Mr. Hull, who has his own statement I wish to include.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much. Will you proceed, Congressman?
Representative MURRAY. To start with, it is unfortunate that we have this bill brought in at this time. Very few people realize that the dairy industry is in bad enough shape now, after 14 years of the “more abundant life,” without injecting this particular piece of legislation into the situation in the present Congress.
It is a matter of record that there are fewer milk cows in the United States today than there were 14 years ago. It is a matter of record that United States milk production has been going down every single month since last July. It is a matter of record that Mr. Henry Wallace was ridiculed because he wanted to give everyone in the world a quart of milk, and put a bottle on the doorstep of every Hottentot.
And yet, after these 14 years of the more abundant life, we do not even have a quart of milk a day or its equivalent for the American people.
However, the bill is up for consideration. The passage of the Rivers bill will be a great backward step to American agriculture.
It already has different parts of American agriculture in controversy among themselves. The effort to tear each other down certainly is not going to be for the benefit of American agriculture. The end result is apparently going to be that we will have agriculture suffering as a result of this piece of legislation. The Agricultural Committee was trying to iron out this problem in the House of Representatives, and would have ironed it out fairly and equitably to all groups included, if they had been allowed to carry out their program.
There are a couple of angles in connection with this controversy that no one has brought out yet. I will tell you what one of them is. The sooner somebody finds it out, the better off this country will be.
All the time we have been listening to the chatterings about the wonders of the reciprocal trade treaties, we have seen our friends of the South build up embargo after embargo around their product. And if today the by-products of buttermaking had the same comparable parity, had the same financial support, that is already extended to some of our other crops, the price of butter would not be over 50 to 60 cents at Chicago wholesale in this very hour.
Can we expect to keep prices under control when they kill off 2,000,000 milk cattle?
What else have we been doing? During this time we have been spending millions and millions of dollars. This next year, under the ECA, we have $343,000,000 already earmarked to get rid of cotton. We also have other millions of dollars earmarked in order to get rid of cottonseed meal, so that those over in Europe can feed it to their beef cattle, so they will not have to go through the trouble of milking their cows.
And when you realize that a State like Wisconsin, Mr. Chairman, producers nearly as much milk as the entire British Isles, 15 billion pounds per year as against 18 billion, you can realize the effect this will have on the dairy industry within a State like Wisconsin.
I do further want to say that the psychological effect as well as the economic effect will be important. Because if this Rivers bill becomes law, as I repeat once more, it is going to be one of the greatest disservices to American agriculture that any Congress has ever extended to American agriculture.
The CHAIRMAN. Would you mind if I interrupt at that point ?
Had the Agriculture Committee gotten far enough with its studies so as to have at least a tentative program for solution of the matter?
Representative MURRAY. Yes, sir. The CHAIRMAN. Would you be at liberty to say what that was? Representative MURRAY. The subcommittee is not composed of those who are rabid on either side. In other words, neither Mr. Andresen nor I were on this subcommittee. [Laughter.]
The chairman of the subcommittee was a gentleman from your State, a man who has been here for many years,
and in whom everyone has confidence. It is Congressman William Hill; not prooleo; not probutter. And the Democrats on the committee are also high-class chaps, as well as the other two people on the Republican side. If
you leave them alone they will bring out a bill that will satisfy the soybean people and the cottonseed people, and satisfy everyone who is interested in this problem. The more one goes into this oleo legislation the more angles you see in connection with it. Now, I will give you one more.
If you are going to pass this Rivers bill, you might just as well save your time and include an amendment to legalize filled milk. This oleo outfit will not have to raise $7,000,000 again to carry on a lot of false propaganda, and run some phony experiments like the one out in Chicago, that has more holes in it than any piece of Wisconsin Swiss cheese ever made. Yet they come down here to Congress and expect people to believe it. You might just as well add another amendment that says that you will legalize filled milk. Here is a sample can. It contains 6 percent cottonseed oil and 94 percent skim milk.
The oleo promoter wants to get his head under the dairyman's tent. That is all there is to this at the present time. Because if you legislatively give oleo equal consideration with butter, you might just as well say that this filled milk is just as good as evaporated natural milk.
Oleo contains 80 percent vegetable oil. They will probably come over and tell you that it contains milk. But it does not. It contains defatted milk, skimmed milk. This administration has kept the price of defatted milk so low, in fact way down in the cellar all this time. They have never given it a decent support price, nor one in keeping with its food value.
It is only 10 cents a pound now. Think of that: A product with twice as much protein as a pound of meat. And yet, according to the support program, it is only worth 10 cents a pound.
If it is not going to be difficult to make Members of Congress believe that a product with 80 percent vegetable oil, 15 percent skim milk, salt, and other ingredients added, which makes it oleomargarine, is equal to a 100 percent dairy product, it will then surely be easy to make them believe that this concoction, which I hold here, and which is 94 percent skim milk and 6 percent vegetable oil, is just as good as evaporated natural milk.
And you might be interested in knowing that so far as my State is concerned, not being one of the leading butter States, it is the evaporated milk people that can see the handwriting on the wall. They have within the month hired a lobbyist, I presume to protect their product from the vegetable oil interests that are already set to ruin them. They know that just as soon as you let Mr. Oleo get his head under Mr. Dairyman's tent, the next step will be to legalize that concoction, and then you will not need very many dairy cows in the United States. You will reduce the wealth of these States that have these evaporated milk factories all over the United States.
And just to add insult upon injury, another thing that has happened during the last 6 months is that these boys, some of whom are not dry behind the ears, that I saw over at Geneva last summer myself, strutting around like a lot of little turkey gobblers, did just the last thing they could do to the dairy industry. They lowered the duty on dried skim to 11/2 cents per pound, which means 3/8 of a cent a quart, and of a cent a pound on the skim milk.
In other words, you might as well say it can come in here free. They do not need any United States skim milk to expand this racket or the margarine business, because all you have to do is import the skim milk products from other countries. Since they have reduced the duty, you do not need to worry. They are dependent on the dairymen of America from here on out. Imports of dried skim here started to roll in here in pretty good quantity the first 3 months of this year.
So there is just one more example of what is happening to the dairy industry of this country, and what can happen. I repeat, you might just as well put another amendment on the Rivers bill, legalizing the filled milk. At this time it cannot be shipped interstate, but you can say, “We hereby legalize the filled milk, and you are free to ruin the evaporated milk business of America.
The CHAIRMAN. What does this cost?
Representative MURRAY. I would not know. I have had that for a couple of years. I keep it to show what the handwriting on the wall is. But evaporated milk, during the war, sold for 9 cents. Now, the price is higher. You cannot help having it higher. This administration controls prices. They have an OPA of their own at wholesale levels just as much as we had during the war at retail levels. This administration has the money, it has the power, and it has the authority, to control any agricultural prices. If they would make an announcement tomorrow that we would not pay more than $1.90 a bushel for wheat, that is all wheat would be, day after tomorrow. Because they have the authority, power, and money to do it.
I again repeat, I do not know how you expect to hold the price of dairy products down if you are going to knock over 2,000,000 of
our cows in the head, as we have done already. Then listen to them boller about the price of dairy products.
I do not know how you can expect to keep the price of dairy products down if we are not allowed an opportunity to produce them. You cannot produce them if you have the Luckman approach. He did not even want the farmers to feed the cows last year. The dairymen didn't pay too much attention to him.
If the poultry people had followed Luckman, eggs would be $2 a dozen today. But the poultry people did not pay much of any attention to Mr. Luckman either.
However, it seemed that a lot of other people contracted the disease that I call"“Luckmanitis,” because they are trying to do indirectly what Mr. Luckman was trying to do directly.
You cannot feed the American people unless somebody uses a little judgment. And the first step is not to kill off more dairy cows, which the passage of the Rivers bill will do.
I repeat, gentlemen, we are down below one quart a day in the United States today; the lowest they have ever been since they started keeping the records. Even the national school lunch program is using unfortified skim milk in their program.
Probably the Pilgrims did not have that much, but ever since we started keeping records we have had around 800 pounds per capita in the United States. And we are not going to have it, for the reason that even the Bureau of Agricultural Economics does not dare be too optimistic about what the production is going to be for 1948. We do know that the population is increasing, and the production of milk is decreasing.
There is a bad psychological effect that is going to come from passing the Rivers bill. If they will just leave us alone, the dairy people are fair-minded people. I was born and raised with them.
As for these things that you complain about, they do not like them either. If you leave them alone, they will work out a program that will be fair to everybody concerned.
I know them. They are not the type of people that are trying to take undue advantage over anyone. If you lived in a dairy country,
you would know that. They make their money by milking their cows, and they do not make it by lying awake nights trying to figure out ways and schemes of milking the United States Treasury.
How many people realize that the State of Wisconsin during the war increased its production from 12,000,000,000 pounds of milk to 15,000,000,000 pounds of milk. No other State came near that. No other State came near increasing it 1,000,000,000 pounds. Wisconsin accounted for one-fourth to one-third of all the increase of milk production in the whole United States.
We sent millions of pounds of cheese overseas, which under ordinary circumstances is the poor man's meat. And now, when the war is over with, do you wish to say, "We have let this thing ride for all these years, but now we want to do a little something for somebody, because we think they want it done. So now, we will come around and kick you in the teeth. We do not really appreciate the fact that you did increase your milk production during the war from 12,000,000,000 to 15,000,000,000 pounds."
Well, if the rest of the country had increased its milk production like Wisconsin did, its dairy products would be at a reasonable price today.
That is all I have to say, Mr. Chairman, except that I would like to state for the record that in my appearance here, and the statement I have made in connection with the Rivers bill, I am associated with and have the concurrence of my Wisconsin colleagues, Congressmen Lawrence H. Smith, Glenn R. Davis, William H. Stevenson, John C. Brophy, Charles J. Kersten, John W. Byrnes, and Alvin E. O'Konski. At this point I wish to include the prepared statement of Congressman Merlin Hull, who has a lifetime record of support for the dairy industry of the Nation.
(The statement referred to is as follows:)
STATEMENT OF MERLIN HULL A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE
STATE OF WISCONSIN
Mr. CHAIRMAN: Representing one of the largest dairy districts in Wisconsin, with more than 30,000 dairy farmers, I heartily agree with my colleague, Mr. Murray, in opposing the bill to repeal the taxes on oleomargarine, and particularly the 10-cent tax on oleomargarine colored to resemble butter. In Wisconsin are hundreds of cooperative creameries, with thousands of farmer patrons, who well realize that repeal of such taxes will mean a return of the competition in the sale of oleo as butter, with all the bootlegging practices which became a national scandal in the days before the taxes were imposed.
Wisconsin's dairy production is one of the most important of our national industries, amounting to more than $500,000,000 annually. The campaign of falsehood and prejudice carried on by the oleo interests against the farmers of the Middle West in particular, is poor recompense for the tireless endeavors of the farmers to produce the food which won the war. Passage of the Rivers bill would result in disaster to many creameries, and the consequence would be serious and far reaching. I hope that your committee and the Senate will defeat this unfair and unjustified measure.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much for coming, Congressman. Representative MURRAY. Thank you.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Charles W. Holman, secretary of the National Cooperative Milk Producers Federation.
STATEMENT OF CHARLES W. HOLMAN, SECRETARY, NATIONAL
COOPERATIVE MILK PRODUCERS FEDERATION Mr. HOLMAN. Mr. Chairman, before opening my testimony, I have a few statements that were sent in by member organizations from outside of Washington, who have asked me to file them for the record, and with your permission I will file them with the reporter, without necessarily itemizing them.
The CHAIRMAN. We will be very glad to have them, Mr. Holman. We will have them digested, appropriate credit will be given to the authors, and as digested they will be brought to the attention of the committee.
(The letters referred to will be found in the appendix.) Mr. HOLMAN. I thank you very much.
My name is Charles W. Holman. I am secretary of the National Cooperative Milk Producers Federation, with national headquarters in this city at 1731 I Street.
This federation now consists of 86 member associations, and about 600 submember groups. These associations are all farmer-owned and farmer-controlled dairy cooperatives, with more than 430,000 farm families living in 47 States.