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to adhere, renouncing war as a national policy and agreeing to resort only to peaceful means for the adjustment of international differences. It is the most solemn declaration against war, the most positive adherence to peace, that it is possible for sovereign nations to make. It does not supersede our inalienable sovereign right and duty of national defense or undertake to commit us before the event to any mode of action which the Congress might decide to be wise if ever the treaty should be broken. But it is a new standard in the world around which can rally the informed and enlightened opinion of nations to prevent their governments from being forced into hostile action by the temporary outbreak of international animosities. The observance of this covenant, so simple and so straightforward, promises more for the peace of the world than any other agreement ever negotiated among the nations.
The first duty of our Government to its own citizens and foreigners within its borders is the preservation of order. Unless and until that duty is met a government is not even eligible for recognition among the family of nations. The advancement of world civilization likewise is dependent upon that order among the people of different countries which we term peace. To insure our citizens against the infringement of their legal rights at home and abroad, to preserve order, liberty, and peace by making the law supreme, we have an Army and a Navy.
Both of these are organized for defensive purposes. Our Army could not be much reduced, but does not need to be increased. Such new housing and repairs as are necessary are under way and the 5-year program in aviation is being put into effect in both branches of our service.
Our Navy, according to generally accepted standards, is deficient in cruisers. We have 10 comparatively new vessels, 22 that are old, and 8 to be built. It is evident that renewals and replacements must be provided. This matter was thoroughly canvassed at the last session of the Congress and does not need restatement. The bill before the Senate with the elimination of the time clause should be passed. We have no intention of competing with any other country. This building program is for necessary replacements and to meet our needs for defense.
The cost of national defense is stupendous. It has increased $118,000,000 in the past four years. The estimated expenditure for 1930 is $668,000,000. While this is made up of many items it is, after all, mostly dependent upon numbers. Our defensive needs do not call for any increase in the number of men in the Army or the Navy. We have reached the limit of what we ought to expend for that purpose.
I wish to repeat again for the benefit of the timid and the suspicious that this country is neither militaristic nor imperialistic. Many people at home and abroad, who constantly make this charge, are the same ones who are even more solicitous to have us extend assistance to foreign countries. When such assistance is granted, the inevitable result is that we have foreign interests. For us to refuse the customary support and protection of such interests would be in derogation of the sovereignty of this Nation. Our largest foreign interests are in the British Empire, France, and Italy. Because we are constantly solicitous for those interests, I doubt if anyone would suppose that those countries feel we harbor toward them any militaristic or imperialistic design. As for smaller countries, we certainly do not want any of them. We are more anxious than they are to have their sovereignty respected. Our entire influence is in behalf of their independence. Cuba stands as a witness to our adherence to this principle.
The position of this Government relative to the limitation of armaments, the results already secured, and the developments up to the present time are so well known to the Congress that they do not require any restatement.
VETERANS The magnitude of our present system of veterans' relief is without precedent, and the results have been far-reaching. For years a service pension has been granted to the Grand Army and lately to the survivors of the Spanish-American War. At the time we entered the World War, however, Congress departed from the usual pension system followed by our Government. Eleven years have elapsed since our laws were first enacted, initiating a system of compensation, rehabilitation, hospitalization, and insurance for the disabled of the World War and their dependents. The administration of all the laws concerning relief has been a difficult task, but it can safely be stated that these measures have omitted nothing in their desire to deal generously and humanely. We should continue to foster this system and provide all the facilities necessary for adequate care. It is the conception of our Government that the pension roll is an honor roll. It should include all those who are justly entitled to its benefits, but exclude all others.
Annual expenditures for all forms of veterans' relief now approximate $765,000,000, and are increasing from year to year. It is doubtful if the peak of expenditures will be reached even under present legislation for some time yet to come. Further amendments to the existing law will be suggested by the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, the Disabled American Veterans of the World War, and other like organizations, and it may be necessary for administrative purposes, or in order to remove some existing inequalities in the present law, to make further changes. I am sure that such recommendations as may be submitted to the Congress will receive your careful consideration. But because of the vast expenditure now being made each year, with every assurance that it will increase, and because of the great liberality of the existing law, the proposal of any additional legislation dealing with this subject should receive most searching scrutiny from the Congress.
You are familiar with the suggestion that the various public agencies now dealing with matters of veterans' relief be consolidated in one Government department. Some advantages to this plan seem apparent, especially in the simplification of administration and in the opportunity of bringing about a greater uniformity in the application of veterans' relief. I recommend that a survey be made by the proper committees of Congress dealing with this subject, in order to determine whether legislation to secure this consolidation is desirable.
The past year has been marked by notable though not uniform improvement in agriculture. The general purchasing power of farm products and the volume of production have advanced. This means not only further progress in overcoming the price disparity into which agriculture was plunged in 1920–21, but also increased efficiency on the part of farmers and a well-grounded confidence in the future of agriculture.
The livestock industry has attained the best balance for many years and is prospering conspicuously. Dairymen, beef producers, and poultrymen are receiving substantially larger returns than last year. Cotton, although lower in price than at this time last year, was produced in greater volume, and the prospect for cotton incomes is favorable. But progress is never uniform in a vast and highly diversified agriculture or industry. Cash grains, hay, tobacco, and potatoes will bring somewhat smaller returns this year than last. Present indications are, however, that the gross farm income will be somewhat larger than in the crop year 1927–28, when the total was $12,253,000,000. The corresponding figure for 1926–27 was $12,127,000,000, and in 1925–26, $12,670,000,000. Still better results would have been secured this year had there not been an undue increase in the production of certain crops. This is particularly true of potatoes, which have sold at an unremunerative price, or at a loss, as a direct result of overexpansion of acreage.
The present status of agriculture, although greatly improved over that of a few years ago, bespeaks the need of further improvement, which calls for determined effort of farmers themselves, encouraged and assisted by wise public policy. The Government has been, and must continue to be, alive to the needs of agriculture.
In the past eight years more constructive legislation of direct benefit to agriculture has been adopted than during any other period. The Department of Agriculture has been broadened and reorganized to insure greater efficiency. The department is laying greater stress on the economic and business phases of agriculture. It is lending every possible assistance to cooperative marketing associations. Regulatory and research work have been segregated in order that each field may be served more effectively.
I can not too strongly commend, in the field of fact finding, the research work of the Department of Agriculture and the State experiment stations. The department now receives annually $4,000,000 more for research than in 1921. In addition, the funds paid to the States for experimentation purposes under the Purnell Act constitute an annual increase in Federal payments to State agricultural experiment stations of $2,400,000 over the amount appropriated in 1921. The program of support for research may wisely be continued and expanded. Since 1921 we have appropriated nearly an additional $2,000,000 for extension work, and this sum is to be increased next year under authorization by the Capper-Ketcham Act.
THE SURPLUS PROBLEM
While these developments in fundamental research, regulation, and dissemination of agricultural information are of distinct help to agriculture, additional effort is needed. The surplus problem demands attention. As emphasized in my last message, the Government should assume no responsibility in normal times for crop surplus clearly due to overextended acreage. The Government should, however, provide reliable information as a guide to private effort; and in this connection fundamental research on prospective supply and demand, as a guide to production and marketing, should be encouraged. Expenditure of public funds to bring in more new land should have most searching scrutiny, so long as our farmers face unsatisfactory prices for crops and livestock produced on land already under cultivation.
Every proper effort should be made to put land to uses for which it is adapted. The reforestation of land best suited for timber production is progressing and should be encouraged, and to this end the forest taxation inquiry was instituted to afford a practical guide for public policy. Improvement has been made in grazing regulation in the forest reserves, not only to protect the ranges, but to preserve the soil from erosion. Similar action is urgently needed to protect other public lands which are now overgrazed and rapidly eroding.
Temporary expedients, though sometimes capable of appeasing the demands of the moment, can not permanently solve the surplus problem and might seriously aggravate it. Hence putting the Government directly into business, subsidies, and price fixing, and the alluring promises of political action as a substitute for private initiative, should be avoided.
The Government should aid in promoting orderly marketing and in handling surpluses clearly due to weather and seasonal conditions. As a beginning there should be created a Federal farm board consisting of able and experienced men empowered to advise producers' associations in establishing central agencies or stabilization corporations to handle surpluses, to seek more economical means of merchandising, and to aid the producer in securing returns according to the quality of his product. A revolving loan fund should be provided for the necessary financing until these agencies shall have developed means of financing their operations through regularly constituted credit institutions. Such a bill should carry authority for raising the money, by loans or otherwise, necessary to meet the expense, as the Treasury has no surplus.
Agriculture has lagged behind industry in achieving that vnity of effort which modern economic life demands. The cooperative movement, which is gradually building the needed organization, is in harmony with public interest and therefore merits public encouragement.
THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE STATES Important phases of public policy related to agriculture lie within the sphere of the States. While successive reductions in Federal taxes have relieved most farmers of direct taxes to the National Government, State and local levies have become a serious burden. This problem needs immediate and thorough study with a view to correction at the earliest possible moment. It will have to be made largely by the States themselves.
It is desirable that the Government continue its helpful attitude toward American business. The activities of the Department of Commerce bave contributed largely to the present satisfactory position in our international trade, which has reached about $9,000,000,000 annually. There should be no slackening of effort in that direction. It is also important that the department's assistance to domestic commerce be continued. There is probably no way in which the Government can aid sound economic progress more effectively than by cooperating with our business men to reduce wastes in distribution.