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14—July 1, 1957
Keeping in Touch With Washington
Farm Plan Changes
Appear in Making
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Widespread
and intense discussion of future farm
price policy is under way here. Funda
mental changes appear to be in the
making that could have a major impact
on farm income.
Discontent with present programs
Is extreme, say farm leaders. The
figures tell w hy.
Farm price supports since 1952, says
a recent House report, have gone down
an average of 20 per cent. Acreage of
basic crops has been reduced an equal
percentage by stringent allotments and
quota controls. Farm costs are up 10
While income of the urban popula
tion has climbed more than 12 per cent,
the report goes on, farm income has
declined 20 per cent and more.
The result is mounting pressure to
try something new.
Hearings on Capitol Hill appear to
justify the proposition that past price
policy has helped knock the props out
from under demand and put the farm
er in a strait-jacket. Agriculture Secre
tary Benson's solution is lower sup
ports, which eventually, he insists, will
create demand and bring the farmer
Secretary Benson's suggestion has
been met with resounding silence from
Republicans in Congress and outraged
cries from Democrats.
All hands agree that acreage con
trols should be fewer, market prices
lower in order to build demand. Prob
lem is how, at the same time, to main
tain producer returns. Two approaches
have been written into various bills in
troduced recently on Capitol Hill.
First, the domestic parity or two
price plan. Several versions of this
approach are now in bill form. The
idea is to build blended price floors
from a combination of high domestic
guarantees and the world price for that
part of a crop which is exported. Wheat,
rice and cotton are among commodi
ties being seriously considered for the
Second, the direct-payment plan. The
idea is to allow market prices to go
where they will, but maintain producer
guarantees through Treasury payments.
Advocates of both two-pricing and
direct payments are out to maintain
high grower guarantees. But they dif
fer on how to go about achieving it.
Advocates of direct payments, general
ly speaking, would saddle the taxpayer
with price support costs; two-pricers,
on the other hand, tend to put the bur
den on the consumer.
A feed and livestock report from
USDA, due to reach Capitol Hill by
July 15, is being billed as most
comprehensive study of its kind
Prepared by a 15-man department
task force, the report will (1) review
current livestock problems; (2) in
clude 5-year and 20-year projections of
the feed-livestock picture, and (3)
lyze several alternative government
The department analysis is expected
to point up the desire of top officials
to remove corn from the list of "basic"
crops . . . treat it just like other feed
grains. The study is being directed by
Dr. F. V. Waugh, head of USDA's Di
vision of Agricultural Economics.
Remember that flood insurance
law? Congress approved, last year,
a comprehensive program provid
ing coverage up to $10,000 on single
farm dwellings, up to $250,000 on
a farm or business property.
The government was to bear admin
istration costs and subsidize premiums
up to 40 per cent. Private insurance
firms were to sell and service poli
cies. Details had been worked out by
a new Washington agency, and poli
cies were to be offered farmers late
this spring or early summer. Then the
economy wave washed over Capitol
Hill. Result; No funds to start the
program, despite expenditures already
made to set it up.
You cannot now count on flood in
surance until at least next spring and
GAS TAX REFUNDS
Gas tax refunds to farmers will
be more important this year. The
federal tax on gas has gone up
from 2 cents to 3 cents per gallon.
You must ask for a refund, in order
to get it. File your claim on In
ternal Revenue Service Form 2240,
available at the county agent's of
fice or many banks and postoffices.
Claims may be filed starting on July
1, but not later than Sept. 30. The law
now exempts farmers from federal
gas tax on fuel used for farm produc
Refunds to more than a million farm
ers averaged $20 each last year , . .
will be considerably higher this year.
For details, get Internal Revenue s
newly revised booklet, "Farmer s Gas
Tax Refund Guide."
MONTANA VOTES QUOTAS
Predictions that wheat growers,
this year, would turn down market
ing quotas on the '58 crop turned
out to be way off the mark.
Preliminary figures (which won't
change much) showed that more than
83 per cent of voting growers approved
quotas. The comparable percentage
last year was 87.4 per cent; the year
before that, 77.3 per cent.
Of eligible Montana voters, 93.7 per
cent favored quotas on next year's
crop, according to the preliminary fig
SMALL PROJECTS ACT
Local, state groups can now go
ahead with irrigation work under
the Small Reclamation Projects
Act. The law has been amended to
meet objections raised by the Pres
ident when he signed the act last
Conservation groups in Western
states, including Montana, may obtain
through regional reclamation offices
(1) federal loans at about 3 per cent
interest or less for irrigation projects
costing no more than $10 million; (2)
outright federal grants of up to $5
million for works that benefit the pub
lic, such as flood control, fish and
Maximum federal loan will be $5
million, minus the local contribution.
Money may be had either for a new
irrigation project, or to improve an
existing one. Address of Region 6 of
the Bureau of Reclamation is P.O. Box
2553, Billings, Montana.
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