« PreviousContinue »
and submarginal land. As we made that trip, we visited a number of the regions in which the Government had been purchasing land. The areas which are being purchased are not adapted to the use to which they are being put. The owners cannot make a living on that land. Our committee definitely recommended that large areas of that Middle Western section should be retired from active cultivation because it is not adapted to farming, and is probably incapable of producing a living for the people on it.
On the other hand, Federal reclamation takes areas which are worthless because they are dry and, by the application of water, creates successful agricultural communities-actually creates communities in an area of no previous value, areas which were perhaps assessed on the tax roll from 10 cents to $2.50 an acre. After these lands receive water they go on the assessed roll at $50, $75, and sometimes $200 an acre.
Mr. FITZPATRICK. And that money is returned to the United States?
Mr. Page. Yes, the money spent in construction of these projects is returned to the United States.
Mr. FITZPATRICK. So that the Government is not out anything.
Mr. Page. That is correct. The settlers contract to repay the cost of construction of these projects before the work is begun.
Mr. FITZPATRICK. And it takes those people that might otherwise be seeking relief if something like that did not take place.
Mr. PAGE. Yes, sir; opportunities are provided for these people. Also there has been practically no relief problem on any irrigation i project during the last few years.
Mr. Rich. You say that the value of the land under these reclamation projects becomes as high as $200 an acre.
Mr. Page. Yes, sir.
Mr. Rich. Are you able to sell this land and return the cost of the land to the Federal Government, to the Federal Treasury? į Mr. Page. It is coming back. The loan is made on a long term.
Mr. Rich. Have you in your report or can you give us the figures on how much money from these reclamation projects has been turned back to the Federal Treasury?
Mr. PAGE. Yes, sir.
Mr. Page. Yes, sir. It has been inserted as a part of the general statement entered previously, under the heading "Status of repayments.”
QUESTION OF COMPETITION THROUGH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES RAISED
ON IRRIGATED LANDS
Mr. Rich. I am not yet satisfied on this matter. I can see where some lands are not able to produce a living to the farmers who work on them, because we have some of those farms in Pennsylvania, but | I cannot understand why the articles that you have mentioned here, apples, barley, beans, citrus fruits, corn, cotton, oats, onions, peaches, pears, potatoes, small fruits, sweet potatoes, if they raise more of them on these irrigated lands than they need for their own consumption, would not be in competition with the products of other lands in this country.
Mr. Page. There are two things which I think you lose sight of. First I refer primarily to competition in products as to which there is admittedly a surplus in the United States, which are corn, cotton, wheat, tobacco, and hogs.
Secondly, a large part of the products which you have listed there come from the irrigated section at seasons in which the other areas do not produce crops. In other words, the lettuce and such products of the southwestern projects come during the winter, when there is no production from any other locality, and the same is true of fruits and other crops. There is no direct competition except perhaps with hothouse stuff, of the truck gardening, and a large part of the early fruits, cantaloups, tomatoes, and so forth. These come during the winter season when in the Northern States there is no locality producing that kind of foodstuffs.
Mr. Rich. Do they ship the commodities such as you spoke of here into the State of Illinois, and of that latitude north?
Mr. Page. Yes, sir.
Mr. Rich. Then they are certainly competitive with the farmers in these northern States.
Mr. Page. If they ship a head of lettuce into Chicago during the months of January, February, and March, as is being done right now, they are not competing with the lettuce growers in Chicago or Illinois. The Illinois growers cannot produce lettuce during these months.
Mr. Rich. But the majority of these reclamation projects are in States where the temperature is the same as it is in the State of Illinois.
Mr. Page. Some of them are, certainly.
Mr. Page. The products of the northern projects largely go to the West. These projects do not produce lettuce for shipment East. Whenever a product is in season in the area east of the Mississippi it cannot be grown by the western irrigator and shipped to markets in that area. The freight rates make that impossible.
These freight rates create a differential much higher than the tariff which is placed on foreign products. The western reclamation projects are in competition with foreign prdouce brought in from South America to the eastern markets, but they are not in competition with the products of the middle western farmer.
We produce practically no wheat, practically no corn-in fact, most of the reclamation projects import over the Rocky Mountains wheat and corn for their own mills and their own hogs from the States of Iowa, Kansas, and the middle western centers, as I noted in one of the statements submitted a moment ago. I think that there is no project on which there is produced enough of those crops of which there is a surplus to supply local needs.
Mr. FITZPATRICK. In fact, what they purchase sometimes is greater in value than what they sell. For example, they must make purchases of clothing and other things in the East and in the Northwest
Mir. Page. It has been proven by a very careful study in the northwestern territory that approximately 75 percent of the value of the crops of that locality is spent in the eastern markets.
The Yakima project, for instance, in an average year will spend about $27,000,000, and that $27,000,000 is distributed as indicated in the statement I now present for the record.
(The statement is as follows:)
TO WHOM DO THE BENEFITS ACCRUE?
A recent study made by the Washington State planning council of irrigation . in that State has made available a large quantity of interesting and reliable data on this particular project. Facts presented in this discussion have been gleaned from our own files and from the report of the Washington State planning council.
Benefits from reclamation flow throughout the Nation. They are both tangible and intangible. From the settler on the project to the man dependent on his job in an eastern manufacturing center and to the farmer in the immediate neighborhood who feeds this man, the benefits of construction of the Yakima Federal reclamation project have been spread and renewed each year since the project was initiated in 1905.
A brief review of the history of the Yakima project and a condensed description of it will assist in understanding the statistics which will be presented in support of the claims for these widespread benefits.
The Yakima Valley embraces three counties, Kittitas, Yakima, and Benton, in south central Washington. It extends from the Cascade Mountains on the west to the Columbia River on the east. Altitudes of 9,000 feet are found in the Cascades within this watershed and at the town of Kennewick on the Columbia River, the lowest point in the valley, the altitude is 300 feet. The irrigated areas of the main tributary valleys lie at altitudes between 350 and 3,000 feet, with ridges separating them and protecting fields and orchards. This valley is semiarid, with precipitation varying from 4 inches along the Columbia River to 15 inches annually in some parts of the developed area. Near the crest of the Cascades, however, the rainfall increases sharply to as much as 70 inches at the summit. The rains and snow falling in these mountains form the reservoir of water on which the dry valley lands draw for their crop production. The climate is mild with winters with mean temperatures at about the freezing point and summers with maximum temperatures of almost 100 degrees.
The natural vegetation in the Yakima Valley consists of sagebrush and bunch grass, with an occasional cottonwood tree or willow tree along the streams. Pine forests appear in the higher foothills and the Cascades themselves are heavily timbered. The soils are good.
The first settlements in the Yakima Valley were missions established by the Catholics between 1847 and 1853. While a few wagon trains had preceded it, the first permanent settlement was established in 1860. In this early period the Yakima Valley was used as a cattle range.
The first irrigation canal was built in 1866 but not until 1884, when the railroad came, did irrigation farming become a major activity. Irrigation development then proceeded rapidly until by 1900 all the low flow of the streams was being used.
A serious water shortage in 1905 resulted in strife in the valley. Armed guards were posted along canals but, even so, rival farmers dynamited dams and irrigation structures to prevent diversion of water which they believed belonged to them and which was essential to their welfare. At that time the Bureau of Reclamation moved into the Yakima Valley with a proposal to adjust conflicting water claims by agreement and to develop additional water through storage of surplus flood run-off. The plan prepared by the Bureau of Reclamation was designed to permit long-range development which eventually would put all the flow of its stream to beneficial use in irrigation. In this plan the ultimate project was divided into six divisions—the Sunnyside, Wapato, Tieton, Kittitas, Kennewick, and Roza divisions. Only 1 year ago was work begun on the last of these divisions, the Roza division. In effect, each division was set up as a separate project, its construction cost remaining separate and its prepayment contract was negotiated with an individual irrigation district.
The Sunnyside division embraces 106,000 acres. It was constructed originally by private interests but was purchased by the Government in 1906 and its develop
ment completed in 1920. Its total cost was $3,542,000. In the 21 years ended with the irrigation season of 1935, the Sunnyside division produced crops of a total value of $125,116,000, 35 times the cost of its construction.
The Wapato division embraces 120,000 acres and was built by the United States Indian Service largely for the benefit of Indians on its reservation. It has produced new wealth of a total value of $118,500,000 in this same period. Construction of the Wapato division cost $6,345,600. Its annual average production has been $5,388,000.
The Tieton division of 26,000 acres was completed in 1912 at a cost of $2,823,655. In 21 years it has produced a total of $50,271,900, or nearly 18 times the total invest ment of the Government.
The Kittitas division of 70,000 acres was completed in 1932. Being new, it is impossible to give any figures on its production but it is noteworthy that although it was opened to settlement in 1932 at the depth of the depression the Kittitas division was settled more rapidly than any previous division of the Yakima prej ect. The State of Washington provided a fund of $400,000 to be used in pro moting the early and orderly settlement of the Kittitas lands. This settlement toch place, however, without the expenditure of one cent of this fund in its promotion. Construction of an irrigation system for the Kittitas division cost $8,919,650 and the irrigation district agreed to repay in addition $2,998,320, its proportionate share of the cost of the six storage dams constructed for the Yakima project, as s whole.
The Kennewick division of 24,000 acres was begun in 1932, when 4,000 acres of the first unit of this division were placed under irrigation. Construction of the first unit of the Kennewick division cost a total of $600,844.
The Roza division, which will complete the plan for the Yakima project, wil contain 68,000 acres and will cost a total of approximately $15,000,000. Con tracts for repayment of this sum have been entered into and construction is unde way. The first water probably will not be delivered until 1939.
LANDS REPAY CONSTRUCTION
The cosi of construction of the Yakima project, as of all other Federal reclamstion projects, was levied against the lands benefited for repayment without interest in 40 years. Experience has shown that no difficulty need be anticipate in colleeting the payments from the settlers. To June 30, 1935, a total of $46,380,470 has become due and payable from settlers on Federal reclamatio projects. Of this sum, $45,895,936 has been collected, leaving only 1 percent uncollected. On the Yakima project, payments totaling $6,734,512 have become due and $6,626,387 has been collected.
So much for a review of the history of the Yakima project. Let us turn now to the contributions this project has made. They are of many types,
The value of the Yakima project to the Nation, as a whole, is found partial in the fact that in 1929, for example, new wealth created on the project total $52,348,939, more than seven times the value of the gold produced that year in Alaska, and partially to the fact that it has made a notable contribution to the solidity of the Nation through establishment of fine communities which bolster city, county, and State governments and which pay taxes to the Federal Govern ment. It makes more self-sufficient and self-reliant that vast area which is the semiarid West. It also provides a market more valuable than all Central Americ or Norway or Sweden or Argentina to the industrial centers east of the Mississippi River. The Yakima Valley is an area of homes closely spaced. It has good schools, good roads, fine churches, good hospitals, and well-supported civic enterprises. The communities within this valley and on this project are of the type which forms the backbone of our Nation.
COMFARISON WITH DRY FARMS A comparison of the growth of Benton, Kittitas, Yakima, and Klickitat Counties with that of Franklin, Grant, Adams, Lincoln, and Douglas Counties will demos strate clearly the service to governments, local, State, and National, of irtoatia in stabilizing the population and permitting development of more highly ordan communities. Benton, Yakima, Kittitas, and Klickitat Counties ar irrigated. Franklin, Grant, Adams, Lincoln, and Douglas Counties farmed. The former group has a total area of 10,884 square mil 9,927 square miles. All of these counties are in the semiarid farmed counties have a slight advantage in the amount of rer the irrigated counties have a great advantge, on the other
them run streams. These two groups of counties were settled at approximately the same time. In 1880 each group had a population of approximately 9,000.
Between 1890 and 1900 the development in each of these groups of counties was rapid with irrigation getting under way in the one and a great expansion of dry-farmed wheat occurring in the other. The irrigated counties in 1890 had a population of 18,373 and in 1900 of 29,573, while the dry-farmed counties had in 1890, 15,267, and in 1900, 22,221. Both the irrigation and dry farming continued to increase so that in 1910 the irrigation counties had a population of 78,387 and the dry-farmed counties had a population of 51,537. In the decade ended in 1910 a great land boom had occurred on the dry-farmed lands and much submarginal land was plowed and put to wheat. The population of the dry-farmed counties reached its peak in 1910, despite the fact that the next decade, which included the war years, was to make wheat production much more remunerative. The growth of the irrigation counties during the war decade was steady and apparently wellknit. In 1920 the dry-farmed counties had a population of 47,804, while the irrigated counties had a population of 101,618. In the 1920's the trends already established were more clearly defined and by 1930 the irrigation counties had grown to 110,000 in population, while the dry-farmed counties had been reduced to 38,959.
Contrasting the present condition of these two groups of counties emphasizes what these differences of economic developments have meant to the citizens of the communities. The population of the irrigated counties is concentrated in the irrigated area of about 547 square miles while the population of dry-farmed counties is scattered over 9,927 square miles—the former having a density of 210 per square mile and the latter only 4.1 per square mile. The average size of the irrigated farm is 35 acres while the average size of the dry farm is 958 acres. The largest town in the irrigated counties is Yakima, with a population of 22,101. The largest town in the dry-farmed area is Pasco, with a population of 3,496, and it is noteworthy that Pasco, itself, is the center of a small irrigation project.
It is obvious that the difference in the density of the population of these two areas has an important bearing on the availability of the schools, the churches, the libraries, the telephone and power-line facilities, and the health facilities. Virtually every farm, for example, in the irrigated area has a telephone and electric lights while practically none of the farms in the dry-farmed area has electric lights and only a few have telephones and their service is poor. There is less difference in the quality of the educational facilities offered in these communities than in any other of the services, the reason for this being that the State of Washington has contributed liberally to the support of the schools in Franklin, Grant, Adams, Lincoln, and Douglas Counties.
CONTRIBUTE TO COMMUNICATIONS Another not inconsiderable service rendered the region and the Nation by irrigation communities in the West is that they provide large freight revenues for transcontinental railroads and equally large revenues to other communications networks, such as telegraph, telephone, and the Postal Service. These revenues are of major importance when it is understood that, without them, the communications would be bridging almost one-third of the continent with little or no traffic originating along this section. The contributions made by irrigation areas are reflected in low transcontinental freight rates and other communication charges which could not be maintained without this tributary traffic.
The Yakima Valley, for example, pays to three transcontinental railroads more than $10,000,000 annually as freight on crops it produces and sends to markets. It also pays, incidentally, more than $3,000,000 in insurance premiums.
THE PROJECT PROSPEROUS The contribution of a prosperous community to the State and Nation must be a valuable service. It has been shown above that the Yakima Federal reclamation project has contributed the communities. The following discussion will prove that they are prosperous, in fact more prosperous than other communities in their areas and in other agricultural areas of the Nation.
It is assumed that the per-capita purchasing power of a community is a good criterion of its prosperity. It is noteworthy that in the 6 principal irrigated counties in the State of Washington in 1929 the retail sales per capita totaled $500.14, while in all 14 other counties of eastern Washington, principally dryfarming areas, the retail sales per capita totaled $441.07; and even in the 20