Page images
PDF
EPUB

Mr. ANFUSO. Just a minute. You say according to your own estimates the farmers can grow them for $65 a ton and according to the best studies of Cornell University it will cost you how much?

Mr. DE LEWIS. About $75 to $80.
Mr. ANFUSO. How could you afford to sell them for $50 ?

Mr. DE LEWIS. First of all, I stated that we could for $60 to $65 because we do not figure our labor. In other words, we might get 10 cents an hour,

we might get 15 cents an hour and forget about the dollar an hour. That is what is the minimum.

Now we cannot grow for those kinds of prices.
Mr. ANFUSO. Just a minute. You do not mind my interrupting?
Mr. DE LEWIS. Go ahead.

Mr. ANFUSO. I want to get it correctly. Do you have to sell to this particular buyer? Can you not, say, send them over here to New York City or do something else?

Mr. DE LEWIS. No. We are tied up to them because in years past, there was a question of selling in small baskets—20 pounds a basket. Because at that time, the women would put them into jellies and so on and so forth. But now most of the consumers buy readymade jam

. and jellies and grape juice. Therefore, that market is out, and as I said before, there is only 4 or 5 buyers that buy grapes. We haven't any market of any kind to dispose of our produce. So, therefore, we have to do business with them. It makes it difficult.

Then we have to find out some way to do away with them. That is why I came up last year.

Mr. ANFUSO. Does this apply to all of the grapegrowers throughout the State of New York?

Mr. DE LEWIS. Well, I only speak for Ulster Valley grapes including the Poughkeepsie and Newburgh side, because I am not an expert on that. I cannot speak for other locations.

Mr. ANFUSO. For the record you would say that the grapes from New York State are one of the finest type grapes in the country, would you not?

Mr. DE LEWIS. It is one of the best. As a matter of fact, in the meantime they bought grapes from Canada and unfortunately, they label that grape, “Produced in Ulster Valley." But why they do that, because the Canadian grape, or even upstate grape is much inferiór on juice sugar content. Therefore, they need our grape to get the sugar content.

Mr. ANFUSO. Is it true that sometimes because of these ridiculous prices that you have spoken of, that you do not even pick the grapes and allow them to rot on the vine?

Mr. DE LEWIS. Three years ago. This year, let me say this yearnot mine—they bought not more than one-third of the grapes they bought last year. Ulster Valley Pure Juice Co. last year, in my line, that was delivering the grapes, I will say was a minor part, because as I said earlier the grapes were ripe in August. They waited for the market until the middle of September. At that time the grapes were one-third spoiled and then they came out with such a ridiculous price of $50 plus a dividend, if there is any.

So, finally, we got busy with different ideas of farm produce and most of the farmers did not pick the grapes this year. As a matter of fact, they have no grapes this year-even this year.

[ocr errors]

a

a

Mr. ANEUSO. Mr. De Lewis, how many grapegrowers do you have in Ulster Valley!

Mr. DE LEWIS. Roughly I would say, about 600 to 800.
Mr. ANFUSO. They are all in the same predicament that you are in?
Mr. DE LEWIS. All in the same.

Mr. Anruso. Do you have any suggestions to make to this committee?

Mr. De Lewis. Well, I do not know what to say because, as I already stated, I think there is a monopoly on fixing the prices. I do not know what you call that. I am not an expert. I am only a farmer.

I do not know why such things as these should be allowed.

We buy materials, and so forth, he sells. In the spring he gives us material “This will cost you the same this year."

Then in the fall we come with the grapes and “This is what we give you for your grapes."

In other words, they make the price when they sell it to us and then they make the price when they take them away from us. "If you do not want it, give it to somebody else.”

There is no "somebody else," and, therefore, we do not know what to do. I figure that the only solution at this point here is that the authorities should find another way to dispose of the grapes. If not, we should establish a minimum price based on the cost of production and do as we do with some other things, because I am speaking for the farmers.

But I am not here to tell you that in 1946 when they bought the grapes for $150, jelly sold for 19 cents. Now that they buy for one-third of the price over that time, now they sell it for 39 cents. They pay more or less for what they buy now than 10 years ago.

Mr. ANFUSO. In other words, the price for other things has gone up but the price which you have received for your product has

Mr. DE LEWIS. What I mean is exactly as I told you, I paid $1,360 back there. I paid $1,360 that time; I am so much in debt now because due to the equipment and everything costing me more than $4,000 and I must pay $95 a month because I couldn't pay cash. I believe everything we buy has more than doubled now.

Mr. Anfuso. Has there been any attempt, Mr. De Lewis, on the part of any company to buy your grape farms?

Mr. DE LEWIS. To buy our grapes?
Mr. Anfuso. To buy your grape farms.
Mr. De Lewis. No; I do not think so. Nobody wants them. As a

DE LEWIS matter of fact, all who depend on labor, who grow grapes, they polled out. That is why I stated only the very few who do their own work, use their children right after school hours and weekends and their wives, well, they do not figure those as labor, because they do not pay them. .

Mr. ANFUSO. Do you have a family?
Mr. DE LEWIS. I have a wife and daughter.
Mr. ANFUSO. All of these other farmers, the 600 of them
Mr. DE LEWIS. More or less.
Mr. ANFUSO. Are in the same situation

you

in? Mr. DE LEWIS. More or less except there is one right near by me has lumtiful grape groves, young, planted 8 years ago.

gone down?

as

are

Now, I think that if this situation proceeds, the consumers will pay through the nose and you won't be able to buy anything because these speculators are creating ghost towns in our own communities, they are starving and won't be able to buy no more machinery.

Mr. COOLEY. Do you use those grapes to make wine?
Mr. DE LEWIS. No. It is not so good.
Mr. COOLEY. Not good for wine?
Mr. DE LEWIS. It is the best grape for jelly and used in sauce.
Mr. Cooley. You do not crush any of your grapes into grapejuice?
Mr. DE LEWIS. Not unless we buy California grapes and mix them.
The wine would not be tasty-it would be sour. I used to make it
myself but it would not pay me to bother, I would rather let them rot.

Mr. COOLEY. You cannot make good wine from those grapes?
Mr. DE LEWIS. No.
Mr. Anfuso. Is it a good eating grape?
Mr. DE LEWIS. Well, the ones that taste good are really good.
Mr. ANFUSO. Is that a Concord grape!
Mr. DE LEWIS. Concord ?

Mr. ANFUSO. I think my uncle had a farm upstate who made delicious wine with them.

Mr. DE LEWIS. Yes. They mix with California and 20 pounds of sugar,

as I say. Mr. COOLEY. Twenty pounds of sugar per gallon of wine?

Mr. DE LEWIS. Wait a minute. I bought 100 pounds about 3 years ago, a full sack, and I made 2 barrels. Mr. ANFUSO. Two barrels? Mr. DE LEWIS. Yes. Mr. ANFUSO. Any questions from members of the committee? Mr. MCINTIRE. I would like to ask on this short crop that you had

.
this year, was that related to the dry weather?

Mr. DE LEWIS. Yes.
Mr. MCINTIRE. Thank you.

Mr. DE LEWIS. You might state this about this crop. This is an article by our governor. Our leaders try to get information from the proper sources, because in many cases they get information from these so-called farmer organizations when they are not at all farmer organizations

They are interested in big industry-big millionaires and the governor calls on Secretary Benson to purchase the surplus grapes from New York, and to buy them for loans. This is the Poughkeepsie paper of September 1957.

Mr. Anfuso. This year do you think that is a good idea for the Government to buy the grapes?

Mr. DE LEWIS. First of all, when the man went out there was no more grapes and the grapes are not useful for school lunch, not like an apple that kids take to school, or an orange. The grape gets all jostled before they get them. So the farmers, the local people, intelligent people know there are no grapes. So there is no surplus.

Mr. ANFUSO. Any other questions?
Thank you very much.
Mr. DE LEWIS. I also have something about apples.
Mr. ANFUSO. Do you have a statement on apples?

a Mr. DE LEWIS. This was another problem and it is an every-year problem. It is not only a question of the apples, but we are a combination of farmers, we grow vegetables, fruits, and such. So we grow a variety of things. We are in the same hole on everything we grow. We switch from one thing to another, and we cannot make anything, anyway.

On apples at the present time there is a very weak market. They do not want apples. While we had the misfortune of having hail-not all over but in parts of the valley.

Those people they have invested thousands of dollars for labor, material, machinery, and so forth.

Now they think their apples are not worth a nickel. So again the authorities appeal to people to buy these grade A apples.

The farmers think something should be done. They called a meeting in Glenford, N. Y.; at that meeting they made the report that so far, after 2 weeks, they found a market for 250 boxes of apples. So we are not going to sell apples. Maybe, for each one of us, it will be 1 apple because you have a market for 250 boxes of apples. So that was a failure.

Then, in the local cider mills, last year, they were paying even more than a dollar per hundred pounds for No. 2 apples. Well, this year 1 buyer started with 60 cents per hundred pounds, and he promised that he was going to pay more. Then the other one popped out with 50 cents. So the buyer who promised to pay more, he called us and said, “Look here, how can I pay more than 60 cents when the other one is buying cheaper and he pays 50 cents ?”

Well, this is again the situation on apples.

Last year was a frost and we didn't have any apples. Very few people were lucky enough to have apples—they lived on the higher ground.

Meanwhile, the buyers again became apple men. Before they used to come to us and say, “I need a box of apples to sell."

They knew there were no apples in our locality. They went ahead and went to Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Canada, Buffalo-all over. So when the time came the small farmers who had apples had no space. The cold storage was in other hands; that is, the New York buyers who bought out of town.

But on top of that, then we pay-we are to pay 2 cents to the New England and New York Apple Institute who advertised our apples. So, instead of advertising our apples, the Apple Institute advertised Michigan apples because they advertised where these apples were coming from. They packed the apples last year. The consumer bought their apples, thought they were buying Ulster Valley apples. They were buying Pennsylvania or Michigan or Buffalo apples and Canadian apples.

Those apples are inferior to our quality. And the consumerwhatever he paid, I believe 19 cents or 21 cents a pound, for apples that they paid 3 cents a pound for or even less.

The irony is that they fooled the public and they are impoverishing the farmers. They didn't sell at the price. They were the ones who came on the market.

So, therefore, our advertisement went to pay for the big people who had 200,000 bushels that did not belong to them that they went to buy somewhere out of the State and told the consumers that they came from Ulster Valley because the stamp on the box was Ulster Valley"packed in Ulster Valley.”

So, therefore, last year we sent a delegation to our county man, Wilson, of Ulster County, and he drew up a petition and he presented the petition to change the marketing laws because if it is true, we repeat, we do not want to deceive the public in what they are going to buy. In other words, we are saying that they do not have apples from our State but to tell the consumer where they bought the apples. The county man presented it, and it went to the assembly, but I do not know what happened.

Mr. ANFUSO. We understand that, Mr. De Lewis, that is a question of State legislation. We are interested in anything that we can do from a Federal point of view. We appreciate your testimony and the time that you have taken to come down here. Thank you very much. We hope that we can do something for you.

Mr. De Lewis. I hope so. I would like to leave this with you.

Mr. ANFUSO. Very well; that will be made a part of the record at this point.

(The document referred to is as follows:)

PROCESSING AND MARKETING CONTRACT

This agreement, made in duplicate, this day of

19 by and between

of

hereinafter called “Grower," and Seneca Grape Juice Corporation and/or Hudson Valley Pure Food Company, both of which are New York corporations, hereinafter called “Processor."

Witnesseth: In consideration of the mutual covenants between the parties of this contract, Grower hereby appoints Processor its exclusive processing and marketing agent for all juice grade Concord Grapes produced by Grower from the date hereof until September 1, 1958. However, such agreement shall be deemed automatically extended for additional terms of one year each unless either party, on or before March 1st of any year, shall notify the other of his election to terminate the agreement as of September 1st of that year.

Processor agrees to make to the Grower, upon delivery of his grapes, an advance of $50.00 per ton.

Processor agrees to use its best effect to process and sell in the processed state the grapes delivered by the Grower, together with those delivered by all other growers to Processor's Highland plant; and to pay to Grower the total amount received from the sale of said processed grapes after deducting therefrom an amount equal to the cost of processing, storing, shipping, and selling said processed grapes, less the initial advance of $50.00 per ton, and less a processing fee of $10.00 per ton.

Grower shall not pick, sell, or deliver grapes produced on the vineyards contemplated in this agreement to any other person, association or corporation.

Either party hereto shall be deemed released from the provisions hereof if performance is prevented by blight, fire, strikes, or other causes beyond his control.

Witness our hands the day and year first above written.

Grower
SENECA GRAPE JUICE CORPORATION

and/or
HUDSON VALLEY PURE Food Co., INC.

Processor Mr. ANFUSO. We have with us this afternoon Dr. Omer M. Herrmann, Deputy Administrator of the AMS, who has been kind enough to come from Washington, and he had a distinguished panel of men in his Department to discuss the various phases.

Mr. Ogren will discuss the marketing problems; Mr. Crow the New York market.

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »