Page images
PDF
EPUB

So, on those commodities and for those programs I feel that we made some real progress and I think these programs, if we will support them, and work at them, will do what we want them to do. They will produce the amounts we need at home and around the world. They will provide the mechanism to balance supply and demand, to give the farmer a maximum free decisionmaking and to allow the market to operate with a maximum of freedom.

Our major problem right now in agriculture is not with these programs. Our problem is in the commodities where we do not have any programs, and particularly some of the commodities that you would have in considerable depth in California, although California does have a number of marketing orders. It is these perishables, it is these nonstorables, these nonprogram commodities where we have suffered our entire price drop that has caused the current discontent, where the Government has no part to play in it, or very little part to play in it, merely as a service instrument in the market. Cattle, hogs, fruits, vegetables, poultry, this is where you have had a minor drop, and in milk prices where you have had your price drop.

I am not advocating Government programs in this area but we are now seeing developed, and which I try to encourage, a national dialog on this question to determine what can be done to give the farmer reasonable bargaining power in a marketplace that is essentially competitive where he has almost no bargaining power. That is our problem. He is at the end of the pipeline. When everybody else who has got some power in the marketplace extracts his piece, then the farmer is left to get what is left over.

Now, I do not know what the solution to that is, but I made a speech to the Press Club here in Washington about a month ago—I will not burden you by repeating it—in which I outlined some things that I thought farmers were thinking about from my journeys and and meetings around the country. So I want to assure you, Congressman Mathias, that there is not any lack of interest or concern or activity or expenditure or program attention to the producing side of American agriculture. It is at a higher level today than I think it has been in the history of the country. But at the same time, I feel a very real concern and the Department of Agriculture has and traditionally has had a very real concern for the nonfarm segment of rural America as well and that is what we talk about here today in terms of the quality of living, economic base, and the poverty problem out in the countryside. I say with no onus but I think with truth that if the USDA does not look after people who live in the rural areas and help a bit and if this committtee does not, nobody is going to do it. Today the percentage, with all due respect to other parts of this Government who are dong their best, and I am not really being critical, but the cities are on an organized basis with the political power they have, they are in these programs and are going to take these programs. If there is no one to work with them and cajole them and urge them and cooperate with them and entice them to bring the programs to the countryside, it is not going to happen.

And so our function is both to use the programs you are familiar with in the Department to help people, farm and nonfarm, in the countryside, and also to bring some of these other programs to the countryside, and I gather that is the purpose of this hearing.

Mr. MATHIAB. Mr. Secretary, let me say I do not believe the cure-all for all these problems is simply money and more people through the USDA. I think through the State and local governments you can have programs. It might take a little longer but all these programs that go through the Federal Government directly to the communities in some cases have not worked well.

Mr. FREEMAN. Let me say to you, Congressman, that I could not agree with you more. I have never in my life nor has anyone in the Department of Agriculture gone to county or local people and said, "please take this program.” Unless they say, "we want this program and we know what to do with this program and we will run this program well if you will help us,” the USDA wants no part of it. It has got to be done with local initiative and with local leadership and with local support and it is only on that basis that USDA programs go forward. So these are services that are available but they are not services that we in USDA are trying to sell. We are really drawing them to the attention of people who, if they wish, can use them.

We turn lots of communities down because we do not think they are well enough prepared. But, if their requests are properly planned, if there is widespread local support, then we can and do provide needed professional and technical assistance. These resources are planned to support local investments and I believe are a constructive and healthy balance which the President calls creative federalism. I have been in both ends of this. I have served in city government and as Governor, so I have looked at Federal programs in a number of perspectives and there is no general rule but it takes both sides.

Mr. MATHIAS. Thank you.

Mr. RESNICK. I would just like to say in conclusion again thanks to you, Mr. Secretary, for the testimony and your frank and candid answers to our questions. I would like to say “Amen” to what you have just said. There is no question about it in my mind, that rural America is without a spokesman today and unless this committee, and especially this subcommittee, speaks for rural America, there is simply no one to do it. The cities have lots of people to speak for them and even the suburbs are getting people to speak for them, but more and more areas that were strictly farm areas are becoming rural areas in that the percentage of people in that area who earn their living directly from farming continue to decrease.

Now, my district, which is basically considered a rural area, is made up of small cities and villages and hamlets. In the 1960 census only 7 percent of the people in that district earned a living directly from agriculture and I imagine that by the time the 1970 census comes around it is going to be down to 4 percent of the people who are actually making a living on the farm. But they are still living in rural America and they still need water and sewers and still need to conquer poverty and have decent houses. They have all the problems of the cities and the suburbs and the only thing they do not have is the money and, very often, the talent to lick them.

This is the point of these hearings, to see what we can do to bring rural America back in step with the rest of America. I personally feel very strongly that we must, as the Secretary put it, not only stop the flow of people to the cities, but we have got to get some of them out of the cities because our cities are simply breaking down under the flow of people from the country. They just cannot handle it. We have got to make the rural areas competitive and give rural people a way to make a living and the way to have the social amenities, cultural amenities, not only to keep those people in the rural areas but get them back out of the cities. It can be done and it must be done. And I think this is what the hearings will develop, develop ways of doing this and to point out to the rest of our colleagues these disparities and the problems that we have in rural America.

To call rural America an agricultural problem today is wrong. As your very fine presentation shows, sure, you helped some people stay on the farm in Little River County in Arkansas, but most of those people stay there because you were successful in bringing in a wide variety of community facilities and industry, and this is, of course, what must be done.

I would say again that I hope that enough of the Governors come or send representatives so we can hear directly from them about what they are doing for these rural areas. I do not want to prejudge the situation, but I would say to my distinguished colleague from California, I think you are going to find that it is very little. I think you are going to find that the rural areas are vastly overshadowed by their cousins from the big city, that the cousins from the big city have the taxes, they have the organization, they have the political flak, if you want to call it that, and I think you will find the rural areas are the forgotten men and women in America.

With that, unless anybody has anything further to say, I will adjourn the meeting until 10 o'clock tomorrow. At that time we will have Mr. Ruttenberg, of the U.S. Department of Labor. Again, thank you, Mr. Secretary

Mr. FREEMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

(Whereupon, at 12 noon, the hearing was adjourned, to reconvene at 10 a.m., Wednesday, June 7, 1967.)

EFFECT OF FEDERAL PROGRAMS ON RURAL AMERICA

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 7, 1967

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
SUBCOMMITTEE ON RURAL DEVELOPMENT
OF THE COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE,

Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to recess, at 10 a.m., in room 1302, Longworth House Office Building, Hon. Joseph Y. Resnick (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.

Present: Representatives Resnick, Nichols, Goodling, and Mathias.
Also present : Martha Hannah, subcommittee clerk.
Mr. RESNICK. The subcommittee will now come to order.

I understand that some of our colleagues are in an executive session of another subcommittee, so that Mr. Mathias and I will hold forth at the present.

We have as our witness Mr. Stanley H. Ruttenberg, Assistant Secretary of Labor.

We will be glad to hear from you, Mr. Ruttenberg, if you and your associates will come forward.

STATEMENT OF STANLEY H. RUTTENBERG, ASSISTANT SECRE

TARY OF LABOR; ACCOMPANIED BY WILLIAM HALTIGAN, CHIEF, RESEARCH DIVISION, OFFICE OF FARM LABOR SERVICE, BUREAU OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY; FRANK BORDA, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY; AND JUDAH DROB, OFFICE OF MANPOWER POLICY, EVALUATION AND RESEARCH, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

Mr. RUTTENBERG. Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, my name is Stanley H. Ruttenberg, and I am Assistant Secretary of Labor and Manpower Administrator of the U.S. Department of Labor.

I am delighted to be here today in response to your request to Secretary Wirtz to talk to you and your subcommittee about rural development and the impact of the Great Society program on rural America.

I have a 25-page statement which I will not read, but which, with the permission of the subcommittee, I would like to have placed in the record.

Mr. RESNICK. Without objection, it is so ordered. (The prepared statement submitted by Mr. Ruttenberg follows:)

39

STATEMENT OF STANLEY H. RUTTENBERG, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF LABOR

I. INTRODUCTION Thank you for the opportunity of discussing with you the impact of the Great Society programs on rural America and the Department of Labor's participation in those programs. Certainly, as far as the well-being of farm workers is concerned, both the legislative and executive branches of the Federal Government have taken as much constructive action in the last three years as was proposed or undertaken in the previous three decades.

During this period, acting on the recommendation of the President, the government set in motion a broad attack on the problems of migrant workers and their families, created a new housing program for farm workers, and expanded existing health and training programs for farm workers.

During this period, the Congress terminated Public Law 78, and the insistence by the Department of Labor on the use of temporary workers has sharply reduced the employment of foreign workers in American agriculture.

During this period, the Congress extended minimum wage coverage to farm workers for the first time.

The Secretary and the Department of Labor consider it a privilege to have played some part in the enactment of these measures. We shall continue our efforts to extend to farm workers the benefits and protection accorded their fellow workers in industry. For that matter, the Department of Labor's concern with the well-being of the rural resident is a genuine and long-standing one. Our Farm Labor Service has extended its assistance to the migratory worker for a good number of years while, at the same time, meeting the manpower needs of the farm employer. The youth who was determined to enter an apprenticeable occupation has received the helping hand of the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training. The counseling and placement services of the Federal-State Employment Service have been increasingly available to the rural resident, be he an impoverished hill-dweller in Appalachia, an unemployed Navaho Indian, or a displaced coal miner residing in a ghost town.

I am fully aware, of course, that these activities were only partially effective in alleviating rural poverty. Hence, it was particularly gratifying to witness the enactment of such far-reaching social legislation which strengthened and expanded our ongoing programs while calling upon the Department to play a greater role in the fight on rural poverty. The training provisions of MDTA together with the work-training programs delegated by OEO have intensified the Department's participation, as never before, in the struggle for a healthier and more prosperous rural America.

I use the word “struggle," advisedly, for the problems of unemployment and economic decline in rural areas, though less dramatic, are often more intense and widespread than those in urban slums. When I refer to rural areas, I mean those communities which by census definition have a population of less than 2,300. (There are some exceptions which we do not need to note for purposes of this discussion.) They have been adversely affected by the technological revolution in agriculture and in other primary production industries such as forestry and mining.

The resulting decline in employment opportunities has been compounded in some areas by the exhaustion of natural resources, contributing to an unemployment rate which is one-third higher than that for the Nation. Transferability of rural skills to other occupations and industries is limited. In many cases, job requirements are changing much more rapidly than the skills of unemployed and underemployed rural workers can be updated and strengthened.

These changes in the rural economy, plus low wages for year-round workers and seasonal farm hands coupled with increased job opportunities in the nonagricultural industries, have resulted in sustained migration to urban centers. Unfortunately, many displaced farm workers and youth are ill-prepared to compete successfully in the complex urban environment; their migration has merely added to the problems of poverty and joblessness in city slums.

Actually, less than one-fourth of all rural residents are farm people. The others live in small towns, villages, Indian reservations, strip settlements along the roads, abandoned mining settlements, or in isolated, scattered dwellings. Diverse though they may be, rural families share (ertain characteristics. They live in the more isolated, less densely populated areas of the Nation. These are areas

« PreviousContinue »