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PARAGRAPHS 216-219-BEET SUGAR.
In 1905 the Great Western Sugar Co. erected a large, well-equipped factory near Sterling, Colo. It was like waving the wand of a magician over the land.
Sugar beets make a good rotation crop, some seasons as much money can be made in our section on potatoes, hay, alfalfa, or grain. The next season beets may be the best crop. In 1911 hay and alfalfa paid as much, I think, as beets. In 1912 beets seemed to lead everything.
Now, those are physical reasons that it would take a great deal of detail to make you understand, because it is a matter of irrigation and the scarcity of water or having plenty of water which bring about those conditions, and the question of hail enters into it also. The production of beets has one decided and never changing advantage. The farmer knows to a small fraction what he will receive, thus stimulating him to do his best. The minimum price of beets per ton is $5 where 15 per cent of sugar content is shown. For each additional one-half per cent, 12 cents per ton is added.
In the seven years following the building of the above-named factory, the section I represent has gone to enormous expense breaking stubborn soil and fitting it for beet producing. Further, my section has undertaken the building of large conservation reservoirs and our people are burdened with an indebtedness of over three and one-half millions of dollars, in order to have a certain supply of water to use in raising beets and other crops. I think I am fully justified in asserting that none of this would have been done, or at least for a long time to come, save for the stimulus given to farmers by the advent of the factory. All these improvements and heavy expenses incurred have been assumed and perfected under the old régime; that is, under the duty, and I am frank to say, I fear the consequences most keenly if too radical legislation should effect this old adjustment of conditions. In this regard I might add that if the sugar-beet business is destroyed
In this regard, gentlemen, I might say, honestly, that if a readjustment is made I wish to the Lord I had never seen a sugar-beet factory. I have got to go through the same thing exactly again. I have changed all of my business in the way of treating the land and cattle raising, all at enormous expense. As to the treatment of the land, you would never understand that unless you went through it, and that is where we have been irrigating land for 20 or 30 years in the bottoms, and we are forming a very tough sod; it sometimes takes four or six large horses to break it, and that land must lie fallow for the next year in order to give the frost and time an opportunity to disintegrate it before we can handle it, and consequently it sometimes takes $5 or $6 an acre to break that land.
In my humble opinion, gentlemen, this question is not a local one. I trust I am not egotist enough to think that my humble section is all in all. This great industry, that can and will be made so cosmopolitan in its reach, affects every man, woman, and child in this Nation. I might ask, gentlemen, if the plain purpose of the removal of the duty altogether or a decided reduction is for the purpose of benefiting the ultimate consumer? If these contemplated changes in the tariff should destroy or even partially destroy the beet-sugar industry,
PARAGRAPHS 216-219-BEET SUGAR.
would the purpose defeat itself by placing the consumer in the hands of the remaining sugar refiners and makers? The beet producer must use very costly, high-protected implements. He must use better harness and large, powerful horses. Nothing has ever so materially improved the breeding of horses in our country as beet farming. In no sense am I a special pleader for the manufacturer of beet sugar, but we should be fair and give credit where credit is due. Our home factory for beets and labor has paid out, if I am rightly informed, something over $850,000 in our community for this season of 1912 and more or less in all parts of the country in proportion. While our farmers would, of course, like a higher price for their products, this is human nature. There has been no great disaffection between them and the manufacturers. The largest acreage, to my knowledge, was signed up for in 1912 than at any previous year.
Further, the industry has brought about other great advantages to the farmer and community; the sugar company has built a large alfalfa meal mill for grinding alfalfa. With this grist they add about 10 per cent of a by-product called beet sirup or molasses, making a very fine cattle feed, either for dairy or fattening purposes. This makes a good market for alfalfa for our farmers.
Beet pulp is fed yearly to thousands of head of cattle, fed adjacent or in hauling distance of the factory, thus creating another very important industry for our people and furnishing labor for a great many hands. These same industries have been fostered and built up generally, I understand, over the territory where factories have been built.
To sum up, gentlemen, I think no greater calamity could happen to the agricultural interests of my State and section or to the beetgrowing section than to enact such legislation as would, in whole or in part, destroy this great industry.
TESTIMONY OF J. A. M. CROUCH, OF FORT MORGAN, COLO. The witness was duly sworn by the chairman.
Mr. CROUCH. Mr. Chairman, I am a brother-in-law to farmers; that is, I am a merchant, and as a merchant have been located at Fort Morgan for 12 years, during all of which time I have been intimately in touch with the agricultural interests of my community. Mr. HAMMOND. What community is that?
Mr. CROUCH. Fort Morgan, Colo., the county seat of Morgan County. In our county we have two sugar-beet factories, and they are 10 miles apart-one at Fort Morgan and the other at Brush. I represent the commercial body of our city, which is composed of business men, farmers, and enterprising citizens, looking out for the welfare of our community. We have been producing beets for six years; we have had factories in our county five years. Before the introduction of beet culture in our community our county was largely a pastoral county, given over to the raising of sheep and the feeding of sheep and cattle, and in this employment we could not support a large population. The county in which I live, according to the census of 1900, had a population of 634; to-day it has about 3,500 population,
PARAGRAPHS 216-219-BEET SUGAR.
One or two years ago we had two churches; we now have nine churches. We had a small schoolhouse, with three or four rooms in it, and to-day we have four graded schools and a high school, employing something over 40 teachers in our district, setting a fine educational example for the East. Now, these conditions have been made possible largely through the prosperity that has come to us by the cultivation of sugar beets and its relation in rotation to other crops. I have with me a letter to your honorable committee from our chamber of commerce, in which they emphasize not only the importance of beet culture to our population, but the necessity of this kind of intensive farming in order to maintain our present and projected prosperity. I also have a letter addressed to you from our board of county commissioners. Our county commissioners are the stewards of our people, levying the taxes and looking out for the financial welfare of our people. In this letter they particularly call attention to the fact. that we have bonded ourselves for more than $3,000,000 in order to build a reservoir and build our irrigation ditches; that it is necessary for us to have the prosperity coming to us through the culture of sugar beets in order to pay the interest on our bonded indebtedness and eventually pay off the principal of our bonded indebtedness. In other words, that the condition of prosperity which we now enjoy and the benefits which have come to us can be traced to the culture of sugar beets in our community. I would like to file both of these letters with the committee
The CHAIRMAN. You may do so.
Said letters follow:
FORT MORGAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE,
To the WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE,
United States Congress, Washington, D. C. HONORABLE SIRS: The Fort Morgan Chamber of Commerce, by its board of directors, has requested Mr. J. A. M. Crouch to appear before your honorable body to petition against a reduction of the tariff on sugar.
The welfare of our merchants depends upon the success of our farmers. The sugarbeet industry is the most certain crop in the irrigated sections of Morgan County, which is in the center of a large territory where similar conditions exist. Yet the financial risk, on account of the large investment necessary to grow the crop, is so great, as compared to the present average income, that any reduction of the tariff would discourage the farmer.
The net average income to the farmer is small, yet the labor necessary for growing the crop and for manufacturing the sugar gives employment to a lot of homesteaders and people who depend on their daily wage for a living.
A hearing granted to Mr. Crouch by your honorable body will be much appreciated by our citizens.
To the WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE,
R. B. SPENCER.
FORT MORGAN, COLO., January 8, 1913.
Congress of the United States, Washington, D. C.
HONORABLE SIRS: We, the undersigned members of the board of county commissioners of Morgan County, Colo., and the clerk and recorder of said county, do petition your honorable body not to reduce the tariff on sugar.
PARAGRAPHS 216-219-BEET SUGAR.
The sugar-beet industry is the leading crop of the irrigation section of Morgan County, as well as of eastern Colorado. For irrigation purposes our lands are heavily bonded, and we give it as our judgment that the sugar-beet crop is the only means by which this bonded indebtedness can be met, which concerns not only our local farmers and merchants, but the bondholders as well, who live in all sections of the East and West.
Further, our irrigated lands are surrounded by homesteads, the residents on which, in many instances, depend on employment in the beet harvest for means with which to carry them through the year.
With the industry protected as it is at present, the average income to the farmer is a financial risk, considering the heavy investment necessary to grow the crop. We commend the bearer, Mr. J. A. M. Crouch, of Morgan County, to whom we would be pleased to have your honorable body give a hearing.
JOHN A. MURRAY,
N. CHRISTENSEN, Chairman,
W. S. HENDerson,
Board County Commissioners Morgan County, Colo.
Clerk and Recorder, Morgan County, Colo.
In closing I want to emphasize a thing that has not been sufficiently emphasized to-day, and that is this: That while the culture of sugar beets is profitable at present, it is not abnormally profitable. The price we received for our beets this year was an average of $5.75 per ton; the average tonnage per farm in our county was 12 tons to the acre, and the average of sugar content was 15 per cent. Now, as I say, while the culture of sugar beets is profitable, it is not abnormally profitable. The sugar beet companies this year gave a first, second, and third prize to the farmers producing the best beet tonnage per acre. Now, the farmer who secured the first prize, Mr. Nelson, last year raised nothing on the prize farm. In other words, last year's crop was a conditioning crop for this year's large growth of sugar beets. So that whatever he may have received for his sugar beets this year should be divided by two, which will not make him a larger average than the average of the entire county. That is true to the last degree of every sugar-beet crop raised in our county. I am speaking now of our county as typical of practically every other county that raises sugar beets in Colorado, and as a commercial traveler I have had reason to be in touch with sugar-beet culture not only in our county but in the other western mountain States. I thank you.
Mr. HILL. You say you are a merchant. Do you sell plows and cultivators?
Mr. CROUCH. No, sir; I sell clothing and shoes.
Mr. HILL. I simply asked you that in order to call attention to the fact that the gentleman preceding you said that he paid such a high rate of duty on agricultural implements, whereas the fact is they are free and have been for a good while.
Mr. KITCHIN. When did they become free?
Mr. HILL. They were put on the free list in the Payne Tariff Act from any country that admits them free from this country.
PARAGRAPHS 216-219-BEET SUGAR.
BRIEF OF CALIFORNIA SUGAR COMPANIES.
The WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C.
GENTLEMEN: This statement is submitted for your earnest consideration by the Alameda Sugar Co., organized in 1889, capital $1,500,000, operating in Alameda County, Cal., and the Union Sugar Co., organized in 1898, capital $3,000,000, operating in Santa Barbara County, Cal., the ownership and administration of the two companies being largely the same.
In common with others engaged in the beet-sugar industry, we can not but be concerned at the manifest tendency to remove the whole or a large part of the protection hitherto afforded to domestic cane and beet sugars, and in presenting this, our respectful protest, we desire to support it with a statement of facts gained during business experience.
First. Comparing the yield of sugar per acre of land cultivated and the wage rates paid in tropical countries, with the yield from the crop of sugar beets and the wage rates prevalent throughout our country, it will at once become apparent that it is impossible to produce beet sugar on a parity of cost with that of imported tropical cane sugar refined in the United States.
Agriculture is the chief factor in the beet-sugar problem, because the raw material represents approximately two-thirds of the cost of the finished product, and although progress has been made in farming methods, yet to those experienced in the business, it is not conceivable that the great disparity between the cost of refined tropical cane sugar and domestic beet sugar can ever be overcome.
The abolition of the existing duty would make the business absolutely unprofitable to every company now engaged in the beet-sugar business in the United States. Second. Out of a present annual consumption in our country of nearly 4,000,000 tons the supply is approximately as follows:
Raw cane sugar from Porto Rico, Louisiana, and Sandwich Islands..
Raw cane sugar imported from foreign countries, chiefly from Cuba....... 2, 100, 000
4, 000, 000
The domestic cane-sugar production has practically reached its limit. To become self-supplying our country must look to the further development of the beet-sugar industry. The ability of this industry to respond to such a demand is evidenced by the growth of its production from 40,000 tons in 1897 to 650,000 tons in 1912, a rate of progress not reached in an equal period by any of the beet-sugar producing countries in Europe, whose total output for 1912 will exceed 8,000,000 tons. The 650,000 tons of beet sugar produced in the United States during the past year involved the consumption of more than 4,000,000 tons of beets and the use of about 450,000 acres of land."
If, through an encouraged development of the beet-sugar industry, its product should displace the 2,000,000 tons of raw cane sugar now purchased abroad, then, on the basis of an average yield of 10 tons of beets per acre and a sugar recovery of 15 per cent, it would mean the use of 13,000,000 tons of beets and of 1,300,000 acres of land.
The United States Department of Agriculture has estimated that in our country there are 274,000,000 acres adapted to the cultivation of the sugar-beet crop.
The mistaken idea should be dispelled that the protection of the tariff applies only to the beet-sugar manufacturer, whose factory expense covers only one-third of the cost of the product.
The removal of the tariff in closing the factories would deprive the farmer of that market and profit which he now enjoys through the use of his land and his labor. In such assured event it is not sufficient to say that the land may be put to other uses, when the present fact is that the farmer regards sugar beets as the best use to which he can devote such land as he gives to the cultivation of that crop.
Surely these facts, when taken in connection with the distribution of money through the employment of labor in field and factory, instead of being sent abroad to purchase what we ourselves have the proven ability to supply, should be given due weight against such a destructive proposal as the abolition of the duty, which would cripple an industry of assured promise and check its further growth.