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Mr. McDOWELL. Most of the wool went off at about 75 or 77 cents. When we were under the Government, the Government took it over and the price was fixed so that we had about 68 or 71 cents. There has been a demand for delaine wool. At that time the kind of product that the Government desired took a coarser grade, and finally the Government demand was for a finer grade of cloth, and the manufacturer called upon the people for a finer grade of wool. This grade had been held at the commission houses, and when it was released it helped the market price for our delaine class of wool.
Mr. MERRITT. What I am trying to get at is whether, at the existing price, there is a motive on the part of the raisers of sheep to increase their flocks now?
Mr. MCDOWELL. I have a friend here who will answer that better. He has been president of the Tri-State Wool Growers' Association, and he can answer that, I think, better than I can.
Mr. MERRITT. When you spoke about stabilizing the price, I was wondering whether you meant to stabilize it or to increase it?
Mr. McDOWELL. Well, we want to have a comfortable living out of it. A profitable living is all we ask. But everything has cost us a great deal more, and it costs more now to produce wool, and we have no large profit on it now with the prices we are paying for feed and care and other things, and buildings for housing sheep are expensive now. It is costing us more, and we could not again drop down to the former price. We would be forced out of business. We were almost forced out of business when we were carrying our flocks from 25 to 30 cents for our wool. We were almost forced out of business at that time, but we carried our flocks along at a loss, hoping for better prices.
The CHAIRMAN. If there are no other questions, the committee thanks you for your statement.
Mr. FRENCH. The next witness will be Mr. Hamilton, also of Washington County, Pa.
STATEMENT OF MR. ALEXANDER HAMILTON, WASHINGTON, WASHINGTON COUNTY, PA.
Mr. HAMILTON. My name is Alexander Hamilton, of Washington, Pa. I am in the same official capacity as Mr. McDowell. I represent the same organization and the same section of the country as Mr. McDowell. I have been in business practically all my life in fine wool and sheep business, growing fine delaine wool.
This measure, as Mr. French has put it before you, has been fully discussed, and he discussed it very ably, and I think he has given a very clear statement of his intentions with regard to that measure. It seems to fit in with our condition as we see it very well. The only thing that I can say is from a grower's standpoint, as growers of wool in that section of the country where growing wool is our best business, because our conditions are suited to the growing of wool. The gentleman wanted to know if it was a paying proposition to grow wool at the present prices. It is in a way, and in another way it is not. We are not getting rich on it, I will tell you that right off the reel, gentlemen. It can not be done. There are too many ups and downs in the business, and too many things to contend with. We have to contend with the dogs and free wool and shoddy, and they
all work against our business. If we had a law, as we see it, that would compel the manufacturer to brand his manufactured fabric as it is, for what it contains, we think it would increase the demand for our product. Anything that increases the demand for our product would increase our business. If we increase our business we can make it more profitable, probably, at least we hope we can, and prices would go down. The price four or five year ago, before the war, was very poor. We were practically all on the verge of going out, but we stayed and we reaped the benefits. Sheep to-day are selling for five times what they were then, per head, in our section, just because the money is in the business. Men do not stay in the business if they do not make profit, if they can avoid it.
Now, I do not know that I can say anything more, gentlemen, that would be of any value to the cause, but we do feel as if the enactment of a law that would protect us in that way would be of great benefit to us as woolgrowers. I thank you.
Mr. JONES. Mr. Hamilton, I understood from Mr. McDowell that there are different kinds of wool. That is right, is it not?
Mr. HAMILTON. Certainly, there are a great many different grades. Mr. JONES. In what way does the wool differ?
Mr. HAMILTON. In fineness, in strength, in shrinking quality, and
in working quality.
Mr. JONES. That all enters into the value of it?
Mr. HAMILTON. Yes, sir.
Mr. JONES. It enters into the basis of your business?
Mr. HAMILTON. Yes, sir.
Mr. JONES. Would you be in favor of tagging wool as to the content of the wool?
Mr. HAMILTON. Yes, sir; we will sell our wool on grade.
Mr. JONES. I do not catch that.
Mr. HAMILTON. We would sell our wool on grade. That is what we are working for. That is what we have established these organizations for, to sell our wool on its merits. Two years ago we sold our wool to the Government and sent it to the Government warehouses, and it was graded into delaine, cross breadths, etc.
Mr. JONES. Was it stamped entirely?
Mr. HAMILTON. No, sir; it was not, only after it was piled. After it was put into grade piles it was graded then and sold on those grades to the manufacturer.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee is obliged to you. Is there anyone else to be heard, Mr. French?
Mr. FRENCH. Mr. Marshall, of the National Association of Wool Growers.
STATEMENT OF MR. F. M. MARSHALL, SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH, REPRESENTING THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF WOOL GROWERS.
Mr. MARSHALL. My name is F. M. Marshall, Salt Lake City. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I am here to-day representing the National Association of Wool Growers. I intend to take just a very few minutes of your time. I realize how wearisome some of these proceedings are. Our association has its headquarters in Salt Lake City. Our membership is composed chiefly of large
range sheep raisers, located in Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, and in practically all the 11 range States. They represent, altogether, an ownership of somewhere, as near as can be told, between eight and ten million sheep, which is probably one-fifth or one-sixth of the sheep now in the United States. These members whom I represent to-day are very much interested in this question, as evidenced by this resolution, which was passed at their last annual convention held in January:
Resolved, That we, the National Wool Growers' Association, earnestly urge the protection of both the public and the wool growers of this country; that the Congress of the United States shall, at its earliest possible moment, enact legislation making it compulsory to make known the presence of substitutes for virgin wool, especially shoddy and substitutes in fabrics purporting to contain wool and apparel made from such fabrics.
I feel that I also owe the committee somewhat of an explanation for not having our views, and our material which we think should be presented, in better form. The fact is that the secretary's office has been vacant during the last two months. I have not been in the office since I was appointed, and the material has not been put in such shape as the importance of the matter demands. However, with the argument and data which has been already presented to you, and which covers the situation, I feel there should be no lack on that side.
We are not stipulating regarding the details of the bill, because we believe the committee is better qualified to judge as to how the principles shall be carried out in framing the law. Mr. Chairman, we feel that although we are here representing growers of wool, the buyers of clothing are the ones who are principally interested in Mr. French's bill. We feel that there is very little argument as to the right of the public to know what they are getting when they get textile goods, especially woolen clothes. We feel that the public has a right to know what they are buying. The certainly need to know.
The growers' interest is secondary. We do not know whether it will raise the price of wool or not. We are not disposed to talk very much at these times with regard to the price of wool, although I would strongly corroborate what Mr. McDowell and Mr. Hamilton have said, that in spite of the apparently high price of wool, the profit in producing it is not so much as compared with what it used to be. I will frankly confess that we do not know what the effect of the French bill would be in that respect. We feel that growers are entitled to any indirect benefit that may come to them through giving the public a right to buy fresh or virgin wool if they want it, or something else if they want it, but we believe the public is the party of first interest, and the woolgrowers come second.
We are more concerned with the reputation of our product than we are with the prices under present conditions. We feel that, with the condition as it is coming to exist now, the public in a very large degree are getting a very wrong conception of the value of wool for clothing purposes. We feel that the reputation of our product is in danger and that this legislation is only designed to put the wool sold by growers into fair competition with other materials.
As evidence of the situation in this matter, there is the matter that someone mentioned this morning, regarding the action of the New Jersey Retail Clothiers' Association. The retailer is the man
who first gets the reaction of the public as to any dissatisfaction in buying clothes. It has been stated in public meetings by representatives of retailers' organizations that they can not continue in business with the character of goods they have to offer their customers. It was for that reason that a resolution was passed in January, last, asking for legislation to make known the contents of fabrics purporting to contain wool. I think that action of the New Jersey Retail Clothiers' Association was very significant in support of my argument that the public are vitally interested in this question and are the parties of first interest, and that the situation has reached a critical stage when the retailers of those goods will go on record in support of this legislation, to which the manufacturers from whom they buy, so far as I know, have been generally opposed.
As we understand the question which is before you, it is not the expectation that the use of shoddy and remade and reworked woolen products will be absolutely stopped. We do not think that is the intention. But the intention is that the public shall have the means, as they have the right, to know what it is they are buying. At the present time they are in a very large degree misled in buying "all wool" and other fabrics which are presented to them in a way to lead them to suppose that they are the best quality, when as a matter of fact they are very inferior, often because they contain an amount of reworked wool which the purchaser can not detect.
It was stated this morning that the public now has a chance to exercise its right to know the content of what it is buying in the way of food and drugs and in the way of insecticides as it was stated, "bug powders." We feel that that statement is entirely right and that there is no principle of law to be violated by giving them the same right and opportunity in respect to the clothing that they buy. The gentleman who made that statement this morning, I believe, overlooked one consideration. They not only have the right to know the content of the product in the case of food, drugs, and insecticides, but also in the case of automobile tires. There was a case handled by the Federal Trade Commission right along the line of the question presented in Mr. French's bill. I shall not read any description of the manner in which the remade tire was constructed. It was a remade tire, reworked from partially worn tires and made over to look like a new tire. The order of the commission was that this company and its employees should cease and desist from "making representations by verbal statements, or statements in advertising matter, or otherwise, which are calculated and designed to create the belief and impression among the consumers of automobile tires that rebuilt and reconstructed tires, restamped with new names and brands, are new tires manufactured from new and unused material," and also to cease and desist from "selling or offering for sale rebuilt and reconstructed automobile tires unless it is plainly and prominently indicated on the said tire that it is reconstructed or rebuilt." Mr. MERRITT. That was under the general law?
Mr. MARSHALL. That was under the law in regard to unfair competition, I presume. Therefore, we believe, under our laws and Constitution, that it is quite within reason to give the public the chance to know when they are buying remade or reworked wool goods as well as other products.
It has been stated here that this proposed legislation is also a protection to the honest manufacturer. I do not quite agree with stating it that way. I do not like to appear to support any implication that the men who do not now mark the amount of shoddy in their wool are necessarily dishonest. I do not think that would be a fair statement, but we are stating that the manufacturer who wants to put in all fresh wool or virgin wool in his manufactured garments now meets unfair competition in that other goods on the market can have just as strong representations made regarding them as he can make regarding his own goods which are of a decidedly superior character. There are many questions which will come up in regard to the technical and other phases of the question in these bills. Much may be said regarding the possible merit of some shoddy and the possible low value of some virgin wool. I recognize that it is a hard question to draw the line as to what is shoddy and what is not, but it has to be drawn somewhere. I have no doubt that a remade automobile tire. may be a better tire than a new tire, but they are required to be marked as reconstructed tires. No doubt oleomargarine and some other food products sold under a specific mark are at times better than the original. But the principle has been established that the line has to be drawn between material in its original form and after being reworked or processed. It seems to be only logical in this case to draw it as provided in Mr. French's bill to require the plain marking of material that has been previously spun or woven into cloth.
Now, you have the same thing again in renovated butter. I think we all agree and we all know that some renovated butter that has had a lot of material removed from it is actually superior to some of the original butter. Nevertheless, the law requires that it shall be marked and sold as renovated butter. The law also requires that it shall pay a tax, but nothing of that kind has been mentioned in this bill. Whatever may be said about the inferiority of some of the virgin wool and the superiority of some of the shoddy, I can not see where you can draw the line except between reworked wool and virgin wool.
Now, Mr. Chairman, we can not admit that there is any room for argument on the principles in this bill. The other bills that have been presented are before you and we believe that, so far as they go, most of them are good, but we do not think they go far enough. We think that the public and, secondarily, the growers are entitled to whatever may be the result of marking these goods to show what they contain. We are not concerned with the details and technicalities of the matter. We feel that you are more competent to handle those details than we are to suggest them, and our members are relying on the judgment of the committee to give us a law that will give the public its rights and the woolgrowers whatever benefit may come from the operation of a law which allows the public to know clearly and at all times what it is buying.
Mr. JONES. How far do you think the Government ought to go in protecting the purchasers of necessary articles?
Mr. MARSHALL. I think the principle has been established pretty clearly in the pure-food act.
Mr. JONES. It is a question of how far you could go and how far you would have to go.