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Senator Smith. Thank you very much, Mr. Brinkley, for giving us the benefit of the views of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives.
Senator Dworshak, do you have any questions?
Mr. Brinkley, it is a fact, is it not, that Secretary Benson was at one time connected with your association in an executive capacity? Mr. BRINKLEY. Yes. He was the executive secretary.
Senator DWORSHAK. Do you know of his integrity and his ability, and that he is thoroughly reliable and responsible, and that that is probably one reason why your group at this time is willing to place this authority in his hands in the hope that he will come up with an effective organization of the Department of Agriculture?
Mr. BRINKLEY. I should say that was an important consideration, sir.
Senator DWORSHAK. Thank you.
Senator Smith. The subcommittee will stand in recess until 2:15 this afternoon, at which time we will hear Mr. Meek and Mr. Kline.
(Whereupon, at 12:15 p. m., a recess was taken until 2:15 p. m., the same day.)
AFTERNOON SESSION Senator Smith. The subcommittee will come to order. We are very glad to have you here, Mr. Kline, and to hear what you have to say on the Reorganization Plan No. 2, Reorganization of the Department of Agriculture.
Will you proceed.
STATEMENT OF ALLAN B. KLINE, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN FARM
BUREAU FEDERATION; ACCOMPANIED BY FRANK WOOLLEY, LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL, AMERICAN FARM BUREAU FEDERATION
Mr. KLINE. Madam Chairman and gentlemen of the subcommittee, I am very happy to be here. I have with me Mr. Frank Woolley, legislative counsel of our staff. We have prepared a formal statement which is in the hands of the committee with regard to this Reorganization Plan No. 2.
Senator Smith. Would you like to summarize your statement and have it appear in the record as you have written it, or would you prefer to read it?
Mr. KLINE. I would prefer in part at least to summarize a part of it, and to read the balance of it, if I may. Senator SMITH. As you wish.
Mr. KLINE. The American Farm Bureau Federation, a voluntary, general farm organization representing approximately a million and a half dues-paying farm families in 47 States and Puerto Rico, takes this opportunity to present its view in support of Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1953, pertaining to the United States Department of Agriculture.
The American Farm Bureau Federation has advocated for a long time the reorganization of the Department of Agriculture, and in so doing generally supported the recommendations of the Hoover Commission in this regard. At the December 1952, annual convention of the American Farm Bureau Federation, the need for action regarding reorganization was recognized as of immediate importance. Therefore, our 1953 policy resolutions provided for general principles of organization, decentralization, coordination, and an indication of our willingness to work with other groups in a practical application of these principles. Our current resolutions on this subject are as follows:
We have long resisted the trend toward concentration and centralization of power in the Federal Government. Through resolutions, representation to Congress and consultation with other groups, we have expressed our viewpoint on means to retain individual freedoms. Now we urge immediate action to implement our policies.
Because of the complexities and urgency of formulating a detailed administrative and legislative program to reorganize the Government, we recommend that the American Farm Bureau Federation Board of Directors be empowered to develop a specific plan after consultation with other interested groups in order that the plan can be put into effect as soon as possible. As a guide, we urge that any pattern of reorganization worked out be consistent with the following principles and philosophy.
Every program should be examined to ascertain if it is actually needed: and if so, whether it can be reduced, combined, or decentralized and to what extent it needs coordination with other programs to avoid overlapping, duplication, and inefficiency.
CRITERIA FOR DECENTRALIZATION
The criteria used for considering decentralization and coordination of needed programs should be as follows: All doubts concerning the solution of any problem should be resolved in favor of solving such problem either by the individual or the unit of Government closest to the individual. The following tests should be made:
(1) Should the responsibility for the solution rest with the individual?
(2) If not, should cooperatives or other private organizations be encouraged to assume responsibility for solving the problem?
(3) If not, should the solution of the problem be the responsibility of local units of government such as townships, irrigation districts or school districts?
(4) If not, should the solution of the problem be left up to counties, groups of counties or State government units?
A PROGRAM FOR DECENTRALIZATION
If none of these approaches is practical, then consideration should be given to encouraging and assisting States to assume responsibility for a program: Without any Federal assistance, with only advisory or educational assistance, or on a grant-in-aid basis (with or without contributions being made by the local groups) to insure real local interest and control.
If the problem cannot be dealt with by a single State, it should be examined to determine whether it can be solved on a multi-State basis through conference or interstate compact.
Interstate compacts would require that the States involved enact enabling legislation and ratify any agreement before it is put into effect. The Federal Government's participation in such interstate compacts should consist of impartial fact finding, efforts to facilitate consideration of problems and, finally, nonpartisan judgment of disputes arising among the parties of the compact.
We oppose the Federal Government's by passing a State government and participating in economic programs directly with citizens of a district, county or smaller government unit, or with individuals within a State. In instances where Federal assistance is necessary Congress should neither assume administrative power nor abdicate its authority to Federal administrators, but rather set forth clearly defined standards in the law with sufficient clarity to avoid arbitrary action by providing a clear means for recourse to speedy and adequate judicial relief through the courts.
In those instances where a Federal program cannot be fully and effectively administered through the States by means of a grant-in-aid, cooperative, FederalState arrangement, the program should be administered by the Federal Government pursuant to standards clearly set forth by act of Congress; and through maximum real control by local interests with proper safeguards for the public interest, yet without such public interest being used as a subterfuge for political purposes.
On purely national programs use should be made of advisory bodies drawn on a representative basis from clearly independent and competent sources which are in no way subject to Federal controls. In appropriate circumstances, the members of such advisory bodies should be confirmed by the Senate.
Reorganization should be achieved as rapidly as possible, consistent with the develop, ment of a specific and sound pattern of operation, the enactment of necessary Federal legislation and the adoption of needed enabling acts by the States. Grant-in-aid programs should provide for a definite terminal date beyond which the program will not be made available to a State if such State has not enacted enabling legislation.
This emphasis is not from the resolution. This is added to the quotation from the resolution.
Within the authority of the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary, upon taking office, announced a regrouping of the activities of the Department into four groups and stated his intention to gradually streamline the Department's services in the interest of greater economy and efficiency. The four groups are:
(1) Commodity Marketing and Adjustment Group, which includes the activities of the Commodity Credit Corporation, the Commodity Exchange Authority, Federal Troup Insurance, and the Production and Marketing Administration, except Agricultural Conservation Programs' Branch.
(2) The Agricultural Credit Group, including the Farm Credit Administration, the Farm Home Administration, and the Rural Electrification Administration.
(3) The Research, Extension, and Land Use Group, which includes the Agricultural Research Administration, Bureau of Agricultural Economics, the Extension Service, Forest Service, Soil Conservation Service, Agricultural Programs Branch, and the Agricultural Conservation Branch transferred from PMA. For an interim period the ACP Branch, according to the Department, will use facilities and field services of Production and Marketing Administration in carrying out the agricultural conservation program. The Research, Extension, and Land Use Group will also be responsible for flood prevention and land and water utilization programs.
(4) The Departmental Administration Troup which includes the hearing examiners, the Library, the Office
of the Budget and Finance, the Office of Information, the Office of Personnel and the Office of Plant and Operations.
In March 1953, there was further regrouping of the Department's activities by the Secretary emphasizing the importance of foreign trade in solving the farmers' problems by elevating for the first time in history to the Secretarial level a unit designated as the Foreign Agricultural Service.
The American Farm Bureau Federation recognizes these as desirable steps in the direction of coordination and increased efficiency as long called for in our resolutions. However, we also recognize that it is a practical impossibility to adequately decentralize the Department of Agriculture in accordance with our polices in one single stroke. Reorganization has been too long delayed and certainly minor objections should not be speciously inflated into major objections, and the insistence upon a specific detailed plan used as an excuse for delaying progress on decentralization.
Surely the initial step in good administration is to delegate to the principal officer of the Department of Agriculture clearly defined authority to act, equal to the responsibility the farmers and the public are led to believe he possesses. It is a complete anomaly to vest superior authority in heads of agencies who are presumably subordinate to the department head. This indefensible position for most departments of Government was corrected by the Congress when it approved reorganization plans for the Departments of Justice, Treasury, Labor, Commerce, and Interior in 1950, vesting in the Secretaries of those departments complete authority over all agencies and functions within such departments.
The second principle that we support is that the funds appropriated for a particular program should be expended for the purpose for which they are appropriated. This plan limits the authority of the Secretary of Agriculture in this regard as follows: but such unexpended balances so transferred shall be used only for the purposes for which such appropriation was originally made.
In this connection I should like to insert that the Farm Bureau would defend and defend vigorously the proposition that the Congress should decide what programs should be, and should certainly control the funds available for the purposes outlined in those programs.
The actions of the Farm Bureau have consistently guarded this prerogative of the elected representatives of the people, and I am confident that it always will strongly oppose any subversion of this principle, no matter how cleverly designed. At one stage in the administrative process detailed organization charts are of some importance. Any plan, however, regardless of its detail, would be unsound if the head of the Department were not limited to use the funds for the purposes expressly directed by the Congress. The importance of this major fact deserves strong emphasis.
Third, we believe that the reorganization of the Department should be aimed at creating greater efficiency and bringing the programs into closer control by local people. The plan submitted directs that this be done in unequivocal language as follows: the Secretary shall seek to simplify and make efficient the operation of the Department of Agriculture, to place the administration of farm programs close to the State and local levels, and to adapt the administration of the programs of the Department to regional, State, and local conditions.
Fourth, we support the principle that similar functions should be either coordinated or fully integrated. For instance, we should strive for a well balanced educational program; we should have a research program designed to meet the total needs of farmers with public research properly supplementing private research; and we should insist upon the elimination of duplications and inefficiency among the agencies administering the various phases of our farm programs.
Fifth, we believe, however, that if the States and the communities are to fully benefit from this concept and properly share in its development and execution of resulting programs, it is necessary in many cases for States to pass enabling legislation, or to design the kind of machinery that fits the States' present institutions or agencies. We do not believe that this can be done properly by central direction or through Federal law. This will require time as well as the participation of local people in the development of the ideas and the implementation of this approach. Some programs will lend themselves in some States to movement in the direction of decentralization and truly local control quicker than others. However, the whole program of decentralization should not be held in abeyance until all of the 48 States are ready to move or until all programs can be reviewed; but we should begin to move whenever it is administratively possible to do so, without unduly hampering the execution of currently essential programs. We support plan No. 2 because it makes the administrator administratively responsible for moving in this direction as rapidly as satisfactory and practical working relationships can be developed.
Sixth, the Farm Bureau has consistently held that farm organizations should be consulted in the development of major programs and plans directly affecting the welfare and interest of farmers. We support plan No. 2 because it provides that the Secretary of Agriculture shall hold hearings in respect to development of specific and detailed plans involving major considerations. While broad control of agricultural policy remains in the Congress of the United States through its appropriating and legislative powers, we believe that it is necessary for the responsible administrative officer to have direct administrative authority over the programs.
In 1950 a plan was submitted to the Congress ostensibly reorganizing the Department of Agriculture. We opposed that plan then. We would oppose the same plan now. We would oppose it because that plan did not provide for the safeguards outlined above which are contained in the present plan.
In the execution of this plan I would expect some people to lose their jobs. I would expect some Federal employees to be shifted to other agencies. I would expect some reports to flow to different agency supervisors—and some even eliminated. I would expect a smaller Federal budget. I would expect more privates and fewer generals in the army of paid agricultural employees. I would expect agencies with the best competence to maintain their position of leadership. I would expect truly State-controlled agencies to have a larger role in future essential programs. I would expect the various paid employees, or those who speak for them, to present their grievances to you. Also, I would expect you to hear from those who wish to continue the drift toward more Federal control. We shall hear from them, too.
As a farmer, as a spokesman for farmers, and as a taxpayer, my concern, however, will be whether a reorganization effort gets more service to farmers for the amount of money spent, whether farmers themselves have a larger voice in guiding the operation of Government agencies serving them, whether or not State and local units of Government are strengthened, and whether the net effect will provide an improved mechanism for dealing with the farmers' economic problems in a way that doesn't lessen our ability to protect our individual freedom. When reorganization is effected in accordance with the fundamental principles of Reorganization Plan No. 2, I am confident that we will have taken an important step toward achieving these goals.
Senator Smith. Do you have some questions, Senator Dirksen?
Senator DIRKSEN. I have no questions. I am glad, Mr. Kline, that you did place some emphasis on this question of the transfer of unexpended balances.