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I do not want to have the issue become one of public ownership versus private ownership. I do not think that is the issue.
The question is the purposes for which the plant is to be used, the terms of operation, and the nature of the security clause and the antitrust clause.
Dr. IRVING. Yes, sir.
There is one further point that perhaps I should clarify in the Department's indication that it has no objection to the enactment of this bill. We say “no objection” rather than “favor the enactment," for the reasons that we have indicated, and also for the reason that we would not have the responsibility for the sale and hence we feel we are not in position to judge the appropriateness of the terms of the sale as indicated in the bill. That is the reason we indicate we have no objection rather than favoring it.
Senator CAPEHART. Mr: Chairman? Your position then, the Department of Agriculture's position, is you do not want the plant, have no use for it, have no interest in it?
Dr. IRVING. That is correct.
Senator CAPEHART. Beyond that, you have no opinions and have no experience ?
Dr. IRVING. That is correct, sir.
Senator CAPEHART. I am just wondering if you do not think the plant would have any possibilities as a pilot plant for the production of many things that your research might develop—to produce some of it in order to get field tests.
Dr. IRVING. No, sir.
Senator CAPEHART. You do not think you ought to try to continue to research with the open mind that you can find agricultural products that could compete with petroleum products in making butadiene? Or are you just simply going to forget the farmer and make no effort along that line?
Dr. IRVING. No, sir. We are very much interested in the farmer and his welfare, and we are certainly going to continue with all the facilities and personnel and funds at our command to serve the farmer and serve him well in this respect. But we do believe in this case that this facility would not serve this purpose well and effectively.
Senator CAPEHART. In other words, you are in favor, are you not, of tremendous research to find new uses for farm products in industry and the building of pilot plants and field tests and proving the practicability of it and then once it is proven to be practical turning it over to private industry for the manufacture, processing, and sales ?
Dr. IRVING. We are thoroughly-
Senator CAPEHART. But in this particular instance you just do not think this facility is suited for any production or research that you might want to make in this direction?
Dr. IRVING. That is correct.
Senator Douglas. Did you hear me read the letter from the President's appointed bipartisan Commission on the Increased Industrial Use of Agricultural Products, written from rooms 316-319-E of the Agricultural Department Building and signed by Mr. George J. Leroy Welsh, Chairman of that Commission!
Dr. IRVING. I did. Senator Douglas. And you remember that he said: However, we have been instructed to report upon the possible uses of alcohol from grain in making synthetic rubber and other products. The Louisville butadiene plant is a major intermediary between alcohol from grain and synthetic rubber. If this plant is ordered to be sold before our report is determined upon, it seems that such action might well foreclose an important outlet which may in some manner be needed.
Would it be feasible, therefore, to defer the decision of the subcommittee until our report can be presented to the Congress later this month?
Do you people consult with the President's appointed bipartisan Commission on the Increased Industrial Use of Agricultural Products?
Dr. IRVING. Yes; we work as closely with that Commission as the Commission wishes us to work with them.
Senator DOUGLAS. In this particular case have you worked with them?
Dr. IRVING. Not on this specific subject and in detail, sir. We have not. We, however
Senator Douglas. Then I take it on the whole you disagree with this statement which they make!
Dr. IRVING. I think a better statement of that would be that we have anticipated in our thinking and in establishing the position which I have discussed with you the fact that the Commission would undoubtedly suggest that this facility might be of usefulness in some program that they would recommend, and
Senator DOUGLAS. You have anticipated that!
Dr. IRVING. We anticipated that they would make some such recommendation.
Senator Douglas. But you paid no attention to your anticipation ?
Dr. IRVING. We take it into account in our position, and we still feel that we have no need for this facility for research purposes.
Senator DOUGLAS. That is in spite of your belief that they will recommend that this plant be retained? You feel that your judgment is superior to the President's appointed bipartisan Commission on the Increased Industrial Use of Agricultural Products ?
Dr. IRVING. Let me say this, Mr. Chairman: We have the utmost respect for this commission, and we have worked with them.
Senator DOUGLAS. But you just have an honest disagreement with them?
Dr. Irving. Yes. We are looking forward with a great deal of interest to their recommendations and hope we can study them most carefully in this case
Senator DOUGLAS. Suppose we act with the haste which has been recommended to dispose of the plant? Then their report comes out and says that it is essential. Just where are we, and where are you?
Dr. ÍRVING. Well, I think you would have two viewpoints then to consider.
Senator DOUGLAS. But it would be too late. Dr. IRVING. Well, I can state now our position is we do not need it. We think we have anticipated what the commission will recommend.
Senator DOUGLAS. You do not want to wait till the end of the month to find out what they are going to say?
Dr. IRVING. We see no necessity for waiting.
Dr. IRVING. We have no specific notion as to what they will say, but it will be, I think, as reflected in the letter that you read—that they may find, that the commission may recommend, that this plant may play a role in their proposals.
Senator DoUGLAS. And despite that fact you do not think that will be accurate so you say, “Pay no attention to it”!
Dr. IRVING. We have given you our opinion on the basis of what we know now, sir.
Senator CAPEHART. Mr. Irving, what is your position with the research?
Dr. IRVING. Deputy Administrator of the Agricultural Research Service.
Senator DOUGLAS. Who is Administrator?
Senator DOUGLAS. Your statement has been cleared with the Secre. tary?
Dr. IRVING. Yes, sir.
Senator CAPEHART. Is it a fact that in this year's budget the amount for research is only about $12 million?
Dr. IRVING. In the 1958 estimates you are suggesting?
Senator CAPEHART. Yes. The amount for research in finding new uses for farm products in something like $12 million?
Dr. IRVING. The total available in 1957 is about of that order. There are increases, I believe, which would bring it to somewhat above that in the 1958 budget.
Senator CAPEHART. But in round figures it is around $12 million ? Dr. IRVING. That is in the right order of magnitude, yes, sir.
Senator CAPEHART. In other words, we are spending $12 million representing some 6 million farmers, the biggest industry in America, the farming industry, to do the necessary research for them? With about $12 million? Is that correct?
Dr. IRVING. That is correct.
You have about $12 million to represent 6 million farmers in the iggest industry in America, which is possibly less than I would not
know how many hundreds but I would say several hundred business institutions in the United States spend in engineering and research in their own business. Is that correct?
Dr. IRVING. Yes, I would agree generally that that is correct.
Senator CAPEHART. As the deputy—and I do not intend this to be an embarrassing question—but as the deputy over there do you know why for example this last year they asked for such a little amount as $12 million to represent six million farmers in the biggest industry of America, bigger than the oil or the automobile or the chemical or any other industry?
Dr. IRVING. My only answer to that, sir, can be that it was our considered opinion in building the budget that this was as rapidly as we should expand in that year.
Senator CAPEHART. You do not consider it an emergency then when we are asked in the budget to spend something like $4 billion this year to help the farmers and we are spending a million dollars a day to store surpluses, which is $365 million a year? Yet you only have $12 million for research?
I am not trying to criticize anybody. I am just trying, frankly, to show the ridiculousness of the position of all of us that have anything to do with the subject matter.
Senator DOUGLAS. The Chair notes the comments of the Senator from Indiana with great interest.
Senator CAPEHART. I include myself, Mr. Chairman. I mean here we are spending a million dollars a day to store farm surpluses. We are going to pay out I believe a billion dollars this year, I think that is the figure to pay farmers for not raising commodities, just the basics, just about 3 or 4 of them, under the guise of the so-called soil bank. And yet to find new uses for farm products in industry we have $12 million.
For example, there is a concrete example in this synthetic rubber business. If all synthetic rubber was made out of grain alcohol it would take about a million bushels a year. I believe that is the figure. Don't hold me to specific figures.
But let me say this to you: I certainly do not want to see us retain this Louisville plant if it is not a practical matter to do so in respect to our research in farm products and the need for pilot plants and so forth. If it has no value, we certainly do not want to do it. At least I do not want to do it.
Senator Douglas. Neither do I.
Senator CAPEHART. And nobody else does. But the point is that we do have a terrific problem here in this so-called farm problem. It is a big problem; it is expensive. And there can only possibly be one answer to it, and that is to find new uses for farm products in industry and new markets which use up the surplus.
In spite of our programs, as you well know, the price support program and trying to get people to reduce and paying them to do it, production goes up instead of down. The surpluses get greater instead of less-except when we dispose of the surpluses under a subsidy basis where we are practically giving them away.
I just cannot quite understand why we do not get a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of push on the part of yourself and the director, Mr. Shaw, and others to get in and do this job in a big way, just like the Govern
ment did this synthetic rubber program 5 years ago. You remember how we did that, do you not!
Dr. IRVING. Yes.
Senator CAPEHART. But this one we do not seem to take hold of. But you are confident that this plant would not be of any value regardless of whether we had a million or a billion dollars to spend on socalled research and building pilot plants for helping the farmer? You just do not think the plant would have any value?
Dr. IRVING. That is correct.
Senator CAPEHART. You think it would be cheaper, easier and better to do it in some other way?
Dr. IRVING. That is correct. Senator CAPEHART. And you have looked into it? Dr. IRVING. We have. Senator CAPEHART. And you think that? That does not mean, of course, that you are not for spending whatever is necessary to find new products for the farmer in research and so forth?
Dr. IRVING. We are in favor of research.
Senator CAPEHART. I wish you would get a little more enthusiasm about it, make a crusade out of it. I would like to reduce my taxes, my share of them, to the extent that we are subsidizing, paying out, when it is not necessary.
I think that is all I have.
Senator Douglas. Dr. Irving, I have a memory somewhere in the back of my mind that we had a plant at Omaha which manufactured alcohol out of grain; is that true?
Dr. IRVING. Yes, sir; it is still there.
Senator CAPEHART. I might say this: It is a plant to make grain alcohol a hundred percent.
Senator DOUGLAS. I understand. Do you know whether that is used to manufacture grain alcohol?
Dr. IRVING. I understand that it is now idle.
Senator DougLAS. Did you say that it was in excess and did not need to be put into production?
Dr. IRVING. I did not quite get the first part of the question.
Senator Douglas. Did the Department of Agriculture say that this plant was really in excess and should not be put into production? Or was this a decision of the GSA?
Dr. IRVING. I do not recall that the Department of Agriculture has been asked that question.
Senator DOUGLAS. I see.
Senator Douglas. It could be pretty important. Do you know what the production costs have been out there during the period that it was in operation?