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Full text of "Interstate migration. Hearings before the Select Committee to Investigate the Interstate Migration of Destitute Citizens, House of Representatives, Seventy-sixth Congress, third session, pursuant to H. Res. 63 and H. Res. 491, resolution to inquire into the interstate migration of destitute citizens, to study, survey and investigate the social and economic needs and the movement of indigent persons across state lines"

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Given By 











H. Res. 63 and H. Res. 491 







SEPTEMBER 16, 17, 1940 

Printed for the use of the Select Committee to Investigate the 
Interstate Migration of Destitute Citizens 









H. Res. 63 and H. Res. 491 







SEPTEMBER 16, 17, 1940 

Printed for the use of the Select Committee to Investigate the 
Interstate Migration of Destitute Citizens 

26)370 WASHINGTON : 1940 

MAR 4 1941 


JOHN H. TOLAN, California. Chairman 
CLAUDE V. PAR80NS, Illinois CARL T. CURTIS, Nebraska 

JOHN J. SPARKMAN, Alabama FRANK C. OSMERS, Jr., New Jersey 

Dr. Robert K. Lamb, Cliief Investigator 
Elmer A. Reese, Secretari/ 

Richard S. Blaisdell, Editor 
Harold D. Cullex, Associate Editor 

A. Kramer, Chief Field Investifjator 



Aicher, E. H., Chief of Institutional Adjustments Division, Soil Con- 
servation Service. Address: Lincoln, Xebr 1611 

Alter, C. E., building supplv business and farm operator. Address: Alma, 

Xebr - . 1671 

Baca, Mr. and Mrs. Amado, Spanish Americans, from the Southwest. 

Address: La Salle, Colo 1698 

Barnes, Alfred R., chairman of South Dakota Agricultural Conseravtion 

Committee. Address 1656 

Benner, Paul I)., director, bureau of public assistance, State department of 
social welfare, and representative of Governor Pa^yne H. Ratnor, of 
Kansas. Address: Topeka, Kans 1482 

Brokaw, W. H., director, Xebraska Agricultural Extension Service. 

Address : College of Agriculture, Xebraska 1353 

Bryant, Glenn A., assistant vice president, Union Central Life Insurance 

C'o. Address: Cincinnati, Ohio 1642 

Cochran, R. L., Governor of Xebraska. Address: Lincoln, Xebr 1348 

Collins, Willkie, Jr., junior assistant regional geologist, Soil Conservation 

Service. Address: Lincoln, Xebr 1611 

Cook, Frederick H., former farmer, forced off of land, now filling station 

operator. Address: Albion, Xebr 1397 

Dey)ler, E. B., hydraulic engineer. Bureau of Reclamation. Address: 

Denver, Colo 1561 

DeWeese, B. G., director of farm management, L'nion Central Life Insur- 
ance Co. Address: Cincinnati, Ohio 1642 

Dyer, Mrs. Roy, potato picker, from Scotti^bluff, Xebr. Address: Lin- 
coln, Xebr 1653 

Engstrom, H. E., State Coordinator of Soil Conservation Service. Ad- 
dress: Lincoln, Xebr ■ 1611 

Evans, Fay, former farmer, becoming reestablished after migrancy. Ad- 
dress: Boone, Xebr 1369 

Glatfelter, Dr. H. E., retired phvsician and farm owner. Address: Central 

City, Xebr " 1735 

Gubser, .John H., former telephone worker from Lincoln, Xebr. Address: 

Scottsbluff , Xebr 1608 

Hawthorne, Mr. and Mrs. Elmer F., migrants, from Iowa. Address: 

Holbrook, Xebr 1691 

Hay, Donald, area leader. Division of Farm Population and Rural Welfare, 

Bureau of Agricultural Economics. Address: Lincoln, Xebr 1384 

Hendricks, Mrs. Harold, migrant to Oregon apple orchards. Address: 

Lincoln, Xebr 1474 

Hopkins, John A., associate professor. Bureau of Agricultural Economics. 

Address: Iowa State College, Ames, Iowa 1524 

Howard, T. J., county attorney of Greelev County. Address, Greelev, 

Xebr - '- -- 1702 

Hulm, Mr. and Mrs. Raj' Anton, former farmer, who was subject of settle- 
ment controversy between Xorth and South Dakota. Address: Bis- 
marck, X. Dak 1377 

Ibert, James L., farmer, now a client of Farm Security Administration. 

Address: Lacy, S. Dak 1439 

Johnson, Clyde, representative. United Cannery Agricultural Packing 

House and Allied Workers of America. Address: Denver, Colo 1677 

Klinia, Ign., Jr., county clerk. Valley County, .\ddress: Ord, Xebr 1685 

Krotty, Donald, former soldier (unable to recnlist because of marriage), 
migrant from Houston, Tex. Address: 211 North Eighteenth Street, 
Omaha, Nebr 1 60 1 




Krotz, Chas. J., migrant, fnjin Iowa; now a client of the Farm Security 

Administration. Address: Weldon, S. Dai< 1555 

Krusz, Harry J., general manager, Lincoln Chamber of Commerce. Ad- 
dress: Lincoln, Nebr 1521 

Kumlein, W. F., professor rural sociology, South Dakota State College. 

Address: Brookings, S. Dak 1704 

Kuska, Val, Colonization Agent, Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad 

Co. Address: Omaha, Nebr 1722 

Mercer, Randell, farmer, who had migrated to Yakima Valley, Wash., now 
being reestablished by Farm Security Administration. Address: Blunt, 
S. Dak -' 1373 

Michelson, Mrs. Beatrice, deserted wife of former tenant farmer. Ad- 
dress: Omaha, Nebr 1478 

Nelson, Theo., Nebraskan, who had migrated to California and returned. 

Address: Lincoln, Nebr 1731 

Olsen, Soren, Mr. and Mrs., former farmer. Address: Omaha, Nebr 1471 

Page, John C, Commissioner, Bureau of Reclamation, VVashington, 

D. C 1561 

Passmore, Ezra, migrant youth, Springfield, Ark 1665 

Shockley, Mr. and Mrs. C. Marvin, migrant laborer, who has been to the 

fruit orchards of Colorado. Address: A Tourist Camp, Lincoln, Nebr. 1604 

Strunk, Harry, president. Republican Valley Conservation Association. 

Address: McCook, Nebr 1443 

Ward, Cal. A., regional director, region VII, Farm Security Administra- 
tion. Address: Lincoln, Nebr 1444 

Willson, C. H., regional director, region X, Farm Security Administration. 

Address: Denver, Colo 1444 

Willson, E. A., executive director, Public Welfare Board of North Dakota, 
also representing Governor Moses of North Dakota. Address: Bis- 
marck, N. Dak ._ 1402 




Population movement in the Great Plains 

Movement of farm population in the Great 

Letter from E M. Brookens, of Kimball, 
S. Dak. 

Causes of migration of agricultural families — 

Statement of Republican Valley Conserva- 
tion Association. 

Readjustment and rehabilitation versus mi- 

Settlement of migratory and stranded farm 
families in the Great Plains. 

Statement of State Department of Social Wel- 
fare of Kansas. 

Migration as it affects the Kansas Depart- 
ment of Public Assistance, by Ralph H. 

Defense-material manufacturing in the Mid- 

Letters from aircraft manufacturers 

Technological changes in agriculture 

Effect of Mechanization upon Interstate Mi- 
gration, by Roswell Garst. 

Supplementary Statement on Rental Levels, 
by Roswell Garst. 

Statement of committee from Red Cloud, 

Irrigation as it affects migration in the Great 

Water conservation as a deterrent of migra- 

Xew Frontiers of the Great Plains, by Carl 
F. Kraenzel. 

Letter from W. E. Dannefer, State director. 
National Reclamation Association. 

Instability of rural population — a problem 
of national concern. 

The Soil Conservation Service and its func- 
tions, as related to migrancy. 

Condensed summary of adjustments efifected 
in Montana land-utilization project. 

Statement of Arch W. Jarrell, editor of 
Grand Island-Daily Independent. 

Statement on the relation of the insurance 
companies to land ownership. 


W. H. Brokaw. 
Donald Hay — 
A. Kramer 

E. A. Willson, 
Harry Strunk. 

Cal W'ard 

C. H. Willson... 
Paul D. Benner. 

Harrv J. Krusz. 


John A. Hopkins. 
A. Kramer 

Congressman Curtis 

John C. Page 

E. B. Debler 

Congressman Curtis . 


E. H. Aicher 

Willkie Collins, Jr.. 

Yj. H. Aicher 

Congressman Curtis. 

Glenn A. Brvant and 
B. G. DeWeese. 


























Practical methods of strengthening farm 
family tenure. 

Farm migration and the triple A 

Letters from Rol)ert D. Lusk, editor of the 
Evening Huronite. 

Statement relating to the National Reclama- 
tion Association. 

Statement on migratory farm labor 

"Valley County, Xcbr." — What's Happened" 
by Ign. Klima, Jr. 

Study on Sugar Beet Labor, by J. E. Sharf 
and Clyde Johnson. 

Notice of '"Warning to Depart" 

Statement as to serious situation in Greeley 
County, Nebraska. 

Letter from L. B. Stiner 

Study on population changes in South Dako- 
ta, by W. F. Kumlien and Howard M. 

Letter from Daniel Garber, State senator 

Statement by Henry Behrns, Lincoln, Nebr 

Stabilized agriculture through irrigation 

Telegrams in Theodore Nelson case 

Statement on pump irrigation 

Letters from Department of Public Instruc- 
tions, Nebraska. 

Letter from R. T. Malone, director, Nebras- 
ka Unemployment Compensation Division. 

Letter from Department of Public Welfare of 

Editorial from Great Falls Tribune, 

Migration and Youjig People, bv Gladvs 
Talbott Edwards. 

Factors Affecting Migration in Kansas, by 
J. A. Hodges, Kansas State College. 


Alfred R. Barnes. 

Congressman Curtis. 

C. E. Alter. 

Clyde Johnson 

Congressman Curtis. 

Clvde Johnson 

Elmer Hawthorne. 
T. J. Howard 

A. Kramer 

W. F. Kumlien. 

A. Kramer 

Congressman Curtis. 

Val Kuska 

Congressman Par- 
Dr. H.E. Glatfelter__ 
A. Kramer 










1694- A 

1697- A 

1697 H 










monday, september 16, 1940 

House of Kepresentati\t.s, 
Select Committee to Investigate the 
Interstate Migration of Destitute Citizens, 

Wa.shhigfon, D. C. 
The hearintr was convened at 9 a. ni., in Courtroom No. 2 in the 
State Capitol Building at Lincoln, Nebr. Present were Congressman 
John H. Tolan, California, chairman; Congressman Claude V. Par- 
sons, Illinois, vice chairman; and Congressman Carl T. Curtis, Ne- 
braska. Congressman John J. Sparkman, Alabama, and Congressman 
Frank C. Osmers, Jr., New Jersey, were unavoidably detained. 

Also present were Dr. Robert K. Lamb, chief investigator; A. 
Kramer, chief field investigator; Ariel V. E. Dunn, field investigator; 
Joseph N. Dotson, field investigator ; Robert H. Eagan, field secretary. 

Chairman Tolan. The committee will please come to order. 

Mr. Reporter, you will note the presence of Congressman Parsons 
of Illinois, Congressman Curtis of Nebraska, and Congressman 
Si^arkman came on with ns to Chicago and on account of the death 
of Speaker Bankhead, both being from Alabama, returned for the 
funeral, to be here as soon as he can possibly arrive. Congressman 
Osmers of New Jersey was detained on account of official business. 

So far, we have always managed to have four out of five of the 
committee present at every hearing. At this time I desire to say. 
Governor, we are very api)reciative of this Avonderful setting. We 
have been to New York and Montgomery and Chicago, but our ac- 
commodations here are the finest we have had so far, and we ap- 
preciate it. Out of appreciation we will indicate to the people who 
are here that probably smoking Avouldn't be the proper thing here. 
We are verv grateful to you. Governor. 

Governor' Cochran. I would just like to say, Mr. Chairman, that 
I am very glad that this committee could come here. 

Mr. Curtis. It was a keen disappointment when I found out that 
two of our members were detained. I know Mr. Osmers Avould like, 
very mucli to be here, and I would like to have somebody from that 
great New York area here first hand, to witness the story of the Great 
Plains. Congressman Sparkman was called back because of the death 
of Speaker Bankhead, and I believe our neighbors share a profound 
respect for Speaker Bankhead. When I went to Washington, one 
of the individuals that I learned to love and respect, in a sense that 
transcended all issues or politics, was Speaker Bankhead, and I was 
greatly grieved over his passing. Congressman Sparkman not only 
comes from Alabama, but their districts adjoin, and I know that Con- 
gressman Sparkman did the right thing in going back to Alal)ama. 


]^348 INTKKSTA'l'i: .MKiUATlON 

because liis people Avoiild expect liini to come back there for the 
funeral of the Speaker, althoujjih 1 am (lisai)p<jinte(l that he couitl 
not be liere for the be<j:inniiig of this heariji<>-. 


Chairman Tolan. Governor Cocliran \vill be tlie first witness. Gov- 
ernor, I wish to say tliis to yon on behalf of the committee, for the 
purposes of the record: That we feel honored at your presence here 
today. May I say, too, that while this committee cannot ^o into every 
State, that we have contacted every Governor, every mayor in the 
United States, so as to get the picture, and we started out at New 
York with the idea that it was not just a California problem alone, 
and we went from there to Alabama and from there to Chicago. This 
is the fourth hearing. Then we go to Oklahoma City, Okla., and wind 
up in California, But, as Governor of this great State of Nebraska, 
I want to put in the record that we feel honored to have you with us 
today. You may proceed. 

Governor Ccchran. Thank you. Mr. Chairman, members of the 
congressional committee, I am happy, indeed, to welcome this com- 
mittee to Nebraska and to extend to you all of our facilities in fur- 
thering your studies of problems arising from migration from State 
to State of destitute citizens. Your decision to hold one of your com- 
mittee hearings in Nebraska, where prolonged drought has harassed 
our people and contributed to this problem, is appropriate and your 
visit is timely. 

Nebraska's population loss since 1934 

Nebraska is an agricultural State. The welfare of all Nebraskans 
is dependent upon agriculture. Since 1934:, as drought followed 
drought, we have been aware that some of our citizens, both from 
the farm and from the urban areas, have been dislocated by economic 
forces and have left the State to go to other sections of the country 
Avhich have been more favored by Nature. It was not until the comple- 
tion of this year's census, however, that we learned that our net loss of 
l)opulation had reached the figure of 64,000. And at this point I call 
attention to the fact that, as Congressman Curtis, a member of the 
committee, knows, I think, that although we have five congressional 
districts in the State, approximately one-half of this loss in popula- 
tion was in his district, so I want to advise the rest of the members of 
the committee how^ familiar one of your members is with this. Al- 
most half the loss w^as in the Fourth Congressional District. 

Referring to this figure of 64,000 loss in po]^ulation, we realize that 
it is large, particularly in view of the fact that ever since Nebraska 
became a State, 73 years ago, each succeeding 10 years has shown a 
rather decided increase in population in the census. This is the first 
time since Nebraska became a State that Ave have witnessed a decline 
from one 10-year count to the next. While this figure is large and the. 
loss to the State is serious, it might have been Avorse and would haA'e 
been had not Government — both State and Federal — concerned itself 
Avith the desperate conditions that ])revailed and undertaken to meet 
them. I believe that CA^ery citizen Avill agree that if it had not been 
for the sympathetic assistance given us in so many Avays by the Federal 


Government during these years, our population loss would have been 
many times more than it was, and the economic condition of those 
whoVemained would also l)e greatly worse than it is now. And I have 
in mind this fact— the fact that thousands of our farmers and others 
are fighting for their very lives, having refused to give up the struggle 
and join this dreary caravan of migrants seeking opportunity under 
less severe conditions. 


I want to remind this committee that we have not stood idly by in 
these emergency years, unable to help ourselves. We in Nebraska — 
when I say "we" 1 mean not only State government but local govern- 
ment as well— we have cooperated with those Federal agencies which 
have come to our assistance, working with them in an attack against 
the forces that threatened us. Both State and local governments m 
Nebraska have done their part. We have exercised a strict economy 
ill our own governmental affairs, as required by the greatly reduced 
income of the people. The people of the State have shown great 
courajze and determination in facing hardships of these recent years. 
And only because of their courage and determination has it been pos- 
sible to minimize the effect of drought as much as has been done. 

I would say further that I am not talking, alone, about the fanner; 
I am talking'about every businessman in the State, every professional 
man. and every person in the State, regardless of his vocation. Be- 
cause, in my 'judgment, in Nebraska, no matter what a person's 
vocational life might be, they are in effect just as much farmers, 
just as dependent on farm prosperity, as the men and women actually 
living on the farm. 

This is merely a suggestion: I think your best evidence that you 
could obtain here short of seeing this area — if you could just see 
Congressman Curtis' district alone, you would see half the area, I 
think, approximately, of the most afflicted counties — and short of 
seeing the area, I think your best witnesses would be farmers — the 
ones who have lived it. They know more about it, they know why 
their neighbors left, they know the difficulties under wliich they are 
remaining, and I believe that would be your best evidence. 

However. I am very much intereste<l in the subject that you are dis- 
cussing, and I think 1 express the sentiment of our people when I say 
that we are all interested. I would be glad to answer any questions 
that you might have. 

Chairman ToLAN. Governor, regarding the topic of farmers, we are 
bringing them in from different States around here, those who have 
been through the mill, as it were. 

Governor Cochran. Yes, sir. 

Chairman Tolan. And we have endeavored to do that in all our 
hearings, have them tell their story. Now, the thought back of it is 
simply this : That there is displacement of the soil, there is soil erosion, 
and worn-out soil, and the American people just refuse to sit down 
and starve. They're going to move, and this movement probably is 
iroine to increase, and this committee feels that we haven't taken care 
of the human erosion, this going from State to State, and we are 
trvinc: to investigate and then see what can l3e done about it. 


Cxovenior Cociiuax. Yes. 

Cluunnaii T()L\n. And we aiv very <iratefiil to you, (lovenior. for 
coining here, and I think tliat your statement, the thou.olit that you 
liave ^iven us. Avill find a liijih place in our committee report. 

(Governor CuciiRAN. Thank you. 

'Slv. Cnms. (lovernor, I mi^ht make just a few observations: I 
doubt if this connnittee devek)ps many facts here that aren't ]:)erhaps 
Avell known to everyone here in our audience, but tlie point is this: 
This is an official fact-findino- body of the Congress, and this record 
will ho printed and available for Members of both the House and the 
Senate. And we do appreciate o-ettin<>- your statement here. 

Governor, if you were jTfoino: to siuo;oest one principal cause of the 
distress in Nebraska on the topic of migration, Avhat would you say 
that was? 


Governor Cochrax. Insufficient rainfall — not only for 1 year, but 
for 7 years successively. 

Mr! Curtis. How do the rainfall records compare for the last 10 
or 15 years to the previous years running as far back as we have any 
reliable recordsi. just for any special section? 

Governor Cochran. I would say, just as a guess, about one-half in 
many sections. I think people here in the audience coidd give you 
the exact figures. 

Mr. Curtis. Yes. 

Governor Cochran. Probably Mr. Brokaw could, or I am sure 
that we might get that. 

Mr. Curtis. I noticed you stated generally the counties where our 
losses had been. What is true as to the ability to hold the people on 
the farms and give them jobs in the cities and toAvns in our irrigated 
sections of the State, principally those that have had enough of a 
chance to get started, such as the North Platte and Scottsbluff 
regions ? 

Governor Cochran. Generally speaking, our irrigated sections are 
in good shape, but the same drought that we have had in the summer- 
times on the Plains has existed in the wintertimes in the mountains. 

Mr. Curtis. Yes. 

Governor Cochran. With the result that we don't have enough irri- 
gation water. 

Mr. Curtis. But those counties have held their own ? 

Governor Cochran. But they have held their own, yes. They are 
not as prosperous in some cases as they were normally, but they are 
very prosperous compared with the counties that don't have irrigation 
at all. 

Mr. Curtis. I think, as a committee, we should keep in mind that 
this investigation involves possibly 4.O0O.O00 })eople who are the 
actual migrants. If they go to a ])lace on the West coast oi- else- 
where, they are also destitute there and it affects everyone, and their 
plight affects local economic problems and taxation. Whenever we 
have a condition in Nebraska — I have in mind one county. Clay 
County — where on family in four has moved away, not only should 


Ave be interested in the (jne family that moves away, but the indica- 
tions are that conditions are very" bad for the three that remain. In 
fact, while we deal with 4,000,000 people, we are in fact dealino: with 
1:32,000.000 people. 


Governor Cochran. We don't know much about the rainfall records, 
because we are young as a State. We can go back about a hundred 
vears in Nebraska, which is a very short period. We think we are in 
a cycle of drought, but we don't "have enough history back of us on 
rainfall records to get a very good idea as to how long cycles have been 
before. Forty-odd years ago it was just a matter of 2 or 3 years. This 
one seems to be longer. We think we are going to come back. We 
have enough faith in our coming back to normal rainfall conditions 
to believe that we should keep our people on the farms here, for 
the best interests of themselves and the country, not only from an 
economic but from a social standpoint. And that is why I emphasized 
the aids through Government. As a long range matter, I feel sure 
that we will look back on this period and say that the Government 
funds that were spent during this period to keep the farmers here 
have been well justified. 

Chairman Tolan. Governor, right there we can readily see, as I 
knoAv you can, 4,000,000 people knocking at the doors of the different 
States, and after they get into a State they are voteless and they are 
homeless and they are Stateless. It is too big for any one State to 
handle. We developed in New York, for example, that they spent 
$;3,000,000 last year, to take care of unsettled persons and we do not 
think that New York alone can cope with the migrations, that they 
can take care of destitute interstate migrant citizens. They had 5,000 
deportations there — 5,000. All the time it becomes increasingly 
apparent that it is a national problem, don't you see? 

Governor Cochran. That is right. I agree with you entirely, Mr. 
Chairman, and I am glad that you are making this trip and holding 
these hearings at this time, that the Congress as a whole may be 
advised of these conditions over the country. I see the necessity for 
making this stud}'. 

Chairman Tolan. Governor. I took a 200-mile trip into the coun- 
try yesterday, and at first hand I have had an opportunity to make a 
])ersonal observation of the conditions in Nebraska, although I have 
been through the State several times in the last few years. I don't 
suppose I saw the worst part of it. AVhat I was able to see was 
plenty bad. The thing that impressed me was the fine fann homes 
and buildings, which shows that at one time you had a very pros- 
perous agriculture. 

Governor Cochran. That is right. 

Chairman Tolan. And if I hadn't known about the conditions 
and just happened through the State, I Avould have thought this was 
just an unusual drought year. But when we consider 7 such years 
in succession, it is no wonder that you have lost in population. I 
think I would pull out after the third year. 


Yoiir h\^ problem, of course, is the lack of rainfall hero, and there 
isn't anythin<:: we can do about that. Conjjress can do a little about 
everythin<^ else, but it can't force it to rain, you know. But you 
say you have records about a hundred years? 

Governor Cochran. That is ri<2:ht. 

Chairman Tolan. "What is the longest drought period in that time, 
until this one came? 

Governor Cochran. I think a matter of about 3 years, and even 
then it didn't cover the entire State for the 3-year period. It was 
in the western section of Nebraska, west of the hundredth meridian. 
Of course, when I say a hundred years, this record a hundred 
years back was taken at scattered points. You see Nebraska wasn't 
a Territory until 1854, so it is only a matter of 86 years, you see, 
since we have been a Territory, but there were some records taken 
about a hundred years back at some old settlements here. Records 
generally, I %vould say, go back 70 years, and in those TO years. I 
think I am coiTect when I say that this has been by all odds the 
most prolonged and most general drought. In 1936 it even reached 
into western Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri, you know. 

Chairman Tolan. Yes; that even got into Illinois. 

Governor Cochran. Yes. 

Chairman Tolan. That w^as quite a drought year. 

Governor Cochran. But ours has been every year. At the pres- 
ent time we can go, I would say, an average of 75 miles or a little 
more, back from the Missouri River and we have corn. It is pretty 
good corn in some sections — less than a hundred miles back, then, it 
breaks olf completely. We get a little encouragement from the fact 
that the drought area apparently is backing down a little. In other 
words, in 1936 it reached clear over these States to the east; last year 
it reached a few miles back from the Missouri River: this year we 
have com back 75 and in some cases 100 miles back. So perhaps we 
are coming out of it ; we hope so. 

Mr. Curtis. Governor, your hundred-year record reminds me that 
there was a very fine gentleman in Minden — he passed away a short 
time ago^ — and he w^as 75 years old. He used to say that he had 
lived here 55 years and hacl spent most of his time looking for rain. 

Governor Cochran. Well, I have lived here 55 years in January, 
and I can say the same thing. 


Chairman Toland. I want to say. Governor, that it seems that the 
Farm Security Administration in Nebraska is doing a very fine job 
in aiding and assisting some 10 or 15 percent of the farmers here. 

Governor Cochran. I think they are. 

Chairman Tolan. I don't know how well the Federal land bank is 
doing with its borrowers, but the Farm Security Administration, in 
my judgment — and I have had an opportunity to observe it in five 
or six States — is doing a wonderful job in Nebraska. 

Governor Cochran. That is rig-ht. 


The system they are iisin<r. of business inanaj2;ement. of nuikin<>: per- 
sonal contaets with the farms, with the borrowers, helpiii*:- them to 
kee]) their accounts and assistin<r in buihlino- up their bu(l<:ets and 
providing them with pirdens. irri<rated pirdens, and chanjriiig from 
tlie frra in crops to the forage crops— drought-resistant forage crops — 
is doing a wonderful job here, and I think that it is entirely possible 
for these people to stay on the farms even though the drought 

Chairman Tolan. Depending less on cash crops and more on livestock 
and feed? 


GoA'ernor Cochran. Yes. That is the advice of university authori- 
ties. In connection with the Federal land bank. I think their assist- 
ance would be very valuable if the Congress would make a permanent 
reduction of the interest rate to about 3 percent; what I mean by 
''permanent.'' I mean permanent for the life of the contracts and 
not just for a 2-year ])eriod, so that the borrower could see ahead 
and plan accordingly. When I say 3 percent I have in mind a rate 
of interest that seems to be quite common with industry. We are 
investing our State funds for an average of less than 3 percent ; about 
two and three-quarters I think is the average now. 

Chairman Tolan. Well, you can borrow all the big money in the 
bond market at 2yo percent, can you not? 

Governor Cochran. That is right. 

Chairman Toland. What is the Farm Securitv Administration 

Governor Cochran. I said the Federal land bank. 

Chairman Tolan. What is the rate? 

Governor Cochran. It varies from 5 to 5I/2 percent, depending on 
when the loan was made. 

Chairman Tolan. I think we are with you on that. 

Governor Cochran. If there is anything further, either that you 
think I might tell you after reflection or if there are any of our depart- 
ments of the State who are not here you would like to liave here, let us 
know, please. 

Mr. Curtis. Well, in that regard. Governor, if after reflection you 
want to say anything else, you may file a further report with our com- 
mittee in Washington; we will probably close the books in November; 
that will be our final hearing in Washington. We will give you permis- 
sion to do that. 

Governor Cochran. Thank you very much. 


Chairman Tolan. Mr. Brokaw. 
Mr. Curtis. Just be seated. Mr, Brokaw. 

You will give your full name and address and title for the record, 


Mr. Brokaw. W. H. Bi-okaw, director of ao;riciiltiiral extension. 
I'niversity of Nebraska. The address is Cone<re of Agriculture, 

^Ir. Curtis. How lon<x have you been connected with tlie College 
of Agricultiu-e, jMr. Brokaw ^ 

Mr. Brokaw. Twenty-two years. 

Mr. Curtis. Have you been in the extension department all that 

Mr. Brokaw. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Curtis. To what particular branch or duties of the extension 
de|)artment did you confine most of your time during that period? 

Mr. Brokaw. Well, I have been director of agricultuial extension 
for more than i^l years, and so it has been mostly the administrative 
side, meeting the various problems that have come uf) in connection 
with agriculture within the State. 

Mr. Curtis. Mr. Brokaw, you have submitted a paper giving some 
very fine facts and information on the problem Avhich this committee 
is investigating, but I wish you would take just a few minutes* time 
to stress two or three of the points that you make in your i)aper, for 
the record. 

Mr. Brokaw. I am very glad to do so. 
(The paper referred to is as follows:) 

Statement by W. H. Brokaw, Dibectok, Nebraska Agricultural Extexsiox 

Ser\t:( e 

The Great Plains area comprises a vast empire between the one hnndreclth 
meridian and the Rocky Mountains, extending from Texas to Canada. It is a 
region of low and erratic i-ainfall where early plant and animal life were modi- 
fied to meet its peculiar conditions. Along its eastern border the forests of the 
Mississippi Basin gave way to tall grasses and further west these in turn to 
short grasses. On its western border short grass vegetation was intermingled 
with the grease wood and the cactus of the desert. Ability to survive through 
periods of drought was the primary test of plant adaptability. Under these con- 
ditions the soils of the region retained tlieir soluble mineral elements, and at 
present are high in inherent fertility. Low rainfall is tlie limiting factor in 
crop production. 

Land areas in the Great Plains region may be divided into three groups ac- 
cording to use suitability. The first of these includes sections whicli are adapted 
to grazing. The Sand Hills of Nebraska are an example. The secoaid includes 
the deep, friable, silty soils which have been develoi^ed in comparatively level 
areas. Land of this kind will return a greater income and will supiwrt more 
people when in cultivation than if retained in grass or other use. The third 
generalized area comprises land which is intermediate in productivity. It has 
greater fertility, is more nearly level or more desirable from the standpoint of 
soil deptli and texture than grazing land, but it yields questionable returns 
under cultivation. Areas of this type lie intei-mingled with strictly grazing land. 
It is desirable to return a portion of this acreage to grass and to combine it 
witla operating units wliich have good crop land. The problem of the Great 
Plains is one of adjusting a population to the resources and rainfall conditions 
of the I'egion. Its solution does not involve the return of a great empire to- a 
grazing economy. 


Sovereignty over most of the Great Plains region was transferred to the 
United States in 1803 under the terms of the Louisiana Purchase agi'eement. 
For 50 years or more Federal activities were limited to treaties with the vari- 
ous Indian tribes and to establishing overland routes to the I'acific coast. The 


region with its hostile Iiidiaii population was a barrier between the liiunid east 
and the gold lields of California. From the point of view of tlie Federal Gov- 
orunient settlement was desirable as a means of preserving national unity. 
States ill the regioii wanted land in private ownership in order to broaden the 
tax base. For these rea.sons a free-land policy was adopted. Inuiiigrants from 
Europe and the surplus population of the eastern part of the country were 
encouraged to take up land on the plains. 

Legal settlement in the CJreat I'lains region began under the I'reemption Act 
of 1841. but a large part of the land was transferred t(j private ownership under 
rhe homestead law of lSt)2. During the early period of si'ttlement the physical 
limitations of the region were not recognized. 

In humid areas under the system of management prevailing at the time. 100 
acres was a satisfactory farm unit. Farming was carried on near the sub- 
sistence level of living. A quarter section provided sufficient crop land to give 
employment for the operator and his family and left enough pasture for reason- 
able numbers of livestock. The soil was fortitied with accumulated hunuis and 
gave high yields of crops with a minimum of tillage. Tiinl)er was available for 
buildings and fence construction and for fuel. Water for ordinary farm needs 
couUl be taken from springs, streams, and shallow wells. Rains usually came 
as they were needed. There were few droughts and only an occasional crop 
failure. Institutions and farming practices which, were developed in this 
humid region fr(»m whence the settlers moved to the Great Plains stood on three 
legs — land, timber, and water or rainfall. When this type of farming was 
transferred to the plains, two of the legs, timber and sufficient rainfall, were 
not present. For this reason it was necessary to modify the institutions and 

Many of the problems of the Great Plains region grew out of this early land 
policy and the traditions and habits of the people who settled it. Others are 
the result of changes in the price level, high transportal ion and marketing costs 
and recurring periods of :3r(>ught. Farm mortgages were made on a high price 
level and little .success was attained in adjusting them to farmers' ability to pay 
when depression and drought reduced their inccjines. 

.Soon after the settlement of the plains began it w^as recognized that the home- 
stead law did not tit conditions west of the one-hundredth meridian. In case 
the land was wanted for grazing purposes or for wheat raising a quarter-section 
was too small. In ir04 the Kinkaid Act increased the size of homesteads on 
grazing land in western Nebraska to 640 acres. Five years later, in 1909. the 
Enlarged Homestead Act made it possible to take 320 acres as a homestead 
in nine different States and Territories. These new measures were inadequate 
in the areas where they were applied. They did not correct the errors that 
had been made in the early period of settlement. 

There are succes.sfuUy operated farms in every part of the Great Plains 
region. Adjustments to resources and rainfall have been made on some indi- 
vidual operating units but there is no single generalized area where all farmers 
are prosperous. Changes in land use, that involve a shift in the prop<?i'ty rights 
of individuals take place very slowly and many years are required to develop 
a moderately profitable farm economy. This fact is illustrated in the Sand 
Hills of Nebraska. 

As early as 1879 the Public Lands Commission reconuuended free homestead•^ 
of 4 square miles on grazing land. Little attention was given to this proposal 
until the Kinkaid Act of 1904 which permitted homesteads of 040 acres in 
western Nebraska. It was intended to provide adequate units on grazing land, 
but the farms were too small. Within 10 years most of the public land open 
to entry had been taken and settlers had moved into the area. Over-grazing 
and cropping of land not suited to cultivation took place almost inunediately. 
As soon as the native sod was removed the .soil began to blow and the physical 
limitations of the area were recognized. Settlers moved away; most of the crop 
land was ]iermitted to revert to nativ<> grass, and over-grazing was avoided. 

These adjustments to physical limitations were made rather rapidly, but 
there has been consideraltle lag in consolidating the land into economic units. 
Although there are many large ranches, some of them reaching 100.000 acres 
in size, the average farm at the present time contains slightly uKU-e than three 
sections. Exi erience indicates that three sections of average sandhill land 


arc iioct'ssary to provide m niininnini level of liviiifj for a farm family. Extreme 
l>overty is not common, bul since many \mils are smaller than the mininnim 
standard it appears that considerable adjustment in size remains to be accom- 
lilished if a fully stable economy is to be developed. There is probably suffi- 
cient land in the area, if it were evenly distributed, to provide a larger num- 
ber of units of reasonable .size than now exist. The question immediately 
arises as to whether a trend toward a maxinnun ntmibcr of small units is more 
desirable, economically and socially, than a continuation of the present trend 
toward large units. 

Successful farming in any area depends upon having a business large enough 
to jiay operating and family living expenses and to leave a surplus which can 
lie used for emergencies and retirement of debt. The size of the farm business 
may be increased by adding to the acreage of crops and pasture, by growing 
intensive crops, such as potatoes, on the .same acreage, or by increasing the 
livestock enterprises, especially dairy and poultry. Practical methods iliat may 
be used in the Great Plains region are limited by soil, rainfall, or availability 
of irrigation water, the liind of crops that can hv grown, and markets. liain- 
fall limits the growing of intensive crops to those which are drought resistant 
and to vegetables which can be grown in limited irrigated areas. Because of 
its influence on feed supply it is also a limiting factor in setting up a perma- 
nent live.stock pi'ogram. Years of short crop yields make it impractical for a 
farmer to keep as many cattle or hogs as can l)e fed with his average produc- 
tion of grain and forage. Forced liquidaticm in .vears of short feed supplies 
may bring heavy losses. For these reasons the majority t)f farmers on the 
plains must depend upon cash crops supplemented with livestock. 

These facts suggest extensive farming as the most desirable practice in the 
now irrigated sections of the Great I'lains regi(jn. Size of grazing units in the 
Sand Hill area of Nebraska has already been discussed. Farm records in 
other areas of the State indicate that the average acreage re(piired for successful 
operation varies inversely with rainfall. In the eastern counties, where the av- 
erage annual precipitation is about 30 inches, success is most common on operat- 
ing units of 240 or more acres. Not more than 26 percent of the farms in 
these counties equal or exceed 220 acres. In the central part of the State, 
which has an average annual rainfall of 26 inches, 320 or more acres are 
desirable. Only 26 percent of the farms contain 260 or more acres. In the 
western counties, where annual precipitation drops to 16 inches successfully 
operated miits usually contain 800 acres. Only 29 percent of the farms exceed 
7(0 acres. 

A second important problem contributing to population movement in th^ 
Great I'lains region is change in the price level. With rising prices farm 
products advance more rapidly than do retail prices. This principle may be 
illustrated by the use of index numbers. If prices from 1910 to 1914 are taken 
as a base both the index of prices paid to Nebraska farmers and that of prices 
paid by farmers in 1915 was 105. Both indexes rose steadily until 1919 at 
which time the index of farm prices stood at 226, while the index of prices 
farmers paid for commodities was 2(X). The purchasing power of farm products 
advanced from an index of 1(X) in 1915 to 132 in 1917 and stood at 113 in 1919. 
Under these conditions there was a price advantage to the farmer and he 
strove to expand his business to take advantage of it. During this period 
thrifty farmers who had acquired a competence invested in a home. Savings 
were put into land equities with the anticipation that continued prosi)erity 
wcmld permit liquidation of the mortgage. 

Prices began to decline in 1920. In a period of falling prices farm products 
siidv more rapidly and go to lower levels than do prices of finished g<iods that 
farmers buy. In the decade 1920 to 1929, the index of average prices received 
by farmers in Nebraska was 138. The index of prices of products that farm- 
ers bought was 155, and that of purchasing power of farm products was 89.^ 
Under these conditions it was difHcult for farmers to meet expenses and pay 
interest on mortgages. But darker days were ahead. 

1 H. C. Filley, Effects of Inflation and Deflation Upon Nebrasl<a .\griciilture, 1014-32, 
p. 12, Nebrasl<a Agricultural Experiment Station Researcli Bulletin 71. 


After tho crash of 1920 tlio price of fiirin prodiifts went down rapidly, the 
index reaeliiiifi a low of .IS in VM\2. Prices of commodities tliat fanners buy 
iilso declined but did not fall below an index of 107. The purchasing power 
(if Nebraska farm products sank to ."4. This disparity of prices made it im- 
possible to meet expenses and interest payments out of income. The situation 
was made more desperate by a succession of dry years which has continued 
.<ince 1934. In this period reserves disappeared rapidly. Farmers who had 
debts were forced to sacrifice equities in property, and many of those who were 
fortunate enough to have no financial obligations had to borrow for operating 
and living expenses. Relief rolls were increased from year to year as reserves 
and collateral for credit were exhausted. 

Most of the surplus grain, livestock, and livestock products of the Great 
Plains must be shipped long distances to centers of population for consumption. 
Transportation charges and marketing costs are high and tend to remain 
constant regardless of price changes. The price of surplus commodities at 
the farm u.sually is the price at the consuming center to which the products 
are shipped minus the processing, transportation, and handling charges incurred 
in preparing and delivering them. The greater these charges are the lower the 
price to the farmer. The lowest average corn price in the United States 
leceived by farmers during the period 1925 to lt'34 was along the eastern edge 
of the Great Plains. The area of lowest average wheat prices received by 
]iroducers during the same period was centered in western Nebraska, eastern 
Wyoming, and northern Colorado.^ 


The problems already discussed suggest some of the reasons for the shift 
of population from the Great Plains. Farm units that are adjusted to the 
minimum needs of families when prices are good and the rainfall is normal 
become inadequate when prices decline and drought spreads over broad areas. 
Nebraska figures are typical of other States in the region. Gross income from 
farm production exceeded ,$41S.O'.;0.0(iO in 1924. It did not fall below .$416,<I0(>,- 
n(!0 in any year until 19.30 when it was .$377,000,000. The lowest point was 
reached in 1932 when Nebraska farmers received $167,0(K),000 from all crops 
and livestock sold. T'hls amount was less than 40 percent of the 1924 income. 
There has been some recovery but income, including Government payments, 
has not exceeded $277,000,000 or two-thirds of the 1924 figure in any year 
since 1930. 

• Throughout the history of the Nation there has been movement of surplus 
population, reared on farms, to urban centers for employment. In addition 
to this normal migration there are people who .search for new locations because 
of an inherent nomadic instinct. In periods of economic stress, when there 
is maladjustment of income between areas, this instinctive urge is stimulated 
and population movement is accelerated. Many succes.sful farmers have felt 
it ueces.sary to move before their reserves were completely exhausted. All of 
these factors have contributed to the movement of population from the Great 
I'lains region. 


The educational and research programs have been adjusted in a large meas- 
ure to meet the emei-gencies resulting from the continued drought, insect in- 
festations, and low farm income. Nebraska, because of adverse crop conditions, 
lost a large acreage of its permanent pastures and legumes. Increased plant- 
ings of sorghums, temporary pastures, and other similar emergency feed crops 
were urged to offset this loss. Intensive educational and research activities 
were carried on to assist farm people in making necessary adjustments. These 
acreage adjustments and conservation practices were encouraged by the agri- 
cultural conservation programs and the following summary shows the major 
shifts which have been made in crops and laud use during the i)ast 10 years. 

^ Willi.Tin <i. Murra.v, Farm \\]k Hi and 110. 

260:',T0— 41— pt. 4- 




Temporary pastures 


Fallow - 

Idle --- -.- 

New seedings of legumes; grasses 
Old sweet clover 



Wheat -- ---- 


Percent of crop- 
land in each 
crop or use 

10 years 


or de- 


The Agricultiu'al Extension Service and several cooperating organizations have 
siionsored a pastnre-forage-livestoclv program for several years. Through this 
program State and county extension agents help farmers plan their operations 
for a more dependahle feed supply for theii' livestock. Efforts have also hecn 
directed toward the restoration of pasture land, the rehuilding of livestoci^ herds, 
and improved farm management practices. Introduction of farm Mocks of sheep, 
hog, and lamh feeding, field experiments with sorghum varieti(-s, and studies on 
landlord-tenant prohlems were correlated with the pasture-forage-livestock pro- 
gram. Several thousand trench silos have been dug and other methods of feed 
conservation increased as a result of this and other programs. 

(Jrasshoppers and other pests have been unusually severe during most of the 
drought period and greater emphasis has been given to pest-control work. 

Women's pro.iect clubs have studied the problems of adjustment in family 
living to meet existing situations. Almost 2;),(l(U) boys and girls have heeu in 
-t-H Club projects which have helped increase the well-being and stal)ilily of 
farm families. 

During the last 2 years specialists of the Extension Service and ihe Fawn 
Security Administration have combined their efforts to help farm families with 
production of a home food supply from gardens, fruit, poultry, meat, and milk 
produced on the farm. They emphasized storage of feed for winter, the develop- 
ment of a water supply, home and farm equipment repair, and the use of wind- 
breaks, snow fences, and irrigation from windmills to provide more favorable 
coi ditions for gardens. The distribution of seed of drought-resistant tomato 
varieties by the Extension Service has been an important factor in making it 
possible for hundreds of farm families to grow tomatoes for home use. 

The Extension Service, through schools and demonstrations, has taught farm- 
ers to irrigate more effectively and efficiently. A great many more now knov»- 
how to handle water without waste, and appreciate the importance of subsoil 
moisture when drought and heat combine to burn crops. There is still a great 
demand and need for this educational work as the amount of irrigated land 
increases in the State. 

These are only a few of the things that have been done to help meet the many 
difficult situations. All this effort, it is recognized, has not been sufficient in where moisture has been so limited that crops make little or no growth, 
but many families have been able to get along better with such assistance. 

Inexpensive diversion and entertainment, family and community activities have 
been emphasized more than ever before in all Extension Service work. Even 
though no tangible results can be measured, it is the general opinion that farm 
families have been helped to maintain optimism and hope for the future. 

Research has definitely established many facts and principles which have been 
and are being used by farmers in making adjustments in their enterprises. Such 
research includes farm organization, marketing, cultural practices, crop adapta- 


tioi), livestock food ins, nioisturo consorviitidii. clisease ami post control, and many 

It has shown that niidor i)roi)or cnltnral practices and farm organization the 
deeier. more friahlo silty soils, on the more level land, can be kept prolilahly in 
cnltivation niuU'r adverse conditions and will support more people when in 
cultivation than if returned to grass or other use. 

Effective storage of moisture in the soil frequently marks the difference between 
a harvest and crop failure. Pnictices which encourage infiltration and retention 
of soil moisture include ti-ashy fallow, clean fallow, contour tillage, and strip 

The regional adaptation of the major crops has been well established and many 
varietal im'irovements made. GenerJilly maturing types of corn, sorghums, and 
small grain should be grown westward in the region to offset the decreasing rain- 
fall, sliorrer growing .season, and lower seasonal temijerature. Much moro infor- 
mation is needed, however, as to specific adaptability and relative yields under 
different soil types and climatic conditions. 

The value of timely seedbed preparation, planting and general cultural prac- 
tices has boon well established but additional information should be obtained 
relative to costs and yield effects of contouring, stripping, terracing, and similar 
conservation practices under specific soil and climatic conditions. 

It has been demonstrated that farmstead shelterbelts, home orchards, and vege- 
table gardens can be grown in many areas if proper consideration is given to selec- 
tion of .species, sites, and cultural treatments. Such plantings will not only con- 
tribute directly to the family living but will also improve the general environment 
of the home and community. 

Definite information has been obtained on livestock feeding methods and the 
value of feeds that can be grown in the area. Feed ccmibinntions that produce the 
highest rate of gain have been determined. Methods of storing feed from year 
to year, at low cost, have been developed but more adequate feed reserves are 
necessary in dry years to prevent forced liquidation of livestock. The value of 
the livestock enterprise in stabilizing and increasing the farm business and in 
utilizing feeds of little or no market value has been demonstrated. 

There are a number of factors which materially affect success in the organiza- 
tion and management of farms. Some are of greater importance than others but 
as a rule the profits derived from farming depend very largely upon the extent 
to which certain essential features of organization and management have been 
adopted and adhered to. On a majority of farms, success is primarily dependent 
upon four important factors: (1) Size of business, (2) production of crops and 
livestock. (3) efficiency of labor, and (4) low marketing costs. The department 
of rural economics at the Nebraska College of Agriculture summarizes 800 to 1,000 
farm-record books each year and prepares comparative data to show each operator 
how his business compares with other businesses in the county or type of farming 
area wliere he resides. This service helps farmers make adjustments and she uld 
be expanded and related more specifically to soil types and conditions. 

The above statements refer to only a few of the research accomplishments. 
Westward migration brought to the Great Plains a type of agriculture rather 
poorly adapted to a semiarid and high-risk area. Modification in type and methods 
of farming ami in social institutions were thus essential. Some of these changes 
have been made and others are in progress. Insulficient time has elapsed to permit 
an adjustment of population to the resources of the region. FiU'ther research and 
appraisal of local conditions are essential by Federal, State, and local people. 

P>deral farm ])rograms have maintained farm income at a higher level than 
would have been i)ossililo without them, and have permitted many farm people 
to remain on farms that would not otluM'wise iiavo stayed. The relief load in 
these States whore drought and depression have been most sevei'e has been 
les.sened througli farm programs and Federal relief agencies. Probably one of 
the most beneficial results of the programs, however, has been the restoration of 
confidence and morale that at times was at a low ebb. 

The chief forms of financial assistance by Federal agencies have been the 
direct payments for soil conservation and production control practices and re- 
duced cost of credit. The Agricultural Adjustment Administration payments 
have insured a cash income that coiitributod to ojierating and living ox])enses and 
in many cases were the most important sources of income. Those payments also 
financed new seodiiigs of grasses, legumes, and sholtorl)elt plantings and in- 


creased the iicvense of smnniei- fallow, and Ilie use of oilier reeommonded 
eoiiservalion iiractic-es. 

Tile eonuiiodity loan program of the AKricullural Adjnstnieiil Adiuiiiistration 
was lieiieiicial to most of the State in carryiuji over feed reserves for the serious 
di-ouj;hts ill ]!K'4 and 1!).'>(J and to some extent in other years. Tlie hi^li prices 
of feed, however, made it difficult for farmers to maintain livestock production 
during delicit y(>ars. Several areas of the State this year (194(1) are in serious 
need of additional feed for livestock and evei\v effort possihle is heinjj; made to 
alleviate the situation. 

Tli(> Farm S«xMirity Administration has done much to refinance farmers and 
has kept families on farms where some are in a position to make proj;ress toward 
independence. Fai'iners who receive loans are encouraged to make adjustments 
from cash Ki'iiin farming to a more diversified type of farming with empliasis 
on the production of food for home consumption, and roughage and sorghums 
for livestock. Its production for home use program as a part of the farm economy 
has assisted clients in reducing cash living and the amount of refinancing 

The Farm Credit Administration has reduced iitterest rates to farmers (m 
farm mortgages and is trying to change the basis of ci'edit from the speculative 
to the productive value of the farm giving consideration to the family as well 
as soil and other resources. Feed ciop production, gardens, and soil-conserving 
practices have been given consideration in making emergency feed and seed 
loans, thus contributing to a safer and more stable type of farming. 

The Soil Conservation Service has furnished technical assistance in demon- 
strating the possibilities of erosion control and moisture conservation. There 
is an increased demand for this kind of service. 

The Forest Service, through its shelterlielt project and the Extension Service, 
distributing Clarke-McNary seedlings, have done much to protect farm land 
fr(>m wind erosion, farmsteads from wind and snow, and to improve living 
conditions generally on the farm. 

Education carried on in connection with organization an.d administration of 
Federal programs and the use of local farm people on committees for planning 
and administration have built a better understanding of the economic and social 
problems involved, their effect on the national welfare and the need of adjust- 
ments in land use. 

There has been a distinct change in the attitude of farm people toward proposed 
programs for the conservation of natural and human resources and an increase 
in community interest and community cooperation in recent years. 

Since 1935 land u^e planning committees. c(nisisting of local people aided by 
county, State, and Fedei-al representatives, have been organized f(U' the purpose 
of taking an inventory of local resources, analyzing local problems and making 
recommendations f<n- improvement. Such committees have functioned to some 
extent in practically all counties in Nebraska. Vv'here land is well suited to culti- 
vation those committees have advised against drastic shifts to permanent pasture 
but in less productive areas they indicate that one of the major adjustments 
needed is a shift from cultivated crops to a more diversified type of farming, 
dependent to a greater extent on roughage-consuming livestock. This involves a 
greater use of grass and forage crops for feed production and soil conservation. 
In some instances such changes will require more acres for the farm unit but in 
others the situation may be met by increased use of summer fallow f(tr feed crops 
or by irrigation. Committees in practically all counties have recommended 
increases in conserving crops and practices and more efficient use of water 
resources. The Agricultural Adjustment Administration. Farm Security Admin- 
istration, Soil Con.servation Service, shelterbelt project, water facilities, and the 
Extension Service have all contributed toward a gradual change in this direction. 

As a result of the exchange of ideas between farmers and technicians in the 
development and administration of the various Federal programs and in land-use 
yilanning, a better understanding on the part of both farmers and technicians has 
develo]Kd. This development of a common understanding, the recognition of 
common objectives and unificaticni of efforts, should be helpful in the continued 
study of farm problems iind should contribute materially toward their ultimate 

It is the common opinion of many of th(»se concerned with land-use planning 
that s<mie adjustments are needed in most areas but undue emphasis should not 


be given to recent ahnormnl conditions. In most cases gradnal changes should be 
made which liave been thought out and approved l).v the local people. A gradual 
educational development of the people themselves has been taking place that 
makes a strong foundation for ftiture programs. UeiH'esentatives of various 
agencies, technicians, and administrators, through their contact with farm 
people, have gained a more practii-il knowledge of the problems involved and are 
on a sounder basis than ever before to serve agriculture. 


Mr. Brokaw. The problems in this Great Plains region, in a gen- 
eral way, are those of adjtisting the population and its resources to the 
rainfall conditions of the region. It seems to me that that is one of the 
greatest problems we have had. Having spent my entire life here, I 
think I know something about drought and the matter of handling 
Nebraska soils. 


One of the things that I should like to emphasize, in addition to 
what the Governor said about rainfall, is that it is not only the amomit 
of rainfall that we have, but it is the conditions in which it finds the 
land on which it falls. And it depends not upon the mere amount that 
falls as to whether we get results from it, but it is due, a great deal, 
to conditions of the ground for absorption of the moisture that does 
fall. If we have farmed this land over a long period of years, it has 
reduced the hiunus content, and it cannot retain the amount of moisture 
it did in earlier years. There are several other things. We view 
Nebraska as a livestock State, and in saying that I mean a balanced 
livestock condition, one in which we raise on a great deal of our better 
soils the crops which are necessary for the maintaining of that livestock 
during the winter months. It is not a matter of just returning all of 
this land to grass. It is a matter of returning, probably, some iDor- 
tions of it to grass that are unsuited to general farming conditions, 
and continuing to farm a great deal of it to these drought-resistant 
crops, and to go in, first of all, for a living for the family, and then 
feed for the livestock, rather than trying to grow cash crops, cash grain 
crops. I might say that that is the general viewpoint of the citizen 
within the State. 

Mr. Curtis. Now. you mentioned that the reduction of the hiunus 
content in the soil has been great, so it doesn't hold its moisture any 
more. What particular activity or program of planting remedies that 

Mr. Broka-w. The rotation of crops in which we grow the legumes 
particularly. The past period of drought has made it very unsatis- 
factory to attempt to grow legumes, and we have lost such a high per- 
centage of our legumes and grasses during this period that we are not 
maintaining the soil fertility as we have been able to do during periods 
in which we had at least slightly more rainfall than we have had. 

Mr. Curtis. Now, Mr. Broicaw, sometimes we hear the general re- 
mark, "Well, there are certain areas that should never have been plowed 
up, that should have been left to grazing country and cattle country." 


I take it fnnn your paper ami wliat you have said tliat that is not wholly 
true, is it ? 


INIr. Brokaw. It isn't wholly ti-ue. We have about three types of 
land. We have that which is sdictly a <riazin<!; re^L^ion. That is par- 
ticularly true in the sand hill rei>ion. Then we have ochkI fiial)le soils 
which are level, which can be farmed Avith the riirht sort of rotation, 
growing- the right kind of crops over a long period of years. And then 
we have an intermediate group between those, in which a part of it 
needs to go back to grass; the other needs soil conservation practices, 
not only to save the soil, but to hold what water does fall, putting it 
into condition that we ma}- retain that water. And so it is not just one 
problem — so many times we hear, "Just return the lands to grass." It 
is a problem of balanced management of those lands that we need more 
than anything else. In fact, I might say that it is going back to the 
system which did exist in the earlier period. We were upset in our 
farming operations in this region, particularly by the stress that was 
put upon the growing of wheat previous to the World War. And we 
broke up a lot of land, and it turned us largely to a matter of grain 
farming; the world condition during that period brought about 
unduly high prices and encouraged that type of farming. 

Mr. Curtis. AYell, by proceeding along the line that you have sug- 
gested, pasture, forage, and livestock program und the like, we at least 
partially escape the hazards — one of which is the uncertainty of pro- 
ducing a cash crop, and the other one, the uncertainty of the price struc- 
ture at the time it is harvested. Well, now, I noticed in your paper 
what you had to say concerning the size of the farm. Now, as I under- 
slandthat, that would mean that according to the program you would 
suggest, possibly a third of our farmers would have to leave their land. 
Now, is that the impression you want to leave? 

Mr. Brokaw. No ; that Avould not be entirely true. There is a chance 
for the adjustment of the size of farms Avithout displacing quite as 
many as that would seem to indicate, because there are a great many 
people w^ho can exist even on a smaller area than was mentioned. We 
have some older people who have retired and who wouldn't care to have 
a larger acreage. We have some small families, and then we liav-e some 
people who are unusuall}' resourceful and are managing smaller areas 
of land. There we use an average term for the average system of 
farming which prevailed within the region, and so, when you come to 
sum it all up, you would not displace quite that many. 

Mr. Curtis. No. 

Mr. Brokaw. And then we have about 400,000 acres that have possi- 
bilities for further irrigation practices. And as to a great many oi 
these areas where people would have to move, we might put these people 
on these irrigated areas where they would not need so large an acreage. 

Mr. Curtis. The irrigated land takes care of a great many more 
families proportionately. 

Mr. Brokaw. Very many more. 

Mr. Curtis. Yes. And what is true as to the activity it creates 
in the towns and cities? 


"Sir. 1-5ROKAAV. "Well. Avhenever you briiio; about a prosperous condi- 
tion with a lot of farm people, why of course, it ali'ects the cities in 
\ery much the same way. 

Mr. Curtis. Yes. 

Mr. Brokaw. As you know, in small towns today — you can even 
find it out in your section, as you know — the effect on the farming 
])eoi)le has affected your towns likewise. Conditions are very 


Mr. Curtis. Well, now, Mr. Brokaw, you mentioned something 
about the undeveloped irrigation possibilities in Nebraska; and how 
many acres would you say that was? 

Mr. Brokaw\ About 400,000 acres that we feel it is possible to 
irrigate, in addition to what we have. Part of that w-ill be pump 
irrigation; some of the rest of it would be gravity irrigation. 

]Mr. Curtis. Now. does that irrigated land help develop a balance 
between the nonirrigated land, particularly among those engaged in 
cattle raising and feeding? Will the pasture, forage areas, and the 
grasslands of the sand hills develop a place to send their cattle for 
feeding, the more irrigation you develop? 

:Mr. Brokaw. That is very true. The districts in the Kepublican 
River Valley are working with much of the livestock industry in the 
area adjoining it, because the Republican Valley produces much of 
the hay and corn feed for the cattle in the hills. In fact, that is the 
kind of agriculture we Avould like to see in a lot of the areas, some 
of the bottom lands devoted to grains where it is possible to retain 
the moisture in the soil, and letting the livestock stay in the hills 
for the summer months. 

Mr. Curtis. For the benefit of the record, the Republican Valley 
includes about 10 of our southwestern counties, is that right ? 

Mr. Brokaw. Yes, it does, and they are very productive counties 
when they receive sufficient rainfall. 

Mr. Curtis. Yes. 

Mr. Brokaw. That is a very good type of land. 

]Mr. Cirtis. AVhen did this flood occur in the Republican Valley? 

Mr. Brokaw. 1935. 

]Mr. Curtis. And that was the large one that took over a hundred 
lives and ruined all that valley land? 

INIr. Brokaw\ And ruined a great deal of the best feed producing 
land we had in southwest Nebraska. 


^Ir. Curtis. Has there been a decline in the growing of crops such 
as corn, oats, wheat, and alfalfa in Nebraska? 

Mr. Brokaw. Yes, there has. I will have to refer to the figures 
which I have. I can give you the figures on that. 

Mr. Curtis. Just sumnuirize it briefly, inasmuch as this printed 
record is in. 


Mr. Brokaw. Tlie reduction in corn is fi-oni about 50 percent of 
the crop land to about ;>2 j)ercent — a i-ecUiction of about 3G percent. 
That is from 10 years a<io up to the pi-esent time. Of course, in oats 
we have quite a reduction, but that is (hie to the fact that we re- 
duced the fertility of the soil. Oats is a heavy feeder on soil fertility 
and Ave found it very much more of an advantage in <rrowin<i: livestock 
to <ri"ow barley. While we have had a decrease in the amount of oats, 
we have had "an increase in barley, a 250-percent increase in barley, 
because we were not (Trowing very much barley before that time, and 
barley has been doing fairly well in these dryer areas. The reason 
for growing barley in connection with corn is because often we have 
a moisture condition in the spring which does not exist during the 
growing season of corn. One of our biggest increases, however, 
comes in sorghums, both the forage and grain type. There has }3een 
an increase in the growing of sorghums of over 900 percent in the 
last 10 years, and we are producing a great deal of feed for livestock 
there which we were not i)roducing formerly. 

Mr. Curtis. One other thing: In your prepared statement you 
mention these individual farm record books. 

Mr. Brokaw. Yes. 

Mr. Curtis. That you had been educating the people to use. Do 
you have one of those here for the committee, please, to identify and 
put in our record ? 

Mr. Brokaw. I have. Ordinarily, I will say, we do not furnish 
those to anyone, but we happen to have one that was made out by a 
4— H Club boy, and it was left with us on account of a competition 
he was in. We have been trying to encourage the boys in keeping the 
fai-m records, and so we have a copy of that one, and a sunnnary taken 
from a number of counties which you will be ])articularly interested 
in, that shows how we correlate the facts and present them to the 
farmers at the close of the season. Otherwise, the matter is a private 
affair between the farmer and our own organization. 

Mr. Curtis. Well, now, if you will give that to the reporter, Ave 
wnll have him identify it as an exhibit, and it Avill l)e available for 
the committee, but for the reasons you have stated and also for the 
reason we do not want the printed record to be too voluminous, it 
will not be incorporated as part of the record. 

In carrying on this educational Avork in bookkeeping and farm 
planning, I j^resume you proceed on the theory that times are diffi- 
cult and the future is not any too bright, but this is the time Ave have 
to think harder, and work harder, and strive harder ever. 
NoAv, the farm program and these related relief agencies connected 
Avith the farm ])rogram haA-e made a definite contribution to relieving 
the situation in lessening the amount of direct relief; is that rights 

Mr. Brokaav. They have, because there have been so many areas 
Avhere all of their cash income has come from the agricultural con- 
servation program or from the rehabilitation program. 

Mr. Curtis. Yes. 

Mr. Brokaav. That has been paid in taxes and all of it has helped in 
the matter of keeping up county and State gOA-ernments. 



Mr. Curtis. Yes. In other words, to sunuiiiuize. you feel that 
the solution is a matter of adjustnient to the rainfall conditions and 
the soil conditions, plus the development of what irri«iation may be 

Mr. Brokaav. Yes. that is very true, and in so doing we are empha- 
sizing particularly these things that I have mentioned before, the 
matter of not only conserving h«oil but also producing crops that will 
supi)ort livestock! and Ave are emphasizing Avorking Avith the Farm 
Security Administration in the matter of groAving gardens and the 
irrigation of gardens and producing, first, the things Avhich the farm 
family shoukl have. 

Mr. Curtis. Yes; I Avas very happy, Mr. BrokaAv, Avhen I learned 
that the conmiittee had secured you as a Avitness, because of your in- 
terest in all these things, particularly the l-H Club Avork. We have 
your Avritten pai>er, Avluch Avill help 'us very much in the preparation 
of the final report. 

Chairman Tolan. Mr. BrokaAv, I think you are a very admirable 
Avitness. I Avant to call your attention to the fact that there is a school 
of thought through the States Avhich Avoukl solve this niigrant 
problem, these millions of our people going from State to State, by 
saying, "Why don't they stay at home?" 

XoAv, Avhat I Avould like to get from you is this : Don't you think 
there comes a time Avhen Avorn-out soil and other conditions over Avhich 
the farmer has no control, causes him to move? That is true in a 
lot of cases. 

Mr. Brokaav. Yes ; that is very true in a lot of cases. 

Chairman Tolan. Yes; and in different sections of the country? 

Mr. Brokaav, Yes ; but Avherever Ave can, Ave are making an attempt 
through the agencies concerned, to try to keep the farmer here, be- 
cause of one thing that liappens: Whenever he sells out Avdiat land 
equity he has, he spends that to go to the other place he moves to, 
and they don't knoAv him, and he doesn't knoAv conditions. If vfe 
are able' to make a comeback, as Ave believe Ave can, and Ave come into 
a cycle of greater rainfall, Ave believe that such are the kind of men 
and Avomen who are fitted to take up the load here again, because 
they understand conditions better. 

Chairman Tolan. Yes; I am not talking so much about Nebraska. 
I have the general picture in my mind, and don^t you think there is a 
time coming, when in the Great Plains Avhere thousands and thou- 
sands of acres— it is the Dust BoavI area or the loss of fertility I am 
referring to — can no longer provide a living for as many farm 
people as it formerly did ? 

Mr. Brokaav. I think that is true. 

Chairman Tolan. Well, that is Avhat this committee is concerned 
with. Shall Ave keep them here if Ave can. And in connection AA'ith 
that, I might call your attention to the Farm Security Administration, 
Avhich has taken care of 500,000 families. There are still 800,000 fam- 
ilies uncared for. Noav. that is Avhat keeps recurring to me all the 
time. Keep them home. You can't keep them home. Because they 


will luivc to move when the time comes when there are circumstances 
over which they will have no control, and as I said to the Governor, 
American people will not starve sitting down. They would rather <i() 
on the road — there are thousands of them on the side of the road 
today, and you know that as well as I do — so what this committee is 
concerned with when they do mij^rate is. What is the best thino; to do 
about it? States individually can't handle the problem, because it 
strikes at the tax structure, health, education, and everything else. 

Mr. Brokaw. Yes; that is true. 

Chairman Tolan. And I think you will a<2;ree witli me that there 
comes a time when the fertility of the soil in certain sections will 
becomes exhausted, don't you think so? 

Mr. Brokaw. I think that is true in certain areas. 

Chairman Tolan. In certain areas, oh, yes. 

Mr. Brokaw. We are quite optimistic here. If we can get certain 
lands back to grass, and if we will have a reasonal)le amount of rain- 
fall, then we can retain a part of the humus content of our soil and 
repossess it. We have a very rich soil, and our one limiting factor 
has been rainfall. Of course, we realize that with increased rainfall 
that we would probably increase the fertility. 

Chairman Tolan. Of course, the attention of late has been more or 
less attracted to the migration from fai-ms. As a matter of fact, I 
think our figures will disclose that the industrial migration is just 
as great, but of course the attention has been focussed on the farmer 
striking out with his big family. But I think when we finish our 
hearings it will be demonstrated that industrial migration is just as 
great as the farm migration. 

It is a habit of the American people to migrate. They are more 
restless, probably. In fact, I belong to one of those families thar 
kept going west and west until there was no frontier left. And you 
will notice in the paper presented on that again the fact that you 
will have certain individuals who will go even though they might go 
to conditions which would be no better than tliose they have left. 

Mr. Brokaw. And they have. 

Chairman Tolan. But we have, generally speaking, a very stable 
lot of farm people within this region, ami it has been remarkable tlie 
Avay they have stayed during this long period of drought. In cer- 
tain sections it has gone beyond the 7 years. We had one or two fair 
Years in between, but it goes back over a greater period. But Ne- 
braska people, like other people in various States, have believed, 
from tb.e Constitution, tliat thev are not only citizens of Nebraska but 
they are citizens of the other 47 States. As we have repeated so 
often, we don't raise any barriers under the Constitution against coal 
or iron or steel going from State to State, but we do raise barriers 
against the human interstate commerce, so when Nebraska people 
move to other States they find that this conditi(m exists : That they 
do not have a vote here or a vote there. We are just seeing if we can 
find a way to make a recommendation to Congress to give them some 
sort of status. 


We certainly don't want to raise any barriers to their jiointj. The 
only thing is. if they are going to worse conditions and we can see any 
way to help them, we do have a desire to help them. 

Mr. Parsoxs. I was told yesterday, on a trip that I made out 
through the counties, that most of the farmers who have been leav- 
iiig the last 7 years have been pulling stakes while they still had a 
little equity left in their farm, and (hat might not have got away for 
2 or 3 years, in the last 2 years or so are beginning to show up again 
in Xebraska. 

Mr. Brokaw. That is true. 

Mr. Parsons. Which goes to show that what the Extension Service 
and the Farm Security are doing in trying to keep them anchored here 
is the best for the individual. He probably wouldn't have had much 
equity left in his farm if he stayed, but he wouldn't have been out the 
expense of moving around interstate and back; he would have saved 
that much. And I want to compliment the Extension Service and the 
P'arm Security Administration for the fine work they are doing here 
in tliat problem. 

You mentioned the reduction in corn acreage and the increase in 
forage, both for feed and for fodder. That acreage seems to be 
very much more drought-resisting than your corn? 

Mr. Brokaw. That is the one difference between them. 

Mr. Parsons. And about as high in carbohydrates to feed your cattle, 
sheep, or hogs ? 

Mr. Brokaw. Yes; it is. 

Mr. Parsons. Well, when T was driving along yesterday, right along- 
side of a field of corn — right along together I saw a field of corn 
burned to a fine crispness, with hardly an ear on the stalk, and right 
along beside it was growing the forage crops, splendidly, with fine 
rounded out heads with lots of grain in it. The corn, with the oppor- 
tunity of growing in the spring, had a little moisture, but these forage 
crops had grown since you had any rain. 

Mr. Brokaw. It takes just as much water to ]:)roduce sorghums as 
it does corn, but the one advantage is that sorghum can wait for it. It 
will remain at a standstill. If corn does not get its rainfall at the 
right time it is out of the picture, but the sorghum can wait. 


Mr. Curtis. Mr. Brokaw, one more thing: Do you anticipate quite 
a great mass exodus from Xebraska in the next few months — next 60 
or 90 days ? 

Mr. Brokaw. Well, we have had quite an exodus going on for the 
last 3 or 4 weeks. There have been a great many farm sales. It is 
out in the central region that we are having most of the sales, 

Mr. Curtis. Kearney was the ])lace I had in mind. I was told yes- 
terday that there were 30 farm sales advertised, people giving up. 

Mr. Brokaw. I was at a meetinir of farmei's where we were discussing 
this same question about a month ago. Out of the giouj) there were 
about 60 of the 135 farmers that were in the meeting who still had an 
equity in their livestock and felt that they nuist have feed at fairly 


reasonable ])rices, to carry on, or they would liave to s(>ll and go else- 
where, cutting loose from where they were. 


Mr. Curtis. The things that you have previously mentioned in your 
discussion were matters of long-range i)lanning, such as adapting the 
land and the development of irrigation, and the size of farms, and all 
tiiat. The inmiediate need this fall is feed for livestock, foundation 

Mr. Brokaw. Yes; it is feed for at least, I would say, foundation 

Mv. Curtis. Yes. 

JNIr. Brokaw. There is need for that especially. 

Mr. Curtis. I notice you call it foundation stock rather than just 
sustenance livestock, because there are some of these men that are in 
a condition under which they have been able to maintain themselves 
even during drought, due to^ the fact that they had grown drought- 
resistant crops, but owing to the extreme drought in their area, they 
recently have been unable to grow even that. 

Mr. Brokaw. Yes, and their estimate was that they had only one- 
fifth enough feed for their livestock, and they were willing to sell a 
reasonable part of their foundation livestock with which to purchase 
feed, but they are asking to buy that feed at a fairly reasonable 
price. They feel if they go out, each of them. as an individual, and 
buy in competition with the others they are simply raising the prices 
(;n themselves. 

Mr. Curtis. Well, can't they combine so that they could buy in 
large lots for distribution to the individuals and get it at a much 
better figure? 

Mr. Brokaw. The difficulty has been to get a group together in 
which they had the money available with which to do the buying. 
We do not have funds for that, revolving funds. We do not handle 
money in that way in our phase of the work. That work has been 
impossible, and that has been the limiting factor. AVe have tried 
to organize such groups and in some places they have done so. 

Mv. Curtis. If you had 50 or 60 of those men and they a hundred 
or a hundred and fifty dollars in cash each with which to buy feed 
w^ith, one of the Extension Services could make the orders for them. 

Mr. Brokaw. Yes. 

Mr. Curtis. That is all. Just a minute— they could thus make 
up large orders, in carload lots, and have it distributed to the in- 

Mr. Brokaw. Yes. 

The Chairman. Thank you, Mr. Brokaw. This is a very fine 
statement, and I know it will be very valuable. Thank you. 

(The Farm Account Book and Thirteenth Annual Farm Business 
Re]wrt. 1939, referred to by Mr. Brokaw, were identified as exhibits 
and are held in committee files.) 



Tlio Chairman. Call Mr. Fay Evans, please. 

Mr. Parsons. Mr. Evans, come up and take a cliair and state your 
name and address to the reporter. 

Mr. Evans. Fay Evans, Boone, Nebr. 

Mr. Parsons. When and Avhere were you born, Mr. Evans? 

Mr. Evans. Oklahoma City, 1901. 

Mr. Parsons. Whei-e were you born, on a farm? 

;Mr. Evans. In the city — Oklahoma City. 

I\Ir. Parsons. Oklahoma City. AVhat was the occupation of your 

Mr. Evans. Farmer, carpenter. 

]Mr. Parsons. You were born in the city ? 

]Mr. Evans. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. That was while Oklahoma was still a Territory? 

Mr. Evans. Yes. 

]Mr. Parsons. Did you live down on a farm most of your boyhood? 

Mr. Evans. Yes, all my life except about a couple of years, I guess. 

Mr. Parsons. Are you married? 

Mr. Evans. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. How many children do you have? 

Mr. Evans. Four. 

Mr. Parsons. Have you ever owned any farm land of your own? 

Mr. Evans. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. Where ? 

Mr. Evans. Well, I owned 80 acres out here in Lancaster County, 
right at the Saunders County line. 

Mr. Parsons. Where is the first farm you owned? 

Mr. Evans. That is the one out here in Lancaster. 

Mr. Parsons. How long did you operate it? 

]\rr. Evans. Five years. 

Mr. Parsons. Was it a profitable business? 

Mr. Evans. Well, it wasn't such a great opportunity. I bought 
it right at the head of the depression, and everything went to pieces 
on me. 

Mr. Parsons. Was the drought condition existent at that time in 
that locality? 

Mr. Evans. No. 

Mr. Parsons. What did you do? Did you finally sell the farm? 

Mr. Evans. Well, I finally decided it was a losing proposition, 
so thought I would take a chance on something bigger. I was going 
to lose what I had, and I thought I would take a chance and maybe 
I could make it on the other, and I lost out in the end. 

Mr. Parsons. Did you sell your 80 acres? 

Mr. Evans. I traded it for another farm, 

Mr. Parsons. Where was it located? 

Mr. Evans. St. Paul, Nebr., in Howard County. 

Mr. Parsons. How far away was that from where your first farm 
was located? 

Mr. Evans. One hundred and twentv-five or thirtv miles. 

2370 I.N ri:KSTATK mkjuatiox 

Mr. Pahsoxs. And you <)j)orate(l tlint farm from 1985 to 19138, did 


Mr. Evans. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. What is the reason you aren't still oi)eratin<2; it now? 

Mr. Evans. Well, crop failure is the primary thin^. and then I 
couldn't keep up the payments and the taxes, so I let the taxes go 
for 3 years, and the loan company started foreclosure on me. 

Mr. Parsons. AVliat loan companv did you have — a Federal land 

Mr. Evans. Xo; the Lincoln Joint Stock Bank. 

Mr. Parsons. An insurance company? 

Mr. Evans. No; just a joint -stock land bank. 

Mr. Parsons. Did they sell you out because the taxes weren't paid? 

Mr. Evans. Well, the}' started foreclosure because I hadn't paid 
the taxes, so I saw there wasn't any hope, so I just turned it over to 
them, moved out. 

jNIr. Parsons. Where did you go to then ? 

iVIr. Evans. To Batonville. Ark. 

Mr. Parsons. Why did you go in there? They have droughts 
down in Arkansas, too. 

Mr. Evans. But the year I went down — visiting some friends — it 
looked like the only place to be, but after I got down there and spent 
2 years I found out it was all just as bad as before. 

Mr. Parsons. So you went down there because 30U hoped for a 
better situation than you had been in for the last 3 or 4 years? 

Mr. .Evans. Yes; I did. It seemed like they had plenty of rain, 
and when they got around 40 inches of rain, a fellow would think 
that was a real place to farm. 

yiv. Parsons. Did your friends encourage you to come down, say- 
ing it was a kind of paradise compared to Nebraska i 

Mr. Evans. Yes; that is just what they did, but the year they 
went down there they had real crops there, for Arkansas. 

Mr. Parsons. Did they sell you some land? 

Mr. Evans. No; I just rented a place. 

Mr. Parsons. WHiat kind of land was it ? 

Mr. Evans. Swampy land is what I got — ''crawfish'' land is what 
they call it down there. 

Mr. Parsons. Where the fertilization would stay only 1 year? 

Mr. Evans. Yes. You had to add so much fertilizer to make it 
produce it was too expensive to operate. 

ISIr. Parsons. What kind of crops did you raise there ? 

Mr. Evans. Corn — or tried to. Wheat and oats; just about the 
same as they do in this country. But it wouldn't produce enough to 
pay expenses. 

Mr. Parsons. Then where did you go ? 

Mr. Evans. Back up to Boone County. Nebr. 

Mv. Parsons. liack to the old home State? 

jNIr. Evans. Back to the old home State — where I started from. 

Mr. Parsons. Did you buy any land there? 

Mr. Evans. No. 

INIr. Parsons. Did j'ou rent a farm or take over a farm to ojierate? 


Mr. Evans. I leased :\ farm, borrowed machinery to farm with — 
that is. I hired it. really, and worked to pay for the use of the 

Mr. Parsons. From your brother? 

^Ir. Evans. From my brother. 

]Mr. Parsons. And Avhat kind of farm did you have in Boone 
Count}', Nebr. ? 

Mr. Evans. A river-bottom farm. 

]Mr. Parsons. I think I was over through Boone County yesterday. 
Wliat river is it on? 

Mr. Evans. The Beaver. 

Mr. Parsons. How many acres? 

Mr. Evans. Eighty acres. 

Mr. Parsons. Have you purchased it? 

]Mr. Evans. No ; I just rent it. 

Mv. Parsons. On what kind of terms do you rent this farm? 

Mr. Evans. A third of the crop. 

Mr. Parsons. And you ai-e furnished the farm buildings? 

Mr. Evans. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. Are you furnished any machinery? 

Mr. Evans. Well, my brother lets me use his machinery in ex- 
change for labor for him. 

]Mr. Parsons. Who owns this farm? 

Mr. Evans. Norman Olson is the fellow's name. 

]Mr. Parsons. Yes. What did it cost you to get started back here 
in 1940? 

Mr. Evans. When I came back I had about $152 that I salvaged 
out of my property and started on that. I spent about a hundred 
dollars and bought some heifers and used the rest to live on. 

Mr. Parsons. Are you building up a little cattle herd now? 

]Mr. Evans Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. About how nuich did it cost you to make the moves, 
all the way around? Do you think it's been profitable to have left 
and gone down there and then back? Have you profited by the re- 
location? Or would you have been better off if you had stayed 
where you were in the beginning? 

Mr. Evans. I would have been ahead to have stayed where I was 
in the beginning. 

Mr. Parsons. Especially if you had had the Farm Security Ad- 
ministration to assist you and help you ])lan and to keep the books 
and advise you about the kind of crops and stock? 

Mr. Evans. I sure would. 

Mr. Parsons. And might even have had at least some ownership 
in the farm there? 

^Ir. Evans. Yes. 

]Mr. Parsons. Without being a renter. What kind of crops do 
you have this year? 

Mr. Evans." Well, we have soighum crops mostly. I forgot 
alxnit corn. I couldn't raise that any more. 

Mr. Parsons. How many cattle do you have now? 

Mr. Evans. Just four head of heifers. 

1372 I .NTKKSTATl': M Ki K AT ION 

Mr. Pausoxs. You aiv just st;ii-tin<:- iu this year, or did you start 
last year^ 

Mr. Evans. Last spriu<; I l)ou<ilit tlicui. 

INIr. Parsons. Have you been enii)l<)yed in anytliiii"- else part time 
to brin^ some cash revenue to the family!' 

Mr. Evans. Well, just a few days. I had a little work thai I was 
takino; care of. 

Mr. Parsons. Have you ever applied for relief or W. P. A. work ^ 

Mr. Evans. No, sir. 

]\Ir. Parsons. Have any of 3'our nei<iliboi-s ever ap])lied for it ? 

Mr. Evans. Well, I guess a lot of them have. 

Mv. Parsons. Are any of your neijihbors workiu<r on W. P. A. at 
the present time ? 

Mr. Evans. No ; not ri<»;ht in the iiei<>hborhood theiv. 

]\Ir. Parsons. Does the State of Nebraska have any State aid to 
the local counties for relief, or does each county take care of its own ? 

Mr. Evans. I couldn't tell you that. 

Mr. Parsons. You couldn't because vou haven't had anv experience 
with that ? 

Mr. Evans. No. 

Mr. Parsons. Yon really feel better that you are back in Nebraska, 
in the old State? 

Mr. Evans. Yes; I think it is better. 

Mr. Parsons. Have you any ambiti(ms to buy this 80 acres if you 
ever got hold of a little money? 

Mr. Evans. Well, I don't think so. I would not want to buy that 80 
myself under the present conditions. It is all right, as far as that is 

Mr. Parsons. How many years is it since you first came to Boone 
C<»unty ? 

Mr. Evans. Well, the year of 1919 I came to Boone County. 

Mr. Parsons. You have seen some fine crops in Boone County, 
haven't you? 

]\rr. Evans. I sure have. 

Mr. Parsons. All through the years up until about 1933; is that 
right ? 

Mr. Evans. 1934. 

Mr. Parsons. You had plenty of rainfall? 

Mr. Evans. Yes. 1934 I think was the first bad year we had. 

Mr. Parsons. 1934 was the first bad year? 

Mr. Evans. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. You have hopes that conditions are going to improve 
and that there will be more rainfall in this area in the days to come? 

Mr. Evans. Well, I hope that it will. I don't know whether it will 
or not, but I guess until it does we will have to figure on sorghum 

Mr. Parsons. Hope springs eternal in the heart of every farmer? 

Mr. Evans. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. Hoping that next year will be a better crop year 
than the one he had last? 


^rr. EvAXs. Tf it NvasiTt for that I ouess nobody would be fanning. 
[Lauo'hter. | 

Mr. Parsoxs. You're quite ri<>ht. I think the farmers of Xebra.ska 
have stood Avith ^rreat fortitude, faeino- the terrible situation they 
have had to face the last 6 or 7 years here in Nebraska. As I rode out 
tinouoh the fields yesterday, it'didn't look to me like the corn would 
make three bushels to the acre. Some of it wouldn't. I couldn't see 
very nnich strenath for the stock in the burned fodder. I saw lots of 
corn that will make, no doubt, some very o()od fodder for the cattle 
and sheep and horses and mules But actually how any farmer could 
have very much hope for the future except that hope that next year is 
going to be better, is more than I know. 

Mr. EvAxs. Yes. 

:Mr. Paksoxs. You are entitled to a lot of credit for coming back 
t(. the old State, and I hoi)e that in the days to come you'll get com- 
pletely rehabilitated and get a stake back in the land, because if there 
is a nian that owns the soil and tills it himself and makes it pay, that 
makes him prosperous, it makes him a happy, contented American 
citizen. That is the type we have got out here and that makes us 

Thank you very much. ]Mr. Evans. 


Chairman Tolan. Mr. Eandall Mercer. 

:Mr. Crirns. Just be seated. Your name is Eandall Mercer? 

]\Ir. Mkrcek. Randall Mercer. 

Mr. Curtis. And where do you live, Mr. Mercer? 

Mr. Mercer. Blunt, S. Dak'. 

^Ir. Curtis. What part is that ? 

Mr. Mercer. That is ])ractically in the central part of South 

Mr. (\'RTis. How old are you, Mr. Mercer? 

]Mr. Mercer. Thirty-three. 

Mr. Curtis. Are you married, and if so, what family do you have? 

Mr. Mercer. I am married. I hav(^ a wife and one child. 

Mr. Curtis. How old is the child? 

Mr. ISIercer. Eleven. 

Mr. Curtis. A boy ? 

Mr. Mercer. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Curtis. Do vou live in Blunt, or where? 

Mr. IMercer. I live 21/0 miles out of Blunt, on a farm. 

Mr. Curtis. Where is'Blunt from Pierre, the capital? 

Mr. Evans. It's 20 miles east. 

:Mr. Curtis. How long have you been on the farm where you are 
now working ? 

Mr. Mercer. I moved there in the fall of 1939. 

Mr. Curtis. Do you own it or rent it ? 

Mr. ^Mercer. We'll, my father loaned me the money to pay for a 
deed to it. I got a dee'd to it, but 1 b.ave still got the taxes yet to 
pay on it. 

260370— 40— pt. 4- 


Mr. Curtis. Yes. 

Mr. Mercer. I have to assume the taxes of about approxmiately 
if^l,100 with this year's taxes. 

Mr. CuHTis. Is the farm encumbered — a mort<ra<;e? 

Mr. Mi^RCEK. No; not more than just the $800 and the taxes. 

Mr. Curtis. How lon<T have you lived in South Dakota ? 

Mr. Mercer. Thirty years. 

Mr. Curtis. Has that been continuous there ? 

Mr. Mercer. No; I went to Washin<rton, to the Yakima Valley, 
in 1935. 

Mr. Curtis. How did it happen you went out there ? 

jSIr. Mercer. Well, we had been having drought here since — well, 
it started in 1929 or 1930. 

Mr. Curtis. You are referring to South Dakota ? 


Mr. Mercer. Yes; central South Dakota. xA-iid it just kept getting 
worse, and in 1935 we had quite a few dust storms, and it looked kind 
of bad, and you would see advertisements of nice straio;ht rows of 
trees and what a wonderful country it was in the Yaknna Valley, 
and how easy it was for labor to get work. 

Mr. Curtis. Who published those advertisements? 

Mr. Mercer. Well>, I found out, out there, that the State chamber 
of commerce out there published the advertising showing it such a 
wonderful country to live in. 

Mr. Parsons. The State of Washington ? 

Mr. Curtis. How did they get you? Was it sent you, or in some 
magazine ? 

Mr. Mercer. Yes; in the farmers magazines and Capper's maga- 
zines ; different magazines you will find it. 

Mr. Curtis. Paid ads? 

Mr. Mercer. Paid ads; yes. 

Mr. Curtis. And told you to come to what valley in Washington ? 

Mr. Mercer. Oh, it's not just the Yakima Valley. The Walla 
Walla Valley and different districts, irrigated, high-producing, and 
they have lost of crops and need plenty of labor. 

Mr. Curtis. Did you make any further inquiry or just start out 
there ? 

Mr. Mercer. My father-in-law had been out there in 1931 in the 
fall and picked fruit, and he said it was nice out there and thought 
that we could make a living if we went out there, and he had made 
a living while he was out there, worked practically all the time he was 

Mr. Curtis. How many went with you? 

Mr. Mercer. My father-in-law, three brothers-in-law, my wife and 
boy, and myself. 

Mr. Curtis. Did you all find work out there? 

Mr. Mercer. Yes; we all found work out there. 

Mr. Curtis. What kind of work did you do? 

Mr. Mercer. When we first went there we arrived on the loth of 
September, I think, and went to work on the 16th picking hops. 


Mr. Curtis. Yes. What other kind of work? 

Mr. Merger. From that we moved into the fruit and picked fruit. 

Mr. Curtis. So you were in Washington how long? 

Mr. Mercer. Tliree years. 

Mr. Curtis. And in liow many different localities did you live 
during that time? 

Mr. Mercer. Well, I lived in Toppenish when we went there, and 
I stayed in Toppenish. stayed in town, at the time, while I was work- 
ing in the fruit. The fii-st fall we worked in the fruit, about a 
month and a half, I guess. We got a job on a farm 4 or 5 miles out 
of Toppenish, and I worked on that during the winter, dairy farming 
and milking cows. 

Mr. Curtis. Did you stay in that locality all the time you were in 
Washington ? 

Mr. Mercer. Yes; practically all. I did drive over onto the coast 
and back again, just to see what it was like, more than anything else. 

Mr. Curtis. Could you keep your family there where you had 
employment ? 

Mr. Mercer. Yes ; I managed to keep my family with me. 

Mr. Curtis. How old was your boy at that time ? 

Mr. Mercer. Seven years old when we moved out there. 

Mr. Curtis. Did he go to school there? 

Mr. Mercer. As much as he possibly could ; yes. 

Mr. Curtis. He was seven when you went out ? 

Mr. Mercer. Yes ; in his second year in school. 

Mr. Curtis. You were there 3 3^ears? 

Mr. Mercer. Yes. 

Mr. Curtis. Did he get to go enough to make his grade each year? 

Mr. Mercer. Yes ; he made his grades, but of course we would help 
him quite a little when he wasn't in school, help him along. 

Mr. Curtis. Did he do any work out there ? 

Mr. Mercer. Not to speak of. He was too young, really. He did 
pick hops some when we first went there, but that was not much. 

Mr. Curtis. Well, now, after your experience out there 3 years, did 
you return to South Dakota? 

Mr. Mercer. Yes. 

Mr. Curtis. Why did you return? 

Mr. Mercer. Well, I went out there with intentions of trying 
to get hold of a little place where maybe I could make a living, 
but after I got out there I seen that if a person had lots of money, 
he could go ahead and invest it in a farm and make a living, but if he 
didn't, he never would be able to make it. 

Mr. Curtis. How did you get back to South Dakota ? 

Mr. Mercer. In the same car I went out in. 

Mr. Curtis. Wliat kind ? 

Mr. Mercer. 1927 Essex. 

Mr. Curtis. Did you have any help after you got back? 

Mr. Mercer. Well, I went to work on the highway here right 
after I came back, and worked until along— oh, I suppose about a 
month on that, and then in December, I think it was, I applied for 
relief, getting a grant, in December or January and February. 



Mr. Curtis. Did you t>;et any lit'lp in oettiiin^- a loan on tlie land 
yon are on now? 

Mr. INIeuckr. Just llironjih my father, just (lir()u<;h his loanino; nie 
$300, and then T got a resettlement loan. 

Mr. Curtis. From the Farm Security Administi-ation? 

]Mr. Mercer. Yes, 

Mr. Curtis. How nnich did you get? 

Mr. Mercer. $1,800, I think. " 

Mr. Curtis. What did yon buy with that? 

Mr. Mercer. Six head of horses and 11 cows, and a bull. 

Mr. Curtis. And that would give you enough stock to get started 
on ; and do you think you can make a go of it? 

Mr. Mercer. Well, I can. I guess it is kind of due to the weather 
conditions again. If we could get a good break so we could raise a 
crop so we could pay our taxes on the place ; that is what is holding 
me clown. If I can pay for my place and get it under control, 1 have 
stock enough to pay for the loan. 

Mr. Curtis. This Farm Security Administration — how much of 
that are you supposed to pay back everv year? 

Mr. Mercer. Well, it varies from $150 to $600. 

Mr. Curtis. How much are you supposed to pay back this year? 

Mr. Mercer. Well, I don't have to pay any until 1941. 

Mr. CuRiTS. Well, now, have you made any debt adjustment since 
you returned to South Dakota? 

Mr. Mercer. Any what? 

Mr. Curtis. Any settlement with the creditors where they have — 
anything of that sort at the time you made your loan with the Farm 
Security Administration ? 

Mr. Mercer. Well, I didn't have any only just grocery bills and 
things like that. I took care of that through the. loan. 

Mr. Curtis. Would you have been able to start on the farm again 
if you hadn't obtained a loan through the Farm Security Admin- 
istration ? 

Mr. Mercer. Not for some time yet. 

Mr. Curtis. Yes. 

Mr. Mercer. Because it's very hard to get work. 

Mr. Curtis. Are you and your family more content to get back on 
the land and stay there? 

Mr. Mercer. Yes. 

Mr. Curtis. Than to travel around and hunt for the pot of gold 
at the end of the rainbow? 

]\Ir. Mercer. Yes. 

Mr. Curtis. Mr. Mercer, isn't it true that the people of the Great 
Plains territory — the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, and else- 
where — prefer that type of government aid which Avill help them 
to help themselves? 

]Mr. Mercer. I think so; yes. I think all tlie people do as far as 
that is concerned. Anyone is more content if they can get aid to 
help themselves than they are to AVork at other employment. 


Mr. Cfrtis. And they want to stay on the land if it can possibly 
be aiTan<2:ed to do so? 

Mr. ISIercer. Yes. 

Mr. Curtis. Do yon have any ideas or any sng^estions you want 
to make about these workino; conditions as }'0U found them when 
yon were gone, or in coiniection with the advertising- that you i^ead 
or anything else for this committee to know about ? 

Mr. Mercer. Well, when I was there, I figured that there was a 
cliance to get work with individual farmers, but after I got there I 
found that most of the farms was owned by corporations or some- 
thing like that, you know, and they had a manager who, in order 
to hold his job, wanted a fellow to do hard work under him and do 
plenty for his money, because there was plenty who wanted to worlc, 
because if a fellow didn't want to work, there was somebody else 
to take his place. 

Mr. Curtis. I think that is all, Mr. Mercer. 


N. DAK. 

Chairman Tolan. Mr. and Mrs. Hulm. Mrs. Hulm, will you gi^'e 
your name to the reporter, please. 

Mrs. Hulm. Frances Mary Hulm. 

Chairman Tolan. And where do you live? 

Mrs. Hulm. Bismarck, N. Dak. 

Chairman Tolax. Your name is 

Mr. Hulm (interposing). Hoy Anton Hulm. 

Chairaian Tolan. How old are you ? 

Mr. Hulm. Forty-nine. 

Chairman Tolan. And you, Mrs. Hulm? 

Mrs. Hulm. Thirty-nine. 

Chairman Tolan. Have you any children? 

Mrs. Hux,M. Eleven. 

Chairman Tolan. Where were you born, Mr. Hulm ? 

Mr. Hulm. Russia. 

'Chairman ToLu\n. When did vou come to this country? 

Mr. Hulm. 1910. 

Chairman Tol,vn. You have been liere ever since ? 

]\Ir. Hulm. Yes. 

Chairman Tolan. Where were you born, Mrs. Hulm? 

Mrs. Hulm. Pequot, Minn. 

Chairman Tolan. Pequot. Is that in the southern part of the 

Mrs. Hulm. No ; kind of in the middle part — about 50 miles north 
of Minneapolis. 

Chairman Tolan. Mr. Hulm, how much education have you had? 

Mr. Hulm. I finished high school, and 2 years' business course. 

Chairman Tolan. And you, Mrs. Hulm? 

Mrs. Hulm. Three years of high school and 1 year of teaching. 

Chairman Tolan. What are the ages. ]Mi's. Hulm, of the children? 


Mrs. HuLM. We have one, 20; one, 19; one, 18; one, 16, 10, 9, and 
8; one, 6; and one, 4; and one, 11 months. 

Chairman Tolan. You did pretty well to remember all those ages. 
I have five, but I don't think I could give them all to you. Are any 
of them married ? 

Mrs. HuLM. We have two married. 

Chairman Tolan. And where are they living? 

Mrs. Huuvr. One at Hettinger and one at Bismarck. 

Chairman Tolan. The two married ones are not living with you, 
of course? 

Mrs, HuLM. No. 

Chairman Tolan. Are the other eight living with you? 

Mrs. HuLM. Yes, sir. 

Chairman Tolan. When did you leave North Dakota to live in 
South Dakota ? 

Mr. HuLM. In 1932. 

Chairman Tolan. Where in South Dakota did you go? Where 
did you live? 

Mrs. HuLM. Meadow. 

Chairman Tolan. Was it necessary for you to request public as- 
sistance in South Dakota? 

Mr. HuLM. Yes, sir. 

Mrs. HuLM. Not right away. 

Mr. HuLM. Not right away; no. 

Chairman Tolan. Wliat did you do before you got public assist- 
ance ? 

Mr. HuLM. We farmed the first year. 

Chairman Tolan. Whose farm was it ? 

]Mr. HuLM. I rented the place. 

Chairman Tolan. Oh, you rented it. Did you make a go of it ? 

Mrs. HuLM. We lost everything. 

Chairman Tolan. You did what? 

Mrs. HuLM. It was the beginning of the drought, you know. 

Chairman Tolan. Where did you get assistance from — Farm 
Security Administration, Mrs. Hulm? 

Mrs. Hulm. Yes, sir. 

Chairman Tolan. In North Dakota ? 

Mrs. Hulm. Yes, sir. 

Chairman Tolan. How much did you get ? 

Mrs. Hulm. I don't know as you'd call it that. We got a grant. 

Chairman Tolan. Thirty dollars a month? 

Mrs. Hulm. And then we both worked on the W. P. A. for a couple 
of years later. 

Chairman Tolan. When did you leave South Dakota to return to 
North Dakota ? 

Mrs. Hulm. Well, it was just like this: My husband knew the man 
that was once Governor, Langer. 

Chairman Tolan. Yes. 

Mrs. Hulm. And he had corresponded with this gentleman for a 
period of time, off and on, and he wrote and he asked him if he couldn't 
have a job. He felt that he was educated enough that he could hold 


something that was better than a $44 relief job. So, to get in contact 
with him, when he wasn't working on W. P. A., a friend of ours took 
him up there to see liim, and Governor Langer promised my husband 
a job for $125 a month; so, naturally, anybody is going to move if you 
can possibly do better. He told him to come back in a couple of weeks' 
time, in the latter part of April in 1937. 

There was a man there who heard him tell him to come back. We 
have a gentleman friend that was with him at the time that he had 
promised him work. He stood right beside him at the time the promise 
was made and everything, and they said that the work they were going 
to have my husband do would not be ready for a period of 5 or 6 
weeks, after the machinery was ready in the State capital; and he 
asked Governor Langer how it would be to move the family up. It 
would take money to live in two different places. We figured if we 
moved to Bismarck and had a good job maybe we could educate the 
girls a little better, and maybe hel]? us out a little bit in the long run, 
because we do have such a* large family. And the consequence of it 
was, of course, we had to have financial help; so we came back, and 
my husband aj^peared before the commissioners of the county and 
asked them if they wouldn't help us move to Bismarck and provide 
provisions for us until he got his first pay check. Of course, we under- 
stood that we were to have work immediately on arrival. When we 
got up there, this witness that was there, they called him several times 
to be sure that we weren't lying, and then we had several different 
letters from Governor Langer, and they thought that looked pretty 
good, with these girls growing up ; it would be a fine thing ; so they 
helped us move. 

Chairman Tolan. How did you travel? 

Mrs. HuLM. They took us up with a car. 

Chairman Tolan. Did you have a car at that time ? 

Mrs. HuLM. No ; we didn't. They took us up with a car. furnished 
the transportation, and one of the'little boys rode in the truck, and 
the truck broke down, and they brought the furniture and every- 
thing else for us. that time. We arrived in Bismarck on June 26, 
1937. Well, we didn't get the job. That was the long and the short 
of the whole thing. There was always an excuse. Well, he couldn't 
do it now, or he couldn't do it then. Always they had this reason 
and that reason. 

Chairman Tolan. You didn't get the job, anyway? 


Mrs. HuLM. No. And South Dakota helped us out for a year. 
All that time we wern't interested in the law, because we were told 
there wouldn't be any trouble. After 13 months my husband went 
to the capital again begging him for help. I was making $15 or $20 
at the time, working in a little laundry, you know. The girls were 
working a little, but that isn't enough to pay rent on. He said to go 
then to the head of the welfare board in North Dakota, and my hus- 
band went and he applied for aid, and she refused him. She said we 
had been getting the checks from South Dakota. So they gave us a 


$6 order for <rroceries. It must liave hocn around the 2.')th or 26th 
of August, somewhere in there. On Saturday eveninfr. on the 27th, 
one of the welfare board workers came to the door witli a drayman 
and he said, ''I have brought a man here, and we are shipping you 
back in the morning to South Dakota. If you don't go peaceably 
we will have the law on you." It w/as either go peaceably or have 
trouble, and of course at that time, as I said, we didn't know about 
these dift'erent laws until later, and so they packed us up Monday 
morning and dumped us all into one car. My husband went with 
the truck. They took us to Ijemmon. S. Dak., and when we got there, 
one of the commissioners was just coming out of the welfare board 
office, and he said, "Hello, Roy." And he answered him, and he 
said, '''I'm awful sorry, but you don't belong here. You turn right 
around and go back." They were so smart; they got their chief of 
police to park right by the car. They wouldn't let us out. Well, he 
hightails it all over town and tries to get all the commissioners to- 
gether, and of course Perkins County is a large county, and they're 
spread out, and it took him quite a while to get them all cornered. 
Finally the Eed Cross worker there came out. and I said, "Are we 
going to have any supper?" I said, "Don't take your spite out on 
these youngsters." 

She talked to the chief of police, and they marched us over to a 
•I'estalirant and gave us something to eat, and "we sat in that car 
again until they made up their minds what they were going to do to 
us. Different commissioners came up and talked to us. They'd come 
up and talk to us, but help us — no, that was out ! So about 9 : 30 I 
said to my husband, "Well my goodness, it is time these youngsters 
were in bed." I said, "If they are going to have an all night session 
in here, it is time the children were in bed." So finally they took 
us down to a hotel and put us in a couple of rooms, and about mid- 
night the chief of police knocked on the doors and wanted us down at 
the attorney's office. We go down and they ask us a few questions. 
All right, we could go back to bed again. At 7 o'clock in the morn- 
ing they got us out and fed us and put us in the car, and told the 
driver he was going to get in trouljle because he didn't have a license 
or something, and took us clear back to North Dakota. In the 
meantime, while we were in Lemmon, the register of deeds called us 
and he talked to me over the telephone, and why. if we go back again. 
he would issue a court order or something. I said. "Well, I can't 
do anything about it. We are just betwixt and between." 

So they took us back, and when we got back they provided a place 
for us overnight and told us not to leave this place. We would have 
to wait for a court order. We stayed at this place until 10:30, and 
then at 10:30 in the morning here comes this chief of ])olice. or the 
sheriff and the deputy sheriff, to take us down to the courthouse. 
They had this court hearing and wouldn't give us a chance to tell 
our stories. It was just their own Avay, understand : everything 
"went their way. So w^e were to be taken back. Everything went 
their way, and they took us back to this place we had been staying, 
and they divided the family, took part in one car and part in the 


This time when thev took us back to LcMiimoii they phiced us on 
North Dakota soih Lennnon is divided; one pai't is ^s^orth LtMumou 
and the otlier South Lennnon. Tlie ti-aeks divide it. And they placed 
us on Nortli Dakota soil and unloaded our stnti' and broke dressers 
and bab}' beds, just any Avay to ^et it out of there, because that was 
the only tiling; just to <iet it out of the way in a hurry. We asked 
him what we were goino- to do, how we were gohig to live. He hands 
liim a $5 bill and says, "Here, this will get you something to eat. 
Just walk across these tracks; South Dakota is to take care of you, 
and you'll have no trouble." 

That is the set-up about 7: 30. And we walk in the town and here 
we meet the chief of police with a paper to get out, we are not to 
make residence in Perkins County. I said. ''Well, w^e can stay here 
if we have got the money to pay for it." He said, "You're to sleep 
on the North Dakota side." 

When they brought us into the restaurant the sheriff from Adams 
County was there, and he said to the sheriff from the other county, 
'T have been looking for you all afternoon." And he said to my 
husband. 'Tf you have any trouble, let me know." We let him knoAV, 
and called him again, and he said, "AVe can't do anything for you." 

Well, we took the youngsters over to some cabins, and it was get- 
ting between 9:30 and 10 o'clock at night, and they wouldn't let us 
sleep. We knocked on the door. He said, "Are you the people from 
Bismarck?" We said yes, we were, and he said he couldn't accom- 
modate us. Well, we had a few cents left, so Dad said, "AVell, they 
can't stop us from slee])ing here if we pay for a room." So we had a 
place to sleep that night, and the chief of police gave us the money 
for the next night. When Saturday came we had nothing to eat. 
In the meantime we had two nieces and a nephew, but to go and park 
on them would make them liable for us, to take care of us, so it didn't 
seem right to make them liable for anything that was not tlieir re- 
sponsibility, and so we were staying on at this house. I had gotten 
some food and we had that for the children. The chief of police 
came with a deputy and we went to the comity commissioners and 
they said, "We will give yon 10 minutes to get to the other side of 
the tracks where you belong." Of course, I said a few nasty words, 
because we had been banged around like pigs or dogs or sheep; why, 
people treat their dogs better than that here. There was a deput}' 
on the other side after they put us over. I don't know what he was 
there for; there is no place to eat or anything there. Well, he said 
we couldn't go into North Dakota, and I said, "Well, there is just 
one thing to do. Dad. We are going to park on these tracks until 
we have help." I said, "Something has got to be done for us. One 
side or the other has got to keep us." So this deputy called the com- 
missioners and several different people, and we couldn't get help no 
matter whicli way it went. Nobody wanted to help. They all felt 
sorry for us, but not one wx)uld lift a finger to do anything, and so 
the deputy says, "Well, we will go on the other side and see what we 
can do. You have to have a bed, at least." He got in touch with a 
fellow who works for the State of South Dakota or vSomething and 
he got us a cabin, and he said. "Don't yon let them put you out." 


They })rovidocl food from the Sunday of that week until September 
the tenth. 'J'hat was the next Saturday. We lived there in a two- 
room cabin, and one man took throe of the older children down to 
his place and kept them, and each morning he bi-ou<>ht milk for the 
little ones and bread and the essentials that a person needs. I can't 
say we were abused in that form, but it wasn't very pleasant. 

We had no clothes for the children. The stuff was locked up and 
the key was fjiven to a party and we couldn't get it. So that night, 
the 9th, the sheriff from Adams County came down with some gro- 
ceries and he said, "You can do just fine. You can bake some bread 
and cook the things you need." I said, "How can I do that? I have 
only two burners — no oven." When that deputy came there and found 
out the sheriff had been there and into this place he was very angry. 
He didn't want to be responsible, either. 

They brought us up to Hettinger September 10. We sad in the 
courthouse from 6 : 30 in the morning. We sat in that courthouse with 
nothing to eat until noon. Finally the welfare board gave my hus- 
band a dollar and told him to get something to eat for the family. 
We had lunch right there in the courthouse, and still were fiddling, 
around wondering what was going to happen. Finally they were 
going to place us out in the country about 10 miles away from every- 

At that I rebelled. I had one little boy who got sick very easy and 
got pneumonia. And he was sick from being exposed, sleeping on the 
floor. I said, "If you do, I am going to hold you responsible for 
anything that happens. If we stay here a day or a week, you could 
take care of us that little space of time." Finally, about 4 o'clock, 
they found us a place, rented a home. And they sent my husband 
down to get the furniture with the truck. We stayed there from the 
10th of September till the 10th of June in 1939. In June they had a 
hearing between Burleigh Countv and Adams County. In the mean- 
time they provided heat, food, light, water, just the bare necessities. 
As far as clothes was concerned, I suppose they did the best they 

Chairman Tolan. Mrs. Hulm, I have some questions to ask you, 
to keep the record straight. 

You got $30 a month from the Farm Security Administration of 
South Dakota as a grant; and a $30 relief check from Perkins County? 

Mrs. Hulm. That is right. That went right on in Bismarck. 

Chairman Tolan. Did your husband make any effort to find em- 
ployment ? 

Mrs. Hulm. Yes; he did. Both of us tried. 

Chairman Tolan. But his physical condition 

Mrs. Hulm. It handicaps him. They think because he is physi- 
cally — you know, disabled — that he maybe can't handle the work or 
something, but he is strong, even if he doesn't look like it. 

Chairman Tolan. Yes. Now, the authorities in Perkins County 
refused to accept responsibility, saying you had been out of South 
Dakota for 1 year, thereby losing residence. In other words, they 
kicked you back and forth? 

Mrs. Hulm. They kicked us back and foi-th, that is I'ight. 


Chairman Tolax. And Soutli Dakota has a law making it a felony 
to transport an indigent person across the State lines in South Dakota, 
is that right? 

ISIrs. HuLM. I don't know about that. I coiildn't answer you truth- 
fully on that. Do you know anything about it, Roy? 

Mr. HuLM. No. 

Chairman Tolan. Do you know of any law in North Dakota or 
South Dakota making it a crime to transport wheat or corn or coal 
across the line ; is it a crime to do that ? 

Mr. HuLM. Yes. 

Mrs. HuLM. Why, no. 

Chairman Toi^vn. There is no law of that kind, is there? 

Mr. HuLM. You have to have a license. 

Chairman Tolan. Yes. In other words, there was a lawsuit there, 
entered in South Dakota, to see whether you belonged to South 
Dakota or North Dakota; is that right? 

Mr. HuLM. That is right. 

Mrs. HuLM. The first lawsuit was to see who was going to be reim- 
bursed for our keep. That was the one on June 10. 

Chairman Tolan. How was that decided? 

Mr. HuLM. That was decided that Burleigh County was held liable 
for all expenses down there. 

Chairman Tolan. Is that North or South Dakota ? 

Mrs. HuLM. That was North Dakota which was held responsible 
for all expenses. The lawsuit was between Adams County and Bur- 
leigh County first. Adams County sued Burleigh County for 

Chairman Tolan. Did you and Mr. Hulm appear as witnesses? 

Mrs. Hulm. Absolutely. Adams County, I think they had to pay 
for our keep while we was there. • 

Chairman Tolan. Well, the next lawsuit, was this last May, when 
it seemed that the State of North Dakota was suing South Dakota, 
Perkins County? 

Mrs. Hulm. Yes. 

Chairman Tolan. You must be quite familiar, you and your hus- 
band, with that North and South Dakota line there. 

Mrs. Hulm. We are. 

Chairman Tolan. Do you know whether there was any settlement 
made between Adams County and Burleigh County? 

Mr. Hulm. I think that was $500. 

Chairman Tolan. What was that? 

Mr. Hulm. A little better than $500. 

Chairman Tolan. That was the compromise, the payment of 
Adams County by Burleigh County for a relief bill amounting to 
$1,168; is that right? 

Mr. Hulm. That is right; yes. 

Chairman Tolan. And where is that Burleigh County — North 

Mrs. Hulm. Yes. 

Chairman Tolan. And Adams County? 


Mrs. HuLM. Xortli Dakota, too. That is rip;ht on tlio lino where 
we spent so much time. 

Cliaii'man Tolan. I^tMnmon is partly in North Dakota and partly 
in South Dakota { 

Mrs. HuLivi. Yes. 

Chairman Tolan. Was that the money of the county, or what 
was it? 

Mrs. HuLM. The way I understand it is that so much was to be 
taken from relief funds, so much from county. Was that the w'ay 
you understood 'I 

Mr. HuLM. Yes. 

]\Irs. HuLar. But Ave weren't there at the time they settled it or any- 
thing. I really don't know. 

Chairman Tolan. What year was that ? 

Mrs. HuLM. A year ago; in June 1939. 

Mr. Parsons. Where are you living at the present time ? 

Mrs. HuLM. In Bismarck, N. Dak. ; they brought us back. 

Mr. Parsons. How are you maintaining yourselves? 

Mrs. HuLM. They are maintaining us now, and about 2 weeks ago 
they came and signed my husband for W. P. A. 

Chairman Tolan. Have you any idea, Mrs. Hulm, about what we 
should do about the State laws — whether it would be a good plan 
to make them uniform about problems of this kind ? 

Mrs. Hulm. Well, it seems to me that there should be something 
done so that a person doesn't have to be treated like a dog. 

Chairman Tolan. As I understand it, under the laws of South 
Dakota, if you are absent for a period of 30 days you then become 
ineligible for relief? 

Mrs. Hulm. That is correct. 

Chairman Tolan. Is that true, Koy? 

Mr. Hulm. Yes. 

Chairman Tolan. So, then, you have lost your status in South 
Dakota and can't get one in North Dakota, is that the idea? 

Mr. Hulm. That is it. 

Chairman Tolan. A man without a country. 

Mr. Hulm. That is correct. 

Chairman Tolan. Is there anything further, Mr. Parsons? 

Mr. Parsons. No. 

Chairman Tolan. Thank you very much, both of you, for coming 
here. We hope it will be possible to recommend to Congress that 
some legislation be enacted to change this situation. 

Mrs. Hulm. Well, I hope they do. 

Chairman Tolan. We will take a 5-minute recess. 

(Thereupon, at 11 : 10 a. m., a short recess Avas taken.) 


Chairman Tolan. Mr. Donald Hay. Mr. Hay, take a chair and 
give your name and address and Avhom you represent to the reporter 
for the record. 


^Nfr. Hat. Donald Hay, Lincoln. Nobr., servinfr as area leader for 
the Division of Farm Population and Kural Welfare, Bureau of 
Aojrieultural Economics. 

Mr. Parsons. The connnittee has received your prepared statement, 
Mr. Hay, which will jio into the record. I have jrone over it very 
carefully and have found some very interesting information that is 
quite relevant to the problem this connnittee is investigating. 

CThe statement referred to is as follows:) 

Statement by Donald G. Hay. Sociologist. Bureat- of Agricultiral Economics, 
Department of Agriculture 


In 1930, some 3,514.828 people lived in the 5 States comprising the area known 
as the Northern Great Plains — Montana, Nebraska. North Dakota, South Dakota, 
and Wyoming. Seventy years ago there were only 166.887 persons in the same 
area. The population increased 2.708.280 persons, or 1.623 percent, between 1870 
and 1010. with a noticeable slowing up of numbers since 1910. 

The total population in 4 of the States Nebraska, North Dakota, South 

Dakota, and Wyoming — decreased 1.32,615. or 4.5 percent, from 1930 to 1940, 
according to preliminary releases of the 1940 census. Between 1930 and 1940, 
387 out of 238 counties in these 4 States lost population. The loss was 20 percent 
or more in 30 counties, and in 2 counties the loss was more than 40 percent of 
the population there in 1930. Of the 51 counties in the 4 States which had 
an increase of population during the last decade, 9 increased 20 percent or more 
and 3 counties in Wyoming gained 40 percent or more. 

Wheat has not been the only export, for the area has been producing a human 
surplus for many years. Large families and a high rate of natural increase have 
been characteristic of these Srates generally since their settlement. 

The total population of the Northern Plairis was 2.9 percent of the iwpulation 
of the United States in 1930. 


Agricultui'e is to the Northern Great Plains what coal and iron are to Pitts- 
burgh and what automobiles are to Detroit. Early homestead policy provided for 
the settlement of four homestead families in each square mile of territory and 
this practice set up the homestead pattern for much of the early settlement. 
Agriculture is carried on on an extensive scale throughout the area except in 
the eastern or more humid parts and in the few spots devoted to specialty crops 
and irrigated territory. Villages and small cities are in general scattered, with a 
tendency toward concentration in the eastern part. 


While the Northern Great Plains contained 2.9 percent of the total population 
of the United States in 1930, it had 5.4 percent of the Nation's farm population. 
The rural-farm population constituted only 24.8 percent in the Nation, but was 
46.8 percent of the total population in the Northern Great Phiins. The lowest 
ratio was in Wyoming with 32 percent, whereas in North Dakota tlie farm popula- 
tion was almost 60 percent of the total population. No other area in the United 
States had so lai'ge a proportion of its population living on farms in 1930. 

The predominance of the farming population and the agricultural industry is 
reflected in the rural-nonfarm or village population. The villages are the service 
stations of the farmer and are highly integrated with economic and social ties to 
agriculture. There is a constant interchange of population between farms and 

Even the urban population of the area is closely dependent upon agriculture for 
its maintenance and development. There is only one city of 100,000 and over 
(Omaha, Nebr.) in the area, and there are 29 cities of 10,000 and over. 


The dominating influence of aRricultnre is an outstanding characteristic of 
the five States. I'articular attention can well he given to the farm population 
in appraising the migration problem as associated with the Northern Great Plains. 

ELSEWHERE, 1910 AND 1930 

This area was originally settled as part of the great western movement. The 
predominating source of early settlers in regard to native-born white immi- 
grants, was the States to the east of the plains. But by tlie time the Dakotaa 
achieved statehood in 1889, persons who had been born there were to be found 
in every State. Since 1910 these States have also contributed a considerable 
number to the movement to other areas. By 1930, persons born in Nebraska 
but no longer living there, exceeded the number of residents who had been born 
elsewhere. The trend was the same in each of the other four States, with 
the exception of Wyoming. 

Movement to the Pacific Coast States from the Northern Great Plains was 
occurring in a considerable degree as early as 1910 but a greater proportion of 
the migrants were heading westward by 1930. In both 1910 and 1930 there 
had also been much movement of population to States to the east which had 
contributed heavily to settlement of the Plains. Of the persons born in the 
five States but residing elsewhere in 1930, 39.4 percent were living in States 
east of the Plains. 11.4 percent in States to the south, and 49.2 percent were 
in States west of the Northern Great Plains. 

The migration of population, both within the area and to other States, did 
not receive particular attention so long as the migrants were financially able 
to establish themselves elsewhere, or other areas had ready opportunities for 
their services. 

A study of 12 townships in western North Dakota indicates that instability 
of population has been characteristic of parts in that State ever since it was 
settled, with recurring waves of migration into and out of the localities. In 
these 12 townships, nearly 40 percent of the farm operators present in 1919 
had moved out by 1926, and for every 10 farmers leaving, there were 6 new 
farm operators who came to the townships during the period. 


The volume of net migration from farms in the Northern Great Plains between 
1930 and 1935 was slightly higher than during the 1920's on the basis of average 
movement per year. 

The chart, "Net Migration of Farm Population, 1930-35," indicates that heavy 
migration out was characteristic of a large number of counties in this area. 

The Northern Plains had become an export area for population before 1930 
except in the western parts and the droughts of the 1930's served to speed up 
the movement away from the farms. Continued mechanization of agriculture 
and adverse economic situations were also influential factors in occasioning 
out-movement of farm people. 

Studies indicate that population migration alone was usually an unsatisfactory 
technique in providing adjustments for both the individuals and the areas in- 
volved. Too often periods of iu-movemeut have followed ptn-iods of aban- 
donment, and people come toi take the places of others who have failed to 
make the desired livelihood in an area. 


Preliminary data from the 1940 census, together with total natural increase 
(number of births over deaths) for the last decade, indicate there was a net 
out-migration of slightly more than 400,000 per.sons from Nebraska, North 
Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming, from 1930 to 1910. This indicates that 
there was some 12 percent loss of population, due to net migration, during the 
10 years in these 4 States. All 4 States experienced a loss of iH)pulation on 
the basis of net migration, with rates of loss of 1 percent for Wyoming, 11.9 
percent for Nebraka, 15.8 percent in South Dakota, and 16.2 percent in North 



1910 AND 1930 


Source U S OspO'lmenl o( Agriculture 

260370 — 41 — pt. 4 (Face p. 1386) No. 1 



1910 AND 1930 - Continued 


260370 — 41 — pt. 4 (Face p. 1386) No. 2 



The generally high birth rates in these States and resulting natural increase 
were able to offset the n(>t migration losses to a considerable extont. 

E\'idence from particular studies of population movement is cited as describ- 
ing the net population change in certain areas. 

A study of population migration in four areas of the Northern Great Plains 
is now being completed, and (H>rtaiu itrelinunary data are available. Onr area 
was selected in each of ilie following States: Montana, Nebraslca, North Dakota, 
and South Dakota. Three of tlie areas included only open-country population, 
the fourth included a village as well as open country. 

The pattern of population change in these farm areas during the 1930's 
is one of increase duiing the first few years of the decade, followed by an out- 
migration of such volume that there was a net loss for the entire decade. The 
population of these farm areas reached its peak in the early part of 1934, and 
net losses have occurred ri^gularly since then. In the village, which had a 
relatively smaller loss than the farming areas for the entire period, there was 
a continued increase in population until llCiG ; since then the migration away 
has more than off.set the earlier gains. In both village and farming areas, 
the net loss for the decade understates the situation, for the net lo.sses were 
concentrated in the later years after there had been some increases. 

All of the areas experienced both an out-migration as well as an in-migration 
during the 1030's. A small net in-migration of households to the farm areas 
occurred between 1930 and 1933, but after that there was a net out-migration. 
The volume of out-migration reached its peak in 1936 and then decreased again. 
Meanwhile the volume of in-migration had tluctuated somewhat, reaching a 
low point in liK'iG. The subsequent recovery, however, did not again raise it 
above the level reached in 1933. The largest net loss was reported in 1936 — 
after that, net losses were less and during 1939 the number of households 
moving into these areas almost equaled the number moving out. In contrast 
to the movement of households, there was a net movement of single persons 
away from these areas throughout the decade, except in 1930 and 1933. 

As a result of the net migrations from the areas and a reduction in birth 
rates, the farm areas included in the survey experienced net losses in popu- 
lation ranging between 10 and 40 percent. The loss in the village was about 
15 percent. 

Each of the areas had a large turn-over of population, the total numbers 
moving in and out being much greater than the net change as reported. Dur- 
ing each of the years there was a continual movement in and out — some house- 
holds and single persons moving out while others were coming in, at least 
partially filling the gaps. In one of the farm areas, for example, there were 
121 householils in 1930. Ten years later only 68 of them (oo percent) were 
still there. Fifty-two of them had moved out and 1 was dissolved by death. 
But during the same time, H'i households moved into the area (the same num- 
ber as those moving out) and 20 of them were still there in 1940. The 1940 
population thus included 88 households, of which nearly one-fourth had moved 
in since 1930. More than three times as many households actually moved as 
would have been required to effect the net migration loss of 32 households. 
Similar movements were found in each of the survey areas. Although this 
continual turn-over of population is not new in the area, it is of great importance 
to the conduct of those activities which depend upon social bonds that ordinarily 
develop through a continued contact with neighbors. These communities faced 
at the same time the adjustments required by the departure of former resi- 
dents, as well as those involved in the absorption of newcomers. 

A study of farm-population mobility in sample areas in Montana indicated an 
increase "in these areas of 26 percent fi-om 1926 to 19.32, the year of peak 
population, and a decrease of 17 percent from 1926 to 19.37. The population of 
these area's, which included localities in western Montana having an influx 
of population, increased 5 percent for the entire period from 1926 to 1937. The 
years of greatest entrance of farm families were 1928 and 1929, witli the years 
of greatest exodus being 1936 and the first half of 1937. 

Studies of farm population movement in North Dakota for 1936-38 indicated 
considerable instability of farm residents for this period. An estimated .'')7.000 
persons moved from North Dakota farms during the 3-year period, with some 
4.'>,000 going to villages or cities in North Dakota and in other States, and 
12^000 moving to farms in other States. During the same 3-year period, an 



estimated 11, (MW persons moved to North Dakota farms. About 9,000 persons 
moved from villages and cities to farms in the State and L',OOU came from 
farms in other States. 



Information as to direction of recent nii^ratioii is based on infinunation from 
particular studi(>s. 

rreliniinary data from the study of poitvdation migration in four areas of the 
Northern Great Plains indicated that migrations to the west coast, are a .small 
part of the total migration from these areas. Although a liigli degree of mobility 
was characteristic, most of the migrants came from or went to nearby arenas. 
However, migrants to the West Coast States were nuich ni(»ie common than 
migrants from those States. 

Almost 70 percent of all households and single persons who moved out of 
the survey areas (townships) between 19H0 and 194(1, went to some other place 
within the same State, and approximately 30 percent of the total remained within 
the same county. Among those w^ho went outside their own State, one-half went 
to the I'aciflc Coast States (California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho). Mi- 
grants from these areas to the Pacific coast preferred the Northwestern States, 
which received two and one-half times as many of them as did Calif«jrnia. ^Nlost 
of the others were scattered through the Midwestern States — the Southern and 
Northeastern States receiving virtually none of the migrants. 

Migration to the Pacific ("oast States was most freipient during the years 
193-1-37, wiien the total number of migrants away from the survey areas was 
greatest. More than two-thirds of the households and single persons moving to 
the Pacific Coast States left during the 4 years, 1934-37. Following 1937 there 
were declines both in the total out-movement and in the propoi'tion going to the 
Pacific Coast States. 

Migrants who left the survey area, but remained within the same State, 
tend to travel relatively short distances, frequently remaining in the same county 
or in nearby counties. The migrants from the village were somewhat more 
widely scattered throughout the State than those Avho moved from farm areas. 

The exchange of population in the surveyed area indicates a shift from east 
to west, particularly among those who cross State lines. The migrants from 
the Pacific Coast States were only one-fourth as luinierous as those moving to 
those States, but the States east of the Northern Great Plains contributed half 
as many migrants to the survey areas as they received from them. No evidence 
of any considerable return movement on the part of persons who had previously 
left the survey areas was found. 

The major soui'ce of migrants to the survey area was nearby territory. Nearly 
9 out of every 10 households and single persons who moved into these areas 
came from within the same States, with the same county contributing slightly 
more than half of that total. 

Farm operators who left farms in the surveyed areas were more frequently 
replaced by farmers from nearby areas : nearly three-fourths of the "new farmers" 
came from within the same county. :\Iost of them were young men, less than 
35 years of age in 1940, and more than half of them had not had previous 
experience as farm operators. 

Households moving into the farm areas appear to have been so)newhat larger 
than those leaving these same areas. The out-migrant households more fre- 
(luently consisted of 2 persons than of any other number, but among the in- 
migrants, 4-ijerson households were more numerous. However, the larger house- 
holds, those consisting of o or more persons, were no more fretpient among 
the in- or out-migrants than among those who remained in the survey area 
throughout the decade. The average size of households moving away from the 
farm areas and those who lived continuously in the area were 3.7 and 3.S 
persons, respectively ; whereas, the average si/e of the households moving to these 
same areas was 4.1 persons. 

Those individuals who were farm owners throughout the period were less 
mobile than the others in the sense that they were more likely to have lived on 
the same farm and that they were less likely to be among the migrants. Those 


who inipiovtMl their tenure status dnriiiR the period also were less freciuent 
among the inif^n-ants. Tenants who retained their tenure status throughout the 
period were ahout equally represented anions the misrants and noiunifirants, 
but loss of farm ownership delinitely appears to have been a factor leading to 
migration away. 

Information from the farm-population study in Montana for the years 19'i()-.-5( 
showed that of the 817 households moving out of the survey areas from 1026-3f>. 
74 percent moved to otlier parts of :\Iontana, 18 percent to Western States, 9 
percent east, and the remainder moved southward or to Canada. 

A study of farm-popula.tion changes in North Dakota during 1936 and 1987 
showed tiiat over one-half of the persons moving from farms went to a place in 
the same county and about two-thirds remained in the State. One-third of 
the migrants went to other States. The Pacific Coast States were the favorite 
destination of those who went outside North Dakota. Washington, Oregon, and 
California received more than half of the farm migrants from North Dakota. 
Over one-third of the out-of-State migrants moved to the neighbcn-ing States 
of :\linnesota. South Dakota, and Montana. Atxmt 40 percent of all the farm 
migrants moving to some other place within North Dakota went to villages or 
cities within the State. 

Sample surveys of farm-population movement in South Dakota during 1937 
and 1938 indicated that 42.9 percent of the out-of-State migrants went to adjoin- 
ing States : 42.7 percent to We;,tern StiUes including California, Oregon, Wash- 
ington, Idaho, and Colorado; 10.7 percent to the east: and 3.7 percent moved to 
Suutherii States. During the 2 years, Minnesota received more of the migrants 
than any other State, with other leading States of destination being California, 
Oregon. Washington, and Iowa. 

Indications are that recent migrations from the Northern Great Plains to the 
Pacific Coast States as well as to other States are particularly significant in 
regard to the economic status and prospects of the migrants. The volume of 
migration had apparently been large for several years before 1930. The recent 
migrants are characterized by a lack of ready capital for self-support and invest- 
ment in new undertakings. The migrant farm opei-ator or farm youth expe- 
rienced in grain- and livestock-farming practices of the plains is poorly adapted 
to seasonal labor in specialty crops to which labor market he is often forced 
because of his lack of capital, skill, and opportunity to undertake a more perma- 
nent occupation. 

Studies indicate that the choice of a destination is often an unplanned matter. 
Better guidance of migrants is greatly needed if the adjustment of man and 
resources is to be attained. 


There are very significant differentials in natural increase of the population 
in the five States according to residence. At the death rate generally prevailing 
in the rural population of the entire Nation in 1980, 440 children per 1,01)0 women 
suflice to replace the present population. In areas where the number of children 
under 5 years of age is fewer than 440 per l.OOO rural women 20-44 years of 
age, the rural population will not permanently replace itself. In areas where 
the' number of children under 5 years of age is as high as 5.30 per 1,000 women 
20-44 years of age, a 25-perceni surplus of children above actual replacement 
needs is being produced, and so on. 

The ratio of children to women in the farm population was 65 percent in 
excess of replacement in the Northern Great Plains in 19m The ratio is less 
in villages and cities, but even in case of both of these groups in the Northern 
Plains it is well above a replacement rate. 

The ratio for the total population was some 28 percent in excess of a replace- 
ment rate. 

It would appear that in considering a desirable adjustment between people 
and the agricultural resources in the Great Plains extensive migration to other 
areas of economic opportunity must be provided for offsetting the considerable 
natural increase above replacement needs in the region. Opportunities in urban 
areas for rural youth, highly dependent upon equality of educational training 
for the rural young people, is apparently a necessity to keep from intensifying 
the present disparitv in economic levels of living between rural and city areas. 

260370— 40— pt. 4- 


inti^:rstate migration 


A study of harvest labor in North Dakota and Kansas reveals clear-cut dif- 
ferences between tliese two States in both stability and extent of demand for 
regular hired hell) or farm wage workers. In Kansas the demand for this labor 
was relatively small and highly stable. In North Dakota, on the other hand, a 
much larger demand, which fluctuated widely from season to season, was in 
evidence. It is probable that these differences largely result from the greater 
mechanization of Kansas farm operations and tlie consequent increased labor 
capacity and elliciency of the ojM^rators themselves, but the slightly greater diver- 
sification on farms covered by this study in North Dakota may have been par- 
tially responsible. In both States the employment of farm wage workers is 
ar a low level. The greater jH'rcentage of farms in North Dakota having such 
unpaid family labor is probably due in part to the higher natural increase in 
that State as compared with Kansas. This also shows a piling up of youth on 
farms — not unemployed but underemployed. 

The wheat-harvest i>eriod has been the time of heavy employment of all avail- 
able local labor, and of considerable migrant or transient labor. It has been 
estimated tliat a minimum of 100,000 transient laborers were used in the wheat 
harvest in the 19li0's. Need for this transient labor in the wheat harvest has 
rapidly diminished with the increased development and application of efficient 
mechanical devices. This process of mechanizing the wheat harvest, as typified 
by the use of the grain combine, is at a more highly developed stage in central 
and western Kansas than in North Dakota. About 90 percent of the wheat 
acreage in Kansas was "combined," while only some 25 percent of the North 
Dakota wheat acreage was combined in 1938. It has been estimated that about 
25,000 transient laborers obtained work in the North Dakota wheat harvest in 
1938. It is probable, however, that even with 50 percent elticiency in the dis- 
tribution of available labor within the States, there woiUd be no harvest work 
for any transient laborers. This is the situation in North Dakota, the leading 
spring-wheat State, where mechanization, as represented by the combine, was 
at only a 25-percent stage of development in 1938. 

At present the labor supply for the wheat harvest stands in an inverse rela- 
tionship to the small demand. All available evidence points to a further exag- 
geration in the future of this already significant unbalance. It is estimated 
that there were three men for every job open in the grain harvest of North 
Dakota in 1938, beyond the supply of resident farm labor and local labor. 

A decreased dependence on urban areas for the wheat-harvest labor supply has 
been noted. In 1924, a little more than one-half of the hired harvest laborers in 
the Midwest Wheat Belt were farm reared. Nearly three-fourths of all hired 
farm labor, and even two-thirds of the transients, in the North Dakota wheat 
harvest in 1938 were farm reared.^ More than one-third of the transients inter- 
viewed came from Minnesota, and one in seven came from Wisconsin homes. 

Information concerning the age of the laborer indicates that youthfulness is a 
characteristic of the harvest worker". Half of all hired laborers were 25 years 
old or under, and nearly half of the transients were under 25 years of age. 

The economic status of the laborers in the 1938 grain harvest in North 
Dakota was ascertained in terms of possession of a bank account, life insurance, 
or property ownership. Only about 1 in every 20 had any bank account, ami 
only about one-sixth of the laborers carried any life insurance. Less than 5 
percent of all the hired harvest hands owned any farm property, and less than 
2 percent owned any real estate other than farm property. 

Earnings of harvest laborers are rather low as shown by reports from 322 
transient laborers. All had had grain-harvest work in some State in 1938. They 
were leaving Nortli Dakota when interviewed, and there was little possibility 
of their obtaining other grain-harvest work that year. The average amount 
earned was $45, covering an average period of 17 days worked. These 322 
transients reported a loss of some 14 days between harvest jobs and about 4',^ 
days without pay while on jobs of the harvest. The actual costs incurred by 
these laborers between jobs after they had come to North Dakota, for meals and 
for other living expenses, amoiuited to $14. Their net earnings between the time 
they were first employed at any job and their last job in the small-grain harvest 

^ See map oi)posite. 



^•••^ • / • '• • • [•-^•*^^»^^ 

• e 

• •; 



• • 

y^ /. Homa States oi Tr< 

/ If' Labortrs in North Dakota 

Wheal HoTveirt. 1938 

►•••i* • • 

W\ • ••/■ \r^-H 














Colo I ado 
New York 








New Meuco 


North Carolina 

South Carolina 

New Jersey 




Mo me 

OGW nain^^iiiic 
Rhode Island | 


•J60370— 41— pt. 4 (Face p. 1390) 

• '^f .^^ 


^ * 


. •; 

^130 .ZV 


amounted to some $31. This still doesn't provide for the costs of the laborer for 
travel between States or for returnins to his home or goinj? to other employment. 
Of more than 200 hired harvest hands interviewed, none had net earnings of as 
much as $100. while the average net earning was well under $30. 

The harvest laborers, whether unpaid family workers, regular hired laborers, 
local workers, or transient laborers, are apparently alike in having the following 
characteristics: Low average earning power, a lack of financial status, and a lack 
of security. 



Mr. Parsons. You have made some very fine studies of the in io rant 
problem from the agricuUural standpoint. From your studies, what 
have you found are the recent trends in population in the Northern 
Great Plains region? 

Mr. Hay. The preliminary releases from the Census indicate that 
for Wyominor, Nebraska, and the two Dakotas, there is a net decline 
of some 132,000 between 1930 and 1940. 

Mr. Parsons. And that is from the purely agricultural sections, 
not from the towns and cities? 

Mr. Hay. That is total population. The farm figiu-es haven't been 
released as yet. 

Chairman Tolan. You mean it hasn't been broken down ? 
Mr. Hay. It hasn't been released as yet, the broken down data 
by farm and nonfarm. 

Mr. Parsons. "VMiat, in your opinion, has been the effect of the 
predominance of agriculture in the population distribution and 
movement ? 

Mr. Hay. The settlement of the Northern Great Plains was largely 
four families to the section. And that, from the beginning, has 
made for sparse settlement. The towns and villages and even the 
cities in the region are generally service stations to agriculture, and 
are also sparsely distributed. 

Mr. Parsons. What is the relation between the natural increase 
and population movement? And is this natural increase in the 
Great Plains region large or small in comparison to the country as 
a whole? 

Mr. Hay. The natural over this region of births over 
deaths, for the farm population of the region, which is the important 
factor, is about 65 percent above replacement, and that has, of course, 
tended to make for movement. In comparison to the national figure, 
that is higher than the natural increase of the farm population in 
the Nation. 

Mr. Parsons. There has been a larger increase in the farm popu- 
lation than there has been in the cities, but it has moved on some- 
Avhere else, so it makes the i)icture show even more to the disadvan- 
tage of agriculture than it would naturally appear upon first study 
of the population figures? 
Mr. Hay. Very decidedly. 

Mr. Parsons. What effect has the natural increase of the Northern 
Great Plains en the popidation pressure in those areas — a tendency 
to move them on ? 


Mr. Hay. Yes. TIum-o have Ikhmi indications that tlio y<mth. who 
lost their outlets in iiuhistrial ('nii)loynu>nl, liave Ixhmi ))ilin<>; u[) on 
the land, and some tendencv for the out^val•d niovcment to })e lar<rer 
in terms of families. 

Mr. 1*ARS0NS. When the committee held its Chic'a*2:o hearing, we 
were investi<;atin<>" three types of mijiii-ation : One was from the farm 
to industrial areas seeking employment at higher wages; one was the 
migration of the destitute individual seeking relief; and third was 
the natui-al trend and increase in ])opulation in Chicago. But we 
found that, there were only a few thousands inci-ease in that great 
metropolitan area of over H.OOO.OOO. We didn't find the migration of 
the workers through the Corn Belt and the wheat belt as we expected 
to find it. I understand we used to have a lot of Avorkers moving out 
of the middlewestern states, following the harvest in the Kansas 
wheat fields and Nebraska here, putting out the corn crop in the 
spring, going north till the harvest of wheat came along, working 
up in the Dakotas in the wheat threshing and then back through 
Nebraska, for corn husking, moving back south. You used to have 
that movement, didn't you? 

Mr. Hay. Very definitely. 

Mr. Parsons. And they were not destitute workers. They were 
supporting themselves and getting fairly good wages, as farm wages 
go. Can you tell the committee Avhat has happened to that old 
principle since you have had the drought here in this Great Plains 
area ? 

Mr. Hay. Well, there still are many people who come in for the 
wheat harvest — different laborers. In 1938, based on the study of 
harvest labor in North Dakota, we estimated that about 25,000 tran- 
sient laborers came in from outside, to North Dakota, looking for 
work. We also found that after the local labor had picked up jobs 
available, there were about three transient laborers available for 
every job. 

Mr. Parsons. How do you account for that ? 

Mr. Hay. An oversupply of labor for the work available. 


Mr. Parsons. '\'\niat has machinery displacing farm labor on the 
farm had to do with creating this unemployment pi'oblem or creat- 
ing the surplus of farm labor ? What can you tell the committee in 
regard to that? 

Mr. Hay. I believe it operates in two ways. It is definitely a 
factor in making for movement from the farms to the villages and 
toAvns, building up a surplus of available labor there. Then, too, 
on the farms the machine cuts doAvn the man-hours and makes for 
the underemployment of the farm laborers available. 

Mr. Parsons. What is the average price of the farm labor in the 
Avheat harvest in the Dakota wheat fields? 

Mr. Hay. Well, based on this 1938 survey, we found it ranged 
from under $2 up to about $3.50. 

Mr. Parsons. Three and a half dollars a day? 

Mr. Hay. Yes. 


Mr. Parsons. Ts that al:>out a 10- or l:>-liour day? 

Mr. Hay. We found them still working; lono; hours — 10 or more. 

Mr. Parsons. Still from sunup to sundown, as we used to do in 
the wheat fields of Illinois. But 25 or 30 years ao:o you had the 
Avheat cut with the old binder. It was sliocked in the fields. It took 
hd)or to cut it : it took labor to sliock it. It was hauled to the ma- 
chine, and anywhere from 8 or 9 to 15 or 20 emj)l()yees were around 
the machine, puttinii- it throujxh. ])rocessin<j: it, and takin<r it away. 
Now the indivicUial farmer has his own t-ombine that 1 or 2, or not 
more than 3 })eople <i;o alon^: throujjth the fields, it is cut, threshed, 
and taken away. That has cut down the amount of farm labor 
needed for the harvest of wheat. Not so nuich has been taken away 
in the harvest of corn in j^roportion. But hasn't that created a jireat 
un('mi)loyment problem for labor on the farm, in the Great Plains 
area ? 

Mr. Hay. Very definitely. I would like to add one further word, 
that accordino- to our data, the mechanization of the wheat harvest 
in North Dakota has, as measured by the part played by the com- 
bine, reached only about a 25-percent development stage, according 
to what we found in 1938; in other words, there is a great opportu- 
nity to increase the use of the machine there further. 

Mr. Parsons. That means further displacement? 

Mr. Hay. Further displacement of labor. 

Mr. Parsons. Twenty-five or 30 years ago, or before" the days of 
the tractor, you had been using liorses and nuiles, both in the wheat 
and corn belt, in the States of the South, in the cotton fields. That 
.stock tended to eat up the surplus of grains for their keep. Today 
the farmer is having to raise cash crops and sell the surplus on the 
market, in order to obtain oil and gasoline, and still more labor 
displacement machinery. Hasn't that created some of our large farm 
labor surplus we have had in the last few years despite the drought 
conditions here and elsewhere ? 

Mr. Hay. Yes. It doubtless has. The farmer has been forced 
into adopting machine practices because of the apparent greater 
savings in the cost of production. 

Mr. Parsons. Has the manufacture of these new labor-displacing 
macliines employed as many people in the manufacture of them as 
they have displaced, do you think? 

Mr. Hay. That is a moot question. In my own opinion, no. And 
the further factor that displacement has not made it possible for 
the displaced labor, lacking technical ability, to get the jobs in the 
manufacture of those machines: the displaced man is very seldom the 
man to pick up that job in the factory. 

Mr. Parsons. I think you are correct. However, when you begin 
talking about calling a holiday for machinery, almost everybody 
says you are trying to fight progress. It is my thought that if we 
had put in as nuich time trying to call a holiday upon labor-displacing 
machinery, not only in the fields })ut in the mills and the factories, 
as Hugh Johnson put in on codes under the N. R. A., that we would 
probably have had a couple of millions of these ]ieople back to work, 
down in the wheat fields, corn fields, mills, and factories. And there 


are a lot of new inventions already patented that would displace 
still more thousands and thousands of workers, that are being with- 
held from going on the market because it hasn't be<>n necessai-y to 
do it yet. There are many of our maimfacturing concerns that have 
those patents for further displacing labor. 

What suggestions do you have to make to this committee upon 
how we can help in this pi'oblem of migration? We can't force any 
larger rainfall, that is true. We might aid and assist in some fur- 
ther irrigation projects, if they are feasible in the long run. But 
what can this connnittee do. what suggestions do you have to make, 
that will aid us in the solution of this migrant farm problem? 



Mr. Hay. That would be again in the field of opinion. Following 
up the lead you just discussed — I believe other people who will testify 
will point out some social inventions that will help to make for better 
use of these mechanical inventions, such things as partnership use of 
machinery, where the small operator, working along with his neigh- 
bor, is able to get the advantage of the large machine and still not dis- 
place his labor. In considering this problem of migration in the north- 
em Great Plains one must take into consideration this large natural 
increase, assumed to be about 65 percent over the number necessary 
for replacement each year. This forces one to think in terms of other 
areas or of a considerable development of other employment within 
this region. 


Mr. Parsons. And what opportunity is there for any other type 
of employment within the region ? 

Mr. Hay. Recent years and present development don't point out any 
outstanding ojiportunities. There are opportunities in stabilizing 
agriculture, tlie various programs that are being carried on, the de- 
velopment of more irrigation. I think that, also, we might point out 
that this movement out of the area isn't the only important thing. 
The continual shifting within the region involves a terrific social 
cost — social and economic cost — to the people, 

Mr. Parsons. Congressman Curtis this morning commented upon 
the removal of one out of four people. Now, we are not only con- 
cerned — this committee and the American public — about the one that 
is on the move but of the serious condition of the three left there. 
Now, as the chairman has stated repeatedly, we have appropriated 
millions, even billions, of dollars to handle interstate commerce in 
coal, steel, iron, textiles, and other goods, but we have never appropri- 
ated a dime until now to study the interstate connnerce of hmnan 
individuals. And that is what we are doing now. It is a big prob- 
lem. There are about a million farm families on the move. We have 
found a lot of migration of agricultural workers that are self-support- 
ing, and we don't want to change that at all. They have been needed 


in the, past and they are needed now more than ever before. The 
Dakotas and Great Plains could never have reaped their wheat in the 
old days if we hadn't had the nii<»:ration of self-supporting farm labor. 
They were migrants; wq never th()u<2:ht of them as such, but they were. 
But we are findin*!; more on the road that are hopin*;, as our witnesses 
have indicated today, and as we have hoard just scores of them at 
other places, that the work is better down at this town or over at this 
turnpike or out in this valley, and so they pull up their stakes and 
start crossing the State lines. Now, I think we ought to ke^ep them 
anchored at home as much as possible, but we know that people are 
not going to sit down and starve to death. They are going to move 
if the}' think they can improve their condition. And that is why your 
grandparents and mine moved off the Atlantic seaboard and moved 
west and Avest and west until we reached the end of the frontier. If 
we had still more land to settle, as we had up until the last 10 years, 
we would solve this problem, because people would pull stakes and 
go to the new lands; but we have reached the end of the frontier. We 
are either going to create artificial frontiers or go back to the old 
horse-and-buggy days. 

Now. what suggestions do you have to make to this committee as 
to how we can help in this problem? 


Mr. Hay. I think, first of all, the fact that you are having this hear- 
ing, pointing out that there is such a problem, is an important begin- 
ning. I think it is necessary that we think in terms of guidance for 
the people in a particular area, where it seems, for goocl adjustment, 
there are more people than that area can support. And it is guidance 
that we need — something now in existence, but better support of it, 
probably, recognizing the problem. And then thinking of our boys 
and girls growing up and going into other parts of the country, we 
are going to have to think of their education, where they can meet 
conditions on an equal basis in bigger places, such as Chicago and 
New York. 

Mr. Parsons. But one-quarter to one-third of these 4,000,000 people 
who are on the road are children. Of course, this has appeared in a 
big way only since we have had modern transportation facilities, high- 
ways and ciieap automobiles. The big problem has developed in the 
last decade. It is becoming larger in numbers and more serious as the 
years go by, but we are finding that these childi-en in the fields and 
tlie dairy farms can really earn money for the family, more money than 
the grown-ups, the parents in the family, and they are used in these 
trips for that purpose. They are getting no education except ex]>eri- 
ence, if they are out in the wide-open spaces, and it is going to present 
a great illiteracy problem to us by and by. We can't limit all migra- 
tion, and we wouldn't want to, but something must be done, you agree, 
by the Federal Government to aid and assist the States in this problem. 
Do you have any further suggestions to make as to how we might 
help in this problem? 



Mr. Hay. The statoment tliat lias already been presented of think- 
mg in terms of stabilizin<i: the people in their home area, I think, is 
well worth keeping- in mind. That may necessitate examination of 
the size of nnit that is needed to snpport a family, and of pointing 
some of onr developments more toward the family-sized farm. 

Mv. Parsons. Now, there are two scliools of thou<>ht that we have 
heard advanced since we have been out on this inVesti<ration. One is 
to continue to keep i»ivin<2; these people loans on whatever they have 
|)lanted, so much acreaoe in corn ancl so nnich in forage, or whatever 
it is, thereby placintr them deeper and deeper in debt in order that 
then they might hold all their foundation stock or their livestock that 
they have at the present time. If they were assured that the next 
year and the next year the rainfall w^as going to be better and better, 
he might come out from under it, but we are not hel])ing the farmer 
when we load him up with debt, with the drought condition con- 
tinuing year after year as it is in Nebraska. Isn't it better for him 
to transfer his operations from grain ci'ops to forage crops, to try to 
limit the raising of so much cash grain crops; isn't it better to try to 
encourage the use of irrigated gardens, rather than to place him 
deeper and deeper in debt ? 

Mr. Hay. Very definitely. There may be a time— granted it is a 
transition period — when, in trying to help that individual, in this 
area or elsewhere, the expenditure of public funds is justified, to keep 
body and soul together. 

Mr. Parsons. That is being done through the Farm Security Ad- 
ministration. They are doing a good job of that in Nebraska. 

Mr. Hay. Very definitely. In the entire region, in my opinion. 

Mr. Parsons, Then if the Federal Government is going to come 
along and loan the farmer so many bushels of corn or so many bushels 
of other grains and so many tons of fodder to help carry his stock 
through — that is only going to load him up with debt. It would be 
better if he got rid of some of this stock and put his land back to forage 
that will be more drought resisting and give him a larger yield than 
it is to put it all into grains, and work out an economic program there 
that will be helpful to him not only this year but in the years to come, 
if drouglit is still here, rather than to load him up with debt, which 
will finally take his farm and his stock and he will have nothing left. 
It naturally appeals to the farmer to offer him all these things, unless 
he is a sound economic thinker ; then he might think tlie thing through, 
and see that he is going to be worse off in the end by accepting these 
things, even if they are tendered to him. 

Mr. Hay. There are probably more and more farmers who would 
su])})()rt that statement than 10 years ago, 

Mr, Parsons. There is no doubt about that. I have been very 
greatly impressed — and I don't think I have seen the worst areas by 
any means — with the determination and fortitude of the farmers 
here in Nebraska. I was just thinking, comparing that with some of 
the farmers down in my part of the country, in the Ozarks, where we 
have some 40 to GO inches of rainfall annual] v. Now, these bovs, if 


tlu'V Mere ])iuk in Illinois, with this much rainfall, if they've fjot the 
(Icterniiniition and fortitude they have here, with 7 years of drought 
in a row. how liappy they would be back in Illinois, with all the rain- 
fall we have there. 

Tliank yon vei-y mncli. 

Chairman Tolax. Thank yon, Mr. Hay. You liave presented a 
very line statemiiivt,. 


Mr, Parsons. State your name and address and 3'our business to the 
reporter here, for the record, please. 

Mr. Cook. Frederic H. Cook, Albion. Nebr, 

]Mr. Parsons. Where were you born, Mr. Cook ? 

]Mr, Cook. Right in there, about 3 or 4 miles from Albion. 

^Ir, Parsons. You have lived there most of your life? 

^Ir. Cook. I have been there — you might say, altogether I have 
13robably been away from there 2 years. 

Mr. Parsons. What was the occupation of your father? 

Mr, Cook. Farmer, 

^Ir. Parsons. You were born on the farm? 

;Mr. Cook. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. Are you married? 

Mr, Cook. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. How many children do you have? 

Mr. Cook. Three. 

Mr. Parsons, All grown? 

Mr. Cook, Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. What are your children doing? Are they employed? 

Mr. Cook, Yes; one of them is at the present time not em])loyed, but 
he has got a job, he is just waiting until about October, until it starts. 
And the other two, they are both working in a filling station. 

Mr. Parsons, What are you doing at the present time? 

Mr. Cook. I am operating a filling station. 

Mv. Parsons. You have it leased, do you ? 

Mr. Cook. Yes. 

]Mr. Parsons. Or do you work for so much per day ? 

Mr. Cook. I have it leased ; I have had it about a year. 

Mr. Parsons. What did you do prior to that time? 

Mr. Cook. I have practically always been a farmer, up until about 
a year ago. 

'Mr. Parsons. Did you ever own a farm of 3'our own? 

Mr. Cook. I did. 

Mr. Parsons, How many acres? 

Mr. Cook. One hundred and sixt}'. 

Mr. Parsons. Just tell the committee and the audience, briefly, about 
how you came into ])ossession of that farm and what other lands you 
have owned and what your experience has been and what loans you 
iiave had against it and" how you lost it and where you migrated to, if 
you migrated — just verv briefly. 

Mr. Cook. Well, I had an 80, to start out with, that I got through 
my folks, and paid so much every year. Later on, when the folks 


wasn't no more. I acquired another 80. Well, I put up improvements, 
and I was back about 22 or 23 hundred doUars, and then when the 
droufjht hit us in 1934, that is where my trouble began. In 1924 we were 
hailed out, practically, the whole county. There would be a storm 
come up 1 day, plow a strip a mile or maybe two wide, just a strip, and 
then the next week another maybe would come, and it pretty well 
cleaned us out ; the following year after that we had a mighty good corn 
crop, though. 

Mr. Parsons. In 1935? 

Mr. Cook. In 1925 and in 1926 it just simply got too dry for us up 
there and we didn't get much of anything. In 1927 we had a good 
crop. In 1928 it got kind of dry and we didn't raise much of anything, 
but you take a man that is operating with a little livestock, you have 
to have a good deal of feed to keep things going, and I was not a live- 
stock farmer, but a grain farmer. 

Mr. Parsons. Did you grow forage crops, or did you expect to 
buy grain? 

Mr. Cook. I had 40 acres of alfalfa ; at that time we didn't need any 
forage crops. We would cut a little corn fodder to make it. If you 
have a field, take 10 acres of corn, good corn, and cut your fodder with 
the grain in it, I think it will make about as good roughage as 10 
acres of forage will; and in those days there wasn't such a terrible 

Mr. Parsons. I was up through Albion yesterday. 
Mr. Cook. And then in 1929 we had a pretty good crop, and after 
that until 1934 our crops tapered off. In 1930 we didn't get much; 
1931 we didn't get much; 1932 we didn't get much; 1933 we didn't get 
much ; and 1934 — that, of course, took everything. 

Mr. P.\RS0NS. Was that drought, or— you were not in this flood area 
in 1934 or 1935 were you ? 
Mr. Cook. 1934. 

Mr. Parsons. That was in the Republican Valley ? 
Mr. Cook. No ; there was an awful flood there in 1929 ; we had a 
13-inch rain there that just raised plenty of trouble with us. 

Mr. Parsons. Of course, the water ran off and still the soil didn't 
get much? 

Mr. Cook. It washed the ground bad, eroded it bad, but it didn t 
do no harm; it seemed like the crop came right on and kept right 

Mr. Parsons. But you kept going behind with your finances eveiy 
year from 1928 on? 

Mr. Cook. Well, from 1928 on. If I had quit in 1928 I could have 
invested that money in Government bonds; just sat down and done 
nothing and still have plenty. 

Mr. Parsons. You borrowed five thousand against the 160 acres? 
Mr. Cook. About $5,300, and a lot of that went for improvements. 
]VIr. Parsons. How much did you owe in 1928 when you say you 
could have quit out there? 

Mr. Cook. Well, I owed about $2,300. 

Mr. Parsons. From that day on you kept going deeper and deeper 
into debt? 


Mr. Cook. I kept jn^oiiifj deeper and deeper from that day on, and 
then in 1934, when that drought hit us, there was no feed to be gotten, 
you just had to buy what you could get, and we paid as high as $21 
for a load of oat straw. 

Mr. Parsons. Yes. 

Mr. Cook. $21 a ton, which is way more than straw ever has been 
worth or ever will be. AYell, then, after hay got w^ay up there and 
lots of the alfalfa was pretty risky to buy, because they'd water it to 
keep the leaves on, and watered it too heav3\ I have seen alfalfa that 
Avhen a man went to cut the wires on the bale you couldn't get it loose 
with a crowbar. 

Mr. Parsons. Frozen? 

Mr. Cook. Yes. They knew we had to have it, and they just pushed 
it off on us. 

Mr. Parsons. What year did j^ou finally throw up your hands? 

Mr. Cook. In 1936. In 1935 we had a pretty fair crop. I had 
14 stacks of hay there; I just kept waiting and waiting and waiting. 
Finally, we had a sale on the 26th day of August, and I had about 
8 or 9 tons of alfalfa hay and a hundred bushels of corn. 

Mr. Parsons. Did you sell out, or did the Land Bank take the farm? 

Mr. Cook. Not at that time. Before I did have my sale, I went 
up to Wheeler County — there's a lot of that sand-hill land you can 
go up and lease two or three sections for maybe a couple of hundred 
dollars. Me and another fellow went up there and thought if we 
could get hold of something like that we would take that and take 
our livestock up there and winter them and come back the next spring 
and take up right where we laid off there. 

Mr. Parsons. You tried it 1 year ? 

Mr. Cook. We was going to, but there was too many looking for 
stuff. Everything was practically leased, and if it wasn't it was just 
somebody that was holding us up, and more than it amounted to. I 
came home and said, "There is only one thing left, to have the sale." 
My son was working out at Denver. Colo., and we went out there. 

Mr. Parsons. You still kept the land here? 

Mr. Cook. Yes; I kept the land, didn't even settle up with the 
bank for the sale there. We went out there for a couple of weeks 
and then came home. 

Mr. Parsons. You didn't find any bonanza out in Colorado? 

Mr. Cook. Well. I could have got a job ]:)rovided I could have got 
started right away and stayed right there, but I had my other in- 
terests here to look into and my farm, so I knew there was no use in 
taking the job. So there was a fellow had some property in Prim- 
rose, Nebr., 5 acres, pretty well improved, a little acreage, so I took it. 
I traded my equity for it. 

Mr. Parsons. How much did you think it was worth, the 5 acres? 

Mr. Cook. I thought the 5 acres was worth about $3,000. 

Mr. Parsons. And it was free of encumbrance ? 

Mr. Cook. Free of encumbrance. 

Mr. Parsons. You traded your farm even u]) for that? 

Mr. Cook. I traded my equity for that. I figured there was no way 
out at all, and I figured I had better have something out of it, so I 


Iradod. After I luiulc^ tlio deal and we moved over to Pi-inirose and 
I lived there and farmed it. I could do some truck farmin<r and 
rent inore land down in the valley, but it was dry that year. We 
didn't raise nothino;, so I went out to Colorado and worked there 4 
weeks, threshin^j, and then came back. Then I went up in the hay 
fields and put up hay, and Avhen we ^ot done, wliy I went to Iowa 
and picked corn. 

Mr. Parsons. What kind of wao^es did you get in the harvest? 

Mr. Cook. Out there in Colorado avc got $2 a day, and we worked 
from daylight until dark. 

Mr. Parsons. And board? 

JNIr. Cook. Board ; yes. 

Mr. Parsons. Well, that is equivalent to probably an extra dollar a 
day, your board and room ? 

Mr. Cook. No room; we slept in barns, strawstacks, or wherever we 
could find a place wdiere the mosquitoes would not eat you alive. It 
would be, but on the other hand— it was entirely too long hours. 

Mr. Parsons. But you're in the filling station business now. What 
is your revenue per month operating this filling station ? 

Mr. Cook. Oh, that varies. There is some days we make good, and 
some days we don't make so good. 

Mr. Parsons. About how much do you make a month out of it ? 

Mr. Cook. About $30 a month. About that. 

Mr. Parsons. Have you ever applied for relief ? 

Mr. Cook. Never have. 

Mr, Parsons. You have never been on relief? 

JNIr. Cook. No, sir; I don't want any. 

Mr. Parsons. Never on W. P. A. ? 

Mr. Cook. No, sir; never have. 

Mr. Parsons. Have the relief agencies helped you indirectly? 

^Ir. Cook. What is the question, please? 

Mr. Parsons. Have the relief agencies helped you indirectly, do 
you think? 

Mr. Cook. Indirectly? 

Mr. Parsons. Yes. 

Mr. Cook. Yes ; in a way they have, in the line of business. For ex- 
ample, here's a man that drives to work on the W. P. A. He has to 
drive a car to work. I sell 5 gallons of gas, and there's 5 cents profit. 
You can't put it any way but that. It helps indirectly. 

Mr. Parsons. If he didn't have the money from relief, he wouldn't 
have the money to buy the gas ? 

:Mr. Cook. No. 

Mr. Parsons. How old are you ? 

Mr. Cook. Fifty-two. 

Mr. Parsons. Do you still want to go back to farming? 

Mr. Cook. Well, if I did I'd want to go on a small place, say 40 

Mr. Parsons. Have you got any of those 40's picked out, here in 
Nebraska any place? 

Mr. Cook. No; I wouldn't think of it at all. 

Mr. Parsons. Where would you go ( 


Mr. Cook. Back to Iowa. 

Mr. Parsons. Ever been in Iowa — farnuHl any there? 

Mr. Cook. Well, sir, in the first place tliere's different conditions 
existing under which to farm. If you own a 40-acre place there, yon 
have that homestead exemption law. 

JNIr. Parsons. What is that? 

Mr. Cook. That rechices your taxes, you see. And on the other 
liand. by rechicino- tlie taxes, it keeps the people riirht there on the land 
and prevents this farmino- on a big scale. Now. you take the differ- 
ence between Nebraska : 1 know ])arties that are farming 4, 5, 6. and 7 
quarters of land, and they are not farming it. They just go out there 
with their tractor and list their corn right in the ru^t, as we call it, 
and they'll sweep over it a little bit and they're finished. They just 
figure on the conservation check tliey get off this land; it is conditions 
such as that. Well, they'll rent another farm here and another farm 
there. The families that have Ywed on the farms, what are they to do 
but move to town, and they're not able to get in a little business of their 
own nor anything else. First thing you know, they're on W. P. A. 

Mr. Parsons. This is what you call 

Mr. Cook (interposing). Suitcase farming, as they call it out in the 

Mr. Parsons. And that is one individual that rents several farms? 

Mr. Cook. Yes; one in this neighborhood and another one in that 
neighlx)rhood and another one in some other neighborhood. And 
he'll live in town and go out and put his wheat in and wait until the 
liarvest comes, and run his combine over the wheat and rent it for an- 
other year if he can, and then he's got two crops and he'll rent another 
place. This is now going on in our corn and stock farming area. 

Mr. Parsons. Is that in Iowa or Nebraska ? 

Mr. Cook. Southwestern or western Nebraska, and up in there is 
what I am referring to — practically all of the western two-tliirds of 

Mr. Parsons. So you would really want to go back to Iowa i 

Mr. Cook. Either to Iowa or to northwestern Missouri, is where I 
would go if I went back on the farm. 

Mr. Parsons. Well, this experience is somewhat the general picture 
that we have from these men and families in the same class that you 
have described for us here. Thank you very much for coming before 
the conmiittee. 

Chairman Tolan. Mr. Cook, just one question. 

Mr. Cook. All right. 

Chairman Toi^vn. You and other witnesses this moi-ning have ])or- 
trayed before us A'ery bad conditions in the Kepultlican Valley in 
Nebraska. Have you any Democratic Valley in the State? 

Mr. Cook. Democratic Valley ? 

Chairman Tolan. No Democratic Vallev. Thank vou verv much, 
Mr. Cook. 

Mr. KRA:\r?:R. T should like to offer for the record at this point a 
letter from E. M. Pnookens. of Kimball, S. Dak. 

The letter referred to reads as follows : 


Kimball, S. Dak., September 5, 19.',0. 
Mr. A. Kramer. 

Dear Sir: Have boon reading about your coiumittee on migration. Now, I 
live in tlie middle of South Dakota, and I and my family try to make a living 
running a gas station on Highway No. 16, which can just bo done during the 
summer tourist season. 

Last winter we got in debt to the jobber all we dared to, and now we face 
another winter trying to find a job, all of which is nothing to you or anyone 
else that I can find, except tliis: If 1 was only a farmer, there would be several 
committees and expensive oi'ganizations breaking their necks to help me to 
stay here. 

How about the small businessman ever needing some help? Don't you know 
that some of us have suffered the same as the farmer with year after year of 
poor crops, and on top of that the teri-ible price cutting by the jobbers in the 
gas and oil business crowding the retailer out. What is a man to do anyway V 

I have tried twice to get a loan from the loan agency of the Reconstruction 
Finance Corporation of both Minneapolis and Sioux Falls. Have contacted 
the Mitchell Bank and tried to get a little help to plant 15 acres of land that goes 
with this filling station from the farm officials here, but can't do any of those 
things because I have a business and don't need it. Yes ; I have a business that 
in winter makes a wonderful profit selling about 35 gallons of gasoline a day at 
cut rates to trucks. What is to become of such as us? Just because a man isn't 
on relief he is not supposed to need anything. I am 55 years old, but not 65, so 
where I come in at I don't know, except that if I was a damn farmer I would 
get everything from free groceries and medical care for the whole family to 
seed feed and all other loans and privileges. Did you ever think of that? Well, 
it's time someone did. I also notice in this article in the Daily Republic, of 
Mitchell, S. Dak., which I enclose, that after worrying about the migrants, 
which I always thought was a family away from home, wandering from job to 
job, it finally gets back to helping the dear farmer stay on his land, where he is 
not and never was a migrant, but if any money is put out you bet they will get 
it, not the poor, hard-working, deserving devils who always did get along some 
way and are in the same stricken district, with no rain and plenty of grass- 
hoppers and beetles. 

Well, I don't suppose anyone will ever read this far, but I can't sleep anyhow, 
so I might as well bo writing, as it sort of eases a person's weary soul. 

Good-bye and good luck with the migrants, as I'll soon be one with my family 
of three. 

Yours truly, 

E. M. Brookens. 


Chairman Tolan. Mr. Willson. 

Mr. Parsons. Will you take a seat and ojive your name and address 
and title and whom you represent to the reporter for the record? 

Mr. Willson. E. A. Willson, executive director. Public AVelfiire 
Board of North Dakota, formerly research specialist in rural social 
organization. North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station, and 
representing Hon. John Moses, Governor of North Dakota. 

Mr. Parsons. We appreciate your coming here, Mr. Willson. 

Chairman Tolan. And, Mr. 'Willson, I wish at this time to ask 
that you be kind enough to convey the good wishes of this committee 
to Governor Moses for the way he is helping and assisting us. I am 
acquainted with him, and he is a very fine man, and you give him my 
very best wishes, will you ? 

Mr. Willson. Thank you. 


Chairman Tolan. Now, I want to say, Mr. Willson, not with any 
idea of cutting you short, but we have two more witnesses before 
the recess, and the committee has read your statement, and speakinfj 
for myself ah^ne. as chairman of this conunittee. I think it is one of 
the most vahiable statements that so far have been presented to this 

Mr. WiLLSox. Thank you. 

Chairman Tolan. And after all is said and done, it isn't what you 
say here so much as what we put in the record, because on the record 
we will make our recommendations to Congress. Now, I wish you 
would say anythino; you have to say to the committee, without read- 
ing the entire statement, any thought that you want to get over. 
The committee would be delighted to hear you. 

(The prepared statement mentioned is as follows:) 


1. Causes of Migration of Agkicultural Families and of Theib Inability to 
Establish Permanent Tenure on the Land 

The migration of agricultural families in North Dakota due to their inability 
to establish permanent teimre tirst came to the attention of public officials in 

1925 when the Federal agricultural census showed for the first time a consider- 
able decrease in the number of farms in the western part of the State. In 

1926 the North Dakota Experiment Station made a study designed primarily 
to determine the causes for this migration of farm, families. The results of 
this study were reported in the North Dakota Agricultural College Experiment 
Station Bulletin No. 221 under the title, "Rural Changes in Western North 
Dakota"' (see exhibit A^). This study showed that a very considerable propor- 
tion of the original homesteaders in western North Dakota had migrated out 
of the State or moved to town, either selling their claims to neighboring farmers 
or abandoning them. The principal reason why most of these settlers moved 
from the farm was because their imits were too small for economic operation. 

When most of western North Dakota was settled, the Federal land settle- 
ment laws limited the homesteader to the acquisition of IGO acres of land, a 
unit entirely inadequate to maintain a family in an area of light rainfall and 
where a very considerable proportion of the land is nontillable. When the rich 
Red River Valley was settled, the Federal settlement laws permitted the settler 
to acquire a homestead, a tree claim, and a pre-emption, a total of 4S0 acres. 
and some settlers acquired much larger aci-eages through the purchase of 
military land warrants or college scrip. When western North Dakota was set- 
tled, however, the tree-claim and pre-emption laws had been repealed and the 
enlarged Homestead Act of 1909, which permitted homesteading of 320 acres, 
had not yet been enacted. 

Prior to the depression beginning in 1920, the migration of settlers from 
western North Dakota caused little jjublic conc»'rn. It was a desirable evolution 
from the standpoint of a successful agricultural economy in western North 
Dakota in that it made iiossible an increase in the size of farms to an economic 
unit, and the land was getting into the hands of the best farmers. The people 
who moved from the area migrated to Canada or further west in the United 
States where they either secured land or employment. The adverse effects of 
this movement were felt principally by the business and professional people in 
the towns and villages or in the social institutions which had been built up, 

^ Accepted as an exhiliit and placed in the files of the committee. 



such as scliiKils. cluu'fhcs, etc. Busint'ss, professional, and social services in 
excess of the need had been established in most of tiie area when the country 
was honiesteaded. 

The normal readjustment which had taken place and which would eventually 
have resulted in satisfactory e<-onomic farminji units and a sound aj^ricultural 
econcmiy was inl«M-rupted by the depression of I'.lLJt). The unemployment which 
resulted from the dejjression made it impossible' for farmers, who were leaviuR the 
farms, and for the townspeojile, whose servii-es were uo lonjicr needed because 
of the reduced farm population, to find profitable I'mploymeiit. Some of these 
])eople nmved out of the State, but a very lar^e number were stranded in the 
towns and villages, and as they exhausted their resourtes were forced to seek 
l)ublic assistance. 

The drouth, {jrasshopper plaj-iUN and rust of the years 11).S8 to 1986, inclusive, 
accentuated the movement from farms in western North Dakota. Many farmers 
who had been able to stay on the land up to that time, thro\ish mortgasinsr their 
lands and chattels and refinancinsj; these moi'tsages with Federal ajiricultui-al 
credit agencies and through State and local feed and seed loans, were linally 
forced off the liuid and onto the relief rolls in town. A consi(ler;il)le number 
migrated out of the State, most of them going west. The migration of agricul- 
tural families frt)m the farms was furthei- accentuated in some areas by the 
Federal land-purchase program under the United States I)ei)artment of Agricul- 
ture, which was designed to take out of production land unsuited for cropping 
and convert It into grazing areas. 

During the past 2 years an entirely new and different type of migration of 
agricultural families from the farms has begun. This movement, which is grow- 
ing very rapidly, is most noticeable in the eastern and central areti.-; of North 
Dakota where heretofore there has been little if any serious migration from the 
farms. This movement is caused by farmers, mostly tenants, being tVn-ceil off 
the land by owner.s and large operators who are able to increase the size of their 
farm units very profitably because of the benefit payments of the Agricultural 
Adjustment Administration program. Well-to-do operators, some of whom live 
in town, are finding that it is exceedingly profitable to operate large units with 
a maximum of power and large machinery and a minimum of labor, due to the 
practical elimhiation of risk as a result of the Agricultural Adjustment Adminis- 
tration payments. If their crop is a failure, the Agricultural Adjustment Ad- 
ministration payments or crop insurance covers taxes or rent and the low 
operating costs. If they secure a good crop. th(>ir profits, including Agricultural 
Adjustment Administration payments, are enormous. Following are excerpts 
from letters and reports from some North Dakota county welfare boards giving 
example of migratory farm labor and stranded agricultural families: 
(Fictitious names are used throughout. Original reports on file at Public Welfare 
Board of North Dakota.) 

A well-to-do farmer in the Red River Valley, who lia< in the past operati'd 11 
quarter sections, increased his holdings to 21 quarter sections and forced 3 
families off from the land into town, where they are on relief. These families 
were unable to rent farms because of the keen competition for land on the part 
of the big operators hoping to benefit from the Agricultural Adjustment Ad- 
ministration program. 

In one county in the western part of the Stati'. 10 operators control 70 sections 
of land. 

* * ii * * * * 

Cass County Welfare Board. 
Fnrf;o, N. Dnk., Auf/ust 29, 19.',n. 
Mr. E. A. WiLLSoN. 

Executive Director. Pithlic Welfare Board, liismarek. X. Dak. 
Dear Mr. Willson : I am enclosing reports made on four families which we 
feel are typical of families in this locality who were left stranded from North 
Dakota farms and also left behind in the fall after the beet work is completed. 
I hesitate to put in the exact number of cases that we have of this type in the 
coiuity, but a very conservative and close estimate of this would be probably 
10 to 15 Mexican families who have gained residence in the county and will be 
relief charges indefinitely unless .some rehabilitation work is done with them. 


Tlu' miniber of families wlio liave been forced off tiie farms or liave never been 
able t(i set a start on a farm as tbey wonld desiro to do I would place at l)etter 
than 2<X>. These liW \\'ould represent cases that I would not hesitate at all in 
reconnnendinji as beinj; families who could be easily rehabilitated. Of course, 
we do have many more families that are less adaptable to rehabilitation who 
will undoubtedly be iK>rmanent burdens upon the Govennnent for a good share of 
their yearly maintenance. 

1 hope that these reiK)rts will be of some assistance to you, and if there is 
anything further or more specific that you want in regard to these cases or others 
please feel free to call upon ns for same. I am sorry that we did not have these 
reports in before. I was planning on getting the report to you the first part of 

Very truly yours, 

R. M. Parkins, 
Executive Secrefary, Cass County Welfare Board. 

trictirii'us names aro u.sed tliroughout. Original report on file at Public Welfare Board 

of North Dakota] 

F. Henry Broivn — Stranded farmer , * 

Name '_ • . , Date of birth 

Father: F. Henrv Brown tiLl__(iLt_r^:^:ii.l!_^'_:.___ February 28, 1890 

Mother: Mary — — 1 April 27, 1890 

Family : 

Laura June 1, 1919 

John December 1. 1920 

William December 24, 1923 

Carl June 12, 1925 

]Mr. Brown is spending every spare minute trying to locate a farm to rent. 
He then ijlans to make application for a standard loan at the Farm Security 
Administration office and really connnence to live again on a farm. You see, he 
only discontinued farming in November 1939, but 1 year on Work Projects Ad- 
ministration has convinced him that this continual struggle to pay rent, fuel, 
clothing, school expenses, and groceries foi* a family of six on !?4S a month is no 
joke. He is anxiously checking the amount of rainfall in various sections of 
this locality. He hopes to find a farm where he can reasonably expect a crop 
most .seasons. Seven crop failures in succession forced him off the farm a 
year ago. 

Mr. Brown farmed from 1914 through 1919. The first 8 years near Lisbon, 
and tlie balance on the home farm of 320 acres near Enderlin. He has always 
rented. When he planned to renew his contract in the fall of 1939 he found out 
he would have to mortgage every chattel he owned to pay rent f(n- corn, pasture 
land, and seed for the next year. That would mean he would be penniless if this 
years crop were also a failure. He preferred to have a sale and try to get work 
at the Armour packing plant in West Fargo. When he failed to secure employ- 
ment. Work Projects Administration was the only alternative. 

Now this farm year is history. There was no grain crop and very little feed 
I'aised on the fariii he left a year ago. In addition to drought and grasshopper 
infestation the Mormon crickets have made a good beginning. Tliat is why he 
feels he must find a safer locality to which to again start farming operations. 
He and his wife and family all want to get back on the farm, and their united 
interest and enthusiasm should make this possible. 

The two older children have given up trying to go on in high school, as they 
had planned. Laura fomul part-time work in a doctor's office for a few months 
and is now hoping to get work in a laundry in Fargo. John has earned as high 
as ."j;_'0 a month doing extra jobs in a filling station during the sunnner. He is 
anxious to help with stock on a farm in.stead of doing part-time work in a filling 

This family cannot begin again on a farm without a standard loan. They are 
pinning their" faith to the Farm Security Administration to give them a new start 

ill life. 

260:^70— 40— pt. 4- 



[Fictitious nnmoB :iro used tbrouftliout. Original report on file at I'lililic Welfarp Board 

of North Dakota | 

John Jolnhton — Stranded farmer 
Name Date of hiith 

Falhi'r: John Jcdiiisoii Aug. 18, 1885. 

Mothor: Anna Dalil June 20, UHH. 

Family : 

Henry Jan. 3(1 lUJl. 

Delores Jan. 8, Itm. 

Jean Dec. 15. 1930. 

Martha Jan. 11. 1032. 

Kov June 22, 1!>2S. 

Jack , July 25. i;i29. 

Edward May (5. 193:;. 

Howard Oct. 18. 1934. 

Richard , , Feb. 2. 1036. 

Dorothy Sept. 25. 10.38. 

John John.'^on and hi,'< family of 10 children are now living in a village of 
Horace. 15 miles southwest of Fargo. Mr. .lohn.son has been eniployefl on 
Work.^ Progress Administration since August 1938. He has worked regul.-nly, 
except for a few weeks during the harvest seasons, wlien the projects were 
closed because the men could find work on farms during that season. It is 
necessary to put in supplementation every month in order that this family may 
even exist. With 7 sons growing up the decided advantage of this family grow- 
ing up on a farm is very evident. 

Mr. Johnson's whole background has been rural. Ho was born near Christine, 
N. Dak., on a farm, finished the eighth grade in a rural school nearby. thcMi 
worked for bis father on the home farm until be was 26 years of age, when hv 
rented the home farm. Two years later he married, and 6 years later he pur- 
chased the home farm, which be operated until 1930, when he lost it. He then 
moved to Davenport, where he rented 200 acres of land on a 50-.50 basis, and 
• 'Iterated it until late in 1937, when they were f(>rced to have an auction s.-tle 
of their farm chattels. 

Early in 1934. feed and seed loans were needed, then resettlement granrs. cim- 
finement, and other medical care, and finally direct relief to supplem^Mlr fai'i!: 
labor. Works Progress Administration was the last resort. It was impossible 
to care for this large family on proceeds from farm labor. Who knows, that if 
the big drought bad not come up, this family might still be living on the farm 
near Christine. 

Mr. Johnson is an honest, indu.strious individual, still doing bis level besr m 
spite of discouraging difficulties. 

[Fictitious names are used tiiroiighout. Original report on fik' at I^uhlic Welfare Board of North Dakota 

Immediate family: Surname, Curairo. Address, Third Street South 

First names 

Date of birth 

Place of birth 

Man: Juan. 

Feb. 11.1899 
Dec. 4. 1918 

Mar. 0, 1937 
Jan. 1.5, 1939 
Apr. 12, 1940 




Marie ... 

North Dakota. 



Baby _ 


Relatives : Raymond Fernandez, brother of Mrs. C'urairo ; Martha Olson, 
mother of Mrs. Curairo. 

Employers: Seminole, Okla. ; Sabin, Minn.; Durbin, N. Dak. 


In December of 1935 Mr. and Mrs. t^irairo made application to this agency 
for assistance. They were residing on lowei- Front Street and had been in Fargo 


NiiH'p Octdlicr L'l, li^C}."). They had moved to this location wlien they came to town 
from work in the heet fields near Sahin, Minn. 

At that time Mr. Cnrairtt informed ns that he was horn February 11, 181)9, 
in Mexico. He had no education and could neither read nor write. He had left 
Mexico at the age of 15 and had settled in tlie State of Olclahoma. While there 
he met a Caucasian woman hy the name of Laura Fernandez and they were 
married November 1. li;:;i. in Wewoka, Okla. ( We have never been able to verify 
this marriage. I 

Mrs. Cnrairo's nioiher. Martha Olson, came to North Dakota and worked in 
the beet fields and came to Fai'go at the same time as the Curairo family. Mrs. 
Curairo reported that her father and niothei' had been separated for many years. 

The Curairos left Oklahoma in July liKSo in a litliS Dodge car. At the time 
they applied at this agency they reported they had burned out the bearing in 
iheir car s(t they had no way of getting back to Oklahoma. They had earned 
$!ts working in the beet fields, but most of this money had been used for living 
exi)ense.s and for a doctor for Mrs. Curairo. who had been ill. 

The residence of this family was verified as being in Seminole, Okla., and 
on March 11, l!i36, we received an authorization to return them at our expense, 
but when the family was contacted regarding tbeii' return they refused to leave 
Fargo as they had secured work in the beet fields and expected to leave B\irgo 
in April. 

On February 10, 1937, Mrs. Curairo applied to this agency for hospitalization 
as she expected to be confined. They had worked all summer in the beet fields 
and had returned to Fargo in November of 193H. When the worker discussed 
the advisability of the family returning to Oklahoma, Mrs. Curairo explained 
that they did not wish to do this as the possibility for employment was no 
better in Oklahoma in the winter than in Fargo and her health would not permit 
her to go at this time. However, the social service department in Wewoka 
Avas contacted by telegram regarding the authorization which they had given 
in March of llt3tj t(j return the family at our expense, but their reply indicated 
that the Curairo family had lost both county and State residence in Oklahoma 
and they refused to give authoi-ization for their return. 

This family has continued to work in the beet fields during the summer and 
in the late fall they moved to Fargo. Because Mr. Curairo has been unable to 
secure any employment it has been necessary to assist this family with groceries, 
rent, and clothing. 

Mr. Curairo was certified to Work Pro.ieets Adminifttratiou on February 19, 
1938. He worked during the winter months and was canceled from Work Proj- 
ects Administration on March 5, 1939, because he had not secured his citizenship 
papers. The worker spent a great deal of time with Mr. Curairo in an effort to 
have him obtain his citizenship papers. He made application for them at one 
time, but w^ien some blanks were sent to him for further information regarding 
his marriage and the birthplace of his wife, he failed to obtain this information 
and insisted that the worker in the courthouse did not want to permit him to 
become a citizen. The clerk of court as well as the worker in the welfare oflice 
attempted to verify Mrs. Curairo's birth date and their marriage, but were unable 
to do so. We felt that if Mr. Curairo could obtain his citizenship papers he could 
work on Work Pr(»jects Administration during the winter months when the money 
which he had earned in the beet fields was gone. Mr. Curairo usually earns from 
$ltiO to $150 from April to October or November. Every year since 1937 Mr. 
Curairo has used part of his money to purchase a car, insisting that if he is 
going to work in the beet fields he needs a car to transport his family and belong- 
ings. Last year he purchased a Ford pick-up, 1930 model. Through the Cred- 
itor's Protective Association we learned that he would not have to make a pay- 
ment until August 1940. when he would l>e expected to pay $105. After his work 
in the beet fields was completed he would be expected to make a second payment. 

This family is very undesirable. Mrs. Curairo usually has .several Mexican 
persons living in her home. She is not very well, being subject to epileptic- 
seizures. When she comes to the welfare ofii<-e she is very loiul and dictatorial. 
Mr (^urairo dislikes coming to the agency and insists that ids wife shimld come 
because «he understands evervthing so nnich better than he. He is a very meek, 
.submissive ^orl of person, and we believe that Mrs. Curairo feels that she can 
secure more adeipiate relief than her husband. However. ;ifter several years of 



work with this family we believe that they are becoming more cooperative with 

tlic ;iKt'iK\V. ! ■ ■ 

When the family pays $12 a month rent, tht'ir buUgpt usiiuHy amounts to about 
ijitJi.* a month. ;. ,,,),-, , ■ ■, .•} 

[Fictitious names aru usrd throughout. Original report on flic at Public Welfare Board 
of N'orth Dakota] 

Immediate family: Surname, Abasolo. Address, First Avenue South. 

First names 

Date of birth 

Place of birth 

Raymond ^..-,..---,.--.-— -. --. 

I'rsula -J.'I-'-.-i I'.-.I.. --'. 

Children: :•'< 1 i. >: , ■ ; ; ' ■; ■•■ [, 

faanV-'". :—,.... — ;::i" :..:..?] 'j-ii:.!" 

Jesse. - •-'- '-Ji-.-.-LLi. --•-.. '..-.-J. 

Natalial ,..,L..'..,,--j,-:.. : 

Kichard-- ..^ t--^ ^---- .--- 

Juan ---.- — 

Aug. 20, 1894 

Jan. 2, 1895 

June 22, 1918 

Dec. 16, 1919 

May 22, 1922 

Mar. 13. 1929 

June f). 1936 

July 23,1938 






Xorth Dakota. 


Others in household: Rose Hernandez, sister of Mrs. Al)asolo ; Dickie, son of 
Fanny Abasolo; Jack, son of Rose Hernandez; Martha Floris, daughter of Rose 
Hernandez ; Louise Pizzaro, friend of Mr. and Mrs. Abasolo ; Robert, son of 
Louise Pizza rro. 

Employers : Midland Creamery, Fargo. Rose Hernandez and Louise Pizzarro ; 
Fargo Forum, Fargo, Jack Abasolo. 

The Abasolo family were first known to this agency in November 1935, when 
Miss Ann McCarthy, supervisor of city nurses, reported that Rose Hernandez and 
her children, born out of wedlock, were in need of aid. 

When one of the workers called at the home she found 14 persons living in 
a little house on lower First Avenue South. Mr. Richard Abasolo, who was the 
head of the hou.sehold. reported tliat they had been in Fargo since N!)vember 1. 
They had been working in the beet fields near Amenia since the 1st of April. In 
addition to his own family and that of his sister-in-law, Hernandez, Louise 
Pizzarro. a widow, and her son, Robert, were also occupjnng the small house. 
Rose Hernandez stated that she had made her home with the Abasolos prac- 
tically all her life. She had never been married although she had tried to 
persuade the fathers of her children to marry her. bnt they had disapi)eared. 
She wore a wedding ring, believing it looked more respectable. Miss Her- 
nandez was the spokesman during the interview and w'heilever it is necessary for 
any member of the family to come to the agency she always accompanies this 
IK'rson as she speaks English very well and acts as an interpreter. 

Mrs. Pizzarro has spent most of the time since the death of her husband, 
about ."> years ago, living with her friends. She informed us that women 
could not make a living by themselves as the beet contracts were gi\-en to men. 
Mr. Abasolo would get a contract and then she and Rose Hernandez would work 
for him. 

These families have lived in various places from Mexico to Fargo, and since 
leaving Mexico in 1910 they have followed the beet industry. They came to 
Minnesota in 1925 and located at Ada. Later the families moved to Ceorge- 
town, Minn., and the older children attended school there. In the winter of 
19,35 they decided to come to Fargo because Mrs. Pizzarro bs'lieved they could 
obtain work in one of the creameries. The family was Catholic. biU the Fargo 
Union Mission ha<l been kind enough to give the children bread and milk so 
the children had been attending church there. 

Mr. Abasolo stated that if these two women in his household covdd get ar;- 
sistance he would get along for the present time. He had had an unfortunate 
experience this year because the farmer at Amenia had been unable to pay them 
for their work except by giving them potatoes. Since coming to Fargo they 
had had practically nothing but potatoes all month. ]Mr. Abasolo owned a 


Chevrolet truck but he insisted tliat lie could not sell it because he would have 
no way of getting his family out to the beet fields in the spring. 

When the worker talked with the family about retmiiing to C5e<irgetowB, 
Minn., where they had resided for the past 4 years, they were rather reluctant 
ill agreeing that they should go as the children of that town teased their children 
and made life very miserable for them, (vdling them dirty Negroes, etc. They 
finally agreed that they could contact the Clay County authorities ;ind ask 
permis.-sion to live in Moorhead. However, the workers of <;iay County welfare 
(itiice refused to grant this recpiest, saying that the hduse in which tlu'v had lived 
in Georgetown was still vacant and they coidd return there. This family was 
assisted with an emergency order and with occasional help given by the Fargo 
Union Mission and the small amount of mon«'y earned by the AltQsolo boy. who 
."^cild the Fargo Forum on the streets. They managed without other assistance 
and in the spring they returned to their work in the beet fields. 

In the spring of 108(j Miss Hernandez contacted this agency again and when 
she understood that an attempt would be made to have the family return to 
Minnesota, she stated that the family did not care to return to Georgetown as she had stated once before, they ditl not have the good will of any 
of the people living there. She .stated that rather than return they would get 
along as perhaps the work in the beet fields would be better this summer and 
they might earn enough money to carry them through the winter. 

This family did not contact the agency again until in January of 1938 and 
after contacting the Clay County welfare office it was agreed that any a.ssistahce 
these families might need would be given by the Cass County Welfare Board. 

This family, like all other Mexican families, always have a number of hangers- 
on. They would explain tliat Mr. So-and-so was just staying for a night or 
two until he coidd secure a place to live or find n job. The house always seemed 
to be overflowiug with Mexican people and frccpiently white men would be 
visiting or living in the home. The women in the household did not .seem to 
hesitate living with first one man and then another. One of the women admitted 
that she did not intend to marry as it usually resulted in a divorce anyway. 
The men of the household seemed to indidge in intoxicating liquor rather freely. 

In 1939, the oldest .son of Mr. Abasolo was very .seriously injured and was in 
the hospital for many months. Dickey^ son of Fannie Abasolo, has had an 
examination inider the Crippled Children's Program. Mr. Richard Abasolo in- 
.sisted that his daughter, Fainiie. had given her baby to him when he was born 
as she was only 14 years of age and everyone thought it was his child. 

Each winter Mr. Abasolo makes arrangements to trade in his truck and last 
winter he purchased a Chevrolet costing $9.54. Wlien he made application to 
this agency for assistance it was with great difficulty we made him understand 
he v.-as not eligible he had invested all his earnings and also the earnings 
(if Miss Hernandez and Mrs. Pizzarro in this truck. He told us of the .supplies 
which he had purchased, but insi.sted that when they were so many it took a lot 
of money to feed them. 

The family has not been interested in returning to Texas to live, because they 
feel it is much easier to get their beet contracts if they are in this vicinity. The 
women of the household are willing to work, but it is very difficult to find anyone 
in Fargo who is willing to employ Mexican help. 

Last winter it was necessary to assist Miss Hernandez and her cliildren and 
Mrs. Pizzarro and her son with groceries and clothing. They made arrangements 
with Mr. Abasolo to have one room in the house where they could live and do 
their own cooking. The agency felt that perha})S the .small grocery order which 
was allowed them was used by the entire family as they seemed to live iirincipally 
en beans and tortillas. 

The family does not seem to have any plans for the future. They are sending 
their children to school during the winter months and move out to the beet fields 
in the early spring. The entire family works in the beet fields, and when their 
work is over they return to the city in Seiitember or Octolier. All winter long 
they look forward to the time when they acquire anything of value, except the 
truck ; this they feel Is definitely a necessity, as they w<nil(l not be able to got to 
the farms without some mode of transportation. 

[Fictitious names are used tbroughout. rcuort on file at Public Welfare Board 

of North Dakota] 


Benson County Wexj'are Board, 
Mmneiraukan, N. Dak., Augunt 20, 19.'t0. 
Mr. E. A. WlLLSON, 

Executive Director, Piihlic Welfare Board, Bismarck, N. Dak. 

Dn.\B Mb. Willson : Permit me to give my perscjiial reaction to a problem whicli 
in Benson^ County is becoming very alarming. I refer to tlie large number of 
tenants being forced off farms by big tractor-operating (»wners who farm princi- 
pally for the purpose of drawing Agricultural Adjustment Administratiou 

Recently authentic word came to me that John Blank, of Churches Ferry and 
Devils Lake, is a.sking 20 of his renters in Benson and Ramsey Counties to vacate 
the farms they have been renting, some for nyany years, as he intends to farm 
these i)laces him.self next year. Offhand, 5 of tliese families are known to me 
l)er.sonalIy and have always been enterprising, upright families; they have 
always made a go of things and have never had assistance; they have farmed 
three or four quarters and have had a small amount of stock; they have given 
the buildings and the .soil good care; now they must even vacate the building.s. 

These people will now be forced on smaller and less profitable units, with the 
ix).ssible eventuality of Farm Security grants to help them eke out a living. Those 
who are unable to loc-ate farms will flfobably be forced to sell out their stock and 
machinery and eventually will wind up in town on the Work Projects Admin- 

Just today the local Farm Security office advises me that seven of their stand- 
ard loan borrowers are either without farms or cannot find a large enough luiit 
to operate on a profitable basis as a result of big operators taking over the farms. 

The Benson Comity Agricultural Adjustment Administration conmiittee re- 
cently made a recommendation to the State committee that large-scale operators 
not be allowed to seed any more wheat under contract next year and if the 
backing of the State committee was secured in this matter, it might possibly mean 
these people would be allowed to stay on the farm. 

Jens Jensen, a farmer living about 8 miles south of York in this county, is 
farming at present 8,000 acres of land. When he began to approach the limit 
on the amount of land he is allowed to contract on Agricultural Adjustment Ad- 
ministration payments he deeded some of his land over to his son, who is starting 
to follow suit. There are several sets of farm buildings now standing idle in this 
vicinity as the result of this man's $8 an acre purchases of 16 quarters made 
during the last year and like purchases made several years previous. 

These are perhaps the most outstanding examples we have of large-scale farm- 
ing operations putting the family-size farm unit out of business. Offhand I can 
think of a dozen more who are doing the same thing on a smaller scale. 

I am not blaming these big fellows personally ; they are getting by with just 
what Agricultural Adjustment Administration regulaticnis pei-mit. I realize that 
the tractor is responsible for much of the difficulty. However, I believe that 
these soil-conservation programs were set up primarily to protect the family- 
sized farm unit rather than the big operator, but it would appear that the 
original purpose is being somewhat smothered. This problem will go on gaining 
momentum even more rapidly than it has in the past 2 or 3 years if those of us 
who pick up the aftermath sit idly by. 

We have talked about this thing several times at our coordination meeting and 
I feel these very discussions have had an indirect effect on the recommendations 
which have been made to the State committee. I hope other comities are think- 
ing and acting in the same line. It might be that i-ecommendations should be 
made to a progressively decreasing allotment payment with each successive 
quarter contracted. This might discourage the big fellows. 

A more permanent solution than making recommendations to the State Agri- 
cultural Adjustment Administration committee might be the introduction of a 
graduated land-tax scale with a special rate for pasture land (but no homestead 
exemption). This is an old story as far as the legislators are concerned and it 
may not even be constitutional, but personally it seems to me a thought in the 
right direction. If this thinking is along the right groove there is another ques- 

2 See reference in testimony of E. A. WiLson, p. 1439. 


liou as to who shall do the promoting, it inohably is not within the realm of the 
welfare set-up, but at least we should be alert enough to the problem to make 

I just want you to know what those of us out in those rural counties are 
worrying about. I'm sure if 30 or more families are to be put off farms in Benson 
("onnty that this thing is multiplied many times over throughout tlie State. 
Sincerely yours, 

Clara Sweetland, 
Executive Secretary 

[Fiftitious names' are used throughout. Original report on file In I'uhlic Welfare Board 

of North Dakota] 

Stark County Welfare Board, 

DickinsMi, AuyuM 28, 19.',0. 
Mr. E. A. WiLLSON, 

Executive IHreetor. Piihiic M'elfare liourd, 

Bisinurck, N. Dak. 

De-\b Mr. Wili-son : I am submitting the Information I am able to hud on families 
now stranded at Belfield or other parts of Stark County as a result of the Gov- 
ernment land purchase in the Badlands area. 

Sixty-eight families were formerly residing in site No. 2. Billings County. 
Thirty-seven of these families have relocated by their own efforts, 1 was relocated 
by the Farm Security Administraticm on their resident project in the Red River 
Valley, 9 have been relocated by loans not on the resident project, and 14 were 
relocated by the Farm Security Administration tbrotigh other means. There 
are 7 left to be relocated, 2 of whom are attempting to do so on their own efforts, 
3 are attempting to receive Farm Security Administration aid, and 2 are to be 
relocated on other methods not yet determined. 

On site No. 23 in Billings County, 40 were initially on tlie land. Of this number 
IS have been relocated to date: 12 have been relocated on their own efforts, 2 
have been relocated on the re.settlement project, 2 were relocated by the Farm 
Security Administration throtigli other means, and 2 are still being relocated 
through guidance of the Farm Security Administration. Twenty-two are still left 
to lie relocated, 10 of which are attempting to relocate by their own efforts, 6 are 
to receive loans or grants not on resettlement projects, and 1 is to receive aid 
through the Farm Security A(hninistration. Five have not yet been determined. 

In Slope and Golden Valley Counties, TS families were initially on the land. 
Thirty-four have relocated by their own efforts without any aid, and 2 are relo- 
cating in other ways. Forty-two are yet to be relocated, 5 of which are making at- 
tempts through their own efforts, 19 through i-ehabilitation loans, 2 through other 
forms of aid, and 16 are yet to be determined. 

In the McKenzie County area, 184 were initially residing on the land. Two have 
been relocated by the Fai-m Security Administration on their resident project, 6 
are to be relocated by loans and grants, but not on the resettlement project, 16 are 
lo be relocated in other ways by the Farm Security Administration, and 142 have 
relocated through their own efforts. Eighteen are left to be relocated. 

As near as I am able to determine, there are approximately 35 or 40 of these 
faniilies which have moved into Stark County from the Billings, Slope, and 
Golden Valley County areas. However, I have been able to find the names of only 
about IS of these. The following faniilies moved here from Billings County : 

No. 1. Belfield: operating a cream station at this time. 

No. 2. Belfield : thus far he has been a problem case and no definite arrangement 
for his future has Iteen determined. 

No. 3. Belfield ; unable to find any solution to his problem up to the present time. 

No. 4. Belfield ; farming : Stark County. 

No. 5. Belfield; working on Work Projects Administration. 

No. 6. Dickinson : working on Work Projects Administration. 

No. 7. Belfield : farming. 

No. 8. Belfield: on a farm. 

No. U. Belfield : working on Work Projects Administration. 

No. 10. Taylor: farnung. 

No. 11. Belfield: working on Work Projects Admiinstration. 


' No. 12. Bclfit'ld : workiii}; on Work Pro.iects Administration. r.xfw of - 
••i''No. 13. BelfltMd ; fjiriii lalxirer .it present timf. .qo-i'**' • 

No. 14. Sontli Heart ; larniinf,'; Farm Security Administration assistance. 

The following families have moved into Stark County from Slope and Golden 
Valley Counties : 

No. 15. Bellield; farming. 

No. 16. Dickinson ; farmiuff. 

Mr. Blank, hi charge of the Land Use Office in Dickinson, states that about half 
of these families would iiave been nnal)le to hold tlieir farms due to the drought 
and conditions the past few years. There still are .some families living in 
the Badlands area which will move from their farms in a short time. How many 
families Stark will get is questionable. They appear to have a good attitude toward 
the Government land purchase in the Badlands area. However, most of them did 
not realize much cash as they were heavily in debt. It appears that some of these 
people who are not now on relief will have to apply as they have no means of 
income and the wages for farm labor as you know are not high enough to sup- 
port a family. 

Sincerely yours, 

Stark County Welfare Boabd, 
Raymond W. Riese, 

Executwe Secretary. 

[Fictitious names are used throughout. Original report at Public Welfare Board. X. Dak.] 

' Walsh Coi'ntt Welfare Board, 

■"J'li'i" Grafton. Aiiffiist 28. 0^.^(1. 

M?. IB. A. WiLLSON, 

Executive Secretary, Public Welfare Board. 

Bismarck, N. Dak. 

Deae Mr. Wlllson : In answer to your letter and telegram regarding the 
information for the Committee on Interstate Migration of Destitute Citizens, 
I would like to give you some factual data regarding migratory people who 
have become residents of Walsh County, first : 

In 1930, Quadalupe Costello, born in Micsjcan, Mexico, 32 years of age. came to 
Hoople in 1930 where be worked in the beet field and some farmer allowed him 
to stay in their farm buildings over the winter. At that time they had one child, 
but as his family grew and inasmuch as he had established his residence by living 
here 1 year, it was necessary for the county to support him in scmie form as his 
savings were diminished. In January of 1940 he had sickness in the family and 
during the sumnu'^r he earned $3.'50 working at beets. He stayed on some build- 
ings on a farm where had had been working during the sunnner. Despite our 
efforts to get him work in a potato house the farmers did not hire him for potato 
work and when he did work it was taken for rent. This last year it was neces- 
sary to give him assistance because his wife and little gii'l were ill. If we have 
an extremely severe winter the Mexicans suffer with colds and ill health. A 
comity welfare board grant was given to Mr. Costello during the past winrer in 
the amount of $40. 

In 1926, Mariano Rodriquez brought his family, consisting of a wife and four 
children, to Walsh County to work in the beets. The family had lived in Dallas, 
Texas, for several years prior to that time. Mrs. Rodriquez was married to Cor- 
nelius Mareno in 1911, and after his death mari'ied Mariano Rodriquez. She had 
four children from her first marriage and two from the latter. The f.unily 
worked around Hoople from 1926 to 1928 and in 1929 began working beets in the 
neighborhood of Auliurn for Hans Olson. In the year 1934 Mr. Rodriquez died 
of pneumonia. After Mr. Rodriquez's death Martin took over the household 

After Mr. Rodriquez died it was necessary that assistance be given this family 
during the winter, inasmuch as their grocery bill exceeded their income. In the 
fall of 19.34 they jiaid $200 on a car, which is quite characteristic. The three 
oldest boys were in jail as a result of some complications with girls in 1934 and 
during that winter they stayed on a farm in farm buildings. In the fall of 1935 
they moved into Grafton in two upstairs rooms in a condemned hotel. They had 
one bed and a stove in each room. During the winter it was necessary that as- 


sistaiire be jrivon to this family. Federal Kitiergerify Relief AflministnUioii as- 
sisfaiK-e was given at this time. Sim-e then, liowever. Farm Security Adminin- 
trafion had been given to them and some other form ot a^«<istancH» every year. 
Martin is married and had Work Projects Administration assistance during the 
jiast winter. 

Tiiere is considerable doubt about Mrs. Rodri(inez being a citi/en. imismiich as 
she was horn in Mexico but her children were born in the United States. A<'Cord- 
ing TO information received in lOMfi. the earnings for this family were $JM).S.1!>. 
groceries amounted to .$21.s.l.S and cash pJ'id out to $09<I.(I6. In August of thai 
year they paid $1S2, aciording to their employer, on an automobile and in the 
fall of that year traded it in and were allowed $160 on it. They p.nid $12.1 on the 
new car then. Martin is now to be married tomorrow to a Gomez girl, which 
will add one more family residetit in Walsh County. 

Thomas Xavai-ro is known to this oftice in a relief capacity and is known 
in rile State attorney's ollice. ( "onsidci-able correspondence^ was had about this 
family during the year 19:->() with Mr. Williams .-ind Walsh County became lial)le 
for rlie family. They first c.-ime to East Grand Forks. Minn., where they lived 
from April to October 1083. They then moved to Grafton and back to Grand 
Forks. Finally, in 1936 they worked in the beets th(> majority of the time. It 
was necessary to give them assistance in 1936 from the Resettlement Administra- 
tion. This family stayed here a sufficient time to obtain their residence and one 
winter moved to Minneapolis and were referred back here by tlie Minnesota Re- 
lief Agency. On June 12. 1938. Mr. Navarro was admitted to the sanitorium at 
San Haven for tuberculosis and has. of course, returned home since that time. 
He has been of consideral)le aiuioyance t!> all concerned. He drinks considerably 
and during these times is rather uncontrollable. He seems to spend his mone;« 
very unwisely and the sugar-lieet factory advised them to return to Texa.s .several 
times. They started to go but got no farther than St. Paul. At the present time, 
tile Navarro family is working beets, and undoubtedly will be here for the winter. 
During 1937 he received grants and leceived other forms of assistance as well. 

The beer workers move here in the spring of the year. Some of them obtaiiil 
promi.-^es of work in the fall of tiie year before they leave from a private grower 
or else a grower who has cf>ntact with the American Sugar Beet Co. When they 
return to Texas in the fall of the year they keep contacts aronnd here and in the 
spring the grower generally notifies the most reliable of the Mexicans, states he 
is ready for them to c<»me and that he will need a certain annmnt of workers. 
This means that he will iirobably bi-ing with him one or two more families. 

The Sugar Beet Co. states they do not pay anything for their 
and make no arrangements to get them here. From my own contacts with the 
Mexicans and especially <me transient, there is a certain system which they nse 
whereby they have their own employment service and men are sent up here in the 
fall to top beets by friends down in Missouri, Kansas, and wherever they hapix^u 
to be. One cannf»t make any definite statements i-egarding the beet workers and 
their type, inasmuch as the oldest heads? of the family are very stanch and re- 
lial)le. ' However, some of the younger men have bec(une arrogant and we do 
know that there has lieen an introduction of marijuana in a small way in Walsh 
County and the sheriff has found an occasional patch growing out in the neigh- 
borhood where the beet workers' fields ax'e. We do not know whether it was 
brought in and planted by the m-cui^JUits or whether it came in with some of their 
arti( les which tli(>y brought in. At any rate, we do have a couple of girls wiio are 
going out with the Mexicans, and an occasional girl is an unmarried mother to a 
child whose father is a Mexican.. This, of course, they say is as much our 
fault as it is the Mexicans. 

As far as our farm families who are stranded in towns and cities as a result of 
foreclosure, land purchase, or drought, we have a large number of them. Some of 
them, however. hecaus(> of the housing facilities in the villages, have been 
forced to take up living quarters in cook cars av in isolated farm buildings. 

The case of Jens (). Nelson. 33 years old. one cliild, farming exr)eri(>nce all 
his life, is an inactive standard loan borrower, who first obtained a loan from 
the Rural Reconstruction Administration. In 19.36 he started farming in Cav- 
alier County after which he rented land from the Bank of North Dakota. Last 
fall this laiid was sold by the Bank of North Dakota and he was forced to move 
into vacant farm buildings, as he was miable to lind other land. It was impos- 
sible ro find a farm. He is a very fine w(U-kniau. has a nice herd of livestock. 



and sutticit'iit inachiii«M-y to fann 240 acres. At tho present time he is endeavor- 
iiiK tu obtain a small tract of land. However, it does not stn^m likely that this 
will go through and he stated that it will be necessary for him to sell ont his 
herd and move into town where he can secure common labor or to find farm 

Another vase is that of Ole Anderson, 58 .years of ;ige, lives west of I'jirk 
River, married and has five children, one who is under the crippled children's 
program. He is another inactive Farm Security Administration borrower and 
obtained his first loan in 1!»87, to purchase stock. At that time he was renting 
240 acres from the First State Bank of Park River and last fall was forced to 
discontinue farming because the land was sold. He is a very good farmer and 
had a good herd of livestock and plenty of horseiMjwer with which to farm his 
land. He looked for a farm all last winter and was unable to find one, and sold 
out his horses and machinery. Since that time he is doing farm labor and his 
family is living in vacant farm buildings. They get along with the barest neces- 
sities of life. This winter he will undoubtedly make application for Work 
Projects Administration assistance. 

One of the outstanding reasons why it is hard for a dispossessed farmer to 
rent land in this county is the fact that in case they have no tractor the land- 
lord does not want to rent them any land, since tractor farmers are given pref- 

Mr. William Dietrich is a farmer, lived in the southwestern part of Walsh 
County. He is married. 49 years o-f age. and has a wife and three children. 
He was farming up till last fall when, after several years of poor crops, it was 
necessary for him to quit as there was a barnyard loan against most of his stock 
and some private loans against his horses. 

Mr. Dietrich at the present time has a couple of horses which are being cared 
for by his brother-in-law near Oslo-. He does not, however, have a great deal 
of machinery which is of much value. The drought seems to be his biggest 
reason for leaving the farm, and also the fact that he was unable to obtain 
better land than that he was on. He received assistance in 1936 and is a barn- 
yard loan borrower. 

John Danski is married, 38 years old and has five children. He formerly fanned 
near Minto for 8 years, but was forced to leave in 1929 because the barnyard loan 
has sold his livestock and machinery. The barnyard loan was obtained as a result 
of drought and a need for feed. At the time the sale was had he had been farming 
on a rented piece of land which was also being sold. In view of the fact, accord- 
ing to Mr. Danski's statement, the barnyard loan disposed of his chattels because 
he did not have a farm for the spring as yet. Mr. Danski is now living near Minto 
and has been doing farm labor since that lime inasmuch as he hasn't any chattel 
with which to work a farm. 

George Green, married, 3 children, moved to town in the fall of 1937 after having 
farmed since 1934. His moving into town was a result of drought and he was 
unable to make sufficient income from his farm to- take care of his farm mortgage ; 
on the 1938 crop there was a $2,000 mortgage. 

Jim Jensen, married, 23 years of age, 5 children, has 1 artificial eye and is 
crippled. He has 1 artificial limb. He quit farming in 1938. They had been 
farming land which they were on and which was disposed of. They were 
unable to obtain any other land to work. He had at one time 4 horses, 8 head 
of cattle, 30 chickens, and 2 pigs. 

Joe Brown at one time was a farmer and was in fairly good condition finan- 
cially. However, he was renting land up till 1936 when the property was sold 
and they were forced to leave the farm. They were unfortunate not to obtain 
a piece of land that fall and last spring to vent and since that time are making 
a living as best they can from farm labor. They have received Farm Security 
Admini.stration grants and county welfare board assistance during the last 2 

John White, 49 years old, married and has four children. He formerly farmed 
in Walsh County up until about 1937 at which time he was forced to leave the farm 
on which he was operating and he disposed of most of his chattels. Since that 
time he had been making a living at common labor and received Farm Security 
Adn^inistration grants during the winter months and made application for 
Work Projects Administration aid last year. He does not have any personal 
property at the present time. 


I have endoavori'd in these pnst parajiniphs to give yon names and short 
outlines of tlie eirennistiinees whicli Itroujiht iihout these people being forced to do 
eonimon labor or make an application for Work Projects Admiinstratit)n. I 
realize that in some of these cases there is not a great deal of information avail- 
able, but if I had not been away when your letter came I would have i)een able 
to send you a report in moiv detail, giving you s(mie very detinite facts about 
(/flier cases which I have heard of and am too hazy on facts to relate to you. I 
might add. however, that we have had a great deal of troulUe during the jiast 2 
falls with the Federal land bank together with other landowners who are alto- 
gether too hasty to dispossess a farmer and to rent tiie land to some big land- 

In one instance last fall they were going to evacuate a man from property and 
rent it to a man who already had a great deal of land and who intended to rent 
it to an out-of-the-county resident and our own resident would be forced to go 
on Work Projects Administration because of foreclosure and the fact that the 
Federal land bank did not see tit to rent it to them the following year. 

This, however, was stopped with the influence of one of the commissioners 
and a State representative. This has happened in many instances and immedi- 
ately upon the notice that they would be evacuated the barnyard loan calls on the 
farmer. Inasnuich as he does not have any farm for the coming year, it will be 
necessary that the Regional Agricultural Credit Coriwration liquidate their mort- 
gage. This fact is borne out by the inunber of sales which are held in Walsh 
County and the neighboring counties in the months of September and October of 
each year. 

I am sorry that I could not have made this much more in detail. 
Very truly yours, 

J. F. Ulmer, Executive Secretary. 

II. Practical Methods of Strengthening Farm Family Tenure on Farm Units 

I believe the most practical methcKl would he to limit Agricultural Adjustment 
Administration benefits to a family-sized economic unit, the size of such units 
should vary according to the rainfall, the productivity of the soil, and the per- 
centage of tillable land. 

III. Sources of Migratory Farm Families and Their Ultimate Destination 

Most migratory farm families from North Dakota have heretofore come from 
the western part of the State, where the land was too thickly settled due to 
previous laud-settlement policies of the Federal Government. Due to the influ- 
ences of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration program, farm families are 
now migrating from farms in all parts of the State. Most of the farm migrants 
at present are moving to the towns and cities in North Dakota, where they will 
ultimately be on relief, although some of them who have sufficient resources are 
moving out of the State, for the most part to western Montana, Idaho, Washing- 
ton, and Oregon. 

IV. Provisions by State and Local Agencies for Relief, Education, Hox'sino. 
Health, and Resettlement of Nonresident Families in Each State and 
Methods of Integrating Federal Relief With State and Local Aid 

Under the relief and welfare laws of North Dakota, all relief and welfare 
activities are administered by nonsalaried county welfare boards which are ap- 
pointed by the boards of county conunissioiu'rs, subject to the approval of the 
State welfare board. Such relief and welfare activities as arc financed in whole 
or in part by State or Federal funds are administered by the ccnuity welfare 
bfiards under the .supervision of the State board. The North Dakota State public 
welfare board is a nonsalaried policy-making board. 

There is a very close integration of Federal relief activities, such as Work 
Projects Administration and Farm Security Administration, with State and 
h'Cal relief and welfare administrations. All persons in need of assistance of 
any kind make application to the cotmty welfare boards. If, upon investigation, 
they are found to be in need, the cases are given assistance through referral to a 
Federal agency, through the joint social-security programs, or through cotmty 


j;onor;il relief. The iiitesriition of F«'(leial, State, and Icical relief is furthered hy 
fnMiiient (oonlinatinn nieefiiij;s on both the State and local level of all relief and 
welfare agencies and, in addition, agencies concerned witli rehal)ilitation and the 
improvement of agricultural conditions, suoh as the Soil fVinservati<in Service, 
th«' Agricultural Adjustment Administration, etc. 

Assistance is given by the county welfare hoards to needy nonresident or 
stranded families insofar as limited relief funds will permit. The usual practice 
of county welfare hoards is to provide temporary aid for these families pending 
<letermination of their legal residence and th<» receipt of permission from the 
State or county of legal residence for the rettirn of the family. Transportation 
to the locus of legal residence is genorall.v provided for those stranded iiersons. 

Children of nonresident families are permitted to attend local schools. 

Housing of nonresidents is a serious problem because of the housing shortage 
in most cities and villages. 

Medical care is provided for nonresidents in need of sucli care hy the local 
county welfare board. 

No attempt is made to resettle nonresident families in North Dakota because 
of the very large number of resident families in need of resettlement and for 
whom suitable land is not available. 

In years of good crops there is a considerable movement of migratory labor into 
the State, especially during the harvest season. This migration, made up 
largely of single men, does not present a problem except in cases of accident or 
sickness, in which cases aid is provided by the county welfare board of the 
county in which the sickness or accident occurred. At times these cases become 
a very serious burden in a county where funds available for relief are ex- 
tremely limited. 

The problem of providing assistance for needy migratory laborer.s is most 
seriotis in those areas of the State whei'e sugar beets are produced and where 
there is an annual influx of sugar-beet workers, principally Mexican families. A 
number of these families have become stranded in North Dakota through the 
death of the head of the household and the inability to return them to any other 
State, due to loss of residence through continuous migration. These families are 
u.s-.ually large and have become a serious relief burden in the counties in which 
they have located. Most of the beet-worker families, however, come to North 
Dakota in the spring and return to some southern State in the fall. 

V. Extent to Which the Destitute Condition of American Familie.s Is a 

Result of Circumstances Completeji.y Beyond Their Control 

Crop failure, sickness, or other catastrophe and lack of employment opportuni- 
ties — conditions entirely beyond the control of individuals — are responsible for 
the destitute condition of practically all North Dakota families who are now or 
have been during the past 10 years in need of public assistance. North DaJiota 
citizens are, in general, thrifty and hardworking and, if allowed a fair oppor- 
tunity, would be self-supporting. 

VI. Opportunii^es for Resettling Migiutory ajmp Neepy Farm Families on 

Irrigated Projects or Other Potential Farming Land 

The only irrigation projects of any consequence under way to date in North 
Dakota are the Lewis and Clark project of 5,000 acres, which has just been com- 
pleted, and the Buford-Trenton project of 14,000 acres, which is just being started. 
It is contemplated that approximately 60 families will be located on 80-acre 
tracts on the Lewis and Clark project. Of these 10 were original residents of 
the area. It is contemplated that this project will provide subsistence homesteads 
for farm families now stranded in cities and towns who have lost their farms in 
recent years. Present plans call for locating approximately 140 families on the 
14,000 acres of the Buford-Trenton project. It will, however, be 2 or 3 years 
before this project is ready for settlement. 

VII. Tax Situation in North Dakota 

The almost total crop failure in North Dakota in the years 1933-36, inclusive, 
partial or complete failure in large areas in 1937, 1938, and 1939, and the resulting 

interstatp: migration 1417 

shortage of feed, which made m'c»'ssar.v a no-iwrccnt reduction in the nnnilKM- of 
cattle in the State, and coire.spondinj: reductidus in slieep and hogs resulted in 
greatly reduced tax collections. On Noveniher .'!(►, 19;{7. only 5(>.H percent of 
the lU'Mi rax levy had been collected. On November 3(1. 193S,"only ns.I) percent 
of the 1!).'57 tax levy had been collected. 

A sjtecijil report to (Jovernor Moses, prepared by the division of accounting, 
finance, and rejMtrts of the i)ublic welfare boiird (see exhibit B) contains consid- 
erable information on agricultural income, the relief situation, and State and 
county tinances. This report shows that the debt of comity governments in- 
creased from .i;8.777,(i()0 to ^U,4U.m2 between ]!«2 and 198S. Many of the coun- 
ties, particularly in the areas hardest hit by drought, because of very poor tax 
collections, were foived to sell certificates of indebtedness against uncollected 
taxes to meet general governmental expenses and to issue emergency poor relief 
warrants ro meet relief and AA-elfare exi>enditures. Some of the counties are in 
reality bankrupt. They cannot sell certilicates of indebtedness and their warrants 
are Hirlier heavily discounted or cannot be sold. The following summarization 
reflects the ability or inability of county governments to provide for relief needs: 

1. In the tiscal year ending June 80, 1938. county expenditures for regular gov- 
ernmental functions, exclusive of poor relief, exceeded available county revenues 
in I'O counties. 

2. In these 20 counties relief expenditures were financed by additional borrow- 
ing or b.v the issuance of registered warrants or emergency poor fund warrants. 

3. Nine counties were able to meet only :\ part of the statutory requirements as 
to Old Age As.sistance and Aid to Dependent Children out of current revenues 
and were able to provide funds for general relief only by additional borrowing. 

4. Seventeen counties were able to meet, from current revenues, their statu- 
tory share of the cost of Old Age Assistance, and Aid to Dependent Children, and 
a part of the cost of county poor relief. 

5. Onl.v 7 counties showed siifficient fiscal ability to finance the entire cost of 
the general relief program together with their statutory share of Old Age 
Assistance and Aid to Dependent Children. of the difficult financial c(mditi(m of most of the counties, the State 
has attempted, since the discontinuance of the Federal Emergency Relief Ad- 
ministration in D.'<-f'mber of 1935. to assist the countie.s in meeting their neces- 
sary relief expenditures. The Legislature of 1935. which established the public 
welfare board, appropriated $1.22.").000 for general relief and public welfare, most 
of which was granted to the counties to help meet general relief expenditures. 

The legislative session of 1937 ai)propriated $3,500,000 for general relief and 
$2.0(X).(M»(» for the Social Secm-ity programs. The general relief appropriation 
was distiMbuted among the counties on an ecjualization basis taking into consid- 
eration the relief load and the financial condition of the various counties. The 
appropriation for the Social Security programs was used to meet the State's 
statutory share of Old Age Assistance, Aid to Dependent Children, and Aid to the 
Blind and also to carry the counties' share of these programs in those counties 
Avhich were on a warrant basis and could not meet their share of the cost in 
<-ash. State revenues during this blennieum were inadecpiate to meet the appro- 
liriations. and it was iiece.ssary for the State to borrow .$1,770,0110 on certificates 
of indebtedness against uncollected taxes, which was within $163,000 of the 
amount i)crmitted by statute, that is 7-'") percent of the amount of taxes outstand- 
ing for the current year and the 5 next preceding years. 

The 1!i.39 session of the Legislature appropriated $3,427,000 for general relief 
and $2.4."i4.000 for the State's share of the Social Security programs including 
01<i Age Assistance, .\id to Dependent Children, and .\id to the Blind, and 
Cliild Welfare Services, and Services to Ci'ippleil Children. It is estinmted that 
the total appropriations made by the 1931) Legislature will exceed by $3.iM»ll.()0i> 
to .$4,000.(100 the total State revenues from all sources during the current bieii- 
nimn. In si)ire of the strictest economy on the itart of all State departments 
and institutions and the continuation of the issuance of certificates of indebted- 
ness against uncollected taxes on tlie jjai't of the State, it has been imjxissible 
to make available to the public welfare board the nutneys appritpriated for s^en- 
eral relief. Since the beginning of the biennium grants to the counties froni 
the general relief ai»i)ropriation have been about 15 percent less than the 
monthly prorated pi-opoi'tion of the total appropriation and the State Welfare 
B(pard is behind several months in making grants to (he counties. In addition. 



it has been necessary for the State board to borrow against its appropriation to 
meet the State's share of Social Security itrograins under authorization given 
tlie State Welfare Board by the last Legislative Assembly to borrow up to 

The drought and the resultant poor tax collections in recent years through- 
out most of North Dakota liave created a very serious problem for the rural 
schools. School exjienditures for the State were reduced from, over $1(5.(MJ(),0(J0 
in IfC-iO to less than $11,U(J(),(M)() in VAHH, tlirough drastic reduction in teachers' 
salaries and other economies. Tlie 1939 Legislature ai)propiiated .$4,."jlO,OU<) i'ot 
aid to the scliools on the basis of need and on the pupil-unit basis. 

The tax and linancial situation in the State and in the counties and local 
school districts has been aggravated l)y a reduction in taxable value of real 
property due in part to decreased valuation resulting from crop failure and 
low income, and, in part, to the enormous increase in nontaxable land result- 
ing from the acMjuisition of land by counties through tax deed and in some areas 
through the acquisition of the land by the Federal (ioverimient's land purchase 
program. A recent study on "Publicly Owned Land and Related Factors in 
North l>akota" spon.sored by the State advisory board and the State tax com- 
missioner and made by the Woik Projects Administration sliows that 1(5 percent 
of the land area of the State is publicly owned and that an additional 1!) percent 
is now in the process of foreclosure because of tax delinquency. If and when 
these tax foreclosures are completed, there will be 35 percent of the total 
area of the State publicly owned. Such a large proportion of the land area 
of the State removed from the tax rolls is intensifying the tax problem of the 
local governments as well as the State government and nuiking it increa.singly 
ditiicult to secure sufficient tax revenue to meet relief, school, and general 
governmental expenditures. 

The following tables show the State taxes levied, collected, and outstanding 
on July 1. 1940, and the basis for the 1940 State general fund levy : 

Statement of taxes levied, coUeeted, and unpaid. State of North Dakota, July 1, 


The following is a statement of the amount of State taxes levied, collected, and outstanding and unpaid 
on property, due the State of North Dakota for the years 1933 to 1939, inclusive: 



Total - 


.$3, 533, 
2, 178, 
2, 300, 
2, 880, 
2, 738, 

594. 56 
872. 92 
573. 67 
992. 63 
559. 77 
536. 16 
151 00 

18, 786, 280. 71 


.$3, 497, 036. 48 
1, 799, 323. 52 

1, 633, 106. 74 

2, 100, 265. 23 

^fTe^vT^ll! Balance 
lected "nP'*"^ 


.$36, 558. 08 
379, 549. 40 
557. 876. 10 
478, 885. 89 
780, 294. 54 
747. 273. 71 

14, 3*4, 101. 


4, 402, 179. 33 

Unpaid taxes apportioned according to purpose of levy 

General fund, 1989 tax $807, 566. 10 

Certificate of indebtedness redemption, 1933-38 2.003,374.88 

Mill and elevator bonds 478, 843. 85 

Milling bonds 117, 280. 21 

Real-estate-bond interest 771, 891. 00 

Real-estate-bond principal 60, 898. 03 

(\ipitol building 139. 370. 43 

Old-age pension 22, 954. 8;i 

Total 4, 402, 179. 33 

Bismarck, N. Dak., Juhj 1, JO'iO. 

Berta E. Bakkk, State Auditor. 
By V. E. TrxNEi-L, Deputy. 


Basis for W,0 State yeneral-fund lenj, July 1, 19',0 

Liabilities: a. a . .nrv 

Ihipaid general-fund appropriations, 1039-41 $10, 5S.S, 890. 72 

Unpaid prior appropriations 279,794.94 

Due institutions from general fund 328,202.33 

Total liabilities - 11.196,887.99 

Resdvirces : 

riuollefted taxes— less 10 percent 1,847,029.68 

Ivess certitioates of indebtedness $1,343,000.00 

Plus interest 60.000.00 

Total 1. 403, 000. 00 

Less redemption fund 239,809.48 ioa ko 

683, 839. 16 

General-fund balance. July 1, 1940 77.3, 229. 76 

Estimated miscellaneous collections -. 4bl. ^i^. 00 

Estimated sales-tax collections ^' 000. 000. <J\) 

Total resources 6, 918, 832. 92 

Required to be raised by taxation 4, 278, 055. 07 

The total taxable valuation of all property subject to general 
property tax is .$450,496,467, applied to which a levy of 
3.S0 mills will raise 1, 711, 88b. 00 

Deficit ' 2. .566, 169. 07 

^ This estimated deficit is based on an estimated 100-i)ercent collection of the 1940 tax 
levy within the fiscal year ending .June 30, 1941. 


M.iu.uandum to Hon. .John :\Ioses, Governor of North Dakota, relating to the 
ahiliry of North Dakota to finance current relief requirements, April 1. 194(). 
Prepared by L. A. Baker, supervisor, division of accounting, finance, and reports, 
l)ublic welfare board 

Facts About North Dakota 

\n economic analvsis of conditions in North Dakota must largely revolve 
about the uncmplovinent and agricultural .situation, aggregate income of the 
peoi)le of the State, the extent to which they are self-supporting, and the hscal 
ability of State and local governments to meet the problem (»f caring for those 
whose resources are inadequate to provide food, clothing, and shelter. 

I. ENCOURAciiNG Factors 

1 IncreaHC in ar/ricidtural mcowe.— Agricultural cash income, exclusive of 
benriit pavments, increased $19,420,000 or 21.7 percent in 1939 «'ver 1938 figiires^ 
Agricultural cash income, including benelit payments, increased $3.5,586,000 or 
34.7 r)ercent over the total of such income in the year 19.38 

2 Ihn-rasr in total volumr of relief.— Ui .laiiuary 1939 an estimated 60 . . < 
different households received some form of public relief, while in .lanuary L)40 
the total had dropped to 32.778, a percentage decrease of 43.(! pen-eiit. Ibe pop- 
ulation represented bv relief households dropped from an <>stiniated total ot 
'?4»40r. in .Tanuarv 1939 to 110.037 in .lanuary 1940, or a percentage dec-rease 
of'.-" uercent Relief expenditures showed a similar decline, dropping fn-ni 
a total of .$2,103,274 in .lanuary 19.39 to $1.2S(;,92S in .January 1940, a percentage 
decrease of 36.5 percent. 



3. lAtrijc dccnaxr in volinm- of farm rclief- 
(leiTcjise ill thf siiiiic pcriiid. For instiincc 

-Fanu iflicf showed a ivuinrkabU' 
tlic imiuhcr of finnilies receiving 

111 V 1^41.-*^ Ill I ll\ .^IllllV l'^ ....... -. ... ....'i....... ...X ......A... A -•» >..>a<A.a^.;. mv,>.Vk,.|*,^ 

Farm Security Adiuiiiistnitiou sulisibteiice grants dropju'd from 80,1(24 in Jami- 
iiry 1939 to 3,!)4() in .laiiiiary 1940, a i)erf'onta}i(> decrease of S7.'J percent. Relief 
expenditures for subsistence Kranr x>!iyments dropped S9.3 i)ercent from a 
of .icti()8,0r)l in January 1939 to 71,79<> in January 1940. 

4. Incrc<,ixc In rolinnc of rctfiil hiisi)iiss. — iU'tail sales, as reflected by State 
sales tax collections durinji the 9-month period ending March 31, 1940, were ui) 
11.3 percent, compared with the 9-inonth period ending March 31, 1939. 


There are many discouraging factors in the situation facing North Dakota. 

Decline in a(/iiciiltiiral inronic coinimrcd irith prcdvprcssion yearn. — First in 
importance, as a discouraging factor, is the failure of North Dakota to make 
an agricultural recovery. The year 1939 was the l)est year from the standpoint 
of agi'icultural income which North Dakota has had since 1930. I'.caring tliis 
fact in mind, the record show.s that the cash income of North Dakota farmers, 
in 1939, from crop production was only 32 percent of the 1924-2S average: thai 
income from livestock and livestock pr(»dncts was N2.2 percent of the 1924 28 
average and tliat total cash income from agricultural production was only 4r).8 
percent of the 1924-28 average. Even with (iovernment-lienetit payments the 
total cash income of North Dakota farmers in 1939 was only r)8.1 percent of the 
1924-28 average. The unfavorable agricultural situation ; the poor outlook for 
farm exiiorts and particularly for wlieat, wliich is North Dakota's major crop; 
the unbalance between agricultural prices and industrial prices; and the failure 
of agricultural prices to achieve any reasonable approach to parity with indus- 
trial prices are some of the unfavoral)le factors relative to the agricultural 

Casli income from af/ricitltiiral and livestock production in North Dakota, 192.'f-39 
[All figures in thousand.s of dollars] 

Cash income 


Total cash 

plus benefit 




and live- 


1924 - . 

.$226. 758 

181, 723 

108, 151 

,183, 253 





18, 089 

37, 950 

47, 004 

13, 286 

4.5, 826 


50, 352 

43, 320 

.$.5.3. 142 
68. 923 
76. 858 
62, 466 
'.'<.'. 64, 116 
i 65, 101 
72. 384 
57. 284 
42. 202 
29, 513 
33, 063 
1 43. 991 
.36. 1,53 
56, 280 
47, 086 
46. 075 

$279. 900 
2,50. 646 
245, 719 
227. 810 
237. 817 
189. 748 
129, 184 
60. 291 
67. 463 
57. 277 
81. 979 
86. 569 
97, 438 
89. 395 

$279, 900 

1925 - - - --..r-- 

250, 646 



1924-28 Averaae :..'j4;jc:ijvxl-,^--;u 

1929 - 

24.5. 719 

227. 810 

237. 817 

189, 748 


129. 184 

1931 . . . __ 

60, 291 

1932 --. --- 


1933 _ . 


18, 1.50 

19, 126 
1.3. 179 
29, 345 

95, 759 


1 75, 427 


101, 105 

1936 w 

98, 948 

1937.,..-—-.-.. - 


1938 .. . - 

102. 574 

1939 ' . . --. 

55, 270 1 5.3. 545 

1.38. 160 

' Includes drought cattle and sheep purchases of $13,440,000. 



[1924-28 aver;if:e 


Source: Reports of Bureau of Aericultural Economics, U. S. Department olAericulture. 

Loir income level hi Xorth Dakota. — Probably the most authoritative data 
on the low level of income in North Dakota, per capita, compared with the 
national average, are contained in the United States Department of Commerce 
reiK>rt entitled "State Income Payments— 1920-37," issued in May 1939. The 
following table made np from data contained in said report. 

Estimate of Xatioiial income and North Dakota income 


National income 

Xiirth Dakota 


income per 




incoine per 


income per 
capita as 
percent of 


$79. 988. 000. 000 
62. 263. 000. 000 
48, 36S. 000, 000 
45. 782. 000. 000 
53. 057. 000. 000 
57, 368, 000, 000 
66. 187, 000, 000 
70, 645, 000, 000 

236. 000, 000 
165, 000, 000 
1.5S. 000.000 
223, 000, 000 




1930 - 

.58. 15 

1931 . -- 






.52. 47 
54. 18 

1935 - - 


1936 -- 

58. 45 

1937 .. -.. ---- 

01. 1 1 

The above table indicates that even in 1929, when North Dakota was compara- 
tively prosperous, the income per capita was almost 30 percent below the 
national average; and that in the years since 1929 the per capita income in 
North Dakota has ranged from 59 to 41 percent below the national average 
income per capita. 

Table II of the publication referred to above gives indexes of income pay- 
ments by States for the years 1929 to 1937, inclusive. The figures indicate that 
in every* year since 1929, for which income estimates are available, the iiercent- 
age of income loss for North Dakota compared with the base year 1929 was 
greater than any other State, with the single exception of the year 1930. when 
North Dakota tied with Arkansas for this doubtful distinction. This strikingly 
bad situation which has existed since 192i) was the cumulative effect of the 
economic depression, the agricultural depression, loss of foreign markets, un- 
favorable climatic conditions, combined with crop desti-nctiou caused by grass- 
hopper and rust infestations. Stated somewhat differently. North Dakota has 
been the least prosperous of all of the States compared with the predepr^s.^^ion 
year 1929 in every year since 1929 for which income estimates ari' available. 

260370— 4n—pt. 4- 



In the year 1{»32 income payments for the United States as a whole has 
decreased only 3!> percent as compared with 59 i)ercent for North Dakota. The 
index tigures of total income for the United States as a whole and for North 
Dakota. South Dakota. Minnesota, Nehraska,, and Montana, for the 
years 1930-37, compared with the base year 1929, according to the estimates of 
the United States Department of Commerce, were as follows: 

Index of income payments, hy States, 1929-37 









itt29 - 
















1934 - 








Migration of rural population to towns. — A seemingly permanent relief i^opu- 
lation of employables is being established in the towns of North Dakota. Ac- 
cording to best information available, approximately 70 percent of the people 
employed on Work Projects Adniiiiistration are persons with a farm background 
who have been forced off the farm through failure to make a living on the farm. 
Their failure to make a living on the farm was due in large part to the following 
factors : 

(1) General economic conditions. 

(2) Extensive drought, grasshopper, and rust infestations which have afflicted 
wide areas of the Srate year after year. 

(3) Rapid mechanization of farm production and farm processes. 

(4) Forced foreclosure of farm mortgages. 

(5) Displacement of many small farmers because of inability to meet the new 
conditions which have faced agriculture in recent years. 

Loss of farms on tlie part of farm owners through forced foreclosure has 
been large of migration out of the open country to cities and villages. 
According to the facts regarding forced foreclosure in sample counties of this 
Siate furnished by the Federal Department of Agriculture, abcmt 43,000 out of 
the 78,000 farms of 1930, or nearly 53 percent underwent forced foreclosure 
between 1921 and 1934. Forced foreclosure went into aljeyance in 1934 due to 
a moratorium established by decree of the Governor and subsequent moratoriums 
established by the legislature, but out of that holocaust came thousands of tenant 
farmers, also a large percentage who lost morale and hopelessly drifted into 
town to become Work Projects Administration workers or direct relief recip- 
ients. Towns of North Dakota are still receiving recruits from this dislocation. 

These ix'ople appear to be destined for permanent submergence. 

The Federal Security Administration disclaims responsibility for these people. 
The rules and regulations of that organization, which limit relief grants to bona 
tide operating farmers, have made it necessary to care for these people either 
through direct relief or by Work Projects Administration employment. 

The Work Projects Administration has cooperated to its full ability within 
the limitations of the Work Projects Administration program. The scope of the 
Work Projects Administration program is limited by congressional appropriation, 
also by rules and regulations that have restricted Work Projects xVdministration 
employment largely to the urban unemployment except during short-term period 
when drought-relief programs were in operation. 

The jobless employables in cities and villages of North Dakota can find few 
openings in industry or trade. Unless this condition is changed, their submer- 
gence will be permanent. A large proportion of farm operators and laborers that 
have drifted to the towns and cities of North Dakota do not have tiie necessary 
.skills for absorpti<'n into private industry even if employment were available in 
.-; private industry. Theii- future, if any there he, is on the farm. The rehabili- 



tation of these classes is one of the vital i)n)i)lenis confronting North Dakota 
as well as the Nation. Continuous good crojjs, wiiidi can hardly he expected in 
North Dakota, one-half or two-thirds of which is semiarid and agriculturally 
snhniaiginal by nature or by reiison of lainfall conditions, would not check the 
propulsive effects of increased mechanization and exi)ansion of farms. There 
is nothing in sight to chock the exit of surplus farm laborers from agricultural 

I have touched on the general future outlook f(»r these rural migrants to the 
towns and cities of North Dakota, hut the innnediate and vital problem is the 
necessity of providing bare existence not only to this group but to the whole 
urb;in group of unemployed employables who are in need. 


l>ata on the extent of unemployment in North Dakota is not very satisfactory. 
How^ many persons in North Dakota want jobs and cannot get them, is a ques- 
tion that cannot be definiteley answered. Comparative figures on the number of 
persfins registered with the North Dakota Employment Service on the last day 
of the month for the years 1938, 1939. and 1940 to date give an incomplete picture 
of unemployment in North Dakota. 

A comparative statement of the number of persons registered with the North 
Dakota Employment Service on the last day of the month in the years 1938, 1939, 
and 1940, to date: a statement of the number of persons certified as in need of 
relief and employed on Federal works projects for the same months; and a state- 
ment of the number of persons covered by North Dakota unemployment com- 
pensation for the same months, so far as available, is given below. (Up to June 
30, 1939. railroad employees were covered by the. North Dakota unemployment 
compensation. Since that date railroad employees are not included under such 
coverage, consequently, in order to make figures comparable for all months, 
railroad workers have been excluded from all figures in the table below.) 

Conifnirifion of ninnher of persons registered vith North Dakota Employment 
Srrriee; niiniher of persons certified as in need of relief, emfAoyed on Federal 
irork projects: and number of people covered hi/ Xortli Dakota Knemploi/moit 
lOHiiiensation. by months. J9.3H. 19S9, and lii.'iO 


Number of persons 
reeistered with North 
Dakota Employment 
Service last day of 



Number of persons cer- 
tified as in need of 
relief employed on 
Federal Worlc proj- 
ects of Worl<s Project 
.\dministration and 
other Federal pro- 



Number covered by 
North Dakota unem- 
ployment compensa- 
tion exclusive of rail- 
road employees 








June - 






28, 429 
31. 105 

30. 439 
30. 059 
30, 669 
26, 043 
26, .544 
28, 225 
28, 513 
28, 483 

32, 972 
33, 448 
32, 840 
30, 757 
27, 163 
23, 670 
23, 576 


15, 458 
15, 677 
15, 556 
15, 575 
15. 137 

14, 393 

15. 605 
18, 096 
17, 227 

14. 675 
14, 715 
14, 027 
9, 725 
10, 149 
14. 116 

15, 322 

23, 132 
22, 137 
23. 058 
26, 583 

26. 565 
26. 374 

27, 693 
26, 679 
26, 368 

24. 124 

25, 473 
26, 345 

26, 597 
26, 795 

27, 226 
25, 039 
25, 508 

1 Estimated by North Dakota Employment Service. 

It should be very definitely umlerstood that llic inimber of persons registered 
with the North Dakot.-i Employment Service, as given in tiie for(>going table, is 
an incomplete statement of the mimbei' of persons seeking employment in North 
Dakota. The figures indicate roughly that during 1939 the known number of 
persons seeking employment ranged from about 23.500 to 33,r)00. 


During !) months of the pciidd, llif miinluT of jicrsons scckiiif: cinployinent was 
ill excess of the tofiil iiiiinber employed in <-overe(l emiiloymeiit. Tliis tignrp, it is 
lielieved, is extremely sijs'infi'iuit. If is very difficult to drsiw any delinite eon- 
(lusion from tlie fif:iii'<'S hut apiiarently they indicate tliat only approximately 
iialf of tile employable pe(tple in Xoi'tli Dakota, exclnsive of i»ersoiis makinjr their 
living thronK"h farming or livestock produ<tion. are actnally employed in pro- 
(Inctive private industry. 

Comparing the increases in tht^ number of persons covered by Noi-th Dakota 
unemployment compt'iisation with the decreases in Federal works employment, 
it is ai)parent that thP \York IMvtjects Ailministration by reduction in pen-sons on 
its pay roll, took almost full advantage of the increased private employment. 

There was no sijiuiticant chauiic in 11):«) in the munber of jiersons rcfiistered with 
the North Dakota Employment Service exc«>pt durinfi the last few months of the 
vear. The trend downward durinj;; the latter pai-t of lOHit was abruptly reversed 
in January ll!4(». From a total of 2r?,ri76 in December lOM!) then^ was an increase 
to 2i),()()4 at the end of February ItMO and an estimated inirease to 82,00(1 at the 
end of March 1940, or approximately the same total as in Marcli of last year. 

It is apparent, therefore*, that the improvement in business and in the aiu'ricul- 
tural situation in North Dakota provided no significant increase in employment 
except during approximately 2 months— Noveml)er and December — in the year 


Increasing mechanization of agriculture is resulting in less demand each year 
for agricultui-al labor on the fjirm. Hundreds of farmers who employed a group 
of men throughout the entire crop season several years ago now do all the work 
with family labor, or, at most, employ one man for a few weeks during haying, 
seeding, and harvesting seasons. Tractors, combine harvesters, and mechanical 
corn pickers have displaced tho-usands of farm laborers who formerly secured 
employment throughout the sunnner season. Sixteen mechanical corn pickers 
were purcha.sed by the farmers in one county of North Dakota in the fall of 
1!)3!). These mechanical corn pickers handled practically the entire corn crop 
in that county last fall, displacing hundreds of laborers who, iu the past, have 
handled the corn in that county. 


As a result of the jirotracted drought and desti-uction of crops by grasslioppers 
during recent years, thousands of former farm operators have lost their livestock 
and most, if not all. of their farm eciuipment. Due to their inability to secure 
credit from private or public agencies and the Farm Security Administration 
regulations which limit farm-security grants to oiK'rating farmers, large numbers 
of these former farmers have moved to town, and this movement is continuing- 
and will continue unless some means of rehabilitating them on the land can be 
fomid. They have no occupation other than farming, and when they move to 
town their only hope is AYork Projects Administration employment or direct relief. 


One of the major tragedies with which we are confronted in North Dakota is the 
inabilitv of the youth of the State to secure employment. The loss of opportunity 
to enter into productive employment has been a destructive factor on the youth 
of North Dakota. 

Approximately 10,000 youth in N(trth Dakota enter the employment or labor 
market each vear. The normal migration of the youthful population to the larger 
ni'ban centers in other States was disrupted by the depression. These youth have 
mostly remained within the State and have not been absorbed into private 
( niployment except to a very limited extent. 


As of March 27. 1940, the munber of persons certitied to Work Propjects 
Administration as in need of relief and awaiting assignments to work projects 
was 3.827. Distribution, by counties, of the number awaiting assignment, was as- 
follows : 




Number of 



Number of 



Mercer. -.^ 

Morton '..'. 


' ' 155 

Mountrail iij^-u 

Nelson ^.^i-^..i^.ii^.»i..Lwij.[.-u<._. 

Oliver :..'.--.'.... 

; 99 

; 39 


Pembina . - - .'. 





Ramsey .j^.* 

Ranson. . . 


Cass - - .- 


Cavalier.. Lf. --!-;■--. -,.i---.-—!.4—r-.,.-u 

Dickey -.-^^-'^^-^--.^-y-.^J'^.— 

Divide ..!^:^l-:-.'h?:LZ^[':Il'.! 

Renville . ,>i^^.-ij 




Sheridan ,, 



Eddy ,-.^^..^...--.,^.......... 


Sioux . :-- :.-..--- .. 




Stark . 





Stutsman . 














McHenry -_ 








McLean... .. 

The number of persons employed on Work Projects Administration projects 
on March 6. 1939. was 15,(107, from March 6 to 27 the number decreased by 
2,531 to a total of 13,076. 

The number of persons employed on w(»rk projects or other Federal agencies 
on March 6, 1939. was 432. From March (i to 27 there was an increase of 114 
in the number of persons so employed to a total of 54ti on March 27, 1940. 

Tlie net decrease in employment on Work Projects Administration projects 
and projects of other Federal agencies from March to 27 was 2,417. The 
anticipated reductions in April in the number of persons employed on Federal 
work projects is 1,300. Unless there is a pick up in private employment in 
excess of what can be expected, it will be necessary to provide direct relief 
to most of these people and to their families. 


Data relative ro tax delinquency are not wholly satisfactory. There is no 
central listing of data necessary for complete analysis of the problem. The 
amount and percentage of total State taxes which were delinquent for the 
years 1934 to 1938 on December 31, 1939, was as foUows : ,,,:, ,, .,,^i,. „ f j 



Amount col- 

Amount de- 



$3, 533, 594. ,56 
2, 178, 872. 92 
2, 300, 573. 67 
2, 880. 559. 77 
2, 738, 536. 16 

$3. 309. 328. 37 
1. 799. 323. 52 
1. 742, 697. 57 
1, 564. 065. .53 

.$224, 266. 19 
379. .549. 40 
557, H76. 10 
547, 927. 10 
900, 263. 49 

6. 3.T 

1934 . - 

17. 42 

1935 r 


24. 25 
25. 94 

1937 .. 




15, 744, 129. 71 

12, 196, 731. 74 

3, 547, 397. 97 


The i)ercent of local taxes for years which was deliiupient on Decem- 
ber 31, 1939, would be approximately the same for the State as a whole. Apply- 


ing these peroentiiRes to tl\(' aRgregato amount of taxes levied for the years- 
193"?-38 and using actual figures as to State taxes, it is indicated that for the 
year 1933 to 193S, inclusive, uncollected and delinquent taxes amount to the 
iiggregate sum of $28,298,843. The distribution of this delinquency is as 
follows : 

State taxes , $3, 547, 39& 

County taxes 7, 877, 391 

Citv, village, and township taxes , 4,824, 2!>6 

School taxes 12, f>49. 7ri8 

Total .— 28, 298, 843 

The percentage of the 1938 State levy uncollected on December 31, 1939, was 
34. The percentage of taxes delinquent in each county is as follows: 

Percentage of li)SS State tax levy delinquent on Dec. 31, 1939 


Adams 45. 02 

Barnes 30. 40 

Benson 29. 07 

Billings 38. 08 

Bottineau 26. 86 

Bowman 47. 85 

Burke 30. 63 

Burleigh 27. 04 

Cass 18. 33 

Cavalier 37. 48 

Dickey 39. 15 

Divide 67. 92 

Dunn 53. 46 

Eddy 32. 44 

Emmons 57. 01 

Foster 28. 22 

Golden Valley 20. 50 

Grand Forks 16. 39 

Grant 64. 50 

Griggs 29. 51 

Hettinger 51.12 

Kidder 50. 97 

LaMoure 35. 62 

Logan 55. 10 

McHenry 31. 16 

Mcintosh 62. 46 

McKenzie 51. 98 

McLean 55. 35 


Mercer 47. 85 

Morton 59. 52 

Mountrail 51. 05 

Nelson 35. 51 

Oliver 32. 99 

Pembina 15. 96 

Pierce 34. 94 

Ramsey 24. 11 

Ransom 29. 23 

Renville 42. 14 

Richland 27. 42 

Rolette 34. 86 

Sargent 25. 46 

Sheridan 46. 46 

Sioux 53. 65 

Slope 64. 14 

Stark 37. 61 

Steele 30. 92 

Stutsman 39. 48 

Towner 25. 96 

Traill 16. 99 

Walsh 16. 65 

Ward 31. 41 

Wells 43. 17 

Williams 57.08 

State average 34. 00 

The above figures indicate a percentage delinquency distribution as follows: 

Percentages of 



Percentage of 

total number 

of counties in 

each group 

Percentages of 



Percentage of 
total number 
of counties in 
each group 

Under 20 




50 to 60- -- 



20 to 30 

Over 60.- 





It should be noted that this percent of delinquency existed 1 year after the 
taxes became due, after both installments of real-estate taxes had become 
delinquent, and after taxes had been offered for sale at the annual tax sale on 
the second Tuesday in December. 




In the fiscal year ended June 30, 1939, the State collected $11,413,169 in taxes. 
Of this total, $4,r>57,3ti8 was shared with local governmental units in order to 
assist local governments in the maintenance of public schools, construction and 
maintenance of liighways, and supplying necessary relief. Of the total amount 
shared with local units, .$1 ,6r)(),(i00 was disbursed as State aid to schools; 
$1,452,732 (of motor-vehicle and fuel taxes) was shared with counties for high- 
way purposes: $^^46,941 (from liquor taxes) was disbursed to counties to be 
applied as a credit on real-estate taxes; 1,079.023 was disbursed as State aid to 
counties, for ccuuity poor-relief purposes, and $28,672 was disbursed to cities 
and villages for fire-protection puriwses. 

This left a balance of $6,85.5,801 for all State purposes. Of the total retained 
by the State, $(509,0.54 was dedicated to meet interest and sinking-fund require- 
ments ; and $832,338 was required to meet requirements for social-security 
programs for the care of the aged, the blind and dependent, neglected and 
crippled children, which left a total of only $5,414,409 to meet the operating 
expenses of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of State government, 
the maintenance and operation of all penal, charitable, and educational institu- 
tions, and for the operation and maintenance of all other fiuictions and activi- 
ties of the State government. 

The 1937 legislative assembly appropriated $4,900,000, to be available for 
relief and public-assistance programs during the 1937-39 biennium. The appro- 
priation for general relief proved to be insufficient and the 1939 legislative 
assembly made an emergency appropriation of ,$927,923 to meet the deficiency 
in the regular relief appropriation. This made the total of relief appropriations 
$5,827,923 for the 1937-39 biennial period. 

The appropriation for the 1939-41 biennium for relief and welfare programs 
totaled $4,954,700. (This was in addition to the emergency deficiency appro- 
priation cited above.) The amount appropriated for the 1939-41 biennium for 
public-relief programs was 29.9 percent of the total State budget— exclusive 
of earmarked tax collections for highway purposes. 

A comparative statement of the 1929 and 1939 appropriation from general- 
revenue collections appears on the following page. 

Comparative analysis of appropriations of the 1929 and 1939 leffislative assem- 
blies from general State revenue fund 

I. Oeneral government 

II. Protection to person and property.. 

III. Corrections 

IV. Conservation of health and sanitation 

V. Development of agriculture and marketing. 

VI. Development and conservation of natural 


VII. Highways 

VIII. Charities -- 

IX. Hospitals 

X. Education 

XI. Recreation 

XII. Miscellaneous 

Amount appropriated for general relief and other 
public-assistance programs included under 
"Charities'" in above statement 

Percent of total amoimt appropriated , 

Amount appropriated in — 


1 $1,045,748 
605, 427 
591, 774 


265, 480 

429, 590 

4, 851, 095 

88, 991 

9, 044, 466 







724, 512 
570, 622 
,560, 096 
552, 678 

139, 850 

2 21, 800 
5, 192, 067 


6, 864, 625 



16, .547, 774 

4, 954. 700 








Increase -|-; 
decrease — 

+mO. 470 

-t- 119, 085 


-f 146, 576 


-f 78, 810 


+4, 926, 537 


-1-2, 013, 530 


-1-124, 229 

-1-7, 503, 308 

1 Includes State land commission and industrial commission. 

' Maintenance of Yellowstone Bridge, McKenzie County. 

Note —Due to a constitutional change effective July 1, 1939, the fiscal policies of the State were revised 
in 1939 and the above statement is for that reason not an entirely accurate comparison. 

It is conservatively estimated that the revenues of the State government during the current biennium will 
fall approximately .$4,000,000 short of the amount required to meet legislative ai)propnations for the bieunium. 




liukT the statutes of Xortli Dakota pradicaUy every item of general expense 
whicJi may be incurred by county governments is mandatory upon the county. 
Each county i« retiuired lo pay its oflicials the amount of salary six>cified by 
the laws of the Stale, pay court costs, pay election expen.«e. maintain a court- 
house in which public business can be transacted, pay for the care of insane, 
feeble minded, and tubercular in State institutions, etc. In addition, care of the 
poor is an obligation placed upon county u(>v<'rmnents by statute. None of 
these activities are optional. They are all mandatory. 

In the face of such situation, we have laws which i)rolill)it tiie levy of taxes 
for general c(nuity i»urposes in excess of S mills on the dollar. According to 
the liest information which is available, the mandatory activities and functions 
imposed upon county governments by law, exclusive of poor relief, cannot be 
tinanced through an 8-m.ill levy in approximately 22 counties in North Dakota. 
The total amount produced by the application of an 8-null levy to the taxable 
value, plus all general revenue collections, of the county, not earmarked for 
special, produces an amount which in 22 comities is less than the 
amount rerpiired to finance activities which are mandatory on the counties 
under the laws of the State, excluding poor relief from consideration. 

Thirty-four percent of the 1938 State levy was uncollected on January 1. 
1940. Tax delimiuency, in connection with the State levy, was in excess of 50 
percent of the amount levied iu 115 counties. 

Restating the foregoing it may be said that — 

First. In 22 counties in North Dakota <»ut of the 53 counties it is impossible 
to levy sufficient to balance the county budget. 

Second. In 37 of the 53 counties over 30 i)ercent of the 1938 levy was uncol- 
lected on January 1, 1940. 

Third. In most of the counties of the State a large percentage of the amount 
of taxes currently being levied from year to year will never be collected. 

■\\hile it is true that the 8-mill limitation on county general revenue levies 
imposed under the statutes of North Dakota is an arbitrary limitation which 
can be readily removed by the legislative assembly, nevertheless it is a practical 
impossibility to secure an adjustn>ent in this limitation. The inequity and 
iniquity of imposing additional taxes on a people without the resources to meet 
lu-esent tax burdens is the argument that overwhelms every attempt to secure a 
change in this limitation. 

Some additional idea of the .situation of county governments may be obtained 
from the collection records of the public-welfare board, in connection with 
Collections from counties covering counties' share of old-age a.ssistance and aid- 
to-dependent-children payments. The record of registered warrants, issued by 
the various coimty governments and held by the public-welfare board at the 
end of each 6 nvonths' period since June 30, 1936, is as follows : 


Amount of 
held by pub- 
lic welfare 

of coun- 
ties rep- 


Amount of 
held by pub- 
lic welfare 

of coun- 
ties rep- 

Tune 30 1^36 

Dec. 31, 1938 

$65, 277 23 

Dec 31 1936 

.$23, 509 
53. 158 



June 30, 1939 

148, 183 23 

June 30 1937 

Dec. 31, 1939 

221,025 24 

Dec 31, 1937 

Feb. 29, 1940 

248,839 25 

June30. 1938- — --.. 


The above figures do not include a total of $103,654 in registered warrants 
sold to the Bank of North Dakota by the public welfare board during the above 
periods. The steady increase in the number of counties doing business on a 
regi.stered-warrant basis, or on a deferred-payment basis, is indicative of the 
increasing financial difficulties confronting county governments. 

As of February 29, 1940, variout county governments owed the public welfare 
board a total of "$;^66,563.42 for old-age assistance and aid-to-dependent-children 
advances. These debt obligations were as follows: 



For old-aso assistaiu-e (of this anuniiit $52,'.)14.81 wa.'^ on open 

account and $143,240.91 was evidenced b.v re{,'i.stered warrants)— $196,160.71 

For aid to dependent children (of this amount $64,808.31 was on 
open account and $10.1,494.40 was evidenced b.v registered war- 
rants) 170. 402.71 

In one county no reimbursements have ever been made to the State to cover 
the county's share of old-age assistance and aid to dependent children. Accounts 
of this county are unpaid for a period of 3 years and 8 months. Another 
county is 20 months delinquent; three counties are 12 months delinquent; one 
county 9 montlis ; another 8 months; and another 6 monihs. 

It should be noted that counties were responsible for one-third of the cost 
of aid to dependent children prior to January 1. 1940, and since that date have 
been responsible for 25 percent of the cost; also that prior to July 1, 1039, 
counties were responsible for 25 percent of the cost of old-age-assistauce pay- 
ments and since that date have been responsible for only 71/2 percent of the 
cost of such payments. 

Gross debt of county governments, classified by 'character and gross debt less sinking 
fund assets, June 30, 1939 

Gross debt 

Gross debt less sin 








Percent of 
tax base 

.$93, 731 
125, 449 
150, 567 
164, 157 
190, 852 
164, 578 
279, 979 
459, 765 

91, 657 

324, 078 
231, 658 

87, 813 

19, 963 
478, 357 
109, 303 
256, 074 

78, 242 
118, 766 
150, 907 
136, 362 
567, 022 
450, 958 
268, 088 
945, 450 

88, 368 

60, 892 


247, 555 

124, 873 


91, 934 


$40, 731 

107, 449 

23, 567 
31, 157 
53, 852 

230, 979 

45, 765 


21, 657 



61. 078 

57. 423 


35, 813 


19, 963 


109, 303 

75, 074 


53, 766 

69, 907 

?3, 437 

52, 562 


260, 9,58 

63. 088 

234, 450 

124, 512 

( 52, 368 

[20. 892 


108, 555 

24. 873 
82. 530 

$1, 549 


1 5, 106 



46, 599 

"7," 787" 





57, 638 

13, 681 

13, 413 





3, .341 


"44,' 169" 
19, 286 

.$92, 182 
105. 190 

148, 401 
79, 116 

182, 264 
169, 684 
278, 619 
454, 715 


86, 925 
401, 401 
113, 109 

82. 743 

470, 570 
109, 303 
230, 198 

147. 309 

149. 799 
122, 681 
553, 609 
449. 165 
261, 640 
838, 210 
39.5, 051 

85, 027 
1 10, 529 
223, 244 
89, 422 

$14. 53 

33. 15 




33. 45 









■ 9.39 


29. 17 







Barnes . - 

. 7 







Burke - -- -- -- - 


Burleigh . 





263, 000 








Dunn - .- - - - 


Eddy , - 




Foster - 


Golden Valley 


Grand Forks 

. 1 

Grant. .- -- 

367, 525 



Hettinger -^ 

184. 000 
454, 000 
272, 000 




LaMoure -- 


Logan - - 




Mcintosh - 


McKenzie - - 


McLean . 



7. 7 

Mountrail . 



1. 1 

Oliver . - 


. 1 


139, 000 
160, 000 


Ramsey - - 



Renville ... - 



316, 244 
210, 126 
134, 695 
139, 607 
430, 277 


73, 500 



155, 244 

98, 126 
61, 195 
58, 607 
34. 028 


150, 357 
12, 720 

206, 147 
279. 920 
195, 308 

18. 25 




5. 7 



Slope - 


Stark ._ 



. 5 


1. 1 



1 Credit. 



Gii)s.s drht of roinitil fjo rem mint h, cla-Hsifud hij character ami ijroxK debt lenn swk- 
iiifj fund asxetfi, June .W, tU.iii — Continued 


dross debt 


Oross debt less sinking fund 







Percent of 
tax base 


52, 539 

49. 351 

210, 537 

1, 000, 183 

156, 469 

642, 444 

125, 000 
37, 000 
437, 000 

19, 351 

85, 537 
394, 183 
205, 444 


73, 324 
3, 501 

79, 716 

47, 358 
206, 121 
926. 8.59 
152, 968 
562, 728 

27. 59 
2S. 78 














7, 591, 325 

1, 156, 572 

909, 224 

10, 838, 673 



Gross debt, less sinking fund assets of North Dakota counties. 19-12 and 1930 
[Includes debt of county governments only] 



Barnes _-_ 












Eddy --- 



Golden Valley - 
Grand Forks-.. 



Hettinger - 








.$29, 000 
43, 000 
62, 000 
61, 000 
48, 000 
295, 000 
203, 000 


177, COO 



30, 000 




197, 000 



$92, 182 

$63, 182 

105, 190 

62, 190 



79, 116 


182, 264 

167, 264 


108, 684 

278, 619 

230, 619 




1 198, 585 



86, 925 

59, 925 


224, 401 




107, 109 

228, 442 

228, 442 

82, 743 

82, 743 

2, 493 

' 27, 507 



470, 570 

99, 570 

109, 303 


230, 198 

169, 198 








103, 799 

122, 681 

33, 681 

553, 609 

356, 609 

449, 165 

449, 165 



Morton -.- 
Mountrail . 


Oliver . 



Richland. - 






Stark .'. 









Net increase. 





28, 000 
48, 000 

101, 000 
35, 000 

50, 000 

93, 000 
348, 000 


838, 210 
395, 051 
85, 027 
46, 637 
203, 386 
1 10, 529 
223, 244 
89, 422 



206, 147 



279, 920 


195, 308 



206, 121 

926. 859 


562, 728 

3,777,000 10,838,673 


167. 640 

529, 210 


85, 027 

' 20, 363 


156, 386 


223, 244 

89, 422 

' 27, OCO 


48, 664 

158, 147 

30, 967 

96. 341 

95, 920 

23, 290 

145. 308 


• 45, 642 

142, 121 

578, 859 

1.52, 968 



|_i Decrease. 



The comparative statement of county debt for 1932 and 1989 indicate.s that 
in 48 of the 53 countle.s thei'e was an increase in county debt <luring the 7- 
year period. The table .shows that total county debt of all counties, less sinking 
fund as.sets, increased from $3,777,000 in 1932 to $10,838,673 in 1939. The 
percentage increase was 187 percent. Nearly all of this increase in 
is due to unbalanced budgets resulting from tax delinquency and expenditures 
loi- i-elief beyond the fiscal capacity of county governments to meet from 
current revenues. 


The total gross debt less sinking fund assets of State and local governments 
in North Dakota, exclusive of special assessment debt, on June 30. 19.39, wa.s 
approximately $50.008.(H)4 or $73.45 per capita. Including .special assessment 



debt of $7,179,481. the total gross debt less sinkiuK fund .assets was $o7.187,.".4." 
or .$88.99 per capita. Most of this indebtedness, with the exceptioti of county 
debt, was incurred during prosperous times, when debt burden was probably 
not excessive. 

Gross debt less sinkiii;/ funds. Jiaie 30, 19-W 

Stat<^- -- - 

County - -- 

Cities, villages, townships, etc. 

Schools -- 

Subtotal - 

Special assessment debt for cities, villages, and park districts 

Total - -- 


$22, 864, 442 
10. 838, 673 

50, 008. 064 
7, 179, 481 

Per capita 


73. 45 


The foundation upon which these debts now rest has been underniined. The 
proi)erty-tax base, for instance, since 1929 shrunk 54Vj percent, and as the prop- 
erty tax represents the source from which these debts must be retired, this 
shrinkage in the tax base is very significant. Of even more significance than 
the shrinkage in the property-tax base is the shrinkage in tlie agricultural income 
and total income. Compared with average agricultural income in the pre- 
depression years 1924-28, 1939 income shows a shrinkage of 42 percent. Income 
figures for 1937, the last year for which the United States Department of Com- 
merce has published income estimates, showed a shrinkage compared with 1929 
of 29 percent. For the year 193.o. the drop from 1929 figures was 6r> percent. 
Since that time, there has been a gradual increase in total income compared 
with the 1929 base year. 


Since a year ago. farm relief supplied through the Farm Security Adminis- 
tration has dropijed 88 percent. This drop represents in part a decrease In 
relief in needs and in part a restriction of Farm Security Administration relief 
grants to operating farmers only. This lias meant that stranded farm families 
and farm laborers have been excluded from Farm Security Administration grant 
benefits and that the relief burden for such relief people has been thrown on the 
State and county governments except to the extent that the Work Projects Ad- 
ministration has assisted in taking care of the situation. 

The decreases in the number of persons employed on Federal work programs 
xnnh'v the Work Projects Administration and other Federal agencies have 
created an emergency situation in North Dakota. The proposed additional de- 
creases in the number of people employed on Federal works projects under the 
Work Projects Administration will greatly aggravate an already serious 

The limitation in Federal programs which is already effective has created a 
bad situation which is very certain to become much worse if additional limita- 
tions are put into effect. State and county governments will have to assume 
a very large additional financial burden at a time when they are already suffi- 
ciently laden with financial burdens— at a time when they have less ability to me(>t 
such burdens than ever before. 

Neither the State nor the counties of North Dakota have the financial re- 
sources to meet additional relief burdens. Both the resources and the credit 
of many counties is exhausted. Tax burdens now are in excess of the ability 
of the people to pay. County debts have increased about 187 percent in 7 years. 
due to the inabilit.v of county governments to balance their budgets, because of 
heavv relief expenditures and extensive tax delinquency. 

The State debt cannot be increased but slightly without a constitutional 
amendment which must be approved by a majority of the v(tters. The history 
of recent vears indicates the absurdity of expecting the people to approve an 
increase in State debt when there is grave doubt as to their ability to liquidate 
existing debt. 



What is to bo done about the situation? The continuation of Federal emer- 
jiency relief programs is imperative if human suffering is to be averted. This, 
however, is not the final answer. It is merely a stoj>gap solution essential to 
provide the time to work out a permanent program of rehabilitation or reen) 
jiloyment of those now dependent on public support. 

The most immediate reijuirement in th<' very serious crisis confrf)ntiiig the 
State is the recognition on the part of the Congress and tin- Federal administra- 
tion that the State and counties cannot assume additional relief burdens when 
they are unable to meet present burdens. More relief is not a satisfactory final 
solution of the problem, but it is a necessary temporary solution. 

For the correction of conditions that have led to mass dependency, it is 
necessary that constructive measures be taken to bring about an adjustment of 
the unbalanced economic conditions where want exists b(>cause too great an 
abundance and where unemployment exists because of an excess of ability to 
produce. The danger is real that without a substantial increase in Work 
Projects Administration employment in North Dakota combined with a plan for 
immediate rehabilitation of stranded farm families there will be very great 
distress among thousands of families. 

Relief expenditures from State, county, and local funds for direct relief, admin- 
istration, and sponsorship of tcork-relief projects, 1936 to 1939, inclusive 

Expenditures for direct 
relief and administration 

a]', diviisions 

of Govern- 



From county 

From State 


$785, 794 
2, 466, 834 
2, 053, 289 

I, 503, 660 
1, 432, 856 

$2, 781, 181 
3. 155, 367 
2, 534, 359 

$5, 007, 385 


5, 305. 867 


6. 777, 590 

1939 --- 

6, 020, 504 

Total, 4 years . 

7, 404, 480 

5, 529, ,=591 

10, 177, 275 


Note.— Includes relief expenditures for all programs. 



Mr. WiLLSON. Might I be permitted to comment on the set-up insc^- 
far as State settlement is concerneiH It was brought out in that 
case between North and South Dakota this morning. As State 
director of the welfare board, I am very familiar with that case, 
and I would like to say it is one of numerous similar cases, difficulties 
we have had with South Dakota. Apparently, in South Dakota, the 
State provides no money for direct relief, depending entirely upon 
the counties to take care of the direct relief cases. 

Chairman Tolan. Well. Mr. Willson, that problem i.^n't peculiar 
to North and South Dakota alone. We find it in New York, New 
Jersey, and other States. That is right, isn't it? 

Mr. Willson. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. What is your suggestion upon settlement laws? 
Would you abolish them ail? Would you have uniformity, and if 
uniformity, what limits would you place on the time? 

Mr. Willson. I would certainly be in favor of uniform settlement 
laws. A great deal of our difficulty in migration is due to the lack 
of uniformity in settlement laws, 'and as Mr. Hulm stated, and I 


think a member of the committee stated, here was a family without 
a country. They had no residence any phice, and that is the hiw. 
There are man}' people in the same situation. 

Mr. Parsons. But you wouldn't advocate the abandonment of set- 
tlement laws altojrether? 

Mr. WiLLsox. Not unless there could l)e Federal aid on an equaliza- 
tion basis to the vStates for relief, as we in North Dakota pve aid to 
the counties on an e(iualization basis from State funds. 

Mr. Parsons. Ri<rht there, Mr. Willson, of course, you realize that 
the Federal Government has no rijjht to say to the individual States 
what residence laws they will enact, whether it's 1 year or 5. They 
have raised barriers, some of them, from 6 months up to 5 years, 
as yon know. But if the Federal Government participated in assist- 
ance for these mifrrant destitute families, it could lay down the con- 
ditions under which that aid could be o;ranted, couldn't it? 

ISIr. Willson. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. And. therefore, you tell this committee that you are 
in favor of some sort of uniform settlement laws? 

Mr. Willson. Well, you have a need for Federal aid for mijjrant 
relief families, destitute families, or families who can't acquire 

Mr. Parsons. In other words, the load is too big for the individual 

Mr. Willson. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. Go right ahead now. 

Lu\CK of federal policy for land settlers cause of 3IIGRATI<»N 

Mr. Willson. Our difficulty with respect to migrant farm families 
is not a problem insofar as migrant families coming into North Da- 
kota as it is our families going into California. We l-iave had a great 
many North Dakota families who left the State, and we have a very 
large number of farm families, farm resident families, stranded in our 
towns and cities who would like to go some place, if there was a 
place for them. As I pointed out in my brief, the problem results, 
in western North Dakota particularly, from a lack of any policy, 
on the part of the Federal Government, which might be designed to 
permit a settler to make a living. 

AVhen western North Dakota was settled, a homesteader could get a 
quai'ter section of land. When eastern North Dakota was settled, when 
tlie Red River Valley was settled, with fine tillable land, and much 
more rainfall, the average settler could get a homestead, a tree claim, 
and a preemption, and the average settler got about that acreage, about 
three quarter sections. By the time western North Dakota was settled, 
^vliere the percentage of tillable land was only about ")() j^ercent as com- 
pared with 100 percent in the Red River Valley, and where the rain- 
fall is much lower and agricultural production much more hazardous, 
the homesteaders could get only a quarter section: the ti-ee claim and 
preemption acts had been repealed, and the eidarged Homestead Act 
of 1JI09 was passed after most of western North Dakota was settled, so 
it was practically impossible for the settler of western Noi'th Dakota 

2434 INTKKSTA'n-: mkjuation 

to make a liviii<r. He had to move on, to <iet a lai^^er acieajve. Thcr 
survey which we made while I was in research work, showed that tliere 
liad befrnn to be a considerable decrease in number of faimers and an 
increase in the avera«2;e size of farm in western North Dakota, and in 
1925 that condition was continuin<i-. Il was takino- care of itself, be- 
cause the people who left tlie farms sold out to the farmers who stay<'d : 
those who left went west or into Canada or Montana; aj^ain they were 
takino- care of themselves, and the readjustment was takinjr place, be- 
cause in time this would liave resulted in lar<>;e enou«>h faiin units in 
North Dakota, western North Dakota, to support a family. But before 
that happened, the droujrht of the thirties and the depression of 19:29 
struck, so thei-e was no place for these people to ^o to settle more land : 
they had nothino- with which to jjet out of the country; there were no 
jobs for them on the Pacific coast or in Canada. thou<!;h a oreat many 
of them moved. 

Mr. Parsoxs. You had a fallin<!; water table in tiie Dakotas. too^ 
didn't you? 

Mr. WiLLSON. That is true. 

Mr. Parsons. Beginninj>- in the late twenties? 

Mr. WiLLSON. There was a very marked fall in the water table, 
which in many areas resulted in farmers being unable to get water 
even for their stock. 

Mr. Parsons. There is some restoration being made. now. we 
understand, in the last few years. You have liad more snow? 

Mr. WiLLSON. And more rain. 

Mr. Parsons. That is materially restoring tlie water table? 

Mr. WiLLSON. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. Well, how long, at this pace, will it take to restore 
that water level? 

Mr. WiLLSON. I don't know. I am not familiar enough with the 
water situation. 

Mr. Parsons. What have you heard speculated about it, by other 

Mr. WiLLSON. Well, it probably would take a long time. I don't 
know. T haven't heard. 

Mr. Parsons. The statement was made to me yesterday, from those 
who have studied the problem, that for 25 or 30 years, here, they have 
been losing moisture. 

Ml". WiLLSON. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. And that if the normal rainfall of the good years was 
restored it would take probably 35 or 40 years to restore the tables and 
the moisture conditions that they had here in Nebraska 40 years ago. 
Do you think tliat would be partially i f not wholly true in the Dakotas? 

Mr. WiLLSON. Yes; it would. 

Mr. Parsons. That is all. Mr. Chairman. 

Chairman Tolan. From your statement, Mr. AVillson, it is noted 
that the migration from Nortli Dakota has kept increasing since 
1921. Did the activities of the Federal Government aid in keeping 
people on the land, or did it hasten the migi'ation during a period 
shoi-tlv after 1929? 



Mr. WiLLSON. I think tlio activities of the Federal Government, to 
some extent, hastened mijjjration in limited areas, where the Gov- 
ernment bonofht land under the land-use program. 

Chairman Tolan. Yes. 

ISIr. WiLLsoN. But that program was very desirable, because the 
peoi)le who weie attem])(ing to make a living in that area, because 
of the small aci-eage and low i-ainfall. were on relief, were receiv- 
ing assistance, and it was nnich better for the Govermnent to pur- 
chase that land and attempt to set up grazing units so that the 
people who were left there could be self-supporting, even though 
it meant the movement to towns and cities of a great many farm 
families who were stranded and are at the present time, who are on 
relief and who ])robably will be on relief, unless some way can be 
found to get them on farms. 



Chairman Tolax. Do you attach any significance to the A. A. A. 
program to migration ? 

Mr. WiixsoN. The eifect of the A, A. A. program is beginning to 
be very seriously felt in the eastern and central part of the State 
in the past year or so. As a result of the benefit payments, it is very 
apparent that a large number of large land owners and land 
oijerators. are beginning to see the insurance there is in this triple 
A program, and the possibility of large profits, and I have been 
receiving inci'easingly large numbers of reports from counties in the 
eastern and central part of the State of farmers being pushed off 
from their land and into towns and on relief because the landowners 
are wanting to operate the land themselves. Big operators have 
])urchased or rented very large acreages, thereby forcing the small 
family-sized farmer olT the land and into towns and on relief. And 
that is (me of the most serious things that is happening. 

Mr. Curtis. May I ask a question^ You feel, then, that the writ- 
ers of agricultural legislation must give some more time and atten- 
tion toward making the rewards greater for the family-size farm, to 
stop that trend? 

Mr. WiLLSON. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. What is the limitation now ? 

Mr. WiLLsox. It is my understanding it is $10,000 for the owner 
or the operator. 

Mr. Parsons. 'Wliat would you suggest? 


Mr. WiLLSoN. Well. I think it should not be ovei' $1,000. person- 
ally, to encourage help to the family-sized farmer and discourage 
the larger operator. I think this legislation, gentlemen, is fine, but 
like many things that are done, the results cannot alwa3's be fore- 

J 436 ^ NTKRSTA n-: m i a u xr i < >\ 

seen, and I think them is need for chan«re in the legislation to meet 
the problems which the program is showing up. 

Mr. Parsons. They tell me that in the early days of this country 85 
percent of the jieople were on farms; that is, raising their own food- 
stuffs, and they were never hungry, anyway. We have got away from 
lliat now; we have big farms where there isn't even a vegetable patch. 
So your suggestion would be to set a goal of helping the poorer people 
so they could maintain a home and at least raise their own food, 

iVIr. WiLLsoN. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. And you wouldn't be in favor of that large allowance 
of $10,000. You'd want to cut that down? 

Mr. WiLLsoN. Yes. 

;Mr. Parsons. I think you have a very valuable suggestion there. 

Mr. AYiLLSoN. I don't see how we are possibly going to take care of 
the present population of this country, and certainly not the normal 
increase in population which is coming largely from the farms, unless 
there is encouragement to the farmer to stay on the fiamily-size sub- 
sistence farm. 

:Mr. Parsons. Have you any other method you would suggest for 
strengtliening the tenure of farm family ? 

Mv. WiLLSON. One suggestion : In North Dakota they are voting at 
this next election on an initiated measure which exempts a small home- 
stead unit from taxation, with an increasing tax rate as the acreage 

CARE or migrants in north DAKOTA 

Mr. Parsons. In general, what is tlie procedure followed in taking 
care of migrants who become needy or stranded in your State, Mr. 
Willson? ^ . , 

Mr. WiLLsoN. The procedure is for the county welfare board m the 
county where they become stranded to give them temi^orary aid, and 
contact the State of legal residence, if there is indication of a State 
of legal residence, and through the welfare agency of that State, if 
they acknowledge residence and authorize the return of the family to 
the\State. our county welfare boards give transportation back to their 

The Chairman. Before I forget it, "Mr. Willson. I asked ^Ir. Huliu 
this morning, I think — yon heard the testimony back and forth — if 
South Dakota has a law making it a feloiw to trans[)ort a destitute 
migrant citizen across the line into their State. 

Mv. Willson. Yes. 

The Chairman. They have. In other words, a fellow is punish- 
a])le l)y imprisonment in the i^nitentiary. You understand they have 
such a law? .,..,.«. .j,.,.>--r -/•-/. 1)/p,t •• , 

Mr. Willson. I understand that they have such a Taw and that tlie 
man who moved the family from Burleigh County to South Dakota, 
on a court order, was told he would be arrested if he brought the 
family hi, and for that reason, tlie next time they were taken to the 
South' Dakota line they weren't taken across the line; they were 
unloaded on the North Dakota side and asked to move over. 


The Chairman. On June 29, in New York, AAe heard about the 
appellate court of that State entering a judgment deporting an Oliio 
family under a lOO-year-old statute. You see just what a problem 
we are investigating, don't j^ou? They had 5,000 legal removals last 
year in New York alone, and of course the constitutional question 
wasn't raised, or at least the court didn't decide on it. Of course, we 
figure that ])ersons have a right to migrate under the Constitution, 
that we arc all citizens — su]:)posed to be, anyway — of the 48 States. 
But I never knew of a State that had a law of that kind making 
it a felony to transport a destitute citizen across a State lino. 

Mr. WiLLSON. At the present time this case is in the South Dakota 
courts; the State of North Dakota has brought action in the courts 
in South Dakota, and thus it is in the South Dakota courts. Tlie 
counties to which this familv has moved figured it would take 
$15,000 or $20,000 to take care of them over a period of time. 

The Chairman. Now, your welfare is handled through the coun- 
ties, is it? 

Mr. WiLLSON. Yes. 

The Chairman. Do you think it should reach further: Into the 
townships or villages? 

Mr. Wilt SON. No. 

The Chairman. It becomes unweildy, then? 

Mr. WiLLsoN. Yes : it becomes unwieldy. I think our laws in North 
Dakota, which provide that relief in the counties is administered by 
a county welfare board which is not political, appointed by the county 
commissioners, subject to the approval of the State board, to admin- 
ister all relief and welfare activities with the supervision of thp S'ate 
welfare board, insofar as the expenditure of any State or Federal 
money is concerned, is very good. We have county administration 
with State welfare board supervision, and we make grants of moiyy 
for direct relief to all of the counties on an equalization basis, ta^ving 
into consideration the financial condition of the counties. That S'ate 
aid amounts to as high as 85 and 90 percent, in the western sections, 
where the counties are practically bankrupt, down to 15 or 20 percent 
in some counties. 


The Chairman. Well, Mr. Willson, some people in the United 
States have advocated a solul ion of this migration problem — the reset- 
tlement on land more fertile. Peculiarly, two of them are ex-Presi- 
dent Hoover and Mrs. Roosevelt. That is one thing they agree on, 
anyway. [Laughter.] 

The *^ Chairman. Of course, this committee is going to undertake 
to investigate that as best we may, but we have a tremendous farm 
surplus now. haven't we? 

]\Tr. WiiL'^ON. Yes. 

The Chairman. And I have been thinking, just speaking for my- 
self, that it might afford a solution if thev could be resettled, at least 
have a home and raise enough to eat and be together in a luime. but 
to go in for a large-scale program of that kind, I doubt the advisability 

260370— 41— pt. 4 7 



of that, jiLst speakino; for myself. Now, in your State, have you made 
any effort to alFord resettlement of miojrants? 

i\Ir. WiLLsoN. There are two irrigation projects, one just about 
completed and one under construction, both of which have been spon- 
sored by the North Dakota Rehabilitation Corporation and the State 
Water Conservation Commission, and we think that those two projects 
afford an op])ortunity for a considerable number of farm families to be 
self-supporting. I realize that to put farm families on subsistence 
homesteads where they are going to make a living is not so much going 
to solve the agricultural surplus problem, but yet I think it much 
better to put those families on farms, small farms, where they can 
maintain subsistence status than it is to put that family on W. P. A. 

The Chairman. Yes. 


Mr. WiLLSON. And personally, if every needy person in the United 
States had all they need and should have to eat, it would solve a 
good deal of our surplus problems. There is more a problem of 
distribution than of surplus, I believe, although there is considerable 
surplus production. 

Mr. Curtis. At that point a great deal of your surplus is more or 
less local in nature. By what I mean certain fruits and vegetables 
produced in an irrigated area ; there may be a surplus there, but be- 
cause of the cost of transportation it isn't distributed; I know, as a 
matter of fact, that the boys and girls of North Dakota and Nebraska 
and elsewhere do not have a surplus of fruits and vegetables and 
other things, that can be produced when we have the water supply ; 
is that true ? 

Mr. WiLLsoN. That is very true. The distribution of surplus com- 
modities through the Surplus Marketing Administration and through 
the stamp plan is a wonderful help, and I think it has resulted in an 
improvement in the health of many families on relief, because they 
have been able to have the fruits and vegetables that they should have. 


The Chairman. Mr. Willson, in your exhibit B of your statement 
prepared by L. A. Baker, supervisor, division of accounting, finance 
and reports of the public welfare board, who, as you know, was in- 
vited to appear before this committee, he stated that about 43.000 
out of 78,000 farmers, in 1930, or 53 percent, underwent forced 
foreclosure between 1921 and 1934; is that correct? 

Mr. WiLLSON. Yes. 

The Chairman. Have the foreclosures gone on at the same rate 
since 1934? 

Mr. Willson. At not quite the same rate, because we have had a 
number of moratoriums in North Dakota. 

The Chairman. The Frazier-Lemke moratorium? 

Mr. Willson. We have had some moratoriums, gubernatorial and 
legislative moratoriums, which have forbidden foreclosures and pre- 


vented a county's takino; those deeds to farms, irrespective of the 
amount of taxes which have accumuhited. 

The Chairman. Have you that letter from the executive secre- 
tary to Benson County Welfare Board, dated Auf^ust 20, 1940? It 
is very interesting, expressing a point of view about the triple A 
program. You might read the first two paragraphs of that. 

Mr. WiLLSox. This is the letter from the executive secretary to me : 

Permit me to give my personal reaction to a problem wiiich in Benson County 
is becoming very alarming. I refer to the large number of tenants being forced 
off farms by big tractor-operating owners who farm principally for the purpose 
of drawing Agricultural Adjustment Administration payments. 

Recently authentic word came to me that .John Blank, of Churches Ferry and 
Devils Lake, is asking 20 of his renters in Benson and Ramsey Counties to vacate 
the farms they have been renting, some for many years, as he intends to farm 
these places himself next year. Offhand, 5 of these families are known to me 
personally and have always been enterprising, upright families ; they always 
have made a go of things and have never had assistance ; they have farmed 
3 or 4 quarters and have had a small amount of stock ; they have given the build- 
ings and the soil good care ; now they must even vacate the buildings. 

Mr. Parsons. Is that a general proposition out there, or a particular 
exception to the rule ? 

Mr. WiLLsoN. That is not an exception. Reports from county after 
county are quite similar, the Farm Security Administration advised. 
One county called me up a few days ago and wanted to know if there 
is anything we could do to help 15 Farm Security borrowers who were 
forced off the farms they were on last year and found it impossible to 
secure farms, and that it would be necessary to close out these people, 
sell their livestock and machinery this fall unless farms could be 
obtained, and he said there wasn't a farm to be had, largely due to 
the fact that the larger operators, or the large landholders who are 
not operating, would prefer to rent to the large operator, and tliat in 
many instances the large owner would not rent to a man who doesn't 
have a tractor to operate the land. They preferred tractor farmers to 
horse farmers. 

The Chairman. Now, Mr. Willson, what else, if anything, do you 
have in mind right now that you should state to this committee? 
Your statement covers everything pretty well, and I don't want to cut 
you off, but if there's anything you would like to get over to us, we 
should like to hear it. 

Mr. Willson. I think that everything is in the record. 

The Chairman. Well, we thank you very much, Mr. Willson, and 
be sure to give our respects to Governor Moses. 


]Mr. Curtis. Give your full name to the reporter. 
Mr. Ibert. James L. Ibert. 
Mr. Curtis. How old are you, Mr. Ibert? 
Mr. Ibert. Forty-four. 

Mr. Curtis. And where is your present address ? 
Mr. Ibert. Lacy, S. Dak. Fort Pierre is my closest town — Lacy is 
just a post-office address. 


Mr. Curtis. Are you married? 

Mr. Ibert. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Cuirns. Have you any children? 

Mr. Ibert. No, sir. 

Mr. Curtis. Lacy is in Stanley County, S. Dak.? 

Mr. Ibert. Yes; Stanley County. 

Mr. Curtis. That is ri^ht near the Missouri Rivei-, isn't it ? 

Mv. Ibert. It's about 15 miles back from the river. 

Mr. Curtis. Wliat county is on the other side of the river? 

Mr. Ibert. Hn.oihes County. 

Mr. Curtis. How long have you lived in Stanley County, or near 
there ? 

Mr. Ibert. About 40 years. 

Mr. Curtis. What type of farming or ranching do you do at this 

Mr. Ibert. On a ranch ; I raise cattle. 

Mr. Curtis. How much land do you have? 

Mr. Ibert. I lease about 3,000 acres now. 

Mr. Curtis. And how many cattle do you run? 

Mr. Ibert. I have p:ot 70 head of my own, and I have been running 
for another man tli;>t was on the river. 

Mr. Curtis. You do feeding and finishing them out ? 

Mr. Ibert. Oh, no; just graze them and sell them right to the 
feeder, generally. 

Mr. Curtis. Have you obtained assistance from an}- Government 

Mr. Ibert. No. 

Mr, 'T'uRTis. Have you gotten any loan of any kind ? 

Mr. ^ ERT. Oh, yes; I have a loan, 

M;. Curtis. How much did you borrow and what for? 

Mv. Ibert. A loan of $1,628; a j^ear ago. 

Mv. Curtis. From the Farm Security Administration? 

Mr. Ibert. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Curtis. Have you repaid any of this loan? 

]Mr. Ibert. No, sir; but this year I am going to. 

Mr. Curtis. I see; you are able to make payments when due? 

Mr. Ibert. Next j'ear will be the first year I have to make a pay- 
ment, but I will be able to make the payment. 

Mr. Curtis. Let me ask you this: Do you own the 3,000 acres? 

Mr. Ibert. No ; I don't own any. 

Mr. Curtis. From whom do you rent it? 

INIr. Ibert. I live on the school section; I own all the buildings. 
They give you the right to put the buildings on it and live there. 
And I rent the rest of it from the county and individuals. 

Mr. Curtis. What difficulties do you find with reference to leasing 

Mr. Ibert. Tliey have a big horse outfit right up against me. 
Mr. Curtis. A corporation farm? 
Mr. Ibert. Well, it's a ranch, you see. 
Mr. Curtis. I see. 


Mr. Ibert. It's an Arkansas ontfit that came up hero and raises 
horses and takes them back there, you see. 

Mr. Curtis. How big a ranch have they established ? 

Mr. Ibert. Under fence out about 20 miles one way and 15 or 20 
the other way. 

Mr. Curtis. How many horses do they run in there? 

Mr. Ibert. I couldn't say exactly; they assessed about 1,2C0 this 

Mr. Curtis. Is that ranch increasing in size? 

]\Ir. Ibert. Yes. They have been going out each year and obtain- 
ing more land. Most of the land has been let go back for taxes, and 
they buy this land according to the quantity of it ; they give 50 cents 
or a dollar. Of course, they have a tax title, and then they try to 
get the man that owned it, and they give him 15 or 25 dollars and 
get that. 

Mr. Curtis. Is this actually crowding your neighbors ? 

Mr. Ibert. They have crowded out five different men I know. 

Mr. Curtis. Where have these families gone? 

Mr. Ibert. Just moved out to different places. One of them, they 
bought him another place in order to obtain that ; they made a trade 
with him. They had him shut in so he was only on a quarter section, 
and there was nothing he could do. And now they're over beside him 
again. They've bought all the land and got up beside him again. 

Mr. Curtis. Do you feel there is a possibility that you might be 
forced from the land that you are on? 

Mr. Ibert. Well, I don't'know. I had a pasture, a certain pasture, 
and we never let any cattle in there in the summer. I had it fenced — 
rented it, of course — and a lot of it was county land. He took two 
sections of that last year, and this year he turned around and took 
another pasture. Before that I had some land — I had run this fence 
along a little way. and the first time I saw him he came down and he 
said he wanted to know if I'd let him fence that in, wanted to know 
how much I'd take, and I said, "I don't see any reason for taking any- 
thing." I said, "A neighbor's a neighbor." I just told him to fence 
that in if he wanted to. And he said that was pretty nice of me and 
said, "I'll never come on this side of the road," and then about 2 years 
he took two sections of my pasture, but he's got a lot more the other 
way. I suppose he's got 20 sections on the other side of the road. 

Mr. Curtis. Now, Sir. Ibert, as I understand it, you have been 
brought here by our investigating staff to give this picture to this 
committee, of eliminating family sized farms. Now, do you know- 
has this corporation violated any laws? 

Mr. Ibert. Well, I guess not, as far as I know. Of course, they get 
a lot of land there that could be rented, that nobody else can get 
ahold of, because they'll go out and buy this land and leave three or 
four quarters behind,' see, and they fence it in, and no one could come 
in and lease this. 

Mr, Curtis. And you feel that if you are forced to leave that, you 
don't know where you'll go or what you will be able to do? 


Mr. Ibert, Well, I'd have to hunt a new place. If they run a man 
out, he just has to move. They may not bother me any more. I'm on 
the ed<xe of some rough country that's very poor — third grade; 1934 
and 1936 cleaned out a lot of it. 

Mr. Curtis. At any rate, this is a problem which should have the 
attention of this committee, the matter of the lands and the disposal 
of the lands that have been taken over by the State for taxes? 

Mr. Ii'ERT. By the county commissioners. 

Mr. Curtis. The county and the State — apparently your State legis- 
lature should give some attention to the matter of disposing of it, so 
that at least they could try to stop the elimination of the family sized 

We appreciate your coming here. 

Mr. Parsons. About how many thousand acres does this firm own? 

Mr. Tbert. I couldn't tell you. 

Mr. Parsons. Twenty-five 'or thirty thousand acres? 

Mr. Ibert. I should say. But you see, they leave land in behind, 
that's under their pasture, so unless you counted it all up you 
wouldn't know. 

Mr. Curtis. They get hold of a hundred acres and fence in 500; 
is that right? 

Mr. Ibert. That is right. 

Mr. Parsons. And the fellows lose it? 

Mr. Ibert. Yes. Some of them stay on, and some of them keep 
the taxes up, the people that are in the East and haven't been back 
in 20 years. They left it there and they have heard stories of oil 
people in there, and they're dreaming, and they've just kept hold- 
ing it. Wherever the taxes have gone back, they buy it. 

Mr. Parsons. They have got a tax title ? 

Mr. Ibert. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. What do they raise on this — grass, principally? 

Mr. Ieert. Just the sod. 

Mr. Parsons. It is grazing land? 

Mr. Ibert. It is grazing land ; yes. 

Mr. Parsons. Do you have any agricultural lands or is it purely a 
ranch ? 

Mr. Ibert. Well, purely a ranch. I farm a little for feed. 

Mr. Parsons. How manj?^ cattle do you have on the 3,000 acres? 

Mr. Ibert. About 125 this summer. But, of course, we wouldn't 
need that much land. 

Mr. Parsons. There is still a drought, though? 

Mr. Ibert. Yes ; and the grass is gradually crowding in. It is get- 
ting better, but a third of it doesn't have grass, I would say. 

Mr. Parsons. They haA'e horses and mules on this ranch ? 

Mr. Ibert. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. And then they take them out and sell them? 

Mr. Ibert. Well, first they'd send them to Arkansas and raise them 
for 2 years and then send them back to the market. Now they're try- 
ing to raise their own stock. 

Mr. Parsons. How many men do they employ to look after that 
land, approximately ? 

Mr. Ibert. Only about three men ; something like that. 


Mr. Parsons. Three families? 

Mr. Ibert. No ; they have one family and the rest single men. 15ut 
in the simmier they have a lot of them come up here, with a truck, 
as many as they can get to stand up. They bring them from Arkan- 
sas to lielp put in fence, and then take them back. 

Mr. Parsons. Take them back to Arkansas? 

Mr. IcERT. Yes. They're out in the morning at 6 o'clock and work 
then till dark, and rush them to get it done as fast as they can. They 
work them as hard as they can. 

Mr. Parsons. Is it pretty hard work putting up fences? 

Mr. Ibert. They couldn't get men down there to work that hard; 
they bring them from Arkansas. 

Mr. Parsons. Have you put in any fences ? 

Mr. Ibert. I have built a lot of them myself. 

Mr. Parsons. Do they bring the post holes in from Arkansas? 

Mr. Ibert. No; that is the only thing they don't bring m. [Laugh- 
ter.] They get almost everything else from Arkansas and bring it in. 

Mr. Parsons. Well, thank you very much. 

Mr. Ibert. If a little man wants to buy a little land, they will give 
quite a lot for that to keep him off. 

Mr. Curtis. Mr. Chairman, I have had submitted to me two state- 
ments I wish to keep for the record. One is from Mrs. John Olson 
and the other one is a brief from the Eepublican Valley Conserva- 
tion Association. 

The Chairman. Let them be made a part of the record. 


The Chairman. Mr. Hariy Strunk, as president of the Eepublican 
Valley Conservation Association, who resides at McCook, Nebr., and 
is also the publisher of the McCook Daily Gazette, is here before our 
committee and has submitted a copy of a brief heretofore submitted 
to the National Resources Planning Board at their conference held in 
McCook, Nebr., on September 5, 1940. 

This brief contains many valuable facts, statements, and findings, 
some of which have been heretofore published in the flood-control hear- 
ings of Congress and elsewhere. This committee is unable to print 
this entire brief in our hearings, but the following observations are 

noted. . . . __ 1^1 

The Republican River and its tributaries arise in Kansas and Colo- 
rado, flow through southwestern Nebraska, reenter Kansas, enter 
the Kansas River, and on into the Missouri River. This river valley 
has two definite problems that have a material effect on the problem 
of interstate migration of destitute persons. This valley is subject to 
both severe drought and severe floods. 

In 1935 a flood occurred in this valley that took the lives of 110 or 
more people in Nebraska. The flood menace is constant and each year 
there is a definite, marked, and progressive flood loss. Since this 1935 
flood much of the finest land in this valley has been pr;ictically ruined 
and will not again be productive until flood control and irrigation 
is provided. 


Technically, all of tliis Republican River tenitoiy is an area where 
tlie fjirniing retiuires supplemental water. Irrigation is both needed 
and feasible. 

This committee takes note of the fact that the counties through which 
the Eepubican River and its tributaries flow have suffered a severe 
loss of population in the last 10 years; that foreclosures, tax sales, 
evictions, }K)verty, and hardshi[) ai-e rampant in this valley. All of 
these factors contribute to the {)r()blem now being investigated by this 
connnittec. This connnittee takes cognizance of the point made by 
the Koi)ub]ican Valley Conservation Association that the problem of 
the outward migrati(m of destitute families and individuals of this 
section of southwest Nebraska will not be solved imtil the problem 
of water control and water use is solved for the Republican Valley and 
its tributaries. This excellent brief will be received and made a part 
of the official files of this committee. It will be of great lielp to the 
members of this committee and its staif in their deliberations and 

Mr. Strunk, the committee wishes to thank you for this very valuable 
contribution to our studies. 

(The two statements referred to were received by the reporter as 
exhibits and are held in committee files.) 

Chairman Tolan. The committee will adjourn until 2 o'clock this 

(Thereupon, at 12:40 p. m., an adjournment was taken until 2 
p. m. of the same day.) 


The hearing was resumed at 2 : 10 p. m., at the expiration of the 

Chairman Tolan. The committee will please come to order 
Mr. Willson and Mr. Ward. 


Mr. Curtis. Mr. Ward, you give your full name and your title to 
the reporter, please. 

Mr. Ward. Cal A. Ward, regional director, Farm Security Admin- 
istration at Lincoln. 

Mr. Curtis. Regional director; what is your territory? 

Mr. Ward. Kansas, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, except 25 
counties in Kansas. 

Mr. Curtis. And Mr. Willson, your full name and title. 

Mr. Willson. C. H. Willson, regional director. Farm Security Ad- 
ministration at Denver, for Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado, with 
the exception of a few Dust Bowl counties down at the southeast 


INIr. Curtis. You <>eiitlemen liave pi-opared wiitten stntemonts 
Avliich cover your work, which are received for the record and will be 
made a part of it. 

(The statements referred to are as follows :) 



The rehabilitation program of the Farm Secnrit.v Administration is one of 
self-help for the hard-up farmer. He helps himself through planning and wise 
use of credit which is extended by tlie Gavernment after all other sources of 
credit have failed him. 

It is not a relief program, and it is not charity. It improves the American farm 
family's chance to remain on the farm in spite of adverse circumstances of the 
past several years. It gives the hard-hit farm family a chance at an acceptable 
living standard, and improves tenure prospects. 

It can hardly be said that a farmer has attained the rehabilitation of his family 
unless he achieves a substantial anchorage to the land to which he is suited. The 
stability of agriculture (on wliich the stability of the Nation largely depends) is 
threatened by the insecurity of a large number of farm families. In the Nation 
some 42 percent of the farmers do not own a square foot of land. Thousands of 
these families must move each year, in each State. Moves are costly and con- 
tribute directly to economic insecurity. 

Frequent changes from one farm to another, even in tlie same neighborhood, 
are bad for the farmers. They are also bad for the land. A farm with three dif- 
ferent farmers on it in five years, each abusing the soil to get as much as possible 
out of it, will lose its productivity. If one farmer could be assured of tenure for 
that 5-year period, he could plan to conserve the soil and the facilities, and plan 
his own liveliliood at the same time. 

One aim of the Farm Security Administration is to help this shifting farm 
population fasten its roots in the soil. The specific problems differ in various 
regions. We are concerned most directly with problems in North and South 
Dakota, Nebraska, and all of Kansas except 25 western and southwestern counties. 

Many distressed farmers have approached the county offices of Farm Security 
under the vague impression that here was just another lending agency where they 
could possibly float one more loan. But they learned the emphasis is on self- 
rehabilitation possibilities. They have leadily fallen in line with the idea of 
planning for security. They have learned that the money represented in the loan 
was simply the necessary financing to put sound plans into effect, and that plans 
and loans are based on the probability of orderly repayment in line with income 
from the farms The income in each instance has been figured in accordance with 
a farm and home management plan worked out with or by the farm family. 

This plan is designed to afford self-sufficiency through home producticn of liv- 
ing needs, use of power produced on the farm, utilization of family labor, and 
production and maintenance of livestock feed reserves. Home production of 75 
percent of family living requirements is accepted as a goal. Normal participation 
in community life is kept in mind. 

Family requirements for food, clothing, household operation, personal expenses, 
medical care, housing improvements, furniture, and so on, necessary to famil.v 
health and comfort, are considered living i-equireincnts. County home manage- 
ment supervisoi-s advise with the families in these matters and help the family 
get started keeping farm and home records. 

One rehabilitation aim is the sale of livestock products, such as cream, butter, 
eggs, and poultry, to meet family cash requirements. The plan gives important 
consideration to selection of animal units to produce the needed income through 
sale of products. 

Sale of .surplus livestock and livestock increases is figured to pay farm operat- 
ing costs and to retire ind(>btedness. Too nnich dependence on cash-crop income 
is discouraged. Encouragement is given to diversification, including develoi> 
ment of balanced livestock enterprises suited to the farm and farmer. 


Gross income is figured as closely as it can be, and from that is deducted family 
living costs, operating expenses, and costs of capital goods to be purchased. The 
remainder is estimated as available for repayment of the Farm Security Admin- 
istration loan and other indebtedness. Repayments are scheduled for the length 
of the loan period. 

Development of the plan reveals the debt-paying power of the farmer, and it is 
in this connection that the county supervisor and the local farm-debt ad.iu.stment 
committee seek arrangements between debtor and creditors to permit the plan 
to be carried through. 

The rehabilitation program must fit each locality. Flexibility and local fitness 
is enhanced by the county rehabilitation advisory committee as well as by the 
local farm-debt adjustment committee and, in tenant-purchase counties, the local 
T. P. committee. For instance, the rehabilitation advisory committee assists in 
passing on borrower eligibility, interprets rehabilitation needs, and assists with 
problem cases. 

County and home management supervisors visit borrowers' homes to assist 
with farm problems and to offer counsel in better farm and home management 
practices. The record book kept by each borrower family rellects farm and 
home activities for the year. The record, showing costs and income, is sum- 
marized at the close of each year and forms the basis for the ensuing year's 

Farm Security Administration must accept the individual problem of each 
family as it exists and help plan on the basis of whatever acreage the 
farmer has available or can obtain through the agency's help. In many instances 
this m'^ans intensification practices in order to get the most returns possible 
from what they have to work with and in line with good soil practices. In this 
connection attention is given to soil-conservation practices and to adaptable 
water facilities. 

Grants are made to needy farm families for subsistence needs pending possible 
rehabilitation loans and to supplement income for subsistence needs of rehabili- 
tation borrowers while productive units provided for in the plans are brought 
into production. 

Several instrument.alities or tools are used by the Farm Security Administra- 
tion to accomplish results. These include farm-debt adjustment, cooperative 
services, water-facility loans, resettlement projects, tenant-purchase loans, leasing 
associations, and tenure improvement. Each tool will be discussed briefly. 


The function of farm-debt adjustment is to secure an understanding between 
debt-burdened farmers and their creditors, of the farm enterprise, its produc- 
tive paying ability, and the adjustment of the farm indebtedness accordingly. 
It is expected that each debtor shall meet his obligations to the full limit of 
his ability to pay. 

The preparation of a realistic farm plan, incorporating the facilities avail- 
able from the several "tools of rehabilitation" that are applicable and predi- 
cated upon the best farm and home management practices, is a logical basis for 
determining the productive paying ability of the farm. 

Farm debt adjustment conunittees, who serve without pay, but are partially 
reimbursed for out-of-pocket expense money, have been selected, organized, and 
instnic:ed in the essentials of farm planning in this region. These conunittees 
work out the necessary debt adjustments wiih rehabilitation borrowers and their 
creditors upon the basis of plans prepared in the usual course of rehabilitation 
procedure. They also assist debt-burdened farmers and their creditors in work- 
ing out a plan of operation to be used as a basis of adjustment, in cases not 
requiring a rehabilitation loan. 

Farm debt adjustment conunittees have no legal power, nor do they pass upon 
the equities between farm debtors and their creditors. They secure results be- 
cause of their ability to analyze the farm situation so clearly that farm debtors 
and their creditoi's are willing to act to tlieir mutual advantage. In this manner 
farms are saved from foreclosure, and the tenure of people to the land is made 
more secure. 

Since September 1. 1935. 19,975 farmers have received farm debt adjustment 
services in region VII ; 12 255 of these cases were rehabilitation borrowers, and 



7,720 were adjusted without the necessity of malting a rehabilitation loan. An 
original indebtedness of $70,458,481, representing frozen farm credits, has been 
revived and is being paid in the sum of $46,047,886 by these farmers. A debt 
reduction in the sum of $24,405,595 was secured a.s necessary in working out the 
adjustment of these farni cases; 6,768,034 acres of land were involved in these 
adjustments, and taxes paid to county treasurers in the sum of $1,321,423. 


Due to the long-continued drought, increasing debt burden, and low prices, 
which are the conditions contributing to the low income of farm families, their 
plight has reached the point where individual planning will not suffice to anchor 
them to the land and prevent farm migration. 

The use of cooperatives in bringing about higher incomes and more efficient 
operations is an important factor. The field is unlimited. A group of two or 
more farmers can go together and acquire good sires to increase their standards 
of livestock, whereas on an individual basis the cost would be prohibitive. This 
is also true in the lase of machinery, where such machinery is necessary. 

Due to the high cost of such equipment and the short time it is used each year, 
the initial cost and the rate of depreciation is too high. Where two or more 
farmers go together and acquire such equipment on a group basis the initial cost 
and the rate of depreciation may be reduced to as miach as 75 percent. 

Tliis is also true in cooperative associations made up of farmer members to 
handle farm products and commodities that will be consumed by the farmer. 
In this type of organization there are usually two of benefits — the tan- 
gible and the intangible. 

A tangible benefit results when savings accrue to the association through its 
business of purchasing or selling for its members and such savings are prorated 
back to the members on a patronage basis. Thus, through his cooperative, the 
farmer has his buying and selling handled on a cost basis. 

The intangible benefits derived from the use of such cooperative associations 
are reflected in the difference in prices received or costs incurred because an 
organization of farmer members exists in a commnnity. Almost invariably, prices 
for farm products are higher in a conuuunity served by a cooperative associa- 
tion than in communities not so served. Likewise, purchasing costs are lower 
in communities served by consumers' cooperatives than in other communities. 
These benefits cannot be measured in exact dollars and cents. 

This intangible benefit accrues to all farmers, association members or not, in 
conuuunities served by cooperative associations. 


The water-facilities program of the Department of Agriculture is the joint 
responsibility of three agencies of the Department. The Bureau of Agricultural 
Economics is responsible for the preparation of a general over-all plan for areas 
selected which embody the best possible land and water use. The Soil Conserva- 
tion Service is the operating agency directly charged with the responsibility of 
the program. It furnishes technical assistance such as soil analysis and engi- 
neering services to participants. The Soil Conservation Service also prepares an 
individual plan of conservation operations for each participant. The Farm 
Security Administration is the lending agency when loans are necessary and is 
responsible for development of farm- and home-management plans by the appli- 
cants' families, for servicing and collecting the loan, and for general supervi- 
sion to insure proper carrying out of the plan of conservation operations and 
the farm and home-management plan. 

Loans can be made for almost all types of water facilities which will promote 
better laud use, including livestock wells, pumps, dams for livestock water or 
irrigation, diversified projects, and other types of irrigation facilities where the 
same conform with the area plans. 

Three of the chief contributing factors to the migration of farm families are : 
(1) Inability to produce feed crops in drought areas, (2) units of inadequate size 
for dry-land farming methods, and (3) unsatisfactory or short-term tenure. 

By installing irrigation facilities where feasible to increase crop production, the 
first two factors mentioned above can often be entirely eliminated. Before a 


loan can be raado to oltlun- a land owner or tenant, tenure for a period of years 
sufficient t(» enable the oi»erator to realize on bis investment in the facility nuist 
be assured. At present leases extending for as many as 15 years have been 
obtained for tenants who ar(> installins facilities. 

Another factor which probably more than all others contributes to the migration 
of farmers is the general discouragement experienced when for year after year 
they see their crops burn up for lack of moisture and are unable to obtain 
acceptable standards of living from the land. Under such conditions, the future 
appears to offer nothing but further discouragement and increased poverty. 

The attitude of many farmers toward farming as a way of life has changed 
almost beyond belief since the installation of their water facilities. Instead 
of facing the future with a listless defeatism they are now alertly operating 
their units with a reasonable assurance of economic security and better living 


People do not change location primarily from a desire merely to change their 
place of residence. We are of the opinion that changing the residence is due 
to one of the following general reasons : 

I. A desire to improve the standard of living: 

(a) Better facilities for deriving income. 
(&) Better building and conveniences. 
(c) Better community and social surroundings. 
id) Increasing undesirable factors of rental, 
(e) Probable increased security of tenure. 
II. Forced to move from present location : 
(a) Change of ownership. 

(6) Increasing deterioration of buildings not maintained or kept in 
habitable condition by landlord. 

(c) Impossible increases in rental charges (often due to competition 

of tractor operators). 

(d) Operation of farm by owner, either by himself or hired labor or 

hired equipment with operator. Many owners have dis- 
possessed tenant operators and employed custom equipment 
in order to obtain the full benefits of Agricultural Adjustment 
Administration and other payments. 

All of this is evident in region VII. All of this contributes to the problem in 
point. Repeated moving is costly to farmers in several respects. The actual cash 
cost of moving is the lesser part of the total in most cases. Having to adjust the 
operation of the new farm, including grasslands, to fit the equipment and live- 
stock of the mover and the adjustment of his stock and equipment to the new 
farm, presents a noncash cost which is usually very material. 

The net result is, as has so often been stated, that repeated moving costs money 
which, in turn, reduces the farmer's net worth and reduces his ability to maintain 
satisfactory facilities wath which to operate a farm. Unsatisfactory facilities 
owned by the tenant impairs his chances of renting desirable farms. H(>nce, his 
choice of farms is limited and the farm family usually moves from poorer farm to 
poorer farm. 

The pres.sure of people for land causes competition in bidding for farms to op- 
erate. Increasing rentals have been marked and constant. Money or products 
paid as rent cannot increase the tenant's net worth. Thus, the tenant family be- 
comes less and less able to purchase a farm under the terms usually reipiired. 
All this has materially contributed to the growing tenancy and insecurity of 

The first 486 tenant-purchase loans made in region VII presented some inter- 
esting facts in respect to the status of the operators of the farms purchased and in respect to the owMiership of such farms. Eighty-six of the farms pur- 
chased were being operated liy the seller. One hundred sixty-nine were being 
operated by the tenant-purchase borrower and 231 were operated by a third-party 

In r(\spect to the 80 farms purchased from people who were then operating the 
farms, some were retiring, some were being foreclosed. We have not made a 


bronk-down as to tlioiso poinrs, but d<> recall tiiat flioso two factors were prominent. 
Sonic of those sellers, no doubt, became tenant farmers. 

Tlie 231 third-party tenants, who were forced to move due to the farms being 
purchased, present a situation which could he studied to advantase. Some of 
these, no doubt, would have to move to poorer farms for reasons heretofore given. 
We do know tli;it some of th(>m made application for a tenant-purchase loan, but, 
for various reasons, were not approved. 

Since all of the 48ti borrowers were tenant farmers, it may appear that more 
than 1G9 of them should have purchased the farms they were operating. It is 
certainly not true that less than this number were offered for sale. In some cases 
the farms being operated were not considered good family-type economic units. 
In some cases, the borrower was purchasing a farm formerly owned by him or 
some member of hi-^ family, and, in other cases, because the borrower was seeking 
a better farm such as be would want to own and operate so long as he lived. 

We believe that a study of this phase of the question could well be made in all 
regions or at least sufficiently so to obtain a good cross-.section analysis of the 
extent to which the tenant-purchase loan program affords information for con- 
structive study. 

In any event, the tenant-purchase loan program is making a start toward 
stabilizing tenure and our opinion is that the greatest value of the work which 
will be done under the Bankhead- Jones Farm Tenant Act will be that of demon- 
stration. This demonstration will be in the way of showing that a 100 percent 
loan can be a sound loan, providing the value of the farm is arrived at in a sound 

Just so long as speculative value or any value other than the actvial production 
value or debt-paying capacity of the farm is used, we will fail to provide security 
of tenure. 

Insurance companies, mortgage companies, and other holders of farm property 
may personally profit by selling land at more than its debt-paying capacity, either 
by obtaining substantial down payments or by requiring payments of portions of 
farm income in excess of that considered equitably as rent. In any event, such 
prices of land will eventually restilt in termination of the contract and will 
mean that during such time as the contract was in force, that the so-called pur- 
chaser and his family are penalized. 


Resettlement projects as administered by the Farm Security Administration 
are of two general types, the community or concentrated type known as farm- 
steads, and the scattered farms or infiltration type. 

In the region are 10 farmstead projects. Eight are in Nebraska at these 
general locations : Two Rivers, or about 20 miles west of Omaha ; ScottsblufE ; 
Fairbury ; Loup City; Kearney; Grand Island; Falls City, and South Sioux 
City. One is at Sioux Falls, S. Dak., and one at Burlington, N. Dak. Total 
acreage is approximately 7,500 acres, and homes are available for 108 families. 
Burlington project has largest area, with 2,175 acres and 35 units. Two Rivers 
is next largest, with 1,570 acres and 40 units. Much of the acreage is farmed 
on a cooperative basis. 

All community-type projects were originated by the Emergency Relief Admin- 
istration, prior to establishment of the Resettlement Administration in the 
summer of 1935. They were subsequently taken over by the Resettlement 

The region has 3 principal infiltration projects, all well to the eastern edge 
of the region. One is in northeastern Kansas, with 19 units on 1,738 acres, one 
in eastern South Dakota with 31 units and 5,988 acres, and one in eastern 
North Dakota in the Red River Valley with 104 farms on 28.199 acres. A few 
others, which will be smaller, are under way or will be developed along with 
the reclamation program. The infiltration projects all were originated by the 
Resettlement Administration in 1935. 

Intention of Emergency Relief Administration was to afford homes and small 
acreages for low-income families who might find employment or part-time 
employment in industry and supplement their earnings with farm produce. 
Construction and improvement work was done largely with relief labor. It was 
difficult to determine exactly how much to assign to normal improvement costs 


and how much to charge to relief. At any rate, much relief employment was 
furnished to families who otherwise would have been direct I'elief burdens. 

Resettlement Administration, working with Land Use in establishing the 
inlilt ration projects, had in mind providing fertile farms for those families who 
sold their lands in dust-bowl areas to the Government for reclamation or other 
purposes. Comparatively few families were content to move east out of the 
arid areas. Most of them seemed determined to go on west. The farms owned 
by the Government in infiltration projects were available to tliem on a rental 
basis, to be followed by a basis of ownershi[) subject to a lease and purchase 
contract covering 40 years at 3 percent interest. 

M.uiy of the occupants on infiltration farms, which are family-size units with 
reasonably good improvements, are farm families coming from the same gen- 
eral portions of the States in which the farms are located, or who came from 
counties not far removed. In nearly every instance, however, the family was 
placed in position to improve its economic opportunities, and perhaps escaped 
wandering westward into unknown territory and circumstances. Certainly 
some of them escaped urban relief rolls toward which they soon would have 
been headed. 

Introduction of the tenant purchase-loan program, set in motion by the Bank- 
head- Jones Act, diverted attention from resettlement projects. Undoubtedly 
work done in development of infiltration projects afforded valuable guide posts 
in working out the tenant-purchase program. 


Since the tenure-improvement and leasing-association program is designed to 
assist needy farm families, such assistance can be given only when the family 
has a desirable farm on which to plan tlie year's activities. 

This is an action program, but it is recognized that these families are in 
their present position through a combination of adversities. "We therefore 
attempt to establish these families on a self-sufficient basis; and self- 
sufficiency means, among other things, the production of meat, livestock prod- 
ucts, and vegetables. It is therefore necessary to set up an equitable working 
relationship with the landlord in order that sufficient acreage may be used 
for the production of garden products and livestock feed ; also, for building 
and other improvements to provide for the health of the family and housing 
for lh(> livestock. 

The landlord is advised of the long-time plan and his cooperation is solicited 
on the grounds that he can assist in the rehabilitation of a local needy farm 
fami'y. He is advised that since this is a program of immediate aid to the 
family with the thought of yearly development in future years, it will make 
his farm more desirable and worth more per year to him just as it will be 
worth more to the family that operates it. 

There is a certain something that ties a family to a farm if they can point 
to some one thing they have accomplished in one year or in several years on 
their farm. Improvement either of soil or facilities also indicates to the land- 
lord the sincerity on the part of the borrower who rents his land. 

The past 10 years have no doubt taken more from the farm than from the 
farm family, and it is acknowledged that both must stage a mutual come- 
back. In the past very little consideration has been given the soil and plant 
life, and water resources in this area. The Soil Conservation Service and 
the Bureau of Agricultural Economics have made exhaustive surveys and 
have developed equipment and techniques for holding and restoring the soil, 
conserving the water and restoring plant life. Many farms have had little 
possibility of returning income to the owner over a 5-year period; yet the 
farm might be developed into a feasible investment if occupied by the right 
family, equipped with proper facilities, and operated under a plan of water 
and soil conservation. 

Credit extended by the Farm Security Administration on a fairly productive 
farm where only reasonable practices are necessary is repayable on a 5-year 
basis ; but in other cases where, due to condition of land and plant life it is 
conceded that it will take several years before any benefits will accrue to the 
operator because of the drastic changes which are necessj\ry in the land 
use, the repayment period may be extended up to 10 years. The application 
of soil and water conservation on a unit may make it necessary to decrease or 


enlarge the size of the unit in order that a farm family can operate without 
outside labor. 

During the transition period since the war, from a live-at-home, self- 
suffi -ient enterprise to the cash-cropping nieclianizcd enterprise, a gradual shift 
away from community responsibility took place. This, combined with develop- 
ment of highways and motor transportation, lessened the interdependence of 
individuals in a community or communities within a county. Since more effort 
is being made at this time to utilize tax-free land for community recre:itional 
centers, combined with the elforts of the Farm Security Administration in 
holding group meetings and forming local associations of Farm Security 
Administration borrowers, more interest is being developed by the indlviduils 
in remaining in place. Instead of farmers operating as individuals on a 
county basis they are again going back to a conununity basis which in- 
directly tends to lessen relocation to new communities where they again must 
reestablish themselves. 

It is contemplated that a number of leasing associations will be established 
on a township or larger basis. The purpose of such associations is to lease 
available land which may be subleased to operators, present and new, so that 
farm families niay be established on family-type units. 

Through recommendtions of Land Use, Soil Conservation, and local governing 
agencies, the association in leasing all of the land may find that a reorganiza- 
tion of present operators' units may be brought about to establish new operators 
on family-type units. To a cer ain degree that would stop that number of 
farm families from moving to other areas. 

Tenure for the area would be stabilized by the fact that consideration had 
been given to family type units ; and by the fact that the association would 
sublease the land equitably on a basis of its inherent productivity as well 
as productivity developed over a period of years. 

Competitive bidding among renters would be eliminated. Many local. State, 
and Federal agencies would take land off the market for a period up to 10 
years. In other words, it is thought a pattern can be developed to establish 
tenure for a certain number of farm families carrying on a type of agricul- 
ture basically sound for the area for at least 10 years. 

If this pattern can be developed on a county or State basis a family should 
have no desire to move to other localities unless that family belongs to the 
small group of those who are, by nature, moving farmers. 

Development of a unit should be the result of careful study. The unit should 
fit the particular needs of a particular family. The family should be pro- 
vided with facilities fitted to the area and should be enabled to envision a 
definite pattern of operations for future years. They should be situated so 
as to feel a real responsibility for the community and to feel that they are 
a vital part of it. A family so situated and established will feel little or no 
desire to move into new areas. 

Information from the field indicates that this is the thinking of the present, 
more substantial operators. 


A survey has been made and preliminary notes prepared by A. H. Anderson, 
Division oif Farm Population, Northern Great Plains Region, Bureau of Agri- 
cultural Economics, relative to the migration of Farm Security Administration 
clients. Inasmuch as these notes supplement ideas advanced in the foregoing 
statements, we desire to submit them along with the statements. 

Investigation of the mobility of standard and emergency Farm Security 
Administration loan clients during the period April 1937 to August 1940 reveals 
•considerable out-migration. Records of case loads and movements in 40 
counties of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas show that 
18.5 percent of the average number of standard clients moved, and 14 percent 
of the emergency clients moved during this period. Movement within the 
county of residence is not included in this survey. The counties studied made 
up Farm Security Administration districts — one in each State of the region. 
These districts are located in the western half of each State and west of the 
hundredth meridian.^ Inmigration of Farm Security Administration clients to 
these counties only partially offset the movement out of the counties. Standai'd 

1 North Dakota, district I ; South Dal<ota, district III ; Nebrasl<a. district I : and Kansas, 
district VI. 



Clients equal to 5 percent of the nvei-age case load and enieigency clients equal 
to 3.5 percent of the average case load came into the comities surveyed. 

A quick tabulaticui of destination of Farm Security Administration clients, 
both standard and emergency, who moved out of the 40 counties, shows 38.3 
percent moving to other States. Of these 444 clients, who moved out of the 
Stale, about 3S percent migrated to States west of the Rocky Mountains and 
f»5 percent went to States bordering on 1 of the 4 states in th(> region. This 
indicates a greater tendency for Farm Security Administration clients to move 
to adjoining States as compared to out-movement of the general farm popu- 
lation as indicated by sample surveys in Montana, North Dakota, and South 
Dakota. Clients who moved to other counties within the State of residence 
numbered 714. About 58 percent of these moved to an adjoining county within 
the State. 

The extensive out-migration is associated with agricultural distress induced 
by a protracted drought cycle and adverse economic conditions. The wide 
spread between out-migration and in-migration indicates increasing pressure 
on land resources. 

The program of the Farm Security Administration is designed to aid dis- 
tressed farm operators to maintain them.selves in place. As a high percentage 
of the standard loan clients are tenants, with less secure tenure than owners, 
considerable mobility still obtains in spite of the guidance and financial assist- 
ance extended to them. A large number of oi^eratcfrs, with more secure tenure, 
are assisted with emergency loans. These clients, because of greater average 
resources, do not move as much as the standard clients. About 1 in 7 emer- 
gency clients moved from his county of residence and nearly 1 in 5 of the 
standard clients. 

Destination of Farm Security Administration clients 

area, 193t-40 ' 

moving out, ly selected 

Number of out-migrants, 1937-4C 


All areas 




No. 1 


No. 3 

No. 1 

No. 6 









Adjoining county 


Other county in State 


Other States 






Washington .- 





































Oregon . -. 



Idaho . .. - 


California _ - 





South Dakota - - 








Wisconsin . _ . 

' 2 



Indiana - - 


Michigan ... . .. 











Utah .- -- 


' Includes both standard and emergency clients. 
' Includes period from April 1937 to August 1940. 



Relationship of out-movcment^ of Farm Security Administration clients to num- 
hcr of Farm Sccuriti/ Administratiuu cUcntx, hij type of asnistance, 19,i7-JjO' 

Standard clients 

Emergency clients 

Area: State and Farm Security Admin- 
istration district 

of chents 



of clients 









North Dakota, district No. 1 . . . 














South Dakota, district No. 3 

Nebraska, district No. 1 


1 Moves beyond same county only. 

a Period covered, April 1937 to August 1940. 


Setttlement of Migratory and Stranded Farm Famujes in the Great Pi^ins 

About 3.")0,000 families have left the Great Plains since 1930 — some in a dilap- 
idated truck containing a few movable belongings, some in an old car with 
only what few clothes they may have had. All left with an empty pocketbook 
and despair in their hearts. Nearly all headed westward, looking for greener 
pastures and an opportunity to become self-reliant and self-respecting citizens 
in a new environment, where nature might be less harsh. Some are now eking 
out a bare existence on a piece of cut-over timberland, while others are still 
wandering around looking for a home and in many cases thinking about the 
possibility of returning to the Plains. All have their roots in the soil and 
ask only an opportunity to take their place in the social and economic life of 
the Nation. 

The Farm Security Administration in region 10, which embraces Montana^ 
Wyoming, and p;irt of Colorado, has had in operation a well-integrated program 
of rehabilitation for low-income farm families. Most of these farmers can 
make a living in this area if the agricultural resources are fully developed and 
utilized and if there is worked out a better relationship between land and 
people. Adequate financing and guidance in good management and farming 
practices are, of course, also necessary. 

Any program of rehabilitation in the Great Plains, however, is seriously 
hampered by climatic difficulties. During the past decade, this area has ex- 
perienced a severe and prolonged drought. A study of available records tends 
to show that a highly fluctuating rainfall is normal expectancy. So far, we 
generally have treated the present drought as an emergency and have designed 
some of our farm programs in the Greiit Plains on a temporary emergency 
basis, with the idea that the problems would be solved with the return of better 
moisture conditions. 

It is becoming evident, however, that the present drought is not our only 
farm problem in tlie Plains and, moreover, that we can (>xpect similar periods 
of adequate and deficient moisture in the future. The present drought has 
merely served to emphasize conditions which are btisic and extremely grave, 
the solution of which lies in a major readjustment between the farm popu- 
lation and the land and water resources. 

Thousands of farm families have been forced to leave their homes in the 
Plains to seek their fortunes elsewhere. Other thousands are still trying to 
eke out a meager existence, with such public assistance as is available, on 
poor and often inadequate sized units, because they liave neither the means 
nor the courage to go elsewhere. Most of these remaining low-income families 
whom we tliink of as being stranded in the Plains are actually migratory 
in a broad .sense because, being tenants, they are subject to the pressure of 
landlords and financing sigencies, and are drifting around from farm to farm 

260370— 41— pt. 4 8 



and from community to community. Except for certain mitigating tax-delin- 
quency legislation passed in recent years and direct public assistance, the num- 
ber of such families who are migrating within the I'iains would be increased 

The majority of tliese families are capable of successful operations and financial 
independence if proper adjustments are made in size of unit and in land and 
water use. They have, however, exhausted their entire resources during the 
present drought period, including also the land, and are now exhausting their 
lives in an economy which is not capable of providing food, shelter, and health. 
They are social and economic derelicts— good American stock, but victims of a set 
of circumstances over which they have had little or no control. I hope, therefore, 
that this committee will consider the plight of these remaining stranded farmers 
in the Great Plains as analogous to that of the so-called migratory farmers, 
since the same circumstances and causes and the same cures apply to both. 

In the winter of 1938, we conducted a survey in Colorado, Wyoming, and 
Montana to determine the probable number of farm families who could not make 
a decent living on the farms then occupied. The estimate was 7,466 for Montana, 
2,706 for Colorado, excluding the 14 Dust Bowl counties which are administered 
through another Farm Security region, and 2,432 for Wyoming. This total of 
12,604 families is 11 percent of all the families engaged in agriculture in these 3 
States, excluding the 14 Colorado counties. We have made no survey of migra- 
tory farm families in the 3 States. However, the Montana State Planning Board 
estimates about 9,000 migrant families in Montana alone. 

I should like to emphasize that for purposes of this statement, we are not con- 
sidering the families ordinarily termed as "migratory workers." I am confining 
my remarks to families wdio are, or normally should be, engaged in full-time farm- 
ing, either as tenants or owners. The suggested solutions, however, also can pro- 
vide opportunities for a large number of the migratory-worker families. 

In 1939, the Government initiated a special program for developing water and 
land resources in the arid and semiarid parts of the United States, through an 
appropriation to the President for water conservation and utilization projects. 
By direction of the President, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Department of 
Agriculture, the Work Projects Administration, and the Civilian Conservation 
Corps are cooperating in the development of these projects. The essential points in 
the program, now in operation, were outlined by the Northern Great Plains Com- 
mittee in its report to the National Resources Committee under date of October 14, 
1938. In this report, the following recommendations were made: 

(1) "That relief funds be expended so far as practicable and needed for irriga- 
tion projects which would reduce the relief load by furnishing a reliable means of 
livelihood and would serve as effective units in a proper system of land and water 

(2) "That expenditures for projects, over and above the reimbursable portions, 
be limited by the amounts currently necessary for relief, preferential considerarioi) 
being given to projects in areas where the greatest amount of relief would be 

(3) "That detailed planning of the developmental program be undertaken coop- 
eratively by the various Federal agencies which will participate in construction, 
settlement,' guidance of settlers, and the like, including the Northern Plains 
Agricultural Advisory Council of the Department of Agriculture and the land-grant 
colleges, by the planning boards and other appropriate agencies and authorities of 
the .several States of the Northern Plains region, and by local planning agencies, 
and that the over-all planning program be coordinated by the National Resources 

(4) "That particular projects be constructed by the Federal agency or agencies 
best adapted to the work involved, provided, however, that the engineering plans 
for all i-elatively large projects be subject to approval by the Bureau of Reclama- 
tion and that plans for all projects be subject to certification by the Department 
of Agriculture with respect to their agricultural soundness and their conformity 
with an appropriate land-use plan." 

(5) "That responsibility for the administration of projects upon completion 
shall rest with the Department of Agriculture, and that settlers on the projects 
be required to repay to the Department of Agriculture the operation, maintenance, 
construction, land, and other charges to the extent of their ability as determined 
jointly by the Bureau of Reclamation and the Department of Agriculture in the 


light of the productive capacity and utility of tlie hind, the conditions existing on 
other projects, and other relevant considerations." 

(6) "That the Department of Agriculture assume responsihilily for locating 
on the projects persons in need of resettlement; for buying, reselling, subleasing, 
and leasing land in order to facilitate construction and settlement (if presently 
so empowered) ; for collecting all repayments; and for guiding or advising the 
settlers in matters of farm practice." 

The program now under way includes projects in Montana, North Dakota, 
South Dakota, Nebraska, and Wyoming. The total irrigable acreage involved is 
about 78,000 acres, most of which has not been irrigated in the past. It is esti- 
mated that there will be a total of approximately 800 faiins created through this 
development. The benefits of this program are nuich more far reaching, however. 
It is anticipated that about an equal number of farmers in the dry-land area will 
become rehabilitated and stabilized through acquiring the lands vacated by the 
families who will be moved to an irrigated farm. In addition, a large number 
of dry-land operators will be stabilized in place through securing a small acreage 
of irrigated land for feed ba.'-e. 

In other words, even a relatively small irrigation project can in this manner 
take care of and stabilize the operations of a considerable number of dry-land 
farmers who are or later may be in the migrant category. Where operating units 
now are too small, the removal of some families to irrigated land makes possible 
the addition of sufficient acreage to remaining farms to permit a sound organiza- 
tion. If a small feed base can be provided for farms now relying on dry-land 
operations alone, periodic droughts will not necessitate the disposal of foundation 
livestock and thereby cause firuincial upset of the farm enterprise as well as 
market demoralization. 

The land policies of the past resulted in the settlement of vast areas which never 
should have been farmed, and in the allocation in other areas of insufticient land 
per farm to provide for a family. The present land ownersliip pattern in most 
of the Plains shows a large number of these substandard units, generally occu- 
pied by families who are in financial distress and moving about from farm to 
farm as circumstances dictate. If the poorer units could be abandoned through 
resettlement of the occupants and the vacated lands combined into grazing dis- 
tricts or with inadequate dry-farm units, an entire area can become stabilized 
and productive. 

A program such as outlined above necessitates the purchase by the Government 
of all or a considerable portion of the land to be irrigated. Purchase of some 
submargiual dry-farm land and grazing land also is desirable. It is essential 
that this water'development be looked upon and handled as an area program in 
order to permit maximum benefits and adjustments from the limited water supply 
available in most areas. Where construction costs are relatively high, the use of 
nonreimbursable funds through Work Projects Administration or Civilian Con- 
servation Corps participation makes development feasible in a great number of 
areas in the Plains. 

As indicated elsewhere in this report, many thousands of families have 
abandoned farms in the Great Plains and have migrated to the towns or to 
areas of greater rainfall in their own or other States, and the result has usually 
been a heightening of their own distress and an intolerable burden upon the 
economy and relief facilities of the communities to which they move. To 
Flathead County, Mont, (in a cut-over area incapable of providing a good living 
for the families already there), 700 families migrated between 1932 and 1938 
to eke out a miserable existence on small tracts of often barren soil. Most of 
these families came from the Plains. Every western county in INIontana has 
had a similar but varying influx of migrant families and this experience is, 
of course, multiplied in the Northwest and Pacific coast connnunities generally. 
If the water utilization and conservation program had been in operation during 
this period, much of this migration might have been avoided. Reference to 
exhibit 4. attached, indicates some of the opportunities for this type of solution 
in Montana. A similar list of developments could be supplied for the other 
States in the Plains area. 

The entire problem cannot be solved by an adjustment program such as I 
have discussed but our studies indicate that probnbly all of the stranded and 
migratory families in Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming can be economically 
reestablished within the boundaries of these States, if the water and land 


resources wore fully develoiicd and all reclaimod laud used for the benefit of 
stranded families. Our experience, therefore, leads nie to urge the contiiuialion 
au<l enlargenu'Ut of a program such as outlined above, as at least a partial 
solution to the migratory farm fanuly problem. 

There are attached the following exhibits and supplementary material in 
support of this statement : 

1. A report on resettlement in region X by Jos. H. Smart, assistant regional 
director in charge of resettlement, dated February 4, lOHS. 

2. A letti'r from myself to Mr. E. A. Starch, coordinator. Northern Great 
Plains, United States Department of Agriculture, under date of October 31, 
193J), i)repared by Dr. P. L. Slagsvold, senior agricultural economist. Bureau 
of Agricultural Economics, and head of our area phmning section for the water 
conservation and utilization program. 

3. An article on land-use ad.iustment in the Northern Great Plains issued by 
the Department of Agriculture in Jaiuiary 1940. 

4. Excerpts from the report of the Montana State Planning Commission on 
migratory farm families showing the potential resettlement possibilities in Mon- 
tana by the development of all irrigation resources. 

5. A report of the Milk River Nortliern Montana Land Utilization Project 
and the Farm i-'ecurity Resettlement project by Project Manager H. L. Lantz. 
dated Anril 1. 1940. 

February 4, 1939. 
From : C H. Willson, regional director. 
To : Jos. H Smart, assistant regional director. 
Subject : Resettlement in region 10. 

The attached report of resettlement in region 10 is the result of the question- 
naire survey conducted last fall through rehabilitation suiiervisors in Colorado, 
Montana, and Wyoming. 

It shows relccation accomplished or under way to date, the need for additional 
relocation in the region, and potential relocation opportunities. A section is also 
included which indicates the trend of migration during the past 6 years. 

I desire to express appreciation for the assistance of Mr. M. O. Anderson, 
regional chief of family selection, in supervising the survey and in the preparation 
of the report and exhibits. 


Farmers without farms.— -Twelve thousand six hundred and four farm families 
in region 10 are in need of relocation ; 7,466 of them live in Montana, 2,706 live 
in Colorado,' and 2,432 live in Wyoming. 

These figures are estimates, but they are compiled from survey questionnaires 
sent in by the man in each county best qualified to know the distressed families — 
the rehabilitation supervisor. The supervisors were asked to check their estimates 
with county planning commissions, county officials, extension agents, and others 
familiar wiHi local farms and families. The survey was made in October and 
November 1938. 

The 12,004 families are on farms now ; the thousands of others who quit and 
went into town or joined the caravans of migratory workers are not included. 
These families are victims of drought, in areas where drought is a normal condi- 
tion ; or of farming too poor or too few acres to provide decent living ; or of 
shortage of irrigation water. Most of them for years have been, are, and in 
their present location always will be, periodically on relief. They pay few, if 
any, taxes, and their more fortunately located neighbors pay to maintain roads, 
schools, and public-health facilities, if any, for them. But they are rehabilitable— 
potenlially good farmers. They are agricultural victims but they are not 

casualties — yet. ,. . ., c.^ ^ 

W(> have a misplaced population of 12,601 farm families in our three States 
who need help in finding new opportunities. They need expert guidance in select- 
ing economic farms and a grubstake of operating capital to get started. They 
need homes, and education in management and better farming practices. 

1 Not including the 14 "dust bowl" Colorado counties in Farm Security Administration, 
region 12. 


Finditif; the huul. — We are set up to finance the families and give them the 
needed guidance; but there are few good farms to rent without ilisplacing good 
tenants. Last year relocation experts in each State spent months seeking farms 
to he leased hy families on suhmarginal farms, Init practically none were found. 

Fortunately, however, there is still good land in the region — probably enough 
to accommodate all the misplaced families who desire and could be accepted 
for relocation aid. The county rehal)ilitation supervisors rejtorted in their 
questionnaires that 10,7.")! - good farms are potentially available along the 
streams and in the valleys of this region, without disjilacing present farmers; 
■6,19!) of these are in Montana, 2.416 are in Colorado, and 2,1.36 are in Wyoming. 
Many more could no doubt be eventually developed which were not considered 
feasible under our program. 

Here again we have an estimate, made by local persons and agencies, and 
probably almost as reliable as the one about the families. It points, partially 
at least, to the solution of our problem. 

The Government should buy the idle lands, the estates of absentee owners and 
ranches of large acreage capable of supporting many families but now support- 
ing few. It nuist reclaim the remaining flats and jtrairies, either private or 
public domain, which can be irrigated from the rivers. It must provide aid in 
damming up the creeks to facilitate the irrigation of many small farms, not 
used heretofore. 

Some of the land, particularly individual farms, is under cultivation and ready 
for operation. Much of it, however, requires development of irrigation or drain- 
age, erosion or weed control, clearing and leveling before it can be farmed 
properly. Such operations, with the erection of houses and farm structures, 
will provide work for many needy people. 

What iriJl it cost? — In the long view we should be glad to pay a big price to 
close up the rural .slums, turn land now plowed and blown about back to useful, 
moisture-conserving range, and make healthy, useful, contributing citizens of 
farmers we once thought were perpetual reliefers. The Nation can well afford 
the investment in permanent human and natural resources. But the cash 
outlay will be repaid. 

The average farm investment would be about .$8,4.S1, including land, irriga- 
tion, and drainage installation, land leveling and improvement, fencing, and 
buildings. This amount is considered a reasonable capitalization for sound 
farms in irrigated areas. 

Under its present program the Farm Security Administration has under 
operation or development a total of 5S2 resettlement farms, many of them 
having farmed 1 or 2 years. Most of the families came from submarginal 
lauds which had been withdrawn from use under the land-utiliz ition program 
and were social and economic liabilities before they moved. They were given 
the sort of opportunity outlined above, their needs for land, improvements, 
and equipment being on a realistic basis. Their pride is restored ; they 
face the future with confidence. They are paying their way, amortizing their 
loans, some in advance of the repayment schedules, and they are building their 
own security as well as contributing to the securing of others in the new com- 
munities in wliich they live. 

MUjration of f<nniUrs. — The present study was not primarily concerned with 
causes but did include the examination of some symptoms of maladjustment 
which have a bearing upon the need for a relocation program. One of these 
symptoms is the migration of farm facilities, which we attempted to measure 
roughly, for the period 1932 to 1938 inclusive. Genei-ally the arid portion of 
our three States is in the east and the sections of greater rainfall are in the 
west. There are, of cour.'^e, large areas of choice dry-land farming in the 
eastern-plains section interspersed with the problem areas which ])red<)minate. 

We have a large problem of stranded population on submarginal units in the 
dry-land areas, but the condition is efpially acute in many of the west(M-n c(mn- 
ties of plentiful rainfall, particularly in Montana and on the western slope in 
Colorado. During the great drought, hundreds of families migrated westward 

2 These were not all reportod by the .«!upprvisnrs. Tlio fisrures include some respttlemcnt 
project proposaLs in tlie regional office not included in the questionnaires. 


and squatted on small acreages of cut-over land in the timber country of Montana 
or oil too small irrigated farms in other States. The need for relocation in all 
three States is, tlieri'fore, State-wide. Fortunately in most instances the desired 
adjustment between land and people can be made within the county or within 
the natural agricultural subdivision in wiiich the people reside. 

United States Department of Ajgricultube, 

Farm Security Administration, 

Denver, Colo., October 31, 1939, 
Subject : Land-use adjustment in the Great Plains. 
Mr. E. A. Starch, 

Coordinator, Northern Oreat Plains, 

United States Department of Agriculture, Lincoln, Nebr. 

Dear Mr. Starch : Pursuant to your telephone conversation of recent date witb 
our office, we are sending you the information concerning Land-Use Adjustments 
in the Great Plains for which you asked, as prepared by Dr. P. L. Slagsvold. It 
is difficult to give much concrete material on accomplishments to date. The 
original contracts with settlers on the first projects called for a repayment 
schedule which was difficult for them to meet. You will recall that the first 
advances were due in 1 year, or before the farmers had a chance to get the land 
into a productive state. Under present contracts, these payments are spread 
over 5 or more years and generally the obligations are being met. 

Grazivff land needed in connection with water conservation and utilities pro- 
gram. — If the Great Plains program is to show maximum accomplishments, it is 
essential that it be based upon an area economy foundation. "With all the diffi- 
culties in this territory in the past 20 years, it would be unsound procedure to 
develop any irrigation projects without this being made an integral part of the 
land-use adjustment in the area. This means not only giving eligible stranded 
dry-land farmers the first opportunity to settle on irrigated land, but also seeing 
to it that the dry land thus abandoned does not become a relief haven for a new 
family. It must be recognized that the farmer goes broke and not the farm, 
which stays there and invites the next innocent person to try his luck. 

Hence, when one stranded farmer is given an opportunity elsewhere, his former 
unit should be used in a way which will provide maximum adjustment and sta- 
bility for the area. In some locations this may mean using it to round out a 
unit for another dry-land farmer who cannot or should not migrate, or it may 
mean including it in a grazing district for joint use by dry land and irrigation 

Where a dry-land area can be largely depopulated, the land made available 
should be tied to the feed base developed on the irrigation project. However, 
in more densely populated counties, as in parts of North and South Dakota, the 
land made vacant by a resettlement program may be put to equally good use as 
grazing supplement for remaining dry-land farmers. But in any case, the reset- 
tlement program should be accompanied by a land-purchase program, if the area 
adjustments are to be made effective. Without land purchase, less effective con- 
trol can be exercised, and moving one farmer to irrigated land merely invites 
another to take over. 

On the basis of an average carrying capacity of one animal unit for 30 aci'es,^ 
it may be estimated that 30 acres of grazing land should be purchased for every 
acre of irrigated land developed. If, for example, a farmer has GO acres of irri- 
gated land, he would need about 1,440 acres of grazing land to run 225 ewes, 
which, in turn, would permit him to fatten about 201) lambs (figuring a 90-percenf 
lamb crop). Pasture for bucks, dry and young stock, and horses in off season 
would require an additional 200 acres. Counting fences, roads, stockwater 
reservoirs, it brings the figure np to about 1,800 acres, or about 30 acres of 
grazing land per acre of irrigated land. 

The following estimates cover the grazing land requirements in connection 
with the Great Plains project now under consideration : 







Buffalo Rapids No. 1, Mont. 
Buffalo Rapids No. 2, Mont. 

Buford-Trenton, N. Dak 

Saco Divide, Mont 

Mirage Flats, Nebr 

Rapid Valley, S. Dak 



240, 000 

1, 785, 000 

As a general statement, the plan should be to purchase about 20 to 30 acres of 
range land — depending upon quality — for each acre of irrigated land developed, 
in order to provide maximum stabilization for both the dry and irrigated land. 

Land purchase hi connection icith irrirjation development — There are several 
reasons for buying land which is to he developed for irrigation : 

1. Unless the land is under control, the risk in financing a settler is increased 
materially. Only bona fide farmers should undertake developing an Irrigated 

2. Sound unit subdivision is possible only if a major portion of the land to be 
irrigated is under Government ownership. 

3. The experience of past settlement on irrigation projects shows that it takes 
two to three generations of farmers to make a going concern of a piece of land. 
Raw land, which may also have to be cleared and brushed, requires a considerable 
investment and much slow and heavy labor by the individual farmer to get it to 
full productivity. One man with a team and fresno can clear and level but a 
small acreage each year. Since he has to meet water charges on his entire 
irrigable acreage, he generally is bankrupt before he gets more than a small 
portion of his land into full production. The next farmer who takes over can 
clear and level some more land, but unless he is well financed he also will fail 
within a short time. 

Then there are buildings and fences to construct and a well to dig. Few 
farmers have the requisite capital or financial backing to handle such a load. 
The result is that a large percentage of the original settlers fail, they live under 
slum-area conditions, the creditors cannot collect, and the area as well as all 
irrigation developments get national condemnation. 

The most expensive phase of community development is periodic bankruptcy 
of its establishments, including farms. This social loss and vi-aste is not only 
costly but unnecessary. With careful nnalysis of the area to be developed for 
irrigation and a judicious selection of settlers, the project can be made a going 
concern from the beginning and the financial mortality rate held to a minimum. 

It is true that even with the Government purchasing the land and developing 
the farm units, the farmer will not be out of debt and independent in a short 
while. But whatever progress he makes is credited to his future security, and 
the risk of failure is reduced to a minimum. Hence, the Government should 
purchase all land under irrigation development to insure the maximum possibility 
of success for the development. 

It may be pertinent to add here a few quotations from a report on Federal 
reclamation projects, published by the Department of Interior in 1920. The 
author of the statements is Dr. Alvin Johnson, who was invited by Dr. Elwood 
Mead, late (Yimmissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, to prepare a report on 
the social and economic aspects of certain western reclamation projects: 

"The Government brings the water to the land, but under present conditions 
the settler must grade the land to receive the water. This is an operation 
requiring much labor and time. Unless the land lies miraculously well, a number 
of years will elapse before a settler can prepare 80 acres to receive the water 
properly. Usually he grades a part the first year and cultivates it, leaving the 
bulk of his holding unproductive. Naturally, his income is very much smaller 
than that which he will enjoy when his holding is in full production. It may or 
may not fall below the existence level. 


"Even Avlieii llio Iniul is nil siMilcd, some yojirs must ('lii])s(' iK'foio it is fit for 
the most prolitablo intensive cullnre. The soil lucks hunms, iind this defect can 
be remedied oidy by sowini; to sweet clover, alfalfa, or some sraiii croj) and 
gradually building up. One does see good stands of Ix-ets on new land, l)ut this 
is the exception. For full returns the settler requires several yeai'S' time. 

"From the outset the settler requires adequate horsepower, and he ought to 
have at least a good nucleus of a herd of cows and sheep. He needs machinery ; 
lie needs a house to live in and slielter for his livestock. Heoieeds money enough 
to live on until the lirst paying crop is sold. 

"These settlers in are a gallant lot, and most of them 

will succeed in creating charming and prosperous homes. But what they have 
now, what the bounty of the Oovernment has given them, is only a riiinanian's 
chance, in the phrase of one of the most distinguished citizens of Wyoming. 
They have a chance, by subjecting themselves and their wives and chiklren to 
a Chinese standard of living through 4 or 5 years, to come into the birthright of 
ordinary American citizens, an American standard of living. 

"The Government may be willing to wait and stand the loss of interest. Those 
who cannot well afford to wait on the slow process of settlement are the actual 
settlers on the projects. They are obligated as a conmiunity to meet the charges 
for operation and maintenance and on construction account. When only one-half 
the lands are settled, the obligations of the individual settler are twice as heavy 
as they would be in a fully settled community. This is the case today of the 
Lower Yellowstone. The settlers in the connnunity say that they will be unable 
to live up to the present contract with the Government unless the additional 
settlers are brought in. The local officials of the Reclamation Service are bending 
effort to secure settlers, but without success. 

"I am personally far from convinced that the Government can morally solicit 
settlement unless it is prepared to go much further than it now does in smoothing 
out the difficulties that beset the settler. American citizens ought not to be 
induced by the Government to sink their small capitals and years of effort in 
prospects with the chances heavily against them. Private land develoi^ers have 
done this, but the weight of public opinion is that they should be checked in such 

"Either the Government ought to refrain from soliciting settlement or it ought 
to create the conditions under which the settler has a fair chance of success. 
Of these conditions the provision of improvement loans is far the most vital." 
"The best of the reclamation projects would do little more than pay out under 
an economic accounting which exacted from the settler full repayment of the 
construction costs together with interest. Their defense must run in terms 
of their social importance to the State and Nation. And this fact emphasizes 
the necessity of giving at least as much attention to the community building 
aspect of reclamation as to the engineering aspect. It may be worth while 
to spend public money lavishly in building an organic community of healthy, 
happy Americans, enjoying an American standard of living and exciting emu- 
lation in social organization among other rural communities. Merely to put 
•water on the land to grow thousand-acre fields of sugar beets with migratory 
Mexican labor is not an object worth one dollar's subsidy. Such an enter- 
prise should be viewed as cold bloodedly by the Government as any business 
proposition is by any good businessman. 

"The times have changed, and the only significant objective for a reclamation 
policy today is community building. It is es.sentially a far more important 
objective than that of the earlier period. One who has seen what the older 
and more prosperous reclamation divisions have accomplished can easily con- 
ceive of the several projects as splendid cases of wholesome and prosperous 
rural life, contributing invalual)le social benefits to their commonwealths. Recla- 
mation is a policy immensely worth continuing, if it moves forward, as the 
times require, from its engineering achievement to equally distinguished achieve- 
ment in the art of community building." 
Sincerelv yours, 

C. H. Wir,LSON, 
Regioual Director. 



Mr. CupTis. There are a few thiiios that I want to ask you about 
in connection with 3'()ur statements. Mr. Ward, just about 5 minutes: 
You tell this committee what the Farm Security Administration has 
done in the northern Great Plains reoion dealino; Avith this problem 
of people on the farm. Just (generally touch the highlights, sum- 
marizing your wi'itten statement. 


Mr. Ward. All right. Congressman. Of course, the Farm Security 
Administration piesented us a rehabilitation program to start with, 
and we feel that this area, the northern Great Plains, is about the 
most distressed section, probably, in the whole United States, and 
has been for a good many years, because of continued drought, grass- 
hoppers, and comparatively low prices for farm commodities. And 
the thing that has made it so grave is the continuation of the drought. 

Mr. Curtis. Yes. 

Mr. Ward. And the lowering of the water table and deficiency in 
moisture, which has brought, I think, to jnost of the people here — a lot 
of the difficulty that makes special study of these problems, land grant 
colleges and the like, have pretty much come to the conclusion that 
if these farmers are to i"emain on the farms, we have got to reckon 
with this country as probably continuing to be pretty dry, even in the 
future, or for quite a considerable time. 

]\Ir. Curtis. Now, what are your activities confined to — making 
loans ? 

Mr. Ward. Right. 

Mr. Curtis. Including grants, too? 

Mr. Ward. That is right, loans and grants. In my region we have 
loaned about $55,000,000 since 1935, and about $50,000,000 in grants. 
These loans are made to approved borrowers upon the development 
of a standard farm and home plan, and it is set out in that farm and 
home plan as to how the farmer and his family will operate that 
farm, and arrangements are made also for subsistence needs, home 
needs in the home plan, and it is not oidy a loan to the farmer, but 
it is realistic planning, and then guidance and supervision so that 
the plan is carried out. 

Mr. Curtis. What is the average size of your loan? 

Mr. Ward. AVell, I think it will average in this region now, with 
the supplemental loan, about $1,200, 

Mv. Curtis. What do you mean, supplemental loans? 

Mr. Ward. Well, in additi<m to the original loan, because of addi- 
tional drouglit. and the need for additional funds, we may make them 
supplemental loans. 

Mr. Curtis. The other day I was conferring with Mr. Baldwin's 
assistant and he explained an emergency loan where the need w^as 
great for feed and other things to preserve the farm as a whole, 
just for the especial needs. That is a loan that they offer to take 
care of the individual and it is not the regular loan witli long-range 
planning. Is that right? 


Mr. AVard. We made, a lot of those in 1936. We huvoii't made any 
in this last year in this region. 

Mv. Curtis. Is there any need for those now? 

Mr. Ward. Well, there is need for funds for loans if these farmers 
in some of these worst distressed areas are to keep tlieir livestock. 

Mr. Curtis. Well, now, what rate of interest do you charge? 

Mr. Ward. Five percent. 

Mr. Curtis. And j^our regular type loan over how long a period? 

Mr. Ward. They are made for 5 years, mostly. 

Mr. Curtis. Wliat does a farm family have to do, or what must 
their condition be to qualify for a grant? 

Mr. Ward. They must be in need of funds for subsistence purposes. 
They must be farmers, or when last employed received a major part 
of their income from farming, and then they are eligible for grants, 
based upon their needs, size of the famil}-, and supplementing what 
they may have of their own in the way of food and so on. 

Mr. Curtis. Are they permitted to have any personal property at 
all and still qualify for the grant? 

Mr. Ward. They must have exhausted all their credit resources. 

Mr. Curtis. Now, do you carry that to a point where they must 
have exhausted their credit resources even to basic herds of livestock 
and milk cows and so on? 

Mr. Ward. Well, we find from a practical standpoint, a realistic 
standpoint, that, I suppose, 99 percent of them, have everything 
mortgaged to the hilt. 

INIr. Curtis. I think one of the most difficult problems that must be 
faced in this territory — and the reason is the drought prolonged for 
so many years — is that you have perhaps two classes of people that 
are attracting some attention. You have those who are in a condition 
where everything is gone, and you are taking care of those individuals 
for a good many years. Then there is another group that have prac- 
tically been self-sustaining, although with a clesperate effort and a 
lot of self-sacrifice, and no one really knows the hardship that they 
are going through right now. Do the grants reach those in that upper 
bracket that have been on their own? 

INIr. Ward. I might say this : That our grant load is less now. It 
has been gradually going down. We have gone on tlie assumption 
that the general purpose is to try and do a good job with this farmer, 
and if he has land facilities and other capabilities, we try to whip 
him into shape for a regular standard loan. We don't like the relief 
angle. We say now that the grant is the first step in the rural rehabili- 
tation. We try to get him started, say the first year with help in 
gardening and dairy products and poultry products, and the next 
year, maybe he has inadequate land facilities, so we supplement it with 
a grant. Ultimately he might get a farm that can stand the ex- 
pense of the whole operation, and then we can make him a standard 

Mr. Curtis. Do you have administration of the farm tenancy 
benefits ? 

Mr. Ward. That is right. 


Mr. Curtis. About how many farms are you permitted to handle 
this year, under the appropriation? 

Mr. Ward. I am not sure. I tliink it is about between 300 and 400 
farms in the rejzion. 

Mr. Curtis. What will be the average amount paid for that farm 
by the tenant, probably? 

Mr. Ward. Well, I am jruessing again— that would be around $8,000. 

Mr. Curtis. And what rate of interest will he have to pay? 

Mr. Ward. Three percent. 

I^Ir. Curtis. And what are the Federal land banks charging now, 
with the reduction Congress has provided? 

Mr. Ward. I am not in a position to say exactly. 

Mr. Curtis. I think it is about three and a half. 

]Mr. Ward. Tliree and a half or four ; yes. 

Mr. Curtis. If there is such a thing as yonr average loan — you know 
the average type of farm that you deal with ? 

Mr. Ward. Yes. 

Mr. Curtis. What do you loan him money for? Summarize what 
might be an average loan. 

Mr. Ward. We loan him money for work stock, if he is starting 
from scratcli especially, some farm machinery and some feed and seed. 
Oftentimes we need to get him started, if he is clear down and out, 
with general line of property that any farmer in this section would 
need to operate a medium-sized farm. 

Mr. Curtis. Are you taking any special steps to meet the need for 
feed in the drought "area in Nebraska right now? 

^Ir. Ward. We have liberalized our grant program in that terri- 
tory to some extent. 

Mr. Curtis. And what have you done on the loan angle of it? 

Mr. Ward. Our facilities are" available to handle as many of these 
farmers as come to us, where they have land facilities on which we can 
establish a standard farm and home plan, and we are ready to put on 
additional personnel to take care of that program so we can set these 
farmers up on what we think is a sound basis. It means some read- 
justment in acreage and getting them to get down to feed produc- 
tion, and livestock, and getting them away from cash grain crops. 

Mr. Curtis. Mr. Willson, in your territory, does it differ much 
from what Mr. Ward has said? 

Mr. Willson. Well, I can just second what Mr. Ward has said as 
far as half of my region is concerned, which corresponds to the west- 
crn region of these four States. In the western region, however, wo 
do have the western slope, particularly in Montana and Colorado, 
where we have the problem of the dry-land farmers moving to the 
West Coast States. We do have that problem to meet out there, and 
we have the additional variation in that we have less of the good 
farming area ; consequently, less crop loans probably— more livestock, 
more s&ictly grazing. A large part of the region is more strictly 
grazing, and this drought has caught us with a large number of farm- 
ers and stockmen who have not been in this low-income group in 
the pagt, but now coming right down, with no basis for credit and, 
hence, no source from which they could get any credit. This has 


caused us to vary the re^ijular program, trying to throw props under 
these people, so to speak, that have gone on the downgrade, to save 
tlie foundation stock and help them l)ack. We try to make a loan to 
such men and at least save the foundation stock and sufficient of their 
land with it to provide a unit adequate to support a family. We 
have had to do a lot of that, as well as do everything Mr. Ward has 
said here about building them to a standard loan. 


Mr. Curtis. Might I say this to both of you: The exact title of this 
committee here is the investigation of the interstate migration of des- 
titute persons, which was brought about because of the some 4,000.000 
people that are homeless and stateless and jobless, and a tliii-d of 
them are children, wandering over the country. Do you feel that 
the work of the Farm Security Administration in this territory has 
made a contribution, either by increasing the number of migrants, by 
preventing it from increasing, or by taking migrants and making them 
useful citizens in some definite locality? What has been your obser- 
vation as to your work in that light, Mr. Willson? 

Mr. WiLLsoN. We have helped quite a lot in the western portion in 
our region, where they had already become migrants before they 
came in. We lowered our sights as to what a standard case is. We 
help them to get on a strictly .subsistence level — that is, in western 
Montana, western Colorado levels — and help them get a small hold 
there. A big contribution, however, I think, in our region of farm 
security affecting the migration of farmers, has been in catching 
them before they started. We frequently make grants, temporarily, 
while we help wdth loans and assist with educational resources, to get 
them on a regular loan bas'.s. There is comparatively small migra- 
tion because of relocation within the counties and that sort of thing. 
This stabilizing of tenure is another very important point in heading 
off migration. For example, 4 years ago, in one county in Colorado, 
something over 80 percent of our clients had lived on their farm 1 
5'ear only — 1 year or less. That period has been materially increased 
by this time through assisting in getting longer tenure. Of that 80 
percent, some less than 5 percent had come from an outside county 
that year. Interstate migration is a very minor part of the migra- 
tion problem. In Montana and in these three States — Montana is 
the top example — although they are now clown to about a third of 
what they were. In that State we have had grants and loans to a 
little over 24,000, which is 47 and a fraction percent of the farm 
families of the State which we have assisted in keeping in place. 

Mr, Curtis. Mr. Ward, will you make some comment? 

Mr. Ward. We have in this region about 40,000 farmers for whom 
we have developed standard farm and home plans. I think I said 
my region included Kansas — there are 25 counties in southwest Kansas 
that are not in my region. The Farm Security Administration has 
been able to stem the tide with that number of i)eoi)le, and I think 
has done pretty well. Now, the best reports I can get as to progress 


made by those people is tliat between 85 and 90 percent of them are 
making definite proaress, some to a marked decree, olliers to a fair 
degree. There is only a relatively small percent that are not making 
])ro«iress, so I think that what we have done is at least a forward step 
in the rio;ht direction, to tie these people to the land. And we find that 
there is something else; there is something human about it, that you 
can get peoi)le so they are satisfied, and they get back in the fighting 
mood again — they want to do things. But when tliey are down and 
out from year to year, their morale is broken, and I think all of you 
ought to think of that angle as well as the financial gains they might 


Mr. Curtis. Mr. Ward, in your paper you have said something 
about increased acreage holdings and the displacement of farm fam- 
ilies. Would you care to comment on that ? 

Mr. Ward. I think that is one of the biggest obstacles that is con- 
fronting us in this region at this time. I have in mind one operator 
in Kansas who controls 80 sections of land. It seems that a lot of 
insurance companies and county commissioners that have taken lands 
back for taxes now want to sell those lands, and they are selling them 
for a small down payment. Some speculators or suitcase farmers 
may have a little extra capital, or they may take their "triple A" check 
to make the doAvn payment. The net result is that it displaces a lot 
of farmers, and it is getting to be cjuite a serious thing throughout 
the region. 

INIr.CuRTis. What States does that apply to? 

Mr. W-^FD. That is taking place more in the Dakotas than it is 
in either Kansas or Nebraska at the present time, but it is more or 
less true even in those States, 

INIr. Curtis. Are those farms being thrown on the market because 
of tax sales and foreclosures of mortgages? 

Mr. AVard. Yes; that is right. Those tax sales have caused the 
counties to throw a lot of them on the market in the Dakotas. 

Mr. Curtis. In those States they had a lot of State checks? 

Mr. Ward. Eural credits. 

]\fr. Curtis. The purpose was to take care of those people a few 
years affo. Is this a result of that ? 

Mr. Ward. No; I doubt that. The fact is that they are losing their 
lands. In South Dakota they have the rural credits, and in North 
Dakota the liank of North Djikota. 

]Mr. Curtis. Now, have the rural credits in South Dakota and the 
Bank of North Dakota thrown an undue amount of land on the mar- 
ket for these so-called speculators or suitcase farmers to buy? 

Mr. Ward. I think so. That is my opinion. I may be wrong in it, 
but I know there is a lot of land thrown on the market and a lot 
of it has also been bougiit from the Federal land bank. 

Mr. Curtis. But these State agencies have had a lot of land they 
were anxious to get rid of? 

Mr. AVard. That is right. I think there has been an extra move 
in the last 12 to 18 months to unload a lot of land. 


Mr. Parsons. Counties haven't tried to operate any of those farms 
with tenants themselves? 

Mr. AVaijd. I don't think so. 

Mr. Parsons. And hind in both North and South Dakota, when it 
is forfeited for taxes, goes to the counties and not to the State? 

Mr. Ward, I think that is right. 

Mr. Curtis. Mr. Ward, the Farm Security Administration ha& 
done a lot of work, an educational type of work, in regard to records 
and that sort of thing. Do you have any case records that you would 
like to submit to the committee? 

]Mr. Ward. I don't have any sunnnary of them in writing at the 
present moment, but each farm family is asked to keep a farm and 
home record, and our experience has already taught us that it has 
been a very helpful thing in guiding the course of such a family the 
following year. They know what they are doing, and I want to em- 
phasize at this time the live-at-home program. What I mean by 
that is the production of those things the family needs in the home. 
A good many farmers have put in a water facility that isn't costing 
the taxpayers a cent, and the educational program is beginning to 
make these people realize that they can grow a garden, maybe because 
of such a dam or well. We have some splendid examples of home gar- 
dens ; in fact, I have one in my own yard, and we can have vegetables 
from early spring until late in the fall. 

Mr. Parsons. I saw some of those yesterday. 

Mr. Ward. They are a fine thing. 

Mr. Curtis. Proceed. 


Mr. Ward. I was ^oing to say we are attempting to keep as many 
of these people satisfied on the farm as we can— that is our big chal- 
lenge. The security of tenure is the thing that is confronting us, 
and we are able now to obtain a lot of 5-year leases and a few 10- 
year leases. I think we have one 15-year lease. We have found 
that if you are going to rehabilitate these families it can't be done 
by a farmer moving from place to place each year. And that is the 
whole Great Plains' big problem, a rather general problem of tying 
the people to the soil. I want to say that insurance companies and 
Federal land banks and the rest of the loan companies are working 
more closely with the farmer. We are gaining some ground in that 
respect, because we have found that if we can get the farmer to 
help himself it is also better for the mortgage holder. 

Mr. Curtis. Mr. Willson, in connection with migration in your 
territory, do you have a problem of migratory labor in various types 
of farming in your territory? 

Mr. WiixsoN. Yes; not to the extent that I understand they have 
elsewhere, but we do have a problem of migratory labor, a little 
greater in Colorado than in the other two States. Vegetable workers 
in the South have come up to the fruit-picking on the western slope 
of Colorado for which labor is more preponderantly transient than 
the sugar-beet producing areas. However, the sugar-beet producmg 


labor is pretty much residential, and niicratory to the extent of about 
a third. In Montana and Wyoming, work in sugar beets is the main 
migratory labor. 

Mr. Parsons. Those are irrigated lands in Wyoming? 

Mr. WiLLsoN. Yes; they can grow only under irrigation. 

Mr. CuETis. We have perhaps cut both of you short in some of our 
questions. If either one of you has anything else further that you 
would like to stress, we will be glad to hear that. As a matter of fact, 
your printed statements are going to be very helpful, because by the 
time the Nation-wide investigation is completed and we get ready to 
write a report, we are going to have to rely on the printed page a 
great deal. 

But do either of you have some point you would like to call to the 
particular attention of the committee at this time? 


Mr. WiLLSON. Yes; I have a point that I think I cover, probably 
rather completely, in the written record and that is the inadequacy 
of our rehabilitation program in itself to meet the needs of this north- 
ern Great Plains region — particularly as it pertains to this migration 
of agricultural persons. That program is inadeauate because so many 
of the people are situated on inadequate units. It is very necessary 
for us to stabilize the greatest possible number of these people within 
their States — within their counties, if possible — and if they must 
migrate, to assist them in migrating as short a distance as possible, 
so as to affect the governmental and social set-up in an area as little as 
possible. It is necessary that there be more educational activities, 
and in addition to our regular rehabilitation work, it is necessary that 
we develop all of our natural resources up here to the greatest degree 
possible, if we are to meet the situation. I refer, amongst other 
things, to this area where there is quite a lot of soil, pretty good soil, 
that needs much greater developments of the water resources of the 
area. These resources can be developed very largely. Some of them 
will be large in character; many of them small. The smaller and 
more widespread they are, the greater the stabilizing effect on the 
farmers on the dry land. 

Mr. Curtis. As a matter of fact, we have been, by our practice over 
the past years, hurrying the water to the sea, when we should have 
been holding it back ? 

lilr. WiLLSON. Yes. And in that respect I think it is extremely 
important that it not be thought of merely as development of water 
for the settling of eighty or a hundred clients or so in an area, but 
rather that the developments be considered with respect to an entire 
area such as a county or, better, of two or three counties. The neces- 
sity,' therefore, is not only to get these families set up as successful 
self-sustaining units but also of so selecting families from dry- 
land areas and of obtaining control of the lands from which they are 
selected, that those lands can be made to support the families remain- 
ing in the areas. If they are adjacent to farm units set up in irrigation 
territory, they could be established as grazing districts and that sort of 


thing:. In that same line, it seems extremely important that conserva- 
tion in the (hT-land areas and measni-es toward conservation throui^h 
the organization into districts l)e inatU> as I liave sii<»;f»;ested, in order 
to ii'et control of tliis land; that conservation featnres ))e stressed dur- 
ing' tliis })erio(l Avhiie they are develo[)in^' the watei- and tlie land on 
"whicli they are ^oing to ]nit water, becanse it, of conrse, needs devel- 
opment of varions kinds; that this other land be prepared so the other 
families can work it. Tliey are available there as labor to do the con- 
servation that needs to be done. Then, too, if we are to accomplish 
the })nrpose of stabilizinjz; the greatest nnmber of families possible, it 
shonld <io hand in hand with this increased emphasis. And for every 
one family yon resettle on an irri<iation farm yon will jjrobably 
stabilize two families out on dry land somewhere and a couple or three 
families in a small rural town in the comnnniities where tliese develop- 
ments are going on. You can extend your influence and help that 
man}^ more families if the proper authorizations can be given at this 
time to get funds and do some of tliose things. Increased emphasis, 
as I have indicated, and funds for submarginal land purchase would 
help as a means of controlling areas from which families should be 

Mr. Curtis. Mr. Ward, do you have any further comments you 
would like to make ? 


Mr. Ward. My last word is, I don't think we have nearly exhausted 
all the possibilities there are in keeping families on the farms. Xow, 
probably one of the reasons it has failed in the past, one of the reasons, 
is because of poor planning and poor management. The Farm Se- 
curity Administration has been the test of the thing. The job of plan- 
ningVe do, in the first place, is getting the farmer started right. If his 
farm may appear to be inadequate in acres, yet well planned out and 
intensified, we can still keep tliis family tied to the soil. I have 
been a great believer in the triple A, and I know that no mechanism 
is perfect from the start, but I have often felt tliat if that benefit pay- 
ment could be held down to what Mr. E. A. Willson said — perhaps a 
thousand dollars — it would be one of the ways of keeping suitcase 
farmers and land hogs from grabbing this land. 

Mr. Parsons. We did put a limitation on that in the last bill, if I 

Mr. W.^RD. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. Of course, it is still too high. 

Mr. Ward. Yes. 

Chairman Tolan. We found a similar sentiment in the Snutli. at a 
hearing in Montgomery, Ala., that the large payment to the big j^lanta- 
tion owner, the corporate owner, was forcing the family sized oper- 
ator off. 

Mr. Ward. There is no question about it. 

Chairman Tolan. And I feel this way, INIr. Ward, that any expend- 
iture should be tested on this premise: Whether or not it helps peo- 
ple to help themselves. 

Mr. Ward. That is right. 


Chairman Tolan. And I feel the Fat-m Security Administration — 
I know there luive been some errors, some mistakes — that it does meet 
that test. Now, this is a h><j:islative conunittee that is interested in 
the loniT-time solution and that plans to make some recommendations 
to Coiiirress. There are a few pressing problems right here in Ne- 
braska that have to be met in some manner in the next few days or 
weeks, and that is the lack of feed is going to cause a big exodus of 
peo])le this fall. Sympathetic as this committee is toward it, that is 
hardly within the scoi)e of its activities. We have a report that is not 
due until January that deals with the long-time legislative program. 

1 think there is a problem here that will have to be met by some or all 
of the agencies of the Department of Agriculture, and they will, per- 
haps, have to go farther than they have so far. As I say, I feel that 
we must direct our attention to helping, when we spend money, to 
spend it so that it will do some permanent good in helping people to 
help tliemselves. 

Mr. Ward. That even goes with a grant — a $20 grant to a family. 
It is the first meager step, or ought to be, in the process of rehabilita- 


Mr. Parsons. What percentage of the total farm families in your 
region do you have loans with? 

Mr. Ward. We have a little less than 40,000 loans made — that is, 
the standard loans — and we have in my region between four and five 
hundred thousand farmers. 

^h\ Paksons. So you have approximately 10 percent? 

Mr. ^Vard. Of course, a great many of the other farmers don't need 

Mr. Parsons. And what is the percentage in vour region, Mr. 

Mr. WiLLsoN. On loans it is right between 10 and 15 percent. 

Mr. P.VRSONS. How many are in default at the present time — what 
percentage i 

Mr. WiLLSON. I can't give you the percentages of those in default. 
The amount of collections is approximately what is due. That doesn't 
mean that there are not people in default, because some have paid in 
advance of what is due. We are just a very little below what is due — • 

2 or 3 percent. 

Mr. Parsons. How is it in your region, Mr. Ward? 

Mr. Ward. Not quite so optimistic. We have made total loans of 
about $54,000,000 and we have collected back about six and two-thirds 
million dollars. But a lot of repayments are being made now, al- 
though they aren't due. 

Mr. Parsons. Do you have any figures on what percentage of these 
farms the Federal land bank has loans on in the two regions? 

Mr. WiLLSON. I don't have those figures with me. 

Mr. Parsons. The suggestion was made to me yesterday that prob- 
ably, in the State of Nebraska, about 10 percent 

Mr. WiLLSON. Ten percent of what ? 

260370— 41— pt. 4 9 


Mr. Parsons. Of the total farms in both States have loans from 
tlie Federal land banks. 

Mr. WiLLSoN. I think I was told that there were more than •25,<)(X) 
Federal land bank loans in Sonth Dakota— 25,000. 

Mr. Parsons. Now, the insurance companies own quite a block of 
these farms, too, do they not? 

Mr. AVard. That is ri*2;ht. 

Mr. Parsons. Probably as many as the Federal land bank? 

Mr. AVard. Probably. 

Mr. Parsons. And those are all tenant farmers, in each instance. 
Probably half of the ones that the Farm Security Administration is 
backin<>: are tenant farmers, also, is that true, would you say? 

Mr. Ward. Two-thirds. 

Mr. WiLLSON. At least two-thirds. 

The Chairman. You have got a great deal of hope right now, 
M'ith the drought condition especially, existing in this region, of 
getting farm ownership started in a big way. If you had the rain's 
aid, the moisture in this territory, probably a lot of these men would 
I'epossess their farms, w^ould they not? 

Mr. Ward. I feel that we have to change the type of agriculture 
out here and get away from cash grain and livestock; and that is 
going to mean a reorganization of thousands of farm units, with 
plenty of funds available from some source to make it effective, for 
loans and administration. 

The Chairman. I agree with you. But, of course, if they go 
back, in the final account, in 10 or 15 years — they would go back to 
grain crops. That is hmiian nature. 

Mr. Curtis. Your statements have been very helpful indeed, and I 
appreciate hearing them. I want to congratulate you two men on 
the fine job you are doing here in the West with the Farm Security. 
You are doing a better job than they are doing down in Illinois. 
And the first-hand observation that I have of a few cases I have been 
able to see in my own congressional district and the fortitude and 
determination of the Nebraska farmer impressed me very much. 

Thank you. 

The Chairman. Just a minute. Congressman Parsons asked about 
the condition of these loans, whether or not they were being paid 
back. Dr. Alexander was administrator of the Farm Security 
before he was transferred. He told me their figures there in AYash- 
ington showed 85 percent were being paid back, and ])robably that is 
about the correct figure. But what continually bothers me about this 
proposition all the time is simply this: That we can get the causes — 
it's soil displacement, circumstances over which the farmer has no 
control. They have to move. The approach that you people are 
tackling is to keep them there if possible, and I understand that, 
but in the nature of things you can't keep them all there, can you? 
They will migrate. 

Mr. Ward. That is right. 

The Chairman. All right. Then the practical proposition for 
this committee, I think the main proposition, is: What are we going 
to do with them when they do move? Tliey are citizens of the 48 


States, under the Constitution, and they run up ap:ainst these barriers 
and they lose their residence in tlie State of orioin and tliey can't f^et 
residence at the State of destination, so they are kicked around just 
like animals. Don't you tliink Ave have <rot to consider them as our 
people ? 

Mr. Wahd. Absolutely. 

The Chairman. Our people — good American people who want 
to stay at home, and we have <i()t to fix some sort of status for them 
when they do move, so that they are not outcasts. As we have said 
liere repeatedly, there are thousands by the roadsides today. 

Mr. Wiixsox. We have to jio further and quicker and faster than 
tliat. We have to <ret to the point of developino; our national resources 
so we can direct them to the point where they sliould go. 

The Chairman. Yes: we have lieard a lot of testimony about 
that — misinformation as to where thei-e is employment and where 
there isn't employment is a very bad feature of the situation. 

Mr. WiLLSON. I think it is, yes. 

Mr. Ward. I think it is ])ossible to keep these people fairly secure, 
if we will use and develop a lot of resources and things that we have. 

The Chairman. I think that we will be able at least to attract 
the Nation's attention to it, and when it is once attracted I think we 
will be able to make some recommendations that will improve the 

Mr. WiLLsoN. This statement would not be true of Mr. Ward's 
region, but in the three States in my region, if we could develop 
the water that can be developed there and move the people from 
their dry land units and make the poorest into grazing, and so forth, 
we have plenty of resources to support all the people in those three 
States, but we do need additional authorizations and funds. 

The Chairman. I was amazed to learn the other day that Oie- 
(Ton — you drive through that country there, a beautiful State aiul 
not very much increase in population, and one-half of the land in 
Oregon is owned by the Federal Government. There certainly is 
undeveloped soil and resources in that country, and that is why the 
resettlement proposition is very intriguing. 

We are very grateful to you gentlemen. Thank you very much. 
(Witnesses excused.) 


Mr. Parsons. State your name and address to the reporter here, 

for the record. 

Mrs. Olsen. Mr. and Mrs. Soren Olsen, Omalui. 

Mr. Parsons. Mr. Olsen. where were you born ^ 

Mr. Olsen. Denmark. 

Mr. Parsons. In what year? 

Mr. Olsen. 1S99. 

Mr. Parsons. When did you come to this country? 

Mr! Olsen. 1915. . , ■ ■ , • • • o 

Mr. Parsons. Have you acquired citiz«Mishii) since coming? 

Mr. Olsen. Yes. 


Mr. Parsons. What year? 

Mr. Olsen. 1922. 

Mr. Pahsons. Where were you born, Mrs. Olsen? 

Mrs. Oi.SEN. South Dakota. 

iNIr. Parsons. You are a natural-born citizen of the United States, 
of course? 

Mrs. OltSen. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. Do you have any children? 

Mrs. Olsen. Yes ; I have two boys. 

Mr. Parsons. Is this one son here? 

Mrs. Olsen. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. And how old is the other one? 

Mrs. Olsen. He is 20, serving 4 years in the Army. 

Mr. Parsons. What branch of the service? 

Mrs. Olsen. Infantry. 

Mr. Parsons. When vou first came to this country, where did you 
settle, Mr. Olsen ? 

Mr. Olsen. In Shelby County, Iowa. 

Mr. Parsons. What work did you do when you came? 

Mr. Olsen. Farming. 

Mr. Parsons. Had you been a farmer in Denmark? 

Mr. Olsen. Some, not very much. 

Mr. Parsons. You were born on a farm? 

Mr. Olsen. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. What other type of work have you done in this 
country ? 

Mr. Olsen. Almost everything — been a cook, baker, carpenter. 

Mr. Parsons. Did you start out to be a baker by trade? 

Mr. Olsen. Well, I started that after I got married, worked about 
10 years in a bakery. 

Mr. Parsons. What wages did you earn as a farm hand? 

Mr. Olsen. Farm hand ? Oh, I guess $25 a month, at that time. 

Mr. Parsons. And board and keep ? 

Mr. Olsen. Oh, yes. 

Mr. Parsons. Before you married? 

Mr. Olsen. Oh, yes. 

Mr. Parsons. What have you been doing the last few years? 

Mr. Olsen. I worked for a seed and nursery company the last 5 years, 
in South Dakota. 

Mr. Parsons. Are you working there now ? 

Mr. Olsen. No, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. How come you to quit that job? 

Mr. Olsen. Disagreed with them last winter and quit them and left 

Mr. Parsons. Last winter ? 

Mr. Olsen. Yes ; last February. 

Mr. Parsons. How much were you making with the company? 

Mr. Olsen. Seventeen or seventeen -fifty a week. 

Mr. Parsons. What happened after you left the job? Did you re- 
ceive unemployment compensation? 

Mr. Olsen. Yes. 


Mr. Parsons. For how many weeks ? 

:^rr. Olsen. Four checks for hist year, and the full amount this year; 
that was for 1939 and 1938. 
Mr. Parsons. How much per week? 
Mr. Olsen. Eleven-fifty for four checks, and the rest of the time i 

got $10.50. " , ■ 

Mr. Parsons. Ha\e you souoht work since that time ? 

:Mr. Olsen. I sought it, but I haven't been able to find it yet. 

:Mr. Parsons. Were you employed in Omaha for a time after you left 
this company last year? 

Mr. Olsen. Seven days. 

]Mr. Parsons. What were you doing? 

Mr. Olsen. Seed and nursery company. ■ ^ ^^ 

^h: Parsons. Yon seem to be experienced in that particular line ot 


]Mr. Olsen. I worked at it 5 years. 

:Mr. Parsons. How did you happen to go down to Omaha ? 

Mr. Olsen. I figured I 'would find work there. I used to be there 

years ago. , » ,. ■, -n 

:Sh'. Parsons. There is always the hope and feeling that you will 
find work if you go some place else? 

Mr. Olsen. I did find work but I got hurt. 

Mr. Parsons. In the 7 days you worked there? 

Mr. Olsen. Yes; I hurt my back, and couldn't work for about a 

]\Ir. Parsons. Have you ever applied for relief ? 

]Mr. Olsen. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. Was it granted? . xt i 

]Mr. Olsen. I get some now, but I don't belong down here in Nebraska 


Mr. Parsons. How much relief have you been getting? 

Mr. Olsen. Now, $18 a month. 

^Iv. Parsons. You and your wife and your child? 

Mr. Olsen. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. And you are living at the present time where? 

Mr. Olsen. In Omaha. 

Mr. Parsons. How long have you been in Nebraska ? 

Mr. Olsen. The 6th day of February, I guess it was. 

Mr. Parsons. What are the settlement laws on that? How long do 
you have to be in the State of Nebraska to get relief ? 

Mr. Olsen. Well, a year, I guess it is, in order to belong here. 

Mr. Parsons. Do you have any ambition to go back to the Dakotas? 

Mr. Olsen. Yes; I do. I have a chance to go back to work up there, 
so I hope to get back this fall again. 

Mr. Parsons. Yon tliink you will have an opportunity to work back 

there ? 

Mr. Olsen. Well, I can get back to work at my old job this fall 

again. . 

Mr. Parsons. With these same people ju the seed and nursery busi- 

Mr. Olsen. Yes. 


Mr. Parsons. I see. So you plan to go back there now? 

Mr. Olsen. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. You haven't had much difliculty with the settlement 
laws between South Dakota and Nebraska? 

Mr. Olsen. Well 

Mr. Parsons ( interp()sin<>). Except, of course, you have been away 
too lon<; to go back and get aid there if you wanted to have it? 

Mr. Olsen. No; not now. 

Mr. Parsons. You are expecting to be self-supporting? 

Mr. Olsen. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. You haven't got any serious grievance against the 
county authorities or the State authorities in either one of these States? 

Mr. Olsen. No. 

Mr. Parsons. They have been very nice and kind to you ? 

Mr. Olsen. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. I think that is all, Mr. Chairman. Your case is very 
much like scores of others that we have heard at these hearings — a 
fair example of thousands of people that on one account or another 
are forced into migration. Thank you very much for coming. 


The Chairman. State your name, please. 
Mrs. Hendricks. Mrs. Harold Hendricks. 
The Chairman. Where is your home? 
Mrs. Hendricks. Lincoln, Nebr. 
The Chairman. Were you born in Nebraska? 
Mrs. Hendricks. Yes; I was. 
The Chairman. Where? 
Mrs. Hendricks. Princeton, Nebr. 
The Chairman. Where from Lincoln? 

Mrs. Hendricks. Seventeen miles south of Lincoln, on the highway. 
The Chairman. What does your father do? 
Mrs. Hendricks. He is a farmer. 
The Chairman. Where is he located? 
Mrs. Hendricks. Princeton. 

The Chairman. What was your education, Mrs. Hendricks? 
Mrs. Hendricks. I have a high-school education. 
The Chairman. And where did you graduate? 
Mrs. Hendricks. From Cortland High School. 
The Chairman. Where is that? 

Mrs. Hendricks. Twenty-one miles south of Lincoln. 
The Chairman. When did you leave the farm? 
Mrs. Hendricks. In 1928. 
The Chairman. You were 19 then? 
Mrs. Hendricks. Yes. 

The Chairman. Where did you go. to Lincoln ? 
Mrs. Hendricks. Yes. 

The Chairman. What have you done, then? 

Mrs. Hendricks. I have done housework for 5 years; I have been 


The Chairman. When did you ^et nuirried? 

Mrs. Hendricks. In 1938, 

The Chairman. Did you find considerable work of tluit kinil in 

Mi-s. Hendricks. Yes; I liud work all the time I was here, but 1 
have had my best jobs since I <i()( married; I <rot about $G a week 
when I started. 

The Chairman. You call that pretty jjood wages? 

Mrs. Hendricks. Well, to what it is now, yes. 

The Chairman. Well, what is the best money you ever made 
after vou got married? 

Mrs. Hendricks. Well, between 8 and i) dollars a week; sometmies 
9, but it was mostly S. 

The Chairman. Do you have any children? 

Mrs. Hendrk ks. T have one little girl who is 6, and one who is 
1 year old. 

The Chairman. What occupation does your husband follow? 

Mrs. Hendricks. He is a landscaper and nurseryman. 

The Chairman. Has it been easy for him to get work? 

Mrs. Hendricks. No; it hasn't. 

The Chairman. You left here, then, didn't you. and went to 
Oregon ? 

Mi-s. Hendricks. Yes; in 193T; and moved in order to hnd more 
work, and we really did lind it when we got out there. 

The Chairman. You mean your husband? 

Mrs. Hendricks. He and I both. 

The Chairman. What part of Oregon? 

Mrs. Hendricks. Portland. 

The Chairman. What did he do? 

Mrs. Hendricks. Well, he did construction work, and when he first 
worked he worked in a sawmill, and they closed down. We first went 
to Scotts Mill, Oreg.. and then when the mill closed we went to Port- 
land and then he got a construction job. And I got a housekeeping 
job for $30 a month. 

'Hie Chairman. Did you work in the summer? 

Mrs. Hendricks. From June on. yes. 

The Chairman. Then he had steady work all summer, did he? 

Mrs. Hendricks. Yes : and wages were real good : he got $6 a day. 

The Chairman. And you got $30 a month? 

Mrs. Hendricks. Yes. 

The Chairman. When did your work run out? 

Mrs. Hendricks. Tt didn't riin out. ^ye just came home. 

The Chairman. Got homesick for Nebraska? 

Mrs. Hendricks. I'll say. 

The Chairman. ^^Hiat transportation did you use? 

Mrs. Hendricks. We came back in a big truck. There was 23 people 
in that big truck. 

The Chairman. Twenty-three people? 

Mrs. Hendricks. Yes. 

The Chairman. How did you hai)pen to use that sore of con- 
veyance ? 


Mrs. Hendricks. AVell, they run an ad there in the paper, and. of 
course, we didn't intend to o;o, until my husband saw all the rest of 
them ready to go home, so he decided to, too. 

The Chairman. Twenty-three of you : How long did it take you 
to make that trip? 

Mrs. Hendricks. Four days. 

The Chairman. How much did they charge? 

Mrs. Hendricks. Twenty dollars for us. 

The Chairman. Each? 

Mrs. Hendricks. No ; wnth four of us. 

The Chairman. Well, was that truck taking regular transporta- 
tion business, or wdiat? 

Mrs. Hendricks. Well, I guess he had taken a load out there ; then, 
see, he got to take his trip by taking people to make his expenses. 

The Chairman. We heard testimony in Alabama where there were 
a lot of these trucks who gathered them up in Florida, down South, 
and drove through across State lines and no license or anything else, 
and charged them $17 apiece. 

Was it a man you knew? 

Mrs. Hendricks. It was a man from Nebraska ; we didn't know him. 

The Chairman. What did you do when you came back here i 

Mrs. Hendricks. We had enough money to make a down payment 
on a big truck the mister used in his business, and we had work until 
October or November, and then w^e had to go on relief. 

The Chairman. What year was that? 

Mrs. Hendricks. 1931. 

The Chairman. 1931. You went on relief? 

Mrs. Hendricks. Well, we was back in a month and a half. 

The Chairman. Well, now, did you go back to Oregon again ? 

Mrs. Hendricks. Yes; in the following year. 

The Chairman. How did you go back? 

Mrs. Hendricks. We went back in a — oh, we didn't have money 
enough to go, so we put an ad in the paper and got people to go with 
us to make our expenses, in our big truck. So we got out there. 

The Chairman. It wasn't the same fellow that brought you. was 

Mrs. Hendricks. No; it was our own truck, and we took I think 
17 people. 

The Chairman. You went in the trucking business yourself? 

Mrs. Hendricks. Yes. 

The Chairman. Well, then, what did you do aft^r you got there, 
in Oregon ? 

Mi*s. Hendricks. Well, we found work, of courste. Mister's two 
brothers went with us. And they done landscaping out there. We 
made a good living, and we would have stayed out there, but the fall 
rains started, and we didn't have enough money saved, and we came 

The Chairman. You got homesick again? 

Mrs. Hendricks. No ; not that time. 

The Chairman. When did you get back here? 


Mrs. Hexdkkks. That time we jjot back here in ()ctoI)er of 1938. 
The Chairman. How did you come back? 

Mi-s. Hendricks. We iKMight a car — sold the truck and lx>u<rht an- 
other car and came back. 

Tlie Chairman. What kind of car did you buy? 
Mi-s. Hendricks. A Buick — but I imajriiie it was a '28 oi- '29 mcKlel. 
The Chairman. A little rustry. eh? 
Mrs. Hendricks. Yes. 

The Chairman. Is your husband a <!:ood mechanic? 
Ml■i^. Hendricks. Oh, i)retty fair. 

The Chairman. What happened when you <rot back to Lincoln 

Mi-s. Hendricks. Well, we didn't — we was on our own then, and we 
didn't have to get relief until the spring of 1939. 
The Chairman. Are you on relief iiow ? 
Mrs. Hendricks. Yes: we are. 

The Chairman. Did you have any trouble about your i-esideiice 
or your settlement in getting relief here after you had been gone to 
Oregon ? 

Mrs. Hendricks. No; we made a trip this year again to Oregon, 
and then when we got out there he could only find 2 days' work, and 
then we just run out of money and we had to apply for relief, and they 
were rather nice about it. but they did tell us we were nonresidents, and 
they couldn't help us. but they helped us until they got the Travelers' 
Aid to .^nd us home. 

The Chairman. Did you have any difficulty getting relief in Ne- 
braska ? 

Mrs. Hendricks. Well, this residence — ^yes, they really gave us a 
good talking to because we left; they seemed to think we shouldn't 
have left, and we figured if we had stayed here we would have had to 
have been on relief anyway, because mister can't find work during the 
sununertime in Lincoln, and of course they put us on, but we didn't get 
help for a while. 

The Chairman. How long have you been on relief now? 
Mrs. Hendricks. We have been back in town just a month today, 
and we didn't get on for about 3 or 4 days after we got back. 
The Chairman. Is your husband looking for work now? 
Mrs. Hendricks. Yes; he is. 

The Chairman. Now, how much do you get, relief money? 
Mrs. Hendricks. With the stamps, we are allowed $15 every 2 

The Chairman. Do you get along all right with that? 
Mrs. Hendricks. Yes; I do. 

The Chairman. How much do you pay for rent? 
Mrs. Hendricks. Seventeen. 

The Chairman. Well, that doesn't leave much 

Mrs. Hendricks (interposing). Well, that rent money, the mister 
has to make that, but tluit $30, we live pretty good on that now. 

The Chairman. When did you figure you would make your next 
trip to Oregon? 


Mrs. Hendricks. I hope it can be next year. I really won't be 
satisfied until we can live out there. 

The Chairman. What are the chances for employment here now 
for your husband; do you know? 

Mrs. Hendricks. There really isn't any. That is how we ^et by 
now. If it wasn't for the stamps the relief give us, we wouldn't have 
any groceries, but that's the way we raise the money for the rent, 
with the truck. 

The Chairman. How did you happen to overlook California? 

Mrs. Hendricks. We know peo])le down thei'e, and they haven't 
been able to get money enough to come back. 

The Chairman. Thank you very much. 


Mr. Curtis. You are Mrs. Beatrice Michelson? 

Mrs. Michelson. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Curtis. Where are you living at this time? 

Mrs. Michelson. Omaha, Nebr. 

Mr. Curtis. Where were you born? 

Mrs. Michelson. Pacific Junction. 

Mr. Curtis. What education do you have? 

Mrs. Michelson. Eighth grade. 

Mr. Curtis. Was that in town or in the country? 

Mrs. Michelson. In the country school. 

Mr. Curtis. Did you spend all your time on the farm until you 
were married? 

Mrs. Michelson. Yes. 

Mr. Curtis. Your parents are on a farm? 

Mrs. Michelson. Yes. 

Mr. Curtis. How many brothers and sisters do you have ? 

Mrs. Michelson. Five brothers and two sisters. 

Mr. Curtis. How do their ages compare with yours? 

Mrs. Michelson. They are all older. 

Mr. Curtis. What did you do when you left school in the eighth 
grade ? 

Mrs. Michelson. Helped mother on the farm is all. 

Mr. Curtis. At what age were you married ? 

Mrs. Michelson. Seventeen, 

Mr. Curtis. You have how many children now? 

Mrs. Michelson. Five. 

Mr. Curtis. How old are they? 

Mrs. Michelson. From 16 on down to 6; the oldest, 16, is a girl, 
and a boy 13, one 12, and one 9, and a girl 6. 

Mr. Curtis. Your oldest girl is married? 

Mrs. Michelson. Yes. 

Mr. Curtis. That is the 16-year-old one? 

Mrs. Michelson. Yes. 

Mr. Curtis. What was your husband's occupation at the time you 
were married? 

Mrs. Michelson. Farming; a tenant farmer. 


Mr. Curtis. What year were you married? 

Mrs. MiCHELSoN. In 1923. 

Mr. Ci^RTis. AVhat was his wa^es at that time? 

Mrs. MiCHELSox. From $50 to $60 a month. 

Mr. Curtis. Was he a farm hand, or fai-ming for himself? 

Mrs. MiCHELSON, No; a fai-m hand. 

Mr. Curtis. His waj^es: Did that inchide livinfj quarters for you? 

Mrs. MicHELSON. Yes; we had a house on the same farm. 

Mr. Curtis. How long did he continue farming? 

Mrs. MicHELsoN. About 8 years. 

Mr. Curtis. That was about 1931? 

Mrs. MicHELsox. Yes. 

Mr. Ci'RTis. And where did he do this farming? 

]\Irs. MiCHELsox. In Iowa, down around Bartlett. 

Mr. Curtis. Living in the country, you were able to get along on 
this cash income of $50 or $60? 

Mrs. MiCHELSON. Yes. 

Mr. Curtis. You kept the children in school, those who were old 
enough ? 

Mrs. MicHELsox. Yes. 

Mr. Curtis. "WHien did your husband cease farming? 

Mrs. MicnELSOx. In 1931. 

Mr. Curtis. What did he do then? 

Mrs. MiCHELSox". He became a minister. 

Mr. Curtis. Minister of what church? 

Mrs. MicHELSoN. Holiness Church. 

Mr, Curtis. What is the other name for that church — Pentecostal? 

Mrs. MicHELSON. No; it isn't Pentecostal. He finally turned out 
to be a Pentecostal, but it was Holiness. 

Mr. Curtis. What education had he had? 

Mrs. MiCHELsox. An eighth-grade education. 

Mr. Curtis. Had he had any particular education outside of school 
for religious leadership? 

iSIrs. jNIichelsox. No. 

Mr. Curtis. When did he change from the Holiness Church to the 
Pentecostal ? 

Mrs. Michelsox^. About 3 years ago. 

Mr. Curtis. Now, did he get a charge in some place, or what sort 
of work did he do? 

Mrs. MicHELsox. No; he was an evangelist, just running around, 
you know, different States and around. 

Mr. Curtis. Did you accompany him ? 

Mrs. MicHELsox. What ? 

Mr. Curtis. Did you accompany him around? 

Mrs. MiCHELSox. Well, until the children got in school, and I 
knew they wouldn't get their education until I settled down, so I just 
settled down. 

Mr. Curtis. AVliere were some of the places you went with him? 

Mrs. MiCHELSOx. In Barnico Springs. 

Mr. Curtis. In what State? 

Mrs. MiciiELSox. Missouri. 

Mr. Curtis. How long were vou down there? 


Mrs. ^ficHKLsoN. Wo Avere tliere 3 years, and then we went back ro 
Iowa and tlien back, and 2 years there. 

Mr. CuR'ns. Was he preaching- in one particular ])lac€. or did he 
travel about? 

iMi-s. MicHELsoN. He traveled about most of the time. 

Mr. Cuims. In a number of States at tliat time? 

]\Irs. MiCHEi^ON. Missouri and Arkansas, mostly. 

Mr. Curtis. When did you come back to Iowa, then? 

Mrs. MiCHi-iLsoN. About 6 months ago. 

Mr. Curtis. Did your husband come back with you ? 

Afrs. MicHELsoN. No; he left. He had a Spanish singer he went 
Avith, and he went with her. 

Mr. CtTRTis. You mean your husband deserted you ? 

Mrs. MicHELsoN. Yes. 

]\Ir. Curtis. And this Spanish singer was an evangelist who had 
been traveling with him? 

Mrs. MiciiELsoN. She went with him; yes. 

Mr. Curtis. When was the last time you heard from him? 

Mrs. MicHELSoN. I don't hear from him at all. He said he was 
leaving and not coming back any more. That is the last time I heard 
from him. 

Mr. Curtis. Wlien was that? 

Mi's. MiGHELSON. Two or three months ago. 

Mr. Curtis. Where were you living at that time? 

Mrs. IVIiGHELSox. In Shelton, Mo. 

Mr. Curtis. When he left you ? 

Mrs. MicHFXsoN. Yes. Out in the country, in a shack. 

Mr. Curtis. In a shack, just some vacant house that you and the 
family moved in? 

Mrs. MiCHELSON. Yes. 

]\Ir. Curtis. Now, how were you getting along at that time? Where 
were you getting ]Drovisions ? 

Mrs. MiCHELSON. Just Avhat the neighbors gave us is all. 

Mr. Curtis. You went from there into Iowa ? 

Mrs. MiCHELSON. Yes; my sister and her husband came after us and 
brought us up there. 

Mr. Curtis. Did your sister provide for you there? 

Mrs. MiCHELSON. They have been trying to take care of us here. 
We came up here and I have been trying to get employment. 

Mr. Curtis. Are they financially able to support you and your 
children ? 

Mrs. MiCHELSON. No. 

Mr. Curtis. Did you a])ply for relief in Iowa? 

Mrs. MicHEi.soN. No; I didn't. We were only there 2 weeks. I 
didn't think we were there long enough to get relief. 

Mr. Curtis. You are in Omaha now? 

Mrs. MiCHELSON. Yes. 

Mr. Curtis. How^ long ago did you go <o Omaha? 

Mrs. MiCHAELSoN. About 5 or 6 months ago. 

Mr. Curtis. That was before your experience in Missouri? 

]\Irs. MiCHELSON. No; I heard from him there; I heard from him 
and he said he wasn't coming back ever. 


Mr. Curtis. Wlieie did you hear from liini? 

Mrs. MiCHELsoN. Slieltoii, Mo. He caine back. I <,niess, while I was 

Mr. Curtis. Has lie obtained a divorce? 

Mrs. M1CHEI.8OX. Not that I know of. lie liasn't. 

Mrs. Curtis. Have you asked for any aid in Onialia? 

Mrs. MicHELsoN. Yes. 

Mr. Curtis. What did they tell you? 

Mrs. MiciiELSoN. I had to' be there a year before I couhl get any 
aid at alL 

Mr. Curtis. Well, where is j^our legal home, if von have one; do you 
know ? 

Mrs. MiCHELsoN. Well, we live in a one-room apartment on Dodge 
Street in Omaha is my home; we have been there about a month. 

Mr. Curtis. Do you consider yourself a resident of Missouri or 
Iowa or Nebraska? 

Mrs. MiCHELSox. Omaha is where I want to make my home, if I 

Mr. Curtis. Have you made any application for relief in Missouri? 

Mrs. MicHELsox. No. It wouldn't be enough to keep me if I did, 
and the children and everything. The relief is awful skimpy down 

Mr. Curtis. What part of ]\Iissouri is it? 

Mrs. JNIicHELsoN. Barton County. 

Mr. Curtis. What section of Missouri is it, down in the Ozarks? 

]Mrs. ]\ricHELsoN. Yes; right on the edge of the Ozarks; it is west 
of Springfield. 

Mr. Curtis. Your daughter that is married : Are thev able to assist 
you ? 

]Mrs. MicHELsox. No; he just picks up work now" and then, is all 
he can do. 

Mr. Curtis. Well, are any of your brothers able to help a^ou? 

Mrs. MiCHELSox. No; they are not. 

Mr. Curtis. Willing but not able, is that the Avay of it? 

Mrs. MicHELsoN. Yes; that is it. 

Mr. Curtis. You have asked for relief, though, in Omaha? 

Mrs. MiCHELSON. Yes. 

Mr. CuTtTis. Did they tell you you should have a legal settlement 
there in a year? 

ISIrs. MiCHELSox. They said they couldn't give me any relief what- 
ever until I had been there a j^ear. 

Mr. CuHTis. Did they say whethei- or not they would be able to 
give you relief at the end of the yeai'? 

Mrs. MiciiELsox. They didn't say exactly, but they said I would 
have to be there a year. 

Mr. Curtis. They didn't say your residence was with your husband, 
even if you had none? 

Mrs. ^IicriELsox. No. 

Mr. Ci HTis. Who is caring for you now? 

Mrs. Mi( iiKLsox. My sistei's are paying for the rent. 

Mr. Curtis. AVhere are the childreii now? 


Mi-s. MioHELSoN. In scliool now. 

Mr. Curtis. With you? 

Mrs. MiciiELSON. Yes; with me. 

Mr. Curtis. Who is furnishinj>- the food and clothes? 

Mrs. MiCHELsoN. My sisters are tryinj^ to do that. They go in 

Mr. Curtis. Are yon getting any private charity? 

Mrs. MicHELsoN. No. I got one of my boys a pair of shoes at the 
Salvation Army, and that is all 1 could get. 

Mr. Curtis. Your sisters live in Omaha? 

Mrs. MicHELsoN. Yes; on Dodge Street. 

Mr. Curtis, What are you going to do now? Are you able to seek 
employment ? 

Mrs. MicHELsoN. That is what I Avonld like to do. I have been 
trying to get employment, but I haven't found any. 

Mr. Curtis. But your youngest child is 

Mrs. MicHELSON (interposing). Six years old. 

Mr. Curtis. The youngest one is 6 ? 

Mrs. MiciiELsoN. Six years old. 

Mr. Curtis. So they are all in school ? 

Mrs. MicHELsoN. Yes. 

Mr. Curtis. W^hat are your chances of getting employment ? Have 
you had any encouragement? 

Mrs. MiciiELsoN. Well, I don't know. I have been trying to find 
work days if I could, so I could be home with the children at night. 
It seems like the only employment I get wants me to stay at night, 
and I can't do that. 

Mr. Curtis. If you don't get employment, do you know what you're 
going to do ? 

Mrs. MicHELsoN. No ; I don't. 

Mr. Curtis. That is all. 

The Chairman. Where does your husband claim his legal resi- 
dence ? 

Mrs. MicHELSON. Well, I guess he doesn't claim any. He really 
isn't in any one place long enough to claim any residence. 

Mr. Curtis. How did you get along? 

Mrs. Michp:lson. Well, we got along all right until he started run- 
ning around. 

The Chairman. What are you able to do in the line of work? 

Mrs. MiciiELsoN. I try to do anything I can. 

The Chairman. As far as relief is concerned, yon are up against 
it. because you can't establish any legal residence? 

Mrs. MicHELsoN, Yes. 

The Chairman. Thank you very much, Mrs. Michelson. 


Mr. Parsons. Mr. Benner, state your name and address and your 
title and whom you represent for the benefit of the record. 


Mr. Benner. Paul D. Beiiner, director of the bureau of public as- 
sistance. State depart lueut of social welfare of Kansas. I am also 
representin<j: Governor Ratner, of Kansas. 

Mr. Parsons. Will you express the appreciation of this committee 
to the Governor for his fine cooperation, and your own cooperation in 
coming here. You have presented a very fine statement for the rec- 
ord, and we am very glad to have it. We have received many state- 
ments from many of the State departments of public welfare or their 
kindred organizations, and we hope to have a lot more of them during 
the hearings at Oklahoma City and in California. You are engaged 
in a very fine occupation, a very human occupation. 


C«juld you tell the committee some of the preliminary information, 
regarding the population change in Kansas in the 1940 census, com- 
pared with 1930? 

jVIr. Benner, Yes. Kansas lost in the 1940 census — that is a tenta- 
tive figure. It is a newspaper release, and it has not been released by 
the Census Bureau to me. 

Mr. Parsons. It won't be many thousands off. 

Mr. Benner. No. Kansas has lost, in the 10-year interval, 82,184 
l)ersons, which is a decrease in the population of 4.37 percent. 

Mr. Parsons. That is about the same percentage as Nebraska has 

Mr. Benner. Is that so? 

Mr. Tarsons. That is the total. 

Mr. Benner. Interesting enough, 90 counties out of the State's 105 
counties lost ix)pulation in that 10-year interval. The range on the 
population was less than 1 percent up to 46 percent. One county in 
the State lost 46 percent of its population. 

Mr. Parsons. Was it some particular local situation that caused 
this one county to lose so much? 

Mr. Benner. That is the southwest section of Kansas, w^hich was 
known, in 1936 and 1937, as the Dust Bowl. All of those counties. 

Mr. Parsons. It was a part of that? 

Mr. Benner, That is the Panhandle section. Some sections, some 
counties in the State, due to oil activity, increased in population, con- 
sequently. All of the counties in the State where there was a large 
metropolitan area — that is, large for the Middle West — the population 

Mr. Parsons. But there was a net loss, all told, in spite of the 
normal increase in population — an absolute net loss? 

Mr. Benner. Yes; of 82,000, or 4.37 percent. 

Mr. Parsons. And the normal increase holds in Kansas the same as 
it does in any other State of the Union ? 

Mr. Benner. I assume, from my past knowledge of population, 
that since Kansas is an agricultural State, that probably the birth 
rate in Kansas is higher than it would be in the total population of 
the country. 

Mr. Parsons. In the cities, especially? 

Mr. Benner. Yes. 



Mr. Parsons. Noav. to -wluit extent have ajii'icultural Moi-kers come 
into your State to i)articipate in the liarvest of crops, especially the 
wheat croi) ? Kansas is a bi<>- wheat State. 

Mr. Benner. That has not been much of a problem in recent years. 
The wheat industry in Kansas is mechanized almost a hundred per- 

Mr. Parsons. Has that displaced a lot of labor. i)enple living" eitlu-r 
as tenants on smaller farms or who have mi<2:rated from one si'ction 
of the State to the other, intrastate, just for the harvest time^ 

Mr. Benner. It's displaced, certainly, your local farm labor, both 
your farm tenant and your farm labor. Many of those people have 
left the State. The ones who haven't left the State have gone from 
the farm into the small town. 

Mr. Parsons. What are they doing in th^e small town? 

Mr. Benner. They are doing odd jobs, or are on W. P. A., or direct 

Mr. Parsons. Has there been any noticeable migration from the 
rural areas into the industrial areas in Kansas on account of the new 
national-defense program? 

Mr. Benner. Into Wichita. However, the migration into Wichita 
has been greater, I think, from outside the State than intrastate, 
due to the fact that the building of aircraft requires very highly 
skilled persons, and there has been a migration of such persons from 
outside the State into Wichita. 

Mr. Parsons. So that there has been an outside migration into tlie 
State, effected because your rural j^eople are not equipped for that 
type of work ^ 
^ Mr. Benner. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. Can you give the committee some idea of the character 
of these people: Age status, qualifications, and so on? 

Mr. Benner. The thing that we have found — we made a tentative 
survey of 94 of the 105 counties from our county welfare offices in 
the State — there seems to be pretty general agreement that the family 
unit was on the road today, and that the families were about four 
members each. They usually consist of a man and wife and two 

Mr. Parsons. That is the average? 

Mr. Benner. That is the average. And it is the opinion of the 
larger percentage of our county welfare directors that the number of 
families on the move is inci-easing. Interestingly enough, they were 
]:)retty much in agreement that the family heads and the single in- 
dividuals were in the age group from 25 to 45. For the most part 
they were emi)loyable. And they were seeking the pot of gold at the 
end of the lainbow in the way of a job. 

Mr. Parsons. Has there been a sur])lus. do you think, of thtit labor 
pouring in from outside the State? 

Mr. Benner. Xo; I don't think there has been, in Kansas. It is 
only adding to the sui-phis. Kansas has a surplus of farm labor, 
there is no (luestion about that, although facts are pretty hard to d(>- 


termine. but what happens is this: Kansas is the passino" jji'ound for 
tliis migrant i)oi)nhition, from east to west and west to east. They 
are on their way thron<>;h. 

Mr. Parsons. Wouhl you say tliis suri)his a»2;ricuh uial hihor is (hie 
to labor-disphu'ino' inacliinei-y on tlie farm? 

Mr. Bennkh. Paitly, and as has l)een stated hcfoie. the A. A. A. 
program has done considerabh* in drivin<:: people off of tlie farms. 

Mr. Parsons. From small units? 

Mr. Benner. Kansas wheat farming- is bii; business. 

Mr. Parsons. You have some suitcase farminji down there, do you ? 

Mr. Benner. Yes; quite a bit of suitcase farming', aiul then hirjiie 
sections of hind owned by individuals or corporations. 

Mr. Parsons. Let me ask you tliis: Do you think the mechanization 
of the farm has been a "jood thin<>- for the farmer of America ? 

Mr. Benner. It undoubtedly has been beneficial to the consumer. 
However, it has tended to exploit our natural resources. Tliat is 
definitely one of the factors in tlie creation of the Dust Bowl and 
the breakino; up of the buffalo sod because they were getting two and 
two and a half dollars per bushel for wheat during the war period 
;aid the pre-war period. They could use this land and get a very low 
acreage yield and still make an enormous profit. This land should 
never have been })lowed. 

Mr. Parsons. What had it been used for before? 

yir. Benner. Pasture and grassland. It is buffalo grass. 

Mr. Parsons. But it produced 10 or 15 bushels of wheat to the acre? 

Mr. Benner. And even 6 or 8 bushel^ at $2 a bushel would make 
considerable profit. The land started to bloAv when the rainfall de- 


Mr. Parsons. The conunittee would like to have you ex])lain the 
relief policy of various Kansas counties. 

Mr. Benner. As far as migi-ants are concerned? 

^Ir. Parsons. Yes: and including your own internal relief. Does 
tlie State appropriate mcuiey to the counties, or is it on a local option, 
handled by the local authorities? 

Mr. Benner. The Kansas welfai-e set-up is a coordinated welfare 
program. We administer the three Federal categories, and also gen- 
erab assistance or direct relief. The county welfare office in each 
county in the State does certification for the W. P. A. and for the 
C C. C, so that the whole operation of welfare is in <me unit. We 
j'.lso make investigations for F. S. A. grant cases. That is in Lin- 
coln — we have the two regions. 7 and 12. Lincoln and Amarillo. As 
far as the financing of it is concerned, the State gets a direct appro- 
priation from the legislature, and we reimburse the counties 30 per- 
cent of their welfare ex))enditures. 

Mr. Parsons. The State of Kansas does that ? 

Mr. Benner. With the exception of some 20 count iis in the State 
that we consider the emergency counties, whei-c the relief and the 
situation in the county is ])retty (lesj)eiat('. and in those instances we 
reimburse 60 percent. It is an attempt at e(|iializMtion. 

•2i;n:!7ii — 4 1 — pi. 4- 


Mr. Parsons. Wh:U is tlu' time limit in y«»ui- sotlK'iiuMil laws in 

Mr. Hknnkk. riu'ro is sort of a t'oiillict in oui- laws in Kai\sas. 
The Statr i-onstitution pi-ovidos that anyone who is in nood within 
the county is tlu> rosponsihility of the roinmissioniM's to inciM that 

Mr. Pahsons, Whether a citizen of the State or not ^ 

Mr. Hknnf.u. Yes. 

Mr. P.vHsoNs. And what else do yon have^ 

Mr 1U:nxkh. In addition to that we have le«ial requirements. It 
takes a year to iiet residence in Kansas and a year to lose it. 

Mr. Paksons. That is votinir residence and settlement residence? 

Mr. Hknnkk. That is correct. 

Mr. Parsons. In any county oi the State he is entitled to he turned 
over to what you call the poor overseer^ 

Mr. Pexnkr. Well, it is now the county welfare office. 

Mr. Parsons. Is the constitution followed? 

Mr. Hknnf.r. I think fairly lienerally. 

C'haii'nuin Tolan. It is one of the few States where that has been 
ilone. Do you have one of your records there? 

Ml-. Pinner. No, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. Do yt>u Wud any tlisposition of any lariie number of 
|^)eople to niiiirate back and forth just to be on the ijo and to see 
Kansas first and America first — on reliefs 

Mr. Benner, No; I don't know that we have any records to sub- 
stantiate that point of view. Of course, we do have transients, and 
as far as our local offices are concerned, the amount of assistance that 
they uive to the person who is not a known nuMuber of the connnunity 
is a matter of meetinu" his enieriiency needs and passinii" him on to the 
next county or the next State. As far as an attempt to work out a 
constructive social plan and an attempt to rehabilitate that ])erson. 
it is not done. 

Mr. Parsons. It is just a nuitter of temporary relief for the persons? 

Mr. Benner. It is just a temporary relief proposition, emergency 
medical care, or a meal, or something of that kind. 

Mr. Parsons. You don't feel that the State of Kansas is being 
imposed on by these transients? 

Mr. Bexxer. No: I don't think it is so much a matter of feeling 
of imposition; it is a feeling that Kansas as ;i State cannot do a great 
deal about the migrant probU'm. anil that so much money for general 
assistance or general relief or transient relief has got to be raisetl; 
loans and assistance in many instances for the local i)erson is pretty 
inadequate, and if they have any extra money, they should speiul it 
on their own. 

Mr. Parsons. That is natui-al i'ov any State. 

Mr. Bexner. That is an understaiulable attitude. 

Mr. Parsons. Now. have you any suggestions to make: Kansas has 
lost >'2.000 jieople in the last 10 years. Tliev went somewhere. A large 
number of these peo]ile, perhaps, might be tied to their soil, if they 
had liad the rieht kind of encourairement. some aid and assistance, like 


the Farm Security Administriition and others jfive. Have you any 
suggestions to make to this conunittee how we might helj) to liold 
these people in Kansas, to the farms, to the soil? 



Mr. Bexnp:r. Well, I have some general recommendations. The 
committee can use them for what they are worth. First of all, I think 
the committee needs to cut this prohlem in two, should consider it in 
two lights : One is the matter of a situation that exists today, and that 
is the care of tlie individual who is on the road. The care of the 
individual who is caught in some settlement dispute. Now, those 
intlividuals are desperately in need. It seems to me that it is a county, 
State, and Federal proposition, and some plan should be worked out 
for their care. 

Mr. Parsons, ^'ou think, tiien. that tiiis is :; national problem? 

Mr. Benner. Definitely. 

Mr. Parsons. It transcends all county and State lines? 

Mr. Benner. Definitely. I don't think there is any question about it. 

Mr. Parsons. And that they are all citizens, as the chairman has 
said, (jf the 48 States, and he is just as much a citizen if he leaves Kan- 
sas and goes to California as he is if he leaves Illinois and goes to New 

Mr. Benner. That is right. 

Mr. Parsons, And it's a national problem? 

Mr. Benner. And there are nuiny, many people on the road that are 
desi)erately needing the bare necessities of life, which they are not 
receiving, and it seems to me that that is the inniiediate concern of this 
committee — to get something worked out whereby there will be care 
provided somewhat unifomily in the 48 States for the individual that 
is without a country or county oi- State. 


And secondly, it seems to me that the committee needs to consider 
a long-range program of the thing that you were speaking of: That is, 
to attempt to keep your people on the farms where they are now. Now, 
it seems to me that many of our Amei-ican farmers are on submarginal 
soil at the jjresent time, and with the creation of agricultural sui])luses 
and so forth, and our foreign markets cut olf, it is very doubtful to me 
if those individuals can make a living on that land. Now, as to what 
you can do with that land, the Government can buy it up, attempt to 
get it back in grass or trees or something, but it seems to me that the 
Government will have to assist and direct the movement of people 
in the future, and j)ossibly put them on small acreages, and maybe 
subsidize their earnings from the land. 

Mr. Parsons. In other words, give them definite information about 
where they might better their conditions and direct them? 

Mr. Benner. And help them get tliere. 


Mr. Pahsoxs. And keep tliein from (»l)taiiiin<r false information so 
t]iat they don't <2:atlier in cci'tain areas looking- foi- a job and when 
they hmd tliere find there is no opportunity for emplo3mient? 

Mr. Benner. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. But it isn't tlie achiHs tlnit aic tlic worse off toilay. 

Mr. Benner. It is the children. 

Ml-. Parsons. Out of this 4,000,000 people on the road, at least a 
million children — not one-thii-d of them obtainino; anythinf>- like an 
education. We are buildin<>- up a million or two nomads, in the habit 
of rong-hinji; it, without opportunity for education. That will i>rcseut 
a very serious prt)blem to us in the next oeneration. 

Mr. Benner. Both socially and economically. 

Mr. Parsons. Certainly, iProbably more socially than economically, 
because these migrants that are now self-supporting are not getting 
their children educated. 

]\fr. Benner. No. 

Mr. Parsons. And it is going to present a very serious social problem. 
Is there any otlier suggestion you would like to make? 


Mr. Benner. Well, as fai' as the help of the Federal (lovernment is 
concerned, I have the feeling, and it is my recommendation, that it 
should be made on the basis of grants-in-aid to the States, adndnistered 
through our agencies that are already set up, rather than setting ii]) 
another transient bureau and a transient program such as we had in 
the early days of F. E. K. A. It seems to me that now we do have 
atrencies in every county or every local subdivision in the State, and 
that we do have' the madiinery to handle this i)roblem, and the thing 
that the committee wants to consider would be how to finance it from 
the standpoint of the Federal Government. 

Mr. Parsons. Do you have the 6 to 8 weeks' study for your ?,ervice 
worker, those wlio administer this relief in the State of Kansas — did 
you have that in 1933 or 1934? 

Mr. Benner. Well, we attempted something in the way of a brief 
training, but I think we are beyond that point now, and I think almost 
everv State is. AVe do have qualified people to administer such a pro- 
o-raiii. We had to meet the emergency that arose, had to take the l)est 
personnel we could get, but it seems to me, from my knowledge, every 
State has gone ahead and continued to train people, and we do have 
agencies that could probably take over this responsibility, and what 
we are needing most is Federal financial participation. Now. that 
miglit come as another social-security feature that would not have 
to be set up separately, but what we are needing most in the cai-e of 
migrants is money. The States can't do it, and certainly W. P. A. 
is not doing it. As far as the Federal contribution to the employable 
class is concerned, the transient is not benefiting through the W. P. A. 
program, because they are certifying theii- local people for the W. P. xV. 
projects. Because of the sponsor's contribution, which is heavy, and 
which has to come out of local or Statt' money, they want to \ise it 
foi- their local people. 


Mr. Parsons. I think that is all. Mr. Chaiiniaii. It is a very liiu* 

The Chairman. We want to •let the fad honu' to \\w American 
peo])le tliat the most of these i)eo))le who ini<rrate don't do it of theii- own 
Avill. They'd rather remain home, wonldn't they, on their farm? 

JNIr. Benner. Yes. 

The Chairman. Bnt there are circumstances over which they have 
no control, and they are on the road hy the thousands and the present 
proposition is what to do witli them now that we have them. 

j\Ir. Benner. Yes. 

Tlie Chairman. That is all. Thank you very much. 

We do have a sui)i)lemental report to add to the other report, which 
1 will hand to the reporter. 

(The statement of ^Iv. lienner. al)ove referred to, and the supple- 
mental leport appear helow.) 


The State Department of Social Welfare of Kansas has undertaken a State-wide 
study of tlie migrant problem. The Kansas Labor Department. State Employment 
Service, Kansas Conference of Social Work, and the Salvation Army which, at the 
present time, is furnishing the major serviee offered in tlie State to the migrants, 
have all assisted in the planning of the study although the actual work is being 
done i>y the State department of Social Welfare. 

The following statement is based on reports on the problem received from 94 
of the 105 welfare directors in Kansas which is luiquestionably a sufficiently large 
enough sample to enable us to speak significantly for the State. 

The State Department is very glad to make this information available to this 
special House committee investigating the interstate migration of destitute 
citizens. All of our counties are now engaged in making a case study, which 
consists in filling out a schedule on each migrant that applies for .service whether 
at a public or private agency. The welfare directors are directing the study 
which will continue during September, October, and November and the results 
are being compiled by our own statistical department and will be made available 
to the .special House committee later. 

Agencies and services serviiif/ inif/rants {9Jf counties reporting) 

Sumhcf of enmities lifting afieuei/ 
Service or agency : 

Rooming hou.-^es 4 

I'umping plant 1 

Firehouse ^ 1 

Young Men's Christian Associa- 
tion 1 

County homes 3 

Light plant ] 

\iiiuber of counties using ngeneij 
Service or agency : 

Welfare office 94 

Salvation Army 17 

Red 31 

County or city jail ' 60 

City marshal '23 

American Legion 6 

Private agencies 7 

Hobo camps 2 ' 

^ 72 unduplicated counties. 


1. Welfare office. — The welfai'e offices in Kansas report in almost every instance 
that they offer the migrjint at least a minimum amount of assistance, but they 
hasten to add that it is given only when it is "aiisulutely imperative.""' This 
usually means nothing for the able-bodied, luiattached piMson, althougli it might 
mean emergency medical, a 15- or 25-cent meal if (he applicant will do an hour's 
stint at the woodyard wliich ".solves" ■ the problem for .some c<iunties as they do 
not reix)rt for work. Occasional lodging, limited to 1 night, is offered, although 

1 Allen. 

2 Cloud. 


this is usually a luxury iieiniittod only to families and those who are not "accus- 
tomed to sleeping in jails or on park benches."-' In some instances sufficient 
gasoline for the family to get over the county or State line is purchased. In 
general, the ix^rson who is on the move is definitely shown a "cold shoulder"' ' and 
thus given to understand that he is not wanted. He is urged to '-move on." 
Most of the families travel in old "dilapidated cars." and expenditures are 
allowed for necessary repairs to prevent the family from becoming stranded. 
"A family of about 10 were driving through and broke down their car. It was 
an old model of car, as these usually have old cars, it was vei-y expensive 
to repair. A deal was made whereby the county paid a few dollars to an auto- 
mobile dealer so that he would trade cars with the tran.<ient." ' Some counties 
show less feeling because they say. "All of our funds are needed for the care of 
persons who are our legal resixnisibility." * 

2. Salvation Arnni. — The Salvation Army is furnishing some assistance to 
migrants in at least lit counties in Kansas and p(>rbaps a few more. This service 
usually consists of a meal or two and ' overnight lodging, at which time they are 
expected to be "on their way." Occasionally .«onie clothing and transportation 
are given, v\'hile those transients who become ill are referred to the welfare office.* 
The same persons are not accommodated oftener than once a month. The service 
rendered by this agency is probably the main one available in Kansas for migrants 
in lieu of anything that is better, and its imix)rtance should be judged accordingly. 
In the last 3 years the Salvation Army at Abilene is reixn-ted to have helped 
580 men, 244 women, and 171 families." and in Labette County it has assumed 
almost the "full percent of the care of the transients or migrants." The Salvation 
Army authority has indicated that their service is palliative in nature, intended to 
reduce begging on the streets only, and that they are wholeheartedly in favor of 
a more constructive approach to the problem." but in the meantime they must 
give temporary assistance. 

3. Red Cross. — Thirty-one counties have reported that the Red Cross was oflfer- 
iug a small amount of service, usually available only to veterans. Minimum 
assistance, including '"gas" for transportation, is offered in some instances. Their 
services are definitely limited by the small amount of funds that they have 

4. Jails. — Out of the 94 counties that have reported so far it is extreiuely note- 
worthy that 60 counties stated that their jails were still being used for rooming 
houses. City marshals offer .^^onie form of service in 13 other counties, which 
probably means housing in the city jail. In only a few exceptional cases are 
these places equipped for the purposes that they are being used. Most generally 
the jails are used for the single, unattached persons, however, in some instances 
it is used to house families as well on occasion. Clark County, for instance, 
stated that it had "no way of caring for transients except to give them emergency 
help and when it is necessary for them to spend the night, they are allowed to 
sleep in the jail. A large family, of man, wife, and seven children was cared for 
in this way. They were given some gas and supper and breakfast in a local 
restaurant, as there was no other way to feed them." Another county (Lyonl 
says, "They have a women's ward in the jail so that it is possible to" care for 
most any transient who would request this service" which is assuming a whole 
lot of our moving citizenry that if given a choice they would choose a jail as 
a place to spend the night before moving on or being "moved on." There is no 
evidence in the reports that the sheriffs or mar.shals are inviting the migrants 
to sleep in the jails in order that they might collect from the city or county for 
meals served, although it is possible that this might be true in some instances. 
It is impossible to estimate the number thus served every day, but it must be 
considerable. Kansas will have better information on this point later when the 
schedules for the six-cial case study have been tabulated. 

5. MiKccUaneous. — While there were only two "hobo camps" reported, there 
are probably more than that in the State. The American Legion in sis instances 

^ Mcl'her.son, 
■* Sheridan. 
^ Decatur. 

* Smith. 

' Atchison. 

* Bourbon. 

* Dickinson. 

'" Brigadier De Kevoise, regional office. Salvation Army. 



i.s reiun-tt'd :is iissisting a few vctoians iiiucli the same as tlio Red Cross. A few 
private ajjeiicies arc reitoi'ted as offerinj; some services raiiniiiK from referral 
in character to almost (ompletc assumption of the mifiraiit iairdcn as in tiiecase 
of Skyline Mission in Kansas t'ity. Tiiere arc a few otht>r services reported, hut 
they are assorted and scattered. Special mention, liowever. should he made of 
Toiu Turner in Coffey ville. "Coffeyvi]h> relies on Tom Turner, who operates the 
T)o()r of Hope' for the jireater jiarl of tlic services p;iven to transients in <-ooper- 
ati((n witli the police department. 'I'ransients re^;istcr with llie ColTeyville police 
then tlie men are jjiven l)eds in tlu' 'Hop room.' Families are f;iven a room in 
the "Door of IIo|)e.' Coui)les are yiven a room sonu-wlierc in liie city. The fol- 
lowinj; morninj; tlie.v are ;iiven coffee and donjilinnts." " 'I'lie police luive rcKi*'- 
tered 5.0cS6 from Septeml)er 19.S7 until August 24. 1940, whicli indicates with 
tragic vividness the extent of tlie migrant proltlem and need for greater service 
than is now lieing rendered. 

Tlie extent to wliich "hogging" still exists is prohleniatical ahhougli one direc- 
tor in a rural comity (Wahaun.see) estimated tliat at least 1,()0() meals are fur- 
nished in that manner in liis county every year. City halls and fire houses are 
utilized for sleeping (piarters in some instances. One director sums it up this 
way: "In these towns, i)ack-(loor hand-outs take the jiince of I'elicf orders, and 
sleeping quarters, if refused l)y the good citizenry, are confined to hoxcars and 
the great out-of-doors." '" 

^'()hlln(• of iiiiyrant service, as reported by coioitii irrlfarr directors, for both 
public and private at/encies 

Volume of service by 

welfare olTiec (actual 

and estimated) 

Volume of private service 
(actual and estimated) 

Average age, head 

Name of county 





















30 to (iO. 

35 to 60. 







Hobo can;p. 


26 to 39. 



20 to 40. 

30 to 55. 









18 to 40. 



30 to 50. 



25 to 45. 










25 to 50. 

21 to 45 





35 to 60. 









3 711 


20 to 40. 



Few over 60. 

Few under 25. 








26 to 45. 


' Hobo camp (estimated). 

2 4,600 for 1939 and 1,600 for 1940 tlitis far. 

3 Handled by city ofTicials, jiaid for by welfare offlcc. 

" Montgomery. 
J= Ottawa. 



Volume of viif/rarit serviov, as reported hij eoHntij welfare direetors. for both 
public and private af/eneics—Conthnwd 

Volume of service by 

welfare ofTice (actual 

and estimated) 

Volume of private service 
(actual and estimated) 

Average age, head 

Name of county 













Some young. 
20 to 50. 
2-, to M. 
20 to 55. 

Middle aged. 


23 to 47. 


35 to 60. 


Door of Hope, 20 

30 to 10. 
20 to 40. 
25 to 40. 

30 to 40. 
35 to 45. 

20 to 45. 
35 to .50. 

25 to 45. 

30 to 40. 

Middle age. 
34 to 37. 









« 21, 600 








5 180 













« 1,700 

































Mixed report. 


Young men. 

16 to 32. 

18 to 46. 
23 to 50. 
Mixed report. 

Few over 60. 
25 to 45. 

25 to 45. 



« 1, 827 







8 2,000 







' 1,100 







* E.stiniated at 60 per day for M.K.T.-R.R. 

' .\11 services, includinp welfiire office. 

6 Ddcjr of Hope, based on police register. 

? Total of all service.^. 

8 Police estimate 2,000 pass through Goodland each year. 

» All services, including 1,000 estimated furnished meals by private persons 



The opinions of the county welfare directors on volume of niigrancy are based 
on actual applications and personal estimates, and while not exact and ptThaps 
even subject to considerable error, are definitely indicative bwause these admin- 
istrators have had much experience and personal contact with the problem. 

Without question there is still a large number of persons of all ages and both 
sexes on the move. Bourbtni County estimates the traffic at iibout 9,000; Craw- 
ford, 6,000; Shawnee, 1,8(X); Atchison, 1,100; Pottawatomie, 700. each in his re- 
spective county. 

Labette County railroad officials" estimate that the 32 freight trains that run 
into this "hub" of the Missouri, Kansas, Texas Railroad carry about 200 migrants 
every 24 hours. The report estimates that 60 of these daily, need some form of 
service from the Missouri. Kansas, Texas Railroad. The report is careful to 
state that this number does not include those hitchhiking or riding in cars. La- 
bette County then has from 20,000 to 30,000 moving through the county each year. 
The figures for these larger counties on the whole probably underestimate rather 
than overestimate the problem. 

Not all of the counties have sucli a lieav.v request for help. Twenty of the 
}iinety-four counties tending to fall in tlie class mentioned, 25 others find the 
migrant something of a problem, but not a particularly burdensome one, and the 
remaining 49 counties report that it is light or practically nonexistent. It should 
be borne in mind, however, that some of these latter counties are the very ones 
that have contributed more than their share to this migratory movement. 

In all cases, however, the actual number that are assisted at the welfare office 
represent only a very small segment of the need. One county, for instance, re- 
ports 5,400 as in need of assistance, and in that county only 17 were aided by 
the welfare office in the last year.i* Such a ratio in the counties in which the 
problem is heavier is not exceptional. The number of cases aided by the welfare 
offices during the 8 months of 1940 has varied from zero in Wichita County to 262 
in Ford County. While the Red Cross, Salvation Army, county and city jails, 
and "hobo camps" offer some service, in the great majority of these cases it rarely 
exceeds a meal, temporary lodging, some "gas," and perhaps a few" clothes. 
Briefly, the actual expenditures of the welfare office, and those of related agencies 
do no more than touch the problem. Much of the expenditure is in terms of 
"movement on," which is largely undirected and consequently helpful oiUy in 
the sense that the local community that aided the movement lias for the time 
being escapetl further responsibility. One director wrote, "Because treatment is 
given on an emergency basis only, and no consistent plan worked out for the 
transient individuals or families, the program continues to be basically inade- 
quate." ^° Another said. "Services available are very limited and the prevailing 
attitude seems to be to 'push them over the county or State line' as soon as possi- 
ble and with as little expense as possible." ^^ 


Size of families. — A majority of the counties report that many families 
apply for assistance. They vary greatly, but the usual size is 4 persons. In 
1 county ^^ a family of 12 i)ersons was reported, and families of 7 or 8 are 
often mentioned. The number of families on the road seems to be increasing, 
directors reporting that as many as 50 percent " of the migrant cases being 
families, although this percentage is probably exceptional. The children are 
of all ages, many of them are under 5, and some of them infants in arms. 
In an age tabulation submitted '* 21 out of 90 persons were 10 years or under, 
17 males and 14 females. 

Average Age of Head or Single Person. — The reports were astonishingly in 
agreement that the heads of the families and the singles as well were middle- 
aged persons, principally between the ages of 25 and 45 years of age. There 

» Labette Report, p. 2. 

" Montgomery. 

« Atchison County report. 

" Finney. 

" Elk. 

» Grant. 



was almost no disagi-ocnient that the old person has almost left the road, due, 
they think, to the old-age programs. There are a few left, but not many. 
This faet, it .seems, is extremely siKUificant for if it is true the States from 
which these came are losing some of their most active age group, significantly 
enough many of the counties in Kansas are reporting that persons of these 
same ages are leaving their counties and are joining this mighty migrant 

Employability.— Similarly there was also agreement that a large percentage, 
usually from HO to 80 percent of the adults were considered employable. These 
migrants to a large degree are said to be on th(> road "in search of work." 
"As a class, they seem to be a rugged type, willing and used to undergoing 
hardships, children well Ix'haved. and all looking for some mythical end of 
the rainbow where they will tind a job." '* 


Judging from the 94 county reports that have been received, the seasonal 
fluctuations of this problem are not particularly significant in most of the 
counties in Kansas. In ns ctninties, it was viewed as of eitlier slight or no 
importance. There is some demand for labor in a few agricultural pursuits, 
such as potato picking, work with sugar beets,'" wheat generall.y over the 
western two-thirds of the State, apple picking,'' and broomcorn," but this 
need for labor is limited, with the exception of wheat, to a few counties. It is 
significant that the combine used in large-scale wheat farming has reduced 
the need for migratorv labor in the wheat fields to a trickle. The defense 
industries, coal, oil, and various forms of construction, produce movements 
significant within themselves, although the most important thread running 
through the S»4 reports is that the flow of migrants seems to go on, rain or 
shine, sunnner or winter, with special industries causing only temporary 
deflections in this tremendous population surge. The personal needs of these 
persons on the whole do not seem to wait on the seasons. 

Only 14 of the counties reporting thought they had industries which were 
especially attractive to migrants. Locally they may be quite significant and 
may point to the need for further study and report, but in general they are not. 


The attached map"' showing range of population change between 1930 and 
194(1 (United States census), shows very clearly the effect of drought and ero- 
sion. Tlie western part of the State, particularly the southwest, the far north- 
west and the northern tier of counties, show the largest percentage of decrease 
in population. The western part of the State, particularly the southwest, was 
in what was known several years ago as the Dust Bowl. The five counties 
in which the largest cities are located all show an increase in population. In 
addition, the surrounding counties in central Kansas, in which there has been 
marked oil activity within the last 3 or 4 years, all show gains in population 
Two of the counties show gains of more than 20 percent. 

On the whole the counties which are largely agricvdtural, show the greatest 
drop in population. Industrial centers, such as the southeast, show that pop- 
ulation has diminished, but not at the same rate as in the agricultural areas. 
It is possible, of course, that the smaller rate of decrease in the southeast is 
dne to the fact that migration from that area has extended over a longer period 
of time. According to one county report, "migration of the younger employables 
began as early as 192t). However, the past l(t years has shown a larger num- 
ber going to industrial centers." ^ 

Cnioies or reasons for eniif/ratio}i as shoirn hij count}/ reports. — The follow- 
ing tabulation of county directoi-s" statements of factors affecting emigration 
is ba.sed on 93 reports. Of the 93, 9 discu.ssed movement into the State but 
did not discuss movement from the States. Eight reported "little" migration 

" Ottawa. 

=" Finney and Kearney Counties. 

21 Doniphan. 

-- Stevens. 

-• Map in tliree colors, lieltl in coniniittec files. 

^ Crawford Count.v. 


Iroiu thoir ooniitu's. Factors listed in tlu' reports, together with their frequency 
of mention are : 

Drousiit aiul crop failures 48 

Unemployment SI 

Search tor seas(»nal work 22 

Mechanization of farms 2C» 

Larj^e land ownership and Government alhttments 15 

Withdrawal of industry or failure to expand industry 5 

Tincertaiiity of Federal work programs 4 

]Movement to centers where employment in defense industries may be possible- 4 

Seeking health 4 

Inadequate assistance 3 

Replacement of workers by machines in industry 2 

To join Army 2 

Many of the topics should be more fully identified. A variety of reasons are 
included in "drought and crop failure." Among those listed are dust, erosion, 
])oor crops, and others. 

"Unemployment" should probably include three distinct overlapping groups. 
First, is that group of persons previously emplo.ved in industry or businesses 
who have lost employment. Second, is an increasing group who have been 
employed as farm laborers or who have drifted to farm labor work after losing 
farm enterprises. The third group is composed of young people never previously 
employed but of employable age. 

Many of the county reports listed "mechanization of farms" and "large land 
ownership and Government allotments." The following example from one of 
the reports is indicative : 

"This county in the past 7 .vears has rapidly ceased to be in the small farmer 
class. Farm after farm has had the improvements torn down and the acreage 
cultivated by a hired man. This procedure has reduced the landlords' taxes 
and at the same time he received the entire Agricidtural Adjustment Administra- 
tion or soil-conservation allotment. Former tenant farmers have been thrown 
out of a job and a place to live. People have been forced to move into the 
towns. In 1933. 1934. 1935, and 1936 we had many people living in the county 
receiving assistance. Now a very small percentage live outside a town. liow- 
income families formerly lived in an old house on a farm and raised a few 
chickens or pigs iind had a cow. Tliese buildings have been torn down to a 
great extent and even the pasture land plowed for wheat land. A result has 
been exorbitant rent in town for a very poor shack or house and vei"y inade(piate 
housing. This condition in some instances has forced emigration. The 1940 
Census report on this county shows a decrease of over 900 persons. The 
assessors' report shows a decrease of around 500." "'' 

It is probable that the counties listing "search for seasonal work" as a factor 
tor emigi-ation. might reasonably have listed the reason (uider "unemploynienr'" 
or ".search for employment." In this report we elected to note this factor sep- 
aratel.v since in our opinion the counties showing such a reiiort emphasized the 
difference in seasonal emigration from permanent emigration. The counti(>s 
which reported the greatest seasonal emigration are those which, in the main, 
are located nearest available seasonal work or those racial groups traditionally 
solicited for a type of work such as Mexicans for the beet fields, etc. Many 
county reports emphasize the value of efforts made b>' a low income group to 
at least partially finance their needs through seasonal work. How<'ver, sevei-at 
of the reports indicate that seasonal work in Kansas has declined in volume 
and in length of time. Two reports in particular express the oi>inion that 
seasonal work has diminished mainly duel to the extensive use of power 

The population movements imdoubtedly repre.sent an etVort to adjust resources 
and economic conditions to the present situation. 

"At this time it appears very doubtful if the migration from this county can 
be checked to any great extent. The farms are becoming fewer and larger 
because a person without tinancial backing has been unable to stay on the farm. 
By the use of power machinery the land that was probably farmed by six or 

25 Pratt County. 

=» Decatur aiul Pratt Counties. 


seven farmers can now be farmed just as easily, and perhaps better, by one 
than by several individual persons. From the present trend of applications for 
assistance received by the welfare office in this comity, it appears that tliere 
is still a surplus of labor here. It is difficult to judge, however, just how much 
labor would bo required in this area if crops would return to normal and if 
business could pick up to the normal amount. Roujibly spcakin;,', there i.^ about 
one-third of the population of this county that receives assistance in one form 
or another, whether it is Civilian ('on.scrvation Corps, National Youth Adminis- 
tration, Farm Security Administration, or direct relief from the county. Un- 
doubtedly a great number of these persons will try to secure employment f ls«-where 
and the population will no doubt contiinie to decline until normal conditions at 
least prevail. It does not appear likely there will l)e any increase in population 
in this area because, as stated before, there seems to be more laborers availalile 
than is necessary except during seasonal employment. Even the seasonal em- 
ployment is much less than it has been In the past, due to the extensive use of 
power machinery." " 

"About one-fifth of our people have migrated because of the dust storms and 
drought. Of this number about 75 percent have gone to either Washington, 
Oregon, Idaho, or California ; some few have gone back to their original homes 
in Missouri, one family to Georgia, and a small number have moved to Colo- 
rado. Among this number were some of our best farmers, who have gone in 
search of a place where they can make a living on a farm. 

"The cause behind this is the plowing of the native buffalo sod and planting 
the land to wheat. In many cases this was done by 'suitcase' farmers, who 
operated from a base in eastern or central Kansas. They did not put improve- 
ments on the farms, not even drilling a well. After raising one or two good 
wheat crops the land failed to produce. For several years they kept on culti- 
vating the land (with a one-way plow), hoping that this would be the year for 
a good crop, until the top of the ground was a fine powdery silt. When the 
land began to blow these men went back to their homes and left the native 
farmers to live in the dust clouds that they had caused. With the splendid 
cooperation of the Government agencies and the conscientious work of the 
farmers the land is being controlled and with a couple of good crop years our 
story will be filled with statistics about immigration instead of emigration." - 

Age range. — In only 33 of the reports did the county directors .specifically 
estimate age of persons emigrating. In nearly all of the remainder the age 
question is implied by such general statements as employable and family groups 
with young children. 

The' sample statement of age includes the following definitions : 18 to 4n : 20 to 
62, an average of 37; 20 to 45; 23 to 55; an average of 35 and young married 

couples. . , , . -.o ^T. 

The minimum age shown on the 33 reports mentioned above is 18 ; the maximum 
is 62. Many of the reports include a statement to the effect that few aged i>ersons 
are moving' out except in the infrequent cases of persons going to live with rela- 
tives, etc. Apparently the movement generally is of employables seeking employ- 
ment opportunities. 

The most alarming fact about emigrants from the county is as follows : it is 
the younger group, including the younger families who are emigrating. Tliis^ is 
very conclusively shown by the cases which this office has knowledge of. The 
reason given by the majority of these families emigrating who are not engaged in 
agriculture is to seek industrial employment in larger industrial areas." -' 

"Other families besides those registered with the agency have left th<' county 
but we could give no accurate idea of the number. A survey of the known families 
leaving indicates the average age would be in the 30's. I'oor crop conditions and 
lack of work opportunities were the rt'asons in practically all cases. Few left in 
search for employment on the seasonal basis but to make their home elsewhere. 
It is believed standards of assistance had little to do with emigration. Most fam- 
ilies left because thev did not like public assistance, however adequate, and sought 
to be .self -supporting. IMany of the clients leaving were in the younger age group 
or those who could do skilled work that was not available locally because years 
of continued crop failure had affected business requiring clerical or skille<l 
workers." ^ 

^ Decatur County. 
^ Kearn.y County. 
=« Ellsworth County. 
80 Haskell County. 



It is obvious from the nbovc excerpts that most of the county reports reveal 
emi.uration of families oi- family groups more frinpienlly than emigration of 
single persons. The county reports also sultstantiate population changes as 
revealed on the attached map, and show that the heaviest emigration is from the 
farming areas, 'llie lightest is in tlie areas in whicli new business opportunities 
have been otfered such as the central state oil development area. It is signiticant 
that some of tlu> counties in the s<mth and southeast from which the oil industry 
has withdrawn, report a considerable movement to the central part of the state 
in which there is heavy production. The hirgest movement of single young per- 
sons is reported frimi the southeast industrial area, however, it is possible that 
the county welfare ottices W(yuld not be fully ;iware of this latter movement. 

Dcstinution. — The counties reporting mentioned intrastate migration on a sea- 
sonal basis or on an industrial basis, but are not as specific abottt destination as 
they are about those emigrating from the State. 

The majority of reports indicate that the largest trend is toward the West and 
the Northwest. One of the county reports indicates that since 1935. 130 of the 
50(> families registered with the public-welfare agency have left the county. The 
director knows destination of 99 of the 136 families. It is as follows: " 

To other counties in the State 42 Missouri 

Illinois _ 



Colorado 16 

California 10 

Canada 9 

Washington 5 

Oklahoma 5 

Idaho 5 

Only one report gives a specific reason for a specific migration. 

"We know that In 1935 and 1936 a number of farm families who had experienced 
crop failures went to Washington hoping to establisli themselves on farms there. 
A real estate agent here, representing some company in Bellingham, Wash., was 
respimsible for influencing many of these people to go.'" " 

One county shows the following table and .shows destination of families, single 
men. and youths : ^^ 

Far West 












Many of the reports indicate that emigration for many persons is a hazardous 
thing: but while some of them go at the request or assistance of relatives and 
friends, others apparently go in desperation, seeking opportunity. Any factors 
that can be developed for planning of necessary movements should be helpful. 

RecOiirDiendnfioiis niadr hit 78 Kaiims coinitif ircJfare dircitors regard in;/ the 

mir/raiit inohlcm ^ 

y umber in favor 

1. Both the State and the Federal Government should participate iinan- 

cially ^1 

2. Uniform settlement regulations among the States are needed 47 

3. The Work Projects Administiation or similar work program should be 

expanded 1'' 

4. Public agencies should educate persons on the rolls regarding the dangers 

of migrancy ^ 

5. Migrants should register before starting to travel 6 

6. Proper control requires more stringent settlement regulations 15 

7. Favor interstate or regional agreements with respect to settlement regu- 

lations '^ 

1 15 counties out of the 04 reporting had no refommendations to <ifTt>r. 

31 Haskell Count.v. 

52 Finney Tounty. 

53 Ottawa County. 


interstatp: migration 


In their rofoninieiulatioiis the county welfiire directors reveiil (piito candidly 
their present thou^lits and feelings on tlie problem of the migrant. It is apparent 
in tlie tabulation that a larjie majority felt that the needs of the migrant were 
too jireat for them to face lociilly, iind all that they could do locally, in spite of 
the h(>st of intentions, under the prevailing circumstances, was to "pass them on." 
and that <is «piickly as possible. The followiufi, statement of one director has 
be(>n selected as typical: "Public sentiment expects assistance to be s'ven to 
residents of the county rather than to transients; therefore many are satisHed 
with our present program. However, we who work with the transients realize 
that more time, effort, and money should be spent on families; that they 
should be encouraged to 'settle dow-n' and make h(»mes for their children and see 
that they are educated. We feel this can be brought about «tnly if the Federal 
and State Governments finance the program. As long as counties have to partici- 
pate, adequate services will not be given. We feel the policy of most counties is 
to give them sufl3cient gas and oil to take them to the next county seat, whei'e 
they will again make a new application and perhaps be given enough gas to go 
another 50 or KM) miles. Of course, this is not welfare, and we realize that 
fact. We vould much rather ninke a Ktvdi/ of the transient, try to locate rela- 
tives, and rehahilitate them; hmvever, that takes time and nioiiei/, tchich most 
counties do not have at the present time."'* 

The tabulations on 94 counties, 15 of these not voicing an opinion, a majority 
favor some form of uniform settlement laws and some financial assistance from 
the Federal Government and increased assistance from the State government: 
otherwise they believe any sound treatment plan would not be undertaken, let 
alone be carried out. Nineteen of the counties favored a larger work program, 
which they thought would aid materially in stemming the tide which program 
should include additional opportunities for youth. Vocational education for 
worker.s was touched upon only briefly, although it might be inferred that most 
all counties would vote favorably, judging from their other reconnnendations. 
There were some recommendations that the settlement laws should be made more 
stringent, but most of the directors seemed to realize the futility of forcing per- 
sons to stay where they had no desire to be. It may be said in conclusion that 
if the Federal and State Governments fail in their responsibilities that the 
migrants will be given a "cold shoulder" by our local officers, and useless expendi- 
tures and useless, even senseless, movements will continue. 

Statistical form for stiidii of transioits 

1. Date of application: 

2. Color: W__ N__ 0-_. 3. Birthplace:. 

4. Social Security Number: 

5. Name of County: 

6. Name of Agency: 

7. War Veteran: Yes No 

8. Citizen : Yes. 










to head 



Months in 

school last 

year (school 


»* Stafford County. Italics ours. 






Social .status of head: Married— Single., Divorced— Separated— Widow — 
Widower- _. 

Applicant's home: City State 

Date left home last time 

Time continuous residence at home 

(Years and months) 
Reasons given for leaving home 

If). Ultimate destination: City State. 

Mi. Rea.sons given for destination 







Mode of travel : Auto— Hitchhiking-. Train__ Other. 

(Check one) 
Travel route througli Kansas 



License No. 

Make Model Type 

Ever stay at some transient camp: Yes No_-. 

Location Of camp When entered 

Last private job of 30 days or more duration: (Check Head) 

If farm worker: Operator.- Tenant— Labor— Other 

If not farm worker: Professional. _ (^lerical-- SaleS--. 

Service job.- Skilled— Unskilled-- Other 

Date the job ended State worked in 

Usual occupation : 

(Be as specific a.s ix)ssible) 

Worked on Work Project Administration: Yes-- No-_ State 

Served in Civilian Conservation C'orps : Yes__ No— State enrolled in 

Worked on National Youth Administration: Yes— No__ State 

Request of applicant 

29. Service rendered. 

(Specify type, cost, and by whom given) 

30. Other assistance applicant received in Kansas; 
Agency Location 


31. Health of individual members of family 

Write name or use line 
identification letter 

Nature of health 

Treatment received on road 
previous to arrival in this 

Treatment given in this 

32. Remarks of interviewer: Suggestions: 

(I. Significant travel history: 

h. Employment information on jjei'sons otlier than head; 

c. Questionable validity of any information given: 

(I. Previous contacts of agency with case: 

e. Comments, descriptions, or impressions of the interviewer. 

33. Signature of interviewer Date completed 



1. Welfare offtee. — The county welfare offices in almost every instance report 
that they offer at least a small amount of assistance, although the directors are 
very frank to state that they encourage the migrants to move on. or that they 
refuse assistance unless it is deemed, as one director stated, "absolutely impera- 
tive," ' which usually means only emergency medical care, perhaps a meal, occa- 
sional lodging, and in some instances sufficient gasoline for the family to get over 
the county line. 

2. Sdlvation Aniii/. — The Salvation Army is furnishing some assistance in at 
least 16 comities in Kansas. It usually consists of a meal or two and one night's 
hnlging. This service of the Salvation Army comprises prolialily the main one 
that is offered at pi'esent in Kansas to the migrants. It undoubtedly reaches the 
largest number of these persons. 

3. Count 1/ jail. — Out of the 86 counties that have reported so far it is extremely 
noteworthy that 55 counties stated that their jails were still being used for room- 
ing purposes. City marshals oft'er some form of service in at least 13 other 
counties, which probably means housing in the city jail. Very few of the jails 
are reported as being equipiied for the purposes that they are being used. Almost 
invariably the director stated that this service is available for one night only 
and after that the migrant must move on. 

4. Red CroHs. — Twenty-nine counties have reported that the Red Cross was 
offering a small amount of service usually available only to veterans. Minimum 
assistance including gas for transportation is offered in some instances. 

5. Miscellaneous. — Two hobo camps were reported, although there are prob- 
ably more than that number within the State. The American Legion is assisting 
a few veterans. One family welfare agency was reported as giving some food. 
The extent to which begging still exists is problematical, although one director 
In a rural county estimated that at least 1,000 meals are furnished in that manner 
in his county^ every year. City halls and tire houses are utiliztHl for sleeping 
quarters in some instances. One director sums it up this way: "In these towns, 
back-door hand-outs take the place of relief orders, and sleeping quarters, if 
refused by the good citizenry, are confined to box cars and the great out of 
doors." ^ 


Judging from the 86 county reports that have been received, the seasonal 
fluctuations of this problem are not particularly significant in most of the counties 
in Kansas. There is some demand for labor in a few agricultural pursuits, 
])otatoes, sugar beets, wheat, apples, but this need is limited, with the exception 
of wheat, to a few counties. The defense industries, coal, oil. and various forms 
of construction, produce movements, although the most important thread running 
through the reports is that the flow of migrants seems to go on, rain or shine, 
winter or summer, special industries causing only temporary deflections in this 
tremendous population surge. The personal needs of these persons on the whole 
do not seem to wait on the seasons. Only 14 counties out of the 86 reporting 
thought that they had industries which were especially attractive to migrants. 
Locally they may be quite significant, but in general they are not. It is significant 
to note that the combine and large-scale wheat farming has reduced the need for 
labor in the wheat fields to a trickle. 

1 Allen Count.v. 

2 Wah.Tungpe County. 
•■' '>| tiiwa ('ount.v. 



The recent publication of the preliminary report of the 1940 Census has focused 
attention of Kansas on the State's loss in population. Since 1930 the State's p<^»p- 
ulation has dropped 4.37 percent, or 82,184. The rate of decrease ranges from 
more than 25 iiercent in the area formerly known as the Dust Bowl, to slight 
losses and some gains in the central part of the State. These figures denoting 
population changes a.ssume considerable significance when analyzed in the light 
of reports of emigration submitted by county directors of social welfare. These 
reports which are of a general nature cover the following salient points: 

1. Period of emigration. — More than half of the SO counties reporting indi- 
cate that continuing migration fnmi the State covered a period of from_3 to 10 
years, or in a few instances a longer perio<l, to the present. About IH of the 
counties reported that emigration was heaviest during the summer months or 
during the time that seasonal employment was available in neighboring localities 
or neighboring States. 

2. Family groups and youth. — The counties reported two types of emigration, 
first that of family groups and. second, that of youth. Some of the reports 
included a statement of population change based on the 1940 and 1930 census 
reports. In addition, many of the county directors attempted to analyze and 
define emigration in terms of county relief registration. While the latter 
analysis excluded persons not known to relief agencies, the State considers the 
figure valuable for a study of potential destitution among migrants. 

For instance, Cheyenne County in the extreme northwest with a present pop- 
ulation of 6,200 repiirts that during the last 5 years 50 families, which formerly 
were registered with the county relief agency, have left the county. Doniphan 
County, in the extreme northeast, with a present population of approximately 
13,000i reports that only 10 or 12 families known at one time to the county 
agency, have left the county. Morton County, in the extreme southwest, where 
soil has been seriously eroded, shows about 47 percent drop in population in 
the last 10 years. Southeast Kansas, in which C(Ki1, lead, and zinc mines are 
located, and' in which mining operations have declined in the last 10 years, 
shows an average drop in population of approximately 5 percent. However, the 
counties in that area report that young men are leaving the area to seek work 
in industrial centers which condition is particularly evident among families in 
which the chief employment has been mining. 

3. Age ravge.— The usual age range of persons emigrating from the State is 
universally reported to be the same, that is, ranging from 20 to 2.") as a minimum 
to 45 to 55 as a maximum. The average age of persons emigrating seems to be 
between 25 and 40 years. Some of the reports were not specific as to age but 
included such statements as : "Young or early middle-aged emijloyables," "Young 
married couples," etc. 

4 Destination. — Destination of Kansas emigrants varies from other localities 
in Kansas to the far western States, to the ea'stern industrial centers. The 
county welfare offices report a heavier migration to California, Idaho, Utah, 
Washington, Oregon, than to other States. ^ ,, . 

5. Reasons for emigration.— The reasons for emigration in the order of their 
significance are : 

1. Drought and soil erosion. 

2. Unemployment. 

3. Mechanized farming and large-scale ownership. 

4. Lack of industrial expansion. 

5. Withdrawal of industry (such as gas or oil) or removal to other locations 

to follow the same industry- , . , ^ ■ , 

6. Seeking better wages or opportunities promised by relatives and triends. 
In addition various other reasons were given such as: Uncertainty of work 

programs; search for farmhand elsewhere; search for positions in national- 
defense industries. 

Only two counties in the State rei)orting suggested that low assistance levels 
contributed to emigration, although this may he open to (piestion. 

The first three causes of emigration listed cover a wide variety of situations 
from areas in the State affected by or 7 years' continuous drought and 

260370— 41— pt. 4 11 



erosit)ii to amis nffocted by only iioriodir drouKht. Unomph.yinent covers the 
gi-oui) affected by loss of employnu'iit and in addition covers a firoup forced 
to change emplovnient. The latter usually inclnded tenant farmers forced off 
the land. Mechanized farmins and large scal(> ownership an' tlionght to he 
largely responsible for fundamental changes in economic opi»ortunity for un- 
skilled laborers and for small farmers. The Agricultural Adjustment Admin- 
istration i)rogram, according to county rci)oi-ts, is generally thought to be respon- 
sible for increasingly large-scale ownership ot laud and resultant migration. 

In summary, a co'mparison of migrating from the State to those pass- 
ing through or traveling within the State, shows almost complete simdarity 
as to age range, reasons for migration, and destinations. 

VolutHe of mUjrnucii. — The opinions of the county directors on volume of 
migrancy are based on actual applications and personal estimates, while not 
exact and perhaps subject to considerable ei-ror, are detinitely indicative because 
they have had experience and pei-sonal contact with the problem. Without 
question there is still a large inunber of persons of all ages imd l)oth sexes 
that are on the move. Bourbon Comity estimates the traffic at about 9.000 
per year; Crawford County. G,(K)0; Atchison, LoGU ; and Shawnee, 1,801); Pot- 
tawatomie, TOO; each in his respective county. The figures on the whole 
probably underestimate rather than overestimate the problem. Not all of the 
counties have such a heavy request for help, 19 of the St; counties tending to- 
fall in the class mentioned, 25 counties lind the migrant something of a 
problem but not a burdensome one, and the remaining 42 counties report that 
it is light or practically nonexistent. 

In all cases, however, the actual number that are assisted at the welfare 
oflices represents only a very small segment of the need. For instance, one 
county reports 5,400 as in need of assistance, and in that county only 17 
■were "aided by the welfare office in the last year.^ Such a ratio in the counties 
in which the problem is heaviest is not exceptional. The number of cases 
aided by the welfare office during the first 8 months of 1040 has varied from 
none in 1 county to 262 in another. Most any other aid that is furnished 
by other agencies rarely exceeds a meal, temporary lodging, some "gas," and, 
perhaps a few clothes. Briefly, the actual exiienditures of the welfare otiice, 
and those of related agencies, do no more than touch the problem. Much of 
the expenditure is in terms of "movement on," which is hirgely undirtH'ted and 
consequently helpful only in the sense that the local community that aided 
the movement has for the time being escai)ed further responsibility. One 
director wrote, "Services available are very limited and the prevailing attitude 
seems to be to 'push them over the county or State line' as soon as possible, and 
with as little expense as possible." ^ 


Size of faniilie.s. — Many counties report that many families apply for assist- 
ance. They vary in size from 3 to 11. The average size is usually 4 persons. 
The number of families seems to be increasing, directors reporting that as 
many as 50 ijercent of the migrant cases being families although this per- 
centage is probably exceptional. The children are of all ages, many under 
5 and some of them infants in arms. 

Average ar/e of head. — The reports were astonishingly in agreement that 
the heads of the families and the singles as well were middle-aged persons 
principally between 25 and 45 years of age. There was almost no disagree- 
ment that the old person has almost left the road due, they think, to the 
old-age programs. There are a few left but not many. This, it seems, is 
extremely significant. 

Emploiiability. — There was also agreement that a large percentage, usually 
from 50 percent to 80 percent of the adults, were considered employable. These 
migrants, to a large degree, are said to be on the road in search of work. 
"As a class they seem to he a rugged type, willing and used to undergoing 
hardships, children well behaved, and all looking for some mythical end of 
the rainbow where they will find a job." * 

■* B.'irhour. 

^ MontKomery. 



Recommendations. — The directors were asked for their recommendations in 
order to determine their present feeliiijjs and thon.shts on the subject. A hirge 
majority frankly stated that the needs of the migrants were too great for 
them to face locally and all they could do under the circumstances was to "pass 
them on" and that as quickly as possible. While the tabulations are not com 
plete on this, a large majority favor some form of uniform settlement laws 
and some financial assistance from the Federal Goverimient and increased 
assistance from the State governments; otherwise they believe any sound 
treatment plan could not be undertaken, let alone be carried out. A large 
majority indicated that a larger work program would aid materially in stem- 
Ing the tide, which program should include more opportunities for youth as 
well as the older workers. There were some recommendations that the settle- 
ment laws be made more stringent, but the most of the directors seemed to 
realize the futility of forcing persons to stay where they have no desire to be. 
Many directors admitted that they were not doing anything about the problem. 
One director said, "The outstanding reason for undesirable treatment of transi- 
ents seems to be unwillingness to pjirt with local money to help a person that 
belongs to some other county or State." ' 

(The following statement was received subsequent to the hearing 
and accepted for the record:) 


Prepared by State Department of Social "Welfare of Kausas 

Introductimi. — The State Department of Social Welfare of Kansas, as it in- 
dicated earlier to the Special Committee Investigating the Interstate 
Migration of Destitute Citizens, undertook the supervision of a State-wide case 
study of the migrant problem in Kansas during the 3-montli period beginning 
September 1, 1940, and ending November 30, 1940. A special schedule was 
prepared, a copy of which is enclosed, for the use of all interviewers whether 
in public or private agencies. The study in the counties was placed under the 
supervision of the county directors wlio in many cases were able to get excellent 
cooperation from other agencies within the counties giving service in one form 
or anoth3r to the moving population. W^hile coverage in all of tlie counties is 
admittedly by no means complete and while the total volume of migrancy still 
remains in doubt, the schedules prepared and submitted are in sufficient num- 
ber to base some valid conclusions regarding the characteristics of the popula- 
tion that is "on the march." 

Coverage. — During the 3-month period, September to November, inclusive, 
approximately 2,700 schedules have been received by the State Department of 
Social Welfare from the various agencies participating. Inasmuch as the 
special House committee requested that a report on the study be made by 
December 10, 1910, it was necessary to make a preliminary report based on 
1,716 schedules filled in for applicants who had applied for assistance not later 
than November 2, 1940. A final report will be made later covering the entire 

DupUcationi^. — Of the 1.716 applications included in the preliminary report, it 
was found that 373 applicants, or 2S percent of the sample, made application 
for service more than once as they moved across the State. Considering this 
fact then, there were 1,343 unduplicated applicants represented in the total. 

Participation. — Of the 105 counties within the State of Kansas, 75 welfare 
offices sent in schedules, 17 police departments, and 5 other public agencies, 
including city halls and fire houses. Among the private agencies participating 
were 16 Salvation Army corps, 12 Red Cross chapters, and 1 Provident Associa- 
tion which is located in Topeka in Shawnee County. The proportion of the 
applicants interviewed by these agencies is revealed in table I : 

■f Scott. 


Table I. — 'Number and percent of applications hy agencies Sept. 1 to Nov. 2, 19^0 




Total --. 

Total public agencies.. 

Welfare office 

Police department 

Total private agencies. 

Salvation Army... 

Red Cross 


















Table II presents the age and sex of both the applicants and other members of 
the family groups. 

Table II. — Age and sex 

of applicants 

and other members 

of family groups 

All members 


other members 

Age groups 










Total . 










Percent distribution 





































25 to 34 Years .. 







I Less than 0.5 percent 

It will be noted that the bulk or 45 percent of the applicants were from 25 to 45 
years of age. Most of the applicants, or 87 percent, were male. Of the total of 
471 other persons represented beside the applicants, 305 were female of which 
approximately 50 percent were under 20 years of age. Eleven percent, or 20O of 
the total persons represented were children under 15 years of age, and of this 
number 1 percent, or 18, were infants under 1 year of age. Inasmuch as only 4 
percent, or 72 persons, were known to be 65 and over it may safely be concluded 
that the aged migrant is dwindling in numbers and tending to become a thing of 
the past. The normal conclusion would be that the most of them have settled 
down and are receiving old-age assistance in their places of residence where they 
are eligible for assistance. 

Table III. — Size and composition of transient groups 





1 person... 

2 persons... 

3 persons... 

4 persons... 

5 persons ._ 

6 persons... 

7 persons.— 

8 persons.. 

9 persons... 

10 persons. - 





Normal families 







Normal with 



Broken families 






Percent distribution 







































» Percent not calculated on a base of fewer than 10. 
' Less than 0.5 percent. 

Table III shows the size aud comix)sition of the migrant families or groups. 
Most of the migrants, 1,142, or 85 percent, were traveling alone. This, of 
course, does not necessarily mean that they were unmarried but that they 
were either single, or that their families were being cared for elsewhere. 
Further .statistical analysis will verify the extent to which this is true and 
this fact will be covered in the final report to be prepared later. There were 
201 families represented, 167 normal which included a husband, wife, and 
possibly children, while there were 34 families which deviated from this norm 
and were considered as broken. Twenty-six of these were mothers with chil- 
dren under 16 years of age as table VII will show. Table III shows that 40 
percent of the normal families are families of 2 persons, 23 percent of 3 persons, 
and the rest, or 37 percent, are families consisting of 4 or more persons. Since 
most of the cases were singles or normal families it is clearly seen that there 
were few so-called "Joad" families represented in the sample. 

Table IV considers two facts, period of continuous residence the applicant 
had spent at what he called "his home" and his statement of the period of 
time he had been away from home. 



Tabij: IV. — Duration of continuous residence at home and len0h of time away 

from hom-c 





Length of time away from home and percent distribution 

Residence athome 











03 Qj 


a i2 

3 oJ 



a u 

3 g 

-c >> 


3 g 




"O I/, 
a h 
3 g 


5 and under 10 

10 and under 15 



•0 to 

3 i 







Under 6 months 



























6 months and under 1 year 

1 and under 2 years 









2 and under 3 years 


3 and under 4 years 




4 and under 5 years . . 


5 and under 10 years . - . 





10 and under 20 years- ....... 








20 and under 30 years 

30 and under 40 years . 


40 and under 50 years 

50 years and over ........... 






















' Less than 0.5 percent. 

The table tends to show the rather startling fact that the so-called old-stable 
settlers that have gone on the road in recent years tend to stay away from their 
home ^iite longer than those that have a less lengthy tenure in any one particular 
location. It will be noted for instance that of the group that said they had. 
been home 6 mouths and under 1 year, none of them had been on the road longer 
than 1 year, whereas in the case of the group that claimed residence at home of 
30 and under 40 yeare, 25 percent had been away from home for more than 1 year 
with 14 percent of those being away more than 5 years. The real meaning of this 
table can only be established by a rather detailed study of the individual sched- 
ules involved. This information will be made available in the final report. For 
the present the table indicates thtit "youth" tends to supplant "age" in employ- 
ment and that the older persons who were first displaced by the 1929 stock-market 
collapse and ensuing effects are having a proportionately harder time adjusting 
than the younger oiies. However, in general, it should be noted that of all 
groups considered only a relatively insignificant number have been on the road 
longer than 2 years. 

Table V lists the reasons the migrants gave for leaving home on the one hand 
as opposed to the reasons given for their destination on the other. 


Table V. — Reason given for leaving home and reason for destination 



Reason for destination 

Economic betterment 

Personal objectives 

Reason for leaving 



































a ^ 









s a 



s g 














A. Economic distress: 

Unemployment __ - 









— - 



Evicted from rented or owned 


Relatives unable to continue ?up- 













B. Personal distress: 

Til hpdlth 








Disliked separation from relatives 







C. Not in distress: 


















D Other 




E. Unknown 














The most significaut fact regarding this table is the fact that nearly 6y 
percent of the applicants were migrating because they were in economic dis- 
tress. Of the total of 1,343 applicants 824 stated in a general way that "un- 
employment"' was the principle reason for their movement. Of this number 
nearly 55 percent, or 447, appeared to be quite uncertain as to where "work' 
could be found. This group stated that, "they hoped to find work." A smaller 
number, 69, or 8 percent, stated (hat they at least had a "promise of work/' 
Another significant thing about this table is that quite a sizable number, 300, 
were going home. The implication from the table is that the movement is not 
only away from home searching for a "job" but movement in the reverse, 
either meaning they had completed the work and were retui-ning, or that they 
had failed, and were returning because they must. Out of the 1,343 only 2 
had such definite objectives as "had arranged for a farm," or "hoped to open 
a business." Health did not appear as being a particular significant reason 
for movement although this might be an oversight on the part of the applicant 
or interviewer or both. This particular pliase of the problem no doubt calls 
for special studv and it is the intention of the special committee of the Kansas 
Conference of Social Work to go into some of these special proljlems more in 
detail. Special committee assignments have been made in this connection. A 
noticeiible number, 43, stated that they were leaving home becaus(> of domestic 
difiiculties; 53 stated that their job required travel. It is especially significant 
to note that from the information given on the schedules only 11 of the total 
of 1,343 could be classified as "habitual reamers" or in the vernacular, 

Table VI shows the States of residence as claimed by the migrant and tlie 
reasons they gave for leaving that State. 








pABJi pajinbaj qoj" 

-tgip |Bn6sj9d ramo 

JO ^nniBj— qjB9a 

sOATiBiaj raojj 

saninoiijip onsaraod 

H'Huaq m 

-B9J oiinonooa J9mo 

^joddns 9nnT;noo 
0} 9iqBnn noi^Bpa 

9[!0!raop paingj jo 
pgaAio raojj p9;0!Aa 

no 9q o^' Smni.vinfi 

J9IpJ 9}Bnl)9pBni 

ajiqitj ss9n!sna 

sSninjBa 9iBnb9pBni 


9;B;g [B^ox 


IN ■«« pH 

i-H 05 ^ •-* "^ »-< rH 

««.-< o.-< 

1-1 i(M «!-( 

CO (M CC C4 CO CO i-H ^H 





3 o 

, g'Oo a 03 s 

2 ;«a--g'rM-Sgwg«c8'^ 
o g -/c g-^ §.2 ? S^-g.S CS-g g « i g£ g 



-< I-* I i,-lM>0 [ 1 ir-< 1 iCl 

W lO ,-H Tj< ■ I <-tCS N 

^ I ICO 

rH ■ .r-l.-ICO 

rr-l .(Mr-I 

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^ooot-^cor-cooo-*-* fi^ t^«c <5g m 
TJ>^ CO ■-HD 1-1 ^o"-" S 


SSoS ■ 
c3^ 1-.-5 a, 




It is of some siKiiificaiire that almost every State in the Union is represented. 
It will he noted that (!()3, or nearly 50 pereent, elaimed residence in either 
Kansas or one of the horderinj; States, namely, Missouri, Nehraska, Colorado, 
or Oklahoma. Other leading States that were named are in order: Texas, 68: 
Illinois. ().-.; Iowa, fU! ; California, .^)3; and Ohio, 41. As has been indicated 
previously in the discussion of table V, the main reason for leaving is economic 
or uneniplovment. 

In the case of Kansas itself, of the 209 applicants who gave their residence 
as Kansas, Ift-S, or over 60 percent, stated that unemployment was the reason 
for moving, 5 percent gave ill health, 4 percent attributed their migration to 
domestic ditticulties, o i)ercent were visiting, while 1 percent, or 8 applicants, 
were classified as "roamers." 

Table VII attempts to show the usual occupation and the employability of 
the applicants. 

Table VII. — Usual occupation and employability of applicants 

Usual occupation 

Total - 

Inexperienced persons 

Professional and technical workers 

Proprietors, managers, and offlcials 

Office workers 

Salesmen - 

Skill('(l workers 

Scmiskilk'il workers 

Unskilled workers 

Domestic and personal service workers 


Mothers with dependent children under 16 




1,343 1,051 





Pereent distribution 






I Less than 1 percent. 

To attempt such a classification based on the material submitted by so many 
interviewers from both private and public agencies is difficult and obviously 
fraught with danger of considerable error. Nevertheless, the problem was 
attempted with the results shown. The major classifications used are those 
used previously by the Division of Social Research of the Work Projects Admin- 
istration in their research monograiih entitled, "Migrant Families." In the first 
place it appears that the major portion of the applicants, 1,051, or nearly 80 
percent, are employable, and if the employability of the 82 that were unknown 
were known it would probably show up even higher. In general, the results on 
the schedules as submitted seem to indicate that at least 4 out of 5 of the 
applicants could be considered employable. The table shows that 17 percent, 
or 228 applicants, were skilled workers. This seems to be too high and iwssibly 
is erroneous although there is a possibility that more skilled workers are now 
on the road with expectation of getting employment in the defense program. 
Then, too, some of these so-called skilled workers were skilled at one time but 
now their skill is obsolete. While ouly 43 percent of the applicants are shown 
as unskilled if to these are added "inexperienced persons," "domestic and personal 
service workers," the "unknowns," and "mothers with dependent children," the 
number of unskilled is increased to 65 percent, which, of course, seems more 

Table VIII shows the location of the last ".''.O-day job," by States and the 
approximate time in which it was terminated : 



CO ' o -x> o 



.,1 ^-iOi-*-H — ■c.-iocq««!00co-<»<-*'oe<iiN>2oooo«ot^o»iN05-'gtogoooc«t^«osc 

"3 bt o 



O 03 

.H .2 .: 

H 03 


> -t S ssZt:.2i2 yS 3 
o cj o a^ o os:^ u. o e 

O B >/ 

•c o "2. 

a a 


c S a S S 




■ ' ■M 



■ ■ ■ o> 






^.i 05 



1 . 1 c^ 






















; ' i^ 




I ; ;^ 














1 1 1^^ 


; 1 ;^ 




















1 • »-H 







,— '"^ 




c ooo 









— 9^ 

lO »C — ( CO 






o § 







1 < m 1 


' '.2 ' 

• Is, 

oS.5f a 







A large number of the applicants, 513, or nearly 39 percent, states that they 
had had their last employment either in Kansas or in the 4 surrounding 
States of Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, and Oklahoma. Four other States named 
in order were: California, 71; Iowa, 53; Illinois, 52; and Texas, 52. It is 
interesting to note that of all the applicants 54 percent, or more than one-half, 
claimed that they had been employed at least 80 days in some one job during 
1940. At least this job terminated in 1940. 

Table IX shows the nature of the last job with respect to the date of its 
termination : 

Table IX. — Last jo7) and date of termination 





Date of termination and percent distribution 

Nature of last job 






















Farm worker 

















































100 58 



























No job of 30 days' duration 


























1 Less than 0.5 percent. 

■ Amount not calculated on a base of fewer than 10. 

This table, the same as table VII, tends to show that a considerable number 
of the applicants were skilled workmen. This fact probably needs some 
qualification. According to the "unskilled" classification only 456, or 34 per- 
cent of the total number of applicants, were technically unskilled, but when 
"farm laborers," ".service," "other workers," "inexperienced workers," "persons 
never bavins had a job of 30 days or more duration," and the "unknowns," 
which contain a preponderance of unskilled workmen, no doubt, are combined 
with the "unskilled" group as set up in the table, a total of 1,048, or 78 
percent of all applicants, appear to be largely unskilled. As in the previous 
table, most of the 30-day jobs appear to have ended some time during 1940. 

Table X shows a tabulation of the States of residence, on one hand, as 
opposed to the States of destination, on the other : 




'^ 1 



00 1 







g 1 


^rt , 



jCO — 






Tf 1 



N 1 


to 1 



- 1 







"* 1 



"^ 1 

" ; 



S 1 




•-< CO CO 00 »-< 

■ — N 






•nnaj, . 

CO 1 

■^ea -s 

C4 1 


"^ 1 


m 1 


CO 1 




tH i-KNCJ—l ■ 

*"* 1 


t — CO 



-1 — 





CO — 


N 1 

;IN 1 1 

•A "N 

00 1 



•«IM "N 

o> 1 







C3 1 






"* 1 








<N r-. 

-H r^lNOO 






1 i'^ : 

: ; : i 


; ; 



rt >QO 


rt lO rt M O 

1 f-l l-H 






. N 1 









, Tjl 1 






eq -H 1 




I '"' 




irt f it^ . 

i i 



■*—! MIN 

^ w 


— IN CO-* 






. i>0 00 


""" 1 




■ CO 1 . 






-HIN ^ 

— IN 


'-' ; 




CO ■ 

^ -^ 




100 JO jsja 










CO ■ — N 




— eo 



; IS-^-" 


t~— iMC^ .1 





to • 




. I 1 1 '^ 1 

i i 






• f. 

1 ^ '•^ I 1 "^ 

.lO — 

<N — 


"^ I 



1 I 

; i i i ; i 

1 1 1 

'^ 1 





'^2SSg°° '"''"'"SS55g|S"<^«=2S5S'^S*S"^"§«5§ 








1 o 



; c 

























n i 




V 1 

^ NtO 






N 1 




r-im ■ 



lO 1 






N . 











— eo 1 















rf t^ 







« 1 





rlC^ 1 










1 1 1 









! « 











Although tahlo X will bo an api>oii(lix tablo in the final report, it was 
di'fitlccl that it should bo includoil in tiio pri'liminary report booause of the 
rathor intorostin^' implications which it oll'ors. The (liaKonal shadow lino from 
the top loft cornor of tho tablo to the lowor light corner gives a clue to the 
l)rovaloiuo of the migrants who are returning to their States of residence. 
Of tho 58 applicants who gave their residence as California, for instance, liO or 
over 87 percent stated that they were returning to California. (Colorado had 
50 applicants, and of these, 24, or nearly ,50 percent, wore returning to 
Colorado. The same liguro for Illinois was 85 percent and for Missouri, 42 
percent. Kansas would be unicpio in this rosi)oct in that many of tho residents 
j)robably never left tho State, but are intrastate transients or nonresidents 
of tho particular county where they asked for assistance. A supplementary 
table will bo prepared later which, it is hoi)ed, will bring out tho course of 
the intrastate migrants by counties and this will be included in the linal 
report. It is possible from this tablo to calculate the net loss or gain to any 
State for the sample studied. It will be noted that some States gained while 
others lost but in general what is indicated here is that all States appear 
to be participating in tho migratory movement that seems to be going on within 
tho United States. Contrary to the recent census reports in this sample 
appears to have gained rather than lost in the exchange. 

Mode of trarcl. — A tabulation of the mode of travel of the migrants shows 
quite conclusively that a largo number, 574 applicants, or 43 percent are 
"riding the rods" nnich tho same as the so-called "hoboes" used to do. 
Thirty-two stated that they had paid their fare and wore riding the train or 
bus as a paid customer. Of the remainder 507 stated that they were hitch- 
hiking; 180 had cars of their own; 11 wore traveling in other ways; and for 
S8 no facts were given on tho schedule. There is no (pu^stion from the above 
information that the movement appears to bo rapid and that nuich ground 
may be covered in any one day's travel by this group of persons. Tho slow- 
moving "hobo" is all but a thing of tho past. In his place must be substituted 
an employable individual or family group that is in search of work but is only 
vaguely aware of where he may linally tind it. 

Service rendered. — Of th(> 1,71(! separate applicati<ins for service both the 
private and the public agencies honored a largo number of them even though 
the service admittedly consist<'d of food, clothing, lodging, medical care, or 
other service alone. Of 900 ajjplications that wore given service in a single 
form. 464 received meals; 210, lodging; 174, clothing; 48 r»"ceivod some form 
of medical care; 10 wore given transih)rtation by public carrier; 44 were given 
gas and oil for their automobile; correspondence was conducted for 0; .some 
other type of service was rendered the remaining 6. Of tho 570 applications 
that received a combination of service, 805 were provided food and lodging; 
74, food and clothing; 02. food and fuel for the automobile; 4, food and 
medical caro : ami 41 some other combination of .service similar to that indi- 
cated. Of the total oidy 171 received no sei-vice following their rociuost. 
While it is notcnl that a large percentage of the reiiuests jipiM-ar to have been 
honored it should be remembered that the agencies involved admit that an 
indoterminal)U> number of cases were never interviewed or their re(iue.sts 
were doiued without tilling out the schedule. It should not be concluded from 
tho above facts that the migrants in Kansas are getting nnich more than is 
imperative in a service that is essentially one of "passing on." Some .service 
is being given, it is true, but in the main and under the pn>s(>nt circumstances, 
the service is at a minimum. 

State Dkp.\utmknt of Social Wfa.FARK of Kansas, 

Topeka, Kans., AiKjust 27, 19.'f0. 
To: County Directors of Social Welfare. 

In accordance with Chairman's Letter No. 125, wo are enclosing a supply 
of forms and instructions to be used in connection with the stiuly of 
transients during tlH> months of Soptember, October, and November. 

These forms ar(> to be tilled in by all agencies in each county of the State, 
private as Avell as public, which have contacts with transients and/or migrants 
as delinod in the general instructions attached. 

Complete coverage of migration in Kansas for the period of 8 months .sliould 
give us concrete and interesting information for our report to the special 


House oo7iimlttoe on the problem of interstate miffi'ation of destitute citizens 
by January 1, l!t41. Also we expe<t to avail our own State legislators with the 
results of the study at their meetinj? in January. 

The State labor department, the State employment service, the legislative 
council, Kansas Conference of Social Work, and the State department of 
social welfare will sincerely appreci;ite your cooperation in this study. 
Very truly yours, 

Frank E. Milucan, 
Cluiiniiau, State Department of Social Welfare. 

Genkral Instructions for Using Statistical Form fob Study of Transients 

Scope. — These forms are to be filled in by all persons or agencies which give 
service to transients, whether It be the sheriff, city marshal. Salvation Army, Red 
Cross, county welfare department, or other agency or person in the county. 

The information is to be taken on all individuals, families, t)r groups or in- 
dividuals who apply in the county for service who do not have settlement within 
the county although they may or may not have settlement in some other county 
in Kansas. In other words, intrastate cases are to be included as well as inter- 
state. Verification of settlement will not be required for the study, although 
from the welfare point of view it might be desirable. Whether or not the forms 
should be executed on a particular applicant can be decided by the worker after 
briefly questioning the applicant in the majority of cases. 

Procedure. — From the standpoint of sound community organization, and inas- 
much as the State department has agreed to use its facilities to secure the in- 
formation for the study, the ctmnty director of social welfare is the logical person 
to solicit the cooperation of the other agencies in the county which serve tran- 
sients. The county dii'ector is requested, therefore, to supervise the conduct of 
the study wnthin the county and it will be necessary fur him to introduce the 
study to these other agencies. 

Arrangements will need to be made for the instruction of individuals in the 
agencies who will be tilling out the forms. Group instruction in some counties 
may prove feasible but in any event, special effort should be made to insure that 
each interviewer clearly understands what is desired under each item on the 

Only one schedule on a case needs to be executed in any one county regardless 
of the number of agencies that participate in the service. Duplication may be 
kept at a minimum through special local arrangements. Schedules should be 
kept at the point of application until the service on the case is concluded. 

The schedules are to be sent to ('hester H. Fischer, bureau of research and 
statistics of the State department of social w^elfare at the end of each week during 
the course of the study. The first group of schedules should be mailed Septem- 
ber 7, and the last November 30. If there has been no occasion to use the schedules 
during a particular week, we will appreciate being informed by letter. 

A schedule should be filled out even though the service requested may not be 
granted. The interviewer may accomplish this purpose in many cases by ex- 
plaining to the migrant the reason why information is being recpiested and that 
it is to his interest and others on the road to have it recorded. A great deal 
of very valuable information may be secured in this way where otherwise it 
would be lost. 

It is important that a sufficient supply of forms be made available to the agen- 
cies. If you netHl more forms than we Included in the Initial supply, advise us 
and we will send you the lunnber of additional forms you need. 

Specific Instructions for Filling in Statistical Form for Study of Transients 

(1) Date of Application. — Month and day of application. The form Is to be 
filled out in the office in which the application is made and held until the service 
on the case is completed. 

(2) Color. — ("heck W for white, N for Negro, O for other. Specify if Indian 
or Mexican by Ind. or Mex. 

(3) Birthplace. — Name State in which aplpicanl was born if born in th(> United 
States, or country if foreign born. If members of the family have different 
birthplaces, then refer to Remarks and include the information. 

260370 — 41— pt. 4 12 


(4) Sociai Security Xuinber — Self-explanatory. If the applicant does not have 
a number and some other member of the family does, then write in this latter 

(5) Name of county. — Enter name of county in which agency is operating. 

(6) Name of ayrucy. — Name of agency in which application is made, such 
as welfare office, American Red Cross, Salvation Army, county jail. 

(7) War vctcrtiu. — If the applicant has served in the armed forces during 
time of war whether, \yorld War, Spanish-American War, Phillipine Insurrec- 
tion, or the Boxer Rebellion, check "Yes" ; if not, check "No." 

(S) Citizen. — Self-explanatory. 

(9) Name. — Writi' last name first. If there is more than one person in the 
group, it will not be necessary to repeat the family name of each individual 
unless it is different from that of the Head. The letters in front of the names 
are given so that they may be used in item (31) instead of rewriting the name 
if so desired. 

Aye. — Age in years at last birthday for each i>erson listed. 

Sex. — Use M for male and F for female. 

Relation to head. — Wife, son, daughter, or other relationship. If no relation, 
enter "None." 

Ed. — Enter highest grade completed in grammar school, high school, or college. 

Month.^ in school Im^t year (school aye). — Enter after each child of school age 
the number of months that the child attended school during the school year 
1939-40. If school attendance this fall is irregular, refer to Remarks and ex- 

(10) Social .'<tatu--< of head. — Check M if the "head" is married, S if single, 
Div. if divorced, Sep. if separated, Wid. if a widow, Widr. if a widower. If a 
group and the social status is not that of an ordinary family, refer to Remarks 
and explain. 

(11) Applicant's hame. — Enter city and State which the applicant claims as 
his home. In cases where the individuals in the group come from different 
States, refer to Remarks and explain. If the applicant has no place he calls 
home, enter "None." 

(12) Date left home la.U time. — Enter month, day, and year applicant left home 
the last time. If this person or family has been away from home (on the road) 
frequently, then explain the circumstances under Remarks. 

(13) Time continuous residence at home. — Period of time in months and years 
person or family head resided continuously at home before going on the road. 
If place of settlement is known, then refer to Remarks and give this information. 
State in such instance if the settlement has been verified and whether or not 
the agency has authorization for return of the applicant. 

(14) Reasons given for leaving home. — Self-explanatory. 

(15) Ultimate destination. — City and/or State which the applicant hopes to 
reach eventually. If the person or family has no such definite destination in 
mind, give region under Remarks if possible. Otherwise, enter "None." 

(16) Reasons given for destination. — Self-explanatory. 

(17) Mode of travel.- — Self-explanatory. 

(18) Travel route through Kansas. — Give main points through which the i>er- 
son has passed or is expecting to pass, or give highway numbers, or names of 

(19) Auto. — Name of car. year of make, body design, and the license number. 

(20) Ever stay at some tvansient camp.— If the client has lived for a time in 
either an F. E. R. A. Transient Camp (Federal Emergency Relief Administra- 
tion) or in an F. S. A. Camp (Farm Security Administration) anywhere in the 
United States, check "Yes" : if not, check "No." 

(21) Location of camp. — Give city and State in which the camp is located and 
enter the month and year in which the applicant entered the camp. 

(22) Last private job of oO d<iys or more duration. — Check for the head of the 
family the classification that applies to the last job. If a man was a farjn 
tenant, then check "Tenant" ; if a skilled mechanic, check "Skilled" ; and if a 
domestic servant, check "Service job." If you secure additional information 
from more than one adiilt in the family or for persons other than the head, 
refer to Remarks and explain. 

The following may be of assistance in classifying the applicant : 
Agricultural occupations : (a) Fishery and forestry, (6) agricultural and horti- 
cultural, (c) hunting and trapping. 


Professional occupations: («) Professional and managerial, {b) semiprofes- 
sional, (c) official. 

Clerical and sales occupations. 

Service occupations : (a) Domestic service, (b) personal service, (c) protective 
service, (d) building service workers and porters. 

Skilled occupations. 

Unskilled occupations. 

(2;^) Date the job ended. — Month, day, and year that the last job of 30 days or 
more duration ended. For more than one adult, refer to Remarks and explain. 

i^tate uorked in. — Give State in which the work was done. 

(24) Usual occupation. — Name the occupation for which the applicant is best 
titted by either training, experience, or both. If the applicant says his usual occu- 
pation is an "auto mechanic," assure yourself that his statement is true through 
appropriate questioning as to how long he has worked as a mechanic and where. 
If the applicant is no longer able to follow his usual occupation because of reason 
of health, age, or other reason refer to remarks and explain. If the applicant has 
more than one usual occupation, then the one he has engaged in most recently 
should be used. The former usual occupation should be named under remarks 
together with his reason for no longer working at it. Be as specific as possible in 
order that the type of occupation may be clear to the person reading the schedule 
and in order that it may be classified accurately. 

(25) Worked on W.P.A. — If the applicant or any member of the group has 
ever worked on W.P.A., check "Yes" and give State in which the certification was 
made : if not, check "No." 

(26) Enrolled in C.C. C— Same as for W.P.A. 

(27) M'mked on 2V^.Y.4.— Same as for W.P.A. and C.C.C. 

(28) Request of applicant.— Enter the request for service as made by the 
applicant, for example, food and lodging for family and hospitalization for 
son who is seriously ill. 

(29) Service rendered. — This item should be filled in after service is com- 
pleted on the case within the county. Arrangements will need to be made 
locally so that only one agency will execute a form on any one case. Also, 
it must be made certain that all service is entered on the form before it is 
mailed. The entry in the above case might be: "$2 grocery order, 1 night's 
lodging in jail, and medical examination by Dr. Jones at the Central Hospital. 
Medical bill — Service $5." 

(.30) Other assistance applicant received in Kansas. — If the applicant states 
that he has received other assistance in Kansiis. then enter the name of the 
agency that gave the assistance, location, and type of service given. Even 
though the applicant may give only the names of agencies that assisted him, 
this information will be of value and should be recorded. 

(31) Health of individual members of familii. — If there are health problems 
in the family, then list the name or names of the person or persons or use 
the line identification letters in item 9 that have these problems. Give the 
nature of the health problems, the treatment the i)ersons received elsewhere 
on the road for their ailments (if needed and if not previously needed, enter 
"not needed" ) and, finally, indicate the sei-vice given in the county of applica- 
tion. This section offers the interviewer an opportunity to enlarge on item 28. 
(Request of applicant) where the problem is health. If more than one person 
is ill, enter each individual with the appropriate information on a separate line. 

(32) Remarks of interviexcer — The interviewer is urged to use the section 
on Rentarks freely. — Information may be stapled to the form on sheets of 
paper if desired. For the puriK)ses of this study, it will be better to give 
more information than can be used rather than to give too little. Be sure 
that all information given is clear and complete. 

(.33) Sif/nature of intervieicer. — Self-explanatory. 

Date completed. — Enter date that the service on the case is completed and 
the case closed. 

Statistical Form you Stttjy of Transients 

(1) Date of application: 

(2) Color: W. N. (). 

(3) Birthplace : 

(4) Social Security number: 






(5) Name of County: 

(6) Name of aKoncy : _ 
War Veteran : Yes 

Citizen: Yes No. 

Relation to 
Name Age Sex Head 

(a) Head 

(b) - — - — 


Mos. in 


Last Yr. 

{Sch. Age) 




Social Status of Head: M S Div. Sep. Wid. 

Applicant's Home: City State 

Date Left Home Last Time: 

Time Continuous Residence at Home : ■- 

(Years and Months) 

(14) Reasons Given for Leaving Home: 

(15) Ultimate Destination: City State. 

(16) Reasons Given for Destination: 







Mode of Travel : Auto Hitchhiking Train Other. 

(Check one) 

Travel Route Through Kansas: 

Auto: — 


Make Model Type License Number 

Ever Stav at Some Transient Camp: Yes No 

Location of Camp: When Entered 

Last Private Job of 30 Days or More Duration : (Check if Head) 

If Farm Worker : Operator Tenant Labor Other 

If Not Farm Worker: Professional Clerical Sales Service Job Skilled 

Unskilled Other 

Date the Job Ended : State Worked In 

Usual Occup'ation : 

(Be as specific as possible) 

Worked on W. P. A. : Yes No State 

Served in C. C. C. : Yes No State Enrolled In 

Worked on N. Y. A. : Yes No State 

Reqviest of Applicant: 

(29) Service Rendered : 

(Specify type, cost, and by whom ^iven) 

(30) Other Assistance Applicant Received in Kansas; 

Afjency Location 

(31) Health of Individual Members of Family: 


Write name or use line 
identification letter 

Nature of health prob- 

Treatment received on 
road previous to arriv- 
al in this county 

Treatment given in this 


(32) Remarks of Interviewer: Suggestions — 

(a) Significant travel history; 

(b) Employment information on persons other than Head; 

(c) Questionable validity of any information given; 

(d) Previous contacts of Agency with case; 

(e) Comments, descriptions, or impressions of the Interviewer. 

(33) Signature of Interviewer: 

Date Completed : 

The Chairman. We will take a 5-miniite recess. 
(Thereupon a short recess was taken, at the conclusion of which 
the proceedings were resumed as follows:) 

The Chairman. The committee will please come to order. 


The Chairman. Will you give your name to the reporter, please. 

Mr. Krusz. Harry J. Krusz. 

The Chairman. In what capacity are you here? 

Mr. Krusz. I am manager of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce. 
My testimony is with regard to the defense industries, in connection 
with this problem. 

The Chairman. You have submitted a very admirable statement 
here, and it is inserted in our record. 


A Statement on Defense Material Manufacturing in the Midwest and Its 
Effect Upon Interstate Migration 

We are pleased that the important congressional Committee Investigating Inter- 
state Migration of Destitute Citizens has come to Nebraska to secure first-hand 
information and facts concerning this important subject. As the evidence to be 
submitted before this hearing in Lincoln will doubtless prove, Nebraska has suf- 
fered greatly from the loss of population due to drought conditions in this section. 

Doubtless much good will come in future years from the effort which is being 
made to put water on the land of the farmers in the drought area. However, 
securing the necessary projects to make this possible is a slow process and we are 
certain to suffer further population losses in the meantime. 

In the opinion of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce and many other chambers 
of commerce throughout the State (representing the best business thought in 
this area) an immediate remedy would be the establishment of defense manufac- 
turing plants in this area. For example, we have filed briefs for the establish- 
ment of a smokeless powder plant, aeronautical laboratory, and numerous projects 
of that nature. Some communities are seeking army cantonments and other 
similar projects. We are assisting many of the existing manufacturers in securing 
orders for Government projects which we hope will necessitate the expansion of 
some of the existing industries. 

As we now stand, boys from the farm, many of our trained engineers and grad- 
uate students, students graduating from the Lincoln Flying School, innnediately 
upon graduation will depart for the east or west coasts where manufacturing 
of the defense materials is being carried on energetically. In other words the 
manufacturing which is being done on the east and west coasts is depleting our 


farms and our existing factories of their skilled help. If on the other hand some of 
these plants could be located in this area, we could absorb the Ki'aduates of our 
vocational schools and coUeses, as W(>11 as a lot of the unskilled farm labor, in 
plants in this an>M thus holdinj;- them in the State so their productive earnings 
would henetit this country and would further help to solve the migration problem. 

It seems to us from the social standpoint it does not help to fiirther crowd over- 
crowded cities when there is so much room for expansion and better living condi- 
tions in the areas such as we have. 

This i)r(>mise might he expanded to unlimited possibilities; however, we make 
this brief statement relying upon your common sense and good judgment to follow 
the subject to its logical conclusion. 


The Chairman. If there are any high spots tliat you want to 
present, we should be very o'hid to liear them at tliis time. 

Mr. Krusz. Our point of view is presented, not perhaps as an uhi- 
mate sohition to the problem, but perhaps as the emergency has 

The Chairman (interposing). Right at that point: As a matter 
of fact, there is no single solution to this problem, so anything that 
will helj) along the way, that is what we are interested in. 

Mr. Krusz. We feel this way, tliat one of the problems in connec- 
tion with the loss of population in Nebraska has been, in recent months, 
at least, the departure of a lot of our young people. For example, at 
the Lincoln Flying School here, they turn out a number of graduates 
in mechanical training, welders and airplane builders. Immediately 
upon graduation they go to either California, Washington, or some 
eastern point, to get a job in an airplane factory or in the industrial 
section. Now, the problem has grown to such an extent that the 
States out here have gotten together in a recent conference, which you 
probably know something about, and have presented and asked that 
consideration be given to the industries, the existing industries, in 
these States out here, and also that in the planning of future defense 
industries, that they be established through this section, as one solu- 
tion toward taking care of our population, the people of the farms who 
may not be able to find work on the farms, and the graduates of onr 
own mechanical schools, to keep them from going to the more thickly 
populated sections. We know, of course, that suggestion has been 
made through several sources. We think that it will be effective in the 
long-range program. Of course, we all feel the problem in Nebraska, 
and we know if we get water, that will be an important factor in 
keeping the boys on the farms and making the farms profitable and 
prosperous. That is basic. 

The Chairman. Well, I think it is a very good suggestion; it is 
one we haven't heard so far in our hearing, you see. We have had your 
statement incorporated into the record and will give it our very best 
attention, when we make our final report. 

Thank you. 

Mr. Krusz. It can be expanded at great length. 

Mr. Curtis. In connection with tliis witness, I wish to offer letters 
we have received from several airplane manufacturers. 

(The letters referred to appear below.) 


Beech Aibceaft Corpoiution, 
Wichita, Kans., September Hi, ISJfO. 

Tolan Committee, 

901 North Sixtccutli Street. Litteolu, Nehr. 

Gentlb:men : Due to the national-defense expansion program which we are 
setting up and have under construction at the present time, we will he unahle 
to send a representative from oiu- organization to present our side of the inter- 
state migration of destitute citizens at the hearings to he held in your city Sep- 
tember 16 and IT, 1940. We are sending this letter as a means of conveying to 
you our experience with migratory labor. 

Since most of the larger aircraft factories at the present time are located on 
the coasts and have drawn a major portion of tlieir workers from the Middle 
West, an interstate barrier on migrating labor would probably be a handicap to 
the inland aircraft factories in securing experienced aircraft workers. The 
majority of migratorv labor is not skilled aircraft. However, we are able to 
pick from these workers men with backgrounds sufficient to hire as learners and 
apprentices in our factory and with a minimum of instruction make aircraft 
workers of them. 

If the present aircraft skilled labor native to this section of the country could 
be returned to this section, our employment problems would all be solved. But 
since these men are employed in other States, and in the event that a barrier 
should be erected to prevent them from migrating, it would make it necessary for 
\is to take raw material from schools or available unskilled labor and give them 
such training as would be necessary for the operation of our factory. 

Since all Government contracts under the national-defense program have cer- 
tain time and deliverv dates set up, we must be able to call upon skilled labor m 
whatever section of the counti-y it may be available to build up our factory per- 
sonnel large enough to fulfill these contracts at the stipulated dates. 

I hope the above comments will convey to you the problem which the aviation 
industry is faced with in this section of the country. 

Very truly yours, 

Chas. G. Mudd, 

Industrial Relations. 
H. A. ScHOW alter, 

Persontiel Director. 

Stearman Aircraft, 


Wichita, Kans., September 13, IHO. 

Interstate Migration Committee. 

Lincoln, Nebr. 

Gentlemen : In answer to your telegram of September 12. w^e are glad of this 
opportunity to give you an expression of our views on the migration of labor. 

We are not opposed to voluntary migration of labor, for we feel this is a normal 
indication of a good. Nation-wide economic condition. Of course, many times the 
employee is misled by his own thinking and might be better off not to have made 
the move, but that is something that each individual must decide for himself. 

However, we are very much opposed to migration brought about by companies 
or individuals who go into districts not lying within their normal employment 
territory and, through offers of rates much in excess of that normally pi-evailing 
in that district, cause satisfied employees to become dissatisfi(>d, the result of 
which is that they quit what has been a good job, lose tlieir seniority, leave the 
district in which they may have grown up, and go to the expense of moving their 
homes into surroundings which are only known to them by the glamorous aiJpeal 
of the employment salesman. As we all know, many times this glamour among 
strange faces and strange practices causes additional dissatisfaction, and before 
complete family readjustments can be made the employee is faced with addi- 
tional financial" outl^avs, and in the end his gain by reason of higher rates is 
much more than offset by the cost of such readjustments and moving expenses. 
We are especially opposed to the employment representative who makes it a part 
of his policy to go directly into the homes of the employee and through indi- 
vidual salesmanship induce the employee, sometimes through his wife, to make 
a change which, if he were left to his m)rmal judgment, might never be made. 


We know the following? condition exists. Representatives from the west 
coast come into tlie central district and hire our midwestern people for their 
plants. I>ikewise, representatives of eastern districts have f-one into both the 
central part of our coiinti\v and the west-coast section and have i)irated labor 
from both places. Recently, we know that one of the aircraft companies in the 
Midwest set up an employment office in Los Anjjeles and interviewed a few 
thousand employees with the purpose of bringing them back to the Midwest 
district. This example alone should be enough to indicate that the policy, 
while possibly gaining inuuediate benefits for the employer, is certainly a costly 
one and one which in the end will probably backfire in the faces of every company 
in the country. 

It is our policy to employ untrained men from our own district and, over a 
period of time, not only train them for a type of work but also train them for 
leadership. Our experience has proven to us that this type of individual fits 
into a coordinated picture much better than the person who has been brought in 
from other sections of the country under a classification which has no better 
designation than that of a "hot shot." We are so sold on this type of employee 
relationship that, in the face of the conditions as they exist today, we still 
propose to follow the policy as stated. 
Yours very truly, 

Stearman Aircraft 

(Division of Boeing Airpl^vne Co.), 
Otto Plagens, Personnel Director. 

Cessna Aircraft Co., 
Wichita, Kans., September 13, WJ/O. 

Interstate Migration Committee of United States House of Representatives, 
Lincoln, Nebr. 

Getsttlemen : Mr. Otto Plagen of Stearman Aircraft Corporation contacted me 
and gave me access to your telegram to him relative to the expression of the 
several aircraft companies located in Wichita as to their ideas regarding the 
migration of labor. 

We feel that it is every laborer's privilege to work where he chooses and 
that no restrictions be placed on the area in which he works. It is my belief 
that the practice of manufacturers going from their areas to that of another 
manufacturing plant and offering employees more money than they now receive 
should be discouraged. This only builds labor unrest and causes workmen 
to become migratory and not satisfied in any one location, thereby making 
them unsuitable for any organization wishing stabilized labor. 

The defense program calls for rapid manufacture and labor turnover in any 
organization only retards the efficient consummation of contracts. 
Yours very truly, 

Cessna Aircraft Co., 
J. B. Salisbitry, 

Personnel Director. 


The Chairman. Mr. John Hopkins. Will j^oii give your name 
and, please. 

Mr. Hopkins. John A. Hopkins, associate professor of agricultural 
economics, Iowa State College, Ames. 

Mr. Parsons. We are very happy to have you Avith us here today. 
Your prepared statement has been read and is both very interesting 
and thorough. 

(The statement referred to is as follows:) 




Technological Changes in Ageicultuke and Their Effects on Fakm 

Employment ^ 

TRENDS in employment IN AGKICULTURE, 11)09-39 

111 1909 an estimated 12,200.000 persons employed in agricnlture produced 
food, fiber, and otiier farm raw materials for a population of approximately 
90,000,000. In 1939, 10,600.000 persons employed in agriculture were producing 
corresponding materials for a population 40 percent greater. What caused 
this decline in employment, and is it to be regarded as a blessing to the 
Nation at large or merely a curse to the individuals w^ho were displaced from 
the farms? Before attempting to answer these questions, however, let us 
find out how the farm workers are classified, how the present employment 
is distributed over the Nation, and where and when the decline in farm employ- 
ment occurred. 

:\Iost of the labor performed on farms in the United States is done by the 
farm operators themselves. The farm is esseutially a family enterprise and 
any members of the farmer's family who are able, are likely to be found 
helping with the farm work. The make-up of the family labor group, however, 
varies considerablv from one season to another, depending on the needs of the 
farm, and on whether children of working age are in school. The family labor 
group also varies from one phase of the business cycle to another, since some 
grown sons or other relatives who are paid wages when times are good, are 
likely to stay on the farm and work without pay when they are bad. The 
average number of family workers in the first of each month in 1939, accord- 
ing to estimates of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, was S,loO,000. 

The second group consists of hired workers and numbered 2.479,000 in 1939. 
It is this group that has suffered the greatest loss of employment in recent years. 
Further, it has an extremely uncertain job tenure and an extremely low level 
of wages. But this committee is undoubtedly familiar already with the general 
comparison between farm and urban wages. 

The number of workers just quoted is open to some qualification. The share- 
croppers have been counted as farm operators. But with equal or even better 
logic they might be considered as hired workers since they ordinarily own neither 
land nor capital, and work under the close supervision of their landlords; 
receiving a share of the crop as their pay. 

The census of 1930 showed 776,278 croppers in the Southern States.^ In the 
easteni cotton and Delta cotton areas, they amounted to 28 and 34 percent of 
the reported farm operators, respectively. In the middle eastern and the western 
cotton areas, they comprised 14 and 13 percent. Including members of the 
croppers' families who worked with them, the group amounted to something 
over a million persons. If the croppers were counted as hired workers It would 
increase that group to around 3,500,000 and would reduce the number of family 
workers to about 7.100.000. 

A further qualification must be made in our figures on account of part-time 
employment in agricnlture. The census of 1930 reported that 1.363,0'.X) of the 
farm operators worked off their farms less than I.IO days during the year 1929. 
An additional r)40,000 worked elsewhere more than 150 days, and of the latter 
group 468,000 reported that such off-the-farm employment was in industries other 
than agriculture. Thus it is not possible to draw a clear and definite line 
between persons employed in agriculture and those employed in other indu.^tries. 

To simplify the di.scussion, I shall refer frequently to major farming areas. 
These are shown in figure I and consist of blocks of entire States within which 
farming methods :ind condi!ioiis are, in general, fairly homogeneous. 
(See fiiiure I, Major Farming Areas of the United States.) 

1 Based chiefly on studies on Technological Change.s in Agriculture and their Effects on 
Employment made by the National Research Project of W. P. A., which was under the direc- 
tion of David Weintraub. A summary report of the Studies in Agriculture is now in 
process of publication by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, U. S. Department of 

process of publ 

2 Fifteenth Ce 

the Census, 1932), vol. IV, ch. Ill, table (, p. 156 

\ cricultiirc* 

* 2 Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930 (U. S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of 



•"■<! ONOJsO 
-, O Tl i -. . 

« o 

p O On 0\ G^ 
,r: >^ M rH OJ KN 

S 0\ < I I I 

g C\J t-. I I I 

"iO K On ON On 

« W O rH OJ 

O o On ON ON 

r-i K r^ f-l 1-1 


The figures on this map give the average nntuber of persons employed in agri- 
culture on the tirst of each month in 19:i9, and also the percentage change 
occurring in each of the last three decades. The data on agricultural employ- 
ment since WM were prepared by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, while 
those for earlier years represent estimates prepai-ed by the National Research 
Project of W. P. A. in cooperation with the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. 

Of the 10.6 million farm workers in 19.'59, 12 percent were found in the corn 
area, 15 percent in the two dairy areas, 17 percent in the middle eastern area, 
34 percent in the three cotton areas, 7 percent in the small-grain area and 8 per- 
cent in areas farther west. It is in the region from the Corn Belt to the West, 
containing 31 percent of the farm employment, that technological changes have 
been most rapid during the last 30 years. In contrast, the cotton areas, con- 
taining 34 percent, have seen relatively few changes up to the present time. With 
the beginning of mechanization in the South, however, this region may well be 
one to show the greatest technological displacement of labor in the next two or 
three decades. 

Each major farming area has shown its own peculiar trends in farm employ- 
ment, but there are also certain common features. For the country as a whole, 
the sharpest declines occurred during the World War. During the decade from 
1909 to 1919 total farm employment dropped 9 percent with family workers 
decreasing 11 percent and hired workers only 3. Following the war there was 
a small recovery in farm employment as soldiers and munition workers returned 
to the farms. The industrial booms of the late 1920's, however, again began to 
draw workers away from the farms and by 1929 we were practically back to the 
level of 1919. Following 1929, the continued mechanization, which occurred 
whenever the farmer had enough funds to adopt any economical new machinery, 
plus low prices for farm products caused a small further decline. Since 1935 the 
decline, according to the figures of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, has 
been running arcjund 100,000 per year. 

It should be noted that the reduction in farm employment during the depres- 
sion hit the hired workers much harder than family workers. From 1929 
through 1935 familv workers on farms increased by 4 percent, while hired 
workers declined nearly a fifth. Part of the shift was undoubtedly related to a 
change in status of farmers' sons who had been paid wages during more 
prosperous years but became unpaid workers during the depression. Also many 
sons and other relatives returned to the farm after losing their jobs in cities. 
There was a tendency to lay off hired workers and utilize the help furnished by 
the unemployed sons and brothers. 

For the country as a whole, therse figures show remarkable stability of em- 
ployment in agriculture for the 30-year period. This stability was made pos- 
sible by the increase in labor efficiency which was just about equal to the grow- 
ing demand for farm products. In individual areas, however, there were some 
pronounced changes. 

In the corn area total farm employment declined nearly three-fourths of 1 
percent per year from 1909 to 1934 and departed but little from this trend. 
The trends for familv and for hired workers, however, differ. The average num- 
ber of family workers declined from 1,166.000 in 1909 to 920,000 in 1928, but 
afterward increased to 970,000 in 1935. Hired workers fell only 9 percent 
in the first half of the period, recovered halfway by 1926, and then dropped 
from 393,000 in 1926 to 250.000 in 1934. 

The two dairy areas followed different trends. In the eastern dairy area 
there was a decline of about one-fourth from 1909 to 1930. with family workers 
and hired workers decreasing about equally, while employment in the growing 
Avestern dairy area was nearly the same at th(> end of the period .-is at the 
beginning. Also there was a decline in the number of family workers in this 
area and an increase in the number of hired workers. 

In the middle eastern area agricultural employment fell about 15 percent 
from 2.1 million persons in 1909 to 1.8 million in 1930. There was a very 
gradual decline until 1916 and then a rapid one during the war. Following 
a slight recovery in 1920, a new decline of about 1 percent a year occurred 
from 1922 to 1930 while persf)ns from this area were drawn into industrial 
emplovment. With the depression, however, the movement was reversed until 
1935. ' 


Table 1. — Annual average of nuniber of persons employed on first of each month,^ 

by areas 















12, 209 











1910 - 

12, 146 





1, 739 






1911 - 


1, 537 










1912 - 

12, 038 




2, 065 








12, 033 

1, 525 















2, 050 

1, 709 

1, 330 











1, 704 

1, 325 






12, 016 





























1, 607 


1, 161 





11, 106 























1931 _. 













11, 443 













1, 358 




1, 539 




















1, 356 















1, 885 




















11, 295 







1, 259 

















11, 173 













1, 255 



1, 830 








] 1, 069 
























10, 852 












11, 172 












10, 997 












10, 830 












10, 745 












10, 629 











1 Eldon E. Shaw and John A. Hopkins, Trends in Employment in Agriculture, 1909-36 (W. P. A. Nationa 
Research Project, Report No. A-8, November 1938). Data for 1937 to 1939 from Bureau of Agncultura 

The three cotton areas also followed individual trends. In the eastern area 
there was an almost continuous decline from 1,750,000 persons employed in 
1909 to 1,408,000 in 1929, as the boll weevil and deterioration of the land in- 
creased the economic pressure on persons engaged in farming. Incidentally, 
the decline during this period of 20 years was entirely in family workers and 
the number of hired workers was practically the same in 1929 as in 1909. In 
the delta cotton area a decline of 12 percent occurred in the first decade, and 
then there was an increase during the second decade while farming expanded, 
particularly in the bottom lands. Until 1919 the decrease in employment occurred 
chiefly in hired workers, while the expansion of the twenties was in family 
workers, with hired workers declining still more. The greater part of the 
growth of agriculture here took the form of settlement of new family farms 
rather than expansion of operations on the large plantations. 

Employment in the western cotton area declined from 1,227,000 in 1916 to 
1,139,000 in 1919 and then increased to 1,280,000 in 1929 as cotton and wheat 
production was expanded in the we.stern sections. Unlike the cotton areas to 
the east, hired workers in this area increased about a quarter in number during 
these two decades. 

After 1929 the contraction in employment in all three of the cotton areas 
hit the hired workers much harder than family workers. Numbers of the latter 
changed very little, while hired workers declined 14 to 30 percent in the different 

The small-grain area is the one in which mechanization has made the greatest 
advance, but it has also seen a pronounced growth both of crop acreages and 
of livestock production. From 1909 to 1923 the number of family workers in 
the area declined onlv from OID.OOO to 598,000 while hired workers increased 
from 182.000 to 210,000. From 1929 to 1936 with the A. A. A. programs reducing 
the acreages of croi)S planted and with destructive droughts resulting in partial 
or complete crop failures in many sections, the trends of employment were quite 
different from those prior to 1929. In these 6 years the number of family 


workers increased slightly, while the number of workers hired for pay declined 
a third to 130,000. 

Employment in the range area and in the northwestern area increased a 
quarter from 1909 to 1029, with both family and hired workers rising. The 
largest increase occurred in California where total employment rose almost 
one-half during this period of 20 years. 

With an increase of slightly over 40 percent in the population of the United 
States from 1909 to 1939, we might have expected something like a propor- 
tionate increase in employment in agriculture had it not been for the improve- 
ment in farming methods. Actually, only 1 i)erson was employed in agriculture 
for each 12.4 persons in 1939 as compared to 1 person for each 7.G persons in 
1909. Had it l)een necessary to employ as large a proportion of workers in 1939 
as 30 years earlier the number of farm workers in 1939 would have been over 
17 million, or 6.5 million more than were actually employed. 


We may well raise the question here whether the technological improvement 
and the displacement of some workers brought higher pay or shorter hours to 
those who remained. Regarding wages, the following figures give us some 
interesting evidence : 


weekly factory 

earnings ' 

Monthly farm 

wages without 

board ^ 


$25. 51 

$43. 91 

1 Estimated weekly factory earnings, from U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

2 Monthly farm wages from Agricultural Statistics, 1939, p. 506. 

It will be noted that farm wages were decidedly lower than factory wages 
(although, of course, the buying power of the farm worker's dollar is somewhat 
higher than that of his city cousin). It will also be observed that farm wages 
have been declining relative to factory wages. In 1921-29 the average wage per 
month for farm workers was equal to factory wages for 1.72 weeks ; in 1935-89 
a month's farm wages were equal to only 1.47 week's factory wages. 

Regarding working hours, data collected by the National Research project 
in 1936 showed the full farm workday during the spring, summer, and fail to 
run from 11 to slightly over 12 in northern areas and between 10 and 11 in 
the eastern and Delta cotton regions for farm operators. For hired workers 
the corresponding hours ran between 10.5 and 12.3 for the various areas. In 
winter the working hours were considerably shorter but there were also fewer 
persons employed. 

A comparison with data collected earlier by other agencies points to the 
conelusiuu that there has been some reduction in the length of farm workday 
since 1910, but it is not possible to tell just what this amounts to. Farm-cost 
accounting studies conducted in various northern States have shown from 
2,700 to 3.300 hours per worker per year and. although it is hard to compare 
figures which come from different States in different years, no very pronounced 
decline is apparent. It seems improbable that the decline since 1910 has been 
as much as an hour a day on the average.^ 

3 Data on hours per workday for 10.36 were obtained in the field survey of the National 
Research project. These are confirmed by estimates of the Agricultural Marketing Service 
for September 1 and December 1. U)"9, and March 1. 1040. Data for earlier years were 
obtained from various studies of State agricultural experiment stations and of the United 
States Department of Agriculture. The following may be mentioned in particular: 
U S D A. Bulletin 528, p. 8 (1017), New York State Department of Farms and Markets, 
Bull. 164, pp. 20. 28, .S3: U. S. D. A. Yearbook of Agriculture 1026. pp. 7S,">~7sr. ; Missouri 
Agri. Exp. Sta., Bull. 125 (191!">), informalion on length of farm workday in certain coun- 
ties of Minnesota in various years from 1002-:'.! were obtained from an unpublished thesis 
by George A. Sallee. Recent information for Illinois was published in Illinois Farm Eco- 
nomics, Univ. of 111. (April and May 1030), pp. 242-243. Unpublished information was 
also made available by the agricultural economics departments of the University of Illinois, 
Iowa State College, and Cornell University. 


WluTc iiu'chaiiical power is adopted, it is a common obsorvation tliat the 
farmer worlds loiij;er lionrs tliaii before at eritical ])eri(ids of tlie year i)ut then 
puts in fewer days. In sections where livestoelc prodnction. particnlarly dairy- 
iuii has been expandinj;. tlie number of hours worlced per man per year has 
often increased. The nilll< cows require a large amount of worlc during the 
winter season and make for more complete utilization of labor througliout the 
year, though not necessarily an increase in the number of hours per day in 
the busy seasons. Thus the farm worker in northern areas continues to work 
something like fiS hours per week as an average for the entire year, in con- 
trast to the 40- to 44-hour week of other industries. In southern areas, where 
tliere are livestock to care for the av(>rage will run lower for the y(>ar as a 
whole, though hours per day apparently do not differ much from northern areas 
during the crop-growing season. 


The changes in farming methods that have affected employement may be classi- 
fied into two groups; those that increase or decrease the amount of labor re- 
quired per acre of land or per head of livestock, and those that lead to an increase 
or a decrease in the yield per acre or per head. In crop production, the former 
have been of greater importance in the last 30 years, while in livestock pro- 
duction the more outstanding change.s have been related to the amount of pro- 
duction per head, and there has apparently been but little change in the amount 
of direct labor per animal. 

Mechanisation on farms. — The most obvioiis changes in farm technology have 
been associated with mechanization : that is, with the adoption of mechanical 
power and of implements with greater capacity. The adoption of tractors instead 
of horses on farms has received wide publicity and in fact has probably been the 
largest single influence in reducing the amount of labor needed on farms. The 
adoption of automobiles and of trucks on farms has not been far behind. These 
have greatly reduced the amount of time needed in hauling as well as in making 
trips from farm to town. Their effects, however, extend further th'in tliis. in 
the first place, farm people now travel much more and much farther than they 
did before the advent of the auto-mobile. In the second place the auto and the 
truck have done much to extend the radius within which the farmer buys or sells. 

A consequence of the application of mechanical power to the farm is seen in a 
great displacement of horses and this has not only reduced farm labor require- 
ments but has also permitted the shifting of feeds to the production of meat, milk, 
or eggs. I shall return to this a little later on. 

Another phase of mechanization is connected with changes in design or size of 
farm implements. Tractor implements are generally larger than horse-drawn 
implements. But even where horses are still used, they are likely to be found in 
larger teams and drawing larger machines than they did 20 or 30 years ago. And 
finally several new machines have been develc^qied for farm use, while others which 
were available before 1910 have been modified to suit a wider range of conditions 
and have been introduced into new areas. Among new machines may be men- 
tioned the vertical disk plow, and the duck-foo*- cultivator, used largely in the 
semiarid areas, and the pick-up hay baler, and field ensilage cutter now used to 
some extent in midwestern and eastern sections ps well. Another highly imnor- 
tant new machine is the mechanical corn picker which within the last 3 or 4 years 
has displaced much hand labor in the Corn Belt and reduces labor requirements 
b.v 2 to 3 hours per acre. Among machines introduced into new areas, the oiit- 
standing example is the combined harvester-thresher. This was alreadv an old 
machine long before 1909. Indeed a machine of this type was used in Michigan 
in 1837, and in California in 1S.')4, although its general adoption did not begin 
until many years later. Within the last decade the wide and rapid sjiread of the 
combine has been related to' its reduction in size so that it fits the requirements 
of smaller, diversified type of farms. It is estimated that the combine saves, on 
an average, around 3 hours jx'r acre in harvesting and threshing small grain: but, 
of course, the exact saving depends on the size of machine, the size of field in 
which it is used and on other conditions as well. 

ImprovcmentK in crop production nicfhoils. — The main effect of mechanization 
has been to reduce the direct labor \ised on crops per acre, although there have 
also been other indirect results. Changes in methods of crop production, however, 
have most often been related to the yield per acre rather than to the labor per acre. 
The development of improved varieties has been highly important. In the first 


place, there have been notable increases in yielding ability of some crops. Among 
these may be mentioned the recent development of hybrid seed corn which has 
spread with amazinj; rapidity in recent years until it was estimated that 61) per- 
cent of the acreajie planted in cdrn in (be corn area in lO.SO was planted t<» hybrid 
seed, according t(.- the Agricnltnral Marketing Service. It has been estimated that 
hybrid seed may result in an of yield of as much as 20 percent in this 
area by 1945, amounting to a (5 to S percent incrca-se in the national production.^ 

Between 1901> and 1934, 91 n(>w varieties of wheat wer(> introduced into this 
country, either from other countries or by selection or hybridization. They occu- 
pied 52 percent (,f the wheat acreage in the latter year, and were estimated to 
have a iwtential yield increas<> of 9.2 percent over standard varieties with which 
they were compared at time of introduction. This amounts to about 40,000.000 
bushels. Because of loss of soil productivity, erosion, etc., however, no such in- 
crease in the reported yields have been apparent but it is safe to say that there 
would have been an appreciable^ decline had it not l>een for this improvement in 
wheat varieties. Development of new osits varieties were somewhat similar in 
direction and effect to the improvement of wheat varieties. 

Changes in cotton varieties since 1909 have been quite pronounced. In the 
first place, most of the older, long-season cotton varieties were lost because of 
the boll weevil, and were replaced by short-season and generally inferior varie- 
ties. But since the weevil invasion the cotton-breeding activities of the United 
States Department of Agriculture and of the State experiment stations have 
resulted in development of new improved varieties. These have not only 
bi-ought better yields, but also longer staple in recent years. 

It should Ije remembered that increase in yields is not tlie only purpose of 
plant l)reeding. Improvement of quality, or of ability to stand shipment is 
often highly important, and so is resistance to diseases such as black-stem rust 
of wheat, curly top of sugar beets, and so on. Thus it should be realized that 
by no means all technological changes in agriculture lead to a displacement of 
labor. Some are necessary in order to maintain the previous rate of production 
in the face of soil depletion, erosion, and plant pests or diseases. 

Mention should be made of the development of new methods of soil manage- 
ment. The use of green-manure crops, which has been spreading during the 
last 2 or 3 decades, and the use of improved fertilizers have contributed to 
greater crop production per hour of labor. Recent discoveries regarding the 
proper placement of fertilizer relative to the location of the seed also pomises 
to increase yields of some crops to an appreciable degree without extra labor 
or expense. 

On the other hand, growing concern about the damage done by soil erosion 
has led or is leading to widespread adoption of such soil-conservation practices 
as terracing and contour farming. Adoption of these practices requires a large 
investment, particularly of labor, and in most cases does not promise corre- 
sponding increases in production over present yields. Rather these additional 
amounts of labor are required to maintain production and avoid serious declines 
in the future. 

Finally there have been important discoveries and changes in methods of 
combatting crop diseases and pests, as already suggested. Outbreaks of dis- 
eases or of insect pests such as the cotton boll weevil, the Japanese beetle, or 
the European corn borer are often quite unpredictable l)ut cause great loss in 
crop production and years of research are sometimes required to discover 
methods of control. This again represents a type of technological change that 
does little more than maintain previous production rates. 

Iniprovemctits iu methods of livestock production.— Chnnffes in the technology 
of farm production have not l>een confined to crops, but have also extended to 
livestock. Most of the improvements here have been concerned with the effi- 
ciency with which feed is converted into meat, milk, or eggs rather than with 
the amounts of laboi- used per animal. Changes of this type also affect total 
farm-labor recpiii-ements. Whatever reduces the amount of feed required to 
produce 100 pounds of pork or of milk, however, reduces in the same proportion 
the amount of labor needed to produce the feed. Consequently dianges of this 
type affect total farm-labor requirements no less than would labor-saving 
methods of growing the corn or other feed crops. 

Improvements in livestock production methods have been pronounced in three 
directions; the breeding of improved and more productive animals, discoveries in 

♦Report of the Secretary of Agriculture, 1938, p. 


animal mitritidii. and improved in<>tliods of (•()ml)atiiif,' animal diseases. A large 
degree of progress toward eradication of bovine tnhen-nlosis and a high degree 
of control of hog cholera may he mentioned as examjiles of disease control. As 
examples of nntritional improvements we may mention recent discoveries regard- 
ing the functions of vitamines in the animal ration and discoveries regarding 
requirements of protein supplements and of mineral feeds. As a result of these 
discoveries plus the imjirovement in animal breeding it is estimated that pro- 
duction of milk per c-ow rose 11 percent from lDl>f>-]8 to 19.32-8(i. In the mean- 
time direct labor per milk cow increased only 4 percent, and when the more 
efficient use of feed by the higher producing cows is taken into account, we find 
that the total labor needed to raise the feed and care for the cattle declined 
about 7 percent per 1,000 pounds of milk. 

In the production of poultry products and of hogs there have also been notable 
improvements in efficiency of prcsduction which have reduced the total amount of 
labor needed to produce the Nation's food. 

From this relatively incomplete list we see that there are many different t.vpes 
of changes in farm technology. Not all of them lead to reductions in employ- 
ment. Some are necessary to avoid disease losses or wastage of land or other 
resources. But the general effect is to bring about increased economy of farm 
production, and this applies to the use of labor as well as of other resources. 

To what extent have these improvements affected the requirements of labor on 
farms since lil09? First, some estimates may be given of the effect of adoption of 
mechanical power, which has been the most important single technological in- 
fluence on farm employment. Second, I shall present estimates on the changes 
in labor requirements in production of selected major crops and livestock prodtict, 
and third, we shall see what has been the trend in the over-all efficienc.v of farm 
labor and whether the estimates are consistent with the trends in employment 
that have actually occurred. 


AdoiJtio)! of ffirni irarlors. — The rapid adoption of farm tractors powered by 
internal combustion engines did not begin until 1918, under the stimulation of 
scarce labor and high wages during the European war. This phase of adoption 
referred to the standard tir 4-wheeled tractor and affected chiefly the larger 
farms, notably in the small-grain belt and the Corn Belt. A second phase of 
adoption began in the middle of the l!)20's when a light row-crop or all-purpose 
type of tractor become available and permitted general use of the tractor in 
cultivating intertilled crops. In 1038 it was estimated that there were around 
1.3 million tractors on farms in the United States, or about one for each five 
farms. In the corn area there is more than one tractor for each two farms. 

It is needless to point out that throughout the period of tractor adoption there 
has been an almost continuous improvement in the tractor itself. Ignition sys- 
tems, fuel injection, and cooling systems have been modified, and improved bear- 
ings have been adopted to increase dependability and lengthen the life of the 
machine. Adoption of pneumatic tires within the last few years has had the 
same effect and has resulted in a material saving of fuel per horsepower hour. 
Further, the development of the power take-off permits some work to be done 
mechanically that could not be before. In short, the tractor has not only been 
improved, but has also been modified to meet the requirements of the farm to 
a much greater extent than the farm has been changed to conform to the tractor. 
Particularly notable at the present time is the availability of smaller models of 
tractors, suitable to use on small farms. These may well affect employment in 
the South and in the eastern dairy area during the next decade or so. 

Further, is was found in the National Research Project study that tractors 
are used by a larger percentage of younger than of older farmers. As older 
men are replaced by younger ones who are more machinery conscious the number 
of tractors may be expected to increase further. 

SariiKj ill hihor in field operations. — The adoption of the tractor has brought 
savings of labor in three principal directions. First, there has been an increase 
in performance per worker because of the greater working width of tractor im- 
plements compared with horse-drawn ones. Second, present-day tractors move 
faster than horses. Third, there has been a saving of labor formerly used in 
growing feed for horses and in taking care of horses and colts. 

On the conservative assunqition of 1.3 million tractors operated on fai'ms in 
1988 for an average of thirty 10-hour days per year, and with an average increase 
of 50 percent in work done per hour over the horse-drawn units replaced, the 


reduction in farm requirements in field work would amount to 150 man-hours 
per tractor, or a total of 105.000,01)0 man-liours per year. Moreover, a.s older 
tractors still on farms are replaced by newer and taster models, the saving will 
increase further; perhaps as much as a third «>f the l!)n,()O0,00O man-hours just 
mentioned. Tractor adoption has also had other important effects on employ- 
ment which will be mentioned a little later. 

Adoption of automohiles and trucks on /or/».<J.— Althoush we hear much more 
about the adoption of the tractor, automobiles and trucks have been scarcely less 
important in their effects on farm employment. Almost all the adoption of these 
motor vehicles also occurred l.eiwtvn IDOO and W30. By the latter year there 
were over 4,000.000 automobiles and 1)00.000 trucks on farms. The nimiber of 
farm trucks now is probably not far from a million. Since the automobile is 
used both for business and for personal purposes, it is difficult to estimate its 
effects on employment. , . , 

It may be estimated, conservatively, that the 5,000.000 farm motor vehicles 
travel an average of about 4,000 miles per year. At a speed of 20 miles per hour 
this would require 1,000,000,000 hours. If the same amount of transportation 
were accomplished with horses at a speed of 4 miles per hour, oper- 
ator hours would be required, a difference of 4.01 iO.OOO.OOa hours. However, no 
such amount of transportation would probably be utilized by farm people if they 
had to depend on horses. In other words, farmers enjoy the advantages of far 
more travel and transportation than before the coming of the automobile. 

Displacement of farm horses.— It is estimated that about half the displacement 
of horses that occurred up to 1936 was to be attributed to the tractor and half 
to the automobile and truck. In 1016 there were nearly '27,000.000 horses and 
mules on farms in the United States, of which just over 20.tiOO.(XlO were of work- 
ing age. By 1938 the total number of horses and mules had declined to 15.4 
millions, while the number of work horses was down to 13.1 millions. 

It has been customary to use this absolute decrease in number of horses as 
the measure of displacement caused by tractor, truck, and automobile. A more 
logical approach, however, is through the change in ratio of work animals to 
acres in crops. During 1909-13 there was an average of 1 work to each 
16 5 acres of crops. The difference between actual number of horses in the 
country in 1938 and the number that would have been required at the rate of 1 
horse to each 16 5 acres of crops amounted to approximately 7.6 million head of 
work horses.' From various data it seems likely that about half the displacement 
throu"-h 1935 or 2.8 millions sliould be attributed to the automobile and truck and 
the other half to the tractor. Most of the reduction since that year is attributable 
to the tractor At thix I'atc oisnla -ement by the tractor would amount to 4.8 
million work horses, or 3 horses per tractor and to 0.6 horses per automobile or 
truck on farms. With the displacement of 7.6 million work horses is assocuited, 
between 1909 and 1938, a decrease of about 1.9 million head of colts under 3 
years of age, needed for replacements. 

Various farm-management siudies have indicated that about 70 hours per year 
are required to feed and care for a horse. IMuch less time, rehitively, is needed to 
service and repair the tractor. It is estimated that there is a saving of about 50 
"hours per year in the labor required to care for the farm-power outfit for each displaced bv these mechanical power units. At this rate, the displact>ment 
of work horses has resulted in a reduction in farm labor needed to care for the 
combined farm-power units of about 380.000.000 man-hours. The reduction m 
number of workers, however, is relatively much less because a large part of the 
labor on horses is spent during the winter season wlien there is a surplus of labor 
on most farms anyhow. ,. . , . * 

In addition to the above, there has been a dechiie m the average number ot 
hours spent on the remaining horses. With tiactors performing nuich of the 
heavier work such as plowing and disking, the remaining have been fed 
less heavily and have been supported to a larger degree on pasture. Man labor 
per horse has declined about 11 hours since 1909. a total of 145.(iC0.()(lO man- 
hours on the 13.1 million horses retained in li)38. To this should al.^o be added 

6See N R P Ronort A-9, "Changos in Farm Powor and K<inipm<-nt : Tractors. Trucks 
and Automobiles." pp. G2-6:>,. for estimates of lal.or savcl on lanns ';>-';f!' ;''•';";;;" ^.^^ 
horses through 103.5. The estimates given have are comiiuted by the same nictboil but are 
brought up through 1938 on the basis of data from the Bureau of Agricultural Economics 
on recent numbers of horses. 

200370 — 41— pt. 4 13 


ii saviiiK of about (!.'>,( MM »,()(!( ) niau-lionrs foi iiicrly needed in cariiifj for l.f) million: 
foils needed for reitlacenienls. 

Shiftiiif/ feed from /io/' to oilier lircxtock. — In si)if(> of tlie sizable savinj; in 
farm-labor requirements just discussed, the most far-reaching inlluence of farm 
mechanization has come from I he shifting of land and laboi- from production 
of feed for horses to production of feed for other livestock or of food for diiect. 
human consumption. It is estimated tliat the reduction in work horses, plus 
reduction in colts and the lighter feeding of remainins; horses taken together have 
released approximately 8H,<l(M>.(HM) acres of crop land for other purposes. To this 
should be added about half as many acres of pasture. The^ ,S8,tK)(),(MlO acres of 
crop land is enough, if planted in crops suitable for human consumption, to 
support about l(),(HlO,(iO0 people." This shifting of land and feed undoubtodly had 
a strong intlueiice in preventing the Nation's food costs from rising as nnich as 
they would otherwise have done with the increase in i)()i)idation since l!Mt9. 

The labor released from the production of horse feed has been dlfset by url)an 
labor requirements in the production of the tractors and automobiles which re- 
place the horses. We shall return to this a little later. 

Total reduction in farm labor re(/iiircnicntf< from farm automotive equipment. — 
The estimates of farm labor saved by adoption of tractors, trucks, and auto- 
mobiles from 1909 through 1938 may be summarized as follows: 

Millions of 
Cause of reduction : hours saved 

Adoption of tractor for field worlv 195 

Saving in maintenance of power plant through displacement of horses — 380 

Reduction in (-are of remaining horses 145 

Reduction in labor needed to raise colts for replacements 65 

Total reductif)n in farm labor exclusive of time saved in transpor- 
tation 785 

Labor shifted from production of horse feed 530 

Grand total 1. 315 

If we assume that the average full-time farm worker puts in 3,000 hours per 
year, this reduction in farm-labor requirements is equivalent to above 440,(00 
persons. The actual reduction in employment, however, was probably much 
smaller, since as already mentioned, much of the work on is required in 
slack seasons. The reduction in labor in producing horse feed did not represent 
a decline in employment but rather a shift to other products on the farm. Fur- 
ther, part of the reduction on the farm was offset b.v increases in labor required 
to manufacture and service autos and tractors in urban areas. 

Shiftivfj of labor from farms to urba}i areas. — There is no way to determine 
.iust what total amount of labor is spent in manufacturing fai"m automotive 
equipment and in producing fuel, lubricants, tires, and so on for their operation. 
Indeed, not all the labor required in such production is used in urban areas. 
Cotton, mohair, and solvents for paints and lacquers are produced partly or 
whollv on farms. It has been estimated that such materials reijuired in 1935 a 
total (^f 20,000,000 or 25,0(10,000 man-hours of farm labor. 

It may be estimated, roughly, that SO percent of the retail price of automobiles 
and tractors consists of wages paid at some stage of their production, and 
that the average wage rate is not far from GO cents per hour. If we assume, 
further, that the average retail price of a tractor is about $900 and that its 
average life is 8 years, tractor replacements would require about 195,000,000" 
man-hours per year. Not all of the labor spent in making tractors can be 
charged against field work. About 10 p(>rcent of the tractor use is for belt 
w<n-k which would otherwise have to be done l)y other types of mechanical 
power. If we deduct 10 percent of the 195,000,000 man-hours on this account 
we have 175,000,000 man-hours per year as the time re(piii-ed to manufacture 
the annual replacements to do fi(4d work. Following the same method of 
estimation we obtain the following figures for amounts of labor needed to 
produce replacements, fuel, repairs, etc., for farm tractors, trucks, and 

* O. E. Balder estimates the por capita requii-ement at about 2 acres. See Ajrriciiltural 
I.ianrt Roquireineiifs and Resources, Supplementary Report of the Land Planning Connnittcc 
to the National Resources Board, pt. 3 (1935), p. 3. 


Million hours 

To manufacture replaeomeuts for tractors 17"» 

Production of tractor fuel, reiiairs, etc 1''''^ 

Total for 1.:! luilliou tractors •■^45 

To manufacture auto and truck rci»laienK'nts__. 
Fuel and oil 



Kopair.s -^^O 

Total for 5.<)<l0,00t) autos and trucks 1. HO 

For the country as a whole the shift from horses to tractors has clearly 
meant a reduction in the total amount of lahor required. To the lOo.OOO.OOO 
hours saved in field work we may add about 370.000.000 hoiu-s of the 590.- 
(MM).OOO reduction in care of horses and colts: a total of uOo.OOO.OOO hours 
a^-ainst an estimated re.iuirement of 345,000,0(10 hours needed to produce, fuel, 
and repair the tractois. In addition to this, the shifting of labor from 
horse feed to other purposes that may be credited to the tractor appears to be 
about 335.00t).000 hours, bringing the total saving to 505,000.000 man-hours. 

The adoption of autos and trucks resulted in a reduction of labor needed 
to care for horses and colts of 245.000,000 man-hours, plus 105,000,000 shifted 
fnmi horse feed production to other uses, a total of 440.000,000 hours saved 
on farms. But this must be compared with l.llO.OOD.OOO man-hours needed to 
produce autos. fuel, tires, and so on. leaving a debit balance of 6TO,000,(M)0 
man-hours to be charged against the greater amount of transportation enjoyed 
l)y farm people with automobiles over that furnished by horses, or shifted 
fi-oni railroads to farm motor vehicles. 

It should be pointed out that the figures presented in the last two pages 
do not represent the entire shift of labor from farms to cities. An important, 
but uidiuown, part of the relative decline in employment on farms is to be 
attributed to the partial shifting to urban areas of such operations as butter 
making, slaughtering of meat animals, miiimfacture and repair of farm tools 
and smaller implements, and of various marketing or processing operations. 


Estimates of the changes in labor requirements per acre of leading crops 
and per head of principal types of livestock have been prepared by the National 
Research Project. The large mass of already existing data collected in the 
course of various farm management studies since 190!) were utilized and 
current data were obtained for comparison by means of a field study of 
over 4.000 farms in 1936. 

There has been a reduction in the average amount of labor used per acre 
of each of the three croi)S — corn, wheat, and cotton — which are to be discus.sed. 
But there have been wide differences between areas and we need to be very 
careful about generalizing. Usually the greatei- reductions were made in the 
areas of specialization in each .specific crop. On farms i)roducing large acreages 
of a given crop more attention has been given to development and adoption 
of labor-saving methods than where that crop is a side line. Also the farm 
with a large acreage can best afford large capacity or specialized equipment. 

Among nonmechanical infiuences. an important influence on hours per acre 
has been the shifting of acreage from areas where labor re(piirements are high 
to Others where they are low. In cotton production this has been particularly 
important with the shifting of ;u-reagc to the western cotton area. 

Cliiinf/cx ill htlxii- let/iiin incuts in coin production. — Corn illustrates well the 
difiiculty in generalizing alxtut the h(turs recpiired to produce an acre or a 
bushel of crop. It may be harvested for grain, for silage, or for fodder. 
Even if intended for grain various methods are used in growing and in 
harvesting, with different sized outfits and varying amounts of hand labor. 
In the southern part of the small grain area in 193(J corn was grown and 
harvested f(u- grain with an average of (5 hours of man-labor i)er acre. At the 
other extreme. 33.5 hours were used in the Delta ci>tton area. In the various 
sectiims of the corn area, average re(iuirenients varied from 11 to 17 hours. 

Since 1909 it is estimated that the average inunber of hours used in produc- 
ing an acre of corn declined from 2S.7 |o 21^.5 ..r L'2 percent. This may b.^ 



soen in table 2. Tho relative decline was rather uniform in the corn, small 
gi-ain, ilairy, and western cotton areas. In the middle eastern, eastern cotton, 
and Delta cotton areas, however, the decline was only 8 to 12 percent. About 
one-tifth of the decline in hours per acre is to be attributed to the shift in 
acreasf' from hi^h labor to low labor areas. The decrease in hours spent per 
100 bushels of corn was somewhat smaller than that per acre, largely because 
of low yields in some of the recent year.s. 

Table 2 — Total labor used in producing corn in major areas of the United States, 








































.33. 6 









































1932-36 < 





2, 354 












1932-36 3 


1 5-year average acreages and yields computed from L. K. Macy and others, Changes in Technology and 
Labor Rerjuirements inCrop Production: Corn (Work Projects Administration National Research Project 
Report No. A-5. June 1938) appendix A. 

8 Estimates based on former labor requirement studies and the National Research Project farm survey 
data. More detailed data for areas and for principal corn-growing States are shown in ibid., appendixes O 
and H. 

3 Based on 1927-31 acreage, to eliminate as far as possible the effect of drought and Agricultural Adjust- 
ment Administration program. 

< Based on 1927-31 average yield, to eliminate efifect of drought during the years 1932-36. 

The total amount of labor used in raising this crop declined by 544,000,000 hours 
per year between 190^1-13 and 1927-31 and there was a further decline of 78,- 
<XK),()00 hours by 1932-3f>. The total reduction is equivalent to about 2(X),000 man- 
years when taken at 3,000 hours per year. The number of persons affected, how- 
ever, was probably greater than this because the saving in labor occurred during 
the peak seasons of the farm year. Further, the loss of employment fell most 
heavily on hired laborers who are employed for only part of the year to help out 
in the seasons. 

Of the loss in employment between 1!)00-13 and 1927-31, slightly more than 
one-fourth occurred in the com area, where the total hours on the crop declined 
by 20 percent. In this area the reduction in labor on corn has been closely re- 
lated to mechanization. Relatively large corn acreage per farm, and large, 


eeutlv rolling fields provide conditions favorable to mechanization Until re- 
ceutlv. however, a man could raise and cultivate more c(un witli avaihil.le equip- 
ment than he could harvest. Hence th(> need for extra hands at c.prn-pickmg 
time. This situation has been cliaufjed recently witli the spread of ^''*' '"W'^'ini- 
cal corn picker. Data fr..m assessors' reports sliow tliat tliere were 20,(KMJ corn 
pickers in Iowa at tlie end of 1!>:}9 with 2U),m> farms. Since most of those are 
used on more tlian 1 farm, and particularly on tlie larger farms they have re- 
moved most of the need for extra hands at corn-picking time. Tins cliange has 
occurred chiefly within the last 5 or 6 years. ■-,,.■ .^^„ 

In tlie eastern dairv area and the middle eastern area corn is grown in relatnely 
small fields and on liillv land. Farms are smaller than in the corn area, anil are 
seldom able to afford large or specialized corn equipment. Thus labor require- 
ments in these areas will probal)ly remain considerably above those in the corn 
area In the cotton area the barriers to labor saving are even greater, with small 
farms, irregular-shaped fields, and low wages all making for large amounts of 
hand labor. On the larger farms, however, a shift to larger equipment is under 
way Further, small-sized, general-purpose tractors are extending the range withui 
which such labor saving is likely to occur during the next decade or so 

The most striking technological change affecting corn production has been the 
adoption of hvbrid seed. This has occurred almost entirely within the past 
decade. According to the Agricultural Marketing Service 69 percent of the 
acreage of the corn area in 1939 was planted to hybrid seed. Preliminary figures 
for 1940 show that over 80 percent of the corn acreage of Iowa was m hybnds m 
1940 The percentage will probably run lower in other States, however, the 
effect of the hvbrid seed is to increase yields by 10 to 15 percent oyer the_ dis- 
placed open-pollinated varieties. Very little extra labor per acre is required. 
Hvbrids are not likelv to be adopted so rapidly elsewhere as m the corn area, thev are being planted. It is not unreasonable to ?JP<^t an in- 
crease of 6 to 8 percent in the national corn yield from use of hybrid seed in the 
next 5 to 10 years. This means more corn and cheaper corn ; the higher yield 
also lowers the cost per bushel. 

Chanoes in labor requirements in iclieat production.— Wheat profluction is par- 
ticularlv well adapted to mechanization, particularly where it is grown in large 
acreages Consequentlv labor requirements on this crop have declined sharply 
during the past 30 vears. Wheat, like corn, is grown under a wide range ot con- 
ditions which varv from the large, si^ecialized grain farm of the small gram area 
to small diversified farms in eastern States. In the latter case wheat is grown 
as one element in a rotation arid serves as a nurse crop for hay or grass crops. 
Widelv different methods and types of equipment are used in the various regions. 
Consequentlv, there are wide variations in the hours per acre or per bushel of 
wheat In "the western hard red winter wheat section, the national research 
proiect field studv of 193G found an average of 2.2 hours per acre on wheat, while 
in Lancaster Countv, Pa., 18.4 hours were used. Although yields per acre are 
higher in the latter" section, they are not nearly great enough to overcome this 
difference in labor requirements. , , «» , ^ , 

If we coml>ine all areas from the small-grain area to the West, we find an 
average of 10.0 hours per acre of wheat in the years 1909-13. By 1934-;-36 the 
average was only 4.2 hours, a decrease of 58 percent. East of the small-grain area 
an average of 16.8 hours were used per acre in the earlier period and 13.0 in the 
more recent one, a decline of 23 percent. 

In the western areas the largest decline in labor requirements on wheat have 
been caused by improvements in harvesting methods, chiefly by use of the com- 
bined harvester-thresher. But there were also important economies in the plant- 
ing operations from tlie adoption of vertical disk plows, duckfoot field cultivators, 
rotary rod weeders used on fallow land, and other new implements. Likewise, 
adoption of the tractor has permitted an increase in size of implements. _ 

In eastern areas acreages were not large enough for use of the combine until 
small models became available in the last few years. Even these can be used on 
but few farms in the eastern areas, though their use is iindoubtedly spreading. 
Most of the labor saving on wheat from the corn area to the East came from 
adoption of larger plows, disks, etc., which were available for use on other crops. 
Between 1909-13 and 1927-31 the total amount of labor used in iiroducing the 
country's wheat crop decreased by 33 percent, although acreage exiianded by a 
quarter. A further decline of 7 perc<Mit occurred from 1927-31 to 1934-36 even 
after allowing, as far as possible, for the effects of the droughts and the Agricul- 
tural Adjustment Administration programs. Of the total decline of 203,000,000 
man-hours in wheat production between 1909-13 and 1927-31, about four-fifths 



occurml in tlio smiill-firaiii, corn, jind western d.iirv areas. (Seo table 3 ) In the 
sniall-srain area there was a decrease of r,7,(MK).()i)() nian-honrs or 27 percent in 
spite of an expansion in a< lea^e ol almost a half. In the range area, where acreaee 
tripled, labor reiiuireinents increas(>d only by a (jiiarter. The c.)rn and western 
dairy areas experienced declines of G2.( )()(). 00(1 .uid 40,000,000 liours, respectively 
partly attributable to declines in acreajje. pt^i^meiy, 

Table 3. — Total labor on wheat 

Item aii(i year 

Acres harvested ■ (thou- 




Alan-hours required per 




Man-hours required on 
total acreage (thou- 





Wheat produced < (mil- 
lions of bushels): 




Man-hours required per 



1934-36 3.. . . 

48, 075 
61, 696 
60, 472 


608, 526 
637, 662 
405, 662 
.367, 313 



8, 930 


16. 4 22 

14.1 21.5 

12.0 18.3 

11.7 17.2 

q 0; 


11. 1 



146, 452 34, 663 66. 052 2, 624 
163. 560[37. 818.53, .568 3,912 
84,144122,838 25,996 1, 
82, 040 21, 466 24, 825 1, 868 















5, 450 


22, 593 
45, 780 
28, 704 



22, 158 
27. 439 
32. 561 


3, 440 



217.148 62.952 
200, 305 61. 074 
159. 549 37, 28' 
136, 756 35, 414 







0) 03 











3, 446 













12. .576132, 392 
20, 312|35. 104 
15, 672 23, 982 
15, 189 19, 910 







5, 522 



1 Based on table C-1, National Research Project Report A-10. 

2 Based on table C-1, National Research Project Report A-10. 

3 Based on 1927-31 acreage and production in order to eliminate the effects of the A. A. A. program and 

* Based on table C-3, National Research Project Report A-10. 

Source: Robert B. Elwood and others. Changes in Technology and Labor Requirements in Crop Pro- 
duction: Wheat and Oats, National Research Project Report A-10, table 24, p. 95. 

As with corn, the decline in number of persons employed was relatively 
greater than in the number of hours required, since the labor saving occiu-red 
in the peak sea.sons. In the small grain area the army of .><ea;sonal worke>-s who 
formerly followed the i^rain harvest northward during the summer was almost 
entirely displaced during the last two decades. 

Chanyea in labor rcqutrcmcnis in coflon production. — Mechanization has 
made much less progress in cotton production than with either corn or wheal 
There are two peak seasons when largo amounts of hand labor are needed. 
The first of these is in the spring and early summer when it is necessary to 
chop and hoe the cotton, and the sec(.nd is in the fall at cotton picking time. 
Both of these operations are especially difficult to mechanize. 

Between .sections of the Cotton Belt there are considerabh' variations in labor 
requirements per acre. In the National Research project field study of 1936 
it was found that approximatel.\ 131 hours were used per acre of "cotton on 
farms surveyed in the .Mississippi delta area as against 27 hours in the western 
.seniiarld area. Yields on the Delta farms, however, averaged 302 pounds of 
lint per acre as compared to 176 in the western ,><emiarid area. Higher yield in 
the Delta requires more labor for picking; also climatic conditions result in 
much greater weed growth. In the western area larger e(]uipment does much 
to reduce the number of hours, although the mechanizatit)n process is well 
started on Delta plantations also. 



For the Unitod States it is estimated that there was a K. percent h-Uu i n 
in hours per acre of cotton from T.IOT 11 to l!):!::-:56. This was caused partly by 
red ct on? w thin the individual rc^pons and partly by,' of acreage to 
ow Hb r irci- (See table 4.) The average labor per bale was estimated 
at 271 houi'^for the earlier period and at 218 hours iu 198:^36, a decrease of 
19 percent. 

TABLE 4—Estij>,<ttc(i hihor requirements for cotton production in major cotton 

areas, W09-3G' 

[Average per year] 

Item and year 

States 2 

Acres harvested < (thousands): 





Man-hours required per acre ': 




1933-36 ---"•," 

Man-hours required on total acreage (mil- 




1933-36 .---VV-f-V 

Cotton produced ♦ (thousands of bales) : 





Man-hours used per bale ': 





Major cotton-producing areas 

Eastern Middle Delta Western Irrigated' 

31, 759 
32, 655 
28, 410 




12, 332 
14, 658 


10, 483 


















14. 208 
19, 875 
13, 443 
















keting (when cotton was not sold at gin) are excluded from the estimates. 
J Includes all cotton-producmg States. _ 

^■t Hours are per acre harvested, but include estimated hours spent on abandoned acreage. See ibid., 
appendix E. 

r £WnVbairgrcss weight (includes bagging and ties and contains about 478 pounds lint). Labor 
on abandoned acreage is included. 

There has been relatively little change in hours per acre of cotton in the 
eastern of Delta cotton arJas. Principal variations have come from year to 
t-ear fluctuations in yield, which affects reanirements in P^;;^"yi\^^S resuSd 
ereatest decline occurred in the western cotton area Most of this resuuea 
from iise of larger equipment and more power, but there was also a re mve 
increase in acreage in the western part where labor requirements were lo^yest. 
"?Xr ;^or uSl in producing i cotton was f --^;;;;\,;;„i;^l'[;r\?J^• 
'^ qno 000 000 man-hours in 1907-11 as compared to 3.;)()0,00( .(UK) in !.)-< .^i. 
^TrfiSrrJ..""933-36 was a nnnr,..,- lower be<,uv,e ,, ,lnmB h. - H- A« ; 

culturnl Adjustment AtUttlinstiatH.,, 1""S^ >»'•_, JJ^n 1^ , ,l' l.J'7-3r ^ m! 
turner mnvements in Incllvl. iia nreas. ISetween ]1)»7-11 aid l.i-i "•''""" 
ncreaU dec?in«l 18 per.rnt in tlte eastern <"tton area and inoretlsed from .SO 
?o 60 i^rcent in tl,e tliiddle-eastern, Delta, and western eotton areas, tl.e largest 

'"'FTJmS'loT-^l'to'Tsi'l'Mthere was a ne, increase of l»f»i<!«;,„rt;-'",n"" 
fheSwaJ a decline of 384,000,000 man-hours in the eastern cotton area. The 



contraction in cotton production after 1081 lut the western, middle-eastern and 
eastern cotton areas liardest, witli acreajivs declininj; 4(i. 41. and M8 percent 
respectively, by 1!);5!). In the three Delta States the decline was :VA percent' 
while m the irrifjated sections (of which California is the most important)' 
there was actually an increase. 

Some furtlier reduction in the labor per acre in cotton prt.duction .seems 
likely within the next few years. In western areas meclianization is already 
well advanced and the process is under way in the Delta. On the smaller 
farms of the old cotton States adoption of larger equipment is more difficult 
but even here there are opportunities which are jn-etty sure to be taken ad- 
vantage of when alternative employment appears for the people now working in 
the cotton fields. *' 

Changes in Uvcsiock prodnctlon related to employmevt.—Uvestock produc- 
tion is, for the most part, much more difficult to mechanize than is crop pro- 
duction. It IS true that adoption of milking machines and litter carrier.s on 
larger dairy farms, and of self-feeders in hou' and steer feeding have helped 
reduce the labor needed for some operations. But the most important chan-es 
in livestock production have been related to the production i>-r head and ta 
teed consumption per unit of product rather than labor i)er animal These 
changes, however, affect the amounts of labor needed to produce livestock 
products for the Nation no less than would a direct reduction in labor ner 
cow, per hen, or per hog. Thus, feed reipiireinents for dairv cows can be 
divided into two parts; that needed for body maintenance and that required 
for milk production. Feed requirements rise more or less in proportion to milk 
production. But a cow which produces 6.000 pounds of milk per vear requires but 
httle more feed for body maintenance and but little more labor or shelter than 
does one which produces 3,0tX) pound.s. Consequentlv. the higher producing ani- 
mals are more efficient in use of feed as well as of labor. 

During the last 30 years there have been pronounced improvements in the 
output per milk cow and also in production by some other farm animals par- 
ticularly in egg production. Production per milk cow has risen approximately 
11 percent since 1909-13, while labor requirements are estimated to have in- 
creased only about 4 percent. Thus direct labor per 1,000 pounds of milk has 
declined some 6 or 7 percent. 

Dairy production is one of the few farm enterprises that ha.s expanded 
?nn^^^'X ^I^ *^^^ period we are considering. From 17.3 million cows milked in 
1909-13 there was an increase to 24.2 million in 1932-36. Hours i^er milk cow 
in the meantime increased from an estimated 135 to 140. Including labor 
spent in care of bulls and of replacement stock, the total labor .spent annually 
on the enterprise increased from 2.6 to 3.7 billion man-hours (See table 5) 
This great increase in labor requirements, however, has been accompanied by 
relatively little increase in number of persons emploved. Since dairying requires 
much work in winter, its expansion has brought "more complete utilization of 
available labor rather than the employment of a greater number of persons. 

Table 5.— Labor used on all dairy cattle, total and per 5,000 pounds of milk 

Hours on cows (millions) 

Raisiuf; ealvps and heifers (millions) .. . 

Care of bulls (millions) 

Total man-hours (millions) ' 

Milk production (million pounds) 

ITours ppr 5,000 pounds milk on all dairy cattle i 
Producing feed ^ __ 

Total hours 

Feed per 5,000 pounds milk (pounds) :« 

C oncon trate 

Dry roughages ___'_ 


Land to grow above feed per 5,666 pounds milk (acres) « 



65, 894 
















3, 378 




• From National Research Project Report (unpublished) Changes in Technology and Labor Require- 
SeogrJ'hed)" P'"°^^'=*'°°= Dairying by R. B. Elwood, A. A. Lewis and R A. Struble, table 25 
2 Ibid., table 27 (mimeographed). 


Some idea of the relative inuiovtaiice of tlie enterpi'ise may be obtained from 
tlie fact that, includiufr eare of rephicemeiit stocl< and of bulls, it provided nearly 
half again as nnieh eniplovnieiit as the eottou ero)) in 19:?2-8a. one and six-tenths 
times as nmeh as the corn crop, and over live times as much as the wheat and oats 
crops combined. Further, the («nterprise has expanded to a marked degree in the 
corn, small grain, range, and Pacific areas, where mechanization of crop produc- 
tion has reduced the need for labor on crops. 

It was mentioned above that higher production per cow has reduced to some 
extent the feed requirements per unit of product. This, however, has not been the 
only source of economy of feed. Recent discoveries in animal nutrition have also 
been of consequence. Not only dairy production but also poultry. h<ig. and beet 
oroduction have profited from discoveries regarding tlie animals' needs for pro- 
teins mineral elements, and for vitamins. It is not possible at present to estimate 
the influence of each tvpe of imiirovemeiit, hut in dairy production tlie combined 
results of better breeding and better feeding have reduced the land needed to 
produce feed per .^.000 pounds of milk from an estimated 4.34 acres to 3.99 acres, 
jind has reduced the labor needed to raise such feed by 1.9 hours. This amounts 
to 37.000,000 man-hours on the 1927-31 volume of milk. Similar economics have 
occurred in hog and in poultry production. 


How are the increases in labor efficiency on major enterprises related to the 
decline in farm emplovment? For the country as a whole the amount of labor 
required to grow an acre of corn declined 22 percent since 1909-13. For wheat the 
decline was 52 percent and on cotton it was 16 percent, while there was a slight 
increase in the labor per cow. In each case production per man-hour increased. 
Employment, however, has been affected not only by labor efficiency on these enter- 
prises, but also bv the combinations in which they were combined in the farm 
organization and bv the total demand for farm produce. 

Changes in orf/aiiiratioii of the farm.— li was previously said that such enter- 
prises as the dairy, which utilize labor in slack seasons, can often be enlarged or 
added to the farm without requiring added workers, bringing an increase m out- 
put per worker. On the other hand, there is much work about a farm, such as 
fence repairs, weed cutting, wood chopping, etc., that does not yield directly 
marketable products. This overhead labor probably amounts to about a third of 
the total work done on the average farm. Work of this kind has apparently 
declined less than the hours per acre of corn or wheat. 

Other causes for changes in employment are found in the increased acreage per 
farm on the one hand, and in development of intensive types of farming, such as 
vegetable farms, poultry farms, etc.. on the other. In some individual areas one of 
these influences has prevailed, and in some, another. For the country as a whole 
the"^ organization of the average farm has changed much less than is sometimes 
supposed The average farm in 1929 included about 13 percent more acres of 
crops than in 1909, and 10 percent more animal units. It utilized capital goods 
(i e excluding land) which at current prices were valued at about $1,000 more 
than'in 1909 But this overstates the actual change because price levels of farm 
equipment were higher in recent years. Physically, the present day capital goods 
differed from those in 1909 in that they included mechanical power units as 
well as horses, plus somewhat larger implements and a few additional implements. 
The labor element of the average farm had contracted by S percent between 
1909 and 1929 with most of the decline during the war, from 191G to 1919. 

It is noteworthy that the greater part of the shrinkage in employment per 
avera-e farm occurred in family labor and is related to the declining size of 
farm family Unpaid family workers per farm averaged 1.52 in 1909. as compared 
to 135 in 1929. and around 1.3 in 1939. Hired workers, on the other hand, re- 
mained practically unchanged from 1909 to 1929 at 0.46 to 0.48 per farm, and then 
declined during the depression to 0.38 during the 1930"s. , . . 

The number of farms in the country (if we exclude those providing only inci- 
dental employment) was almost the same in 1929 as in 1909. During the depres- 
sion however, there was a tendency to start part-time farms and to reoccupy 
abandoned farms in some areas. Consequently, the number increased about 5 
percent by 1935.' For the iieriod as a whole, there were increases in the Delta 

T See National Resources project report A-8, Trends in Employment in Agriculture— 
1909-36, by Eldon E. Shaw and John A. Hopkins, 1938, appendix B, pp. 93-1 lo. 



and western cotton areas, the western dairy area, the sniall-srain area, and rofjions 
to the west. In the eorn ari-a and to the east there was {jenerall.v a decline iu 
nnnihers of farms iip to 1S!2!» and then some recovery during; the dei)ressi(in. 

In Iowa it is interesting to note frcmi talde G that the numher of farms reported 
hy assessors has hi'cn ri'inarkahly stahle since 1!*:;."). This is trne, not only for 
the whole State, hnt for each crop reporting district. Ati exception, however, i& 
lliat small declines occnrred in the ronjiii. southern Iowa districts since 1934. 

Table 6. — Xionbcr of Iowa farms reported annuaUy hy assessors, by crop report- 
ing districts, 1925-39 ^ 













210, 899 

22, 771 


25, 901 

26, 018 


22, 733 

21, 260 

26, 198 

25, 935 

210, 108 

22, 657 


25, 844 

26, 021 


22, 764 

21, 003 


26, 170 

208, 506 


20, 962 

25, 746 

25, 967 

213, 993 

23, 087 

21, .544 

26, 322 

20, 565 

212, 246 


21, 430 

26, 286 

26, 367 


22, 708 


26, 203 

26, 364 

213, 769 

22, 863 

21, 562 

26, 225 

26, 614 

215, 167 

22, 966 


26, 481 

26, 658 


22, 959 

21, 483 

26, 320 

26, 525 



21, 526 

26. 185 


209. 737 

22. 691 


26, 038 

26, 094 

209, 709 

22, 740 

21, 288 

25, 945 

25, 924 

210, 343 


21, 382 

26, 086 

25, 966 


28, 277 
28, 154 
28, 018 

27, 863 

28, 380 
28, 620 
28, 100 
28, 058 
28, 183 
28, 387 

24, 352 
24, 180 
24, 037 

23, 797 

24, 525 
24, 237 
24, 226 
24, 327 
24, 616 
24, 458 
24, 271 
24, 022 
24, 254 


18, 637 
18, 582 
18, 580 
18, 488 

18, 387 

19, 103 

18. 766 

19, 157 
19, 243 
18, 874 
18, 492 
18, 482 
18, 441 


21, 399 
21, 024 
20, 942 

21, 513 

22, 055 
22, 063 
21, 731 
21, 563 
20, 855 


22, 901 
22, 429 
22, 526 
22, 171 
22, 707 
22, 392 
22, 424 
22, 438 
22, 927 
22, 621 
22, 549 
22, 038 
22, 12a 

1 Source "Iowa Crop and Livestock Statistics" and "Iowa Year Book of Agriculture", 1928-1940. 

Change in productivity per worker. — With the changes both in mechanical equip- 
ment and in methods, the average farm worker in 1929 was able to handle 2S 
percent more acres of crops and 18 percent more animal units than in 1909. The 
increase in output per worker during the 2H) years amounted to about 37 percent, 
but varied widely from year to year with the weather and the yield of crops. 
During the 193(rs it is harder to appraise the change in over-all labor efficiency 
because of severe drought losses in some years and because the Agricultural 
Adjustment Administration programs have kept down the output since 1934. 
That the increase in labor efficiency was by no means ended in 1929. however,, 
is shown by the fact that the index of output per farm worker (1924-29=100) for 
the 2 years 1937 and 193S averaged 116, as against 103 for 1929. It should be 
pointed out, however, that 1937 and 1938 were both excellent crop years. The 
improvement for the whole period varied from one area to another, as may be 
seen in table 7. The largest increases in labor productivity occurred in the 
western areas where mechanization and the development of intensive crop-produc- 
tion methods made the most progi'ess. At the other extreme, the eastern cotton 
area underwent the greatest decline in output per worker aftei- the end of the 
World War. This was caused by the spread of the boll weevil and was partly- 
regained later on. 



Tabi>e 1.— Indexes of production per worker, iy area, 1909-36^ 



1909 -- 
1913- . 


1920- . 


1923- . 












Ccm ern 















Middle! East- 
east- ern 
ern cotton 






































































. Obtained by dividing inde.xes of agricultural production by index^^^ 

^}r'SeT«.r^^«°ri!Kr?;2:f.0.V(W^^ no. A-6. imy 


The question mav well be raised: Who has prrfi'ed from improvements in 
farm techiiolosv? It is clear that those farmers who have not been able to 
utilize large miichinerv or improved methods have not profited but have lost 
through competition with larger volumes of farm products grown cheaply else- 
where The farmers who obtain new economical equipment or apply the im- 
proved methods, on the other hand, usually gain until the new methods are m 
general use. Thereafter the downward adjustment of prices to meet lower costs 
niav be expected to eliminate any unusual profits. 

There can, however, be no doubt that tlv- consumers of farm products have 
profited from the improvements in farm technology, (.'heapening of farm pro- 
duction has meant the consumers have given smaller percentages of their earn- 
ings for food and fibers than would have been the case without the improvements 
in methods. The remainder is released for the production of other goods and 
services. The extent of the gain is indicated roughly by the fact that only one- 
fourth of the population is now needed to produce raw materials on the farm 
as compared to one-third in 1900. This somewhat overstates the change, how- 
ever, since some operations have been shifted from farm to urban areas. 


For maximum welfare of the Nation each group must be considered in, its 
relationsiiips to the rest of the economic s-tructure and not individually. It has 
already been shown that the shift from horses to mechanical power— the most 
far-retiching technological change affecting agriculture since 11)0!)— had a coun- 
terpart in increased urban employment. In fact, it should be viewed as a part 



of a s<^noral process affocting this Nation and others as well, and not merely as 
an ajrrk'ultural ijlienonKMion. I\Iost of the other soeial as well as (echnolo;;lcal 
changes of the period studied had iniport:int repereussions in agriculture as 
well as in other industries. Inci-e.-iscs in wiige levels or reductions in working 
hours in urhan industries inevitahly provide stronger inducements to farm 
people to join the migration cityward. Clicap and aliundant credit leads to 
expansion of the capital structure (if the faim as well as the factory. Dis- 
coveries in hiology. in chemistry, in metallurgy, in mechanics; all may he ex- 
pected to lead sooner or later to modifications of methods used hy farmer.s in 
breeding or caring for animals, in types of fertilizers, or in design and per- 
formance of implements. 

By no means all of the shifts in agricultural production in the recent past, 
however, have been attributable to changes in methods. Changes in consumers' 
demand and tluctnations in the export trade have also been highly important. 
The consumption of cereal products per capita has declined a third since 1909, 
consumption of sugar has increased a fourth and that of dairy jjroducts about 8 
percent, while consumption of citrus fruits and of fresh vegetables has risen 
rapidly. All of these changes have either permitted or forced corresponding 
changes in farm production. And often tlie products in increasing favor have 
been raised in ditferent regions from those which were declining. 

The approximate amounts of labor vised to produce farm exports, are shown 
in table 8. The South has been by far the greatest contributor of farm 
exiwrts and in 1909-13 spent over 2.3 billion man-hours in raising cotton and 
tobacco for consumption abroad. Since the annual number of hours worked per 
man on southern farms is probably between 2,000 and 2,500, this was equivalent 
to the employment of approximately 1,000,000 farm workers. I>uring the 1920's 
labor used in producing cotton and tobacco for export ran about 1.8 billion 
man-hours. In 1937-38 it was under 1.1 billion, a loss since 1929 equivalent to 
full-time employment for nearly 300,000 southern farm workers. Appreciable 
but smaller losses of exports were suffered by the corn area and the small grain 
area. Among major farm products only the exportation of fruits has been 
maintained or increased. The full impact of contraction in the exports has 
probably not been felt even yet. At least a part of the crops raised — particularly 
cotton — is held off the market for the present, and annual production has not 
yet been reduced by the full amount of the decline in exports. 

Tables. — Net exports of princljxtl farm products, millions of man-hours of lahor 

vsed in their production ^ 

[For indicated years 

, 1909-36] 







Cotton . - 















Tobacco - _ _ 


Hog products: 

Direct labor . - 


Raising feed . . - - . 






5 principal fruits * 


Total, 10 products 




2, 040 

1, .557 


Grapes and peaches -.-... 


Pears, canned apricots, grapefruit .... 


' Labor equivalent of net imports, 1932-36 disregarded since these imports were very largely attributable 
to'drought and did not represent a proportionate reduction in farm employment in United States. 
I 2 Not available. 

3 From Changing Technology and Employment in Agriculture, by J. A. Hopkins. Report in press, 
Bureau of .\gricultural Economics. 

< Apples, prunes, raisins, dried apricots, and oranges. 

While we are discussing technological changes in agriculture we should not 
forget that they have been even more rapid in many, if not most other industries. 
A comparison was made of the change in output per worker in agriculture with 
that in 25 important industrial gi'oups studied by the National Research Project. 
These 25 industries were divided, for this, into three groups on the 
basis of rate of change between 1919-21 and 1927-31. During this decade out- 
put per worker in agricultui'e increased 15 percent. In the eight industries 


which made the least iiupiovement tlie average rise was 17 percent. In the 
median group it was 34 percent, and among Uie eight industries where hibor 
efficiency increased most rapidly, the output per worker rose (>"> percent.'" 

I'ro-siHCts for farm r)i\i)J(niiii( iit. — It seems unlikely that any great part of the 
loss in agricultural employment because of shrinkage of the export trade will 
be recovered in the near future. Not oidy have the governments of importing 
coiuitries attempted to develop ways of getting along with the smallest possible 
imports, but also, the population of Europe is growing less rapidly than here- 
tofore. In addition to this, new agricultural areas have been developed in 
various countries, and these will provide competition for what export markets 
is left. A more promi^iing opportunity of restoring agricultural employment 
niav be found at home. 

liestoration of anything like normal economic conditions in the United States 
will call for a greater output of food and textile crops. According to con- 
sumption rates of the lU2(t's, increases in total per capita consumption of such 
product."^ are not likely to be large. But there is a possibility of .shifting con- 
sumption toward foods of higher quality or greater palatability, which, in- 
cidentally require more labor. 

As long as .seriously depressed business conditions continue in urban industries, 
the demand for higher quality foods is likely to remain relatively low. Further, 
migration from farms to cities is also pretty sure to continue at levels too low 
to remove the increase in farm population, even though such population is 
increiising less rapidly than 10 or 20 years ago. The excess workers on farms 
are likely to be employed at low rates of wages and in enterprises which re- 
quire relatively little capital, .such as vegetable or poultry production. To the 
extent that a greater output of farm products results from such intensification 
there is a depressing effect on farm prices and on the income of all farm 

The excess workers remaining on farms, however, will be chiefly, members of 
the families of farm operators. This means while depressed general business 
conditions continue, there will probably be a continued displacement of hired 
workers from farms while their places are taken by family workers. 

What changes in farm employment may reasonably be expected after a 
substantial measure of industrial recovery? There are many unpredictable 
influences on employment, but assuming continuation of pre.sent and past trends, 
certain developments seem fairly clear. 

First, the farm-to-city drift of population, which is as old as the Nation, is 
still in progress. Further, there are many workers living in farming areas who 
are not seriously needed in agriculture. These persons are employable in agri- 
culture only at low levels of income, and may be expected to move out of 
agriculture as soon as other opportunities Although found in all farming 
sections, the numbers of such persons are greatest in the F'outhern, Eastern 
Mountain, and cut-over regions. It is not possible to estimate their numbers, but 
it is evidently large, and may amount to 5 to 10 percent of the present number 
of farm workers. 

The reestablishment of something like normal business conditions may be 
expected to improve the condition of the farm population more than that of 
most other classes. First, it would remove the competition of much of the 
unneeded labor supply hacked up on farms. Second, it may be expected to 
increase demands of city people for farm products of higher quality and higher 
labor content. Restoration of employment automatically restores purchasing 
power of farm jiroducts and their equilibrium with ur])an products. 

It may be pointed out that population of the country is continuing to increase, 
although at a declining rate. This means a larger requirement of food prod- 
ucts. But at the same time technology is also advancing. Very little change in 
the number of farm workers was reipiired during the past .SO years to accom- 
modate a 40-percent growth in population. The future rate of technological im- 
provement therefore, remains a critical (pie.stion in any di.scussion of trends of 
employment. While this caiuiot be answered in any specilic terms, the progress 
of meclianization in the South, and the rapid adoption of hybrid seed corn in 
the Corn Belt, and otlier changes in progress, leave little doubt that such progress 
in the next 30 years may be as rapid as in those just past. 

^^ The .^)-year period following lO.^I saw a dcclino in output por woikor l)()tli in ncriciiltuio 
ami in other Industrie.*!. In the case of agriculture the decline was chiefly attributable to 
drought, while in urban industries it was caused by depression and part-time employment 





Mr. Parsons. You state that despite a 40-percent increase of the 
jiopiihition of tlie United States since 1900, the nuniher of persons 
enii^loyed in a<>ricuUure in 1989 was smaller by 11 percent of the total. 
Will you kindly enlarge upon that statement and give the connnittee 
reasons for this decline? 

Mr. Hopkins. The number of persons employed has declined, as 
you have said, 11 percent since 1909, in general the greatest decline 
occurring in the eastern parts of the country, while during the 1920's 
there was some increase in many western sections. Since 1930 the de- 
cline has been general, excepting that there was some further increase 
in the northwestern area. Now, the reasons are a good many. There is 
one simple explanation. 


In the first place, of course, there has been the loss of the export 
trade, which takes an appreciable slice out of the farm market, and 
consequently a large slice out of farm employment, in the Southern 

Mr. Parsons. Particularly in the cotton fields ? 

^Ir. Hopkins. Particularly in the cotton fields and also in tobacco. 


Second, there has been quite a lot of shifting of operations from farm 
to cities, a good deal of such work as slaughtering of hogs and live- 
stock which has declined on farms. Production of butter and a good 
many other marketing or j^rocessing operations have been shifted 
from the farm to city. In addition to that, there have been a good 
many technological improvements, some of which have also involved 
shifts of employment from farm to city. Tlie most important of 
these has been the process that Ave have come to call mechanization. 
And that, according to the estimates which we prepared in the National 
Research Project of W. P. A., has caused a decline in man-hours 
required on farms of something like 4 i)ercent. Now, the number of 
people actually displaced by tractors and automobiles has been some- 
what less than that, because the horses that were displaced required 
more care per month during the winter months than they did during 
the crop season. We add all these things together with a good many 
minor technical improvements, and the number of persons employed 
lias declined something over a million persons since 1909. 

Mr. Parsons. Farm laboi- that has been displaced in one way or 

Mr. Hopkins. That includes the family labor as well as hired 

Mr. Parsons. There was an article sent out last year — I don't recall 
at the moment the author of it — it came to my desk: It treated the 
subject quite at length and finally winds up with this rather astound- 
ing statement, to me : That from 1929 to 1939 farm labor had been 
ilisplaced 41 ]iercent. 

Mr. Hopkins. No; that would be quite excessive. That would in- 
volve a decline of about a million and a quarter hired men and some 


three million nieiubeis of t'ann opei-ators' families, and obviously there 
Juisn't l)een any sucli decline as that. 

Mr. Paksoxs. Well, that statement was made in quite an exhaustive 
study that this man had put out. Rut takint; your fio;ures, which I 
think are the lowest I luive heard in the last 2 or 3 years, it still pre- 
sents a very serious unem|)lovment i)roblem. Xow, I asked another 
one of the witnesses today if he thouoht farm mechanization had helped 
the American farmer. Do yon think it has, as a whole ^ 

Mr. Hopkins. As a whole, ])rol)ably not. 

Mr. Parsons. Has it hel])ed the consumer? 

]Mr. Hopkins. Undoubtedly. 

Mr. Parsons. In wliat way has it ]iel])ed tlie consumer? Aren't 
farm-commodity prices pretty nuich as hi^h today and have been dur- 
ing these years of mechanization, to tlie consumer, as they were before? 

^fr. Hopkins. Well, the retail prices nsay be, but compared to other 
commodities, and again I am comparing the condition now with that 
of 25 or 30 years ago, the ])rice of farm produce has steadily declined 
relative to other ])rices. Tliere is another way that we might look 
at the same question. In 1909. ap])roximately a third of the population 
of the country was working on farms ])r()ducing food and/or cotton 
and wool fibers for the consumption of the Nation. Xow, that fraction 
has fallen to about a quarter. The labor income of farm people has not 
kept pace with the income of city workers, and the upshot is that the 
consumer now needs to spend a smaller fraction of his total income in 
paying for the raw materials. The rest of it is left to buy nonfarm 
products and stinudate city industry, and, in fact, I think that a rather 
large part of our prosperity during the twenties could be traced to the 
fact that city income was gradually being i-eleased from the |)urchase 
of farm produce. 

Mr. Parsons. Will you explain briefly your statement, which was 
right along that line, that technological changes have led to a decline 
in hibor per acre in major crops? 

Mr. Hopkins. Yes. In the production of cotton, now, it takes on 
an average, for the country, somewhere around 22 hours per acre. 
In 1909, or in the 5-year period from 1909 to 1913, to be exact, the 
amount of labor, on an average, according to the best estimates we 
were able to prepare, was slightly over 28 hours, which means a 
decline of about 22 percent. The yield remained about the same. 

On wheat the decline in labor per acre has actually been over 50 
percent. In cotton ])roduction it has been much less, but a large part 
of the decline in the labor per acre on cotton is to be attributed to 
the shifting of acreage from the high labor areas of the Southeast 
to the low labor areas of the western j)arts of Texas and Oklahoma, 
where much less labor is required per acre. Xow, that has been 
largely because of the adoption of larger equipment and more 
power — I mean on the corn and wheat crops. The same process has 
not gone so very far on cotton, if we take the country as a whole. 

Mr. Parsons. Do you feel that the migration of farm labor would 
present a problem should conditions return to normal throughout 
the country i 

Mr. Hopkins. It would |)resent a i)roblem: not as serious a one, 
but a problem that might gradually solve itself over the years, as 
it was in a way of doing in the more pros))erous 1920"s. H" cro]) 
conditions should return to normal, farm employment woidd cer- 
tainly improve in the small-grain area, which has had a great many 


droughts lately. The same problem exists in slightly different form 
in other i)arts of the country, where there has not been such drought, 
and conse(iuently we could say that drought conditions are the cause of 
the unemployment there. 

Mr. Parsons. Well, it is the cause of some unemployment upon the 
farms, is it not? 

Mr. Hopkins. Undoubtedly, in the small-grain area and in the dry 
areas where there have been droughts. 


Mr. Parsons. You state that the number of farms in Iowa has 
stayed about the same. 

Mr. Hopkins. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. That is the individual farm, since 1925. What has 
been the trend so far as tenancy is concerned? 

Mr. Hopkins. The number of tenants has increased, but I do not 
have figures here from which I could say just how large the increase 
has been. My impression is that there was a shift of about 10 per- 
cent of the farmers from 1920 to the middle of the 1930's, a shift 
from ownership to tenancy. 

Mr. Parsons. Most of them lost their farms through foreclosure, 
did they not? 

Mr. Hopkins. A large proportion, but not necessarily all. 

Mr. Parsons. Do you know how many of the owner-operated farms 
are mortgaged? 

Mr. Hopkins. No; I do not. 

Mr. Parsons. What is the situation prevailing today among the 
tenants in Iowa? Is there a tendency for rents to rise as crop con- 
ditions improve or prices rise? 

Mr. Hopkins. Yes; rents tend to follow prices, with a lag of from 
1 to 3 years. Also, there has been, I think, some unsettlement lately 
among tenants because of a large competition for farms. The 
number of farms has not increased, whereas there has continued to be 
an increase in the number of potential farm operatoi'S. 

Mr. Parsons. Is there a large migration of tenant farmers within 
the State? 

Mr. Hopkins. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. Going from farm to farm there, hoping to get in a 
better condition next year? 

Mr. Hopkins. Yes; there has always been quite a large turn-over^ 
although again, I can't say just what percentage of farmers move 
each year. I think that it has been slightly larger than in earlier 

Mr. Parsons. Well, today we have heard testimony, especially from 
the Dakotas, that the tendency is to crowd more of the tenants off 
their farms and rent it to suitcase farmers, Avho buy up difl'erent units 
here and there in that w^ay, out from a town. AVith mechanization 
displacing farm labor and displacing farm tenants and farm owmers 
tlirough a system of economic operation, that is really destroying- 
the ownership of these peo])le. Now, does that obtain in Iowa; is 
there a tendency in that direction now? 

Mr. Hopkins. If there is any such tendency, it is extremely small^ 
because as I have said before, the total number of farms in the State 
now is almost the same as it was in 1925. According to the assessor's 


fioures, the number of farms in llie State in 193S) was within oOO of 
the number in 1925. Now, then, there has probabl}^ been some in- 
crease in tlie number of small farms around towns. It appears also 
there has been a small increase in the number of laro-e farms, and, 
as the total number is the same, that implies that lliere nnist be some 
decline in the number of middle-sized ones. Just how lar«2;e that has 
been, we can't tell, until the 1940 census comes out and gives us the 
figures. It has certainl}^ been nothing like as serious in Iowa as it 
has in these States immediately to the west. 

Mr. Parsons. Outside of the drought area, the speculative activity 
of land because of the high prices of the World War helped drag 
many farmers down, did it not? 

]Mr. Hopkins. Yes. 


]Mr. Parsons. Do you think the Government farm program since 
1933 has aided agriculture ? 

Mr. Hopkins. In the country as a whole or in Iowa? 

Mr. Parsons. In Iowa and the country as a whole. 

Mr. Hopkins. It certainly lias improved the morale of the farmers 
very materially. I think it has aided agriculture. 

Mr. Parsons. They have committed some errors, there are still 
some faults about it. There are still some people taking advantage 
of this by what we might term kind of hogging things, but on the 
whole you think it has been beneficial to America? 

Mr. Hopkins. Yes; there is no question about it. 

Mr. Parsons. And the Farm Security program, as it has been enunci- 
ated here today, has helped thousands of farmers in the comitry ? 

Mr. Hopkins. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. Would you agree with me that that is the best part 
of the farm })rogram, the Farm Security Administration, with assist- 
ance to the individual farmer? 

Mr. Hopkins. Well, there are a great many things one should con- 
sider about the ''triple A" program, as well as the Farm Security pro- 
gram. I don't know that you can say that either one of them, stand- 
ing by itself, is better than the other one; as far as relieving human 
misery is concerned, I sup})ose the Farm Security ])rogram has per- 
haps done somewhat more; but striking at the fundamental causes. I 
would be a little bit inclined to favor the ''triple A" program. 

Mr. Parsons. You believe in crop-reduction control, or, in other 
words, cutting the cloth to fit the pattern ? 

Mr. Hopkins. Yes. However, I would try to do that in accordance ■ 
with prevailing economic tendencies as much as possible; that is, to 
see that you are careful about your ])attern. 

Mr. Parsons. I agree with that. Of course, there are two schools 
of thought advanced, and I do not believe there is very much differ- 
ence between them when they aiv analyzed. One is accused of being 
the school of scarcity and the other is the school of plenty. We really 
wouldn't have a very great surplus of anything, especially farm com- 
modities, if everybody had more or less equalized purchasing power, . 
would we? 

Mr. Hopkins. Not if it were equalized upward, 

yiv. Parsons. That is right. Now, in the field of cotton. Of course, 
we have always exported ai)})roximat'e'ly as nuich cotton, even more, . 

260370—41 — pt. 4 14 


tlian Ave consumed. In the field of wheat we usiiallv export around 
ir)0,()()(U)0() or tiOO.()()( ).()()() bushels. In the way of corii, we practically 
consume it all. 

Mr. HorKiNS. Or convert it into ho^s, 

Mr. Parsoxs. Or convert it into ho<rs. The amount we exported was 
not so important as the matter of byproducts; and when the byprod- 
ucts cannot be exported, the price of hojis jroes down. With the 
present situation prevailin«j: in the world, because of the war. we are 
not able to make the exports we once did: but if the farmer had a 
hi<rher ])rice for what he i)roduced, he would be able to buy more of 
the tilings that are produced in the cities, and therefore the people 
would \)e put to work to buy more of his conmiodities, and it would be 
a never-endino- cycle of prosperity-. The farmer is just about break- 
inof -even. That is, with the one that is making some money and the 
one that is losing some money but on the averaofe just about paving 
the cost. We had a little less than $5,000,000,000 of farm crops in 
1932. and it was a bumper crop. We have made that up with the 
parity payments and farm benefit payments until the farmer is get- 
tino: from'eio-ht to nine billion dollars! If he had $12,000,000,000. the 
extra three billion would be just above the cost of production, and he 
could begin to pay off his interest, and that three billion would go 
into buying power, would it not ? 

]Mr. Hopkins. Yes. 

]Mr. Parsons. Xow. the most that the Federal Gcn'ernment has ever 
spent in a relief program in any year has been $2,000,000,000, and it 
\\orked miracles. Xow, if the farmer had that extra $3,000,000,000. 
which would be profit to him. then he could go in and buy fence, ma- 
chinery, clothing, fix up his buildings and paint, and all that. He de- 
mands everything that we in the city demand and buys a thousand and 
one things besides. He is the best spender in the world, if he has the 
money, isn't he? 

]\Ir. Hopkins. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. The best way to get the farmer prosperous is to get 
his commodities on a i:)arity price and then increase his output as 
much as possible; do you agree with that^ 

Mr. Hopkins. In general ; j'es. 

Mr. Parsons. Your statement for the record is very good. I am very 
glad to have you here. 

I think that is all, ^Ir. Chairman. 

Chairman Tolan. ]Mr. Hopkins, I would like to ask you, and you are 
a qualified witness: There has been a statement filed here with this 
committee by a ]Mr. Garst, and I would like to have Mr. Kramer read 
it and then will you kindly give us your reaction, for the record, your 
reaction to this statement. 

Mr. Kramer. I am offering for the record a statement by Mr. Ros- 
well Garst, of the firm Garst and Thomas, Pioneer Hi Brid Corn Co., 
Coon Rapids, Iowa. 

The Effect op the Mechanization of Agric ui.turk Upon thk Interstate Migra- 
tion OF Rn?sL Topul-vtion 

In order to identify tlie author of this ;n'ticle. let nio say that my name is Roswell 
Garst — that I live now. and always have lived, at Coon Rai)ids. Iowa, width is 
situated in central-wt'stern jiart of the Staff, aiiitidxiniatdy 100 miles east of 
Omaha and 75 mile.s west of Des Moines. 


In my opinion, a rather rapid cliango has been takiii}; phice In tlie relatively 
level areas of the Corn Belt — is continuiiiii- to take place, and will continne to 
take plaee for the next 10 years. I am thinkinj; mostly of the northern two-thirds 
of Iowa, central and noi'thern Illinois, the {ireat «'xpanses of relatively level land 
bordering the Missouri Rivei-, and like areas. By like areas, I mean areas of 
relatively level topojjraphy which are climatically suited to the production of corn. 

Until relatively recently — say until the last 10 years — corn jjickini; was never 
well done by machinery. Until the advent of the stiffer-stalked, deeper-rooted 
hybrid varieties, corn always lodged in the fall of the year to such an extent that 
mechanical corn picking was impractical. With the advent of hybrid corn, these 
crop conditions were in a large measure avoided, and the mechanical picking 
became thoroughly practical. 

Until the picking of corn mechanically became practical, there was no oppor- 
tunity for really large-scale mechanized farming, because it was necessary to 
liave enough teams around to pick the crop — and tliat mimber of teams was also 
sufficient to plow, plant, and cultivate the crop. 

Now, however, horses are in no way necessary in the production of a 
corn crop — and literally hundreds of farmers do absolutely no work, in the 
growing of a corn crop or harvesting of a corn crop, with horses. 

I started farming in 1916. At that time, the standard plow was either 
a three-horse sulky plow, plowing one furrow — or, at best, a 
gang plow, plowing two 14-inch furrows. Now. the common tool for plowing 
is either a two- or three-bottom 16-inch tractor plow. Whereas a man used 
to plow from 3 to 5 acres a day. 1.") or 20 acres a day are not uncommon and a 
10-acre day is perhaps the minimum. 

Until the lasr few year.s, all corn was planted with two-row horse-drawn 
planters. A standard day was about 16 acres. Now, much of the corn planted 
on level land is planted with four-row tractor planters and 5 acres per hour 
is the standard planting rate. 

Corn used to be cultivated with a single-row horse-drawn cultivator — at 
the best, with a two-row horse-drawn cultivator at the rate of either 7 or 1.5 
ficres per day. Now, corn can be better cultivated than it formerly was with 
a four-row tractor cultivator at the rate of 5 acres an hour. 

Naturally these bigger tools work at a great deal better advantage in large- 
sizfd fields than they do in small-sized fields. Naturally, the farmer who is 
equipped with modern tools uses a great deal less of man-hours than was 
formerly used. What's more, he does actually better work because he can 
do it when it should be done. 

And so, briefly, mechanization of corn farming has permitted greater 
efficiency — has pei-mitted lower bu.shel costs — and is gaining because of this 
increa.sed efficiency. 

I farm approximately 1,000 acres of land — and I know a great many farmers 
in the central Corn Belt who are farming on something like that scale. It 
is not necessary to farm on .such a large scale to get the greatest efficiency, 
but probably it is neces.sary to farm at least a half section — and is certaiidy 
no handicap to farm a section. 

I have specified that this article relates to only the relatively level lands, 
because much of the large-scale mechanized corn equipment does not work 
nearly so well in rolling or hilly land. 

Now. the question comes up, immediately, as to the social aspects of the 
mechanization of the corn-growing areas. The average size of farms used 
to l)e s(»mPthing like 160 acres. It is rapidly expanding at the present time, and 
in order to get the most economical operation it seems likely that the average 
size may, over, say 15 or 20 years, get up to a half section. The question 
immediately arises as to what happens to the half of the people who are 
not needed. 

It seems to me that this situation is not only a situation we should not 
worry about — that it is actually a situation which we shoidd be happy about. 
As civilization has developed through history, the better things of life have 
always come as a smaller and smaller percentage of the population were 
re(iuired for the production of food — permitting a larger and larger number 
to produce other goods. Of course, a fair part of the jjopulation which will 
no longer be recpiired in corn farming, will actually be required in the making 
of tractors — tractor farming e<]uipment — gasoline to run the tractors with — 
transpoi-tation — and servicing this new e(piipment. This is the natural absorp- 
tion caused by industrialization. But there will, of, be a surplus of 
manpower besides the manpower required for the above-set-out purposes. 


It soems to me that (hat lia.s always been so — \Aiieii men qnit nsinjr a cradle 
to harvest grain, it took pait of tlie men to build binders, but it liberat«'d a 
great many more wlio could make radios and liiistick. 

Tlie iarm poijulalidu that proves luiuecessnry in north-central Iowa and other- 
similar level corn-growing areas iiecause of tlie nieclianization, will mostly turn 
up as interstate migrants, because Iowa is not particularly well suited indus- 
trially, because of lack of minerals such as iron. Part of them will go one way, 
part another. They will contiibute to the labor resources of our cities as they 
have in the past. They will make more bathtubs; they will make more electri- 
cal supplies ; they will build armaments ; they will build highways ; and do a 
thousand and one constructive things. 

And the ones who remain, because they will l)e forming a larger area and 
have greater total incomes, will have better purchasing power to buy luxuries 
with than the total number had before. 

They will be able to afford rural electrification with all of its appliances and 
create a demand for these appliances. They will be able to modernize their 
homes, put in bathrooms, furnaces, and many fixtures of convenience. 

It isn't a dark picture as I see it; it's a brighter picture as I see it. It's a 
picture of greater efficiency of man-hours. It's a picture that will permit less 
men to do more work, which permits the spare men to construct really worth- 
while things for the Nation. 

It is simply the speeding up of a tendency that has continued over all of the 
history of the United States; that is, during the whole history of the United 
States the proportion of rural people who were required for the production of 
food has become smaller and smaller and the proportion of urban people who 
manufacture and who transport and who entertain, and who retail, and whO' 
have so greatly increased our standard of living gets larger and larger. 

A great many people worry about the social aspect of large-scale farming. 
I believe it is a historical fact that a great many people worried about the social 
effect of the invention of the cotton gin and the thousands it would throw out 
of work. I believe a great many people have always worried about the social; 
effect of any machinery which performed a given task with less hours of mau 
labor, because of the people it threw out of work. And yet these very effi- 
ciencies, at least it seems to me, are the things that have made our high st;ind- 
ard of civilization possible. These very things have permitted a higher standard 
of living and shorter hours of work to go hand in hand. I believe they will 
continue to do so; I can see only advantages in their doing so. 

RoswELT, Garst, 
Coo)) R-apidx, Iowa. 


The Chairman. What do you think about that? 

Mr. Hopkins. Well, Mr. Garst raises a number of questions there 
that can hardly be answered either "Yes" or "No." In the first place, 
I don't think you can blame on hybrid corn the entire shift in me- 
chanical corn picking. That machine has been available since the 
first World War, although there were only one-row machines until 
the power take-off was developed — so that the power coidd be taken 
directly from the tractor in operating the machines. We know that 
this was developed in the late twenties, before hybrid corn. Corn 
pickers were being sold in Iowa in 1929 and 1930, although the depres- 
sion stopped the buying for a few years. Undoubtedly the stiffer- 
stalked hybrid did facilitate the adoption of the corn picker. Now,, 
then, as to the scope of the mechanization : again I think Mr. Garst is 
quoting rather extremes than averages. Cei'tainly. the four-row cul- 
tivator is still the exception, even in Iowa. You see many more two- 
row cultivators, even driving through the cash-grain area of the 
State, tlian you do four-row machines. 

There are a great many difficulties in the way of combining and 
consolidating farms, and it seems rather unlikely to me that the- 


average farm of Iowa will, at any time that I can see in the future, 
be likely to be a 320-acre farm. It is still practically 160 acres, 
accordino- to the figures of the assessors. The process of consolidation 
is undoubtedly under way. The number of farms in the State, how^- 
ever. actually has not chan<ied appreciably. As I said awhile ago, the 
number differs by less than oOO farms from the number in 1925. There 
has been some increase in large farms, half sections instead of quar- 
ters, and there has been some increase in small farms at the other end 
of the scale, which suggests that there has been a decline of a few 
percent in the middle-sized ones. 

As to employment. I agree thoroughly with Mr. Garst that labor 
saving is in general a very desirable thing, but it is highly important 
socially that we try to bring about that labor-saving process in an 
orderly way and not throw hundreds of thousands of people out of 

Mr. Parsons. On that point, he makes the statement that wnth the 
tractor and the four-row^ cultivator they plow 5 acres per hour. With 
the old double shovel, a man working 12 hours would plow about 5 
acres. I used to be able to plow 5 acres. 

Mr. Hopkins. That is right. 

]Mr. Parsoxs. So the tractor is doing as much in 1 hour as the man 
:and tlie mule used to take 12 hours to accomplish? 

Mr. Hopkins. Well, not 12 hours. 

Mr. Parsons. It takes about 12 hours for a man to plow^ 5 acres with 
a double shovel. 

Mr. Hopkins. With one mule? 

Mr. Parsons. It would talie 12 hours; I used to plow 10 acres a day 
with two mules. In other w^ords, in the 12 hours I could plow twice 
as much as the tractor plow^ed in 1 hour. In other words, the tractor 
in 2 hours does what I used to be able to do in a day. Now. when you 
•come to figure it out, you have displaced, with that tractor and two 
men. five men the other way. 

Mr. Hopkins. Not actually displace five men. 

Mr. Parsons. You have displaced three. 

Mr. Hopkins. You haven't actually displaced them. 

Mr. Parsons. At the same time you have to grow cash crops to buy 
gas and oil with, that you used to feed your horses. 

Mr. Hopkins. But you haven't actually displaced five men, for the 

Mr. Parsons (interposing). You have displaced three men. 

Mr. Hopkins, Well, you haven't done that, because the overhead 
labor on the farm, hauling manure, fixing fences, and things like that, 
has been reduced very little, and the actual reduction in number of 
farm workers. I think, is something like the figures I have given. 
Also, it should be noted that the farm field day, as we found in the 
National Research Project's Field Survey, in 1936, runs closer to the 
9 hours than 12. 

Mr. Parsons. That is all, Mr. Chairman. 

The Chairman. Thank you very much ; yours is a very fine state- 

(The following additional statement from Mr. Garst was received 
and entered in the record after the hearings were closed.) 



Pi'culiaily I'lioiish, the fact that the average size of farms in the level areas 
of the corii-grdwiuj; regions has Iteeii inereasing — and the fact that a good many 
farm families have heen forced to move to other ti-rritories heca\ise better equipped 
farmers are renting their farms has not seemed to have any effect upon tlie level 
of the rentals. 

Rentals in north central Iowa are now and always have been in my memory 
on a grain basis mostly. 

Tlkit is. the greatest percentage of the farms are rented on a lease that calls 
for tlu' delivery of one-half of the corn, two-lifths (tf the oats at the elevator — 
and the payment of cash rent fo-r the pasture and hay land. 

In cases where the landlord:ffurnishes half the seed oats, or pays for one-half 
of the threshing bill, the lease provides for one-half of the corn and one-half of 
the oats, and a cash payment -per acre for the pasture and hay land. 

These have been the same proportit)ns that the tenant has paid for many^ 
many years — certainly as far back as 1912 or 1914. 

The cash rent has not varied as much as one might think. It still varies a good 
deal from farm tt> farm, depending upon the nund)er of acres that are in pasture, 
and upon the (piality of the buildings involved. 

In north central Iowa, which is the region I know best, the cash rent for the 
pasture and hay land runs somewhere aroiuul $7 per acre. This figure has beea 
constant for many years. On farms wheiv tlie pasture and hay is relatively 
small, it may be as high sometimes as $10 per acre, aud on farms which, because 
of the lay of the land necessarily have more pasture and hay on them, the average 
rental frequently goes down to four or five. However, this has always been the 
case — that there has been a variation between farms, and I would say that tUe 
rentals have 'not materially changed in my memory. 

There seems to be an established custom about this rental business that nobody 
wants to change. 

The landlords are perhaps afraid to ask for a higher percentage of the crop 
than above stated, and the tenant would feel that he was unwise to offer a higher 
percentage. Anyhow, I believe it has not changed. 

I will put in this idea, however, and that is that the tenant now has a better 
chance than he formerly had in his relationship with the landlord. Actually, 
the landlord's costs have risen, that is, materials for fencing, tor building, and 
for equipment of the farm itself have risen in price. The landlord's taxes are 
higher than ever before. 

On the other hand, the tenant's operating costs have been materially reduced' 
because of mechanical equipment. He can now cultivate and plow so much more 
rapidly than ever before that his labor costs per acre or per bushel have been 
materially reduced. The result is that the tenant now has a real opportunity 
to make money, particularly if he can rent a large enough acreage and par- 
ticularly if he has the really good equipment which a large acreage can support. 

The result is that there is a tendency for the renter to want to get more acre- 
age so that he can have a larger gross income which will support his better 
equipment, and take advantage of it. The result is a tendency of the stronger 
tenants to get stronger — and to crowd the weaker tenants off their acreage. 

Because the better equipi>ed tenant is better able to produce a maximum crop 
the landlords have a tendency to want to rent their land to the sounder tenants 
in the comnumitv and there is quite a tendency for the average size of opera- 
tion to grow even faster than there is the average size of land ownership to 

When the tenant fails to find a farm in the best part of Iowa, it is generally 
because he is poorly equipped. He then generally moves to the poorer — that is, the 
less fertile — areas of southern Iowa. 

When getting to that area, if he cannot compete with the tenants in that area, 
he then moves on down into the poorer areas of the Ozark Mountains or even 
to Arkansas or Louisiana. As a reverse of this situation, the stronger tenants 
in southei-n Iowa gradually do get better farms in northern Iowa — the stronger 
tenants in Missouri get betti-r farms in southern Iowa and you have a gradual 
process of putting the strongest of the operators in the best parts of the terri- 

As above stated, I cannot see however, that all of this shifting has had any 
effect upon the rental prices of the land. 

RoswELL Garst. 



Mr Curtis. Statt' vour name to the ivportm-. 
Mr. KuoTz. Charles J. Krotz. Weldon, S. Dak. 
Mr. Curtis. How old are you, Mr. Krotz ^ 
Mr. Krotz. Fifty-one. 
Mr. Curtis. And where were you born ? 
Mr. Krotz. Iowa. 
Mr. Curtis. Are you married? 
Mr. Krotz. Yes. sir. ^'^^A<} 

Mr. Curtis. How much family do you ItaW? 
I^Ir. Krotz. Seven children. iS 

Mr. Curtis. All of them at home? 
Mr. Krotz. Yes. 

Mv. Curtis. How old is the oldest one i 
Mr. Krotz. Twenty-one. 
Mr. Curtis. Girl or boy ? 
Mr. Krotz. Boy. 

JSIr. Curtis. And how old is the youngest one * 
Mr. Krotz. Six, and he is a boy. 

Mr Curtis. How many of them are m school ? . , . , , . 
Mr. Wz. There are three in the grades ancl one m high school 
Uv. Curtis. How long have you been a resident of South Dakota, 
Mr. Krotz ? 

Mr. Krotz. About 25 years. . , ^ ^i -r»i fo'^ 

Mr. Curtis. Where did you live before going to South Dakota? 

Mr. Krotz. Iowa. 

Mr Curtis. What place in Iowa? . 

Mr Krotz. AYell. just before I went to Dakota, in Lincoln County, 
but I was raised in Washington Count^s about al^-ndred miles sou h^of 
that, and spent my entire life there, besides 5 years at this Lincoln 

^m'^^'oI^tis. How did you happen to move from Iowa to South 

^Mr^ Krotz. Well, I had a piece of land down there that was pretty 

high-priced stutf, and got a mortgage on it, and 

Mr Curtis. In Iowa? , , ,, 

Mr Krotz. Yes, sir. And I had been up to Dakota and seen a pretty 
good yield of wheat taken off cheap land. 

Mr' Curtis In 1915^ -i -i- 

Mr* Krotz.' In 1914, in the first place, and repeated in 1915, and 1 
thought it looked good. 2 years, so I bit off a chunk. 

Mr. Curtis. How big a farm did you buy there at that time ( 
Mr. Krotz. Originally, 400 acres. 
Mr. Curtis. And later? 

Mr. Krotz. A year later three more quarters. 
Mr Curtis. What did you pay for it ? 

Mr' Krotz. The first land I paid $40 an acre for a quarter, with the. 
improvements on it, and $25 an acre for 240 acres that was less im- 
proved, and then the three quarters, $15 an acre, was pretty much lo^^ 
land, in the rough. 

Mr. Curtis. Did you pay cash for this tarm ? 
Mr. Krotz. No. 


Mr. Curtis. How nuich down payment did you make? 

]\Ir. Krotz. Well, I had a $7,200 loan on it after I traded my equity 
in my Iowa farm in on it. 

Mi-. CiRTLs. What rate of interest on that $7,200? 

Mr. Krotz. Ten percent. 

Mr. Curtis. For how lon^ a period of time was tliere an interest 
rate of 10 percent in Soutli Dakota ? 

INIr. Krotz. Up to and includin<2: 1922; that is wlien I lost my farm. 

Mr. Curtis. How lono- did you remain on this farm ? 

Mr. Krotz. Eight years. 

Mr. Curtis. How cUd yon lose it ? 

INIr. Krotz. By foreclosure. 

Mr. Curtis. What year was that, about in 1923? 

Mr. Krotz. No ; it was the fall of 1922 when the proceedings were 
started, but it took until 1923 ; I stayed on in 1923 to take advantage of 
my year of redemption. 

Mr. Curtis. Was your inability to meet these payments due to crop 

Mr. Krotz. Yes. 

Mr. Curtis. You didn't raise very good crops in the early twenties? 

Mr. Krotz. No. 

Mr. Curtis. What was your next move ? 

Mr. Krotz. I moved about 15 miles in the same territory; 15 miles, 
that was. 

Mr. Curtis. How big a farm did you buy that time? 

Mr. Krotz. I didn't; I rented. 

Mr. Curtis. When did you next buy a farm ? 

Mr. Krotz. Not any in Dakota yet. 

Mr. Curtis. This farm that you rented after you lost your own in 
1923 ; how did you get along on that ? 

Mr. Krotz. Well, I had some life insurance policies that I went and 
borrowed on after I lost all of my holdings. And I had seed furnished 
by the owner of the land, and put in a crop, and as luck w^ould have it I 
did hit once, but I didn't have much of an acreage in, so that the yield 
was good and the price was good but my acreage was small in 1924. 
This was in the year of 1924. 

Mr. Curtis. Yes. 

Mr. Krotz. Well, then, 1925 was a fair crop. 

Mr. Curtis. When was your next severe drought? 

Mr. Krotz. 1926. 

Mr. Curtis. What happened to you at that time? 

Mr. Krotz. I didn't raise much. I got about enough seed to reseed 
the place, but that is about all. 

Mr. Curtis. Did you take bankruptcy ? 

Mr. Krotz. Yes. 

Mr. Curtis. When was that? 

Mr. Krotz. 1923. 

Mr. Curtis. What type of farming did you do up there? 

Mr. Krotz. Well, I started in with wheat farming when I went up 
there in the start, wheat and oats, barley, and such like. And then I 
took up beef cattle in the fall of 1918. And I held them until the time 
of my loss and foreclosure, and they sold for about a third of what I 
had invested in them in the first place. 


Mr. Curtis. What success did vou have in raising crops in 1925 to 

Mr. Khotz. "Well, in 1926 we failed entirely; 1927 was a good crop 
and a fair price; 1928 was a partial crop and a fair price; 1929 was 
almost a failure; and 1930 was a failure; 1931 we had a little; 1932 
was a fine crop but no jn-ice; 1933 the crop was pretty much a failure; 
and 1934 an absolute blank. And in 1936 we dried out. 

Mr. Curtis. AVhen did you move on the farm you are now living on? 

Mr. Krotz. In the spring of 1930. 

Mr. Curtis. Have you been able to make a living on that farm? 

jNIr. Kkotz. No. 

Mr. Curtis. How large is it? 

Mr. Krotz. It was originally a quarter, and I rented two additional 
quarters in the spring of 1936. 

Mr. Curtis. Do you irrigate any of that farm ? 

Mr. Krotz. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Curtis. How much? 

ISIr. Krotz. Well, we started out with a small undertaking and 
brought it uj) to about 15 or 20 acres at the present time. 

Mr. Curtis. AVhat do you raise on this irrigated land? 

jNIr. Krotz. Garden vegetables and potatoes and the like; all truck 
croi)S. We sell them. 

Mr. Curtis. The boy that is 21, does he get any employment away 
from home ? 

Mr. Krotz. Oh. yes; they get whatever work is available; I have 
three boys that are able to get out. 

Mr. Curtis. Have you found it necessary to ask for public assist- 
ance ? 

Mr. Krotz. Yes. 

Mr. Curtis. Have you received it ? 

Mr. Krotz. Yes. 

Mr. Curtis. When did you first get that? 

Mr. IvROTZ. 1936. 

Mr. Curtis. What was that in the form of, a grant ? 

Mr. Krotz. Yes. 

Mr. Curtis. How much in grants have you received, from 1936 up 
to the present time ? 

Mr. Krotz. Oh, I don't know, probably a thousand dollars. 

Mr. Curtis. You submitted in your brief statement it was $1,200. 

Mr. Krotz. Well, that might be about right; yes. 

Mr. Curtis. Did you obtain any loan from the Farm Security Ad- 

Mr. Krotz. I did. 

Mr. Curtis. How big was that loan? 

Mr. Krotz. $605, the original loan. 

Mr. Curtis. You increased that later? 

Mr. Krotz. Yes; I did. 

Mr. Curtis. How much? 

Mr. Krotz. $280. 

Mr. Curtis. What did you borrow this money for? 

Mr. Krotz. To put in a crop and buy additional equipment. 


Mr. CuuTis. Have you been able to keep iij) your i)iiynieiils on these 

Mr. KuoTZ. I have. 

Mr. CiRTis. And how much do you owe now, do you know? 

Mr. Kkotz. The loan was originally for $()();■), and $50 of it was har- 
vesting expense, and before that loan came through, the harvest was 
over. I had no need of that, so that was paid in innnediately, and 
made the i)avments $138.75 for the 4 remainin«- years, and having a 
j)retty fail- crop last year I paid in a little ahead, so that I |)aid $235.99 
above my due paymeiits. And I had a potato crop that T had i)ut away 
in storage, that 1 depended on to put in this crop this yeai' and l)uy the 
equipment I knew I needed at that time, and my potatoes froze, so I 
had to obtain this supplemental loan in the meantime. 

Mr. Curtis. Have you had any illness in your family? 

Mr. Krotz. Yes. 

Mr. Curtis. Your wife was in the hospital? 

Mr. Krotz. Yes. 

Mr. Curtis. Do you have an opportunity to buy this farm? 

INIr. Krotz. Yes. 

Mv. Curtis. What terms? 

Mr. Krotz. It had to be cash. 

Mr. Curtis. How much? 

Mr. Krotz. $500 for the quarter. 

Mr. Curtis. If you had owned that quarter, do you think you could 
have been living on it? 

Mr. Krotz. I think so; we did put in some bad years, and if it 
hadn't gotten any worse, I would have been able to make it. 

Mr. Curtis. Were you able to raise the money? 

Mr. Krotz. No; I wasn't. 

Mr. Curtis. Was the farm sold ? 

INIr. Krotz. Yes. 

Mv. Curtis. Do you have to move ? 

Mr. Krotz. Yes. 

Mr. Curtis. What are your plans for the future? Are you going 
to move? Where are you going? 

Mr. Krotz. Yes. We are going to Minnesota. 

Mr. Curtis. Did you try to find a farm you could go on? 

Mr. Krotz. I did." 

Mr. Curtis. Do you feel yon can make a living in the part of Minne- 
sota you are going to? 

Mr. Krotz. Well, we do. We will make a try at it ; that is the best 
we have ever been able to do. 

Mr. Curtis. You were able to rent a farm up there? 

Mr. Krotz. No; I bought a farm on contract. 

Mr. Curtis. What did you have to pay for it? 

Mr. Krotz. $2,150; 60 acres. 

Mr. Curtis. And how w^ere you able to raise the money — what did 
you pav down on it? 

Mr. Krotz. $600. 

Mr. Curtis. How were you able to raise $600 tliere, when you 
weren't able to raise $500? 

Mr. Krotz. Well, we raised a little additional crop. 

Mr. Curtis. Your opportunity went by ? 


:Mr. Keotz. I lacked the $500 last fall and— well, I doivt know 
■whether I should stop and comment on this. I had a 10-year lease on 
this place, see? 

]Mr. Curtis. Yes. 

Mr. Krotz. Suhject to sale, with the privile<re of buying if any- 
body had made an offer on this place, and when the dry years hit 
us. instead of working with the W. P. A. to build a reservoir, we 
built our own, and that way we could irrigate some garden and build 
up the irrigation project and get a little better; and finally I think that 
the owner got Avind of it. so they wanted to get us out ; that, I think, 
is the sum and substance of it. 

Mr. Curtis. Yes. 

Mr. Krotz. But they had to give me the privilege of buying, al- 
though they knew I couldn't get it. 

Mr. Curtis. I think you have covered the points we wanted, and 
thank you for coming here. Testimony such as yours is a type, and 
in our hearings over the Nation Me expect to get the type of wit- 
nesses that are involved. 

I offer a statement of a committee from Red Cloud, Nebr. 

The Chairman. It may go into the record. 

(The statement referred to appears below:) 

Sp:ptembeb 16, 1940. 
To the Co)iyressii))i(il Coinmitlce on Migration From the Central States Meeting 
in Lincoln, Nchr.: 

This committee from Red Uloiul, Webster County, Nebr., is composed of 
Joe Young, president of the Red Cloud Chamber of Commerce and Lions Club; 
K. P. Weesner. merchant ; and G. F. Doering, county clerk of Webster County ; 
and this statement is made for your records : 

W^e approve of a long-time program of water conservation which has been 
discussed at this meeting. It is our opinion from close observation and contact 
with the people who have 'and are suffering from drought, floods, and other 
abnormal conditions, that only through a well-planned program of water con- 
servation — that of holding the water as near its source as possible and utilizing 
it upon the land in the form of irrigation, can the maximum of benefirs be 
derived from our natural resources. This also included soil conservation, the 
stopping of soil erosion, and the tremendous loss which is sustained each 
year from floods on the many ti-ibutaries of the Republican River. This pro- 
gram must be carried out along a comprehensive plan for the entire valley. 

However, there is a problem which it seems to us must be considered now, 
and that problem is the subsistence of our people while this program is being 
developed. They must have food and shelter ; they must have feed for their 
livestock, and they must have seed for coming crops if they are to be planted 
again next season. Many of these people are not on relief, they have milk 
cows without feed. 

The Farm Security Administration has been and still is essential in keeping 
families on the farm, but their requirements are such that any number of 
these which are entitled to help, cannot qualify for assistance, due to 
the exacting requirements of the Farm Security Administration. This is at 
least the circumstances in Webster County. There are hundreds of these 
cases which need food immediately and this coming winter and the Farm 
.Security Administration ignores this immediiite emergency and there seems 
to be no other agency to which these people can turn for help. 

With the immediate problem taken care of and your long-time program 
•of water conservation extending from the he:idwaters down, thereby conserv- 
ing the water as near its source as possible, utilizing the water in the form 
of irrigation, halting soil erosion, protecting wildlife and providing for 
recreation — all of which can be accomplished through a comprehensive plan 
in which all Fedei-al and State departments will coordinate their efforts and 


cooperate, we will be able to keep our people on the farms and Nebraska will 
eventually become self-sustaining again. 

We recommend a million dams for Nebraska — not necessarily large expensive 
dams, but small inexpensive dams on every stream where water can be 

We respectfully submit this statement for your earnest consideration and 
ask that it be made a part of your report. 

Joe Young, 
President, Red Cloud Chamber Commerce and Liona Clith. 

K. I'. Weksnek. 



County Clerk, Webster County. 

The Chairman. This committee is adjourned until 9 o'clock to- 
morrow morning. 

(Thereupon, at 5 p. m., Monday, September 16, 1940, an adjourn- 
ment was taken until 9 a. m. of the following day.) 


tuesday, september 17, 1940 

House of Kepricsentatr'es, 
Select Committee to Inntestigate the 
Interstate Migration of Destitute Citizens, 

Washington^ D. C. 

The hearing was convened at 10 a. m., in courtroom No. 2 at the 
State Capitol, Lincohi, Nebr., pursuant to adjournment. Present 
were Congressman John H. Tohin, chairman; Congressman Claude 
V. Parsons, vice chairman ; Congressman Carl T. Curtis. Congress- 
man John J. Sparlvman and Congressman Frank C. Osmers were 
unavoidably detained. 

Also present were: Dr. Robert K. Lamb, chief investigator; A. 
Kramer, chief field investigator; Ariel V. E. Dunn, field investigator; 
Joseph N. Dotson, field investigator; Robert H. Egan, field secretary. 


The Chairman. The committee will please come to order. 

Will Mr. Page and Mr. Debler come forward, please ? 

Mr. Curtis. Mr. Page, you will give your full name, address, and 
official title to the reporter, please. 

Mr. Page. My name is John C. Page, Washington, D. C, Com- 
missioner of the" Bureau of Reclamation. Department of the Interior. 

Mr. Curtis. Mr. Debler, you will do likewise, please. 

Mr. Debler. E. B. Debler, hydraulic engineer, Bureau of Reclama- 
tion, Denver, Colo. 

Mr. Curtis. At this point, Mr. Debler, may I ask what branch of 
the Reclamation Service is handled out of Denver? What is the 
function of the Denver office? 

Mr. Debler. At Denver we have concentrated the headquarters of 
all of the engineering work for the Bureau of Reclamation, which 
includes the preconst ruction activities for the Bureau and the direc- 
tion of construction, planning, and designing work. 

Mr. Curtis. Do you deal primarily with new projects? 

Mr. Debler. We deal with all of the work preceding the construc- 
tion, from the inception of the plan to the completion of the project. 

Mr. Curtis. In other words, the Denver office is more or less the 
field office for the Washington office ? 




Mr. Debler. It is the jjeiieral field office for the Bureau. 

Mr. Ci'RTis. And you are in cliarjje of that, are you? 

Mr. Debler. Not Tit all. I am the hydraulic engineer. My activi- 
ties are of two kinds. One is to direct the investi^^ation of pro- 
posed projects; the other is in connection witli liyihaulic matters 
involvin<i: construction. 

Mr. Curtis. INIr. Page, how long have you heeu with the Biiivau' 
of Reclamation ? 

Mr. Page. Since 1909. 

Mr. Curtis. And how long have you been Commissioner? 

Mr. Page. I was appointed Commissioner in 1937. 

Mr. Curtis. And during this time you have been with the Bureau,, 
how much of it have you been in the Washington office? 

Mr. Page. I moved to the Washington office in 1985. It would be 
5 years. 

Mr. Curtis. We are very glad to have you gentlemen here, because 
the committee members have a definite feeling, especially after the 
testimony of yesterday, that there is a nuirked relationsliip between 
the problem of migration of destitute persons and drought, and tlm 
remedy for drought in various types of water conservation and ini- 
gation. Both of you have pre})ared excellent statements, which will 
go in our printed record. I wish, here this morning, that we had 
time to let you go clear through your complete statements, but that 
cannot be done. I have already read these statements. They will 
be read by the other members of the committee, and there are a few 
things I want you to elaborate on this morning. 

(The statements referred to are as follows:) 


Droughts have visited the Great Plains region periodically. One between 188(> 
and 1.S95 accelerated demands for participation liy the Federal Govermnent in con- 
servation of the scanty water sn[)plies of the arid and seniiarid lands of the 
West, and in so doing influenced the adoption of the national irrigation policy 
embodied in the Federal Reclamation Act of June 17, V.}02. 

Before reviewing the history of the Great Plains ai'ea which is of special 
concern to the committee today, however, I think it might be well to outline 
briefly the conditions existing in the West which make irrigation necessary and to 
review the work which has been done under our historic Federal Reclamation 

The one-hundredth meridian makes a north and south line on the map of the 
United States through the States of North Dakota. South Dakota, Nebraska, 
Kansas, Oklah(»ma. and Texas, passing near Bismarck. N. Dak., and Pierre, 
S. Dak., and between North Platte and Kearney. Nebr. East of this line the 
rainfall generall.v exceeds 20 inches annually and is sufficient for crop production. 
West of the line, except for high mountains and a narrow strip along the northern 
Paciflc coast the rainfall generally is 20 inches or less, insufficient for normal 
crop production. In this western arid and semiarid section are 1.58.600.000 acres 
of land which on the average receive less than 10 inches of rain a year, and 
r)88.7<;0.000 acres which receive betweoi 10 and 20 inches. A total of 39 percent of 
the land area of the United States, therefore, receives too little rainfall for a 
safe general agriculture unless water can be supplied artificially by irrigation 

Since it was established, the Bureau of Reclamation has, in the 17 Stares which 
lie wholly or in part west of the one-hundredth meridian, constructed irrigation 
works to reclaim 2,o00,(K)O acrt's and to provide a dejji'udable water supply to 
1.5t)0,C00 acres partially irrigated and settled through other means. On the lands 
made newl.v habitable b.v this construction, almost a million people make their 
homes on more than ."0,000 farms and in some 200 villages and towns which have 



grown up on Ilicso iirojccts. It is notalih- that these results have Ix-en acliu-vcd 
by tlie exiKMHlitiire of about $2riO,()()(MKlO, all of which is reiniimrsable. eontracts 
w-ith the water users haviui; been written under which the cost of the construc- 
tion will be returned to the United States witiiout interest. 

These States of the liifili plains were settled oritiinally under the homest«'ad laws 
which Cnibodied a land-settlement policy ai)propriate in the Innnid areas but 
wholly inadecpiate to the needs of the seniiarHl and arid lerritoi'ies. Men of vision 
who were familiar with the western country pointed out the inadeiiuacy of the 
homestead laws and the need for some other plan of settlement and development 
based on intci^ration of jrrazing and irrigali(«n. The change in policy, however, 
was not made until much too late to prevent the creation of the problem we now 
face in the Great Plains. 

By 1.SS6. when the drought I menti(.ned at the opening of this statement set in. 
much land had been plowed in the high plains and during the trying years which 
followed tli«»usands of families migrated. They did but join the multitudes which 
were streaming west to a frontier which still was open and their tragedies 
mingled and were lost in a greater drama. By li)02, when the reclamation law 
was enacted, however, it was generally recognized tliiit irrigation as essential 
to general farming in the arid and semiarld region and for close settlement of 
any considerable part of the West. The recognition of these facts and the ni- 
stitution of a Federal irrigation program, however, did not prevent expansion of 
settlement in the Great Plains during a later series of wet years and under the 
spur of wartime prices for wheat. When in 1930 the extended and critical drought 
which still is with us set in in this region, the stage thus had been set for a 
greater liuman tragedy. . , ^ ^, 

The impact of the drought on the people of the Great Plains and of other western 
areas, for tlie drought was not confined alone to the Great Plains, was indeed 
staggering Like oak le;ives in an autumn wind, some held on more firmly than 
others liut with the first blast a few were scattered and as the storm rose and fell 
there were flurries of those that had been shaken loose. The great dust storms of 
1934 which threw a pall over all of eastern United States, together with the 
stream of .lalopv caravans on the highways, brought a realization that the arncul- 
ture of this region was out of balance with nature, and that major readjustments 
of land-use programs were overdue. Not all of the migrations from the Great 
Plains especially the southern part of the area so designated, have resulted from 
drouo-ht I believe it is safe to say. however, that drought is the major factor 
in tlfe (iislodgment of population in the northern Great Plains and that it has 
contributed to the population pressure which is being relieved by migrations from 
the southern Great Plains as well. A number of studies have been made of the 
land-use adjustments which are needed in this area. The report of the Presi- 
dent's Great Plains Committee and the several reports of the Northern Great 
Plains committee are notable results of these investigations. , ^ .,. 

It h-is been most difficult to obtain reliable figures on the number of families 
who ha've joined in interstate migrations as a result of the drought. In some 
•ire-is there have i)een other influences, such as mechanization of cotton planta- 
tions Others who have made original studies of tliis question may provide the 
best information. I have made some investigations, however, which i":i.v he pei-- 
tinent For the first time in the history of the States of tins regK.n. the IIMQ 
census is showing a net loss in populati.m in the Great Plains area. Tlie follow- 
ing tabulation is self-explanatory and will. I believe, interest the committee. 

Loss Of population 

in Great Plains,^ 1930-.',0 





Net loss 

in pojiu- 



uce of 



82, 184 
64, 495 

41, 155 
52, 877 


4. 7 


South Dakota - 




1 Preliminary census reports indicate that a majority of the 10 counties m western Texas classified ^m 
the (iro^Pliins scales showed losses in population. Practically all nonirnpated counties in the eastern 
Srts of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico, counted as part of the Great Plains, likewise^ 
showed decreases. 



While the increase in iioiiulation for the United States jis ji whole in the dec- 
ade covered by the 1!M() ci'nsns will aiiproximate 7 percent, the increase in 
the poimlation of the 11 Monntain and I'acilic States, generally considered the 
irrifiation Slates, ajiitarently will approximate 14 iiercent or more. It is espe- 
cially sijinilicant. therefore, that in typical counties devoted to dry farming 
in the A\'estern States the 1940 census shows substantial losses in ])oi)ulati()n 
during the lU-year period of drought. The following table will illustrate this 

Trend of population in typical dry-farm counties west of one-lmndredth meridian 

[Based on United States census reports; 1940 figures preliminary] 













North Dakota: 








South Dakota: 




Utah; 2 



Wyoming: 2 
Campbell. - 


14, 442 

15, 087 





10, 082 


3, 687 

14, 150 

14, 074 
10, 414 


23, 231 


4, 242 

10, 848 

10, 702 


3, 746 

14, 273 

5, 484 
12, 505 


12, 140 

22, 888 
13, 436 
18, 736 





12, 487 



7, 850 
10. 570 

20, 647 

12, l.-ig 

10, 898 


13, .544 
10, 134 





10, 894 

6, 190 

17, 183 
10, 349 


8. 366 
10, 483 

3, 655 
23. 054 


5, 039 

9. 064 

10, 263 

' Counties as now constituted not in existence. 
' Counties have small areas under irrigation. 

Tlie apparent discrepancy between the statement that the 11 far Western 
States gained in population at twice the national average rate between 1930 
and 1940 and the figures wliich showed that typical dry-farmed counties in the 
semiarid and arid regions lost in population is explained, of course, by the fact 
that almost uniformly the irrigated areas of the West have continued tlieir 
unbroken growth. This point is illustrated by the following table showing the 
population growth in typical counties of these Western States in which lie 
irrigation projects, most of them constructed by the Federal Government under 
the reclamation laws. 

Trend of population in typical irrigated counties, 1900-JfO'^ 
[Based on United States census reports; 1940 figures preliminary] 




California: Imperial ' ^ 





Footnotes at end of table 


20, 457 
4, 145 

9, 267 


34, 488 
13, 591 

13. 688 
22. 197 
10, 291 


89, 576 
14, 904 
43, 453 

13, 668 
22, 281 

150. 970 
60, 903 

14, 204 


183, 3,56 
19, 227 
59, 651 

16, 564 
33, 770 


Trend of population in typical irrigated coutitdes, lOOO-J/O — Continued 

















Sioux ' 

Merrill ^ 

New Mexico: Dona Ana. 




South Dakota: Butte 3... 

Texas: El Paso « 




Washington: Kittitas 


Big Horn 





2, 268 

2, 055 
4. 584 
10. 187 

24, 886 

32, 456 

25, 239 


5, 357 

29, 088 
25, 323 






12. 893 

8. 554 



52, 699 

39, 942 
35, 179 
18, 561 

11, 822 

3.1, 2!3 
26, 932 




16, 548 


10, 907 



40, 792 
43, 463 

17, 737 

12, 105 

37. 925 
30. 930 



28, 644 
4, G67 

27, 455 

32, 407 



131, 597 

49, 021 
52, 172 
18, 154 


10, 490 

11, 754 

."iO, 105 
40, 910 



33, 875 

30, 374 

40, 366 



130, 895 

57, 437 
56, 717 
20, 104 

12, 185 

'• Irrigated principally by Federal reclamation projects except in the case of Imperial County, Calif, 
wliere supplemental water will be supplied by the All American Canal. The census year given is that 

nearest before water wns first furnislied by Federal works. 
- 1940 census figures are not immediately available for other irrigated counties in California. 
3 Not available. County as now constituted not in existence. 
* Dry-farming areas show principal decreases. 
5 Less than 10 percent of farm area irrigated. 
« City of El Paso showed loss, but irrigated areas recorded gain. 

Let us exniniue more closely these figui'es with respect to a single county — 
Seottsbluff County, Nebr., which lies in the heart of the Great Plains. In 190O 
Seottsbluff County had 2,552 residents. It was at that time largely a county 
of dry fanning and cattle raising. The North Platte Federal reclamation 
project was begun in 1905. Bv 1910 the populaticn of Seottsbluff County had 
increa.sed to 8.355: by 1920 to 20.710; by 1930 to 28,644; and through the 10-year 
drought by 1940 to 33,875, a gain of about 13 times. The increase from 1930 
to 1940 was 18.3 percent as compared with a net loss for the whole State of 
Nebraska of 4.7 percent. There are irrigated in Seottsbluff County now 190.000 
acres. At least 80 percent of the population there derives its income directly 
or indirectly from irrigated agricultfire. The only industries are those engaged 
in proces.sing farm products. The city of Scott.sbluff, the largest municipality 
in the county, reflected the stability of the farming area. Its population in- 
crea.sed 41.5 percent in the last 10 years. 

Another example might be closer — Malheur County, Oreg., a county formerly 
v.ith a small irrigated area in which dui'ing the past decade the Bureau of Recla- 
mation has develoi)ed its Owyhee and Vali' pro.i;>cls. In 1910 the population of 
:vialheur County was 8.G01 ; in V.VA} it was 1(1,907 ; in 19.30 it was 11,20!). fig- 
lures cover a score of years of normal growth of population in the small irrigated 
area of the comity. In 1940, however, the population of Malheur County 
jumped to 19,760, a direct reflection of the development of new irrigated lands. 
This development is still in progress and it is sa.fe to predict that during the 
i.ext 10 years further remarkable growth will be noted. In the table of ir- 
rigated counties above, it will be noted that there are surges in the population in the various c(iuiitics and tli;it these surges do not occur in the 
siinie decade. These colncidt' wiih the development of new lands by inigatioii 
and are thus explained. 

If one compares the population records for irrigaticm counties, one with 
another, and then contrasts these figures with the records of the dry farm 
counties, the importance of irrigation in the developuKMit and the secure growth 
of these Western States becomes clear. 
260370 — 41— pt. 4 13 



It might bo wi'll at this point to discuss more specifically the drought of the 
last decade. It has not been one long, continuous period of no rainfall but 
rather a period of relatively low rainfall. The significance of this fact is found, 
in my opinion, in the averages rather than in llu- exiremes of the record. Not 
all localities afilicted by the drought have siiffered with equal severity at all 
times, and indce<l in .soino areas where the drought has been severe the rainfall 
in individual years exceeded the long-time average. The deficiency of moist lu'c 
in the soil and subsoils, however, luakfs tJic relief furnished by a year of iKU'mal 
or even abiKU-mal rainfall of short duration. Variations from the normal of 
2 or 3 inches in areas where the average rainfall is barely .sufficient may bring 
a disaster of a severity that would not be matched in a more humid region by 
a drought constituting a variation from the normal for th;it area of 10 inche.s. 

For the information of the connnittee I have worked up a table showing the 
rainfall record of typical areas in the Great Phi ins region during this 10-year 
period. While the year 1!J4() is not included, it too, is a dry year, in some areas a 
year of severe drought. Note the extremes which dealt the severe^ blows of 1034 
and 15)36. 

Precipitation in typical Great Plains area, 1930-39 

[United States Weather Bureau Comparative Data] 



dle 2 


ern < 


State * 









14. 25 
18 34 


15. 25 


15. 66 





1.3. 13 


16. 01 
16. 13 

20. 24 
18. 42 

14. 62 


1931 -- 










1936 -- 





16. 13 



Average (10 

aCTD _ 



22. Z 






























Average departure 
from normal 


1 The average deficiency for central Nebraska is typical of the entire State, although there have been 
variations from year to year. In 1939, the departure froni normal i)recipitations was 8.69 inches in the 
eastern division; 3.1 in central Nebraska; and 4.54 inches in the western area. 

2 There is relatively little variation in South Dakota areas. 

3 Precipitation in Kansas ranges from a normal of 34.6 inches in the eastern part of the State to 18.7 inches 
in the western area. 

* Eastern areas of these States are located in Great Plains. High mountain areas of Colorado and New 
Mexico off-et low precii)i1ation in dr msht areiis. 
5 Certain counties in western Oklahoma and Texas showed a much greater rainfall than others. 
» North Dakoca's eastern area shows a long-time average of less than 20 inches.J 

Recalling now that the census figures show a net loss in population in the 
Great Plains area during the decade 1930-40, it is interesting to note that the 
bulletin. The People of the Drought States, issued in 1037 by the Works 
Progress Administration, showed that the migration from and the migration to 
(plus the births) the drought areas between 1931) and 1935 were about equal. 
It is evident that the great migration set in during and after the critical drought 
of 1934. Not all of th(> people who left areas went westward, of course, 
but between July 1, 1935, and January 1, 1940, more than 180,(X)0 persons from 
the Great Plains who were "in need of manual employment" were checked at 
the border-patrol stations of California alone. Well-foimded estimates indicate 
that about 230.000 persons entered the States of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho 
from the Great Plains in the 10-year period from 1930 to 1940. These estimates 
do not indicate that the families entering the Pacific Northwest were desti- 
tute on leaving the Great Plains, but it may be safely assumed that they had not 
salvaged much when they abandoned their homes and made the journey west- 


w^.ml ill the old ami second hand automohiles which cluttered the roads in thos<; 

The migration from the Great Plains owiiis to drought was not the only one in 
progress during the time, as has heen indicated previously. 

Large numbers of hoineseekcrs entered California. Oregon, Idaho, and Wash- 
ington ; not all have remained in the States which were their lirst or even their 
second destinations. A popidation pressure has been built up in all the Western 
States as a result of interstate migration of people, higli percentages of them 
indigent, in search of homes which they have not found. In support of this I note 
the fact that for every likely farmstead the Bureau of Reclamation has opened 
for settlement during' this period there has been a rush of applicants. Those 
who have applied and who have high (pialifications run many times the number 
of opportunities offered, sometimes as much as 10 to 1. It is common knowledge 
that many who have found places to live in the Western States are occupying 
marginallands or settlements with marginal opportunities to make decent liv- 
ings. In other words, to a large extent the migration of the past decade has 
been a flight from pillar to post, from marginal lands to marginal lands. 

There are other spots of population pressures which cause significant inter- 
state migititions. One that should be noted is in Utah. Multiplication of a 
people there has rendered the productive land area of the State inadequate to 
i;ccupy and supply properly the rural population. Many irrigated farming areas 
elsewhere are overcrowded, and in a desert country relief from such conditions, 
except when unused water resources remain for expansion of irrigation, must 
come through a migration of some strata or segment of the s<jciety. 

The migration of the thirties was attended by widespread distress, due to lack 
of settlement opportunities and of employment. The results have been reflected 
iv. the relief burdens on the Federal, State, and local governments. No com- 
plete figures are available as to expenditures by other than the Federal Govern- 
ment, but these tell a striking story- 

During the period from 198?, to July 1, 1040. the Work Projects Administra- 
tion and its predecessors expended $2,510,000,000 in the 17 States of the arid 
and semiarid region. Excluding Texas, where less than one-fourth of the popula- 
tion is in the drought area, the outlay was $250,000,000 more than the 1930 pop- 
ulation would seem to have justified on a per capita basis. 

In South Dakota, where the entire State was affected by the drought, for 
instance, the excess relief expenditures in the 7-year period were more than 
$25,000,000. California, where the impact of migrations has been most severe, 
showed an excess outlay on a population basis of more than $80,000,000. 

Expenditures from July 1, 1! 33, to June 30, 1940, by the Civil Works Admin- 
istration, Federal Emergency Relief and Work Projects Administration in the 
17 arid and semiarid States, as reported by the Work Projects Administration, 
the National Emergency Council, and Oflice of Government Reports, were as 
follows : 
Mountain and Pacific States : Great Plains States : 

Arizona $00,606,135 Kansas 161,578,802 

California 670, 516, 987 Nebraska 120, 199, 874 

Colorado 148,149,845 North Dakota 92,502,932 

Idaho 57,399,435 Oklahoma 214, 15'J, 025 

Montana 113,387,314 South Dakota 109,471,142 

Nevada 14,864,009 Texas ^ 

New Mexico 65,778,865 

Oregon 91,822,765 Total, Great 

Utah 66,314,165 Plains 697,911,775 

Washington 190, 294, 690 

Wvoming 27,978,731 Grand total (16 

^ States)^ 2,205,024,716 

Total, Mountain 
and Pacific 
States 1,507,112,941 

1 Texas relief expenditures for the 7 years totaled .i:.'',47,610.0,4. hut as less than 2.» 
percent of its population is in the drou^jht area, the Ked.Tal ou Iji.v is not included in He 
tabulated total. If it were included, the expeiidituies for the 1< t^tates would a^'tjreiiate- 

*"2 Fii'i'.'.lai'^rel'ief expenditures for the country as a whole, by tlie agencies named, totaled 
$12,843, 3S;j, 774 in the 7 years. 


Reports from typical reclamation project areas in 19.S7 showed that very few 
water users were on relief and that most of those who did reiiuire ))iihlic assist- 
ance were newcomers. In other words, the irrigated areas of the "West, gen- 
erally speaking, supported their normal population while Federal relief v^x- 
penditures were largely due in these rural areas to the influx of migrant families. 
A survey hy the Worlds Progress Administration, in cooiieration with the 
Department of Agriculture, revealed that from 1!»;5;^ to lii;^>f> the heaviest expendi- 
tui'es in F(>deriil aid of all kinds were in the counties which appeared to be most 
seriously alfected hy drought. In ],".7 counties where the yioiiulation loss was 
heaviest, the per capita expenditures for the period averaged $17.") ; in 170 counties, 
\Ahere conditions were less serious, the exix»nditures averaged $08 ])vi- c.aitita. 

It is evident that the distress which has resulted from the migrations has 
necessitated i-elief expenditui-es which are at the very least $2.")0,()(IO,()(»0 ahove 
what might be called normal requirements. The relief expenditures directly 
traceable to this cause probably are nuich higher. It is evident also that a 
detailed analysis of conditions in the irrigated areas woidd shf)W that relief 
expenditures among bona fide farmers there were extremely small. 

It is not suggested that if all of the land in the area west of the one-hundredth 
meridian for which there is water available were imder irrigation, the migrations 
and attendant drain on the Federal Treasury for relief could have been avoitU'd. 
But in the absence of an adequately implemented water-consen'ation program in 
the Great Plains and sufficient irrigated land to the westward, relief expenditures 
were imperative. That course admittedly afforded no permanent solution for 
the problems here faced. 

In this connection it may be pointed out that under the Federal reclamation 
program in 38 years there has been expended about .$2.50,(100,0(10 on projects 
•completed and in operation, as distinguisb.ed from those under constructi(»n. The 
amount approximates the excess relief expenditures in the last 7 years directly 
traceable to drought and migrations. When all projects under construction are 
completed, the cost in reimbursable funds of these permanent improvements 
will be but a little more than half of the Federal relief costs in the area in 
7 years. 

With the expenditure of about $250,000,000 on a reimbursable basis, the 
Bureau of Reclamation, as noted earlier, has actually created homes for about 
1,000,000 people on farms and in project towns. In addition to making these 
successful homes, these projects have been and will continue to be important 
sources of new wealth. 

These projects also make valuable contributions through assistance in the 
stabilization of surrounding areas. For example, crops valued at $2,6r)7,987,7f)8 
have been produced since their beginnings on these projects. On an average, it 
has been estimated each irrigated acre supports from 3 to 4 acres of range 
land. Thus the 4,000,000 acres for which the Federal irrigation works are 
prepared to provide with a full or supi)lemental water supply give value to froin 
12,000,000 to 16,000,000 additional acres. 

As a further indication of an important service, I cite the stabilization of local 
and State governments through creation of taxable wealth. Irrigated land has 
an assessed valuation in most of the Western States of 10 to 1.") times that of 
adjoining dry bind. In eastern Wyonung Federal project land is as.sessed at tin 
average of more than $30 while unirrigated farm land surrounding it has an 
assessed valuation of $2.35 an acre. In South Dakota, the valuation of irrigated 
land for purix^se of taxation is $30 an acre and the best dry farm land in the 
vicinity of a Federal project is assessed at $4.."0 an acre. The average is nnich 
less, in irrigated areas to the westward assessed values, where specialty crops 
are produced, run as high as $200 or $3(30 per acre. 

The per acre value of crops produced on Federal reclamation projects from 
1931 to 1939 averaged $36.33 compared with a national average of all field and 
fruit crops in the United States of $14.41. The following table illustrating this 
point will give the conunittee a better idea of the reason why these irrigated 
oases are stable comnumities : 



Comparison of average per acre value of all crops in United States tcith reclama- 
tion project production, 1931-39 



All field 
crops ' 

10. 3,0 

All crops 2 
ing fruit) 







Average 9 years 

All field 
crops ' 



All crops 2 
ing fruit) 

17. 65 
16. 05 


projects * 


36 33 

1 Estimate, Crop Marketing Division, Department of Agriculture. 

: Includes 7 percent for value of fruit produced, based on 1929 reports of Bureau of Census. 

3 Bureau of Reclamation reports. 

Census (1030) reports for 1929:^ ^ljo%o 

All crops *-^- ^ 

Irrigated crops 

1 Irrigation of Agricultural Lands, 1930, Bureau of the Census. 

The average per acre value of crops on reclamation projects in 1929 was $61.66. 

Federal reclamation is not an emergency program, nor can it be used m an 
emergency through rapid expansion immediately to meet critical developmg 
needs. Construction of a project requires painstaking investigations, for to build 
a project for which there was insufficient water or on which the lands were not ot 
properly high qualitv could result only in failure. To build dams and big canals 
after tlie project has been approved and authorized also takes time, ihe mireau 
of Reclamation builds for permanence since it feels that its projects will serve 
indefinitely into the future. For these reasons, the Bureau has had few new 
larmsteads to offer to the public during these years just past when the need was 
critical The expansion of our construction program was coincidental with the 
di-ought and the start of these migrations. Since 1930, however, the Bureau has 
completed facilities to provide a full water supply to 381,000 acres of land, and 
storage facilities have been completed to provide supplemental water to an addi- 
tional 304,000 acres alreadv irrigated, but inadequately supplied with water. 
Thus in this decade more than 15,000 farm families have been settled or made 

In advancing the Federal program, which seeks to contribute to a solution of 
the migrant problem, the Bureau of Reclamation is now engaged in the construc- 
tion of three types of projects : 

First. Those which within the next 10 to 20 years, under present plans, will 
In-ing 2,.500.(IOO acres of newly irrigated land into cultivation for the settlement of 
40,000 to oO.OOO families and' which will provide support for an additional 7"),000 
to' 100,000 families in nearby cities and towns. These projects are located in 
Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Montana, 
Oklahoma, and New Mexico. 

Second. I'rojects which will assure supplemental water for 3,900,000 acres of 
piesently developed irrigated areas threatened with desolation by shortages. 
These undertakings will serve the double purpose of maintaining established com- 
munities, agricultural and urban, and, through shifts in agricultural practices, will 
provide opportunities for settlement and employment of a larger population. There 
are now about 8."),00ti farm families on the land covered by these projects and about 
250,000 additional families in the urban areas dependent on them. 

Third. Water conservation :ind utility projects which will pave the way in the 
Great Plains and other arid and semiarid areas for land-use readjustments that 
will anchiu- families where they are now located and reduce the necessity for 
further migrations. Uiid(>rtakiMgs of this type under construction or for which 
funds have been provided will, it is estiniat(>d, assure rehabilitation of 2,250 farm 
families who in all probability would be compelled to join the army 
of migrants seeking a metins of liveliiiood elsewhere. Altiiough urged for several 
years as a means of combating conditions incident to the prolonged droughts, the 
iiscal year 1940 saw the tlrst appropriations availabl(> fin- small proj(>cts of this 
type. Those under way are in North and South Dakota, Montana, iuid Nebraska. 

A fourth phase of the Bureau's prognim is concerned with surveys and investi- 
gations of water resources and land available for irrigation. There are now 



.•iliproxiinately 175 locations in ihv 17 arid and somiai-id States whoi-e surveys are 
yoins forward or are projxised. Included are al)out 50 projects in the Great Plains 
I'Xtending from tli(> Canadian border to the liio (irandc. 

The most recent esiiniates show there is water available to irrigate more 
than 22.()l!0,0(10 additional acres of productive land in the 17 States of the 
West. This figure may be more meaningful when compared with the present 
total of irrigated lands in those States west of the one hundredth meridian. 
In irrigation projects of all types there are now about 2U,OUO,0(JU acres. 

Of the 2,5110,000 acres included in the new-land projects, 580.631 are in 
public land in the States of California, Arizona, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, 
and Wyoming. 

From the first, the Congress has looked upon the Federal Ileclamation 
program as con.servation activity in which settl(>ment of people was a pi-imary 
concern. At the outset the policy established in the days of the passage of 
the homestead laws that ownership should be by family sized units was 
applied to reclaimed lands. From time to time other provisions were made, 
such as the authorization for establishment of qualification recpiirements for 
settlers; provisions to prevent speculation in project lands iind thereby to> 
protect the interest of the legitimate settler; and a .special act permitting the 
acceptance of credit extended to needy prospective settlers by the Farm 
Security Administration as fulfillment of capital requirements made on aiipli- 
cauts for entry to the new farms. Among the most significant of these pro- 
nouncements, however, is that which was included this year in the Department 
of the Interior appropriation bill for 1941 (Public, 640, 76th Cong.), which 
is as follows : 

"It is hereby declared to be the policy of the Congress, in opening to entry 
of newly irrigated public lands, preference shall be given to families who have 
no other means of earning a livelihood, or who have been compelled to abandon, 
through no fault of their own. other farms in the United States, and with 
respect to whom it appears after careful study, in the case of such family, 
that there is a probability that such family will be able to earn a livelihood 
on such irrigated lands." 

There can be no doubt that it is intended that the Reclamation program 
shall assist where possible in relocation of the migrant people who are qualified 
to accept the responsibilities which go with the opportunity to develop new 
farms by irrigation. 

With respect to the projects of the w^ater conservation and utility type 
especially designed for the Great Plains and sim'lar areas, it is found from 
estimates of the Farm Security Administration, svhich has the responsibility 
for settlement of the projects of this type so far authorized for construction, 
that about 1,100 families can be rehabilitated on each 100.000 acres irrigated 
by this method. An existence, precarious at best, is provided tor fiimilies settled 
only one-third as thickly on typical areas that have been selected for develop- 
ment under the program to date. In addition, it is estimated that 600 families 
also can be rehabilitated in adjacent dry-land areas by reason of farm unit 
and population readjustments in the dry-farmed areas thus made possible. 
The following table better illustrates this point : 

Schedule of farm family acfjnstments^ — ^Vate7• conservation and utilization 

projects " 
[Based on estimates of Farm Security Administration! 




tation in 




tion by re- 


Total ad- 


BufTalo Rapids I _.. 
Buffalo Rapids II... 

Biiford Trenton 

Mirasje Flats 

Rapids Valley.. 

Bismarck Flats 

Eden Valley 

12. 000 







North Dakota 


South DaliOta 

North Dakota 




84, 076 





1 Estimate of Farm Security Administration, Department of Aprieulture, is made on the assumption that 
all irrigable land except adequate sized units retained by operators will be available for Government pur- 
chase and subdivision. , , , , .X- iU • J 

2 6 projects in Montana, North and South Dakota, and Nebraska under construction or authorized. 


Reiml)ni"s:il)U' aiiproiJri.Mtions iiuuU' for these water consevvatidii and utility 
projects represent approximately 40 percent of the outlay necessary to con- 
struct them and to make the land ready for cultivation. The remainder of the 
funds are allocated by the I'resident for labor and materials from the Work 
Projects Administration or other governmental agencies and are not necessarily 
reimbursable. The authority for projects of this type is contained in the 
Deiiartment of the Intericn- Appropriation Act of 1940 (53 Stat. 685) and the 
Wheeler-Case Act of 193!) (o3 Stat. 1418). Amendments to the latter act 
suggested to the Congress are designed to clarify its provisions and expedite 

Under this legislation a total of $8,.")00,000 of n'imbursable appropriations 
has been made. For construction and land preparation of 10 to 12 projects 
from .$10,000,000 to $1L',(X)0,(100 additional in labor and materials from the 
Work Projects Administration or the Civilian Conservation Corps will be re- 
quired. ]Mueh of the latter moneys will be in lieu of relief expenditures 
on less permanent construction. 

A tentative 5-year program submitted by Secretary of the Interior Harold 
L. Ickes to Senator Carl Hayden, of Arizona, under date of January IS, 1940, 
outlined 75 small projects in the Great Plains and arid States to the west- 
ward designed to anchor farm families in their present locations. Over-all con- 
struction costs were estimated at around $00,000,000 with about half to be made 
available on a reimbursabh* basis. Water would be supplied for areas on whicli 
from S.OOO to 10.000 families would be resettled. 

What the reclamation programs can accomplish in the next 10 years will 
be governed by the amount of money made available for tliis work. However, 
with appropriations of reimbursable funds continued at the current rate, 
and with a limited diversion of i-elief funds for water conservation and utility 
projects, results that may be expected with confidence at the end of 10 years 
can be summarized as follows: 

1. Forty thousand to fifty tliousand farm families already in the West 
will be settled on irrigated land where they will be self-sustaining. 

2. Seventy-five thousand to one hundred thousand additional families will be 
supported in cities, towns, and villages which will rise or expand in the 
wake of irrigation developments. 

3. Eighty-five thousand farm families in areas now facing shortages of water 
will be made secure in their present locations, while cities and towns with 
three times the rural population will be stabilized as well. 

4. Twenty thousand to twenty-five thousand families remaining in the Great 
Plains and similar areas will be rehabilitated. 



Preliminary reports of the 1940 Census show that water conservation is today 
a greater factcu* than ever in assuring economic security for the increasing popula- 
tion of areas in the arid and semiariil West where irrigation dominates agricul- 
tural production. The fact that so many counties thus classified show substantial 
gains in population emphasizes the importance of an authoritative inventory of 
uresent and potential irrigation development and the influence that it can and will 
exert as a stabilizing factor. 

I shall not duplicate material in the presentation by Connnissioner Page, sum- 
marizing the current program of the Bureau of Rt-clamation and other factual 
material, but will center my discussion on what iriigation exnansion can accom- 
plish in each of its major regions if water resources are utilized in the public 

With respect to irrigation characteristics, the western Ignited States may be 
divided into four zones. 


The most easterly zone occupies a north-south belt of some 200.000.000 acres, 
■with its western border along the jiinty-eigbth meridian. Designat(>d the sub- 
humid area, it is characterized by loner neriods of years when pT-ecipitation is 
srenerallv adeonate in amount and distribution for satisfactory crop production. 
Grazing is limited to areas misuited to cultivation. Irrigation receives atienlion 


only ill periods of protmiTod drought foiniiis at Ions; intorvals and is quickly 
droiiiHMl whon rains resume. While water n^sources are plentiful, even in 
dronjiht periods, for extensive development, irrigation projects are not justified 
as they would he deserted hetween drought periods and their rehahilitalioii in 
times of need would he too slow for effectiveness and loo costly for justification. 
In this area there are iniuunei'aijle opportunities for small reservoir and piuniiing 
developments, in the main adecpiate for slock watering and garden irrigation, hut 
in times of need capahle of saving small acreages of high-valued crops. Migra- 
tion from this region is not believed extensive and the majm- benefit of such 
developments is the improvement of morale. 

Of some 2,000,001) farms involved, probably not more than a half would benefit 
sufficiently by irrigation to justify its adoption. Not more than one-finirth would 
care to make the effort even with material assistance. With such assistance 
limited to cement, steel, or pumping equipment and the landowner i)erforming 
all labor, the cost is estimated at an average of .$1.00<) per farm, or a total of 
$n00,000.00O. Such a program would require years of education. The farm 
population directly benefited would total about 3.000.0(10; indirectly the benefits 
would touch fully 10.<K)0.00O persons on the farms and their nearby business 
centers. Stabilization, rather than an increase in population, is anticipated from 
irrigation activities in this area. The Bureau of Reclamation is not active in 
this area except in a few minor instances. 


Bordered on the east by the subhumid area and on the west by the arid lands 
bordering the intermountain area, the Great Plains region, 200 to 300 miles in 
width, reaches from the Canadian border through the Texas Panhandle. Average 
rainfall varies from lo inches to 25 inches per year but often falls off a fourth or 
more for years on end. The easterly border has normally a mixed agriculture, 
turning more strongly to wheat in the drier years. Centrally of the area, wheat 
is king wherever lands are suitable for bonanza farming : a year of drought brings 
economic coma ; protracted drought, vrholesale migration. The westerly portion 
is frankly regarded as a plain agi-icnltural gamble, si)arsely settled and boom- 
ing only with providential iviinfall coming all too seldom. Average farm 
increase from about IGO acres at the eastern Vjorder To fully ."00 acres at the west. 

Irrigation in this region, while important in some localities, is negligible for 
the area as a whole. The objective of irrigation here is to provide farming 
opportunities for potential migrants and their offsping. and to assist in stabilizing 
adjacent towns, dry-farmed areas, and x'ange lands. Much of the dry-farmed area 
should be depoinilated and restored to range. 

Although several streams crossing the Great Plains have their origin in moun- 
tain snows, notably the Missouri, Platte, and Ai'kansas Rivers, only the Missouri 
River and Yellowstone River carr.v large tlows of mountain waters into, and 
through, the area. The others, like the local streams, are dependent on erratic 
rains, except where sandy soils maintain steady Hows, already largely 

Utilization of Missotu'i and Yellowstone Rivers waters involves pumping with 
moderate acre costs for construction but formidable annual costs for power. 
While numerous small projects exist, there are also large projects costing up to 
$100,000,000 without opportunity for favorabl<> partial developments. 

All other streams require costly storage regulation. Droughts fostering irriga- 
tion also impair stream flows while lack of cheap reservoir sites preclude hold- 
over from .vears of better flow. In such developments, allowance is necessary for 
stream depletion being effected through thousands of small reservoirs yet to be 
constructed for livestock watering, recreation, and minor irrigation. 

The average irrigated area per farm in this ar(>a should be around SO acres, 
with a farm iiopulation of four persons per farm and a town population of eight 
persons per farm. Stabilization should enable adjacent lands to absorb a popula- 
tion equal to those at present on lands to be irrig;ited. 

A small part of the available water in this area would be used to supplement 
areas already irrigated. Opportunities for power development are very limited 
in this region. Flood control is not often warranted. 

Although not truly a part of the Great Plains region, the lower Rio Grande 
Valley has been included in the statistics for the (Jreat Plains region. 



This region includes the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains and reaches 
westerly to within a few hundred miles of the Pacific coast. It is essentially 
an area of range and irrigation as dry fanning is almost negligible. Livestock 
production heavily intluences farming operations. Irrigation development will 
be limited by water supplies and will never exceed 5 percent of the land area. 
Lands to be irrigated are arid and impeopled. Tliousands of small re.servoirs 
built for range improvement have depleted irrigation supplies. Other thousands 
are proposed. Care should be exercised in such construction to avoid unnecessary 
waste, by useless evaporation, of waters needed for irrigation. 

About one-half the remaining unused water, and in places all, will be needed 
as a supplemental supply for irrigation systems built in times of better run-off. 
More money will lu'cd he expended for reservoirs than for other works. 
Opportunities for incidental power development abound and power sales will 
assist in effecting repayment of costs besides providing needed power for proper 
development, including that of the mineral resources. Flood control is gen- 
erally desirable and can be advantageously combined with irrigation regulation. 

Parts of the irrigated area are overpopulated, particularly in Utah, and ether 
areas are tending in that direction. Supplemental water to increase productive 
power of the land, and to enable crop changes, will stem a migration that is 
already alarming in special areas. Settlement opportunities for migrants will 
be afforded to the extent that irrigation development outstrips the needs for 
local population increases. The farm population in this area, including farm 
hands, will average five people per farm, and town population fully two persons 
to each one on the farm. Irrigated farms will average about 60 acres to the 
family, although many large holdings now exist. 


Comprising Washington, western Oregon, California, and southwest Arizona, 
this region represents the area directly tributary to tidewater cities. With few 
exceptions, water supplies exceed land areas that may be developed. A rapidly 
growing population, due more to immigration than local increase, has spurred 
irrigation development. No further generalizations are applicable. 

The Columbia Basin project of central Washington, to cost about $400,000,000 
for irrigation and power development, will irrigate 1,200.000 acres of lands of 
negligible present population. With ci'ops ranging from alfalfa to snvall fruits, 
the average farm area is estimated at 50 acres, the farm population at five 
persons per farm, and the town population at two persons to one on the farm. 
The Roza division of the Yakima project, also in central Washington, will bring 
into production 72,000 acres of similar lands. To the east of the Columbia Basin 
project another 400,000 acres may ultimately be developed, though at present 
satisfied with dry farming, and mainly wheat. 

The Puget Sound-Willamette Valley, already in cultivation except for a mod- 
erate increase through further clearing, is graduallj' adopting irrigation to over- 
come lack of summer precipitation and secure increased yields and improved 
ciuality. Irrigation sentiment is weak and its development will come slowly. 
Irrigated areas in this valley are expected to reach 500.000 acres with an average 
of 40 acres and six persons per irrigated farm. A corresponding town population 
of three persons off the farm to each one on the farm is anticipated. 

The Central Valley of California contains nearly 2,000,000 acres rerpiiring sup- 
plemental water and ab<mt 7.000,000 acres still to be irrigated at a construction 
cost of about $1.(H)0,OI10,<:(IO for works to provide flood control, irrigation, and 
incidental power development. The entire cost of tlds development, aside from 
proper allocations to Hood control and navigation, will l)c rejiaid by revenues 
from tlie sale of water and of power. The present authorized project, with a 
cost of about $228,000,000, will provide needed supplemental water and enable rhe 
irrigation of about 175.000 acres of new lands, mostly in the San Joatpiin Valley. 
The provision of supplemental water supplies will provide settlement possibilities 
equivalent to a new area of 200.0110 acres. 

The 7,000.0(10 acres of new lands that eventually may be irrigated are about 
equall.v divided between uncultivated lands largely in tlie San .Toaquin Valley 
and thirdy i)eoi)led grain lands, largely in Sacramento Valley. With irrigation, 
farms are expected to avi'rage 40 acres with five jieople each, in San Joaquin 
Valley, and NO acres with six people each in Sacramento Valley. Town population 
in this valley is estimated at four persons per farm jierson. 



South(>rn C.Mlifoniin, except in tl>e Iiiiiieri:il inid CoiU'liellii Valleys iiiuler the 
All-Aineiican Canal, offers little dijpoil unity for added irrijialion as its water 
supi)lies are so largely and intensivi'ly utilized. 'i"he Metioiiolilan Aqueduct im- 
portation of l,flr)l),0:!0 aeie-t'eet annually fnmi the ("olorailo Rivei' will do little 
more than overcome deficiencies in iriij;ation supplier for exist injj areas and 
meet f^i-owinfr municipal and industrial refiuirenieiits in the Los Angeles region. 
Some farmed :iri'as will he more intensively farmed and suhdivided hut such 
gains will he offset hy equal or greater losses in areas converted to nonagricnltural 

The All-American Canal project of Southern California and the Gila i)ro.iect 
In Arizona will ultimately place ahout iS(K),(MK> acn^s of desert, largely puhlic 
land, under irrigation at a cost of about $1()0,(KK),(K)0. More than half the ulti- 
mate area will receive service from woiks now under construction. The average 
farm area for these lands is estimated at HO acres with four persons i)er farm 
In addition to the present farm population, and a town po])ulation of three times 
HS many. Much of the area is a sandy desert soil, adapted only to specialized 
iTops after expensive preparation. 


Construction hy tlie Bureau of Reclamation falls into four categories. The 
Boulder Canyon project, with its All-American and Coachella Canals serving 
Imperial and Coachella Valleys, the Central Valley project of California, and the 
Columbia basin project with its Grand Coulee Dam, comprise a group of nuiltiple- 
piirpose projects especially authorized for construction with general funds. 
Boulder Dam costs will be repaid almost wholly hy power revenues, as will sub- 
stantial investments in the Central Valley project and Grand Coulee Dam. Cost 
of the All-American and Coachella Valley Canals will he repaid under the i-eclama- 
tion law ; on the others, costs allocated to irrigation will l)e so repaid. 

Most projects now under construction were authorized mider provisions of the 
reclamation law and depend on appropriations from the reclamation fund. Prior 
to 1D;j9 practically all costs were charged to irrigation, to be repaid in most cases 
in 40 years without interest, and power revenues assisted in repayment. The 
Reclamation I'roject Act of lO'If)' provides for allocation of construction cost to 
irrigation, powei", flood control, and other purposes, with irrigators resivinsible 
only for the repayment of costs allocated to irrigation. All major projects involve 
multiple uses. 

A 1939 appropriation of $.5,000,000 provides for construction and settlement of 
projects in the Great Plains region. The projects included in this program at 
this time include the BulTalo Rapids units 1 and 2 in Montana, Rapid Valley 
project in South Dakota, the liuford-Trenton and Bismarck projects in North 
Dakota, the Mirage Flats project in Nebraska, and the Flden project in Wyoming. 
The Saco Divide unit of the Milk River project in Montana may be added. Con- 
struction is carried out with Work Projects Administration labor and repayment 
requirements are limited to exiienditures from the .');r),t!On,()';iO appropriation, to be 
repaid in 40 years without interest. 

The Wheeler-Case law of August 11, 1939, authorized construction of projects 
with the aid of AVork Projects Administration, Civilian Conservation Corps, and 
other Federal agencies. Outside assistance may also be accepted. Repayment 
is required in 40 years, without interest, of fluids expended from appropriations 
under this act, togethei' with such other part of any expenditures as the I'resident 
may direct, not exceeding costs allocated to irrigation. An appropriation of 
.$3,.5()0,0tK1 was made f(n- the fiscal year 1941. I'rojects are to be limited to a 
maxinuim use of ,$1,0;H),000 of Wh(>eler-Case funds, per project. 

In the Great Pli'.ins region iiroject-construction costs are estimated to average 
.$125 per acre, with .$7.i estimated as the limit of repayment ability. Here annual 
costs for operation are made unusuidjy high hy power costs for the many projects 
requiring pumping. Flood control allo<ations are seldom justified and construc- 
tion jnust therefore largely come under the Great Plains and Wheeler-Case 
authorizations. Some, however, are too large to come under the Wheeler-Case 
law and at present can only be built hy sjiecial authorization under the 1939 
rechunation law. 

In the Intermounlain region many of the smaller projects can only be con- 
stnu-ted under the Wheeler-Case law as irrigation interc^sts could not repay all 
costs properly chargeable to irrigation, and power possibilities are unattractive. 
The larger projects usually justify flood control or power allocations adequate to 
take up construction costs not properly allocable to irrigation. Project develop- 



ii'onts, inchidiiis pmAer, aro estimaled to average $160 per acre, of which a large 
parr will l)p repaid by irrijiation aud power. 

The siliuitit'u on the west coast is similar to tliat in the Internionntain region, 
except that little development will come under the provisions of the Wheeler-Case 
law, and average constrnetion costs of .$!.")() will be fully repaid out of income from 
sales of water and power. 

In the HS years of its construction activities the Bureau of Reclamation has 
transformed desert areas into more than no.UtWt farm homes in 15 States. 

Of these irrigated farms, which represent about one-fifth of the total thus 
supplied with water in the United States, there are around 10,00() in the Great 
Plains region, 34,00l> in the Intermountain area; and S.UOD in the West Coast 

Throughout its history the Bureau of Reclamation has preceded construction of 
each project by an invesUgatiou of its water and land resources. Available funds 
have never been adequate to the task of providing inventory of western resources, 
but the purpose has been held in mind so that the work should lead to a com- 
prehensive view of the possibilities and the potentialities of all areas of the West. 
It has long been recognized that the social and economic development of the West 
rests largely on economic utilization of its limited water supplies. 

I would like, therefore, to review for the benefit of the committee some of the 
estimates we are now able to make with respect to future irrigation developments 
in the arid and semiarid region. There are at this time approximately 20,000,000 
acres under irrigation in the 17 Western States. Our investigations have brought 
a conviction that unused waters can be conserved to give an assured supply to the 
present lands and to reclaim an additional area slightly larger than the present 
area. Supplemental water for areas already developed will bring a larger meas- 
ure of security and increased productivity to 11,000,000 acres or 123,000 farms 
which are now or will be in the future faced with retrogression because of 
existing or developing water shortages. 

I am referring, of course, about what now seems to us the ultimate develop- 
ment. This picture, in other words, is what might be seen at some time far in the 
future when the projects have all been built and our w^aters utilized so far as 

There is water and suitable land to create approximately 383,000 new farms. 
On these new farms to be irrigated, and in the towns which will grow up among 
them, nearly 6,000,000 people will make their homes. These future developments 
W'ill create property values of $16,000,000,000. In addition, the supplemental water 
projects yet to be' constructed can provide opportunities for 679,000 persons on 
40,000 additional farms and the accompanying developments. 

A table has been prepared to give a clearer picture of the possibilities presented 
in this arid and semiarid region by the unused water and land resources. 

Present and potential irrigation development in ivestern United States 


Areas now irrigated 

Farm homes created 


Area to receive supplemental 
water (acres) 

Farm homes to be protected 

New area to be irrigated (acres). . 


Supplemental water projects: 

farm homes to be created 

Added population: 

On fririns -- 

In towns 

New land projects: 

Farm homes created 

Added population: 

On farms - - 

In towns 

Total new farm homes --- 

Total additional population 

Propertv values to be created 

Total ultiiuato irrigated area (acres). . 
Total ultimate farm homes 

Great Plains 

2, 100, 000 

700. 000 

7, 000 

4, 5<X), 000 


8, 000 







6, 600, 000 



13, 400, 000 
135, 000 

8, 000, 000 

f)(i, 000 

6, 400, 000 


165. 000 
330, 000 

107, 000 

535. 000 

1, 070, 000 


2, 100, 000 

$4, 000, 000. 000 

19, 800, 000 

275, 000 

West coast 

5, 800, 000 

3, 000, 000 

.10. (K)0 



120, (XK) 


880, 0(K) 

2, 540, 000 
230. 000 

3, 580, 000 
$10, 600, 000. 000 

16, 900, 000 





22, 000, 000 




1, 639, 000 

4, 058, 000 

428, (KM) 

«, 376. 0(H1 

$16, OIX), 000, 000 

43, 300, OU) 



The accompii living map locates tlie areas now iiiii^ated, gives the locations of 
Fetli'ral i)i-o.ji'cts iiiider roust nirti<tii, and indicates the acreage, by regious, that 
Is snsceptible of irrifiation. (See map facing p. I'lH'-. ) 

The enactment of the Wheeler-Case law has materially broadened the field of 
activity for the Bnreau in that it paves the way for the construction of numerous 
small meritoriou.s projects which cannot be expected to repay entirely their cost 
of construction, as re(piired by the older reclamation law. The lack of repayment 
ability on these projects is offset through the use of Work Projects Administration 
and Civilian Conservation Corps labor, which might otherwise be employed on 
less permanent work. 

At the present rate of development, supplemental water would be annually 
extended tt) an average of 2.000 farm units, and the resulting reduction in size of 
farms would release 1.000 farm units for new settlers. New irrigation projects 
would bring in 7.000 new farm units per year. The farm and town population 
supported by these developments would average 110,000 persons per year and their 
wealth would increase at the rate of $300,000,000 per year. 

Construction of irrigation projects is well adapted to providing constructive 
work in areas where it is needed, and where the alternative is largely one 
of direct relief. The irrigated regions are practically devoid of industrial 
establishments that will benefit by war-defense activities. In some localities 
increased mining will provide some employment but not in numbers. The pro- 
gram of construction of schools, municipal improvements, and highway construc- 
tion fostered by various forms of Federal financial assistance in the past 7 
years, has veiy largely filled all justifiable needs of this nature. 

Iri'igatiou construction work, particularly with the force account basis under 
the Wheeler-Case law, permits the utilization, to a large degree, of local labor 
with little or no previous construction experience. An annual expenditure of 
$75,000,000 per year of reimbursable funds, with allowance for the use of 
Works Progress Administration labor, will provide 100,000,000 man-hours of 
labor per year for local residents — 30 hours a week for 65,000 workers. The 
further expenditure of about $25,000,000 annually for local supplies, services. 
and the employment of skilled labor will further assist in quickening business 
life in the communities with benefit to distressed farmers. Such monetary 
assistance will effectively anchor large numbers of prospective migrants until 
completion of irrigation works enables permanently increased agricultural 


Mr. Curtis. Mr. Page, this committee has begun to learn something 
about the need and work of the Bureau of Reclamation at first hand 
from refugees from drought States we have encountered in other re- 
gional hearings. We also heard yesterday something about the general 
problem of climatic conditions peculiar to this region. I wish you 
would address yourself briefly to the condition in the West which 
makes irrigation necessary, and review the work which has been 
done by the Bureau of Reclamation. 


Mr. Page. The Bureau of Reclamation was organized by the act 
of June 17, 1902, for the primary purpose of replacing, with irriga- 
tion developments, the losses in natural resources which occurred in 
Western States through tlie sale of pulilic land, through the use of 
the oil supplies and tlie other minerals. The Reclamation Bureau was 
originally financed by aggregating the revenues from those sources — 
from the natural resoiu-ces of the 17 Western States — into a fund for 
the construction of irrigation projects, and for 38 years we have been 
operating in that field. Our activities, by law, are confined to public- 
land States plus Texas. Texas had a special act which included it 
under the reclamation program. 



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Mr. Curtis. AVliat States aiv inrliided in tlu* ])u])lic-land States? 

Mr. Page. Nortli Dakota, Soutli Dakota, Nebraska. Kansas, Okla- 
homa, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoniin<j:, Montana, Utah, Nevada, 
Arizona, Idaho, California, Oregon, and Washinj^ton. Nearly all 
the States west of the Mississippi River. Texas was added sometime 
later, because it wasn't a public-land State. 

INIr. Curtis. Now, will you, just for the record, briefly explain what 
the term "public-land State" means? 

Mr. Page. Public-land State was the designation of those States in 
which the purchase carried the title of the land in that area to the 
United States. It was then made available to settlers under the Home- 
stead Act and the Settlement Act. And the areas which have been 
made for forest reserves, for national [)arks. and thinirs of that kind, 
also are public lands. The returns from the disposal of those public 
lands went direct to Federal Treasury. 

Mr. Curtis. Thank you ; you may proceed. 

Mr. Parsons. Mr. Pa^je, ri<2;ht there, when these different States were 
admitted into the United States, it was with reservations, and the Fed- 
eral Government reserved a right to the public land, is that right ? 

Mr. Page. I think that is right, yes; that is, until the lands pass to 
private ownership, the title is in the United States. TJie experience of 
the Bureau has indicated that in those 17 Western States there are 
farms M^th different irrigation demands. Roughly, Ave speak of the 
territory west of the hundredth meridian as irrigation territory, be- 
cause in that section rainfall is generally insufficient to produce crops 
without artificial application of water, which is irrigation. The hun- 
dredth meridian is a straight line, and the land between the humid and 
the semiarid territory is not a straight line, but generally speaking, 
the hmidredth meridian is about the eastern limit of what is commonly 
considered the irrigation territory. I might say that in connection 
with that hundredth meridian, there are lands on the west side which 
scarcely need irrigation, and lands on the east side which do need irri- 
gation for successful cultivation. There is no definite line on which 
you can say, "This is," or "That is not." 

Incidentally, this map which I have on the wall here represents the 
rainfall chart, and shows the conditions which prevail, the hundredth 
meridian being in the territory in which the rainfall is approximately 
20 inches. (See map on p. 1577.) 

Mr. Curtis. Mr. Page, right there, you are going to leave that map, 
are you ? 

Mr. Page. Yes. The rainfall nomenclature that is on this map indi- 
cates very definitely the difference between the so-called humid and the 
semiarid and arid territory, which causes the need for irrigation. Now 
the line along the hundredth meridian, generally, has about 20 inches 
of rainfall, and if that were 20 inches of rainfall every year, crops 
could be raised. But it takes very little variation from that 20 inches 
to make a radical difference in the productive capacity of that land, 
an inch in 20 being quite different from an inch in 40 inches of rainfall. 
In other words, a very slight variation from the average makes a 
radical difference in the percentage of rainfall which is available. And 
it is for tliat reason that hundreclth meridian is more or less considered 
the eastern edge of the irrigation territory. 



The Biuoau has been operating 38 years, and there are 40 operat- 
ing pi'ojects ^vhich are now in existence. Since 1933 a considerably 
augmented program has been made possible, and there are some '25 
|)i'ojects now under consti'uction. These will practically doul)le the 
ii-rigaled area when they are cxmipleted. They include such big ])roj- 
ects as the Columbia Basin and the project in California known as the 
Central Valley, and a number of smaller undertakings. Until 1933 
the ])rogram was linuted to the revolving fund, which prevented ap- 
propriations and prevented construction at the rate which seemed 
justified. Since that time, the larger api)ropriations have been 
carried from the general fund of the Treasui-y, and smaller ones have 
been carried through the revolving fund. I might say here that the 
law requires that any consti'uction which is made by the I^ureau, or 
contemplated by the Burean, requires contracts by which the bene- 
ficiaries will agree to repay the total cost of the construction to the 
United States, within a maximum of 40 years, without interest. That 
is the fundamental requirement of the Reclamation Act. 

In 1939 the act was broadened sojnewhat by permitting an alloca- 
tion of cost to flood control and power, which would be carried by 
the Federal Treasury, if it was found, in the joint opinion of the Army 
engineers and the Bureau, that flood control and power value existed 
in the project. So that part of the cost of the project which prop- 
erly can be allocated to flood control or power is not carried by the 
irrigators. That is the basis on which we have been operating. An 
irrigation project is not a simple thing, and we do not consider that 
these projects can be instituted and pushed as an emergency measure. 
It is a continuous, stabilized undertaking, which has been operating, 
as I say, for 38 years, and it takes a long time to initiate and plan and 
construct a project of great magnitude. 


Mr. Curtis. Mr. Page, the ScottsblufF territory, up on the North 
Platte, is one of the oldest of the projects which have been developed? 

Mr. Page. Yes ; that was started in 1905. 

Mr. Curtis. It has a very definite relation to the population trend 
in the State of Nebraska, does it not? 

Mr. Page. Well, I think that can be cited as a typical case, where 
the trends through the five States are reversed. In other words, gen- 
erally speaking, the population trend, as shown by the census, in the 
States of Kansas, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, and Oklahoma, 
have shown a reduction, and yet Scottsbluff County, in 190."), at the 
time the North Platte project was started, had 2,552 residents. In 
1910 that poi)ulation had increased to 8,355; bv 1920, to 20,710; in 
1930 it was 26,644; by 1940, to 38,875, a gain of about 18.3 percent in 
that one county, as compared to the State as a whole with a decrease 
of 4.7 percent. 

Mr. Curtis. That project is paid for now? 

Mr. Page. No ; it is in the process of paying. It has been i)aying 
the charges which have come due, but it is not wholly paid out as yet. 

Mr. Curtis. Being among the first of them, it was put in on a 20-year 
basis, was it not ? 


Mr. Page. Ori<>iniilly, on a 10-year basis. Congress passed tlie re- 
quirement tliat it all be paid back in 10 years; then they modified it to 
be paid back in 20 years, and then finally, in 40 years. A few projects 
like the North Thitte have a 5 percent crop repayment plan anthoi'ized 
from 19i24 to 1926. The adjustment of those contracts and the initia- 
tion of some of the phases of the contemplated projects clianged the 
terms and it isn't yet entirely i)aid out. Nor are tlieie any projects 
entirely paid out. 

Mr. Curtis. Are they making progress? 

Mr. Page. Yes, sir. 

STATUS or farjmers' payments 

Mr. Curtis. Are very many of the farmers in default^ from the vari- 
ous reclamation projects? 

Mr, Page. No; the law lias authorized, this last year and for the last 
2 or 3 years, the Secretary to study the projects and make such 
revision of their contract schedules as he finds is necessary, due to 
drought or some other factor beyond their control, and I think in no 
year of the last two or three, even during this drought, has it been nec- 
essary to reduce the level of installments in any year more than 10 per- 
cent. There was a net deferment of approximately 10 percent in 1939 
and 1938. 

rainfall record past 5 TO 7 YEARS 

Mr. Curtis. Now, getting back to the rainfall map, I assume that 
is a recent map of the last year or tw^o ? 

Mr. Page. Yes; that v^as taken recently from the Weather Bureau 

Mr. Curtis. Now, going througli the Dakotas and Nebraska and 
Kansas and down through Oklahoma and Texas, it is indicated that 
rainfall is from 20 to 30 inches over a strip through there. Now, I un- 
derstand that for the last 5 to 7 years there was a large portion of this 
country on west where they have had considerably less than 20 inclies. 

Mr. Page. That is true. Of course, this map is made up on the basis 
of average rainfall as the Weather Bureau has seen it for many years. 

Mr. Curtis. Five or ten years ago they had more than 20 to 30 inches 
in a lot of that region so if you look at a map in 1910 and 1940, there 
would be a difference ? 

Mr. Page. No two maps that affect that territory are alike. Perhaps 
an unfortunate thing was that at the time of which yon si)eak, 1910, 
there was a surplus of rainfall, that is, in every rainfall period. This 
augmented the rush to put all that territory into wheat, and it com- 
bined, for quite awhile there, with the World War price of wheat, 
to produce an unfortunate situation on the prairie. 

Mr. Curtis. Has this area steadily been reducing its ground water 
for many years? 

Mr. Page. Well, that is what the records indicate, where records are 
kept on the ground water. I think the geological survey will show the 
lowering of the groinid water in practically the whole territory, even 
to the point where the artesian water in the Dakotas, where it w^as so 
plentiful for awhile, has almost disappeared. 

Mr. Curtis. Now, if normal rainfall should come back to this area, 
of 20 to 30 inches, how long would it take to restore the ground level, 


restore tlie moisture this territory liad. for instance, say 30 years a<;()? 

Mr. Page. I don't believe anybody can estimate that, Congressman, 
It would take many 3'ears, because the subsoil is dry. and tlie volume of 
Avater required is so great that the manner of getting ihe water into 
the subsoil would be the determining factor as to how long it would 
take. But as a general statement. 1 would say that it would take a long 

Mr. CuKTis. There wouldn't he any uniform absorption, anyway, 
would there ^ 

^[r. Pagp:. No; it varies all the way from a little or none to a wny 
heavy absorption. 

Mr. Curtis. So there isn't very much hope of a complete restoration 
of this area for many, many years to come? 

Mr. Page. I can see no real hope for permanent stabilization of this 
area through that process. We will have, I think, succeeding cycles 
of abundant rainfall and raising the ground water, and succeeding 
cycles of drought. In 1887 Major Wesley Powell, who was then 
liead of the Geological Survey, warned the territory that it wasn't a 
farm territory, because the rainfall would not be considered adequate 
to farm year in and year out, with an assurance of a water supply. 

Mr. Parsons. At that point, Mr. Page. I would like to connnent on 
this proposition. Nebraska, as I recall, is not an old State, and some 
of this borderline territory, where there is almost enough rainfall 
but yet not quite enough, during the years when the soil had stored 
up an abundance of plant food over hundreds of years required less 
rainfall than it would now, is that true ? 

Mr. Page. I think so, and every drop of rainfall they got Avas ef- 
fective under those conditions. 

Mr. Parsons. So perhaps there are cases where, in soine of the 
l)orderline territory, if we had gone out there with irrigation 10 
years ago, the situation now would be diiferent ? It might not have 
been advisable 20 or 30 years ago, as there was some doubt about there 
being a need ^ Is that right ? 

Mr. Page. I do not think that is true. The droughts have pointed 
a finger right at the territory which could well use irrigation if it could 
be made available. 


Mr. Curtis. Now, Mr. Page, you have told us something about the 
Reclamation Act. Will you just touch briefly on the so-called Case- 
Wheeler Act, so the con'nnittee will know what that is and how it 
operates, and describe any distinction from the general Keclamation 

Mr. Page. Well, the general Reclamation Act requires 100 percent 
repayment of everv dollar invested in the construction; it inust be 
repaid. The Case-Wheeler program was designed by the Northern 
Great Plains Committee of the National Resources Planning Board, 
as a project, or a program, on which the relief exi)enditures could be 
used to the best advantage for the permanent rehabilitation of the 
territory. In other words, the relief labor was to be used m the 
construction of these projects, and these costs might not be reimbursed, 
if the President saw fit to use the law; that is the set-up now. 

260370—41 — pt. 4 16 


Mr. Curtis. Does tlitit deal witli sniiiller project^, aiul what limit 
is there on it ( 

Mr. Page. There is no limit i)i the present bill. On tlie other hand, 
the i-eqiiirement, or the demand for relief i)articipation, jjretty well 
limits it to the smaller ])i-ojeets, where relief labor is available there 
locally. That automatically keeps it to a snraller type of project, 
Avhicli in our experience is the most desirable for that type of area. 

Mr. Curtis. And the practical way it works out is that the ap- 
{)ropriation under the Case-Wheeler Act goes for those items in the 
huilding- of a project that cannot be taken care of from the relief ap- 
propriation, such as drawing- on W. P. A. labor and that sort of thing? 

Mr. PxVGE. Well, actually it works out that way. We have an appro- 
priation of three and a half million dollars this year for the nonrelief 
cost of these projects, the expectation being that all the relief labor 
available will be used, and the machinery and rights-of-way and tlungs 
of that kind will be paid for from the appropriated money, all of which 
must be repaid ; that is, the appropriated money. 

Mr. Curtis. And 2 years ago we had $5,000,000 1 

Mr. Page. Yes, sir. That was outside of the Case-Wheeler Act. It 
was a separate item not really authorized by a general law. 

Mr. Curtis. What was the effective date of the Case-Wheeler Act, 
the first one, approximately ? 

Mr. Page. Well, it was the last Congress, I think. 

Mr. Debler. August 11, 1939. 

Mr. Curtis. Ancl many of these so-called smaller projects under the 
Case-Wheeler Act that liave been started, or are being considered, are 
in the so-called Dust Bowl ? 

Mr. Page. All of them that have started are in the Great Plains area. 

Mr. Curtis. And as you say, it was more or less an outgrowth of the 
activity of the Great Plains Committee that focused national attention 
on the matter of irrigation ? 

Mr. Page. That is true. You remember, perhaps, the President sent 
a committee up through from Texas to North Dakota to inspect this 
area in 1936. I happened to be a member of that committee, and the 
creation of the Great Plains Committee followed that, and they devised 
this program of what we call subsidized irrigation to the extent of 



Mr. Curtis. Mr. Debler, will you discuss briefly what can be accom- 
plished by the expansion of irrigation in each of the major regions 
where water resources can be utilized in the public interest? 

estimate on extent and possible results of future expansion of 


Mr. Debler. As a guide to these areas I would like to refer to that 
map on the wall. (See map on opposite page.) It shows the 17 
Western States area, divided into 3 regions, the easterly one being 
the Gieat Plains region. 

Mr. Debler. The Great Plains region is that lying in the westerly 
|)art of the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, and the 


1003170—41— pt. 4 (Puce p 


easterly part of Montana, Wvomiiiii- and Colorado. Tlie Interniountain 
region is the broad expanse lying between the (ireat Plains region and 
the States nsually called the Pacitie, or west coast, States, and then we 
liave. skirting the Pacific, the west coast region. The characteristics 
of those regions are different. In the Great Plains icgion the 
streams are very erratic; the water that is going to be available for use 
is largely of local origin, since the streams that head in the mountains 
are depleted before they reach the Great Plains. 

The Chairman. There would be considerably more water for dis- 
tribution if it wasn't for the fact that the streams usually rise in the 
mountains, get their sources from the snows, and that water runs off 
so rapidly it does the soil very little good; is that true? 

Mr. Debler. Well, the reason that those streams do not reach tlie 
Great Plains region is that irrigators there have passed through the 
slopes to the east of the mountains, and they have used up those 
streams, used up all the snow water run-off, excepting only in the case 
of the Missouri and the Yellowstone. Irrigation started about 1850 in 
Colorado, spread in all directions, and reached its peak of area during 
the years of better run-off, about 20 years ago. Since then it has just 
been a process of stabilizing irrigation, rather than expanding, in 
that area. 

Mr. Parsons. How many areas, approximately — I assume that the 
Bureau of Reclamation, either you or Mr, Page can answer this ques- 
tion — I assume the Bureau of Reclamation has made a surve}^ of all 
])arts of the United States that might be utilized in irrigation. How 
many millions of acres could be reclaimed that would be reasonably 
profitable, if the Federal Government furnished the money? 

Mr. Debler. In the Great Plains region, we have 2,000,000 acres 
irrigated and about 2,500,000 more for which we feel there is suf- 
ficient water for irrigation. In the intermountain region we have 
about 13,400,000 aci-es irrigated and 6,400,000 acres more to be irri- 
gated. In the west coast region, there are 5,800,000 acres irrigated, 
and 11,100,000 acres vet to be irrigated. 

Mr. Parsons. That would be about 20.000,000 acres? 

INIr. Debler. The totals are 21,300,000 irrigated and 22,000.000 more 
to be irrigated, making a final total of 43,300,000. 

Mr. Parsons. How many families would the 22,000,000 to be irri- 
gated take care of? 

Mr. Debler. The 22,000,000 still to be irrigated will sui)port 383,000 
farm homes. However, of that 21.300,000 now iri-igated, about one- 
half has a very inadequate water supply. When that present area is 
stabilized with sup])lemental water, it will provide land for 123,000 
new homes. Adding the 123,000 in that area to the 383,000 on the 
strictly new^ land, it gives us a total of 506,000 new farm homes to be 
created by irrigation. 

Mr. Parsons. Or a population of possibly 3,000,000? 

Mr. Debler. That makes us a farm ))opulation of about 3.000,000 
and a town population of about two to three times that much more. 

Mr. Parsons. Yes. That would take care of practically all the agri- 
cultural migrants we have on the road today, and i)robal)ly a little 

What would be the cost of such projects, the initial cost? 


Mr. Deblkr. They will average about $100 per aeie for the new 
projects. That makes a total cost for the new projects of about 
$2 ,'200,000,000. 

Mr. Ci'RTis. Of course, as a matter of reality, to construct those 
on a sound basis would take quite a period of time, would it not ? 

Mv. Derij^r. By all means. If we went at our present rate, we 
wouldn't have that done for 200 years. 

Mr. Curtis. Yes. Now, in connection with the migrants that should 
be taken care of, and the increase in town population, there is another 
very important item that we cannot overlook. Take, for example, 
Scotts Blutf County : It goes without saying that the industrial east 
has sold many more times the number of automobiles, radios, type- 
writers, pianos, furniture, and thousands of other things that people 
buy, in that irrigated section than they have in some of these areas 
where the population has been on the decline in these last 20 years. So 
the effect of reclamation is felt throughout the entire nation, as an 
essential part of our economy, isn't that true ? 

Mr. Debler. That is certainly true. An area of declining popula- 
tion is an area that is putting out no money for anything. An area of 
increasing population means that the area not only is buying wdiat it 
desires, but in addition has tlie funds to augment its own development. 

Mr. Page. A rather careful study in the Boise territory indicates 
that about 75 percent of every dollar the faimer receives is spent for 
eastern manufactures. 

Mr. Curtis. That is a point that the people of the east should not 
overlook, because it takes labor and pay rolls to produce those products 
to be sent out to the irrigated sections. 

You may proceed, Mr. Debler, if you have anything further along 
the line of thought you were on. 

Mr. Debler. I would like to call attention again to the map hereto- 
fore referred to. On this map we have indicated with black circles the 
irrigated territory, and the new irrigation for each State within the 
region. The stipple in black represents the present irrigated area ; and ^ 
the full black, the area to come. On the lower part of the map, in red, 
have been shown, to the left, a block partly shaded, the solid red indi- 
cating the relative portion of the irrigated area having a full water 
supply, the unshaded part the portion of the area which needs supple- 
mental water. Alongside are squares entirely unshaded, which show 
the aggregate area still to be developed. These circles and squares 
show very clearly the relative areas irrigated and to be irrigated, as 
they are to scale. The small circle to the right side of the map is a unit 
of 1,000,000 acres. 

The matter I would like to call attention to, how^ever, is the differ- 
ence in character of irrigation on these areas. On the west coast, 
practically all combine at least flood control with power, so that 
the projects have a particular appeal as financially desirable projects. 
In the Intermountain Region they are partially so, but in the Great 
Plains Region there is, generally speaking, relatively little need for 
flood control, and the water resources must be utilized to such an extent 
that there are limited possibilities of power develo})nient. The value 
of the projects rests almost entirely on irrigation. For that reason, 
the need of operations under the Wheeler-Case law is greatest in this 
region, as that law recognizes that the benefit of a project should not 

^ Colors are not shown on map herewith. 


he paid back entiroly by the farmer. The benefits reiieh a whole 
lot beyond the farmer who <2;ets the water. Having- power or flood 
control to assist in repayment, that law permits contributions of other 
labor in aid of construction on these jirojects. 

Mr. Curtis. In other words, what the law really does is to take aid 
from the i-elief expenditures and make it possible to use tliese fimds 
for constructive lon<>-time improvements^ 

Mr. Page. Instead of payino- out money to buy food supplies for 
a few days' use, it results in employina" more of these men on building 
projects that will later on supi)ort them indefinitely. 

Mr. Curtis. There are some exceptions to the need for flood control 
in the region, are there not? 

Mr. Debler. There are some. 

Mr. Curtis. One of them is the river in Nebraska, the Republican 

Ml. Page. There is need for flood control on the Republican River 
and on some of the streams farther north. 


Mr. Curtis. INIr. Page, you made a very apt allusion to Scottsbluff 
County population trends. Do you have any more or less general 
observation you would like to make in reference to population trends 
in the Great'Plains States, as against the :Mountain and Pacific States, 
and indicate something of the connection between that and irrigation? 

Mr. Page. Well, the five Great Plains States had a net loss of popu- 
lation, and on the other hand the Pacific Coast States had an unusual 
or abnormal growth, due to the emigration to those territories, and 
the percentages are given in the paper. But there is a very marked 
difference between the population trends in the Great Plains States 
following the loss from that area to the Pacific coast. I think the net 
loss for the five States is over 300.000 people, as is shown by the 1940 
census. That is in the 10-year period. And certainly all of those 
and many more migrated to the West Coast States. 


Mr. Curtis. Mr. Page, I was interested in your prepared statement. 
You quoted some figures on the amount that had been spent for relief 
in the Great Plains area and compared them with the 38-year expendi- 
tures under the Reclamation Act. Will you just read those figures, 
for the benefit of the Committee? 

Mr. Page. The best data we could get Avas that in the 17 Western 
States various Federal relief agencies had expended $2,500,000,000 for 
relief. The reports from the typical reclamation project areas in 1937 
showed very few water users on relief. And those counties or areas 
which are outside of the irrigated section in the Great Plains showed 
an abnormallv high per capita cost for relief. In other words, in 137 
counties affected bv the drought, the very same counties where the 
population loss was the heaviest, the ])er capita expenditures for relief 
averaoed $175. and in 179 counties where conditions were less serious, 
expenditiu-es average $58 per capita. At the very least, $250,000,000 
was spent due to the abnormal ratio which existed in the area, and it 
is perhaps a coincidence that during the 38 years of reclamation ap- 


proximately the same amount, $250,000,000. has been si)ent on projects 
whicli are now operatino;, and which have returned something in 
excess of $2,500,000,000 in crop vahies and new weaUh from those crop 
vahies. That indicates the serious discrepancy between those areas 
wliich have been suffering- from the drou^-ht, with its abnormally hi<>:h 
relief cost. 

Mr. Curtis. After all, there nnist be some little tiutli in the state- 
ment, "A stitch in time saves nine." Is that ri^ht i 

Mr. Page. There is no (question in my mind about that. 

Mr. Curtis. That for quite a territory here in the United States, an 
expenditure in reclamation relieves the basic cause of our economic 
ills, or many of them? 

Mr. Page. Yes. The only unfortunate thin^ is that the development 
of these Western States is limited by the water supply, and the various 
connnittees that have studied the Great Plains area, for instance, have 
decided in their estimates of tlie })ossible developments })y irrigation, 
that here is only from 1 to 3 percent of the total area which can ever be 
developed because of the inadequate water supply. 

Mr. Curtis. Generally speaking, the Avork that has been done by 
the Federal Government in promoting pump irrigation is carried out 
by what department ? 

Mr. Page. I think almost wholly in the Department of Agriculture. 
We have done little pump irrigation, except from a stream or some- 
thing of that kind. 


Mr. Curtis. What is your opinion in reference to treating the 
Reclamation Bureau as more or less an emergency program? 

]\Ir. Page. We do not like to consider it as an emergency program, 
because the creation and planning and construction of a reclamation 
project cannot be done overnight. It cannot be expedited to the point 
of meeting a critical emergency. We feel that it is a program which 
needs careful planning and careful construction to prevent errors of 
planning. The revision of construction adds to the cost which the 
farmers have to pay back. 

Mr. Curtis. Yes. Once, in Ohio, a chamber of commerce was very 
anxious to have a project apj^roved and a big expenditure made in 
that community. But it might be that the wiser thing, for the benefit 
of the farmer, over a long period of time, woujd call for a little extra 
time in planning, and possibly some very major benefits might come 
from this further planning; is that so? 

Mr. Page. I think that has been demonstrated. There are projects 
Avhich we have built which I think would have been more effective had 
they been given more careful consideration, and unfortunately we are 
not in such a position, as the Congressman indicated, that we have a 
full inventory of irrigation possibilities. We never have had an op- 
portunity to inventory the Western States to find all the best irrigation 
possibilities, and until that is done I think it is pretty difficult to say 
that this development is the best that can be created. We are engaged 
in that type of undertaking on the Colorado now, where the law re- 
quires a comprehensive study of the whole basin, and the money has 
been appropriated. 


Mr Curtis. In otlu-r words, wIumi you develop irrigation in a certani 
territory, you are launelnnii- on a i)r5)orani tluit is «:oin<; to chanjre the 
economy of the uliole reoion foi a lon-i" time to come, and tlie cost tor 
special planuino and move dehiy than we like to have when we have 
such distress, is necessary. Is that not true? 

Mr. Page. That is true, tliere is no <iuostion about it. I he creation 
of an acre of irrigated land atfects from 3 to -t acres adjacent, and it 
may chanoe the entire picture over a large area, even though the actual 
irrio-ated area is relatively small, and it is something that cannot be 
done hurriedly, or overnight, and we don't like to regard this program 
as an emergencv measure. i i ti ^ 

Mr. CniTis. Now, there is one more question that i would liice to 
have your opinion on : Even thoun^h there are differences of opinion as 
to the exact amount of available irrigation to be developed, it is true 
that we have not yet anywhere near exhausted the development of our 
natural water resources. Is that true? ... ^ , , 

Mr. Page. Our estimates are that with all the irrigation, J^e(kn;al, 
i:>rivate, and every other kind, we are just about at the half-way point 
on the development of irrigated areas. That is, about 21,000,000 acres 
out of 43,000,000 acres of possible final development. 
Mr. Curtis. Yes. 

Mr. Page. So we are barely half Avay. 

Mr. Curtis. And is it also true, while it takes time and careful plan- 
ning, if the Congress saw fit to stand that and speed that up with fur- 
ther appropriations and expansion, that the Bureau would be capable 
of expanding considerably? m, i 

Mr Page. I think that without doubt that can be done. Ihe only 
reason we are not in a better position as to that inventory is because of 
investigational activities being curtailed for so many years. That is, 
there was very little money made available for many years to study the 
possibilities, and now that this drought crisis has come on. we have 
had to expedite our program, with consequent difficulties. 

Mr. Curtis. Well, gentlemen, I regret that Ave Avon't have time to go 
into every detail in your Avritten statements, but as you knoAV the com- 
mittee aiid our staff "Avill do so in preparing our report to Congress I 
knoAv wliat you have said has been very helpful, and I am thoroughly 
convinced that so far as this Great Plains area of the United States is 
concerned, you are dealing Avith a problem that ties in most directly 
Avith the matter that Congress has assigned to this committee to 


The Chairman. Just a moment. Mv. Page and :Mr. Debler, I have 
been tremendously interested in your map and the figures you liave 
o-iven here, but this migrant problem keeps recurring to my mind all 
The time This great mass migration, as you stated, is from the Great 
Plains States to the Pacific coast. I am interested in your map and 
fio-nres to that extent in this investigation. What part of the picture 
of mi"-ratioii does reclamation plav to help toAvard the solution? 

Mi-rPAGE. I think it can onlv play a i)art to the extent that the proper 
proo-ram of the Case-Wheeler law holds these peopk' m this territory, 
and'^the extent to which the projects like (irand Coulee and Central 


Valley and otliei-p. initiatiiii: tlio cultivation i'or tlic first tinio of new- 
land, can take care of those ^vhich liave already left. Now, it is not 
possible to take care of the demand for those lands. For instance, in 
our land openinos, when we make available new lands for cultivation, 
we have application of about 10 persons, well-qualified persons, for 
every one of the iniits, and it just isn't possible to keep up with that 

The Chairman. Mr. Pa<>:e, the migrant problem as it presents 
itself, becomes heavier all the time. Now, the causes of migration are 
varied. There isn't a single one, is there ? 

Mr. Page. No. 

The Chairman. There isn't going to be any single solution, is there? 

Mr. Page. No. 

The Chairman. What I keep harping on all the time is that the 
American people should understand that these thousands are on the 
roadside today; they don't move because they want to travel, not be- 
cause they want to leaA'e their farms. They must travel on account 
of circumstances over which they have no control. 

Mv. Page. They are forced out. 

The Chairman. They are forced out; yes. Whether from mecha- 
nization, or drought, or wdiatever it is; they don't want to leave, but 
there is a lot of worn-out land in the United States, especially in the 
South and the Southeast, and there is going to be more worn-out land, 
isn't there? 

Mr. Page. The process goes on. 

The Chairman. The process goes on all right. Now, what I 
would like to get from you two gentlemen — let us leave for a moment 
the irrigated lands — don't you think that there are millions of acres of 
public land, owned by the Federal Government, nonirrigated, that is 
better than the land that some of our migrants are leaving in the South 
and the Southeast? 

Mr. Page. Well, I don't think either of us are competent to pass 
judgment on that. I will go this far, and say that there must be large 
areas which are no worse, at least, than those they have left. 

The Chairman. It couldn't be possible. 

Mr. Page. No; that is what I have in mind, that there must be large 
areas, but where those areas are, can they be made j^roperly ])roductive. 
when you settle a man on them? Those are the questions. Can 
he hope to subsist ])ermanently ? That is the angle of it to which we 
have given no consideration, except in the irrigation regions, although 
we have had presented us, on several cases, the possil)ility of developing 
cut-over land in North Dakota. Some lands which would justify the 
expense of stump removal and so on exist, but just how f;ir that woidd 
.solve the problem I have no idea. But the drainage of certain areas 
in the South, first of all, has been presented to us as a ])ossible Federal 
activity, and so has the pulling of some cut-over land in the West, 
perhaps; they may be worthy of consideration, but we are not compe- 
tent to give the committee advice on that. 

The Chairman. They tell me in the early days of this country that 
85 percent of the people lived on their farms, and their main idea was 
to get enough to eat and suj)j)ort their families. Now they are down to 
about 2.5 percent, with big farms, and they haven't even a vegetable 
l^atch on many large farms. 


jNlr. Page. It was. of course, the idea of resisting that trend that led 
the Conoressto pass the law oovernino; the whole rech\niation protirani. 
The rechunation program has no farm units exceeding IGO acres; on 
the Columbia Basin Project they passed a law that one man could own 
only 40 acres. A man and wife could own 80, and it was with the idea 
of breaking up that trend that the limitation on irrigated land was 
inserted by Congress. 

The Chair:\iax. Well, of course, food will have a lot to say about 
the future of this country. Food will probably decide the war; and if 
the people in this country all had their stomachs full of food we would 
not have so much worry about that. 

Mr. Page. That is right. 

The Chairman. We thank you very much, and the ideas you have 
presented to this committee in your statements are very fine. 

jNIr. Page. Thank you. 

j\Ir. Curtis. I should like to offer for the record two exhibits, one by 
Mr. Carl F. Kraenzel, Montana State College, New Frontiers on the 
Great Plains; and, also, I would like to offer a population-trend survey 
for the State of Kansas, presented by W. E. Dannefer, State Director, 
National Reclamation Association. 

(The matter referred to is as follows :) 


New Froxtiers on the Great Plains 


Human suffering in the Great Plains Region of Americ-a in recent years is com- 
mon knowledge. Migration out of the region, high cost of relief, absentee land 
ownership, excessive farm indebtedness and mortgage foreclosure, extensive tax 
delinquency, continued feed and seed loans, and current poverty are indicative of 
the complexity as well as the prevalence of the problems in the Great Plains. 
Extensive migration out of this region to the Pacitic Coast States will not solve 
the problems for the region, but will result in further tax delinquency, further 
sparsity of population in relation to adequate economic and social services, a 
lowered tax base, and other maladjustments. Furthermore, the movement of peo- 
ple into other farming areas and urban centers has contributed to a growth in the 
number of stranded people in these more favored areas, consisting not alone of 
the migrants but of people originally resident there. 

For the present, it is beyond the scope of probability that any large part of the 
Great Plains will be converted into a public domain. Some people will always 
live in the Cireat Plains. On the assumption that these people should be self- 
supporting as nearly as possible, no matter what the actual number, what is a 
likely approach to the solution of the conditions in the Great Plains? 

Tlie thesis of this paper is as follows: The (h-eat Plains has a physical «'nviron- 
ment very different from the physical environment of the hinnid regions to the 
east and "along the Pacific coast. The major cliaract(>risti('s of the culture that 
was carried into the Great Plains region were developed in the humid regions of 
the world and the Nation and were not ade(inately aihuited to the peculiar con- 
ditions of the Great Plains physical environment. This lack of adaptation between 
physical environment and culture is the source of many complex problems now 
extant on the plains. These problems, created by man, are, thereft)re. subject to 
control or adjustment by man. P.ut it will require adjustment of tlie culture 
to the pecularities of the physical environment. 

Incidentally, another reason for prestMiting this paper is to suggest that the 
cultural approach to the study of man-land inoblems might serve as a nu'thod 
of getting at the econonn'c and social difliculties in areas outside the Gn-at Plains. 

*Titlp of associate aKriciiltural economist, but fioUl of rosearch niid tpaching is in rural 
sociology. This paper was road at tlio rullman inoeting by O. A. Tarsons. assistant agri- 
cultural in tlie absence of tlie author. 



In ordor not to be misunderstood, it is necessary to detine a number of terms 
used in this papi-r. The more important of tliese include repion, rojjionalism, cul- 
ture, relation between culture and physical environment, and the (Jreat Plains. 

R( ijiun.s. — By rejiion is here meant a large ai'ea bavins similarity of Kco^^rapby 
and physical environment. Similarities in climate, rainfall, temperature, soil 
types and structure, topography and ri'lief of terrain, and natural plant and 
animal life all contribute to defining a region. The transition from one physical 
region to another is usually not abrupt and clear-cut but gradual, and the 
boundary itself may represent an area rather than a narrow line." 

There are other indexes for delimiting regions, such as areas of metropolitan 
influence, regions of administration by government and private business, areas of 
political influence and areas of cultural similarity. The literature on regions is 
indeed lunnerous and often contriliutes to confusion. In this paper, we are con- 
cerned with regions defined by physical and natural factors. 

Rcf/ioiKilisni. — Regionalism is here used to include those forces and social proc- 
esses which make for a cultural, political, administrative, economic, and social 
unity of an area having similarity in physical enviroiunent. liegionalism .should 
not be confused with sectionalism. Sectionalism implies self-.sufficiency, inde- 
pendence, and separation, in a political sense, from a larger area of intlnence or 
domination. Regionalism, on the other hand, means that the particular region 
is a part of a larger area, is dependent upon the larger area, but also has pecu- 
liarities that require adjustment within the region. In this sense, a region 
recognizes that it is dependent upon a larger area of influence in order to achieve 
its fullest development, but the larger area of influence recognizes that, for the 
fullest development of the region and the larger area, consistent adaptations to 
local conditions are necessary and desirable. Cooperation rather than conflict, 
toleration rather than domination and subjugation are typical of the relations 
between the region and the larger area.' 

Culture. — Culture has reference to all the man-made objects, philosophies, ways 
of thinking and acting, .social organization, traditions, tools, and implements as 
well as ethical and moral valuations in a given area. It is the social environment 
that has been handed down from the past, which operates in the present, and 
shapes the future. Culture grows and changes, can increase in complexity, is a 
source of group and individual motivation and control, and assists in shaping the and goals of man. It is the means by which man has accomplished his 
control of nature. The total culture can be separated into component units which 
are a "whole" in themselves. The differences in these component units make 
for the differences betw^een cultures in different areas.* 

Relation betireoi culture (iiid phijsical cuvironnievt.— There are those who be- 
lieve and attempt to show that the physical environment always determines the 
social organization and culture."' In contrast, there are who believe and 
attempt to prove that culture can develop independ<Mitly of physical environment.' 
The actual truth is probably somewhere between these two extremes. Under 
some conditions and during the development of some cultures, geographic factors 
ma.v be more important than culture ; under other conditions, culture ma.v be more 
important. Either sets a limit to the dominating influence exacted by the other. 
Problems apparently arise when areas having striking contracts in physical en- 
vironment are bound together within the confines of the same culture area. 

Tlie Grea.f Plainly. — The Great Plains, as here iised, includes the area west of 
the One hundredth meridian line, from Canada into Texas, and westward to the 
foothills of the Rockies. Tiie one hundredth meridian line jiasses near Jamestown. 
N. Dak., in a southerly direction, and is in the vicinity of the 20-inch annual rain- 
fall line. West of this line, the rainfall averages less than 20 inches. 

This repi-esents an area nearly 1.000 miles in length and from 22") to 250 miles 
in width. It includes roughly 206.000.^00 acres of territory. 14 percent of the 
total area of the United States. Nearly 2% millions people live within the 
region, or about 2Vi perc(Mit of the United States total.' Parts of 10 States, 
covering 259 counties, lie within its border. 

2 For a definition of rosion. soe N.itioTinl Resoiirces Board Roport for Dpromlier 10r!5. 
char. 12; nnd thp Encycloppdia of Social Scienros. vol. 7. revisod edition, 1037. 

"For a detailed discussion of Rocionali-sm in tins sense see Odnin. Howard, Southern 
Regions. Fniversitv of Nortli Carolina Press, 1035. Odum, Howard, and Moore, H. E., 
Anierifan Regionalism. ITonrv Holt. lOS.*!. 

■» S(><» any textbook on sociology or antlironology, or the Encycloppdia of Social Sciences. 

^ See especially the writings of Ellsworth Huntington, Ellen Churcliill Semple, and other 

8 See the writing.s of anthropologists generally. 

' According to the 1030 census. 



There nuiy be sumv (luestioii concfriiiiit; the hoiiiidai ies nf the area. P>.v ehanj?- 
ing a few of the physical eiiviroiinu'iil criteria used t(j (jclerniiiic the Great IMaiiis 
KeKh'ii, it wiuiid have been iiossibh' to include iiortions of the Rockies and some 
of the area west of the Rockies. The actual dcliuiitaliou of the region is par- 
tially governed by the purpose to be accomplished. The present detinitiou is, 
however, sutlicieut for the purpose of this paper. 


The Great Plains physical enviroiniient is characterized by extreme variability 
and fluctuations and is semiarid in character. It is variable in temperature, botii 
as to rapidity and degree. It has extremes in wind velocity, topography and relief. 
s((il types, and olhei' natural phenomena." 

Cliinatical varUitioiis. — Tempei'ature variations are extreme in the Great Plains, 
within seasons as well as between seasons. The blizzard at 40° below zero, the 
midwinter chinook, and the drought-creating, dust-blowing heat waves are typical. 
The frost-free period varies considerably l'r(mi year to year, and the variations 
in daily temperature are extreme. 

Prei-ii)itatlo>i ruriatious. — The form of precipitation .shows great variations 
rauguig from '•killing" blizzards to light and gentle snow ; from heavy downpours 
of cloudburst n.-iture. frequently accompanied by heavy hail, to a gentle and light 
falling 3-day rain ; from morning dew to morning heat. The average i)reci])itation 
is less than is inches, which is the margin for crop iiroduction. Hence, tlie devia- 
tion from this margin in terms of amount and time of rainfall I'esults in crop fail- 
lu'es or bountiful yields. The usual droughts and the sparsity of rainfall make pos- 
sible an accumulation of i)lant nutrients in the soil, not lost by leaching, so that 
more than 18 inches of rainfall will restilt in heavy yields. 

A comparison between Montana and Iowa is interesting at this point. During a 
period of 37 years the avei'age annual precipitation for Iowa was 31 inches, com- 
pared with slightly more than 15 for Montana. In only 1 year (1!)10) did pre- 
cipitation in Iowa drop as low as 20 inches. Although precipitation varied in Iowa, 
it never was as low as the average for Montana. At Havre, Mont., only 2 in a 
series of 42 years between 1895 and 1036 had more than 20 inches of rainfall. 
Eight years had fewer than 10 inches of precipitation. 

Table 1 shows the precipitation for a 42-year period from 1895 to 1936, inclusive, 
for some Great Plains and midwestern stations and is self-explanatory. 

Soil-type variations. — The above differences in temperature and rainfall have, 
during a long geological period, made for a wide variety of soils. The movements 
of glaciers, the formation of bodies of water when the ice receded, and erosion 
have produced all types of soils, topography, and relief of the terrain. SipUered 
l»adlauds, isolated mountains, clay hills and buttes, fertile river bottoms, table-flat 
benches, smooth plains, and rolling hill country are all indicative of variations in 
soil type and topography. 

Table 1.- 

-Annual precipitation for the period 1895 to 19S6 classed bit amount 
for certain Great Plains and niidicestern stations 


Great Plains stations: 

Havre. Mont 

Bismarck, N. Dak. 

Huron, S. Dak 

North Platte, Nebr 
Dodge City, Kans. 
Amarillo. Tex 

Midwostprn stations: 
Minneaijolis, .Minn 

Madison, Wis 

Des Moines. Iowa.. 

Springfield, 111 

Columbia, Mo 

P'ort Smith, Ark... 

of years 

than 30 


of years 

than 20 


of years 

than 10 


of years 

10 to 20 

* See Atlas of American Agriculture, U. S. Printing Oflice. 1030. 


"NormaV precipitation. — Xnrnial i>r«'(iiiitii1ioii is doliiied as a iilcntiful sujiply 
of rainfall, moi'f tliaii 20 inches. Sni-h is tlu' oiiinioii of the majority of faiiii and 
livostoclv i)Ooi»lo will; have moved into tlio Great IMains dniin;^ humix'r-croi) years. 
In tile past 10 years, the Great IMains farmers h;ive been lookiiifi forward to 
'•normal rainfall." lint in the Great Plains the normal rainfall is eonsideraltly 
below 20 inches. In fact, "ndrmal" rainfall (jn the Great Plains is repieseiited by 
one or a series of dry years followed by one or a series of wet years. Arid c-r semi- 
arid climate on the Plains does not mean a nniformly small amount of rainfall, 
but uniformity in irregular rainfall. IS'or is this iri'egularity cyclical in nature. 
There appears to be nothing predictable about the amount of rainfall. 

A study of tree-ring growths in the vicinity of Havre, jNIont., sliows that rain- 
fall may have varied from one-fourth of average to more than double the average." 
This stud.v goes l)aclv to 1784. and the data slmw that there have been wet and dry 
periods o-f from 5 to 10 years in length, succeeding one another. Apparently a 
severe drouglit period occurred after 1784. when IS out of 24 years had less than 
average precipitation. These same data show that IS out of 20 years prior to 1!)S7 
had less than average precipilation. Again, during the last l."!.") years there have 
been six periods, varying from 4 to 9 years each, during which precipitation did 
not fall below the average, and twice during the last 135 years there were periods 
o-f 30 years during which precipitation fell below average only six times. 

Aatirc pla)it life. — The native plant life is evidence of the dil'1'erence in phy.><ical 
environment between the Great Plains area and the more humid regions to the 
east and far west. The Great Plains is a treeless country and long grass is re- 
placed by .short grass. Grama grass, buffalo grass, sage brush, gallata grass, wire 
grass, muhlenbergia, western wheat grass, and needle grass are evidence that na- 
ture, over a long period of time, developed plant life that was adapted td the 
vagaries, fluetuatious, variability, and severity of the Great Plains physical 

Native animal life. — The native animal life on the Great Plains is characterized 
by ability to mc/vc great distances rapidly and do without water for long i)eriods 
of time.'^ This is a form of adaptation to the physical environment. 

The antelope, a grass eater, physically very hardy, rerpiires little water and is 
especially fleet of foot and travels great distances. Similarly, the buffalo was a 
roamer of the Plains, able to travel great distances for food and water. He was 
especially well adapted to stand the fluctuations in temperature and rainfall on 
the Plains. 

The jack rabbit feeds on grass and brush, requires little water, and is a very 
mobile animal. The prairie dog requires no water, lives on grass and roots, and 
burrows in the ground. The gopher is similarly adapted to the region of the 
Plains. The wolf and the coyote, the meat eaters, can travel great distances. livt> 
off the buffalo, antelope, pack rabbit, prairie dog, gopher, mice, and insects. 

These are the typical Great Plains native animals and all show adaptation to 
the physical environment of the Plains. 


The American Plains Indian had learned to adjust himself to the physical 
environment in which he lived. The buffalo formed the core of his culture. It 
served him with food ; skin for tents, clothing, blankets, and footwear : was the 
center of his occupational, religious, and recreational life: and supplied him with 
fuel and bones for tool making. Since the bulTalo was a migratory animal the 
Indian also was a migrant. The Indian's tent, his social organization, customs. 
and traditions were adapted to the need for migration. By this means he was 
able to live on the Great Plains. 


A study of the original cattleman's way of living shows that the cattleman's 
culture originated in Texas immediately after the Tivil War. where it was intlu- 
enced by the ways and customs of the Spaniards. The Spanish culture was suited 
to a vigorous physical environment. S'pain itself is a semiarid land and its system 

» Tlipse data were oompilod bv A. E. Bell, formerly superintendent of the Nortliorn 
Montana Experiment Station located at Havre. Mont. The data are unpublished. 

i» See Atlas of American Agriculture. U. S. Government Printing Office, 1936. 

" See Webb. W. P.. Tlie Great Plains, Ginn & Co., 1031. 

'2 See Webb. W. P.. The Great Plain.s; Wlssler. Clark, The American Indian. Oxford 
I'niversit.v Press. 1922 : Wissler. Clark, The Relation of Nature to Man in Aboriginal Ameri- 
ca. Oxford University Press, 1926. 

IXTKltSTA li; .MI(;UAI1(».\ 1593 

cf >\i)>ju}iatinji- till- (.-(MKiiKMiHl w;i.s i)i'<juliai'l.v suiti-d i(t cxidDiiinti llu' iialivrs of a 
vt'iniaiid and arid ri'^idii. 

TJii! early cartleinan's culture, consisting of tlii' trail herd, the bramlinjj and 
round-up system, the regulations jj<n-erning the trailing of tlie herds, and use of 
land, tlie liandling of strays, was adajited to the physical environment of the 
Plains. '" The ranch hea(l(|uarters were usually situated alwig water courses and 
the cattli' ranged for hundreds t)f miles in any direction. Often the rancli head- 
quarters were in tlie imnnilains and tlie cattle were trailed into the plains country. 

Again mobility made it possible for the cattleniinrs culture to exist in the Plains. 
It was not until Eastern and European capital came into tlie Great Plains after 
1870, resulting in the overstocldng and overgrazing of the range, that dilliculties 
began to appear. I'ntil that time the old cattleman's culture was peculiarly 
adapted to the Great Plains physical environment. 


After 1800. the Great Plains was invaded from east to west. First came the 
era of expeditions, among them those led by Lewis and dark (iSdIMlO), Pike 
(180t>-07), and Long (]S1'J^20). The region became known as the Great Ameri- 
can Desert from tlie descriptions furnished by these and later explorers. 

The American trails. — Next came the period of the great American trails. Tliey 
led from east to west, usually following water courses." Examples are the Santa 
Fe Trail, tlie Oregon Trail, the Mormon Trail, and others. These trails were the 
means of jumping a vast desert to get from one wooded, well-watered territory to 
anotlier. Whenever the trails cut across country from one river course to another, 
the travelers were confronted with lack of food, water, and fuel. Many present- 
day highways and railroads still mark the courses of these trails. 

Ttie pioneer Koe)di<)tian eotifronled hii the Plains. — Next came the agriculturists. 
The farming frontier, in its westward advance, had reached the Missouri River 
at the western edge of nortliern Missouri by 1850. During the next 20 years, the 
frontier advanced "only 2 days' ride on liorseback from the Iowa and Missouri 
boundaries.'' The reason for the hesitation in population advance came largely 
from the fact that the pioneer woodcutter and farmer was faced with a treeless, 
waterless expanse. The forest-country pioneer agriculturist was a woodsman 
who lived by hunting and from pi'oducts raised in a small clearing. He built 
his home and barns as well as fences out of the timber from his clearing. 
Usually he settled along some stream. This furnished liim with food and was 
also a means of travel. All at once this pioneer was faced by a great expanse that 
was already cleared by nature. Grass was plentiful, but game was scarcer than 
in the forest country. Building and fencing materials were lacking. So were 
fuel and water. 

New inventiems to conquer the Plains. — To advance onto the Plains it was 
necessary to await certain inventions. "Webb gives a dramatic picture of a ft w 
of these.'" According to Webb, the Colt revolver came into wide use at this time. 
The early pioneers were hunters with "long guns." forest weapons. On horseback 
or afoot these "long guns" were cumbersome and iiu-ffoctive against the game 
and especially the Indians. The latter, on horseliack and with bow and .arrow, 
were able to run away from the '•Jong-gun" lighter until the long gun reiju n-d 
reloading. Then the Indian had the advantage. The Colt revolver, a short, 
handy gun, turned the balance in favor of the whites. 

It "took the American pioneer of b-g-cabin background a long time to learn to 
construct and live in a sod house. The adjustment for the pioneer women who 
came West to meet their "lovers," only to find they had to spend the rest of their 
lives in a sod house, required a tremendous shift in values, ways of thinking, 
and ways of living. 

■ Next came the problem of how to confine the domestic stock. There are still 
remnants of large nurseries in Illinois. Iowa, and Missouri where hedges and 
prickley trees were grown, to be sliipjied West for fencing. Extensive set i lenient 
in the Plains had to await the invention of the barbdl-wire fence. The develop- 
ment of this invention offers an interesting page in the history of the need for 
adantation to the Great Plains physical environrc-nt. 

12 S(^ OsKoof], E. S.. 'Ihc na.vs of tlio riittlciiKin. Uiiivcrisily of Miiini-.sota I'ross : \Vol)l). 
W. P . Tlio'«ire;it I'liiins. ;ni(l ol'lier bistorical wrifini;s. 

" Sf.(> Tinffiis U. T... S:Mit:i Fp Trail: Glient, Williani .T.. the Road to Orogon ; rarkman, 
F., the Oregon Trail ; and otliors. 

i=^\Vebb, \V. P., tlie Great Plains. 


Tho (icvcldimiriil (if tlu» windinill to furnish w;itcr for luniso niirt stock is niiofhor 
illustration of an invention necessitated by the forces cif the physical environiueiu. 
Tho battle over irri>j;alion rights and water \ise. a struyt^le between miners and 
farmers. r(>iiiescnts another jioiid at which adjustment to the iihysical environ- 
ment had to be acconiulished in order to utilize the fertik' farm lands of the 

The nerd for odiJitioiKil uric irirmtio-iis to lire ou the I'hiiiix. — This, however, 
is the point at which Webb stopped his analysis. Were tluM-e no other inventions 
that had to be accomplished before the real battle of man against environment 
was accomplished in the (Jreat I'lains? Did the environment become more favor- 
able so that culture traits, imported from humid areas, could survive without 
undergoing any further tests V Have the last 10 to 1.^ years repi-esented a period 
when the Great I'lains physical environment has more nearly approached its 
normal so that the ideas carried hito the Great Plains since the revolver, the 
sod house, and the barbed-wire fence are being subjected to a test of natural 
selection ? 

This represents a field of difficult and unexiilored research, and is the pi-oblem 
upon which this paper centers. Just how well are the ways of living and thinking, 
the tools and equipment, the prevailing philosoithy and (ustom:^ in short, the 
culture, adapted to the demands of the Great Plains jthysical environment? 
What is the relation between culture and physical environment? How long and 
under what conditions can culture develop independent of ph.vsical enviroiunent, 
and when do the two supplement one another? Have we arrived at a point of 
conflict between culture and physical environment? It is the total cidture ill 
adapted to the physical environment or only parts of it and what are these parts? 
How can the culture for an area be adapted to the demands of the physical 
environment and still function effectively within the scope of a larger culture? 

There is evidence to show that culture and physical environment complement 
one another. In the Great Plains this alinement between culture and physical 
environment is much more sensitive than in the case of the humid areas of the 
Nation. The cost of relief, feed and seed loans, and human suffering in terms 
of excessive debt, tax delinquency, foreclosure, and nonresident land ownership 
are evidence of maladjustment between the existing culture and the physical 
environment. It is doubtful whether feed and seed loans, relief, rehabilitation, 
and higher incomes to Great Plains people are more than an economic and 
political stopgap and temporary expedient unless these efforts are directed at 
brhiging about fundamental changes in culture at certain points, so as to bring 
culture in alinement with the limits imposed by the physical environment. In a 
nation as large as the United States with as great variations in physical environ- 
ment as exist, cultural differences must be expected and encouraged. This will 
require that the Nation as well as the region become cognizant of the need for 
differences in cultiire and adjustment of culture to physical environment. Chan- 
nels for the development and maintenance of these cultural differences must be 
established and fostered. This means that regionalism, in the aforementioned 
sense rather than sectionalism or paternalism, must be the basis for these 
cultural variations within a large political domain. 


It now becomes necessary to offer some evidence in stipport of this position. 
Obviously conclusive proof is not available. Considerable research is still nec- 
essary. Nor is this research alone within the confines of the subject matter of 
sociology, economics, geography, or anthropology. It requires the coordinated 
effort of all these and other scientists. 

A study of geography, economics, sociology, history, and other subject matter 
shows that there is a relationship between culture and physical environment 
on the following four points: (1) Population density. (2) degree of urbaniza- 
tion, (3) occupational specialization, and (4) division of labor. Under the 
last would come specialization of economic, social, political, recreational, educa- 
tional, production, and consumption functions. 

In diagram A we can assume two widely different types of physical environ- 
ment. F'or conveniiMice one has been designated as a humid, the other as an 
arid environment. Theoretically, it is apparent that wide variations may exist 
in respect to the four factors mentioned between the arid and humid regions. 
The arid environment will tend toward a sparse ])opulati()n, with little, if any, 
urbanization. people would be engaged in .-igriculture or closely related 



occuiiations and the division of labor would not bo s'-eat. Tlie family would 
probably be of a patriarehial type, having iM)litieal, religions, recreational, and 
educational functions to perform. 

Diagram A.— Comparison of cultural characteristics in arid and humid areas 

Cultural characteristics 

Arid region 

Humid region 

Low and sparse 

Low and sparse, high and dense, or 

Low and rural-- 

Low and rural, high and urban, or 

(3) Occupational specialization 

Low and agricultural. 

Low and family centered — 


Low and agricultural, high and indus- 
trial, or both. 

Low and family centered, high and 

contractual or special interest group 
centered, or both. 

In the case of the more favorable or humid area, these characteristics may vary 
all the way from what they are in the arid region to a more complex situation. 
Conceivably, the population might be very dense, much of it concentrated in 
urban areas, and engaged in both agricultural and industrial pursuits. Tlie divi- 
sion of labor can conceivably be very high and on a contractual :ind special inter- 
est group basis. This might mean a relative weakening of the family and a 
specialization as to function in that special interest groups might develop to 
sponsor the political, recreational, religious, educational, and other functions lu 
the community. ^ , . . , , • , 

It is conceivable that the agricultural areas and populations in such Humid 
areas can also become urbanized to the extent of taking on most of the industrial 
and urban parts of the total culture. 

In a cultural area, government, or political state where there are two or more 
distinct types of phvsical environments such as the arid and humid, and where 
the humid environment is dominated by a highly urbanized, iiulustri.-ilizcd and 
commercialized culture, it is possible that the arid region will be dominated by 
these yiune urbanized, industrial, and commercial aspects. Tliis is especially 
true if th'>re is a high development of transportation and communication facilities 
and w'len these are so constructed as to feed all types of culture traits from the 
humid (urban, industrial) to the arid regions. Under these conditions, it would 
be highly probable that the culture established in the arid region would be out ot 
line and" in a position of conflict with the physical environment in the and region. 
Is there anv evdence that the culture traits'" of the humid areas t() the east ()t 
the Great Plains have been imported into the semiarid Great Plains without \rAng 
adapted to the physical environment in the Great PlainsV It is possible to 
enumerate only a few of these. ^, ^ ^i, 

Srttlcmcut pattern.— In eastern Montana there is evidence to show that the 
agriculturalists attempted to settle themselves on the same basis as in Iowa, 
Minnesota, Wisconsin, or the Middle West generally. There are large area.s. 
now mostly abandoned, where there is an expensively grated county road on 
almost every section line, with a fence on each side of the road. Expensive 
culverts and bridges still are monuments to a midwestern way of living. 

Organization of tou-nnhip qovcrninent.—lw western North Dakota, the town- 
ship government, frequentlv consisting of a congressional township of »> S(iuare 
miles, is still in existence. The organization of this ptittern has broken over 
into Montana, taking the form of school district organizath.n <m a congressional 
township basis or some multiple of it, altliough the county is the smallest political 
unit in Montana. ,1 ^ . 

Drii-innd sclttcmcnt and farming carried into irrigated areas.— "Slnut-Aun has 
many illustrations where the size of farm, because of the homestead policy, is 
often as large in an inigated as in an unirrigated area, and where farmers on an 

"The total culture can be broken down into component parts that are unified wholes 
in themselves These component parts are known as patterns, complexes and traits, 
depending upon their interrelationships. These are only relative t7'V7,,.=i"; ,, "" f,,,"^ •;"■ 
alvsis For example, our pattern of tranportatinn is made up of the follow iisi com- 
plexes: Air water and land transportation. Each of th-se is made up '>f traits For 
example land transportation is made up of railway, truck, auto horse, and foot traxel. 
Each one of thf-se is mad- up of .separate wholes. Under auto travel we have sasoline. 
electrical, and diesel motor driven conveyances. 



irrigated farm attempt to raise wlieat, a dry-laiul (rop, on irrif^ated fields 
while tlieir friends and noiglibors, living on dry-huid tarnis, attempt to raise 
a garden. 

Size of farm coHclUioned hy homestead laics. — On tlie wliolo, farms are too 
small in the Great I'lains region. This is the result of honiesteading practices. 
The homestead laws are al.'^o re.><ponsible for the isolatcnl farmstead and .settle- 
ment practices. Generally .speaking, a 160-year farm is large enough to support 
a family in the Middle West and East, hut not in the arid and semiarid sections 
of the Nation. Later adjustments in homestead legislation, to permit acquisitiitn 
of larger tracts of land, w(m-(> encumbered by nnich red tape and other humid 
area ideas such as the requirement of growing trees during the tr(>e-claim boom. 
Also, nuich of this legislation came into effect after settlement had ali-eady taken 
plac(> and some settlers were convinced that 100 acres was a large enough farm. 
Furthermore, settlement bad often proceeded .so far that the estalilished pattern 
could not be easily changed. 

Coiinti/ bustiiif/ a.s a ni(a))s of lirclihood. — In conformity with the midwesterp 
idea that a county should consist of some comliination or a nuiltiple of congres- 
sional townships and that the county ofhces nuist be within close in'oximity of 
every farmer, county busters made a living at breaking large ccnuities into smaller 
units, baiting the various connnunities to offer concessions. A new JMontana 
county emerged as recently as I'.llir) and there is a good fight on at present to create 
another county out of one of the smaller ones now in exi.stencc. 

Farm organization modeled after the midwesterii stt/le. — Many Great I'lains 
farms have been so set up that the high lands and benches were used for crops 
and hay fields, while the low lands were devoted to pasture. Any dams that were 
constructed to bold water were usually located along the .section line so that the 
water could not be used on the operator's land except for livestock. Under these 
conditions of farm organization it was impossible to use the spring and summer 
rain floods, under a flood irrigation .system, without I'earranging the entire crop — 
hay land and pasture — organization of the farm. Anotbei' illustration of un- 
adapted farm organization is represented by events at INIalta, Mont. Several 
thousand acres, now included in the Rlilk River resettlement project in Montana, 
were irrigated and irrigable farm land held by land speculators and used for 
grazing and wild hay, while hundreds of families were stranded on ihe adjacent 
dry land. By means of the project, the dry-land farmers were moved on this 
irrigated and' irrigable land. In this instance, individual rights and privileges 
for a few meant suffering for many in addition to high costs of relief, tax delin- 
quency, and other maladjustments. The project itself is an attempt to develop 
an adapted way of living. 

Entire historii of settlement shows importation of eultiire traits.— A study of 
the history of territorial days of the Great Plains region shows that the Governors, 
the judges, and other administrators were politicians, lawyers, and well-inten- 
tioned citizens from New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and other Eastern 
State.s. Frequently, the Governors and judges l)ecame involved in intense con- 
flict with the local residents who wanted to have things done according to local 
conditions. Frequently, .such oflicials were removed only to have others from 
the East replace them. Conflicts between cattlemen and agriculturists, between 
farmers and miners, and between agriculturists and townspeople frequently had 
their origin in "what was the way" to accomplish certain U'gal and govern- 
mental objectives. 


These illustrations suffice to show the introduction of culture traits and pat- 
terns ill-adapted to the arid and semiarid conditions of the Great Plains physical 
enviromnent. Rehabilitation of people in the region will require changes in the 
existing culture in order to adapt it more effectively to the liinitations imposed 
by the physical environment. For example, the idea of area diversification has 
enthusiastic supporters, though few in number. By area diversification is meant 
not diversificati(ni of enterprise for a given contiguous piece of land, but diversi- 
fication by conununity. I'nder this condition all farm operators would have a 
piece of irrigated land. Each would also have a piece of grazing land in a 
glazing area, and a piece of dry cropland. Diversification would be jiracticed 
from the standpoint of the farm operator, hut not from the standpoint of conti- 
guity in space of farm land. 

Area diversification might prove to be an adajited way of farming in the Great 
IMains. Where irrigation is a prospect it might be possible to have the popula- 
tion concentrated on the farm of small size in the irrigated region. The 


surroundins dry land might be used for grazing and dry -land crops (o snpploment 
the homo base, the land being used in conformity with best land-use practices. 
Modern transportation and mechanization would favor such area diversification 
of the farm. Would such a practice be a better adapted farming system than that 
now in existence? 

What are other adapted settlement, farm-organization, social-organization, pop- 
ulation-distribution, and thought-organization patterns better adapted to the 
region? Where shcmld these adapted concepts originate and how should they 
become a part of the culture? Is it necessary for the Great IMains to have a cul- 
tural center of its own where adapted ideas are developed and promoted and 
where ideas and traits from outside the area undergo a test and modilication in 
conformity with the needs of the region? Would a culture, adapted to the Great 
Plains be' totally different from that of the rest of the Nation, or would it be 
different at strategic points only? Finally, does this cultural approach to the 
study of regional problems in regions other than the Great Plains offer an 
opportunity to solve some of the difficulties in these other regions? Would a 
recognition of the fact of regional cultures on the part of other regions make the 
develODment of a regional culture for the Great Plains an easier task? 


September 14, 1940. 

Hon. Congressman John H. Tolan, 

Chairman, Special Committee Invcsfif/ating the Interstate 
Miyrution of Destitute Citizens, 

Senate Chamber, State House, Lincoln, Nelr. 

Dear Mr Tolan : I beg leave to file with you a complete i)opulation trend 
survey for the State of Kansas from 18S0 to 19;:!9 inclusive. This shows, first, 
the number residing on the farms ; second, those living in incorporated towns ; 
third the total number in the county; fourth, the increase or decrease ni the 
farm 'population for the period; fifth, the increase or decrease in the incorporated 
towns- sixth the total loss in farm population figured from the high point; sev- 
enth the percent of the farm population loss. (The tables showing the afore- 
mentioned population trend, with the exception of examples showing the trend, 
in Cloud Jewell, and Republic Counties, are filed with the record.) 

Tills is tabulated, showing the farm population loss of the county, the percent 
of the farm population loss together with the nonrepayable Federal funds spent 
in each countv from 1933 to 1939 inclusive. This includes A. A. A. payments. 

Th*- tabulation by counties is taken in 10-year periods for the 50 years. 1S80 
to 1930 then by 2-vear periods for the next 8 years and then for the 1-year period 
ending 'Ma rchl 1939. This is taken from the annual assessors' return and the 
nonrepavable funds is taken from the report of the office of Govermnent reports. 
I anticipate that the report of the nonrepayable funds is not all inclusive, for 
very likely some hiiS been missed. ^ ., ^^ ^ ■ ooq-ioh rri,;^ 

The tabulation of the total farm population loss of the State is 33S.1.30. This 
is the net loss- however, as births exceeded deatlis annually by about seven- 
tenths of 1 percent the total loss on the farms in the 10-year period would be the 
number above stated plus 7 percent of the total number residing on the tarm in 
1930 which would naturally increase the total migration from the farm. 

'I'Sing the figures from the Federal census. Kans:is. as a whole, shows a total 
decline of S2 000— the largest of any State; yet during the same period birtlis 
exceedcxl de;iths by 110.0O0, leaving the net loss by migration for the lO-year 
period 192,000, far "above that of any other State. 

From the economic crmdition now existing in the western two-thirds of the 
State the migration in the next O-month period. September 1. 1940. to March 1 
1941 will exceed any other like period in the State's history: farm sales and 
peop'le leaving to seek a new start elsewhere are far above any like period 
These ore mostlv going to California and Idaho, as is shown by sample ot bill 
attached (Sale notice filed with committee record and not printed.) ^^ hen we 
take into consideration the condition surrounding those rein:mnng who are hone- 
lesslY involved getting Work Projects Administration loans and grants from the 
Farm Se'-uritv Administration, getting supi)lies from tlu> Surplus Conunoditn'S 
Corporation, and of our clients of the Farm Credit Administrath.n. I hese are so 
260370—41 — pt. 4 17 



hopelessly involved that 38 percent more will be forced to uiigi-ate witliin the 
next lew years. 

I attach hereto a copy of a brief resume outlining the situation in three typi- 
cal north central Kansas counties. (See p. — .) In spite of the eaormuus 
amount spent by the Government in nonreimbursable funds in these counties the 
rural relief load has continually grown as has the debts of the farmers and the 
counties have had to levy the Ihuit tax rate to take care of Ihe relief load and 
then appeal to the State Tax Commission lor special authority to increase the 
tax rate and in many cases issue in addition thereto relief bonds. 

In spite of the enormous amounts spent which has only bet;n for a mere sub- 
sistence, the number of those on relief has steadily grown and the plight of thoso 
on relief grows steadily worse and the debt burden increased to a point which 
they can never hope to repay and they realize that slowly but surely the time 
will come wlien they too will be forced to abandon and seek a new start else- 
where for none of the projects undertaken in this State have had for their ob- 
jective the elimination of the cause for the need of relief and that is in a water- 
utilization program. Of the .$44(J,0U0,(XX) spent in Kansas in nonrepayable funds 
a small percentage of this amount used in the right direction would have gone a 
long way toward making these farmers self-supporting and thereby eliminating 
the need for further i-elief. 

People migrate from place to place actuated by the two prime fundamentals 
of human existence : To get away from intolerable conditions and to better them- 
selves. These farmers have hung on as long as they can and it is only when 
they have reached the bottom do they reluctantly give up the home ties and asso- 
ciations where they had hoped to become permanently located and seek a new 
start elsewhere. 

The effect of migration in the country towns on property values and rents ; the 
need for business and professional services declines in a like ratio ; and the losses 
suffered in these country trading centers is now beginning to be felt in tlie county- 
seat towns and the processing and wholesaling centers. The decline in property 
values, rents, and inco-mes in the country village, the county seat, processing 
and wholesaling centers will result in a like ratio of loss of business volume, 
prices and rents of business and residential properties. 

Particularly will this be felt in the building and .supplies trade with a total 
net farm migration of 338,0C0, an average of four and one-half persons per family 
has vacated 80,000 farm homes and eventually will cause a like percentage in. 
vacancies in residential and business units in the towns and wholesaling centers 
that supplies this trade causing business suspensions, and so forth. When we 
add to the number of vacancies caused by this migration the number of new 
residential units resulting from the drive of the Federal Housing Administration 
for new construction which only creates and aggravates the number of residential 
and business vacancies and these vacancies bidding against each other for sale 
and rent will eventually force a large decline in prices and rents with such 
subsequent heavy losses. 

This is further shown in the country school situation in the fact that 1,200 
rural schools have been discontinued, over 1,300 have less than six pupils each 
and therefore must be discontinued in the near future throwing 2,500 or more 
rural teachers out of employment. 

In the central one-third of the State, particularly the north section, there are 
many areas that can he classified as blighted. In these particular areas fhe- 
net farm income is below that needed to produce a living for its operators. T'le 
amount of the cost for relief for caring for these in such blighted areas plus the 
loan of the Farm Security and other Federal lending agencies who will eventually 
suffer heavy losses makes of these areas a continuing relief burden and they will 
be eventually forced to migrate. The continuing costs of caring for these relief 
clients will and in many instances already has, exceeded the sale prices of the 
farms they occupy. It would therefore be much cheaper for the Government in its 
land retirement program to buy these farms and return them to the natural 
native grasses, resettle the clients on more productive farms in the same area 
or within 20 or 30 miles on irrigated land which is now being studied by the 
Reclamation Bureau. 

These families would therefore become self-supporting and as soon as con- 
struction starts could be given labor in buildins: the works that would make them 
independent of the needs for future relief. This could be done at great savings 
to the Government and the irrigation works would repay the costs under the 
usual Reclamation Bureau terms. 


Your particular attention is directed toward the resuim^ of the three counties 
in north central Kansas where this particular situation exists. These people 
can he made self-supporting in their own community with far less costs than 
has heretofore been expended. 

Kansas, up to date, lias not developed a water-utilization program; however by 
showing the need and the cause of the migration we liave induced the Reclamation 
Bureau to make the study and surveys toward that objective and these are now 
being carried forward. 

To sum it up: First, increased appropriations for the Reclamation Bureau for 
construction work and investigation of new projects; second, increase the scope 
of operation and appropriation of the Crt.«e-Wheeler bill without limiting the size 
of projects undertaken ; third, in the arid and semiarid States or the 17 States of 
the Reclamation Bureau area under the Federal Works Administration as emer- 
gency relief give preference to those projects that have for their objective water 
conservation, irrigation thereby eliminating the cause of relief and the necessity 
of future relief ; fourth, assign 50 more Civilian Conservation Corps camps to the 
Reclamation Bureau. Applied in its liberal sense with su' gestions herein con- 
tained will eliminate the relief both now and in the future and thereby stop the 
drought migration at its source. 

Without the enormous exjpenditures of the various Federal relief agencies, sup- 
ported by the lending of the different Federal credit agencies, wholesale migration 
would have re.sulted, with a collapse of various business volume and the entire 
social structure ; and it is to cure this situation that the above .suggestions are made 
with enclosures setting up the condition existing. The 80,000 vacated farm homes, 
the 2,500 discontinued country school houses are grim monuments to this migration. 

Respectfully submitted for your consideration. 
Sincerely yours, 

W. E. Dannefer, 
State Director National Reclamation Association.. 

Attached herewith is a brief i-^sume of the agricultural and financial situation 
surrounding the White Rock project, known as irrigation district No. 1, of Repub- 
lic, Cloud, and Jewell Co-unties, in Kansas. 

Since 1910, when the ground water table began to lower there has been a steady 
migration away from here. The farm total population loss of Cloud County, 5.043 ; 
Jewell County, 9,780; and Republic County, 6.619. The total farm population 
migration for the three counties amounts to 22,349, with an average farm family 
of 4:^2 persons, this has vacated 1,321 farm homes in Cloud County, 2.175 in Jewell ; 
and 1,421 in Republic County or total 4,867 in the three counties. When the farm 
population inci'eases so does land prices as a general thing and the reverse is true 
when the people leave a country. This farm ix)pulation of migration which now 
amounts to an average of 51 percent has caused a farm land price decline of about 
65 percent and this loss to the individual farm owner has in most cases wiijed 
out the life savings of at least two-thirds of our farmers. Its effect on business 
and property values and business volume in the trading centers has or will be in a 
like ratio or decline. 

The Office of Government Reports disclose that a nonreimburseable fund, that 
is money that does not have to be payed back, that the Federal Government has 
spent in each of the counties of the area now amounts to ,$3,246,000 in Cloud 
County, $3,737,000 in Jewell County ; and $2,489,000 in Republic County or a total 
of $9,472,000. This does not take into consideration the enormous sums rai.sed by 
the county, cities, towns, and school districts which has wholly or partially gone 
into relief and the commissioners of the various counties are hard pressed to raise 
the needed funds to care for the relief. Ncme of the projects built or on which this 
money has been .sijent had for its objective the elimination of the cause and need 
for relief and that can only be had by a water utilization program and irrigation 
that would make these people self-supporting. As it is, after eac-h jiroject they are 
a little worse off than before. Had this same money l)een used on an irrigation 
program it would all be repayable and the need would be reduced by placing every 
employable person in the building of your project and when the project was com- 
pleted they could find employment in the irrigated sections so that project will be 
annually producing an enormous amount of new wealth, increasing property 
values, and decreasing taxes. 

In addition thereto the Farm Security Administration has in Cloud County 136 
families to whom the loans and grants total $112,122; and in Jewell County 322 



families who have received $323,055 ; and in Republic County 118 families who 
have received $92,075 ; or a total for the three counties of the area of 57i> families 
who have received $524,252. 

In addition thereto, the various governmental lending agencies have loaned in 
Cloud County, $1,065,000; in Jewell County, $1,519,000; and in Republic County, 
$1,185,000, and the major portion of this enormous amount loaned can be traced 
to the fact that the farms did not pay the operating cost. To restate again, the 
Government has loaned this area $4,312,000 and in addition in nonrepavable funds 
sent were $9,472,000, or a total of $13,784,000, all because these farms produced less 
than a living to the people that operated them. Is it any wonder that 22,300 people 
have left the farm of this area, and that unless irrigation is brought in at least 
7,800 more people on the farms will be forced to migrate within the next 5 years. 









12, 694 
10, 447 
8, 175 


14, 151 
12, 532 

17, 779 

18, 328 
14, 340 
17, 557 
17, 747 
16, 655 
16, 773 
16, 679 
16, 645 


1 1,404 

2 1,061 
2 1, 186 
2 1,225 

2 642 

1 516 
1 58 

2 203 
2. '566 
2 588 
2 569 
2 105 


1 2, 968 
I 316 


1910 . .- 

I 1 755 


1 347 

1930... --.- 

1 489 

1932 -. 

2 593 


1 159 


1 533 

1936 . - 

1 381 


2 504 


2 130 

1939 . ... 

1 11 



Number loss, 5,943. 
Percent loss, 46. 


1870 . 

16, 172 
17, 655 
14, 283 
10, 688 
10, 660 
10, 289 
8, 320 

17, 475 
19, 349 
19, 420 
18, 148 
17, 240 
14, 462 
14, 438 
14, 269 
17, 747 
13, 183 
12, 348 
12, 026 



1 15,984 


2 156 

2 2, 572 

2 1, 856 

2 1,750 

2 217 

2 301 

2 203 

2 839 


2 1, 150 

1 41 


1 1,303 


1 839 


1910 . 

1 227 
1 1,300 






2 16 


1 202 


1 533 

1936 :. 

2 227 

1937 . 


1938 .- 

2 383 


' 251 



Number los=, 9,787. 
Percent loss, 58. 



12, 998 
13. 504 
13, 639 
12, 127 
10, 647 

17, 481 
16, 490 
15, 470 
15, 225 
15, 0.57 
13, 103 
13, 103 


5, 533 

1 11,716 
1 506 

1 136 
2 1,512 
2 1, 480 

2 583 
2 562 
2 127 
2 184 
2 291 
2 361 
2 606 
2 167 

1 312 


1 3, 036 

1900 .- . 

1 431 


1 584 


1 460 

1930 .- 

I 287 


2 117 


1 136 


1 75 


1 123 


1 247 


1 117 


2 567 

1940 ., 

2 61 

Number loss, 6,619. 
Percent loss, 47. 

1 Increase. 

2 Decrease. 



The Chairman. Mr. Krotty, state your name and address to the 
reporter for the record, ])lease. 

Mr. Krotty. Donald Krotty, 211 North Eighteentli, Omaha, Nebr. 

Mr. Parsons. Where were yon born, Mr. Krotty? 

Mi\ Krotty. Norfolk, Nebr. 

Mr. Parsons. How much education have you had ? 

Mr. Krotty. Hio:h school. 

Mr. Parsons. When did you graduate? 

Mr. Krotty. In 1936. 

Mr. Parsons. What did you do after you left school ? 

Mr. Krotty. I looked for a job for about 6 months and then joined 
the Army. 

Mr. Parsons. How long were you in the Army? 

Mr. Krotty. Three years. 

Mr. Parsons. Where were you stationed? 

Mr. Krotty. Fort Omaha, Nebr. 

Mr. Parsons. When were you discharged? 

Mr. Krotty. The last day of December 1939. 

Mr. Parsons. Last year ? 

Mr. Krotttt. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. Did you try to reenlist? 

Mr. Krotty. It is impossible, sir. I was married and they wouldn't 
let me. 

Mr. Parsons. You married while you were in the Army ? 

Mr. Krotty. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. Have any children? 

Mr. Krotty. Two. 

Mr. Parsons. How old are they ? 

Mr. Krotty. One is about 2 years 4 months, and the other is about 
3 months. 

]\Ir. Parsons. Where did you go after you left the Army ? 

Mr. Krotty. To Houston, Tex. 

Mr. Parsons. Why did you go to Houston? 

Mr. Krotty. I heard that there was work down there, so I went down 
to see. 

Mr. Parsons. The same old story ? 

Ml'. Krotty. The same old story. 

Mr. Parsons. Did you save any money while you were in the Army ? 

Mr. Krottt. I had about $140 when I started to Houston. 

Mr. Parsons. Did you take your wife and children with you? 

Mr. Krotty. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. AVhere did they stay while you were in the service? 

Mr. Krotty. ]\ly wife worked part of the time and lived outside the 
post, and I did, too. 

Mr. Parsons. You lived outside the post, too? 

Mr. Krotfy. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. Did you get an alloAvance from the Army for living 
outside the post ? 

Mr. Krotty. Well, I got half rations. I was cooking in the kitchen, 
and they woukbi't give me full rations. 

Mr. Parsons. Did you find any work in Houston ? 


Mr. Krotty. Yes ; I worked for a while selling vacuum cleaners. 

Mr. Parsons. How much did you make a week doing that? 

Mr. Krotty. I wasn't nnich of a salesman. 

INIr. Parsons. Well, about how much did you make a week? 

Mr. Krotty. About $2. 

]Mr. Parsons. That was $2 net above expenses? 

Mr. Krotty. No ; it wasn't ; I sold one cleaner. 

Mr. Parsons. How long were you selling one cleaner ? 

Mr. Krotty. Five weeks. 

IVIr. Parsons. How did you exist during that time ? 

Mr. Krotty. Well, I had enough to keep me for a couple of months 
when I got there, and I worked in a cafe for 5 weeks, about 6 weeks, 
I mean, and got a dollar and a half and my meals. 

Mr. Parsons, A day? 

Mr. Krotty. A day. 

Mr. Parsons. What happened to that job? 

Mr. Krotty. Well, the first 2 weeks I got my pay all right, and I 
had worked 12 days, and I received my pay for it, and that was the 
last half of the month, and the first 2 weeks of the next month I re- 
ceived my pay all right, but the last 2 weeks I worked 15 days, and I 
received pay "for 12 days, and I asked the boss about it, and he said 
that was the way he paid all his help, and I couldn't do anything 
about it. I told him my expenses went on whether he paid me or not, 
and he said he could get somebody to do it for less money, and one 
fellow wanted to do it for his meals, and he let me go. 

Mr. Parsons, What did you do then ? 

Mr. Krotty, I received aid from the Travelers' Aid. 

Mr. Parsons. In Houston ? 

Mr. Krotty. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. How much did you draw per week ? 

Mr. Kjjotty. Seven and a half dollars, 

Mr. Parsons. How long did you stay in Houston ? 

Mr. Krotty. About six and a half months, altogether. 

Mr. Parsons. Oh, you haven't been back in Nebraska until right 
recently ? 

Mr, Krotty. About 7 weeks. 

Mr. Parsons. Where are you living here now ? Who is helping you ? 

Mr. Krotty, I have a job now. 

Mr. Parsons, You have a job now? 

Mr. Krotty. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons, "VA-liat are you doing now ? 

Mr, Krotty, Porter at the Burlington Bus Depot. 

Mr. Parsons. What does that pay you per week? 

Mr. Krotty. $12.60. 

Mr. Parsons. About $50 a month ? 

Mr. Krotty. It runs about $.55 a month. 

settlement ditficulties 

Mr. Parsons. Did you have any difficulty about establishing resi- 
dence, settlement residence, in Texas? 

Mr. Krotty. I couldn't establish a residence. 

Mr. Parsons. Oh, you didn't draw any public relief there, except 
from the Travelers' Aid? 

Mr, Krotty. Yes, sir. 


Mr. Parsons. Did yoii attempt to o;et relief from pnl>lic funds there? 

Mr. Krotty. Yes, sir, when I lost this job I went down and tried to 
get on, and they sent me to the Travelers' Aid. 

Mr. Parsons. Do you consider yourself a legal resident of Nebraska 

Mr. IvRorrY. Well, I don't know. I am a legal resident of some 
place, but they have never decided where. 

Mr. Parsons. Do you know whether the State of Texas nsked Ne- 
braska for authorization to send you back here? 

Mr. Krotty. They did; for about 3 months they tried to get 

Mr, Parsons. Did Nebraska then authorize it ? 

Mr. Krotty. They answered the letter, but they had an argument 
between Norfolk and Omaha. Neither one would claim responsibility. 
They both tried to pass it on to the other one. 

Mr. Parsons. In two separate counties? 

Mr. Krotty. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. So this question, then, of settlement, is not only be- 
tween States' lines, but between counties in Nebraska, too? 

Mr. Krotty. They agree that I am a resident of Nebraska — I was. 

Mr. Parsons. But the counties can't determine which county? 

Mr. Ejiotty. They wouldn't decide where I belong. 

Mr. Parsons. I see. So, if you were requesting relief and entirely 
destitute and starving, still you couldn't get anything in Nebraska? 

Mr. Krotty. I guess that is right. 

Mr. Parsons. There would still be a fuss and a fight between the two 
counties ? 

Mr. Krotty. That is right. 

Mr. Parsons. So, when you couldn't get any authorization from 
Nebraska to send you back, what happened? How did you get back 
here ? 

Mr. Krotty. Well, they told me I could either stay there and they 
would stop helping me, and I would be on my own, or they would send 
my wife back and I could get back the best way I could. 

Mr. Parsons. Did they send your wife and your children back? 

Mr. Krotty. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. They paid their way? 

Mr. Krotty. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. Who paid their way? 

Mr. Krotty. The Travelers' Aid. 

Mr. Parsons. But they wouldn't pay for you ? 

Mr. Krotty. Well, you see, if we had authorization, they could get 
a half fare on the railroad and we could both go back, but they didn't 
get it, so we had to pay full fare, and they would only pay one. 

Mr. Parsons. So that brought up the question quite impressively of 
our settlement laws? You haven't ever been taught anything about 
settlement laws before, have you? 

Mr. Ki;oTTY. Well, I had been told about them in the Army, and I 
didn't know exactlv where I was a resident. I intended, wherever I 
figured to settle, I'd be a resident, but they don't seem to figure that 


Mr. Parsons. Did you apply for relief when you first came back to 

Omaha ? 

Mr. Krotty. Yes ; they helped us for 3 weeks. 


Mr. Parsons. In what way? 

Mr. Krotty. With food stamps and an apartment to live in. 

Mr. Parsons. Do they have a slielter? 

Mr. Krotty. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. At Omaha? 

Mr. Kkotty. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. That is paid for by the State, or the local relief? 

Mr. Krotty. I don't know; it is Donglas County assistance, I 

Mr. Parsons. Are you receiving any grocery orders or any aid or 
assistance of any kind now ? 

Mr. Krotty. No, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. You are living in a rented home in Omaha? 

Mr. Krotty. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. Is your wife w^orking? 

Mr. Krotty. No f she is up home in Norfolk with my folks. 

Mr. Parsons. She is staying with your people back in Norfolk? 

Mr. Krotty. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. What are your future plans? 

Mr. Krotty. Well, I am getting a little money ahead so we can get 
some clothes, and then she is coming back to Omaha in 2 months. 

Mr. Parsons. Do you think you could make it down there on that 
$50 a month? 

Mr. Krotty. I think I can get by. 

Mr. Parsons. Will that job be permanent? 

Mr. Krotty. I hope there will be a chance for advancement. 

Mr. Parsons. I hope so, too. Thank you very much. 

Chairman Tolan. Mr. and Mrs. Shockley. 


The Chairman. You are C. Marvin Shockley? 

Mr. Shockley. Yes, sir. 

The Chairman. You are his wife? 

Mrs. Shockley. Yes, sir. 

The Chairman. Where do you live? 

Mr. Shockley. Well, my home is in Oklahoma City, where I was a 

The Chairman. You are just trying to find out now where you do 

Mr. Shockley. Yes, sir. 

The Chairman. And where are you actually living now ? 

Mr. Shockley. Well, I left Colorado to come here. I am just in a 
cottage here, a tourist -camp. 

The Chairman. And what is your occupation? 

Mr. Shockley. Laborer. 

The Chairman. Are you working now? 

Mr. Shockley. No, sir. 

Tlie Chairman, What are you living on? 

Mr. Shockley. Well, I have been working in the fruit orchards back 
in Colorado. 

The Chairman, How far did you go through school? 

Mr. Shockley. I completed the 11th, 


The Chairmax. What about you, Mrs. Shockley? 

Mrs. Shockley. I completed tlie lith. 

The Chairman. Your oUI man was two grades ahead of you, is 
that right? 

Mrs. Shockley. That is right. 

The Chairman. Tell me something about your family backgromid, 
Mr. Shockley. 

Mr. Shockley. Well, sir. my grandfather, he came from Georgia, 
to make the run in Oklahoma, and he got a small homestead. 

The Chahjman. You mean, "to make the run," that was when the 
public land was opened up there? 

Mr. Shockley. Yes. sir. 

The Chairman. What year was that? 

Mr. Shockley. Oh 

The Chairman (interposing). Before vour time, anyway, wasn't 

Mr. Shockley. Well, pretty near it, anyway. 

The Chairman. ^Yhut kind of life did your grandfather make, did 
you ever hear? 

Mr. Shockley. Oh, I heard something about it, just kind of — oh, I 
I don't know. 

The Chairman. Well, did he settle in Oklahoma? 

Mr. Shockley. Yes, sir. 

The Chairman. Who was your grandfather? 

Mr. Shockley. Thomas G. Shockley. 

The Chairman. He was a Confederate soldier, wasn't he? 

Mr. Shockley, Yes, sir. 

The Chairman. Officer? 

Mr. Shockley. No ; he was in the Cavalry, 

The Chairman. Then tell me about your' father. 

Mr. Shockley. AVell, my father— they all lived on the farm, he 
told me, up until the boys were all up around — oh, I think the oldest 
was 8 or 9 : he is 25 now. and I think it was 80 acres, or 100 with the 
pastures and all, so the farm got so small my father and some of his 
brothers just rented places around close in that county, and my father 
farmed for a few years, and it just seemed to keep getting w^orse, 
and times seemed to be getting harder or something. 

The Chairman. AVhere was that? 

Mr. Shockley. Lexington, Cleveland County. 

The Chairman. Now, your father bekmged to a large family, did 

he not? 

Mr. Shockley. Eiglit sons. My grandfather had eight sons. 

The Chairman. And how many in your family ? 

Mr. Shockley. Five boys living. 

The Chairman. When "did you leave Oklahoma ? 

Mr. Shockley. The 1st of June, this year. 

The Chairman. And where did yon go from Oklahoma ? 

Mr. Shockley. To Grand Junction. Colo. 

The Chairman. What did you do there? 

Mr. Shockley. About the first 8 days I was there T worked with a 
plumber, and then I worked in the cherries, my wife and T. about 
2 weeks, and then right after that the shops, about 3 days there. 

The Chairman. How long have you been married? 

Mr. Shockley, Let's see— 4 years. 


The Chairman. And you were born in Kansas City, weren't you? 
Mr. Shockley. No ; she was. 

Tlie Chairman. Your wife was'^ Did you come from a farming 
family, Mrs. Shockley ? 
Mrs. SH0CKLt:Y. Yes ; way back there. 
The Chairman. What? 
Mrs. Shockley. Not recently. 
The Chairman. What did your parents do? 
Mrs. Shockley. Oh, just about anything they could get. 
The Chairman. Now, after you were married, you worked at the 
Wilson Packing Plant, didn't you? 
Mr. Shockley. Yes. 

The Chairman. AVas the plant very far from your home? 
Mr. Shockley. Well, it was — well, I worked in a packing town about 
5 miles across the river. 
The Chairman. How did you get there? 
Mr. Shockley. I rode a bicycle. 
The Chairman. How much work did you get there? 
Mr. Shockley. I got about 2 months out of about 2 years, of extra 

The Chairman. Hoav nuich did you receive from this? 
Mr. SnociiLEY. Well, I made 45 cents an hour, most of the time. 
The Chairman. Two months out of 2 years? 
Mr. Shockley. Yes, 

The Chairman. How did you manage to get along with so little 

Mr. Shockley. Well, my mother was living with me, and she was 
working in the Recreation Center in Oklahoma City. 
The Chairman. Why did you leave home? 

Mr. Shockley. AVell, sir, my mother was married again, so I just 
decided to leave. 

The Chairman. Tell us briefly about some of your experiences in 
the vegetable field. 

Mr. Shockley. Well, sir, there are just about a couple of weeks of 
each, and then there are about 2 or 3 weeks between each, most places, 
and sometimes longer. 
The Chairman. You are referring now to Colorado ? 
Mr. Shockley. Yes. 

The Chairman. How did you get there ? 

Mr. Shockley. I had an old 1932 Plymouth, and we drove through. 
The Chairman. Have you got it yet ? 

Mr, Shockley. Well, I have another one just about like it. I don't 
have the same car. 

The Chairman. Will it run? 
Mr. Shockley. Yes, sir. 

The Chairman. You and your wife worked in the cherry orchards 
there ? 

Mr. Shockley, Yes, sir. 

The Chairman, How^ much money did you receive ? 
Mr. Shockley. Well, to be exact, we got 18 cents a box, and the boxes 
each weighed 30 pounds, and it would crowd you to pick 9 a day. We 
would average about $2 if we worked real hard. 
The Chairman. One dollar each? 
Mr. Shockley. No ; $2 each. 


The Chairman. AVell, where did you live just before you left Colo- 
rado to come down here ? 

Mr. SiiocKLEY. We had a tent and we camped out on the banks of 
the Colorado River, betAveen the small town or village between Grand 
Junction and Palisades, where most of the work is. 

The Chairman. It was your tent, was it? 

Mr. Shockley. Yes, sir. 

The Chairman. How long were you there? 

Mr. SiiocKLEY. We had been there ever since we got out there, in 
the same place, just on the edge of town or somewhere like that. 

The Chairman. How did you live— obtain groceries and so on? 

Mr. SnociiLEY. Oh, we just managed to get by, is all. 

The Chairman. Where are you going now? What are your plans? 

Mr. Shockley. Well, I don't know. I kind of figured on maybe 
dropping back around and seeing our mother, and going back out 
there again and working in the apples later this fall. 

The Chairman. Don't you think it would be a good idea, Marvin, 
if the Government would have some offices where you could obtain 
information regarding employment, instead of this hit-and-miss propo- 

Mr. Shockley. Yes, sir ; I sure do. 

The Chairman. In other words, you get a lot of misinformation 
now ? 

Mr. Shockley. Yes, sir. You just hear things and go in and there 
is nothing to it. 

The Chairman. I don't know of any State agency or Federal 
agency that gives any information. 

Mr. Shockley, I don't know of any. 

The Chairman. I know we do have some private employment 
agencies that take some of the last pennies of the migrants and shoot 
them across State lines, and we attend to these fellows. That is in 
interstate commerce, you know, and we have jurisdiction over that. 
There isn't any question but that that might be one of the recommenda- 
tions; that is, for the Federal Government to see at least that you 
people traveling from State to State get correct information. 

Mr. Shockley. Yes. 

The Chairman. Are you on relief, or have you ever been on relief ? 

Mr. Shockley. Never have been. 

The Chairman. You don't want to go on relief, do you ? 

Mr. Shockley. No, sir. 

The Chairman. You have no children, have you? 

Mr. Shockley. No, sir. 

The Chairman, Have you anything else to suggest, or you, Mrs. 
Shockley, to help this committee? 

Mr. Shockley. No, 

The Chairman. In crossing State lines, have you had any trouble 
at all about them sending you back to the State you came from ? 

Mr. Shockley, No; sir. They just gave us a visitor's tag out at 
Grand Junction; after we were there awhile they stopped me and told 
me I would have to get a Colorado license. 

The Chairman. Did I understand you to say you are living in a 
tent now^ ? 

Mr. Shockley, We were when we left; we are just living in the car 

The Chairman, Thank you very much, Mr, Shockley. 



INIr, Parsons. State your name and address, please. 

Mr. GuBSER. John H. Gubser, Scottsbluff, Nebr. 

Mr. Parsons. You are living at present in Scottsbluff? 

Mr. Gubser. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. How old are you ? 

Mr. Gubser. Thirty-five. 

Mr. Parsons. Are you married < 

Mr. Gubser. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. Any children '( 

Mr. Gubser. No. 

Mr. Parsons. Have you lived in Scottsbluff all your life ? 

Mr. Gubser. No : I have been there 2 weeks. I was there 15 years 
ago for 4 years ; I went there in 1922. 

Mr. Parsons. What are you doing noAV at Scottsbluff? 

Mr. Gubser. Waiting for a compensation check. 

Mr. Parsons. Unemployment compensation? 

Mr. Gubser. Unemployment compensation, yes; and I am looking 
for work. 

Mr. Parsons. Where had you been working to become entitled to 

Mr. Gubser. I was employed by the Lincoln Telephone & Telegraph 
Co. here in Lincoln for 13 years. 

Mr. Parsons. And did you quit tlie company here, or did they fire 

Mr. Gubser. I resigned this year. 

Mr. Parsons. What were they paying you per month ? 

Mr. Gubser. My rate was— day rate — s^ince the 1st of January 1940 
was $6.50 a day. 

Mr. Parsons. Why did you quit? 

Mr. Gubser. Well, that is a long story. 

Mr. Parsons. Did you have some altercation or argument with the 
management or something? 

Mr. Gubser. No; I was transferred to a particular foreman, 3 years 
ago, and he has had a lot of trouble. I happen to be the sixth man 
that has left the employ of the company in the last 3 years, under his 

Mr. Parsons. Wliere did you go after you resigned? 

Mr. Gubser. I went to Denver. 

Mr. Parsons. Did your wife go with you ? 

Mr. Gubser. Well, I was out there 3 weeks before she came out. 

Mr. Parsons. Why did you go to Denver ? 

Mr. Gubser. Well, working conditions are better; wages are better. 
You know, here in Nebraska, we are tied with Tennessee for the low 
average wage in the United States. 

Mr. Parsons. You were getting $6.50 a day with the Lincoln Tele- 
phone Co. here? 

Mr. Gubser. That is right. 

Mr. Parsons. Is that on the basis of 30 days per month or on the 
basis of 26 working days per month? 

Mr. Gubser. That is 26. Of course, there are lots of months, take 
in the wintertime, that mavbe we work 15 days. It depends on the 


■weather conditions. In 1932, of course, we worked, I tliink, about 40 
da^s a month during that storm period. 

Mr. Parsons. You worked day and night? 

Mr. GuBSER. Yes. 

Mr, Parsons. Did you get extra pay ? 

Mr. GuBSER. Yes, of coiu-se ; time and a half. 

]Mr. Parsons. You were in the construction end of it, I assume? 

Mr. Gubser. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. Or maintenance. Did you get any employment in 
Denver ? 

Mr. Gubser. Yes, I worked 4 days in a restaurant there, for a man 
that wanted to take a little time off. 

Mr. Parsons. You didn't get into any electrical construction work 
at that time ? 

Mr. Gubser. None. 

Mr. Parsons. Are j'ou a lineman ? 

]Mr. Gubser. Well, I profess to be. I should be; I spent the best 
part of my life at it. 

Mr. Parsons. How long did you remain in Denver? 

Mr. Gubser. I was there a month — 5 weeks, I believe. 

Mr. Parsons. Didn't you get any work except the 4 or 5 days ? 

Mr. Gubser. No. 

Mr. Parsons. AVliere did you go from there ? 

Mr. Gubser. St. Joe, Mo"! 

Mr. Parsons. You thought you would get some employment there? 

Mr, Gubser. Well, I hoped to. My wife has a sister there, and she 
was a little disappointed with Colorado, and so to sort of console her, 
I went down there. I was down there a year ago, and there was some 
R. E. A. construction. 

Mr. Parsons. Did you get work there ? 

Mr. Gubser. Most of it seems to be completed now. There is some 
out here about 20 miles outside of Scottsbluff, but that is about com- 
pleted, too. 

Mr. Parsons. Wlien and where did you file for your unemployment 
compensation ? 

Mr. Gubser. Well, I believe it was about the 26th or 27th of June, 
in Denver. 

Mr. Parsons. Soon after you resigned here ? 

Mr. Gubser. Well, about 3 weeks afterwards. 

Mr. Parsons. That was in June. Have you received any checks 

yet? . . 

Mr. Gubser. None. Mj' understanding is that I will draw one next 

Mr. Parsons. What are you doing now ? 

Mr. Gubser. I am looking for work. I have a job promised me the 
1st of October. 

Mr. Parsons. At Scottsbluff? 

Mr. Gubser. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. Are you getting any relief, or aid, or assistance out 

Mr. Gubser. No, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. Did you have any money saved up to tide you over 
this period? 


Mr. GuBSER. I have a little. You don't save a whole lot when you 
are traveling. A lot of people think that six and a half dollars a day 
is big wages, but when you are away from home 4 or 5 nights a week 
and stay in a hotel — and a man that w'orks hard, you know, has to eat. 
You can't live on these 25-cent plate lunches. It costs you something 
to eat when you are away from home. 

Mr. Parsons. More than it does at home? 

Mr. GuBSER. Oh, yes. 

Mr. Parsons. Why has it been so long since you resigned that you 
haven't received these compensation checks? What has been the 
trouble ? 

Mr. Gubser. Well, due to the fact that I resigned, I would be dis- 
qualified for, I believe 5 weeks, but along with that I could never draw 
any compensation as long as I was out of the State of Nebraska, unless 
I was living close to a border office, where I could report to that State 
of Nebraska Unemployment Office every w^ek. 

Mr. Parsons. Are you reporting now? 

Mr. Gubser. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. And that, you think, will qualify you, that you will be 
able to start drawing soon? 

Mr. Gubser. Th:(t i^ my understanding from the compensation office 
here and in Scottsbliill. 

Mr. Parsons. Did you want to come back to Nebraska ? 

Mr. Gubser. Well, not particularly, because I know what conditions 
are here. I have lived in this farming community around Lincoln all 
my life, and I was born on a farm. 

Mr. Parsons. Do you think the employment possibilities here are 
as good as they are in other places, or do you still have hopes that there 
is bettiM- employment in other cities? 

Mr. Gubser. Well, I know the situation here in Lincoln; and it's 

Mr. Parsons. What kind of job do you mention — you said you have 
a job October 1. 

Mr. Gubser. It's sort of a machine job, machinist job, that I had 
years ago when I worked for this Great Western Sugar Co. 

Mr. Parsons. This unemployment compensation law" rather helps 
out if one gets it, doesn't it? 

Mr. Gubser. It would be quite a bit of help to me at this time. 

Mr. Parsons. What are your future plans ? 

Mr. Gubser. Well, this job in ScottsbUiff is probably a 3 months' 
proposition, and if this Nebraska National Guard is called out, I may 
get work up there at Scottsbluff at the telephone company. They have 
two men quitting, who will be called to service. 

Mr. Parsons. That is all, Mr. Chairman, 

The Chairman. The committee will be recessed for 5 minutes. 

(Thereupon a short recess was taken, at the conclusion of which the 
proceedings were resumed as follows :) 

The Chairman. The committee will please come to order. Mr. 
Aicher, will you please take the stand ? 



The Chairman. Congressman Curtis will interrogate you? 

Mr, AicHEK. There is another gentleman, Mr. Collins, with me in 
this panel. 

Mr. Curtis. Mr. Aicher, you will give your full name, address, and 
title to the reporter, please. 

Mr. Aicher. E. H. Aicher, Lincoln, Nebr, ; Chief of the Institu- 
tional Adjustments Division of the Soil Conservation Service, Depart- 
ment of Agriculture, Regional Office, Lincoln, Nebr. 

Mr. Curtis. And Mr. Collins, you will do likewise, 

Mr. Collins, Willkie Collins, Jr., assistant regional agronomist, 
with the Soil Conservation Service, Lincoln, Nebr. 

Mr. Curtis. I am going to consider you two as members of a panel. 
I will ask questions and either of you may answer, or both of you. You 
have submitted statement on the rural-population movement in the 
Great Plains region. We have read that and made it a part of our 
record, and it will be considered when the committee makes its final 

(The matter referred to follows:) 


I. Instabixity of Rural Population a Problem of National Concern 

The increased movement of rural population during the past decade has been 
such as to create serious social and economic problems. These problems and 
their underlying causes extend beyond county and State boundaries. Such sig- 
nificant population movements as have occurred during the past decade become 
a matter of concern of the National Government. 

A. Factors contributing to the problem of instability and movement of rural 
population in and from the Northern Great Plains States: 

Like most chronic disorders the roots of this problem are deep seated. The 
family movement of recent years can perhaps best be discussed in terms of the 
factors which have contributed to the uprooting and subsequent movement of 
these farm families. 

1. SOILS and climate 

A necessary preface to the factors enumerated below is an appreciation of the 
fact that the soils and climate of the Northern Great Plains S'ates have wide 
variability, ranging from highly productive loams to barren haillaiid buttes and 
from areas of normally snfBeient, favorably distributed rainfall to areas of very 
limited and erratic precipitation. These physical factors therefore are esjiecially 
significant in any given area within the Northern Great Plains. They are basic 
factors of consideration in determining the use capability of a particular area. 



In view of the above physical factors, the methods under whicli large portions 
of the Great Plaints States were settled constitute one of the primary causes 
for the instability among the rural population which followed closely upon the 
heels of actual settlement. 

The Federal homestead laws under which most of the Great Plains States 
passed from public to private ownership did not recognize the physical limitations 
of the areas opened to homesteading with the result that a pattern of small- 

sized, uneconomic agricultural units were established which even yet are one of 
the chief causes of instability among the farm population in all except the 
eastern portions of Nebraska and the Dakotas. See figure 1, which shows how 
extensive homesteading occurred in Montana as a result of the enlarged Home- 
stead Act, coinciding with favorable climatic conditions and higher prices for 


The effects of the ill-adapted homestead laws were augmented by the promo- 
tional schemes of the States, the railroads, real-estate companies, and local com- 
munity boosters to secure settlers. The State supported land departments, whicii 
gave wide pultlicity to the agricultural opi)ortunities awaiting tlu! settler who was 
fortunate enough to choose that particular State as a future home. They spon- 
sored colonization ventures and other promotional schemes to secure settlers. 
The railroads, seeking increased business and disposal of grant lands, were equally 
active in promoting settlement. Free transportation as guests of the company, 
with conducted tours during which prospective settlers were shown "bait" farms 
developed far beyond what could be duplicated under ordinary farming condi- 
tions, was a frequently employed method of securing settlers. 

The land company, operating on a large scale, financed by eastern capital, was 
responsible for thousands of settlers. Their operations were extensive and com- 
monly "high pressure." Inducements used to interest people in going into a new 
country and taking up or buying land included extravagant posters and printed 
material scattered broadcast through the mails; exhibition trains decked with 
banners and loaded with fruits, vegetables, and grains impossible to duplicate- 
under ordinary farming conditions ; home-seekers' excursions ; elaborate exhi- 
bitions and professional lectures; and virtual promises of quick and easy riclies.^ 
They acquired large tracts of laud and subdivided them into many small tracts* 
which were "peddled" to families seeking new locations. They offered the home- 
seeker anything from a raw quarter to a ready-made farm, complete with build- 
ings, well, and fences. 

Local civic organizations and "booster" clubs added their invitations to the 
prospective settler, by calling his attention to the fine opportunities that existed 
within their resijective trade territories. 

It is to be expected that the impetus given to settlement by these agencies to- 
gether with free land would result in a tremendous influx of settlers, a rather high 
percentage of which were untrained in agricultural pursuits. The unemployed 
from the industrial East, the speculator, the misfits and failures from more 
stabilized agricultural areas were intermingled with the comix'tent, bona tide agri- 
cultural homeseekers. 

It was inevitable that the communities established upon such an unstable basis 
must undergo an adjustment period — a period during which the pattern of occu- 
pancy and use so rapidly intro-duced was brought into alinement with the physi- 
cal factors characteristic of that particular area. 


Coincident with the settlement of conmiunities was the need for operating 
funds by the settlers. The favorable conditions which prevailed during the 
period when much of the Great Plains area was settled led to an overoptimistie 
attitude with the result that highly inflated values were placed upon real estate. 
This movement culminated with the real estate boom whicli swept the country 
during the period 1916 to 1921. Real estate prices soared fai* beyond long-term 
productive values. Credit was available from many sources and loans made on 
the prevailing inflated values were often far in excess of the actual productive 
worth of the land. The evaluation methods used by Federal and State agencies 
and by local county commissioners were such as to prompt overcapitalization as 
were those used by private lending agencies. Speculation in real estate was 
widespread and was another factor which contributed lieavily to the inflation of 
real-estate prices. 


The new settlers brought with them the cultural patterns of the localities from 
which they migrated and these patterns were established in the new communities 
which in most instances were radically different from the areas from which the 
patterns were adopted. The townsliip unit of government, the small one-school, 
school districts often embracing less than a township in area, the township assess- 
ment system and many others equally unsuited were borrowed from areas where 
soil and climatic conditions were such as to support a rather heavy i)opulatioii 
on small farms. These cultural patterns applied to the greater portion of the 

* State Land Settlement Problems and Policies. W. A. Hartman, U. S. Department of 
Agriculture Technical Bulletin No. 357, May 1933. 

260370— 41— pt. 4 18 



■Groat Plains States \vli(>i-(> conditions of soil and climate wore so matorially dif- 
ferent introducod a niahidjustnient which still exists. 

The influx of settlers on small farms treated a need for school facilities and 
school district hoards anticipating still further increases in the population planned 
and built school facililies to accommodate an expandins population. Road facili- 
ties wei-(> likewise extended to serve the new communties. These in many in- 
stances were expanded beyond the needs of the present population and beyond 
the ability of the area to suppo-rt them. Public services, supported by local taxes, 
were likewise expanded in keefiing with the spirit of expansion and growth which 
prevailed in the communities. New courthouses, fair grounds, consolidated 
schools and transportation of pupils, enumerate but a few examples of the ex- 
pansion of public services. 


The expansion of public facilities was made possible to a large extent by the 
overcapitalization of values and the extension of credit facilities to the many 
units of local government. The tax bases of these units had been so inflated by 
overcapitalization that credit was easy to obtain. Little difficulty was experi- 
enced in securing the favorable vote required for the floating of bond issues which 
would not become due until 20 years in the future. Based on the inflated tax 
base, the levies required to build up a sinking fund for the retirement of these 
bonds seemed comparatively modest. Bonds of counties, school districts, and 
towns totaling millions of dollars were issued for capital improvements. 

During the period of general expansion budgets in many instances, if made at 
all, were not strictly adhered to. If funds for current operations were not imme- 
diately available, w^arrauts were drawn upon the proper fund and registered 
thereby becoming eligible for 6-percent interest from date of registration to date 
of payment. These warrants were commonly alleged to acculate until the amoiuit 
became excessive when they were fmided by issuing bonds sufficient to call th" 
outstanding warrants plus accumulated interest. 

This deficit financing of current operations plus the debts incurred for capital 
improvements was sufficient to mortgage the future of many communities for gen- 
erations. The deflation of values to more nearly normal levels has loft many 
taxing units staggering under tremendous debt burdens. In one school district 
outstanding debt amounts to over 50 percent of present assessed valuation. In 
another, because of the extreme tax levies necessary for debt service, the taxes 
were paid on onlv 11 of the 113 as'^e.ssed tracts of agricultural real estate. The 
total tax levy in this district for 1937 was $92.75 per $1,000 taxable valuation, of 
which $50 was for debt service. Fixed charges, generally, were excessive and 
prevented a reduction in tax levies. Chronic tax delinquency and widespread rax 
deed action by the counties which displaced hinidreds of farm families were the 
inevitable results of the fl^cal policies of local governments during the 20-year 
period preceding 1930. This factor is especially significant in the western 
Dakotas and eastern Montana, where millions of acres have been taken by the 
counties because of unpaid taxes. 

The situation with respect to public debt can, in many respects, be duplicated 
in the field of private debt, which has even more significance as a factor of family 
instability. The early settler's needs for operating funds were for a considerable 
period met by the commercial banks and real-estate lending agencies. The gen- 
erally favorable price levels from 1910 to 1930, favorable climatic conditions, and 
the introduction of power machinery offered a tremendous inducement for farm 
operators to expand their operations and to go into debt. Their homesteads were 
often mortgaged to make a down paAinent on another piece of land or more eouip- 
ment. Accompanying this combinatinu of factors favorable to agricultural oper- 
ations, there was' a general fever on the part of lending agencies to make real- 
estate loans. All had money to lend and were anxious to get it out at the favorable 
interest rates, rommercial banks, loan companies, and insurance coTunanies 
dominated the agricultural-credit field until about 191G. Partially to offset the 
high interest rates and short-term loans of the pi-ivate lending agencies, and to 
provide more liberal credit than was available from the Federal land banks, and 
partially to encourage further settlement, four of the five Northern Great Plains 
States established State lending agencies. South Dakota established the rural 
credit denartment in 1917; North Dakota established the Bank of North Dakota 
and the State land commission, emnowering both to make loans on farm pronerty 
in North Dakota. Permanent school funds were made available for farm loans 
in South Dakota, loans being placed by the county commissioners. Montana and 


Wyoming each hart State credit agencies making real-estate loans. The lending 
policies of these State agencies did much to stimulate excessive borrowing which 
later resulted in thousands of farm families losing their homes through fore- 
closure. Very few of the original loans continue in good standing at the present 
time. Most of the State agencies lending activities were short-lived, being gen- 
erally discontinued about 1925. 

The Farm Ciedit Administration through the Federal Reserve hanks made 
numerous loans during this jieriod, but their early loans were largely conHncd to 
the older agricultural areas in the central and eastern parts of Nebraska and the 
Dakotas. Liter tlieir lendi'ig activities were extended throughout the States, 
with the heaviest period of lending and refinancing of «»ld obligatiftns being from 
1933 to 1935. Tlie valuations placed upon land by the bank and the making of 
principal and Commissioner's loans resulted in many instances in the aggregate 
loan being considerably in excess of the productive value of the land. The 
combined factors of excessive loans, poor crops, and poor prices placed many 
farmers in a position where they were unable to meet their obligations, with 
subsequent foreclosure by the bank. 

The signfieant factor with respect to these credit agencies and the policies 
under which they operated is that they inflated prices, encouraged borrowing, 
stimulated expansion to the extent that literally thousands of honest, hard- 
Avorking farm owners rnd operators were induced to borrow in excess of the 
amount they could service under normal conditions. With successive years of 
drought, crop failures, insect ravages, and low prices for agricultural products it 
was inevitable that wholesale foreclosures would result. Hundreds of farm 
families have lost their homes as a result of these foreclosures. Some of them 
have been able to get reestablished as tenants in the communities but many 
others have no doubt joined the army of migrants in search of new opportunities. 


Prior to about 1920 power machinery in farming operations was pretty largely 
limited to stationary eiigaies and to steam engines for threshing and large-scale 
"land breaking" operations. The lighter tractor operating on kerosene or other 
cheap fuel oil revolutionized the whole agricultural system. The displacement 
of horse-operated machinery by power machinery made necessary larger units to 
permit greater use of the expensive equipment. The greatest period of expansion 
was from 1922 to 1929, when millions of acres of new sod were broken up for 
cultivation and farmers expanded their operations, often by mortgaging their 
farms to buy either more land or more equipment. The farm-machinery com- 
panies and agents made extiemely liberal terms to further stimulate sales. It was 
not uncommon for $2,500 combines to be sold on the basis of the purchaser paying 
the freight from regional warehouse to destinations as the down payments. 
Speculative cash-crop farming was widespread. Nearly every conununity had 
its "main street farmers" who lived in town and directed the operations on a 
farm or farms operated by power machinery and hired help. This sign i fie nt 
change in farming practice displaced many farm families from smaller family- 
sized units which could not compete with the tractor operator. Their units were 
readily absorbed by the larger operator, who could more efficiently utilize his 
power machinery on a larger acreage. Landowners, looking for highest cash 
returns, would rent to a tractor operator for cash crop production rather than to 
afamily on a diversified, general farming basis. This process is still in operation, 
and each spring finds more tenants displaced." The families and single workers 
displaced by this shift to power equipment were to a laige extent absorl)ed by 
industry prior to 1930. Since then, however, there has been a reversal of this 
process, and unemployed industrial workers are trving to get back on the farms. 
Many tenants unrble to find desirable farms have sold what stock and machinery 
they had and tried to find some other occupation. Too often unsuccessful in this, 
they turn to employment as a farm laborer in the conununity or become migrant 
seasonal agricultural workers. 


The insecurity of tenure is not limited to the tenant farmer. The landowner of 
record is often little more than a hired man for the bank and machinery com- 

2 Farm Security Admini.stration roports one Instance of eijjlit standard borrowers In 
western North Dakota beinsr displaced by havinK tlieir places leased away from tlieni by 
a large-scale operator. Elsewhere it is increasingly dlllicult to find family-sized farms 
for relocation purposes. 


pany, so small is his romaining equity. High fixod costs of owutrship have iiii 
many instances so seriously midcrmiiu'il his ('(juily during the years of pfjor crops 
that his chance of recovery is limited. The principal payments and interest 
charges take a high percentage of his income during normal crop years. High 
taxes add to the owner's burden, and it is far too often that the owner, through, 
default on mortgage payments or taxes, loses his farm iind becomes a tenant 
with even less security. 

Joining the ranks of the tenant, his tenure on any respective farm unit is 
threatencHl by absentee ownership which may re(piire him to deal with from 2 to 
"0 separate owners in an effort to keep his unit intact. Their individual action 
with respect to their separate tracts may leave him with a badly disrupted unit 
or none at all. The short-term (usually annual) competitive-lease system makes 
it extremely easy for a cash crop tractor operator to disrupt the unit of an 
operator who is trying to build up a livestock unit. The immediate cash return 
to the owner may be higher from the tractor farmer. The general farmer who 
wants to use part of the land for more stable livestock operation cannot meet the 
excessive rent offered by the cash-crop farmer. 

A factor not so significant but one which has displaced a considerable number 
of tenants is the moving back of the owners, once retired, onto the farm in an 
effort to get sufficient returns to meet fixed charges and provide a living. 

The insecurity of tenure, therefore, is a constant threat to the operations of 
both owner-operator and tenant. This insectu-ity is reflected in their operations. 
A high degree of dependence upon annual soil-depleting crops, failure to adopt soil 
and moisture-conservation practices, soil "mining" and erosion, lack of feed 
reserves, improper care of buildings, are to a large extent directly traceable to 
insecurity of tenvu'e. 


"In most of the Northern Great Plains region during the period from 1900 to 
1915 there was comparatively abundant moisture. For these 16 years Nebraska 
had an accumulation of more than 20 inches above normal rainfall, and 13 of 
the 16 had above normal in North Dakota." ' 

The above quotation describes a climatic condition which, with an occasional 
year of drought in certain areas, continued until 1925. A record of 8 weather 
stations throughout the 5 Northern Great Plains States shows 1925 and 1926 
to be years of widespread drought. In 1927, however, all stations reix»rted 
precipitation to be 25 percent or more above normal. In 1928 and 1929 there 
was a marked deficiency of precipitation, which introduced a succession of 
drought years which culminated in the extreme, devastating droughts of 1934 
and 1936. Although not so extensive or so severe, the drought cycle has per- 
sisted, with some areas experiencing 6 or 7 successive years of crop failure 
as a result of weather conditions or insect ravages. 

In some parts of the region this drought cycle must be considered as abnormal 
and temporary, but in the major portion of the Plains States, where the average 
rainfall is less than 20 inches, the long-time weather records reveal a marked 
tendency for a successive number of favorable years to be followed by a suc- 
cessive number of droughty years. Years of scanty precipitation must be ex- 
pected in this major portion of the region. "However important this general 
deficiency in moisture may be, it is climatic variability that is the most critical 
factor in the permanent settlement of the Plains, since this is the basis of most 
of the agricultural risks of the region." " 

The years of successive drought and the accompanying "black blizzards," or 
severe duststorms, that scourged sections of the Plains States drove many 
families from their homes. Where previously they had been able to weather 
1 or perhaps 2 bad years through the extension of credit and emergency feed 
and seed loans, they now found their credit exhausted, their livestock gone, their 
farms drifting and swept into the air by the l)listering hot winds. For many 
years it was a seemingly futile effort to fight on in the face of such overwhelming 
odds. They simply packed what few possessions they had left onto the car or 
truck and headed west. That this migration has not been entirely arrested is 
evidenced by the following excerpt from the Omaha World Herald for August 
22, 1940: 

'The Climate of the Northern Great riains, J. B. Kincer. 

* The Future of the Great Plains — A report of the Great Plains Committee, 1936. 


"KiiiVRNEY, Nebb.. August 21. — More than HO Buffalo County farmers, hard hit 
from drought, appeared before the county board t)f supervisors today asking aid 
to enable them to keep livestock. They reiiorted they were without feed and 
they will be forced to sell their animals if help is not forthcoming. 

"Many farmers In the northern part of the county have sold out at farm sales 
i\m\ are moving to the West. County board members urged farmers to write to 
Congressmen and Senators regarding their plight and to ask Government aid." 


Another factor which contributed heavily to the instability of farm popula- 
tion in the Northern Great Plains and which is very closely related to the above- 
noted factors, is the type of farming which was established in a major portion 
of the Plains States. Throughout a major portion of these States the settlers 
introduced a system of farming largely adapted from the more humid Corn Belt 
areas, where annual rainfall averaged upward of 'SO inches. practices 
introduced into areas where annual rainfall averaged from 15 to 20 inches 
established a type of high-risk farming which could only prove moderately 
successful under favorable conditions. The system, with some modification, 
flourished and expanded during the rather extended period of abnormally favor- 
able climatic conditions and with the high prices of the war i>eriod. These 
factors led farmers to place too much dependence upon cash crops. This shift 
was further stimulated by the introduction of tractor farming, and millions of 
acres of good grazing and pasture land were brought imder cultivation as an 
■ever-increasing number of farmers shifted from general or combination livestock 
and grain farming to cash-crop operations. 

When the drought years came, this type of farming proved to be too flexible 
to take the shock. The operator's capital was tied up in power equipment, his 
land was plowed and too often he was solely deixMident upon cash crops for his 
income. When these failed or prices were at levels which would not cover the 
cost of harvesting, as in 1932, he was forced to use up what cash resources he might 
have for current expenses. As these were exhausted, he turned to credit. Suc- 
cessive crop failures soon saddled him with a burden on debt from which he could 
not recover. Land and/or machinery were often lost to the mortgage holder find 
the once prosi>erous farmer was set adrift as a tenant, to seek establishment in 
another occupation, or as a migrant. 

This tyi)e of farming, in adidtion to the inflexibility discussed above, prevented 
the adoption of conservation practices. The fixed costs and dependency upon 
cash crops forced the operator to exploit his land i-esources in an effort to meet 
his obligation. Soil-depleting crops, fields left barren by drought, and continuous 
row cropping stimulated erosion and soil depletion, which has rendered thousands 
of farms less proxluctive and has caused the abandonment of thousands of others 
to the healing action of nature. 

Of recent years decided emphasis has been placed by Federal, State, and local 
agencies upon adjusting the type of farming within a given area to the physical 
characteristics of that area. A permanent agriculture nmst be based upon a tyi)e 
of farming geared to the physical factors. 

II. AcTi\TnES Directed Toward Stabilizing Farm Famiijes 


The Secretary of Agriculture has placed upon the Soil Conservation Service 
responsibility for the management of the departmental land-use programs that 
involve the Department's participation in operations on agricultiu-al lands, includ- 
ing erosion control, submarginal land purchases and development, the agricultural 
phases of flood control, water facilities development, farm fori-stry, and drainage 
and irrigation. 

The .'<c(,pe and objectives of the Soil Conservation Service have thus been 
greatly broadened. What was formerly an agency concerned primarily with the 
conservation of soil and water resources is now an agency concerned with pro- 
moting adjustments to achieve better land use, permanent systems of farming, 
long-time tenure, owner-oiierated units, and discouragement ot migratory tend- 


1. Erosion coutrol tlrmoiistratious.— For the past ^ years the Soil Conservation 
Service has oiw'rated demonstration areas in representative agricultural reuions 
to show tlie l) methods of dealing with typical erosion problems. This activity 


was a prelude to the formatiou of soil conservation districts, dealt with in another 
section, and the demonstration areas have been called the show windows of soil- 
erosion control. 

Practicability is a requirement of all measures demonstrated in these special 
projects, so that a farmer after seeing them should be able to return to his own 
land and install the same measures, with minor variations and according to his 
needs. Farmers from the surrounding coimtryside have gone to these demonstra- 
tion projects to inspect and study practical methods of conserving soil and water 
resources, and thousands have followed the procedures demonstrated. 

More than 500 soil conservation demonstration areas in 45 States now consti- 
tute pi-oving grounds for conservation measures and sources of authentic informa- 
tion about erosion-control practices. 

Reduced to simplest terms, the basis for the work on the project is the proper 
planning for each unit of land. The individual farmers assist in the development 
of the plans for their farms. 

2. Civilian Conservation Corps. — It became evident early in the program that, 
properly supervised and directed, the Civilian Conservation Corps camps alforded 
an opportunity to carry out soil conservation demonstrations in a large number of 
strategically located problem areas that could not be served with regular funds 
of the Bureau. 

Additional technicians were placed in the camps by the Soil Conservation Serv- 
ice, and instructions contemplated development and fruition of complete plans of 
soil and water conservation on the laud. Since the inauguration of the district 
program, the Civilian Conservation Corps camps are cocperating also with the 
district supervisors in this work. 

Illustrative of the accomplishments of the Civilian Conservation Corps camps in 
demonstration work, in coo-peration with Soil Conservation Service technicians, is 
found on what is known as section 9, a section of land in Pawnee County owned by 
Maude W. AVarren. 

Previous to 1935 the land had been in native grass but it had been so heavily 
grazed in 1932, 1933, and 1934 that the grass was practically grubbed out and 
weeds had taken over the land. The jcb was to restore the grass cover, stop 
guUies which were threatening complete destruction of the land, install soil and 
moisture conservation practices, and develop stock watering facilities. 

Winter wheat was used as a crop for preparation of the seed bed, even though 
the land was not suited to crap farming. Each year a part of the land was planted 
to grasses until now nearly all of the section has been returned to range. Gullies 
have been treated and fenced, contour pasture furrows have been constructed, 
and a rotation grazing plan has been worked tut. 

The net result is that this section of land is nearly completely restored, but 
equally as interesting are the figures on earnings from the land. Before 1936, 
the time the Civilian Conservation Corps camp started work on the demonstration 
project, the annual gross income ranged from $SCO to $1,900 per year, the latter 
figure being the peak gross income. Since the instigation of the conservation 
program net income from the land has averaged $1,9I!9 per year. Ciiarged against 
the gross income were the expenses of mowing weeds, labor in harvesting grass 
seed and the cost of grass seed purchased, labor used in preparing the seedbed 
and seeding the land, barbed wire for the fences needed to establish a rotation 
pasture system, and other supplies. 

Through such performances as was exemplified on this demonstration farm, 
the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Soil Conservation Service is pointing 
the way to security in tenure and a reduction in the migration problem in the 
agricultural areas. 

3. Soil conscrvat/iofi districts. — It is recognized by all familiar with the soil and 
moisture conservation problems in the United States that they could never be 
satisfactorily solved by Federal action alone. The task is too vast and too 
complex to be met in its entirety by a central governmental agency. It includes 
remedial measures on lands in various stages of depletion, on the one hand, and 
preventive measures to maintain the productivity of land still in good shape. 

While Federal agencies are needed to point the way toward better land use 
through technical advice and assistance, the initiatiA^e and actual work of 
conservation on a large part of the Nation's tillable land and range land must 
be inidertaken by the farmer and rancher. 

One readily realizes, however, that individual efforts at erosion control and soil 
and moisture conservation are likely to be ineffective, that they can be costly, 
and that they can never be anything but piecemeal. The one system of attack 
on these problems which promises success is the cooperative attack, beginnings 


where erosion begins at the crests of ridges and working down, farm by farm 
and tield by field, to the stream banlvs in the valleys below. 

The soil conservation districts are nnits of local government antliorized by 
State law and will speed nv cooperative action. They are simply mechanisms 
whereby farmers and ranchers within watersheds or other natural land use 
areas may organize for connnunity action and mutual protection in meeting the 
soil and water conservaticjn probh'ms. Tliirty-seven of th<' forty-eight States 
have adopted laws permitting local groups of farmers to organize s(nl conserva- 
tion districts, and it is hoped that eventually a significant part of the Nation's 
lands will be included in districts. 

There are now 41 districts in the Northern Great Plains region. For 34 of 
these, which embrace 8,144,837 acres of land, memoranda of understanding have 
been completed between the farmers and the Soil Conservation Service. Seven 
others have been voted upon favorably, but final arrangements for assistance by 
the Service have not been completed. 

With Soil Conservation Service technicians assisting the districts, the farmers 
will have the benefit of the co(jrdinated application of all the proved results of 
tests on the demonstration projects, the State college experiment stations, 
the research activities of the Extension Service, and the research activities of 
the Soil Conservation Service. 

The diversity of conditions on the Great Plains demands diversity of treat- 
ment, but the public eye at present is upon the more seriously damaged lands. In 
the more highly productive portions, the problem is to keep them that way, pri- 
marily through control of water and instigation of a planned, balanced system of 
farm operations. 

In areas of serious wind erosion, there is in general an appalling impoverish- 
ment of farmers, and local public finances have been seriously disrupted. Large 
numbers of operators are either living on land that is unsuited for crop production, 
or on units too small for economic operations as stock ranches. In the more serious 
problem areas, restoration of the grass cover on land that will not support crops 
is necessary in order to conserve the soil itself. 

Many homesteads have been abandoned in those areas and the land has re- 
mained idle and unprotected. As a result of the widespread farm abandonment, 
tax delinquency, and erosion, a confused and complicated pattern of ownership 
has developed. Private lands are intermingled with public domain, railroad 
grants, and tax-reverted lands. 

Such conditions have been brought about largely by a lack of planning, both 
individual and community. Through the soil-conservation district, however, the 
farmers are able to overcome this shortcoming. They can hold group meetings, 
carry on educational activities, develop complete farm plans according to land-use 
capabilities, and put into operation tillage and land management practices. In 
all of this they have the assistance of Soil Conservation Service technicians. 

The practices which can be instituted through the cooperative action possible in 
soil-conservation districts include deferred grazing, regrassing of eroded areas, 
contour and strip cropping, crop rotations, development of stock-water facilities. 
These will bring about a more permanent land use and enable readjustment of the 
tax base. 

Through this better management of the land, incomes are increased, and we 
find a happy, contented, coordinated group of people, working together with an 
understanding of their common problems to bring about a more satisfactory 
environment and reduce the possibilities of migratory movements. 

Illustrative of what has been accomplished thro-ugh soil-conservation districts 
is the cooperative action in the cedar district in North Dakota. There, land 
management and soil and moisture-conservation practices have been installed. 
The district has secured the lease of county. State, and BVdoral lands on long 
terms, and farming units have been balanced through a combination of owner- 
operated lands and leased lands. The balance between cultival(>d and grassed 
lands has been established. Operations are on a permanent, stal)le basis. The 
farmers have been rehabilitated on the spot — no migratoi'y problem there. 

4. The land-utilization projects. — The Soil Conservation Servi<e has 10 land- 
utilization projects distributed through the western parts of the Dakotas and 
Nebraska, and the eastern half of ^Montana and Wyoming. Tlu-.^e proje<'t.s, the 
older of which were initiated in 1034 and early 103.") under the Land Policy Section 
of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, and the later ones inider title III 
of the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act, embrace a total acreage of lil.037,8r5S 
acres and were established in areas where social and economic maladjustmenta 


were most apparent and where distress of the farm families was most pronounced. 

Their pnrjwse was tlireefold : (1) To retire, Ihrongli Federal purchase, suh- 
marginal crop land in these extri'niely high risk crop areas; (2) lo yrovide an 
opportunity for stranded, drought-harassed t'arin families to salvage something 
from their unproductive tniits and assist them in linding locations in more suit- 
able farming areas; and (3) to return the suhmargiiial crop land to its best long- 
time use and establish a constructive range-management practice, thereby 
stabilizing the agriculture of the areas. 

The areas selected for these projects wcr(> characterized by a comvilexity of 
maladjustments which, until corrected, dcfinitel.v prevented a return to economic 
and social stabilit.y. Because of soil and climatic conditions they weic areas of 
■exceptionally high risk for cash-cro-p production — yet a major part of the i)op- 
nlation was dependent upon cash croi)s. They had l)(!en scourgecl with successive 
drought years and relief costs were heavy (in 1 project 412 of the 682 families 
were on relief). Families were destitute and levels of living had dropped to 
health-endangering levels. Absentee ownership, serious misuse of land, severe 
erosion, depletion of the range land from ovei'stocking, mortgiige debt that c(mi- 
monly exceeded the appraised value of the land and lieavy tax delinquency be- 
cause of top heavy public facilities and services were other evidences of malad- 
justment and contributors to the economic and social distress in these problem 

The principal approach to the amelioration of these maladjustments was pur- 
chase, by the Federal Government, of 4,273,098 acres of submarginal cultivated 
and depleted range land. The purchase was planned to bring only the poorer 
land into Government ownership and to permit the maxinumi number of families 
to remain in the areas on imits of sufficient size and quality to provide j^erma- 
nent support under conservative use and management. As the piirchased land 
came into Government ownership, a program of development in cooperation with 
the Works Progi-ess Administration was initiated to improve the areas for live- 
stock production. Those employed on this work were the men of farm families 
of the areas, both those who as vendors were awaiting payment for their land and 
those who planned to remain in the area. For a great number of families the 
money earned through this work enabled them to stay on their farms and retain a 
foundation lierd of livestock, where without it, they would have been forced to 
move. Principal improvements made under the development program include 
the reseeding of thousands of acres of formerly cultivated land to adapted range 
grasses, the construction of stock water ponds, well and spring improvement, 
fencing for better control of livestock and the salvaging of buildings and fences 
no longer needed. 

lo srnnulate local administration and to effect a greater degree of control 
of the land by the remaining operators. 46 cooperative grazing associations have 
been formed on most of the projects. These associations, with a membership of 
nearly 3,000 operators, lease the Government-owned land as well as other puldicly 
owned land, such as State school land and county tax deed land, and much of the 
privately owned on a long-term basis. The degree of control exercised by the as- 
sociation and its members in some instances amounts to as much as 75 percent 
of the total area. The land controlled by the association is administered on a 
carrying capacity basis. The Government's interest is protected through super- 
visory control of stocking rates which insure conservative use. Through these 
associations and by individual permits on those jirojects where associations have 
not as yet been formed, the control and administration of the area have been 
largely restored to the local operators. Use of the Government-owned land is 
ba^'ed upon the factors of (1) ability to provide winter feed; (2) prior use: and 
(3) dependency upon this land for the maintenance of an economic-sized unit. 
The units thus established are assured of the use of th? association for Govern- 
ment-administered land. 

The adjustments effected by the projects in these areas have brought a security 
of tenure to these operators which they have not heretofore enjo.ved. The high 
percentage of absentee ownership has been greatly reduced, making it nmch 
easier for an op^'i-ator to maintain and imnrove a liv(>stock unit. An example 
can be cited in the case of Mr. J. A. IIcMUunger'' of near Roundup, Mont., who 
recently appeared on the "We, the People" radio program. In 1034, Mr. Hennin- 
ger had to deal with 34 separate owners to control a livestock unit of sufhcieut 

*A more dpt-ailed discii.=!sion of this .Tdjustnient is providod in "L.and Policy Review" — 
May-June 1940. 


size (10 sections) to support 100 auinial units on a year-long basis. As a result 
of tlie atljiistnient program he now deals with 13 owners and the hazard of con- 
trol has heen greatly reduced. 

The major dt'i»endeii<y for income has been shifted from cash crops to live- 
stock, thereby bringing the land into its best long-time use and adjusting the type 
of farming to the physical and climatic conditions. The storing of feed reserves 
is encouraged to offset the deticiencies of drought years. Through the eidarge- 
meut of units, an adjustment in the type of farming, and security of tenure, a 
stability of operations, not previously enjoyed, now characterizes these land- 
utilization project areas. 

The migration of families from these areas was noticeable long before the estab- 
lishment of the projects." This movement was greatly stimulated by the period 
of low prices, drought, and insect ravages whi<'h harassed the farmers following 
19:>t), when many hundreds of farm families simply abandoned their former homes 
and migrated to other areas where they thought they would liave a better chance. 
In many instances it was a case of "getting away from" almost unbearable condi- 
lions. rather than a movement directed toward economic advancement. Whole- 
sale abandonment of farms was occurring l)oth from within and without the 
areas later established as project areas. This movement was largely unguided, 
as no Federal agency existed to render this service. 

With the establishment of the land-utilization projects in 1934, the migration 
was temporarily checked by the knowledge that the Government was going to 
assist those stranded farm families through purchase of their unproductive units 
and assist them in finding locations in areas more suitable for crop farming opera- 
tions. The development program later provided a further incentive for many of 
these families to remain "in place" rather than blindly set out in search of some- 
tliing better. These two phases of the projects assisted materially in slowing 
down the movement from farms in the areas, thus permitting the relocation 
agencies of Resettlement Administration and the Farm Security Administration 
to get to these families and assist in their rehabilitation in their home counties 
or State, and if this could not be accomplished, then to assist iu and guide the 
relocation of families from these areas. The development program through the 
Works Progress Administration made jobs for these people in their own com- 
munities. Wages were good and this "lifesaver" tided many of them over the 
readjustment period. 

At the initiation of the projects, there were approximately 8,560 farm and 
ranch units embraced, a high percentage of which would not provide a living^ 
for a farm family. In planning the purchase activities of the projects, an effort 
was made to select for purchase those units which offered the least possibility 
of supporting a family, and those tracts which could best be utilized in enlarging 
other units so that the maximum number (tf uuirs and families could be retained 
and supported under proper utilization of the resources. 

There were 2.;^S4 families reported by the various projects as residing on 
tracts being purcliased. To assist in the relocation of these families, the facilities 
of the Resettlement Administration were enlisted. Tlie program started by that 
agency was later transferred to the Farm Security Administration and the scope 
of the program enlarged. A cooperative arrangement was developed between the- 
Soil Conservation Service and the Farm Security Administration providing a 
definite procedure for the handling of certain phases of the relocation work. The 
Farm Security Administration has, through its local field men and special reloca- 
tion personnel, ext(Mided many types of relocation assistance to these former occu- 
pants of purchased tracts and to others who ])lanned to seek new locations. 

The bulk of the families who occupied i)ur<-hased tracts were able to relocate 
without financial assistance since most of them had some equity in the land sold 
to the Goverrnnent. Out of a total of 1.1)S4 reported as having relocated as of 
June 30, 1040. there were 1.477 who relocated without financial assistance. Of who received assistance from Farm Security Administration, 220 had been 
located in resettlement projects; l.W had received rehalnlitation loans or grants 
on fa'ms other than in resettlement projects; and 13.") had received other types 
of Farm Security Administration assistance, such as arranging foi- welfare assist- 
ance, old age pensions, moving grants, etc. 

There is a total of approximately 3-;") families still in residence upon lands 
accepted for purchase. Of these, 123 have been classified as being able to relocate 

« This population movenipnt is desfribod in "The People of tlie Drouth States" — Re- 
search Bulletin, Division of Social, Woriis Progress Administration. 


without Farm Security Administration assistance and the remainder as needing 
sonic type of assistance. 

WiiUc ((iniploto records are not available on the relocation of all the families 
who occupied lands purchased, an analysis of four of the lai->;er jirojccts shows a 
larcer number of relocations within the home Stale than outside the State. Ont- 
of-State relocations involved many States, but there was a definite trend westward, 
with the Tacilic coast Stat(>s drawiuK tlie majority of the out-of-State locations. 
Most of the families rehxated on farms or found employment in agricultural 
occupations. The remainder have made a wide range of adjustments and reloca- 
tions. Some established small businesses, some found employment in their former 
occupations, many were eligible for old-age pensions and county welfare assist- 
ance : a few went to live with children, and some moved to town and depended 
upon day labor. 

Insofar as possible the Farm Security Administration and its predecessor, the 
Resettlement Administration, have attempted to keep the families in the State 
or at least within the region. Where feasible, resettlement projects have been 
established, but many of the former occupants of purchased land did not care to 
move to units. It should be remembered, too, that subinarginal operators 
.are quite often associated with submai-ginal land, and quite a number of these 
families could not or w^ould not accept the responsibility of property managing 
and operating a unit capable of supporting them. For tliose who gave little indi- 
cation of successful operation of a unit, the Farm Security Administration has 
provided subsistence grants or tried to get them employment. 

The adjustment in the land-use project areas was primarily based upon an 
enlargement of units. This adjustment was taliing place at the inception of 
the projects and would have continued had the projects not been established. 
The process of adjustment would have been far more costly to society and cer- 
tainly more painful to the individual. In areas such as those covered by the 
project areas there had to be an adjustment in size of units before stability of 
operations could be attained. The operation of the projects assisted in this 
adjustment of population to resources and made the adjustment process less 
disruptive to the families affected and to society. For those who remain as 
operators within the areas, there is a stability of operations never before en- 
joyed; to those who chose to sell their land and seek new locations or oppor- 
tunities has been extended material assistance by both the Farm Security Admin- 
istration and the Soil Conservation Service. 

5. Toiant-purchase fat-ms. — The functions of the Soil Conservation Sei-vice in 
this program, which is primarily the responsibility of the Farm Security Admin- 
istration, is twofold : 

First, the Soil Conservation Service makes an analysis of the land to be pur- 
-chased for the purpose of establishing a deserving tenant farmer on land of his 
own. This analysis is to determine whether the unit is capable of supporting 
a family. An illustration of the value of such an analysis is found in South 
Dakota where it was found that the amount of land in a proposed unit which 
could be farmed was inadequate— the rest had to remain in grass to avoid a 
serious wind-erosion problem. 

Second, the Soil Conservation Service prepares a plan of operation for the 
tenant-purchaser which enables him to handle his land for productivity and 

The purpose of the Soil Conservation Service in this program is to give the 
tenant-purchaser a fair start and to enable him to hold onto his land once he 
has it in his possession. Every tenant firmly established on land reduces the 
migration problem to that extent. 

6. Wafer facilities. — Tiiis program is specifically aimed at helping to rehabili- 
tate needy farm families. The objectives are to assist those farmers and ranchers 
in the improvement and development of farm and range water supplies in arid 
and seniiarld areas to promote better use of the land, advance human welfare, 
and aid in rehabilitation on the spot. 

The water facilities pi'ogram is limited to the 17 Western States and is carried 
out cooperativel.v with the Farm Seciirit.v Administrat-ion, P.ureau of Agricul- 
tural Economics and otlier agencies, through the Water Facilities Board. 

The Soil Conservation Service is directly responsible for detailed farm plan- 
ning and installation of facilities: (1) In harmony with general plans developed 
by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, to assist farmers, alid ranchers to 
develop water supplies which will facilitate improvements in land use; (2) to 
prepare a plan of conservation practices for the entire farm and to assist the 
fai'mer in applying the practices to the land; (3) to design, construct, and install. 


-or design and assist farmers to constinct and install water facilities, sncli as 
wells, ponds, resoivoirs, dams, pumps, springs, stock water tanks, spreading 
systems for utilizing run-off water, and similar iniiirovements to help to stabilize 
agriculture in areas of irregular and limitiMl rainfall. 

Often the development of a small water facility means to a farmer or rancher 
the difference between failure and success in his struggle against the handicaps 
of an adverse natural enviroiuiient. Consequently, many of them, lacking such 
facilities, are on relief. Better use of lands, made possible by water facilities 
developments, is helping to put many needy families on a permanent self-sustaining 
basis on the land tiiey now occupy. 

An example of how water facilities developments helps to curb the migratory 
tendency is found in the case of Fred Koelmel near Bloomington. Mr. Koelmel 
farms 107 acres of land, and with a Federal Security Administration loan of 
$120 improved a well and windmill. This development furnishes water for the 
home and irrigation of a half-acre garden. In addition to designing the facility 
and helping him to install it, the Soil Conservation Service has furnished Mr. 
Koelmel with a conservation plan for his farm. Because of climatic conditions, 
the rest of the farm is yielding little this year, but the Koelmel family has had 
plenty of fresh vegetables and the cellar is full of canned vegetables. In addi- 
tion, Koelmel has sold more than 2oO pounds of cabbage from the garden, thereby 
receiving cash income to help him keep on a sound basis. (See photo.) 

7. Farm forestry. — The objectives of this activity of the Soil Conservation 
Service are to aid farmers in managing and developing their tree areas as a 
measure for soil and moisture conservation, to augment farm income through wood 
products production, and to help establish sound and economical land-use methods. 

The Cooperative Farm Forestry Act, passed by Congress in 1937, enables the 
Soil Conservation Service to meet the growing need of farmers for help in farm 
forestry matters, within the limits dictated by funds available, soil types, and 
climatic conditions. The act is broad enough to permit Federal cooperation in 
establishing farm shelterbelts and farm woodlands to promote farm security over 
wide areas in the Nation, and to give technical help to farm woodland owners in 
planning proper management of their woods and to demonstrate sound practices 
in handling them. 

Operations on privately owned lands under this program are in charge of the 
.Soil Conservation Service in areas predominantly agricultural ; in areas where 
farming is incidental to forestry, the Forest Service is in charge. The whole pro- 
gram is carried out jointly with the Forest Service, State experiment stations, 
State foresters, and the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, the Soil Conservation 
Service bein"- responsible for the action of the program. 

The program consists principally of : (1 ) Producing or procuring and disti'ilmting 
forest planting stock to farmers (Forest Service-Soil Conservation Service) ; (2) 
advising farmers about the establishment, protection, and management of farm 
forests Extension Service-Soil Conservation Service) ; (3) investigating the eco- 
nomic and other benefits of farm woodland management; (4) training personnel 
in methods of bringing about the use of sound farm forestry practices; and, (5) 
development of the use of farm woodlots for the production of fuel, posts, and 
rough lumber, and in protecting growing crops and livestock. 

Illustrative of how farm forestry is a vital factor in au-menting the farm in- 
come and aiding in curbing the migratory trend is the fact that during irt3(i the 
income from wood products in Nebraska was in the neighborhood of $4,000,000. 
further, the wood products can be handled like a savings account in that the 
harvest can be reserved for times of stress. 


Broadly speaking, the principal change in scope and objectives of the Soil Con- 
servation Service brought about by action of the Secretary of Agriculture, charg- 
ing the Soil Conwrvafion Service with the management of the Departmental Land Program, has placed increased emphasis on soiuid conservation prac- 
tices. In addition, special attention has been given to land use suitability and 
capability, and responsibility for control has been more or less given to local 
farmers so that in reality it is the farmers and ranchers' program, with the Soil 
Conservation Service giving technical assistance in carrying out the various 
phases of the program, which will result in stability of agriculture and prevent- 


ing tho recurrence of improper land use, soil wastage, and destitute conditions 
of farm families. Approach to this has been made ity use of a soil survey in order 
to det(«rmine land use capability. Rased on this survey the highly erodible 
and nonproductive soils are being permanently retired to grass. Certain favor- 
able soil areas will be used tor the production and the building up of a sutli- 
cient reserve feed supply for use during adverse years. 

In a like manner, a grass inventory has been made on the range lands, and a 
mininunn carrying capacity which will assure proper stocking of the ranges has 
been instituted. This proper stocking not only aids in control of erosion, but 
increases the potential productivity of the range lands. 

Considerable empiiasis has been given to the reseeding of abandoned croplands. 
Approximately 200,000 acres of idle crop land purchased by the Government have 
been seeded to perennial grasses, with an average of about SH-percent of 
these seedings. At the present time there is an additional 500,000 or more 
acres of Govermnent-owned land yet to be seeded. 

In addition to establishing land-use capabilities, proper stocking of range and 
reseeding abandoned cropland, water spreading, tlood irrigation, contour fur- 
rowing, strip cropping, contour farming, and the development of stock watering 
places are some of the practices that have been widely instituted in the land-use 

Soil conservation districts are being organized in some of the land-purchase 
areas, and boards of supervisors are set up to assume responsibility f(jr a com- 
plete soil and water conservation program. In some of the other land-utilization 
areas, grazing districts have been organized, and the Service is cooperating with 
the grazing districts in water development, reseeding, i-ange-management prac- 
tices, and proper land use. These practices are carried out in connection with a 
sound land management program that will insure proper land use on these areas 
in the future. 

At the present time there are 20 districts that have been favorably voted on in 
Nebraska ; 12 in South Dakota, 11 in North Dakota, 3 in Montana, making a total 
of 46 districts. These districts all originate in the same manner. The Exten- 
sion Service is designated as carrying out the necessary educational work for 
the Department. Farmers who are interested in the formation of a soil-conserva- 
tion district petition the State committee in order to secure their approval for 
organization of a district. The S*ate committee holds hearings relative to the 
advisability of allowii'g the soil-conservation district to be organized. Then a 
date is set and referendum is held and the landowners vote to determine whether 
or not a district should be organized. In the event the vote is favorable, the 
Sate soil conservation committee gives approval ; the board of supervisors is 
elected: work plan and work program prepared, and a memorandum of under- 
standing is entered into with the D partment of Agriculture. This memorandum 
of understanding allows the Department of Agriculture to cooperate with the 
district by furnisliing technical assistance, and in some States, loan equipment, 
and supply planting material. 

Taking the Cedar district as an example, I might tell you briefly how the 
district functions: The Cedar soil conservation district was organized during 
the latter part of 1938, and is located in Sioux and Grant Counties in North 
Dakota. It consists of 303,000 acres. The elected board of supervisors have 
control of the work program and the type of work that is being accomplished 
in the district. One of the first things that the board of supervisors did after 
its election was to call a general meeting of all farmers and ranchers and 
to vo*^e on land-use regulations recpuring the range to be grazed not to ex- 
ceed carrying capacity, and requiring the land to be used in accordance with 
the land-use-capability classification determined by a soils survey. All land not 
suitable for cultivation is being retired to grass. All grassland is being properly 

The Soil Conservation Service technicians, consisting of a district conser- 
vationist and engineer, a range examiner and soils technician, are busy 
making surveys and working out individual farm plans, which the supervisors 
approve and which are carried out by the individual cooperators. 

In this particular soil-conservation district, the county has taken over a 
large portion of the land for taxes ; the supervisors have leased all of this land 
from the county, and have in turn, subleased it to cooperating ranchers and 
farmers so thai: grazing units can be blocked out, and are of sufficient size to- 
assure sufficient economic returns. In this way a system of agriculture is 
being applied in this area which is economically sound and assures proper land 


Tise ami will adoqnately control wiud and wator erosion, thus making a per- 
manent and stabilized agriculture for the ranchers in this district. 

In addition, water development is heing earri(>d out on tlie ranges and small 
irrigation projects on Cedar Creek are operating to supply vegetahles and 
supplemental feed for livestock. An effort is l)eing made to get the farmers 
concentrated along this creek so that savings in maintenance of roads, .'■chools, 
and other county institutions can be etfected. This is an outstanding example 
of where the Government has helped the farmers to help themselves and. to a 
very noticeable extent, the farmers are happy and industriously engaged in 
completing the details of this program. 

This soil-conservation district is the first district in the United States to 
vote upon themselves land-use regulations, and the only one in this region. 
In most instances a program that is legally adopted is being carried out on a 
voluntarv basis. 


Mr. Curtis. I gather from your paper that on the basis of his- 
torical records it is shown that instability among the rural popula- 
tion followed closely upon tlie heels of actual settlement? 

Mr. AiCHEB. That is right. 

Mr. Curtis. Would you review the causes of this instability? 


Mr. AiCHER. It will be necessary to go back to the period before 
1910. The ranges had been in use and ranches were getting along 
very well. From 1909 to 1915 the Homestead Act brought about a 
heavy settlement in the entire northern Great Plains area. This 
settlement coincided with abundant rainfall, good prices which were 
greatly increased when the Great War came on, and the desire of 
the people to own land. The people were land-hungry. The rail- 
roads had received large grants which they desired to dispose of and 
they wished to stimulate business along their lines. The communi- 
ties likewise desired to develop and were instrumental in stimulating 
publicity and promotional activities. 

Most of the settlers came from the E ist. Some of them were good 
farmers. Many of them were not. Altogether they brought witli 
them the type of living to which they were accustomed, including 
the type of agriculture they had practiced. Most of them brought 
money with them which they used for construction of homes and 
buildings and for equipping their farm units. Money thus spent 
helped develop the local communities. Land was new; credit was 


With the abundant rains, crops were good. Schools and roads 
v;ere established for the heavily ]X)pulated community which had 
developed. Perhaps the best illustration is the map of Mtisselshell 
County which is made a part of the exhibit.^ This map shows ap- 
proximately 790 miles of roads which, had been developed in this 
north half of Musselshell County which is now a part of one of the 
land-utilization project areas. At the present time only 351 miles 
of roads are needed to serve people living in the area. Thus ap- 

* See pp. . 


proximately 360 miles of roads were constructed when the settlement 
was at its hei<^ht which now can be abandoned. To date only about 
75 miles have actually been abandoned. 

Overdevelopment of public schools also took place. 

About 1917 the first of the drought years were experienced. In 
1920 deflation occurred and with it the beginning of the troubles 
which later enveloped the area. 

Mr. Curtis. What particular territory are you confining that to, 
the overdevelopment of schools and roads ? 

]\Ir. AiciiER. North and South Dakota and Montana. 

Mr. Curtis. The Bad Lands region in South Dakota? 

Mr. AiCHER. Not particularly. I will leave for the records a sum- 
mary of the abandonment of schools and changes which have been 
brought about by the school districts in the land-utilization projects 
which illustrate the adjustments which have taken place. 

Mr. Curtis. Who is responsible for this, the Congress of the 
United States in opening up for homestead settlement all this free 
land ? People were encouraged to go into land where it was impos- 
sible to put agricultural economy into practice ? 


Mr. AiCHER. Three things. The railroads desired to develop their 
territory and newly established communities wanted to grow, and 
the speculators encouraged development in order to sell land. Not 
sufficient consideration was given to the soil and type of agriculture 
best suited to this particular area. 

Mr. Curtis. The Congress has made some errors in handling this 
public land? 

Mr. AiCHER. Yes ; there were serious errors made in handling 
public land. 

Mr. Curtis. All of which is more or less beyond the control of the 
individual settler? 

Mr. AiCHER. That is right. 

Mr. Curtis. Proceed. 

Mr. AiCHER. I mentioned awhile ago the ease of credit. Com- 
mercial banks, loan companies, insurance companies, all made credit 
available. When the interest rates increased and commercial credit 
was no longer available, the Federal Government began making loans 
through the various agricultural credit agencies. The State assisted, 
South and North Dakota were making State funds available. Power 
machinery brought on additional troubles. Farmers wanted to farm 
large areas; prices lowered, and they had to farm large areas in 
order to make their business profitable, so that it became very diffi- 
cult for the small or tenant farmer and small owner who couldn't 
secure sufficient land to make enough to get along. 

The CuAiR^rAN. Did the inflation period during the war result 
in the higher-priced land, so that a man took wiiat land he owned 
and bought additional lands, and finally lost it all? 

Mr. AiCHER. Yes; I recall in 1919, shortly before the deflation came 
in 1920, the ease of credit at livestock sales when farmers were urged 
to purchase high-priced livestock and equipment that they could get 
along without because credit was easy and conditions good. Defla- 


tion, when it came, coincided with drou«i;ht and crop faihire. Prices 
were greatly reduced, and the income from farms, for the little that 
was produced, could not meet the expenses. Pressure was exerted 
on mortgage indebtedness and tax delinquency increased materially. 
The extremely difficult conditions caused a great migration of farm 
people from the States of North and South Dakota and Montana. 


Mr. Curtis. Now, will you elaborate a little bit on the point in 
your written statement as to what the Soil Conservation Service's 
objectives are, M'itli the management of the land-use program, as it 
relates to the problem being studied by this committee. 

Mr. AiCHER. Let Mr. Collins answer that question. 

Mr. Collins. The objectives of the land-use program under the 
administration of the Soil Conservation Service have undergone 
some changes during the last few years. Probably one of the biggest 
of the changes in objective is the fact that the emphasis on soil-con- 
servation practices has been considerably intensified. In addition to 
that, and probably the greatest amount of improvement that has been 
made is just how we get at the land-use problem — I might show you 
briefly here, from a map.^ 


Mr. Collins. In other words, we have gone far enough to know that 
it isn't entirely satisfactory just to say that from a land use standpoint, 
"This land is to be in cultivation," and, "This is to be grazing land." 
We make a conservation survey of a farm and then in different colors 
on that map, which is an individual farm, show the land that is suitable 
for cultivation without any particular conservation practices needed. 
Then the second class of land, which is pink on this map, is land that 
is suitable for cultivation, but is also land to which must be applied 
rather complex conservation practices. 

If it is rolling then the top soil may be washing away, or else it may 
be soil very susceptible to wind erosion. 

Mr. Curtis. What does it cost to make that survey of a farm ? 

Mr. Collins. Well, the acres we have surveyed this year have cost 
214 cents each to survey. 

Mr. Curtis. How extensive a survey do you make — a chemical anal- 
ysis of the soil ? 

Mr. Collins. No; we don't. Through the different colleges we ^et 
some soil information, but we do classify the soils and know their in- 
herent characteristics. We work out a chart showing the suitability of 
that soil, how it can be used, and its capabilities. 

Mr. Curtis. Well, what are the qualifications of your men that go 
out on the individual farms and decide these things? 

Mr. Collins. The men are trained in soil science, but they don't de- 
cide on soil suitability and so forth entirely themselves. The farmers 
are brouglit in, and they are beginning to feel that it is their program, 
and that the Government is just assisting them in carrying out a land 
use program on their farms. Also, a technical committee at the college 
and the district supervisors assist in setting up these charts for a cer- 

^ Map held in committee files. 


tain work area. Wo work very closely witli the colleoe officials on that, 
and the man who actually makes the survey is a trained soil scientist. 

Mr. Curtis. He is the one who actually comes in contact with the 
farmer and who ^oes out and ^oes over the farm ? 

Mr. Collins. He makes the conservation survey and sometimes does 
the pianninfr himself, or there is a planninrr technician who has prac- 
tical farm training: who does the planninji; with the farmer. In other 
words, it is a volunteer pro^rram. The farmers are not forcecl to do 
anything, and the program is worked out in cooperation ^yith the 
farmer. Then if it ha])pens to be in the soil-conservation district, they 
assist in making the plan. The land-use conservation practices must 
all be approved by a board of supervisors. 

Mr. Curtis. At what point does compliance with these recommenda- 
tions become compulsory, after the county board acts, or does it ever ? 

Mr. Collins. It isn't compulsory that they comply, but they agree 
to follow a 5-year plan, and the only time it would be compulsory 
would be after the conservation district had furnished planting ma- 
terial or equipment of any kind ; then they are liable for cost of mate- 
rial or rental of equiment. 

Mr. Curtis. Well, I understand, here in Nebraska, that you can take 
a specimen of soil from a farm and submit it to the Extension Service 
of the College of Agriculture, and you will get a chemical analysis and 
recommendation as to planning, and so on. Does your work duplicate 
that, or does it supplement it, or is it educational work to encourage 
organizations of farmers to go into that ? 

Mr. Collins. It is cooperative work with them. It isn't duplication, 
because we depend on the colleges for soil analyses. We do not have a 
soils laboratory in the Soil Conservation Service in the northern Great 
Plains region, 

Mr. Curtis. Do you duplicate anything that is done tlirough the 
Department of Agriculture experiment stations? 

Mr. Collins. Well, it isn't a matter of duplication ; it is a matter 
of taking the practices that have proven successful on the demon- 
stration projects that have been carried on the last 5 yeai-s by the 
Soil Conservation Service and all of the practices that have proven 
successful on the experiment stations, and helping the farmer aj^ply 
these things to his farm. In that respect those programs, as they 
are worked out, are cleared with the college extension service and 
experiment stations. 

agricultural education 

Mr. Curtis. How about these high-school courses? The colleges 
appropriate money each year to assist in these agi'icultural courses. 
Do the instructors in these high schools, in their attitudes along agri- 
cultural lines, assist with what you are doing? 

Mr. Collins. Yes; to a certain extent. Their work is primarily 
with the boys, and some of them are holding evening schools among 
the adult farmers. While they don't have time to go out and do indi- 
vidual farm planning, except, perhaps, with just the boys who are 
taking their course, we are working with soil-conservation districts 


where there are vocational instructors in tlio high schools, and they 
are very valuable, and render service and assistance in workino; with 
the county agent and some with the Soil Conse