Skip to main content

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"

See other formats











'J^'fip^'i^' -'-i^'- ^: ■^'i\:<i^Kru:'-^ 


cA^9 4iL^i U^i^- 



Given By 









H. Res. 63 and H. Res. 491 







SEPTEMBER 19 AND 20, 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 19 AND 20, 1940 

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






JOHN H. TOLAN, California, Chairman 

CLAUDE V. PARSONS, Illinois '' CARL T. CURTIS, Nebraska 

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

Dr. Robert K. Lamb, Chief Investigator 
Elmer A. Rkesb, Secretary 

Richard S. Blaisdbll, Editor 
Harold D. Cdllen, Associate Editor 

Gborqb Wolf, Chief Field Investigator 

44 "'ji J a •'*«, 


Oklahoma City Hearings, September 19 and 20, 1940 

Allen, Pink, Oklahoma migrant who has returned from California. Ad- 
dress: Vian, Okla 2137 

Banks, E. H., farm placement supervisor, Texas State Employment 

Service. Address: Austin, Tex 1798,1834,1839 

Bee, C. B., special counselor for Corporation Commission, State of Okla- 
homa. Address: Oklahoma City, Okla 2076 

Bond, J. H., assistant director, Texas State Employment Service. Ad- 
dress: Austin, Tex 1798, 1836 

Brannen, C. O., department of rural economics, University of Arkansas, 

Address: Fayetteville, Ark 2014 

Brockway, Glenn, regional representative, Unemployment Security, Social 

Security Board. Address: Kansas City, Mo 2176 

Cauley, Dr. T. J., Chief, Regional Economics Survey Section, Soil Conser- 
vation Service. Address: Fort Worth, Tex 1973 

Champlin, H. H., oil operator and farmer. Address: Enid, Okla 2082, 2090 

Charlton, J. L., college of agriculture, University of Arkansas. Address: 

Fayetteville, Ark 2014 

Cheek, Tom W., president, Oklahoma State Farmers Union. Address: 

18 North Klein St., Oklahoma City, Okla 2179, 2181 

Daniel, James W., agricultural migrant. Address: Kenton, Okla ' 1784 

Duncan, O. D., professor of sociology in rural life, Oklahoma Agricultural 

and Mechanical College. Address: Stillwater, Okla 2079 

Evans, C. M., regional director. Farm Security Administration, Region 

VIII. Address: Parry Ave. at Commerce St., Dallas, Tex 1933 

Gonzales, M. C, counselor to the Consul General of Mexico. Address: 

San Antionio, Tex 1859 

Hays, Brooks, regional attorney. Farm Security Administration, Region 

VI. Address: Little Rock, Ark 2016 

Hefner, Robert A., mayor. Address: Oklahoma City, Okla 1759 

Henson, Edwin R., Coordinator, United States Department of Agriculture. 

Address: Amarillo, Tex 1760 

Keating, Mrs. Val. M., Assistant Director, Division of Unemployment, 

Works Progress Administration. Address: San Antonio, Tex 1883 

Klemmedson, G. C, Soil Conservation Service. Address: Fort Worth, 

i^f,^^^---^ 1988 

Martm, George R., migrant from Georgia. Address: Weslaco, Tex 1929 

Mayo, Wheeler, editor, Sequoyah County Times. Address: Sallisaw, 

Okla 2122 

Metzler, William H., college of agriculture. University of Arkansas. 

Address: Fayetteville, Ark 2014 

McKinley, Robert M., farm placement supervisor, Texas State Employ- 
ment Service. Address: Austin, Tex 1798,1832,1843 

Nation, Otis, director, Oklahoma Tenant Farmers' Union. Address: 

Oklahoma City, Okla _ 2102 

Norris, Robert F., intrastate migrant. Address: Childress,'Tex"_II^Ill" 1794 
Osborn, Miss Phyllis, regional representative. Public Assistance, Social 

Security Board. Address: Kansas City, Mo 2171 

Payne, Charles W., migrant, former farmer. Address: Route 1, Enid, 

„^9,H^*---- 2086, 2091 

Philhps, Hon. Leon C, Governor of the State of Oklahoma. Address: 

Oklahoma City, Okla 2027 

Rapp, J. C, Agricultural Council of Arkansas. Address: McGehee, Ark. 2021 




Rivera, C. H., Spanish-American migrant. Address: Mercedes, Tex 1875 

Roberts, Clarence, editor, Oklahoma, Farmer-Stockman. Address: 

Oklahoma City, Okla 2128, 2144 

Sterling, James, migrant miner. Address: Milam, Mo 2183 

Stewart, James M., migrant cotton picker. Address: Raymond ville, 

Tex 1969 

Waddy, G. H., representing the United Provident Association. Address: 

Oklahoma City, Okla 2117 

Walker, C. D., acting administrative oflRcer, Agricultural Adjustment 

Administration. Address: Stillwater, Okla 2145,2149 

Williams, Milton B., manager, South- Western Loan Department, Aetna 

Life Insurance Co. Address: Oklahoma City, Okla 2092,2097 

Wrenn, J. E., executive assistant, Social Security Board. Address: 

Kansas City, Mo 2157 

Youngblood, J. H., large-scale farmer. Address: Waco, Tex 1790 



Migration Problems in the Southern Great 

Employment Problems of Migratory Farm 

Migration of Mexicans from Texas to Michi- 

Texas Emigrant Agency Law 

Statement of Interstate Commerce Com- 
mission on Truck Transportation of La- 
borers from Texas to Michigan. 

W. P. A. Report on Migratory Labor in 

Study by Staff of A. & M. College of Texas.. 

Study by Staff of Texas Technological 

Statement on Work of Farm Security Admin- 
istration in Texas and Oklahoma. 

Tenure Survey of Texas Agricultural Workers 

Social Effects of Recent Trends in mechani- 
zation of Agriculture, by C. Hamilton. 

Soil Erosion and Rural Migration in 
Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. 

Conserving Human and Natural Resources 
by Louis P. Merrill. 

Changes in Labor LTsed on Cotton Farms in 

Migration of Farm Families to I^rban 
Centers in Arkansas. 

Population Pressure in Upland Areas of 

Nonlocal Labor During Harvest Season in 

The Arkansas Land Policy Act 

Statement on Behalf of Agricultural Council 
of Arkansas. 

Report on Behalf of the State Government 
of Oklahoma. 

Statement for the Aetna Life Insurance Co., 
Hartford, Conn. 

Report of Oklahoma Tenant Farmers Union- _ 

Statement of J. E. McDonald, Commissioner 
of Agriculture of Texas. 

Statement of Virginia Higgins, New Mexico 
Department of Public Welfare. 

Report of the United Provident Association, 
Oklahoma City, Okla. 

Conditions in Sequoyah Count}', Okla 

Migration Must Continue 

Effects of Wheat Crop Failure in Oklahoma 
and Crop Insurance in Oklahoma. 

Services of Social Security Board Bearing on 
Problem of Migration, by Ed McDonald, 
Regional Director. 

Statement of Oklahoma State Farmers Union- 

Introduced by- 

Edwin R. Henson 

J. H. Bond 

J. H. Bond 

J. H. Bond 

Mrs. Val M. Keating 

Dr. R. K. Lamb 

Dr. R. K. Lamb 

C. M. Evans 

C. M. Evans 

C. M. Evans 

T. J. Cauley and G. S 

Dr. C. O. Brannen 

William H. Metzler 

William H. Metzler 

J. L. Charlton 

Brooks Hays 

J. C. Rapp 

Leon C. Phillips 

Milton B. Williams 

Otis Nation 

George Wolf 

George Wolf 

Mrs. J. H. Waddy 

Wheeler Mayo 

Clarence Roberts 

C. D. Walker 

J. E. Wrenn 

Tom W. Cheek 
























HOMA CITY HEARINGS SEPT. 19-20, 1940— Continued 


Introduced by- 


Population Movement from Oklahoma and 
Arkansas by T. G. Standing, Little Rock, 

Letter from Charles H. Hatfield 

Letter from Harry Jolly, the Eagle Pub- 
lishing Co., Duncan, Okla. 

Letter from J. Gilbert Hill 

Letter from Don McBride 

Summary Report on Migratory Labor Prob- 
lem in Texas. 

Leon C. Phillips . 
Leon C. Phillips- 

C. M. Evans. 







House of Representatives, 
Select Committee to Investigate the 
Interstate Migration of Destitute Citizens, 

Washington^ D. C. 
The committee met at 10 a. m., September 19, 1940, in the State 
Capitol Building, Oklahoma City, Okla., Hon. John H. Tolan 
(chairman), presiding. 

Present were Representatives John H. Tolan (chairman), Carl T. 
Curtis, Claude V. Parsons, and John J. Sparkman. 

Also present were Robert K. Lamb, chief investigator; George 
Wolf, chief field investigator; Creekmore Fath, field investigator; 
Irene Hageman, field secretary. 


The Chairman. The committee will come to order, please. I wish 
to state that Congressman Frank C. Osmers, of New Jersey, a member 
of this committee, is unavoidably absent. Mayor Hefner, we shall be 
glad to recognize you at this time before we open the meeting. 

Mayor Hefner, It is a privilege for me to welcome this com- 
mittee here for and on behalf of the city of Oklahoma City. We 
are glad to have you make this investigation and hope there is some- 
thing we can do about this floating population that is floating 
around over the country. There is one suggestion in that connec- 
tion that I wish to make, and that is this: That on account of this 
book that was written Oklahoma gets the credit for all this floating 
population; they seem to call them "Okies" all over the country. 
We know that they have them in all the States; Congressman Cur- 
tis has them from his district, we know the chairman has them from 
his. Congressman Parsons from his State of Illinois, and we know 
you have them. Congressman Sparkman, down in Alabama. What 
I hope we can do is remove the little sting we might get here in 
Oklahoma as taking credit for all of them. We want to take credit 
for our part. This committee has already talked with me and I 
know you feel kindly toward this great State; we are new here 
and I know we have this problem to solve and I know it is the in- 
tention of this committee to try to solve this problem in the correct 



We are happy to have you here, happy to tender you this hall of 
representatives to have your meeting in. Thank you for coming; we 
hope your stay will be delightful and pleasant. If there is any- 
thing you want while here, call on the mayor for it; if you see 
anything you want, take it, and if you w^ant anything you don't 
see, ask for it and I will get it for you. 

The Chairman. I want to say to you. Honorable Mayor, that this 
committee has not selected any one State or city ; this is a Nation-wdde 
problem. We started out in New York and New Jersey and we found 
the migratory problem is a very serious one th^re. We moved into 
Alabama and Illinois and Nebraska, and it isn't the intention of this 
committee to select any particular State because the fact is developing 
that it is a Nation-wide problem. I might state to you, Mr. Mayor, 
that we do not follow the book and this committee has never so much 
as mentioned the word "Okie" or "Arkie"; that isn't a part of our 

We have contacted every Governor in every State in the Union, and 
Mayor La Guardia, who is president of your Mayors' Conference,, 
opened the hearing in New York. It is a problem that affects us all and 
I want to say on behalf of the committee that Ave have never been 
treated so nicely as we have in Oklahoma City, by the reception that 
we had last night, and we are going to reciprocate by treating you as 
nicely as we know how. 

Mr. Henson will be the first witness. 


Mr. Curtis. Mr. Henson, if you will, give the reporter your full 
name, please? 

Mr. Henson. Edwin R. Henson. 

Mr. Curtis. Where do you now reside, Mr. Henson '? 

Mr. Henson. Amarillo, Tex. 

Mr. Curtis. What is your official title ? 

Mr. Henson. Coordinator, United States Department of Agricul- 

Mr. Curtis. Now, by coordinator, Department of Agriculture,, 
briefly what do you mean ? 

Mr. Henson. In the Secretary's Office there is an office of land-use 
coordination primarily designed to bring the various departmental 
programs into accord in bringing about better land use in this country ; 
it is a uniting of the various programs to attain the goal that is set. 

Mr. Curtis. You are somcAvhat of a liaison office between the Water 
Facilities Board and the Farm Security and Farm Tenancy, and so 
on — the various agencies of the Department of Agriculture — is that 

Mr. Henson. That is right. 

Mr. Curtis. Are you a native of Texas? 

Mr. Henson. I am a native of Oklahoma. 

Mr. Curtis. Are you an agricultural college man? 


Mr. Henson. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Curtis. From what college did you graduate ? 

Mr. Henson. Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College. 

Mr. Curtis. Mr. Henson, your territory has been defined as the 
southern Great Plains; just what are the geographical limits of that 
territory ? 

Mr. Henson. The southern Great Plains includes the States of 
Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado. It concentrates 
on the Panhandle area of Texas, Oklahoma, southwestern Kansas, 
southeastern Colorado, and northeastern New Mexico. 

Mr. Curtis. It is part of the Great Plains extending clear from 
Canada down to Texas, is it not ? 

Mr. Henson. That is right. 

Mr. Curtis. And we term the Dakotas and part of Wyoming and 
part of Colorado and Nebraska as the northern Great Plains? 

Mr. Henson. That is right. 

Mr. Curtis. In that connection, Mr. Henson, I think both the 
northern and southern Great Plains have a problem that is very simi- 
lar; it is true that the type of farming and the crops raised will vary 
quite a little from here in the South up into the Dakotas, but that 
territory will have lost in the last 10 years about 1,000,000 people. 
Sometimes we refer to migration as a problem; I would rather think 
of it as the outward evidence of a problem. Now, you have submitted 
a signed detailed statement that will be made pai't of the record. 

(The statement mentioned appears below:) 

Statement by E. R. Henson, Coordinator, United States Department of 




Preface - - 1762 

I. Pummary of Problems and Present Conditions 1762 

A. Brief History 1762 

B. Present Situation --- -- 1763 

n. What Is Being Done - 1766 

III. What Should Be Done - ---- - 1770 

IV. What Future Devices and Funds are Needed - -.- -- 1771 

A. New Facilities -- - 1771 

B. Increasing Present Facilities - 1773 

List of Maps ' 

Map I. Regional boundaries of the United States Department of Agriculture agencies in 

the Southern Great Plains with regional and State headquarters. The area of high 

wind velocity is also shown. 
Map II. Populational statistics showing increase and decrease in population by counties 

from 1930 to 1940. 
Map III. Soil Con.servation Districts and Land Use Projects, with the change in the Dust 

Bowl area from 19.3.". to 1940. 
Map IV. Typical Reorganized Unit in the Oklahoma Panliandle. 

List op Exhibits Submitted ^ 

Exhibit A. "The Dust Bowl : Agricultural Problems and Solutions." United States De- 
partment of Agriculture, Office of Land Use Coordination, Washington, D. C, July 15, 

Exhibit B. Tabulation of Census Figures of Population Shifts in the Southern Great Plains 
States. From the United States Census, 1940. 

Exhibit C. "The I'eople of the Southern High Plains." by Earl H. Bell, United States 
Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Agricultural Economics, Amarillo, Tex. 

1 All maps are held in committee files. 

^ All of above exhibits, mentioned in this statement, are held in committee flies. Copies 
may be obtained through the Superintendent of Documents, Washington, D. C. 


K-rhihit D "Tax Delinauent Rural Lands of Southeastern Colorado," by Leon W. Hill, 
United Sta?es Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Agricultural Economics, Amanllo, 

Exhibit E. "Report on Survey of 71 Unit Reorganization Borrowers," United States De- 
partment of Agriculture, Farm Security Administration, Amarillo, lex ^, . , g.^ 

Exhibit F. "Research in the Establishment of Grass," by D. A. Savage, United btates 
Deoartment of Agriculture, Bureau of Plant Industry, Woodward, Okla „ . „ ,^„ 

Exhibit G "Natural and Artificial Revegetation in the Southern Great Plains," by Sydney 
h! Watson United States Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service, Ama- 

ExhiMt if.^Annual Report, 1939-40, United States Department of Agriculture, Soil Con- 
servation Service Region 6, H. H. Finnell, Amarillo, Tex. ^ - . . , 
ExWbit I Report of Farm Security Administration, United States Department of Agricul- 

ExMbit j''""nJrato;?'L:ab?r"s\"rvtrin^ New Mexico," United States Department 

of Agriculture. Farm Security Administration and Soil Conservation Service, Albu- 

Exhibiri!; '^\. a!^A. on the Plains— A Special Program for Wind Erosion Control * * » 
How It Works," United States Department of Agriculture, Office of the Coordinator, 

Exhibft V' Summarized Statement of the Scope of United States Department of Agricul- 
ture agencies operating in the Dust Bowl. t^, . n • >i u 

Exhibit N "Estimates of Soil Losses by Erosion in the Southern Great Plains Region, by 
Claude L. Fly, United States Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service, 
Amarillo, Tex. 


The area covered by the coordinator's office, United States Department of Agri- 
culture, for the Southern Great Plains, consists of all of the following States: 
Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico. The area sometimes 
known as the Dust Bowl is somewhat more concentrated, however, in the portions 
of these States which are conterminous. 

The regional boundaries of the various agencies of the Department of Agricul- 
ture with which the coordinator's office in Amarillo works are in general outlined 
to include the area where the problems of the particular agency are similar. It is 
natural that these boundaries differ for the sepaiate agencies. For the purpose 
of clarification. Map I ' shows the boundaries of the various agencies operating in 
the Dust Bowl area. 

The representatives of the agencies mentioned in this report operating out of 
Amarillo are as follows : Soil Conservation Service, H. H. Finnell, regional con- 
servator ; Farm Security Administration, Wilson Cowen. regional director ; Bureau 
of Agricultural Economics, Land Economics Division, Morris Evans, staff leader ; 
Farm Management Division, Orlin Scoville, leader ; Division of Farm Population, 
Dr. Earl H. Bell, leader ; and Water Utilization Division, Harry Burleigh, leader. 
Some of the agencies, such as the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, do not 
have regional field offices, and consequently do not have local representatives; 
others, such as Farm Credit Administration, have headquarters outside of the 
Dust Bowl area, namely, in Wichita, Kans., and Houston, Tex. Directors of the 
experiment stations and the extension services have their headquarters at the 
State colleges of the various States. Attached to this report as exhibit M Ms a 
brief summary of the scope of the various Department of Agriculture programs 
operating in this area. 


A. Brief History 

The Southern Great Plains area was transformed from a grazing economy to a 
cultivated cropland during the period during and immediately following the First 
World War. The cropland farmers for the most part gradually moved westward 
as the press of population in the East forced them out of the more thickly popu- 
lated sections. In some of the areas of lowest rainfall, and in general in the 
farthest west sections of the area, the breaking up of the sod did not occur until 
as late as the boom years of 1928 and 1929 and carried on over into 1930 and 1981. 
One of the best wheat crops in years was harvested during the 1931 season ; how- 
ever, it was met with the lowest prices for wheat in several decades. ( See "The 

1 Exhibit carried in committee flies. See p. 1761, footnote. 


Dust Bowl : Agricultural Problems and Solutions," exhibit A.)' Financial failures 
throughout the area were quite widespread. This was preliminary to the drought 
years but served to condition the people, in a sense, for what was to follow later 
in the form of severe climatic hazards. The low prices for wheat continued in 
1932 and 1933. In 1934 the great drought struck with its accompaniment of dry, 
parching, high-velocity winds which brought on the great dust storms of that 
year. Rainfall throughout most of the area was far below average. 

Map No. I^ shows the area of high wind velocity which coincides closely 
with the area commonly known as the Dust Bowl. This area was the center 
of origin of the bad dust storms. Many of the fields were covered with sand 
dimes as high as 20 or 30 feet and in fact the face of the earth was changed 
In some localities. Fence lines became walls of sand and dust. Many of the 
fields lost all of the topsoil to at least the original plow depth. Much of the 
land that had been left in sod was ruined by blow-soil from adjacent fields. 

The drought and dust conditions continued to prevail in a greater or lesser 
degree in 1935 and were again especially severe in 1936. The farm people 
of this area made a valiant attempt to hold onto their homes. Many of 
them were supported temporarily by Government aid of some form or another, 
sometimes through direct relief, sometimes through Work Projects Administra- 
tion, or Farm Security Administration grants, or by work on county roads. 
As the drought and dust storms continued year after year, many of these 
farm families decided that this condition was intolerable and that they must 
look elsewhere for a place to make their homes. A great migration of peoples 
from this area began. In a few of the counties as much as 40 percent of the 
farm population moved out. 

Map No. II ^ based on 1940 census figures shows graphically the evacuation 
of people from the Dust Bowl area. It is particularly interesting to note how 
eastern Colorado apparently picked up and moved into western Colorado. 
Other States show as significant emigrations from the drought region, but 
in most cases where there was not a sparsely populated area within the 
State to which the migrants could move, indications are that they followed 
the general westward trend and continued to the Pacific coast. 

The percentage of decrease in population indicated in most counties of the 
Dust Bowl is even more significant when it is realized that the normal increase 
in population amounts annually to from 6 to 10 percent. Thus, in a county 
where the total decrease in population was 40 percent, the net decrease, after 
taking into consideration normal increase through birth and immigration, 
might be as high as 50 percent. 

A comprehensive analysis of the factors contributing to the present situa- 
tion in the area may be found in "The Future of the Great Plains," ' a report by 
the President's special committee on the Great Plains, published in 1936. 

A summary statement made by Dr. Earl H. Bell, entitled "The People of the 
Southern High Plains" is presented herewith as exhibit C.^ This gives more 
details on population shifts from this region. 

B. Present situation 

The population of the Dust Bowl area is still in excess of that which can be 
satisfactorily supported under the existing pattern of ownership and land use. 
Throughout this area there are still thousands of farm families being supported 
by Government grants and work relief. 

For example, as of June 1940, the Farm Security Administration was still 
furnishing grants to 9,026 rural families. This is an indication of the number 
of farm families who still find it impossible to make a living on the land. The 
unit reorganization program will alter the problem to this extent : Some of the 
families now on grants will be placed in a position to make a complete living off 
the land, but others may be entirely displaced. 

The following tabulation shows the results of a survey made under the direction 
of A. A. Meredith of the Work Projects Administration district office in Amarillo. 

* Exhibit carried in committee flies. See footnote, p. 1761. 

* Map carried in committee flies. See footnote, p. 1761. 

* May be obtained from Superiuteudent ot Documents, Washington, D. C. 


This survey was made in 5 selected counties whicli are believed to be representar 
tive of the 26 counties in the Texas Panhandle : 

Total case load for district (number of families) 4, 812 

Average number of persons per family 3. 9 

Estimated number of persons represented 18,567 

Estimated number of cases vs^ith farm background 3, 036 

Percent of cases v?ith farm backgroimd 63. 1 

Estimated number of persons represented 11, 840 

The following is quoted from Bell's report, mentioned above : "The head of 
nearly every family in Haskell County, Kans., was interviewed and, among other 
questions, asked how they remained. It is significant that all of them replied that 
if it had not been for the agricultural program they could not have held on. 
Most of them added that in the entire county not over half a dozen families could 
have stayed. One businessman in principle opposed Government aid to the 
farmers but said, 'If it had not been for the agricultural program no one would 
be here now. I would not be here. The county would be grown up to weeds 
or blown away.' 

"When asked why they remained, two answers- were given. One was, 'I don't 
know where else to go. We read of unemployment everywhere and I have no 
other abilities. I could not get land anywhere else.' The other answer, and the 
two usually were given together, was, 'We like this country. It is good country 
if we can just get rain.' " 

For the most part those farm families that remained in the area were forced 
to exist on the most meager allowances. As a result of this situation and of tlie 
extremely poor living and sanitary conditions the liealth problem became a sei'ious 
factor in many families. In 1936 tlie Farm Security A(hninistratioa started a 
study of the health and medical needs of farm families in the area. The study 
soon revealed that many of these people who were looked upon as shiftless and 
lacking in ambition, were in reality suffering from diseases and malnutrition. 

Throughout most of the area the rainfall is still considerably too low to produce 
the crops on which the people have in the past been depending. The following 
table shows the average precipitation for the years 1916 to 1938, inclusive, as 
recorded at selected stations, one in each of the five States. The stations were 
located at Lakin, Kearney County, Kans. : Lamar. Prowers County, Colo. ; Good- 
well, Texas County, Okla. ; DaUiart, Dallam County, Tex. ; and Clayton, Union 
County, N. Mex. 

Average annual precipitation 

Inchee Inches Inches 

1916 12.76 1924 13.15 1932 14. 6« 

1917 12.92 1925 16.67 1933 11.93 

1918 18.86 1926 15.71 1934 10.04 

1919 21.20 1927 17.11 1935 11.20 

1920 15.05 1928 23.82 1936 9.58 

1921 18.54 1929 17.64 1937 11.17 

1922 13.90 1930 20.95 1938 15.22 

1923 25.29 1931 13.56 

During the period 1916 to 1933, inclusive, the average was 16.87 inches. Note 
that it has never reached the average since then. 

It is obvious that a 6-year drought period such as this is enough to luisettle 
any farming industry based on production of cash crops which require as a 
minimum more moisture than has been available during these dry years. 

"In Haskell County, Kans., a more fertile than average high plains county, the 
farmers have suffered from drought for the past 8 years. During that time the 
average acreage of wheat harvested has been but 28 percent of that planted, and 
the average yield of that which was actually harvested has been only 4 bushels 
per acre. During several of these years there has also been a feed-crop failure." 
(From Bell's report.) 

Thousands of acres of land are still blowing in this section. On some fields 
there has never been enough rainfall to start even a weed growth to hold the soil. 
In a few isolated instances, fanners unwisely continue to stir up the soil on these 
blowfields year after year and plant wheat seed in the fall in the hope of some 



day making a crop. By proper tillage and conservation methods the good farmer 
(and on Government land the Soil Conservation Service) has been able to estab- 
lish a weed growth or a cover crop such as sorghum or sudan grass to hold 
loose soil. 

Attached hereto as Exhibit N ^ is an analysis by Claud L. Fly, soil scientist. 
Soil Conservation Service, in which he makes some estimates on the loss of soil 
in the southern plains area. On the 33,039,050 acres of cultivated land covered 
in his report he estimated a net loss or removal of 408 tons of soil per acre ; on 
the 61,880,950 acres of range land a loss or removal of 57 tons of soil per acre. 

Very little success has been achieved in returning the soil to its natural state 
of vegetation. This is not surprising when it is realized that some ecologists 
estimate that thousands of years were required to establish the fine layer of 
sod that was found by our first settlers. 

Recent careful studies have shown that even under the best natural conditions 
in this region abandoned fields will seldom revert to an optimum stand of the 
better grass species in less than 25 years. 

Much of the land from which farmers have moved now lies in a state of aban- 
donment. These lands constitute a continuing hazard to the neighboring farmers 
who are attempting to establish a cover crop or return their land to grass. None 
of the land which was plowed up has yet been successfully retiu'ned to grass. Not 
only that, but thousands of acres which were once in grass have been ruined by 
blowing soil from adjacent plowed fields. In many cases it is difficult to return 
this land to good sod as it is that land which has been plowed. 

The following tabulations from a study made in 1936 shows the extent of 
abandoned land hi dry-farming portions of this region at that time. 

Total cultivated 
land in area 

Cropland aban- Cropland aban- 
doned within doned outside 
farm units farm units 







5, 005, 877 
1, 872, 878 
1, 353, 688 


425. 580 
612, 605 
140, 474 
149, 174 
109, 619 




1, 064, 248 

304, 450 

190, 815 

33, 433 

249, 200 




9 eastern New Mexico counties -.. 


This tabulation by counties is attached to exhibit C. 

The emigration of such large sectors of the population as was noted above 
has left such facilities as roads and schools to be supported by the remaining 
few who are financially unable to carry this burden ; besides the faciliies are 
larger and more numerous than are needed by the remaining population. 

"In one community in Washington County, Colo., the farmers got together 
and counted their human resources as of 1940 and then studied them in relation 
to their schools and churches. This is what they found : 

"1. Only 72 houses out of 103 were occupied, which meant that 30 percent 
of the homes in the community were vacant. 

"2. These 72 houses held a total population of 283, or about 4 persons per 

"3. They found only 17 high school children. This is significant when we 
consider they were attempting to operate and support a community high school. 

"4. There were only 46 grade-school children attending 10 schools, or an 
average of 4.6 pupils per school. 

"5. Furthermore, there were 36 preschool children, or 3.6 potential children 
per school. 

"6. They have the commmiity problem of supplying some economic security 
or opportunity to 25 young persons, 6 to 20 years of age, who are not now in 
school — this in the face of smaller opportunities to secure farms or other jobs. 

»K-shibit held in committee files. See footnote, p. 1761. 



"7. Two churches operating spasmodically serve the 283 persons in the com- 
munity. , _. 

"The county in which these communities are located has undergone a d4 
percent reduction in school enrollment since 1930. At the same time there has 
been no consolidation and very little school abandonment and the number of 
teachers remains about the same. It costs just as much to educate a half-full 
one-room school as it does to educate a full school enrollment. The need for 
school adjustment is apparent." (From report by Bell's office.) 

The burden of taxes obviously is increasing upon those remaining in the area. 

The following tabulation showing abandonment of farmsteads as early as 
1936 gives an indication of how serious this problem is at the present time: 

11 southeastern Colorado counties 
15 southwestern Kansas counties. 
3 Oklahoma Panhandle counties.. 
8 eastern New Mexico counties. .. 
15 Texas Panhandle counties 

Total farm- 


11, 800 














House gone 













This tabulation by counties is attached to exhibit C. 

An indication of the reason why some of these houses disappeared is revealed 
in the following quotation from Bell's report: "In order to reduce taxes, 
owners are razing the improvements on their land and renting it to large 
operators, thus depriving small operators of a home and the opiX)rtunity to 
secure a living for their families." 

This problem leads to widespread tax delinquency. An illuminating study 
was recently made regarding tax delinquency in Baca and Lincoln Counties 
in Colorado. In Baca County, it was shown that all tax sales of delinquent 
rural lands from 1934 to 1937 totaled 485,800 acres, or 31.6 percent of the 
total taxable acreage in the county. There is no reason to assume that the 
trend in this respect has shifted since 1937. This same study shows that in 
spite of an increasing number of units put up for sale, a decreasing number 
are being purchased by private individuals so that in 1937 only 90 tax cer- 
tificates were purchased by private individuals compared to 580 purchased 
by the county. . . 

The figures for Lincoln County show a similar trend. More detailed infor- 
mation regarding this trend may be secured by refering to Tax Delinquent 
Rural Land in Southwestern Colorado, by Leon W. Hill, attached hereto as 
exhibit D.' 

Following is a summary of the situation just discussed : 

1. People. — The farm population of this area is still greater than can be 
supported by the land under the present system. Tlie health of the families 
is seriously impaired by their living conditions. 

2. Land. — Thousands of acres are still blowing and under no control by 
responsible operators. Thousands of acres are tax delinquent. 

3. Soeial facilities.— Housing conditions are poor. School, roads, and county 
government units built under more favorable conditions now are too large and 
too expensive to be supported by the present population. 


The following discussion sets forth what is being done by the United States 
Department of Agriculture to alleviate some of the problems mentioned in the 
preceding pages. Through efforts being made by the various agencies, the 
Department of Agriculture is proceeding on a unified front in combatting the 
problems of the area. 

1 Exhibit held in committee files. See footnote, p. 1761. 


Since the ideal pattern can be achieved only by fitting the people to the 
land the first approach, logically, must be made by appraising the land from 
the standpoint of the number of people it will support. Therefore, perhaps 
the most fundamental phase of the work now being done is : 

Land clasai float ion. — At the present time the proper land use is determined 
by two approaches — either by one approach or the other, or a combination of 
the two. In every county throughout the area there are land-use planning 
-committees consisting of groups of farm men and women in each community 
that meet and plan for the proper use of their land and elect representatives 
to the county committee. The county committee pools these community plans 
into a county plan, and with the advice and guidance of Federal and State 
agencies, maps the land of the county indicating its proper use. The second 
approach is through a reconnaissance survey of the area by Soil Conservation 
Service or the land-grant college in order to make a soil map or a combination 
soils and land-classification map. These maps classify the lands into those that 
should remain in grass, and those that should be cultivated with varying 
degrees of erosion-control measures. The ideal method is for the technicians 
to make their maps and then have them checked and modified for human 
and social factors by the land-use planning committees. This classification of 
land by these land-use planning committees is a part of an intense educational 
program which brings about recognition of the problems of the community 
along land-use lines. 

Adjusting land use through the Agricultural Adjustment Administration pro- 
gram. — In the Agricultural Adjustment Administration program farmers have 
been encouraged to designate those lands which should never have been plowed 
as restoration land, A sufl3cient amount of payment is made on this restoration 
land to enable the farmer to keep it from blowing and It is primarily set aside 
as land to be returned to grass. It has proved extremely difluult to reestablish 
grass on this area and considerable research work is being carried out by the 
experiment stations and the Soil Conservation Service for devising ways and 
means of revegetation. 

In this connection farmers in 54 of the 112 counties of the "dust bowl" area 
have adopted a program under which the Agricultural Adjustment Administration 
payments come to the farmer as direct payments for carrying out conservation 
work on the land. This creates a practical works program designed to eventually 
effect the carrying out of the conservation program on all of these farms. It is 
contemplated that this experimental program will be broadened in scope to drive 
even more directly toward the adjustment of land-use requirements in the area 
and that the program will be expanded to all counties having a similar problem. 
Submitted with this report as exhibit LMs an explanation of how the special 
Agricultural Adjustment Administration program operates in the counties in 
wnich it was first tried. 

Reorganized farm units to effect hetter land use. — The Soil Conservation Serv- 
ice, the Farm Security Administration, and the extension services are cooperating 
in an effort to reorganize the farm land into suitable combination livestock and 
grain farms of such sizes that a farm family may be expected to have reasonable 
security, be able to use the land properly, and pay for the farm. The imit reor- 
ganization program has been hampered in many cases by the complicated owner- 
ship pattern of the land and the difficulty of obtaining satisfactory tenure, the 
lack of proper farm buildings and other farm facilities, and the number of oper- 
ators on too small units. In order to effect real reorganization, it is usually 
necessary to combine several of these units into one. But until a program can 
be devised which will properly take care of the surplus people, it is impossible to 
expect the unit reorganization program to solve the problems of land use in the 
area. Because of the limiting factors mentioned above, only about 20 percent 
of the area of a county can be covered now by desirable land-reorganized units. 
Later in the report suggestions are made for taking care of the surplus people 
that would be displaced by the maximum application of this program. 

In this program 416 farm units have already been reorganized. For the most 
part the plan has been used in those areas where it is necessary to change from 

» Exhibit held in committee flies. See footnote, p. 1761. 



wheat production because of the soil and climatic conditions. Farms have been 
enlarged from one-quarter of a section (160 acres) to more than 4,000 acres in 


Some indication of the progress being made by fanners imder this program 
may be had from the following analysis of a reorganized unit in the Oklahoma 
Panhandle : 


















The Farm Security Administration district supervisor reporting in January 1939, 
commented on this loan as follows : 

"Upon the inspection of the farmstead I found that it was greatly improved 
from what it had been at the start of the loan. The Civilian Conservation Corps 
boys have been on the place and have leveled off all of the blow piles surrounding 
the farm home, barn, and other buildings. Tliis was shown by the dirt remaining 
in the trees and buslies to a depth of about 4\(> feet. The ground is now leveled 
off as well as could be expected. The old fence was dug out of the drifts and the 
fences have been reconstructed with a new lane leading out to the pasture land. 
Many of the old buildings were completely torn down and the old lumber neatly 
sorted and piled for future use in the construction of a new poultry and 
granary, which is being started within the next few weel<s. 

"* * * he proceeded to plant sudan on the cropland. This crop was com- 
pletely destroyed by the grasshoppers, which hatched from the eggs on the sur- 
rounding rougli land. The client tlien seeded the cropland to sorghums and has 
produced a fair crop of roughage for his livestock. On tlie remaining cropland 
winter rye has been seeded and at present is covered with a good stand." 

Map No. IV ^ shows graphically tlie new farm as compared with the old in the 
case analyzed above. 

Also presented herewith as exhibit E ^ is a Report on Survey of 71 Unit 
Reorganization Borrowei'S. 

Adjustments of land use through purohctse cmd lease. — Many of tlie problems in 
the area could be adjusted and solved if funds were available for the purchase of 
certain tracts from private individuals. These tracts would be available then for 
establishing farm families on reorganized units. Considerable progress was 
made in limited areas by the Federal purchases of land, and as far as it went this 
was higlily effective. This work is limited at the present time by the entire lack 
of funds for the program. As an alternative, soil-conservation districts, associa- 
tions of owners and individuals, have tried leasing from tlie present owners, 
both absentee and local, those lands which are not now being ojierated. This has 
met witli some success ; for example, the soil-conservation district of Baca County, 
Colo., has leased 39,000 acres of land each year from absentee owners. When such 
land is leased by the district, it is placed under the program of wind-erosion control, 
and where long-time leases can be secured, it is included in reorganized units. 
One problem in this connection Is that many mortgage companies are extremely 
anxious to sell their land and therefore do not wish to lease it for more than 1 year. 
Individual farmers cannot be financed by the Farm Security Administration or 
other similar financing agencies, and equipped with livestock, buildings, and 
machinery on land that will be available for only 1 year. 

Map No. IV ^ shows the land purchase areas and the soil-conservation districts 
in the five-State area. 

^ Map held in committee tiles. See footnote, p. 1761. 
2 Exhibit held in committee files. See footnote, p. 17C1. 


Tenant purchase loans. — Loans under the tenant purchase program of the Farm 
Security AcUninistration authorized by the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act 
are being used in some of these counties to acquire suitable farm units on which 
a complete conservation program will be carried out ; the individual operators 
will be equipped with livestock and macliinery sufficient to farm the unit according^ 
to the program planned, and adequate housing for farmers and livestock will be 
provided. Where tenant purchase funds are available a complete and satisfactoi'y 
adjustment of land use can be had. 

Othef credit facilities. — Throughout the area the Farm Security Administration 
gives grants to destitute families, and makes loans to those in better circum- 
stances for livestock and equipment to operate farms. Standard rural-rehabili- 
tation loans have been made totaling more than $20,000,000 in the Dust Bowl area. 
A complete report on the work of the Farm Security Administration is included 
herewith as exhibit I.^ 

Also the Farm Credit Administration extends feed and seed loans in this area 
where a farmer can give a crop and livestock mortgage as security for the loan. 
These loans are available for the purchase of feed or seed and certain other requi- 
sites for carrying on farming operations. Similarly, tlie Production Credit Asso- 
ciation will make loans for purchase of feed or livestock or other requirements to 
those farmers having sufficient security to justify the loan. Collection records 
of the lending agencies in this area are not as bad as might be expected. This is 
due not so much to crop production as to the use of crop insurance and the Agricul- 
tural Adjustment Administration payments. 

Water facilities. — Through the water-facilities program funds are made avail- 
able throughout this area for the development of stock water, either in the form 
of ponds or windmills. Similarly, loans may be made through the water-facilities 
program for the development of a windmill for irrigating a small home gardeu 
and putting water into the home. This program is one badly needed in this area^ 
inasmuch as gardens can scarcely be grown without the use of some water, and 
the psychological effect of having water available for lawns, flowers, and about 
the home in times of drought can scarcely be estimated. Loans or grants may be 
made for trapping surface water for irrigation, for individual farmers or groups 
of farmers for projects costing not over $50,000. This device is extremely im- 
portant in areas where suitable sites are available. In the drier portions of the 
Plains area, use of such loans is extremely limited, since water available in 
proximity to the land to be irrigated is scarce. Each farmer who participates in 
a water-facilities loan or grant must follow soil-conservation practices recom- 
mended by the Soil Conservation Service, as well as farm- and home-management 
plans recommended by the Farm Security Administration. 

»S'077 conservation. — The tinal extremely important part of the water program 
of the area is the complete soil- and water-conservation program being carried 
on through the Soil Conservation Service. Under this program, farmers are 
practicing complete water-conservation methods and cropping systems in the dry- 
land areas primarily to make water go in where it falls. Pastures are contour- 
furrowed for the same purpose, and it is possible to trap most of the water that 
falls on the land. It has been estimated that if all the water that falls on the 
Dust Bowl area were to be absorbed by the soil through the complete carrying out 
of these conservation plans, a sufficiently increased production of grass and crops 
could be made to support an additional 21,000 farm families in the area. The 
full and complete development of water is a goal of the Department of Agriculture 
and the State agencies working in this area. Complete water development will 
bring about security for farm families and the proper use of land. 

Revegetation trials. — Throughout a large portion of the region it is obvious 
that the goal is to get the land back into grass, which was its original native 
state. This problem is not as easy as it may seem, complicated as it is by soil 
blowing and lack of sufficient moisture, in most localities, to genninate the grass 
seed or, even after it is germinated, insufficient moisture to carry the seedling 
plant to the point where the roots can take a permanent hold. The enthusiasm of 
the greater part of the population of these Western States for the 30 years pre- 
ceding 1934 with respect to wheat growing resulted in the neglect of experimental 
work regai-ding grass. Tlius at a time when the country was suddenly faced with 

1 Exhibit held in committee files. See footnote, p. 1761. 

260370— 41— pt. 5- 


the problem of returning vast acreages to grass, there was a decided lacli of 
information for this area on methods of establishing native grass cover on lands 
that had been plowed up. Added to that was the difficulty of getting adequate 
seed supplies of these native grasses. Experimental work is now being carried on 
rather extensively in State and Federal experiment stations and through various 
research projects of the Soil Conservation Service. The Bureau of Plant In- 
dustry is doing some good research work on blue grama grass at the Woodward 
(Okla.) Experiment Station, and on buffalo grass at the Hays (Kans.) Experiment 
Station. Various grasses are being tried at the joint Soil Conservation Service- 
Colorado Agricultural College Experiment Station at Cheyenne Wells, Colo. Other 
trials are in progress at stations at Goodwell and Lawton, Okla. ; Garden City, 
Kans.; Fort Collins and Akion, Colo.; Dalhart, Amarillo, Spur, Chillicothe, and 
Big Springs, Tex. ; and Tucumcari and Clayton, N. Mex. Experiments on large- 
scale revegetation work are being tried out at Dalhart, Tex., by the Soil Con- 
servation Service in an attempt to tie down some hazardous sand dunes in that 
area which have grown out of abandoned blow fields. An interesting project on 
a practical scale is also being carried out at Caddoa, Colo., where the Government 
has found it necessary to stabilize immediately some sand dunes there in con- 
nection with the relocation of the main line of the Santa Fe Railroad to allow 
completion of the Caddoa flood-control dam. The experiments so far have demon- 
strated the extreme difficulty of getting grass reestablished, particularly under 
drought conditions and on a basis where it could be handled by the ordinary 
farmer, considering the value of the grass to his agricultural economy after it 
is established. Further information regarding revegetation experiments may be 
found by reference to Research in the Establishment of Grass, by D. A. Savage, 
exhibit F, and Natural and Artificial Revegetation in the Southern Great Plains, 
by Sydney H. Watson, exhibit G,' both submitted with this report. 

Health service. — The Farm Security Administration, in an effort to improve 
the low standards of health among the low-income farmers in their group, 
have instituted a cooperative medical service program. Briefly, the plan 
consists of pooling the funds of these low-income families and turning them 
over to the local medical association for administration. During the fiscal 
year ending July 1, 1940, approximately one-third of the medical services 
in operation in region 12 paid their bills in full. The fee schedule is left 
in the hands of the medical profession and is on the average about 25 
percent lower than that usually charged. In the other two-thirds of the 
medical services in operation last year the average paid the physician was 
between 70 and 75 percent. At the present time some 5,700 farm families 
in region 12 are enabled through this plan to secure full medical service 
in contrast to their previous situation where medical aid was called only in 
extreme emergencies. More than two-thirds of these 5,700 families live in 
counties where the medical program includes other services besides the services 
of a general practitioner and have available to them hospital service, surgeon 
service, and in many cases drugs and emergency dental service. This more 
or less complete emergency medical program is furnished those families at an 
average of $30 per family per pear, $1 of which is set aside for administrative 
purposes and the rest applied to the medical needs of the family. 


Because of the variations in conditions with respect to soil types, rainfall, 
and various climatic and economic factors, it is not possible to draw a definite 
pattern in a few words showing what the ideal situation should be throughout 
the area ; however, certain general conclusions can be drawn from experiences 
in the past and from research gathered by the various agencies since the 
occurrence of the drought. 

In general, farms, to be set up on an economical basis, must be larger in 
acreage than they heretofore have been. In fact, most of them must be 
combination livestock and feed-producing farms, with a limited acreage iu 
grain. Wheat alone cannot be relied upon as a cash crop for this area. 
In certain areas within the Dust Bowl region, where rainfall and soil conditions 

1 Exhibits held in committee files. See footnote, p. 1761. 


3)ermit, the continued growing of wheat as the principal crop is still possible 
where water conservation is emphasized and erosion-control practices are 
used to prevent blowing. 

The acreage of the ideal family size livestock farm can be deduced in 
■more or less general terms from experience gained to date by United States 
Department of Agriculture workers. A foundation herd of 60 to 75 head 
■of range cattle is needed to support a family. Most of the range land in 
the area will require 30 to 40 acres to support one head. Thus one might 
say that from 1,800 to 3,000 acres would be required for the average livestock 
farm in the Dust Bowl area. A survey by the Farm Security Administration 
-of 71 of the 367 unit reorganization loans made by the end of 1939 showed 
.an average of 2,059 acres per reorganized farm. 

Erosion control. — Farming methods that will prevent soil blowing should be 
practiced on all farms in the five-State area. Soil conservation districts or 
proper legislation which would require each farmer to abide by the rule of 
the majority are desirable throughout most of the area, as the neglect of 
one farm makes it a hazard to other farms in the locality that are well 

The proper soil-erosion control practices would include terracing where 
necessary, strip cropping, border planting, blank listing, farming on the contour 
in all cases, and pasture furrowing in certain areas as well as proper manage- 
ment of crop residues. 

Reorganization of existing units would of course be necessary to place farmers 
•on an economical basis. 

Larger school districts and county boundaries would be a part of the reor- 
ganization program. Adjustments such as these would naturally be made 
according to suggestions of land-use planning committees in the counties 

Management of all the land would be somewhat rigidly controlled, by legis- 
lation or by some sort of unified management, to prevent the recurrence of 
a similar situation if the country should again receive increased moisture. 
The form this management should take might vary according to recommenda- 
tions of local land-use planning committees. 

Perhaps rural zoning provides the ideal arrangement for assuring the proper 
use of the land after it is classified. State legislation enabling county units 
to zone their rural lands for proper use could accomplish this; or legislation 
^already exists which will i>ermit soil-conservation districts to exercise such 
control if voted in by members of the district. At the same time the policy 
of all public as well as private lending agencies should be guided by the use- 
tcapability classification of the lands. Likewise, assessment of rates by taxing 
units should be consistent with this classification. 


A. New facilities 

Increased industries. — A large scale movement is apparently in process to 
^decentralize the large industries of the Nation as a means of strengthening 
the defenses of the country. In line with thf«t policy, steps should be taken 
to encourage the location of some industries in the drought areas. Climatic 
•conditions for workers are the most healthful in the world throughout most of 
the area, particularly in regard to the prevention of tuberculosis or other pul- 
monary diseases. The area is well isolrited from the sea coasts. Sufficient 
undei'ground water is available for industrial needs. Natural gas is available 
in large quantities for fuel. The location of such industrirJ plants in this area 
'Could serve to take care of a great deal of the surplus population. 

Rural housing. — In the process of reorganizing the farm units, and the school 
.and road facilities, many shifts are being me.Je in the location of the farm- 
steads. A survey of 52 counties in this area in 1936 showed a total of 23,364 
occupied houses of which 8,522 were classed as "fair" and 6,446 as "poor"; and 
tof 7,810 unoccupied houses, 3,462 were "in ruins." (See exhibit C) 

* Gxhibit held in committee files. See footnote, p. 1761. 


Allowing for deterioration since the 1936 survey and assuming that the 52 
counties were typical of the whole Dust Bowl area, it is estimated that at least 
12,000 of the farm homes now being used are unsatisfactory for human occu- 
pancy and shonld be replriced. Based on a cost of $2,000 per house, this would 
mean that $24,000,000 would be needed for rural housing in the immediate Dust 
Bowl area, comprising about 117 counties in the five States. 

In many cases of reorganized units new houses are required. Various esti- 
mates indicate that ripproximately half of th<> reorganized farms would require 
new houses. Any rural housing program that might be undertaken in this area 
should start first with the reorganized units. Such a program might be handled 
through the United States Housing Authority, which is already authorized tO' 
do this work. 

Lcfiislation. — There should be instituted adequate legislation to properly con- 
trol all the land after it is reorganized and revegetated according to land 
classification patterns. AVhether this legislation should take the form of ena- 
bling laws that would permit local organizr.tions to enforce a somewhat rigid 
pattern of land use, or whether it should be through State zoning laws, or 
whether the objective should be accomplished through soil-conservation dis- 
tricts is a matter that can best be determined by those fostering this program in 
the local areas. However, the chief point to be remembered is that this legislfr 
tion should be sufficiently rigid and sufficiently permanent to make it difficult 
for over-optimistic communities to reverse the policy during short periods of 
favorable conditions. Legislation should also be promoted for controlling the 
use of underground water to prevent the recurrence of such situations as that to- 
be found in the Hereford area in Texas where too lavish use of the underground 
irrigation water supply indicates early depletion of the supply for the whole area. 

Revegetation of those lands classified as suitable only for grass should be 
carried out at a greater speed than is now being attained. As mentioned pre- 
viously, the cost of this work makes it prohibitive for the average farmer tO' 
perform. However, since the revegetrition of these lands is a thing of benefit 
to the community and the region as a whole, it would not be inconsistent with 
present policies to subsidize the farmers efforts in this respect. In other words,, 
the Government could well afford to make the revegetation work a subject for 
a rural works program and provide the farmers with seed and wages for their 
labor expended in revegetating lands on their farms as well as on adjacent 
lauds which are not under any particular ff«rm unit. Mr. Watson estimates 
that there are from ''six to eight million acres of land in the Southern Great 
Plains in need of regrassing, including laud now in cultivation, or formerly 
cultivated, and denuded range lauds." 

Rural-works program. — A rural-works program, embodying the matter of re- 
vegetation, water and soil conservation, the development of water facilities, and 
other useful rural projects such as road construction and maintenance should be 
set up to provide supplemental income to farmers while they are reestablishing 
the grass and otherwise reorganizing their farm business. This program could 
also assist farm laborers who are needed during short seasons in the area. 

The adjustments suggested above are absolutely necessary for establishing 
this area on a sound economic basis commensurate with the minimum standard 
of living to which rural people are entitled. Yet after adjustments are 
made there will be many farm people still in the area who are luiable to find 
farms. Some of those people are now complicating attempts to bring about 
needed adjustments, As long as they remain in the area under present condi- 
tions they are a distinct liability, not only of their inability to support 
themselves but because their iiresence interferes with the proper organization of 
the land they are on. Ina.smuch as that land may be farmed one year and 
abandoned the next, it increases the hazards of wind erosion and the scattering 
of weeds. 

Tlie leaders in this area are extremely aware of the fact that they cannot solve 
their land-use problems initil a means is found for caring for the.«e families-- 
and the entrance of such families into the area on impossible farming units is 

Migratory camps. — It is imperative that a means be found for caring for these 
families in such a way that their entrance into a community will be placed on a 
sounder basis. The foUowtng is suggested as a means of doing this. Inasmucli as- 


this surplus population is not the responsibility of agriculture entirely, and inas- 
much as the location of these families creates problems with reference to schools 
and roads and other community facilities used by l)oth rural and urban residents, 
a twofold program should be worked out in which the migrant problem is pro- 
vided for under the joint responsibility of urban and rural people. This can be 
done bv the establishment of a combination of migrant camps and garden farms 
at suitable locations. The Government would purchase the land and establish 
the camps with either tents or houses in sufficient numbers to take care of the 
migratory laborer seeking work in the area. Such camps would consist of sani- 
tary facilities and bare essentials for housing, and would contemplate that the 
migrgant would remain there only through the labor season in that locality and 
then would move on. The second step in stabilizing this sector of the population 
could be taken in these same areas by providing adequate housing at a nominal 
cost for the families who could obtain part-time employment in the community. 
These part-time workers would be expected to produce a certain amount of their 
living from garden, chickens, and livestock. They would be expected to establish 
themselves in homes of their own when the amount of employment they obtain 
justifies the shift. In this way it would be certain that the migrant or low-income 
family was at least adequately hou.sed or sheltered. Their efforts to provide for 
their families would be supplemented by relief agencies when necessary. 

This plan is particularly to be recommended since it is flexible, and at times 
when work is plentiful in the community these part-time homes would serve as 
the means of bringing in new families as expansion of opportunities warranted. 
The whole movement should be under the Farm Security Administration, co- 
operating with local relief agencies and local employment bureaus. (Note. — 
Migratory T>abor Survey in Southern New Mexico, exhibit J.^) 

B. Increasing present faciUiies 

Land classification. — As pointed out earlier in this report, the problem of 
classifying the land with regard to its potentialities is the first and fundamental 
step in bringing about the stabilization of both the people and the land in the 
Dust Bowl area. 

Normally, the first step in this work is the land-use capabilities survey made 
by the Soil Conservation Service. Increased personnel is needed by the Soil 
Conservation Service to accomplish this work in the most expetlitious manner. 

The second step is that performed by county land-use planning committees. 
The educational work in aiding these committees to do their job is carried on by 
the Bureau of Agricultural P>conomics and the Extension Services. Increased 
personnel for this work would expedite its completion. 

Too much emphasis cannot l)e placed upon the need for completing the land- 
classification work, because only after this is done can other efforts be properly 
Integrated into a permanent plan for stabilizing the ai-ea. Anything that will 
speed up this work is strongly recommended. 

Vr^it reorf/anization. — Unit reorganization work is proceeding as rapidly as 
possible under the limitations imposed by the present ownership pattern in the 
area. There are several programs which if properly carried forward will expe- 
dite adjustments in this connection. These are (1) tenant purchase; (2) Gov- 
ernment land purchase; and (3) tenure improvement work. 

Tenant purchase.— The tenant purchase program authorized under the Bank- 
Iiead- Jones Farm Tenant Act provides an excellent device for setting up reor- 
ganized units if it were not for the extreme limitations of the fimds. For 
example, in the 3 years that this program has been in operation, only 111 
loans totaling $998,393 have been made in the Dust Bowl. When this is compared 
"With the fact that 416 units have been reorganized under the Farm Security 
Administration rural rehabilitation program, it is easy to see that unit reor- 
ganization cannot wait upon the tenant program at the present rate at which 
funds are being made available. 

The Lee-.Tones farm tenant bill as it has been proposed in Congress would 
be a desirable way to speed up tliis work without the expenditure of large 
sums of Goveniment money. This bill authorizes the financing of farm pur- 
chases through mortgage insurance with the same general policies covering the 

^ E.^hihit liPkl in committee files. See footnote, p. 1761. 


program as those now carried under the Bankhead- Jones Farm Tenant Act. 
Oovemment purchase of land. — The purchase of land by the Government^ 
which was started under the Resettlement Administration and continued bjr 
the Soil Conservation Service, has been accepted by most Government authori- 
ties as a necessity in bringing about proper reorganization of the Dust Bowl. 
The amount of land which should be purchased may be debated variously. Some- 
hold that all of the land should be purchased by the Government; others feel 
that the purchase of key tracts, which means particular lands that are now 
disturbing local areas by blowing, would serve the pmiKise. Even though 
following the system of purchasing key tracts, a great amount of work still^ 
remains to be done. This is shown by comparisons in the Texas and Oklahoma' 
Panhandles of the amount of land already purchased with that which the Soil 
Conservation Service estimates should be purchased in carrying out the policy 
of acquiring key tracts. In the Oklahoma Panhandle, 15,221 acres have been 
purchased, whereas it is estimated that 370,000 acres should be purchased. In 
the Texas Panhandle, 76,650 acres have been purchased, whereas estimates 
indicate that 2,700,000 acres should be acquired. In other words, in these two 
States a total of 91,871 acres have been or are in the process of being pur- 
chased by the Government, in comparison with 3,070,000 which should be pur- 
chased. The average cost of land which has heretofore been purchased for sucb 
purposes varies between $2 and $4 per acre. Taking the maximum of $4 per 
acre, the total amount of $12,280,000 is needed for the Texas and Oklahoma 

Similar purchases are of course needed in the adjacent areas of New Mexico,. 
Kansas, and Colorado. 

The tenure improvement program. — This is another important phase of the 
work which will aid toward unit reorganization. It is possible to write leases 
that are favorable to the operator and landlord alike; in fact, leases may be 
almost as satisfactory to the operator as land ovnership under many circum- 
stances. One difficulty in reorganizing units is the unwillingness of many land- 
lords to give leases for more than 1 year. Any lease, to give equitable and 
just consideration to the tenant should include provisions for reimbursing him 
for any permanent improvements he may make on the place. This matter of 
improving tenure relations between landlords and tenants through the writing 
of equitable leases is largely a matter of education and is being fostered through 
the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and the State extension services, as well' 
as the Farm Security Administration. 

Foil conservation districts. — Soil conservation districts now cover a large por- 
tion of the land in the five-State area ; however, there is still continued demand 
from local people to spread this program and the technicians responsible for 
the organization work are proceeding as rapidly as possible with the help 

If the farmers request it, soil conservation districts should be spread to« 
cover every acre of land, particularly in the Dust Bowl area, as a means of 
speeding up the revegetation and soil and water conservation work. 

Added to this is the fact that soil conservation districts now provide the 
only satisfactory means of maintaining proper use of the land after it is re- 
vegetated and reorganized. In other words, soil conservation districts have the- 
power to prevent the plowing up of grasslands. Unless some other form- of 
legislative control is developed to replace this, it is highly desirable that soil 
conservation districts be developed and continued in order to assure the per- 
manent stabilization of land after it is reorganized and revegetated. 

Water facilities.— WhUe the amount of money available for water facilities- 
loans in this area this fiscal year has not yet been determined, it seems certain 
that it will not exceed $.500,000. Compare this with an estimate by the Soil Con- 
servation Service that $160,612,367 is needed in region 6 to bring about the full 
realization of the potential water resources. Of this araoimt $4,633,977 is needed 
in Oklahoma and $41,476,097 in Texas, and the balance in the other States 
of the region. It is vital to the welfare of this area that the potential water 
resources be developed to their maximum capacity. 

Health services.— The health program being fostered by the Fann Security 
Administration for low-income farm families who constitute a large majority 
of the farm population in this area is urgently needed. Through the cooperative 
efforts of the medical associations set up under this program, these families are 


enabled to avail themselves of medical facilities which they would otherwise be 
denied. Further spread of this program is sometimes limited by misunder- 
standimr in the minds of local medical organizations. It is believed that educa- 
tion will eventually bring about a complete coverage of the area under this 

Inventories and research. — In moving forward with any agricultural program 
in this area it is of vital importance to have complete information on the problems 
which are being approached. This was pointed out to some extent in the discus- 
sion of land-classification studies. Inventories of resources in the area, human as 
well as physical, are constantly being gathered by the Bureau of Agricultural 
Economics. However, because of limitations of funds, these inventories and 
research projects often must be carried on on a sampling basis, whereas in many 
instances it would be to the best interests of the country to have this work done 
on a thorough basis for the whole area. Limitations of funds available for this 
type of work often proves a serious handicap, and an effort should be made to 
strengthen and expedite this research and inventory work. 

Coordination of activities. — The unification and coordination of all Department 
of Agriculture programs must be maintained in order to achieve the utmost bene- 
fits from the operation of each. This type of thing is illustrated by the special 
Agricultural Ad.iustment Administration program, discussed under section II of 
the report. Under this plan the Agricultural Adjustment Administration pay- 
ments are made in such a way as to promote the soil- and water-conservation 
practices and encourage the farm organization practices recommended by the other 
agencies of the Department of Agriculture and by the State extension services. 

In other words, the agricultural problems of the southern Great Plains must be 
approached on a united front. 


Mr. Curtis. When we complete this Nation-wide hearing and go to 
make our report we are going to have to rely quite a great deal upon 
our printed record, but I want you at this time to review the factors 
Avhich have contributed to this mass out-migration and give us a 
description of the present situation. 


Mr. Henson. Representing the 117 counties of the Plains section, we 
do have quite a little bit of evidence on the people in that area, the use 
of land, the use they have been making of their land, the adjustments, 
and the general financial and agricultural problems of the last 10 years. 
That land area represents about 50,000,000 acres of land. It is true 
that we have made some errors in its use; it has been variously esti- 
mated that we have plowed, of that 50,000,000 acres, about six to eight 
million acres that ought never to have been plowed ; it should have been 
left in grass; but you can understand the reason when you follow 
through the development of our section otit there, which started back 
in 1890 under the homestead plan and with considerable promotional 
development our settlers rolled into tliat area and took up home- 
steads. Every time since 1890 that we have had a drought or extreme 
periods of low prices people have moved out of there. Now, all of 
this time, until in the 1930's, when these people moved out, others 
came in and took their places, so our statistics, while they show we 
did fall off and pick up — our statistics largely missed the fact that 
we have had people moving out of that area in dry times heretofore. 

Mr. Curtis. May I interrupt at that point for a question ? 

Mr. Henson. Yes, sir. 



Mr. Curtis. How far back do your rainfall records go in Oklahoma ? 

Mr. Henson. I think about 1870 or 1880 ; we have some records fur- 
ther back on a few stations, beyond that time- 
Mr. Curtis. What is the comparison of rainfall from 1880 to 1940, 
as it compares to the rainfall in the last 10 or 15 years ? 

Mr. Henson. The average over that long period of time has been 
about 16 or 17 inches in the extreme western part of the State, and in 
the last 10 years it never has been up to that average ; it has been quite 
markedly off in recent years. 

Mr. Curtis. Does it have the appearance of a cycle that is going to 
come back, or is that entirely speculative ? 

Mr. Henson. I think that is entirely speculative. 

Mr. Curtis. Now, in that connection, do you have some land that is 
just sort of on the border line, usually it has almost enough rain for a 
crop but yet not quite, but through the years has done fairly well ; do 
you have some of that land in your territory ? 

Mr. Henson. A great portion of our area is of that kind. 

Mr. Curtis. Now, referring to that land, when your land was new 
and possessed virgin qualities and all the plant food and moisture that 
had been stored up through the ages, could that land produce crops on 
less rainfall than it can now ? 

Mr. Henson. Tliere is no doubt but that it could. 

Mr. Curtis. So some land that has been considered favorable for 
certain types of ch-y farming in the past will almost have to be con- 
sidered arid or out of cultivation in the future ? 

Mr. Henson. With the experience that it has gone through; yes. 

Mr. Curtis, You may proceed. 


Mr. Henson. The point I wanted to make there is, certainly we have 
had these shifts of population matched by the inroads of new people 
rolling over that area until about the 1930's, when the new entrance into 
the area began to fall off and the loss of people continued. I might 
say this, that is 1931 we got one of the finest wheat crops we ever had 
over that whole area ; the price was from 30 cents to 36 cents a bushel 
and it was just as though we had no wheat crop at all, so far as the 
farmers were concerned. 

The Chairman. What was the average yield ? 

Mr. Henson. On these 22 counties it averaged about 16 bushels per 

The Chairman. That was in 1931 ? 

Mr. Henson. That was in the year 1931. Now, our people in that 
section would take a calamity like that and would go on because they 
primarily believe in that country, as I do. It was followed, however, 
by drought, and the land that we plowed up that we should not have 
plowed up started to blow, and in the 1934 and 1935 period, I don't 
need to describe it ; at that time many farm families did move out of 
the area, A good many of the folks in that area will tell you that a 
good many that did not belong moved out. Those that belonged 
stayed there. Now, into that situation was thrown our agricultural 


progi^ams that went far toward affecting any outward migration and 
lield the people in the area fairly well. The triple A progTam and the 
Farm Security program, the Soil Conservation and Extension Sei-vices 
and all did hold people in that area, and those people out there will 
tell you that if it hadn't been for those programs many of those 
counties would have been abandoned. People were not particularly 
friendly to us because of the fact that there has been some aspects of 
the programs that we could not ideally adapt to a situation such as 
that, but in general those folks who belonged in the area started to 
work; they started to work on the department to make over certain 
of those progi^ams so that they more nearly met the needs of that 
situation out there. The triple A program is a good example. It has 
been accused, in that section, of stimulating tractor development and 
displacing people from the farms, and in actual performance perhaps 
has been guilty of that to a certain extent. It is not guilty in its 
administration because of the fact that it is a violation of the rule& 
and regulations for the ti-iple A progi-am to be used in a way that one- 
man crowds another off his holdings. But the triple A came along at 
a time when we were normally moving through a drought development 
and everybody believed that efficient production was necessary in that 
area and desired it, and still does. But the fact that the triple A pro- 
gram in that particular area did make it more easy for a man to expand 
his holdings caused it to come in for* a gi^eat deal of criticism. The 
triple A met that by writing into its regulations things to prevent that 
and that is the only reason for that sort of thing happening, because 
people locally in the county wanted it that way — that is, if they do not 
want it that way, they have all the authority and power and strength 
to move in that direction, and in our section they are moving. A group 
of aroused farmers in Sherman County, Tex., Greeley County, Kans.^ 
and Quay County, N. Mex., have said, "We want every penny of that 
money to be used to make our country a better place in which to live, 
and we are going to ask the triple A for that," and they got the con- 
sent to take all the money that went to the county and not allow it on 
the basis of wheat but to j)ay it to the farmers for carrying out a water- 
conservation plan and things like that, a number of water developments 
and sound land-use developments that would make that place a placei 
to live, and it was not a desire for money that drove Greeley County to 
do that, but a fear that they would have to go still further in the 
abandonment of land in that area. The Farm Security program and 
several others have met the same sort of thing. 


Mr. Curtis. That is all contained more or less in your statement, 
I want to ask you a few more questions. Speaking for myself only^ 
and not for the entire committee, I take the view that farm legislation, 
as well as manj^ other types of legislation, is evolutionary and if we 
are honest and fair we must recognize that before we go any further, 
and we must also recognize what improvements have been made. • We 
have heard some instances in every hearing we have had where there 
has been a tendency, perhaps, by the landlord to want to secure all 


those Government payments and he has eliminated some help and 
tenants to that end. Those are facts which will have to be faced 
in the future, but I want to get a little more of this picture in my 
mind. In the northern Great Plains where we have just come from 
holding our hearing in Lincoln, and with which I am more familiar, 
in addition to the mass migi-ation problem our local problem is pri- 
marily drought. Now, the counties that you serve hacl a marked out- 
ward migration — loss in population. In what percent of those is 
drought one of the predominant factors ? 

Mr. Henson. In all of them, all over the area, in this particular 
year in all of our area drought is one of the predominant factors. 

Mr. Curtis. You take the view that some of that land, for the 
permanent good of everyone, will have to support a fewer number 
of people, in some instances? 

Mr. Henson. That is right. 

Mi\ CuETis. And, that this outward migration you have had in 
some cases was a justified thing and perhaps best in the long run, 
is that your view ? 

Mr, Henson. Not in the long run. With complete water develop- 
ment in the area, that is, making all the water that falls in that 
area stay in the area. 

Mr. Curtis, You anticipated my next question. To what extent 
are the water resources in this drought territory that you serve 
developed and utilized? 

Mr. Henson. To a very small extent, but an aroused public con- 
science and a feeling that it is worth while is forwarding that pro- 
gram very rapidly; farmers are getting into that thing in earnest, 

Mr, Curtis. In the Texas drought territory there is a possibility 
of further water development, do they have streams and available 

Mr. Henson. Yes ; the water development over all our area is going 
to be to level Texas over with contours to make the water go in 
where it falls on the land. The amount of new irrigated land will 
depend on undergi-ound water and in a few places where we can trap 
surface water and then irrigate from that. 

Mr. Curtis. There are so many demands upon the Federal Gov- 
ernment, as well as upon the State and local governments, these 
days because of the distress of the people in this area that I like 
to test every proposal on the proposition of whether it will help 
people to help themselves or whether it will just take care of them 
during their temporary distress. Do you feel that money spent 
in reclamation, all types of water conservation, pump irrigation work 
plus those types of farming that will hold what water we have, con- 
tribute to that end, that is, to a permanent solution ? 

Mr, Henson. Yes, sir. 


Mr. Curtis. Now, referring to the paper you have submitted here, 
I have noticed that you have made some specific recommendations 
to meet this situation, and I am very, very much interested in what 


joii liave had to say in that regard. In the first place, you say farms 
should be set up on an economic basis. Just in a few words, will 
vou elaborate on what you mean by that ? 

Mr. Henson. I mean that there should be a proper balance between 
livestock and grass and crop products on the land so that normally 
the man will receive what we would class as an adequate income for 
A moderate standard of living in the area. 


Mr, Curtis. Do you feel that we are going to have to face a de- 
cision as to what is the true value of land in order to make farming 

Mr. Henson. I certainly do. 

Mr. Curtis. It is a very difficult question. Here is an indi\ddual 
who struggled for years and that has a rather high mortgage, and 
for anyone, whether a public official or private official, to saj' that 
the price of land should come down, seems very cruel to that indi- 
vidual. Yet, over here we have an army of young men coming out 
of our Smith-Hughes high schools and our departments of agri- 
culture whose places in the sun are on the farms and they should be 
able to buy land at what it is worth on the basis of production, 
and you have the decision between those two propositions to make, 
concerning the future of our farming territory. Do you have any 
comment to make on which direction you think it should go? 

Mr. Henson. Over most of our area I feel there has been a specu- 
lative value in land and I feel in general in this area, Oklahoma, that 
we are inclined to get our land values for agricultural purposes 
mixed up with the hopes for oil, and certain speculative develop- 

Mr. Curtis. And in my country with the hopes for rain — go ahead. 

Mr. Henson. The general concept of land values of businessmen 
and too many farmers is one thing that I think is going to be 
upset completely when we really understand the situation. 

Mr. Curtis. Land, in addition to that portion on which a person 
resides and which is his home, is merely a means of production and 
its value should be based on what it can produce ? 

Mr. Henson. What it can produce ; that is right. 


Mr. Curtis. Your next point is farming methods to prevent soil 
blowing, and so on ; I think you have mentioned that ? 

Mr. Henson. Yes. 

_Mr. Curtis. Are the Smith-Hughes agricultural courses in the 
high schools making a contribution toward that? 

Mr. Henson. I think they are, 

Mr, Curtis. And how many agricultural colleges do you have in 
jour territory? 

Mr. Henson. Five. 

Mr. Curtis. And then the Soil Conservation and these other agen- 
cies are all represented ? 


Mr. Henson. Yes. 

Mr. Curtis. In that regard, do you have any comment to make as 
to whether there is any duplication or whether there are any gaps 
that we aren't reaching? 

Mr. Henson. I would say that there are. I think potentially our 
program can cover our entire problem, especially in that western 
area. I thinlv that we have not as vigorously attacked certain phases 
of the problem as we need to, but we need farm cooperation in 
numerous ways, help in the way of an agricultural bloc, to do the 
things that need to be done. 

Mr. Curtis. Is it j^rimarily an educational matter or is it one 
that will have to be obtained by using the benefits, that we have as 
financial inducements ? 

Mr. Henson. It is primarily an educational matter. Could I di- 
gress hei'e to say this? 

Mr. Curtis. Yes. 

Mr. Henson. At first our farm committees in our section discov- 
ered about two or three or four hundred extra families that they 
thought ought to move out of the county. Now, they know they 
could be cared for and the idea of moving them out tends to dis- 
appear as they go on with the program. They want to help that 
family to establisln itself, perhaps in the area, but at least in the 
vicinity. At first I am afraid they would have liked to kick them 
out, but at the present time they have become much more humane 
and are considering other forms of development, perhaps intensifi- 
cation of irrigation, that might increase the number that could stay 
there. I think that will come with increased educational efforts, 
and particularly with the study by the farmers of their own prob- 
lems. I feel that they are the ones that are going to solve the thing 
in tlie end. 

Mr. Curtis. An understanding of the problem and a certain 
amount of scientific knowledge plus a willingness to do and a hope 
in the future is the greatest motivation that the farm population 
can have in that regard? 

Mr. Henson. That is right. 


Mr. Curtis. Now, in connection with farm control and planning, 
you make the suggestion that this perhaps might be done by rural 
zoning. We won't go into that in detail, but if we ever approach 
such a thing how large a unit of control do you think they shoidd 
have, would it be a county or less than a county or a State or will 
it be a zoning that ignores the boundaries of the State? 

Mr. Henson. In my own mind zoning and the reclamation of 
land ought to be no broader than the folks living in that area are 
aware of the problem; if it were community it would be better. 
Just to illustrate: Greeley County, the farmers in that county are 
frightened, scared that some absentee owners are going to plow 
up 60,000 acres more grass land because they can immediately make 
more money off that than they can by leaving it in grass. It isn't 


in units so that it can be used now and they woukl like some way 
of hokling that land in grass. 


Mr. Curtis. Maybe we ought to get some old cowhands of the old 
days and go out there and barricade that section. You make an- 
other point here about increased industries to absorb part of the 
surplus population. I am glad you have mentioned that because, 
after all, our industrial economy and our agricultural economy are 
very close together, are they not? 

Mr. Henson. They are. 

Mr. Curtis. And there is much territory \yhere they have an oc- 
casional poor crop but if there are industries that can use their 
services, the people from the farms can go away and work period- 
ically and return to the farm and the farm is held together and is 
still home. What particular industries, that have not been de- 
veloped, do you think have a future place in the southern Great 
Plains area ? 

Mr. Henson. I don't know that I could outline definite industries. 
There are manufacturing industries, the heavy equipment; certainly 
we are m the area that uses the tractors and large-scale drills and 
things of that kind, and we would like for some of that hea\^ 
industry to come out there, but we are not too hopeful of that. 
Development in the oil industi-y could be related to agriculture, 
teamed up with agriculture. We, in agriculture, feel that we carry 
the reserve; we have some relation, at least, to the reserve oil supply. 
A combination with such industrial development on a part-time basis 
might be adjusted to where industry could support a part of the 
jwpulation. We, in agriculture, do not feel we should caiTy the 
whole load. 

Mr. Curtis. Now, when we consider the northern Great Plains 
and the southern Great Plains, extending from Canada down 
through the Dakotas, Nebraska, parts of Wyoming and Colorado, 
Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, we take a strip right down through 
the geographical center of the United States, do we not? 

Mr. Henson. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Curtis. Are there many arguments why that territory should 
be further surveyed in relation to national-defense industries? 

Mr. Henson. We certainly think so. 

Mr. Curtis. Because of our quick transportation from there they 
€an serve all points of the counti-y ? 

Mr. Henson. Yes. 

Mr. Curtis. As well as being entirely removed from any danger 
of being damaged from outside ? 

Mr. Henson. Yes. 


Mr. Curtis. I also have noted in your paper the suggestion of 
rural housing. I think everyone on this committee, as well as 


everyone within the sound of my voice, is agreed that we ought^ 
everyone in America, to have just the best houses possible. Some- 
times we disagree upon the manner in which these houses should be 
obtained, but I want to ask you this question: If those things 
can be accomplished that will enable the farmer to produce and those 
things can be accomplished that will enable him to sell at a just 
and fair market, will the rural housing problem solve itself? 

Mr. Henson. In part, unless there is a development which inflates 
values. Take land values and interest charges— if they go up to 
take care of any increased production and increased price that the 
farmer has, he still has relatively the same market. He does it 
himself, but that has happened to us before. 

Mr. Curtis. What are the types of people in the southern Great 
Plains, in your territory? Just tell the committee a little about that^ 
their general background, average education, and so on. 

Mr. Henson. I don't know that I can give that in great detail; 
they are people that moved from Oklahoma, Kansas, and on back 
east, into the area during the years back, during the early times. 
In 1916 I came very near homesteading in Baca County, Colo., 
myself. They are principally normal, hard-working citizens. 

Mr. Curtis. If the people of the southern Great Plains are like 
the people of the northern Great Plains, and I am inclined to 
believe they are, they are fine, high-type, intelligent, hard-working 
citizens, and I have every reason to believe that the people of the 
southern Great Plains are just as fine as the people of the northern 
Great Plains? 

Mr. Henson. I certainly feel that way. 

Mr. Curtis. The point* is, then, that if we attain those things 
that will enable those people to produce, we have done a great deal 
to solve the other things that you have suggested, have we not? 

Mr. Henson. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Curtis. If a young man has a reasonable fighting chance ta 
own and hold a farm home, he is going to be quite anxious to prac- 
tice good soil conservation and water conservation, isn't he? 

Mr. Henson. That is true. 

Mr. Curtis. I notice also that you suggest revegetation and useful 
rural projects such as road construction, things which all add into 
the picture, those are all in your statement and I am not going to 
take the time of the committee on them. I notice this further state- 
ment in your paper, a system of migrant camps and garden homes 
should be established at suitable locations. Tell the committee 
briefly why you take that view. 


Mr. Henson. In many of our counties we have farmers on entirely 
too small a unit. They cannot possibly make a living on that unit, 
that is out in the agricultural area where we have such small units, 
nor can the man, nor the man next door, organize his enterprise so 
that he is on a sound basis. Perhaps this man is on a 160-acre 
farm when 1,500 or 1,600 might be necessary for future development. 


That puts in that, community a man who must be supported by relief 
or grants or he must at least hold the land in some sort of use that 
is not in accord with the sound use of that land. That is one group 
of people that is the excess in agriculture now. Then, around a good 
many of our towns we have at the present time quite a number of 
farm families, I don't know the exact number at Amarillo or any 
of our towns in the area, but it runs up to an appreciable number. 
We, as American people, just don't like to see it, and the suggestion 
is that some i)lace be provided for those folks to light and to start 
their work in the community while they are working in cotton or in 
the oil business, or whatever it is. Also, that they have sanitary 
facilities and some health possibilities, and perhaps if they start 
a part-time work in the community that they may be housed there 
by low-cost housing while they are fitting themselves into that com- 
munity. If we have that and these people can come to that area 
and migrants can come into that area, many of our territories would 
expand and this would be a natural way of inducing or bringing 
people into the vicinity and it would also relieve the strain of 
getting them back or causing them to migrate to other places. I 
think those can be made factors that will avoid human distress such 
as we see around the country now. 

Mr. Curtis. This problem of interstate migration of destitute peo- 
ple, while it perhaps directly involves some 4,000,000 people mov- 
ing about hunting a job or new location, and one-third of them 
being children, if we consider the area from which they leave, the 
very things which caused them to leave are affecting those who 
remain. When those people go to a certain place, on the west coast 
or elsewhere, and arrive in more numbers than there are jobs avail- 
able, that affects the economic and social aspects and taxation of all 
the people out there ? 

Mr. Henson. Yes. 

Mr. Curtis. It is really a problem; instead of only the 4,000,000 
people, perhaps 132,000,000 people are affected. It has two phases: 
one is the kind and humane and just care of the victims, and the other 
one is that which turns its attention toward the basic things in our 
agricultural and economic life that makes those things necessary. 
Now, with reference to migrant camps, I want to know your opinion 
as to what point can they be increased without being so attractive 
as to induce the lazy and indifferent to seek refuge in them, more 
or less permanently ? 

Mr. Henson". I think if the planning of migrant camps is a coop- 
erative thing by the community in which they are going to be estab- 
lished, the fann people in the area that have part-time employment 
for those folks, the Farm Security and the employment offices can 
locate those folks so that that doesn't take place. 

Mr. Curtis. That is all the questions I have. 

The Chairman. Mr. Henson, I just want to see if you agree with 
me in this, that what you have been talking about, the facts con- 
tained in your statement, are really predicated on the proposition 
of keeping people home, isn't it ? 

Mr. Henson. Yes. 


The Chairman, Now, the causes of mio;ration are many and 
varied; the sohition will not be a single solution but will be as varied 
as the causes? 

Mr. Henson. Yes, sir. 

The Chaibman. What you are talking about is keeping people 
Iwme, which is very important, the Farm Security Administration has 
taken care of 500,000 families, that is, given them a loan, provided 
seed, a horse, or mule, or cow% and 85 percent of them are paying it 
back, but there are 800,000 still uncared for now. And these count- 
less thousands on the roadside today are coming from all of the 
States of the Union, not only Oklahoma, and what are we going to 
do about that ? There are really tAvo approaches to that : one is the 
short-term approach, and the other the long-term. The short-term 
is how and what are they going to eat and how are they going to 
be received in other States when they arrive there ? 

Now, there arises in every State in the Union a barrier against 
the interstate commerce in human beings; they have raised it every 
year, and it might be interesting for you to know that the State of 
South Dakota has on its statute books the provision making it a 
penitentiary offense to import a destitute citizen into that State. 
We have no barriers against iron and coal, but we have these barriers 
against interstate commerce in human beings. TVliat you are talking 
about is to keep them home, but we can't keep them all home because 
there is the worn-out soil and the mechanization and all those factors 
that caused them to leave, and we can't keep them all home. 

Mr. Henson. That is true. 

The Chairman. I think you have given us a very valuable paper 
here. Thank you very much. 

Mr. Henson. Thank you. 

(Witness excused.) 


Mr. Parsons. Will you please state your name for the record? 

Mr. Daniel. James W. Daniel. 

Mr. Parsons. Mr. Daniel, we are very glad to have you with us this 
morning. You have heard the chairman announce the purpose of this 
Gonmiittee is to try to get some facts with reference to this migration 
problem. We want you to feel perfectly at ease in answering the 
questions which we will propound to you. We are trymg to get facts, 
we are having experts, college professors, sociologists, as well as 
victim witnesses, so-called, folks that have been on the move, to find 
out the reasons why they have been. Where were you born, Mr. 
Daniel ? 

Mr. Daniel. Texas. 

Mr. Parsons. At what place? 

Mr. Daniel. Stephens County, Crystal Falls. 

Mr. P.vEsoNs. How old are you? 

Mr. Daniel. 58. 

Mr. Parsons. Are you married? - . . 

Mr. Daniel. Yes, sir. 


Mr. Paksons. How iiian.y children do you have ? 

]Mr. Daniel. Ten. 

JSIr. Par.-ons. Where do you live now? 

Mv. Da>;if.l. At Boise City; well, I liave moved tliis year out close 
to Ke)iton, on the river. 

Mv. Parsons. What State? 

Mr. Daniel. Cimarron County. 

]Mr. Parsons. Cimarroii County, Okla.? 

Mr. Daniel. Oklahoma. 

Mr. Parsons. When did you ^o to Cimarron County? 

Mr. Daniel. 1006. 

Mr. Parsons. Did you "o out to homestead land there ? 

Mr. Danif.l. Yes, sir. 

Mv. Parsons. How mucli did you homestead? 

Mr. Daniel. One hundred and sixty acres. 

Mr. Parsons. That is what is termed as a quarter of a section? 

Mr. Daniel. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. You liomesteaded this land in 1906? 

Mr. Daniel. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. How lon<r were j'ou on this liomesteaded land? 

Mr. Daniel. Until this year. 

]\Ir. Parsons. You had been there for 34 years? 

Mr. Daniel. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. And how come you to leave this year ? 

]^Ir. Daniel. I just had to leave or do somethinof; the drou(>ht, the 
winds, not enoufih rain, and with my family, I just couldn't make it- 
Mr. Parsons. Wliat was the type and character of the soil when you 
first h(miesteaded this land? 

Mv. Daniel. AVell, it was, Avliere I lived, a kind of liard pan with 
buffalo grass. 

Mr. Parsons. Did you have plenty of rainfall when you first home- 
steaded there ? 

Mr. Daniel. The first year we did, but the land was new. We 
turned the land over with an old sod plow and we would take a wash 
pan or a bucket of seed and about every third furrow we would plant 
the seed, and the land sealed over after the grain came up that year. 

Mr. Parsons. It was good wheat land ? 

Mr. Daniel, We never tried wheat for several years. 

Mr. Parsons. What did you gix)w? 

Mr. Daniel. It was just mostly maize for several years. 

Mr. Parsons. Did you grow any corn? 

Mr. Danifj:.. In places; on the tight land we didn't. On the sand 
we grew some corn. 

Mr. Parsons. How many acres did you have when you vacated last 

Mr. Daniel. >J'ine hundred. 

Ml'. Parsons. Had you l)een gradually accumulating land from year 
to year ? 

^Ir. D\NiEL. Yes; I bought tliis land at two land sales. 

Ml". Parsons. From your neiglibors? 

Mr. Daniel. No: from the State. 

260370—41 — pt. ." J 


Mr. Parsons. Then you didn't take up the land of some neighbor 
that moved on somewhere else ? 

jMr. Daniel. No, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. What did you pay an acre for this land that you 
bought from the State ? 

Mv. Daniel. Well, it Avas different prices. 

Mr. Parsons. About an average of how much per acre ? 

IMr. Daniel. I bought it from $400 to $800 a quarter. 

Mr. Parsons. A quarter or 40 acres ? 

Mr. Daniel. No; a quarter. This land I bought, remember, was 
kind of in a break. 

Mr. Parsons. What did you grow in addition to flash crops on this 
900 acres ; did you farm all of it ? 

Mr. Daniel. No ; 300 acres. 

Mr. Parsons. What did you grow on that 300 acres? 

Mr. Daniel. I tried most everything; wheat, in 1931 we got a good 
wheat crop but a low price. 

^Ir. Parsons. Did you plow up that land for wheat during 1916, 
1917. and 1918, during the World War? 

Mr. Daniel. I plowed part of it. 

Mr. Parsons. How many bushels per acre did that yield in wheat? 

JSIr. Daniel. Well, there was a difference in years. 

Mr. Px\RS0Ns. Well, in a reasonably good wheat year ? 

Mr. Daniel. Oh, I judge about 12 or 15 bushels per acre; we have 
made as high as 30 bushels and down as low as, well you might say, 
as low as not worth harvesting as the years came along. 

Mr. Parsons. Your expeiience for 34 years — 33 years — was that 
there was less and less and less rainfall every year? 

Mr. Daniel. Less and less, and more dust. 

Mr. Parsons. No doubt that is very true. Do you think, in the light 
of 33 3'ears of fanning that acreage, that it ever should have been 
plowed at all ? 

Mr. Daniel. Mine shouldn't have. 

Mr. Parsons. I assume that you have traveled over a large portion 
of Oklahoma and have seen a lot of this type and character of land. 
Is there a lot of it in Oklahoma ? 

Mr. Daniel. Quite a bit. 

Mr. Parsons. Did you have a large number of cattle on this 900-acre 
farm ? 

Mr. Daniel. No, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. You didn't do any grazing? 

Mr. Daniel. Yes ; I have had as high as 100 head of cattle, but I 
lost my grass. 

Mr. Parsons. Do you think it is going to be a difficult proposition to 
get grass back on these ])lains ? 

Mr. Daniel. Well, close to this farm land it is because it is just 
killed ; the winds went over the gTass and killed it ; burned it out in 
some places as far as a mile away from any farm. I don't believe, on 
the whole, that so far as the grass is concerned that the dry weather 
has killed the buffalo grass ; but near the farms it has gone. 


Mr. Parsons. Hasn't the wind in a number of places taken the very 
best part of the topsoil away ? 

Mr. Daniel.. Yes; it is gone. In my little pasture, what cattle I 
have got haven't seen any grass practically for 6 or 7 years; all they 
got was just thistles and weeds. 

Mr. Parsons. Did you farm this with horses and mules, or did you 
finally buy a tractor and go in on a big scale ? 

Mr. Daniel. I farmed with horses until 1929; in 1929 I bought a 

Mr. Parsons. How many head of horses and mules did it take to 
operate that farm ? 

Mr. Daniel. I had about 10. 

Mr. Parsons. How come you to just throw up your hands and give 
it up and move out ? 

Mr. Daniel. Well, I haven't given up; I only moved about 20 
miles, but on the river. 

Mr. Parsons. Do you still own this land? 

Mr. Daniel. Well, the State owns it — not the State but the Federal 
Government ; it is still in my name, but 1 don't own it. 

Ml". Parsons. Did you negotiate a loan on it ? 

Mr. Daniel. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. With the Federal land bank? 

Mr, Daniel. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. F(jr how nuich? 

Mr. Daniei.. Oh, about $6,000. 

Mr. Parsons. When did you get that loaji; back in 1916, 1917, or 

Mr. Daniel. Somewhere along there; several years back. 

Mr. Parsons. Was it during the World War that you got this 

Mr. Daniel. No. 

Mr. Parsons. Was it afterward? 

Mr. Daniel. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. When wheat was $2.20 a bushel and you could raise 
12 or 15 bushels per acre, it was rather profitable to grow a lot of 
wheat, wasn't it? 

Mr. Daniel. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. But when wheat got down to 31 cents it wasn't 
profitable, it wouldn't pay expenses, would it? 

Mr. Daniel. No; not at two bits a bushel. 

Mr. Parsons. Well, farmers generally throughout the United 
States, and I have seen lots of them — I did some farming after the 
World War myself — they had the idea that w^heat and corn and 
everything else was going to be as high as a cat's back from then 
on. They never thought about the reaction that was going to follow. 
What are you doing now ? 

Mr. Daniel. Farming, 

Mr. Parsons. You are farming now ? 

Mr. Daniel. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. On rented land ? 

Mr. Daniel. Yes. 


Mr. Parsons. You say the farm is still in your name. Did you 
make the bank a deed to it or are they closing out on you ? 

Mr. Daniel. No ; they haven't done nothing to it. 

Mr. Parsons. Are you in default on your payments? 

Mr. Daniel. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. You just moved off and left it? 

Mr. Daniel, Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. Do you intend to go back ? 

Mr. Daniel. It looks kind of hard to get back on a place like that. 

I\Ir. Parsons. Well, there probably will be some fellow after the 
bank takes it over that will go out there and have some hopes that 
Jie will do better than you did ? 

Mr. Daniel, Yes; I rented the place to a young fellow. 

Mr. Parsons. What rental is he to give you ? 

Mr. Daniel. One-fourth. 

Mr. Parsons. How much land are you farming now on this place 
you have ? 

Mr. Daniel. About 200 acres, I judge. 

Mr. Parsons. In the valley? 

Mr. Daniel. Right on the river. 

Mr. Parsons. What river? 

Mr. Daniel. Cimarron. 

Mr. Parsons. Bottom land, is it ? 

Mr. Daniel. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. That is bottom land that was made from the early 
days of the overflow? 

Mr. Daniel. I suppose so. 

Mr. Parsons. What kind of crops do you have there this year? 

Mr. Daniel. Well, it is good, and I have also about right around 
50 acres of hay land. 

Mr. Parsons. What are you growing; corn? 

Mr. Daniel. Corn and maize. 

Mr. Parsons. What do you think your corn will make per acre ? 

Mr. Daniel. The corn ain't so good. 

Mr. Parsons. Will it make 25 bushels per acre ? 

Mr. Daniel. Something like that, I judge, 

Mr. Parsons. Have you ever read anything about so many j^eople 
going out to California or did any of your neighbors go out that way ? 

Mr. Daniel. I know a few. 

Mr. Parsons. Did you ever have any idea of going to California? 

Mr. Daniel. Well, I didn't know what to do, I belonged there and 
I never went nowhere, I stayed; I seen them come and go, going to 

Mr. Parsons. And coming back ? 

Mr. Daniel. And coming back. 

Mr. Parsons. And they came back worse off than when they left ? 

Mr. Daniel. Yes; and then maybe try somewhere else. 

Mr. Parsons. Well, of course, they have a wonderful climate in Cali- 
fornia ? 

Mr. Daniel. Well, we have one here. 


Mr. Parsons. It is a very fine climate here if it would just rain, 
isn't it ? 

Mr. Danifx. I believe hell would be all right if there was plenty 
of water. 

Mr. Parsons. Are all tlie children living with you on the farm? 

INIr. Daniel. All but one ; I have a married daughter. 

Mr. Parsons. That makes how many in the family ? 

Mr. Daniel. Eleven, now. 

INIr. Parsons. Do they work on the farm, too ; help you? 

]Mr. Daniel. Yes ; they help what they can. 

Mr. Parsons. It is quite a little problem getting enough food and 
clothing to feed and clothe that large a family ? 

Mr. Daniel. It is on the farm. 

Mr. Parsons. Are you educating all the children ? 

Mr. Daniel. I am trying to. 

Mr. Parsons. Are you sending any of them to high school or college ? 

Mr. Daniel. I got a boy through high school last year; he isn't 
going to college ; I couldn't send him. 

Mr. Parsons. How far is this farm from a high school ? 

Mr. Daniel. Nine miles, 9 or 10, and I have got another boy start- 
ing to high school. 

lilr. Parsons. "VMiat is your plan or ambition for the future ? 

Mr. Daniel. So far as my children, my ambition was to get them 
an education. 

Mr. Parsons. Did you ever tell your children that you would give 
them an education so they wouldn't have to work as hard as you did ? 

Mr. Daniel. I never did tell the boys that because I thought work 
was good for them. 

Mr. Parsons. There never has been anything discovered that is as 
good for the human body as good hard, honest toil, has there ? 

Mr. Daniel. No, sir ; these people don't know what rest is ; if you go 
out and work all day in the hay or something like that, you know what 
rest is. 

Mr. Parsons. And after all, that isn't as hard on the human body as 
running around and staying up all night and trying to rest the next 
day. The youth of today think they are having a hard time. What 
do you think about that ? 

Mr. Daniel. About all I can say about them people that carouse 
around like that is that they live a hundred years in fifty and I would 
just have to live a hundred years. 

Mr. Parsons. Of all the millions of people that live on farms in the 
country most of them live to a pretty npe old age, don't they ? 

Mr. Daniel. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. You would be pretty contented out here on these 
Plains if you just had moisture, wouldn't you? 

Mr. Daniel. Moisture is the whole thing. 

Mr. Parsons. You don't have any intention of going out on the road, 
do you — you are going to stay anchored to that farm ? 

Mr. Daniel. I am going to try to stay there. I have been anchored 
to it so far. 


Mr. Parsons. And you are going to stay there and try to grow good 
crops from now on? 

Mr. Daniel. I hope so. 

The Chairman. What rent are you paying for the farm you are on 

Mr. Daniel. The hay is half ; they furnish the mowing machine, a 
rake, and a man ; of the crop I pay one-third ; they gather their third 
or hire the gathering, so I figure it is better than one-fourth. 

The Chairman. Now, with that large rental, Mr. Daniel, what are 
your hopes to get back to the old farm or make it on this new farm ? 

Mr. Daniel. Well, I can't make it on the old farm unless something 
is done ; my land isn't good enough ; I am close to the breaks and it is 
wheat land. This land I am on is sandy and on the sandy land thej 
get along with less rain some way. 

The Chairman. Suppose you remain on this rented farm; do you 
see any great hopes for you and your family in the future ? 

Mr. Daniel. Well, if I had more cattle and more grass, there is 
some hopes. 

Mr. Parsons. Have you got any indebtedness besides the mortgage 
on this farm? 

Mr. Daniel. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. Have you got a farm-security loan ? 

Mr. Daniel. Yes, sir ; if I hadn't, I wouldn't be here. 

Mr. Parsons. How much is that farm-security loan ? 

Mr. Daniel. It is better than $1,000. They have stayed with me. 

Mr. Parsons. They have a chattel mortgage on yom* cattle and farm- 
ing equipment, I suppose? 

Mr. Daniel. Yes ; and I am trying horses this year instead of the 

Mr. Parsons. You are leaving that tractor behind? 

Mr. Daniel. I have got to, where I am now, because it is too sandy. 

The Chairman. You are to be complimented. I will say one thing — 
that you are a stayer, anyway, and I hope you have good luck. 

Mr. Daniel. Thank you. 

(Witness excused.) 


The Chairman. Mr. Youngblood, will you please give your full 
name ? 

Mr. Youngblood. J. H. Youngblood. 

The Chairman. Wliere do you live ? 

Mr. Youngblood. Waco, Tex. 

The Chairman. You are a farmer ? 

Mr. Youngblood. Yes, sir ; I am a farmer. 

The Chairman. Where is your farm located ? 

Mr. Youngblood. Around Waco, central Texas. 

The Chairman. How many acres do you operate? 

]\Ir. Youngblood. I have been operating about 12,000 ; I operate now 
about 5,000. 

The Chairman. What accounted for the reduction? 


Mr. YouNGBLOOD, Well, I operated the bank farms for the bank. 

The Chairman. That is farms that were foreclosed by the bank ? 

Mr. YouNGBLOOD. Yes, sir; about 7,000 acres. 

Mr. Curtis. Now, bj^ operating, do yon mean you managed them 
and several tenants farmed them all or did the bank do the farming 
operations with hired labor? 

Mr. YouNGBLOOD. We did both, depending on the farm and the 
type of farm. 

Mr. Curtis. Was it half and half or did the bank do most of the 

Mr. YoTTNGBLOOD. On the big faiTns we operated them by hired 
labor and cleaned them up, and others we rented them out on thirds 
and some on fourths. 

Mr. Curtis. When you took those over and farmed them by hired 
labor, how many families moved off ? 

INIr. YouNGBLooD. Well, the farms were very poorly farmed, take 
for an illustration a 1,000-acre farm, I guess possibly 8 or 10 families 
moved off when we took it over. 

The Chairman. Where did they go? 

Mr. YouNGBLOOD. First one place and another. We used some 
of them as hired labor; those farms were practically solid in John- 
son grass. These were foreclosed farms,, and the farmers owed the 
bank and couldn't pay them and gave them the farm and the farm 
was usually mortgaged also to some loan compan3^ 

The Chairman. Could you give us the approximate number of 
farm foreclosures in Texas, say, in the last year? 

Mr. YouNGBLOOD. No; I couldn't. 

The Chairman. You are just limiting yourself to what you loiow 
of your own personal knowledge in your district ? 

Mr. YouNGBLOOD. Yes, sir. 

causes of failures on farms 

The Chairman. What were the causes of these failures on these 
farms ? 

Mr. YouNGBLOOD. There were two principal causes, in my opinion. 
One of them was too many people to support on that farm, they had 
more people on the farm than that farm would support and conse- 
quently when the}' borrowed the money to farm the land they were 
supporting more people thnn the income from that farm would 
support and they never could pay the money back; that was one 
reason. Now, the other reason, I am talking about the big farms 
now, was the wrong use of this land. The men who operated the 
farms, who owned the farms, hadn't made a close enough study of 
what that farm was fit for, you might say. We took over farms 
where it was taking, after checking it up, I am confident it was 
taking as much as 400 hours, I will say, possibly 250 hours to put 
in and care for the crop and possibly the picking would constitute 
about another 150 hours labor to make and gather one bale of cotton, 
and the time required was too great; consequently, the farm when 
the bale of cotton was sold wouldn't pay that expense and the bank 
^ost the mone}' because the bank put it up. 



The Chairman. That land around that district about which you 
are testifyin<^ has indications of being Avorn out? 

Mr. YouNGBLOOD. Some of it does, but it is not worn out there 
like you niiglit think. I have one fann tliat I moved on in 1910 and 
I have the record of evei-y year of tlie number of pounds of cotton 
produced, from 1910 until the present time, and for the last 5 years 
my production has been as great as it was the first 5 years, per acre. 
The Chairman. Do you use many tractors? 

Mr. YouNGBLOOD. Yes, sir; I use a good many tractors; mostly 

The Chairman. "V^Tiat, on the average, does the tractor supplant 
in the terms of individual help ? 

Mr. YouNGBLOOD. Well, on a big farm it Avill take a 4:-row general 
purpose tractor. On 1,000 acres we will use about 3 is what we will 
use and on the old style when we first started farming we had the 1- 
row cultivator and we would use about 20. 

The Chairman. Twenty men? 

Mr. YouNGBLOOD. Yes, sir ; we would have about 40 teams and have 
about 4 mules, well, we would have more than that, and with the 
tractor we would replace about two-thirds, I mean about four-fifths, 
of that type of labor, and the tractor plowed deeper and we possibly 
replaced 50 percent of the hoe bill. 

The Chairman. Is mechanization of farms on the increase in 

Mr. YouNGBLOOD. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Curtis. What chance is there that these large farms will some 
day go back to family type farms ? 

Mr. YouNGBLOOD. The chance is just in proportion to the income 
of that farm; that farm will have to produce more income in order 
to get the people, it has got to have enough income to support more 

]Mr. Curtis. What is your average rainfall ? 

Mr. YouNGBLOOD. About 34 inches. 

Mr. Curtis. That would drown them in Nebraska. What kind of 
soil do you have ? 

Mr. YouNGBLOOD. On the plains we have black soil, and then we 
have some post oak sand. 

Mr. Curtis. What kind of sand is that? 

Mr. YouNGBLOOD. Very poor; the bank had a good many of those 

Mr. Curtis. What do you raise on there? 

Mr. YouNGBLOOD. They attempt to grow cotton, but it is not prac- 

Mr. Curtis. Your black soil is a good black loam ? 

Mr. YouNGBLOOD. It is a good tight heavy black land. 


Mr. Curtis. With 34 inches of rain on this poor soil can a farm 
family raise vegetables for their home consumption ? 


Mr. YouNtiKLOOD. We tried on some of the farms; we liad some 25 
or 30 families along in 1930 to 1932, I will say from 1930 to 193C and 
1937. and we had onr home demonstration agents fix out on each 
of these farms a family budget, you might call it, and we bought 
canners and passed them around and we owned them but we passed 
them around and we tried to buy cans wholesale and we discovered 
that we were somewhat disappointed that even with 34 inches rain- 
fall there were lots of the vegetables that didn't make like we thought 
they ought to ; we didn't come out so well with it. 

Mr. Curtis. I am referring to an individual family that has over 
a period of years given some time and effort to raising a garden. 
Is your soil such that with that rainfall you can produce a garden? 

Mr. YouNGHLOOD. Yes: but you would have to produce too much 
one year to carry you over. 

Mv. Curtis. What are your dry months? 

Mr. YouNGBLOOD. July, August, and September. 

Mr. Curtis. Do you ever have a shortage of feed for cattle, I mean 
a small num})er of cattle to provide milk and cream and butter and 
things for those families out on the farm? 

Mr. YouNGBLOOD. Yes, sir; we had that in 1934, that was the last 

Mr. Curtis. Well, you will have a year like 1934, where it is almost 
a Nation-wide drought? 

Mr. YouNGBLooD. Normally you don't, normally you can support a 
few cows and chickens on a farm. You will have enough feed to do 

Mr. Curtis. Assuming you had a hard-working, intelligent, Ameri- 
can family on those farms, they could produce a good deal of food, 
both in gardens and by dairy products, is that right ? 

Mr. YouNGBLooD. Yes ; I took seveial families into personal interest 
and gave them so many chickens and so many cows and then furnished 
them the gardens according to the home demonstration agent. She 
worked very j)articularly with me and even on the sandy post oak 
land they made a go of that. Under close supervision tliey were able 
to make a living and buy a car and things like that. 

Mr. Curtis. It can be done? 

Mr. YouNGBLOOD. Yes ; even on the post oak land. We figured out 
and kept I'ecords and found tliat 20 hens brought more income than 
a bale of cotton at 10 cents. We kept the records, I had them keep 
an exact account, of course, the idea was that the bank out there had 
the farm and couldn't dispose of it. The ])lan was to work up each 
poor farm that way, first, work it out with a few individuals and then 
take it on, extend it as we learned. There was two families on poor 
})ost oak land that we got thoroughly worked out. After we got them 
started, of course, they put in more hens, possibly more than was 
necessary, because they got to making a little money. 

Mr. CuR'iTs. Chickens are still good eating regardless of the price? 

Mr. YouNGBLOOD. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Curtis. And so on with eggs and butter and milk? 

Mr. YouNGBLOOD. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Curtis. That is all. 


The Chairman. The moral of that would be to increase the number 
of hens, would it? 

Mr. YouNGBLOOD. Yes, sir; the idea was to fix that family to where 
they could get out there on that place and make a decent living, not 
just an existence, but a decent living. 

The Chairman. Thank you very much. 


Mr. Sparkman. "Will you state your name to the committee? 

Mr. NoRRis. Kobert F. Norris. 

Mr. Sparkman. Where do you live? 

Mr. NoRRis. Childress. 

Mr. Sparkman. What State? 

Mr. Norris. Texas. 

Mr. Sparkman. Wliere were you born ? 

Mr. NoRRis. Denton County. 

Mr. Sparkman. Is that in Texas? 

Mr. NoRRis. Yes. 

Mr. Sparkman. How old are you, Mr. Norris ? 

Mr. Norris. Fifty-nine. 

Mr. Sparkman. Were you raised in Dsnton County ? 

Mr. Norris. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Sparkman. What was that you said? 

Mr. Norris. I said I was raised "there and I stayed there until 1925, 
then I come to Hardeman County. 

Mr. Sparkman. Was your father a farmer ? 

Mr. Norris. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Sparkman. Did you ever own any farm land in Denton County ? 

Mr. Norris. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Sparkman. Why did you leave Denton County, Mr. Norris? 

Mr. Norris. The doctors told me to leave there on account of my 

Mr. Sparkman. Where did you go ? 

Mr. Norris. Hardeman County. 

Mr. Sparkman. That is in Texas ? 

Mr. Norris. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Sparkman. What part of Texas is Denton County in? 

Mr. Norris. That is in the central part, north central. 

Mr. Sparkman. And Hardeman County is farther west, is it? 

My. Norris. Yes ; and farther north. 

Mr. Sparkman. How long did you stay in Hardeman County?' 

Mr. Norris. Two years and seven months. 

Mr. Sparkman. Then where did you go ? 

Mr. Norris. Childress County. 

Mr. Sparkman. And you have been in Childress County ever since? 

Mr. Norris. No ; I was in Cottle County 5 years. 

]Mr. Sparkman. You went to Hardeman County, Childress County, 
and Cottle County, and then back to Childress County ? 

jSIr. Norris. Yes. 


Mr. Sparkman. Have you ever owned any land in any of those 

Mr. NoRRis. No. 

Mr. Sparkman. Have you been a farmer all your life? 

Mr. NoREis. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Sparkman. You farmed in every one of those counties when you 
were there? 

Mr. NoRRis. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Sparkman. Have you stayed pretty well on the farm, on the 
same farm, as long as you have stayed in each county? 

Mr. Norris. No, sir ; I have moved at diiferent times. 

Mr. Spark3ian. When did you move last? 

JSIr. Norris. I moved from Cottle County 2 years ago and come back 
to Childress County. 

Mr. Sparkman. Well, have you been on the same farm in Childress 
County ever since you have been back ? 

Mr. Norris. No ; I am off the farm now ; I am just living in a house 
on the farm. 

Mr. Sparkman. You are not farming now? 

Mr. Norris. No. 

Mr. Sparkman. When did you quit farming for yourself? 

Mr. Norris. This year. 

Mr. Sparkman. You mean last year was the last crop you made? 

Mr. Norris. Yes. 

Mr, Sparkman. Why did you quit, Mr. Norris? 

Mr. Norris. Most of the people know that the landlords want this 
rental money and the tenants don't want to give it. 

Mr. Sparkman. You mean the A. A. A. benefits ? 

Mr. Norris. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Sparkman. Did that happen in your case ? 

Mr. Norris. Well, it happened in a way. I was renting south of 
Childress on old man Joe Ray's place and he taken 30 acres of this 
conservation land and I was supposed to have it and I didn't know 
anything about it until I got my crop planted and I got my allotment 
and I seen I was 30 acres of land short and I didn't say anything 
to him for a few days. I waited until he come around and then I 
asked him about it and he said that they said I would have to change 
the allotment on that land and I said, "Who is they" ? He said, "the 
committeemen," and I said, "The committeemen said you didn't have 
to do that," and I told him, "You just changed it for the sake of 
the rental money and so far as I am concerned, I didn't think you was 
that kind of a man but if you are that kind of a man, you can have 
possession of your land because I don't uphold that kind of business." 

Mr. Sparkman. ^Vlien was that? 

Mr. Norris. Last spring. 

Mr. Sparkman. But you stayed there and finished out the crop ? 

Mr. Norris. Yes ; I gathered the crop on the place. 

Mr. Sparkman. How big a farm did you have rented ? 

Mr. Norris. It was supposed to be 200 acres. 


]Mr. Sparkman. And tlie first trouble that came up between you 
and your landlord had to do with these farm benefits that he claimed 
he was entitled to and that you claimed you were entitled to? 

Mr. NoRRis. Well, he didn't say that, but he taken this land and 
got the rental money on it. 

Mr. Sparkman. How many different tenants did he have on that 
place ? 

Mr. NoRRis. He had four. 

Mr. Sparkman. Did any of the others leave ? 

Mr. NoRRis. All four of us left and he has got one of the tenant 
farmers working on the land, he said he could take this rental money 
and work his land himself. 

Mr. Sparkman. What happened is that he changed from the tenant 
system to the self -operating system ? 

jNIr. NoRRis, Yas. 

Mr. Sparkman. And one of the tenants stayed? 

Mr. NoRRis. Yes. 

Mr. Sparkman. Does he operate the farm mechanically with a 

Mr. NoRRis. Yes ; he bought a new tractor. 

Mr. Curtis. How much land was involved ? 

Mr. NoRRis. I guess it was a section that was in cultivation or better. 

Mr. Spajrkman. Each one of you had about the same amount of 

Mr. NoRRis. Yes ; there was five of us. 

Mr. Sparkman. Well, that would be a thousand acres, how much 
of that was in cultivation ? 

Mr. NoRRis. Offhand. I would sa^' about 700 acres. 

Mr. Sparkman. And all of you got off' but the one that he kept 
to operate the tractor ? 

Mr. NoRRis. Yes. 

Mr. Sparkman. He is paying him wages, is he ? 

Mr. NoRRis. Yes. 

Mr. Sparkman. Where did you move to ? 

Mr. NoRRis. North of Childress about a half a mile from the city 
limits on a farm that a fellow had rented, in order to get a house. 

Mr. Sparkman. What do you pay for that house ? 

Mr. NoRRis. I didn't pay anything, he was a tenant farmer just 
like I was ; if it was a landlord I would have to pay about $5 a month, 
that is what they usually charge. 

INIr. Sparkman. But you don't pay anything for it ? 

Mr. NoRRis. No. 

Mr. Sparkman. What do you do to make a living now? 

Mr. NoRRis. Under the F. S. A. program I draw a grant and work 
some at what I can get; in most places they won't hire a man my 
age. They say that they Avon't hire a man my age, that I am too old, 
but 1 was doing it until I got put off the farm. 

Mr. Sparkman. Did I understand you to say you draw a grant? 

Mr. NoRRis. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Sparkman. What is that? 

Mr. NoRRis. From the Government. 


Mr. Sparkmax. I imderstancl. but what kind of a grant? 

Mr. NoRRis. Just a grant to take care of me. 

Mr. Sparkman. Under the social security or old-age insurance? 

Mr. NoRRis. The social security. 

Mr. Sparkmax. Or is it the farm security ? 

Mr. NoRRis. It is farm security; no, it is Federal loan security. 

Mr. Sparkman. Well, how much does it amount to? 

Mr. NoRRis. $16 a month. 

Mr. Sparkman, Do you get that every month in the year? 

Mr. NoRRis. Well, I haven't; no, sir. 

Mr. Sparkman. How long have you been drawing it? 

Mr. NoRPJs. It has been this year, this is the first grant I got; I 
got it through Mr. Coleman, he is the farm security man. 

Mr. Sparkmax. Do you have any children ? 

Mr. NoRRTS. I have two at home; I have three children; two at 
home and one in the Army ; I have two at home but just one lives at 
home, the other one is married. 

Mr. Sparkmax. Is the one at home a boy or a girl? 

Mr, NoRRis. Girl, 17. 

Mr. Sparkmax. Is the other boy married ? 

Mr, Norris, Yes, sir; he is a boy with a family; he is 25 years old. 

Mr. Sparkmax. In other words, you have only one child at home, 
and that is a girl ? 

Mr. NoRRis. Yes, sir, 

Mr, Sparkmax. Does the girl work? 

Mr. Norris. When she can get work. 

Mr. Sparkmax. AVhat kind of work does she do? 

]\Ir. Norris. Well, she has kept house for different ones. 

Mr. Sparkmax, What kind of place is this that you live on now; 
are there any other tenants there? 

Mr. Norris. I moved from this place there at Childress to the 
Culbertson farm in Garden Valley. 

Mr, Sparkmax, Are there any other tenants on that farm? 

Mr, Norris. Not any tenants there where I am now. 

Mr. Sparkmax. Is this the first time you have been without any 
farm ? 

Mr. Norris. When I wanted to farm ; I worked some for wages at 
different times, not many times, but I have done some farm work 
t(>fy when I was doing that. 

Mr. Sparkmax. Is the condition you have described to us typical 
of many others? 

Mr. Norris. Yes, sir ; lots of others. 

Mr. Sparkmax. Lots of others are in the same fix you are in? 

Mr. Norris. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Sparkmax, Is this $1G a month you get sufficient to take care 
of you ? 

Mr. Norris. No, sir. 

Mr. Sparkmax. Well, how much do you earn from yoin- odd work ^ 

Mr. NoRins. Well, it is very little; sometimes I get to ^ork for a 
week and sometimes it will be a month that I don't work. 


Mr. Sparkman. What about your daughter, how much does she 
earn ? 

Mr. NoRRis. Not much. 

Mr. Sparkman. How old is your daughter ? 

Mr. NoRRis. Seveuteen. 

Mr. Sparkman. Is she in school ? 

Mr. NoRRis. No, sir. 

Mr. Sparkman. How much schooling has she had ? 

ISIr. NoRRis. Third grade. 

Mr. Sparkman. Through the third grade ? 

Mr. NoRRis. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Sparkman. How long has it been since she went to scliool ? 

Mr. NoRRis. Two years. 

Mr. Sparkman. And she is not in school and doesn't contemplate 
going to school this year 'i 

Mr. NoRRis. No, sir. 

Mr. Sparkman. Is the health of the other members of your family 
good ; is your wife living ? 

Mr. NoRRis. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Sparkman. Is her health good. 

Mr. NoRRis. No, sir. 

Mr. Sparkman. Your daughter's health, is it good? 

Mr. NoRRis. Well, she is a weakly girl. 

Mr. Sparkman. Does your married son live anywhere near you ? 

Mr. NoRRis. No, sir ; he lives at Texhoma. 

Mr. Sparkman. Is that very far from you? 

Mr. NoRRis. Well, Texhoma, you know, is right on the line of Okla- 
homa and Texas. 

Mr. Sparkman. Unfortunately, I don't know where Childress is 
and I don't know what the distance is; is it far or near? 

Mr. NoRRis. It is about 200 miles. 

Mr. Sparkman. I believe that is all. 

The Chairman. Thank you very much, sir. 

(Witness excused.) 


The Chairman. Mr. Bond, will you give your full name to the 
reporter ? 

Mr. Bond. J. H. Bond. 

The Chairman. Where do you reside ? 

Mr. Bond. Austin, Tex. 

The Chairman. And what is your position ? 

Mr. Bond. Assistant director of the Texas State Employment 

The Chairman. And these men here are members of your staff? 

Mr. Bond. Yes, sir. 

The Chairman. If you will, please, give their names to the reporter? 

Mr. Bond. Robert M. McKinley, farm placement supervisor. 


The Chairman. Where are you stationed ? 

Mr. McKiNLEY. Austin. 

The Chairman. And j-ou likewise ? 

Mr. Banks. E. H. Banks, farm placement supervisor, Austin, Tex. 

The Chairman. Mr, Bond, in testimony in other hearings we have 
heard a great deal about the farm-placement service in Texas. Inci- 
dentally, it has been favorable reference to it. The statement sub- 
mitted for the record will be received and entered here. 

(The statement appears below.) 

Statement ox Employment Problems of Migratoky Farm Wokkers Originating 
IN Texas by the Texas State Employment Service 


I. Background review of facts and factors. 

A. Immigration of Mexicans into Texas. 

1. Immigration tiie genesis of all Mexican labor problems in Texas. 

2. Analysis of effect of national immigration restrictions and laws upon 

Mexican labor in Texas. 
(a) Growing demand of agricultural employers for Mexican labor as 
(&) Immigration restrictions tightened, giving rise to 
(e) Labor agents of various types and varying degrees of integrity, 
v/itli result that 

(d) Illegal entries of Mexicans into Texas flourished, with 

(e) Increasing risks to smugglers and entrants after 1924, and 

(/) Consequent increase of pernicious practices by labor agents, and 
(g) Chaotic conditions in labor, with no attempt at an organized 

labor market, resulting in 
(h) Thousands of migratory workers — white, Negro, Mexican — 
wandering aimlessly over the State in search of work, this 
situation eventuating in dispersion of migrants to other States. 

B. Disperson of migratory labor from Texas into other States. 

1. Dispersion the logical result of unorganized labor market. 

2. Reason for dispersion — job seeking in areas where more favorable 

employment opportunities existed, with result that — ■ 
(a) Migrants streamed out first to adjoining States, and then 

on out to — - 
(6) More remote States, the evidence to be found in — 
(c) Census figures from decade to decade, accompanied b.v — 
((f) Appearance of new type of labor agent, the emigrant agent, 

acting as intermediary between Texas workers and out-of- 

State agents, with rosulang — ■ 
(e) Larger-scale disorders in the labor situation. 

C. Unorganized labor market. 

1. Vicious circle established : Immigration, labor surplus, more immi- 
gration, more surplus dispersion. 

2. Annual clamor of labor shortage, with — 

(a) Employer demands for relaxation of immigration restrictions, 

and — 
(6) Increasing activities of labor agents of all kinds, with — 
(c) Untold hardship and misery for migratory workers, and — 
{d) Gradual recognition of need for remedies. 

D. Attempted legislative remedies. 

1. Establishment of Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas, 1909. 

2. Gradual steps toward remedies from that time, including — 

(a) Agitation for control of private employment agencies, for 

establishment of free employment agencies, and — 
(6) Much activity in Texas Legislature, until — 
(c) Texas Employment Agency Law, 1923, and — 
((Z) Texas Emigrant Agency Law, 1929. 



II. Experience of the Texas State Employment Service and Fmin Placr-ment 

Service, 1935-40. 

A. Inheritance of problems existing before 1935. 

B. Economic problems arising from cotton decline and mechanization. 

C. Combination of two sets of problems, with intrastate and interstate 

aspects of migratory labor, faced by the Employment Service, resulting 
in, through year-by-year development. 

1. Control and direction of interstate-migratory labor, with 

2. Stabilization of migratory-labor market. 

D. Appearance of new problems in 1940. 

E. Imperative need of control by legislation of interstate migratory labor 

situation which is meiuicing the eiiuilibrium of the labor market. 

F. Review of the Employuient Service farm ;ictivities year by year, to 

show progress made and to indicate how experience has led the way 
for policy making. 

III. Observations resulting from survey. 

A. Employer demand before 1935 for surplus labor supply resulting in 

conflict with immigration restrictions and nnregulated migratory 
labor supply in Texas. 

B. Increasing stringency of immigration laws giving rise to less and less 

scrupulous activities of labor agents of all kinds in Texas. 

C. Attempts at legislation not satisfactory thus far. 

D. Unorganized labor market before 1935, resulting in loss of time, money, 

and motion. 

E. Effect of decline of cotton and mechanization of agriculture since 1930 

something to be faced and considered in labor-market organizarion. 

F. Refinement of Texas State Employment Service and Farm Placement 

Service procednres to the point of control and direction of intrastate 
migratory labor market not hitherto known. 

G. Interpretation of stabilization of migratory-labor market to mean 

directed and controlled migration of workers when, where, and 

in what number needed at seasonal peaks, preferably not far distant 

from home bases, with new work patterns evolved to till out the rest of 

the year. 
H. Social and economic effects upon migratory workers a byproduct of 

new stabilization of labor market. 
I. Sound and effective policy of exhausting local labor market tn-st before 

calling on outside labor. 
J. Seriousness of interstate drain on Texas labor, particularly apparent 

in 1940. 
K. Exploitation of Texas migratory workers a menace. 


Until recent years, Texas was the open recruiting ground for migrant labor of 
both types: Intrastate and interstate. The migratory worker, therefore, has 
long been a familiar figure in Texas. He may l>e native vt'hite, Negro, or Mexican 
by descent, member of a habitually mobile group whose work-pattern of casual 
and seasonal labor has continuously presented a maze of employment complexities 
to local and State authorities. 

To understand the nature of these complex problems and the difficulty of their 
solution, it is necessary to review in some detail certain background facts and 
factors. Since it is estimated that approximately 85 i>ercent of all migratory 
workers within the State of Texas are of Mexican descent, the remaining 15 percent 
being distributed between white, 10 percent ; and Negro, 5 percent ;' and since 
the peculiarly complex problems adhesive to this Mexican migrant labor are 
immediately pertinent to the purpose of this discussion, it is logical to begin the 
background review with a survey of the Mexican labor situation in Texas over a 
period of many years. 

1 Estimate made by Farm Placement Service of Texas on basis of experience and records. 

INTP:RSTATE migration JgQJ 


The gejiesis of all :Mexican labor problems in Texas is the basic fact of immigra- 
tion of ^lexicans into the State. 

Diiriiiic the period of unrestricted immigration between 1783 and 1820, when 
the doors of the United States were open to iinmiKrants from all conntries, no 
problems arose on the border. In the next period, 1820-82, immigration was 
largely controiled l)y the individnal States. Although, in this period, there was 
some agitation against immigration previous to the Civil War and certain States 
passed restrictive measnr(>s. public sentiment changed rapidly as a labor shortage 
developed at the beginning of the war. By 1864, Congress had passed an act, the 
purpose of which was to encourage immigration. Post-war industrial and agricnl- 
tural expansion denianded an increasing number of workers, including women, 
Negroes, and foreigners. The 1864 law proving unsatisfactory, however, it was 
repealed in 1868. The individual States again assumed control 'of their own immi- 
gration problems, but this system culminated in a series of United States Supreme 
Court decisions which declared such laws unconstitutional and establishpd the 
incompetency of States so to legislate.^ 

There were definite reasons why Texas, remaining aloof from the controversy, 
did not recognize Mexican immigration as a problem during these years. In tlie 
first place, Texas had been a part of Mexico. The Mexicans were here first, and 
they were accepted as part of the locale by their more aggressive Anglo-American 
successors. In the second place, they became useful to their ambitious successors 
in a sparsely settled country where there were few Negroes to labor in the sun 

Tlie earliest laborers tending the cattle and" sheep on the south Texas ranches 
were Mexican vaqueros and pastores. As the cattle and sheep industries 
expanded, opportunity for employment increased; and more and more Mexicans 
crossed the river, many on a year-around. permanent basis. 

In addition, seas<mal occupations open.ed up. Gangs of shearers, for example, 
came over twice a year for periods of about 2 months each to supply the seasonal 
demands of the ranches. Most of these workers returned to IMexico until the 
next shearing season. 

With the decline of the sheep industry in south Texas in the eighties, the 
demand for pastores and seasonal labor decreased in that region; but I'here 
was still some demand for these types of labor farther west. At the' same time 
other forms of agriculture were expanding, and Mexican labor was in demand' 

When, therefore. Congress, in 1882, by passing the first general Inunigration 
Restriction Act in this country, foreshadowed complications for Texas, Mexican 
laborers, urged by economic necessity, had long been crossing the Rio Grande 
to and from Texas. Three years later, Congress passed what is populai-ly known 
as the alien contract-labor law, which prohibited the importation of contract 
labor. It aimed, to be sure, in the first Instance, at emnlovers who were import- 
ing European laborers under contract to woi'k for lower wages- but it was 
inclusive of and applicable to all aliens. This law was destined to intensify 
labor complicatitms in Texas. 

That these laws seem not to have weighed heavilv upon Texas, at first is 
evident fr<jm the fact that there was little interruption of the steady flow' of 
Mexican inunigration into Texas. Although the 1882 act stressed the exclusion 
of persons likely to become public cliarges, and the lS8r. act was stern about 
labor contractors, Texas employers were less worried about the danger of Mexi- 
cans as public charges and about labor contractors than they were about the 
danger of labor shortage at seasonal peaks. 

That much of this Mexican labor was seasonal is evident from contemporary 
records. According to a rel'able source in the lower Rio Grande Valley as 
early as the nineties Mexicans from both sides of the river were following the 
cotton harvest afcot into east Texas, returning to their homes in Texas or 
Mexico m 4 or 5 months. Some of these migrants traveled as far as the Sabine 

Alhfnn*r'''^^n/w'"'T''?^ "?,^^1'l^^ immigration laws are summarized from discussion in 
p,V ?-^n-4ro Problems and Labor Law, New York, Prentice-Hall, Inc.. 1939. 

lina^Pres?,' 1934,°p m -^"^<'"can-Mexican Frontier, Chapel Hill, University of North Caro- 

2C0370— 41— pt. 5- 


In the meantime, the future negative policy of the Nation toward immigration 
had been set liy the Act of 1891, \Aiiich intensified the earlier legislation of 
1882 by specific mention of types of nndesirables and enlarged its scope by 
providing protection to national health against certain diseases. This tighten- 
ing of restrictions was to be followed by a succession of acts, each more strin- 
gent than its predecessor, the acts of 1917, 1921, and 1924 constituting the proof 
of this statement and indicadug growing determination to protect the workers 
of the Nation in their jobs. 

The immigration from Mexico into Texas, however, continued steadily 
throughout tlie nineties. Shortly before 1900, c(mditions in Mexico and increas- 
ing labor demands in Texas combined to give a new impetus to tbe inuuigration. 
According to the United States census, there were in Texas in 1900, 71,002 Mexi- 
cans ; during the next 10 years, in spite of imm-'gration laws, the number in- 
creased by nearly 76 percent, reaching a total of 125,016. * 

Credit for this nnin'.erruptcd flow of Mexican labor into Texas between 1900 
and 1910 was due in no^ small degree to the growing energies of private employ- 
ment agencies and lalwr agents. 

The quickened activity of these agents was the inevitable result of the threat- 
ened conflict between increasing stringency of national immigration laws and 
demand by Texas employers for more and more Mexican labor. 

Recognized by Texas employers as a valuable labor medium, the agents openly 
advertised their services. In 1909, for instance, a Corpus Christi agent inserted 
the following ad in a local paper: 

"Plenty of labor : I secure laborers for all kinds of work at reasonable prices 
and in any number." ° 

It is significant that by 1910. also, the transition from foot to vehicular ti'avel 
had been accomplished, largely through the efforts of the labor agents. A con- 
temporary account, dealing with the Mexican labor migration to central and east 
Texas in 1911, highligh.s this transition; the growing importance of the labor 
agent, the trend toward mass movement ovei'land by rapid transit or in wagen 
trains ur.der his direction, the use of the family group as a labor unit : 

"Not for a number of years has there been such demand for cotton pickers in 
southwest Texas. Almost every neighborhood is calling for help to take care 
of the crop. To meet the demand agents have been sent across the border into 
Mexico to secure help. Today, a coach load of Mexican pickers passed through 
this city for the great cottonlields about San Marcos and tomorrow an entire 
trainload will go over into the Brazos bottoms where there is great demand for 
help. One peculiar thing about the Mexican head of a family is that as a rule, 
wlierever he goes, he takes his family and his dog. Many of those going into 
the cottonfields of Texas are accompanied by their entire families. This is to 
the liking of the planters, for it is maintained that children as a rule will pick 
as much cotton as grown-ups. Those who have come from Mexico have in 
addition to the family and the dog brought their donkey. It is not an uncom- 
mon sight to see long trains of Mexicans in small wagons en route to the 
cottonfields." ' 

By 1910, therefore, it may be repeated, there were clearly visible the sepa- 
rate strands which, year by year, were to enmesh more tightly into the back- 
ground of a complicated and disorderly pattern for Mexican migrant labor in 

Briefly, as we have seen, these strands included — 

(1) Long-time acceptance of Mexican labor in Texas and disinclination on 
the part of Texans to recognize any immigration problem involved. 

(2) Increasing demand for Mexican labor by Texas employers after 1880, 
both on permanent and seasonal basis. 

(3) Economic need of Mexicans as incentive to enter Texas. 

(4) National immigration restrictive measures beginning in 1882 and in- 
creasing in stringency with each successive act. 

(5) Imminent conflict between increasing stringency of immigration laws 
and determination of Texas employers to use Mexican migrant labor. 

*The UnitPd States Census. 1900. iniO. 

» Corpn-s Clirisli ("nllpr. December 2, 1909. Quoted by Paul S. Taylor, op. cit., p. 105. 
* CaiTizo Springs .Tavolin. September 2, 1911, probably copied from a San Antonio paper. 
Quoted by Paul S. Taylor, op. cit., p. 102. 


(6) Quickened activity by private employment agencies and labor agents to 
supply Texas employers with Mexican migrant labor, in spite of the acts of 
1882, 1885, and 1891. 

(7) Mass movements of Mexican labor overland by rail and wagon trains 
into Texas, directed by labor agents. 

For the next 20 years, 1910-30, the activities of private employment agencies 
and labor agents dominated the Mexican migrant labor situation in Texas 
practically unchecked. 

On September 1, 1909, the Bureau of Labor Statistics was established as a 
State Department of Texas, with the obligation of publishing biennial reports, 
beginning with 19()9-10. From tlie third biennial report, for 1913-14, every 
report has carried records, experiences, or recommendations regarding the con- 
tol of private employment agencies and labor agents. At a later point in this 
discussion, this agitation for remedies is given full treatment. Here it is neces- 
sary only to mention that the publicity given to the activities of these agencies 
and agents by the Bureau of Labor Statistics did much to create opposition to 
the unregulated and unscrupulous methods of their operation. 

Although many farmers, individually and collectively, imported workers from 
Mexico, others relied almost entirely on the labor agents and private employ- 
ment agencies. In spite of the alien contract labor law, farmers on this side 
of the river are reported to have accepted laborers from agents who contracted 
for them in Mexico, and even to have sent supposedly dependable Mexican 
agents into Mexico to recruit labor, if necessary giving them money to pay 
immigration fees." 

Furthermore, they took these practices so much for granted at first that, in 
spite of the illegality of such, many farmers made little attempt to conceal 
their dealings. As time went on, however, they became less frank, especially 
after 1917. 

New immigration legislation in that year strengthened the alien contract 
labor law of 1885, excluding contract labor under penalties, but allowing skilled 
labor to enter at the discretion of the Secretary of Labor ; making unlawful the 
prepayment of transportation of contract laborers; and prohibiting all forms 
of advertising for contract labor, either at home or in a foreign country.' 
Illiterates over 16 years of age were excluded, and the head tax was raised to 
$8 as an insurance of property qualification.* 

The effect of this legislation in Texas was the rapid increase of illegal 
entrances of Mexican migrant laborers, engineered largely by unscrupulous labor 
agents and smuggling agents, known realistically as "coyotes." 

During the World War, shortage of labor was claimed, with the result that 
between 1918 and 1921 the National Government allowed freer temporary admis- 
sion of Mexican migrant labor. With this alleged labor scarcity and the loosen- 
ing of the ban on Mexican immigration, another type of labor operator appeared 
on the scene, the curbstone oi)erator or man catcher. 

Although the quota laws of 1921 and 1924 and the national-origins clause, 
effective July 1929. left Mexico in the nonquota class, the rigid restrictions of 
the preceding immigration laws in combination with the establishment of the 
border patrol in 1924 served to increase the difficulty and danger of illegal 
entrances into the United States. 

Then, as the depression following 1929 became more and more acute, loud 
agitation arose for further restriction of immigration. Instead of adoption of 
any of the several suggestions advanced, an administrative order injected 
renewed vigor into the acts of 1882 and 1891, which prohibited entrance of any 
aliens who might become public charges. By this order, in Sc^ptemljer 1930, 
American consulates were instructed not to issue entrance permits' to any immi- 
grants who were likely to take jobs away from American citizens who might 
become public charges.^" 

The labor agent, the coyote, the man catcher, however, as the immigration net 
tightened, devised new methods of cunning to elude the law and to exploit rilexi- 

' Paul S. Taylor, op. cit.. p. 101. 

' Labor Laws of the United States with Decisions of Courts Relating Thereto, United 
States Department of Labor, Bulletin, No. 370, May 1925, p. 1174. 
^ Ibid. 
1° Albion G. Taylor, op. cit., p. 452. 


can migrant labor. Although the Mexican migrant laborer was the special prey 
of all these racketeers, native white and Negro laborers were victimized also 
bv labor agents and man catchers. Employers, too, were at the mercy of these 
rogues. From various authentic sources, the operations of these agents during 
these vears are here summarized." 

Although the activities of these several types of agents overlapped, and although 
any one of the agents might also be one or both of the others, still each term 
connotes certain peculiar characteristics. 

llie labor agent in the first instance, was an intermediary between an employer 
and a w»,rker In the capacity of contractor, he might also carry on arge-scale 
operations; and as the national immigration laws tightened, his activities becam^ 
L4 and less scrupulous. Operating alone or as a representative of a so-called 
Siv- tremplovmeit agency, he charged extortionate fees to both worker and 
en p'ovei H? acT^•L•t^^^ extensively, baiting his prey with ill-kept promises^ 
H herded the Mexicans in groups, sending them on long journeys across the 
Statrwrniout system or plan. Whites and Negroes he treated similarly, with 
mf differenc" ti,it Negroes are less inclined than either white or Mexican labor 

^^C"muy^'i'?ovXwork]i:?'ingly or as the member of a gang mad. up 
of otheT?uugglers Tr of smuggters and labor agents, instigated the illegal 
entn!nce ofTleKiins into the United States. Smugglers took many risks, par- 
ticularJv after the border patrol became active. • . tv.o TinitPrl '^tntes 

For the Mexican immigrant desiring legal entrance into the United .^^tates 
the nrocedine since IDSO has been somewhat as follows. Having arrived at 
Cud^d Juarez oianv other port of entry, he first registers at a hotel or boarding 
hiw." Fmirthel-r^ie goes'to the Mexican migration otfig;whei.^^^^^ 


fo he offlcJl oi the iuternatioiial hvldge to he examhted ami quesfoi.ed once 

s;?'£.^;,irtht,vii^:i.Stf,;iTs u"!.,terted w™,,^^^^ 

«ame process. The total cost, head tax plus visa, is $18. Lnmg expenses ouung 
^^?^^^if S;iS^^Sn4f^^?nto^SfSSted States, ^.e procedure dun.. 

StcfJh: ;^sn;r\sSx^mS^^tr^iiSS^^^^^ 

^' m SUgi? km-wlecU S and considerable fear of the immigration law. on 
the part of the Mexicans. 

( 2 \ Tmnossibilitv of meeting the literacy test 

n) SbiUty to prove that one would not become a public charge 
4 I aboi contract already made in violation of national immigration laws. 

\t) Intbilitv to prove that immigrant might not take away a 30b from 

"\;trLoss"of ;?me and expense entailed while waiting at the border for 

'^TlN'^cSTof illegal entry held out to immigrant as less than legal 

is a nStter of fact, the "wet feet" being smuggle<l in had to submit to as 
mitch rouUnrand more inconvenience than they would have submitted to in 

'^Tl^rcoyotes'Sloved'-various methods of approach. If the Mexican had 
already contracS\fo^ his labor with a labor agent, the agent acting for him 
d d Ihe d rty work. If the coyote was sneaking around on Ins own or as the 
i^„-^eVof .1 gang, he might suggest subtle promises and sly advantages 
liegal entrance including the lower cost. He frequently used f^ar with 
".ns de.ible force and effectiveness, scaring the timid, ignorant. non-English- 
speaLing Mexican with lurid tales of what the immigration otticials might 
do to hhu if he tried to enter legally. Then, when the coyote had landed his 

1930, pp. 205-207. 


victim on United States soil, he terrorized liim with tales of what would happen 
if his illegal entrance were discitvered, forthwith demanding hush money 
and stripping the victim of all his funds to get it. 

Methods of getting the Mexicans over the border were various. A common 
method was to herd a group in some small border town and watch a chance 
to get them across by land or river. "Jumping the fence" at La Colorado, 
not far from Ciudad Juarez, was a common method until the border patrol 
became too interested in that region. Usually, the Mexicans jumi>ed the 
barbed-wire fence at night and made their way either to the employer who 
had contracted for them or to some other likely employer. 

Sometimes, the coyotes sent them across shallow places in the river by 
automobiles or by carts and trucks Others came over in boats; some even 
^vere 1 nown to swim across, although swimming is dangerous in the treacl.'- 
erous R"o Grande. 

The usual charge for smuggling was from $5 to $10 a head, and more if 
there was baggage. Forged head-tax receipts and forged passports might be 
sold or rented for the occasion. If renteil, the immigrant was required to 
return these forged documents when he was safely on United States soil ; 
and they would serve the same purpose over and over. American citizens 
were known to "rent" their own personal passports to labor agents and coyotes 
for the smuggling racket. Snmgglers and labor agents, working in gangs, 
frequently had elaborate secret organizations, with codes and signals. 

Tiie employment angle of all this activity of labor agents and smugglers is 
the important point in this discussion. Since it is estimated that the majority 
of Moxican immigrants during the years under consideration had already 
contracted their labor to employers on this side of the river with or without 
the services of labor agents, there were, therefore, apparently more illegal 
than legal entries. 

The obvious handicaps of such an entry proved a lever of advantage to the 
agents, many of whom lost no time in availing themselves of its use. They 
could, and too often did, keep the fact of the illegality of the whole transac- 
tion dangling over the heads of the frightened peon workers, paying them 
meager wages and treating them almost as slaves. 

At times, the smugglers were employed by big commercial, industrial, and 
agricultural enterprises. When labor was scarce, they paid the smugglers so 
nnich for each worker imported ; when labor was plentiful, they maintained 
the smugglers on a salary basis. 

Although soliciting labor from one side of the river to the other is contrary 
to M'xican laws also, for years, as late as the thirties in fact, it went on under 
cover. Just across the river were stationed the offices of the contract^ rs or 
enganchi'-tas, who made or clinched the final labor bargains. The contractors 
were paid from 50 cents to $1 for each worker they supplied to soliciting 
ranches, railroads, or other enterprises. 

Once in the hands of one of these labor agent-contractors, particularly if 
they had been smuggled in by him, the Mexican workers suffered hardships 
added to those imposed by the employers. A common abuse was the camp 
store, concession for which was frequently held by the contractor in the 
services of the employing unit. Overcharging and other fraudulent dealings 
of all sorts drove the Mexican deeper into debt ; and since his meager wage 
was turned over to the contractor each week until he was out of debt, he 
seldom drew any or much of his earnings. 

Employment complications increased with the activities of curbstone oper- 
ators or man catchers. It was their practice to gather groups of workers — 
Mexicans, white men, Negroes — for "selling" and "reselling" to farmers. 

The operations of man catchers, first reported in the year 1915-16 by in- 
spectors of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, were varied and devious, intended 
always to fleece both employer and laborer." 

As reported in these years, the man catchers were especially active during 
the harvest seasons. They would gather up groups of men, twenty-five to a 
hundred or more — Mexicans, white laborers, Negroes — take them out along 
some railroad line, and "peddle" or "sell" them to farmers in need of heli). 

" Fourth Biennial Report, 1915-16, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas, p. 12. 


Tlie men were charged railroad fare, frequently on a 3-eent-per-mile basis, 
allowing a profit of 1 cent per mile to the man catcher. They were, in addition, 
charged a fee for their lunches and for the employment furnished them. Fur- 
thermore, the employing farmers paid fees for the services of the man catcher 
in finding them help. 

A common practice was to permit the worker to remain with one farmer 
only a few days — perhaps only one day. He would then be taken to another 
farmer some distance away where the process of "selling"' would be repeated, 
both worker and farmer being victimized. 

By 1919^20, when there was a cry of labor scarcity, the man catchers had 
perfected their techniques. Especially active along the border, they would 
take advantage of the Mexican immigrant, wangling all his money from him 
as soon as he landed upon United States soil. The man catchers would "sell" 
a farmer a group of Mexican laborers one day, and then secretly send their 
agents — usually smooth-talking Mexicans — to steal the laborers away the next, 
only to repeat this "selling" process all over again to another farmer, collecting 
fees from laborers and farmers alike. 

Another common trick was to collect transportation money from a prospective 
employer at some distance and then start a group of men on the way to him, 
accompanied by a secret agent who would persuade the workers to desert just 
before their arrival, when they would be "sold" to another employer-victim. 

Instances were on the records of the Bureau of Labor Statistics where farmers 
had paid these man-catching agents as high as $10 per head for Mexicans, in 
addition to feeding them and paying transportation to the place of employment, 
only to have a part or all of the laborers desert either before going to work at all 
or within a day or two thereafter. 

Since man catchers handled only common labor-, the farmers and railroads were 
the employing units most commonly victimized. 

One of these enterprising crooks in a border town was found to have a gang 
of Mexicans in his hire for the purpose of fleecing farmers. These Mexicans he 
would "sell" to a farmer with immediate delivery at from $3 to $5 per head. 
As soon as the agent had collected his money from the farmer, all the Mexicans 
would desert and return to their employer, to be "sold" to the next farmer seek- 
ing help, with a repetition of this performance as many as two or three times 
within 1 day sometimes." 

It has been almost impossible to arrive at any satisfactoi'y estimate of the 
number of Mexicans in Texas during any given period. Complicating factors are 
several in number. In the first place, illegal entries into the State are not easily 
apprehended for a count. Immigration officials, obviously, can have no record 
of such illegalities. In the second place, until the increased tightening of the 
Federal immigration laws since 1924, the same Mexican might pass back and 
forth to seasonal or casual jobs on this side but maintain residence on the other 
side of the border. Again, it was impossible to count the number of migratory 
workers roaming around the State. 

As has been indicated earlier. United States census figures for 1900 showed a 
Mexican population in Texas of 71,062 and for 1910, 125,016. According to the 
same standard source, there were in Texas in 1920 an estimated total of 388,075 
Mexicans, of whom 242,735 were born in Mexico and 145,940 were born in the 
United States. 

For 1930 the census estimate was 683,681 Mexicans in Texas, or 11.7 percent 
of the total population, divided into 351,077 males and 332,604 females. Of the 
total, 536,875 were born in Mexico, the remaining 146,806 being natives of Texas. 
The gainfully employed Mexican population above the age of 10 years in that year 
numbered 236,201. Of this number, 110,865, or 46.9 percent, were agricultural 
workers. How many of these were migrant workers there is no way of knowing ; 
nor is there any way of knowing how many of the 842.001 counted in the agri- 
cultural total — white, Negro, Mexican— were in the migrant group." 

However, as a result of the activities of all types of labor agents, the migratory 
labor racket scatlered Mexicans, as well as white laborers and Negroes in lesser 
numbers, all over the State, frequently on unplanned and fruitless expeditions. 

" Sixth Biennial Report, 1919-20, Bureau of Labor Stati-stics, Texas, pp. 15-17. 
"United States Census, 1930. 


As foot travel yielded to wagons, to trains, to broken-down Fords, to trucks, the 
labor agent was able to enlarge his range of operations to include portions of the 
State far removed from the border where, logically, the Mexican labor at least 
originated. Farther north in the State, white labor moved out from Fort Worth 
as a labor-distributing center. 

Cotton pickers would start from home with no idea as to their destination or 
with dubious directions from a labor agent or private employment agency that 
charged from $1.50 to $3 per head each for information. Rumors were sufficient 
to start the migrants off hither and yon, and more rumors would start them off 
from there. In the meantime farmers would be combing the State for pickers 
and other labor. 

It was a crazy pattern in which worried farmers wanted an ample supply of 
labor on hand at peak seasons in any way available, credulous migrants dreamed 
of better pickings a little farther on, and opportunist labor agents wanted as much 
money as they could fleece from uneasy farmers and hopeful migrants — white, 
brown, and black. 

With immigration, therefore, as the genesis of the Mexican labor problem, and 
agricultural development as the impelling factor and fo^ce behind the exploitation 
of all mobile labor — Mexican, white, Negro — the next factor was the dispersion 
of that labor on wheels to points beyond the boundaries of the State of Texas. 


The main reason for this dispersion was job seeking in areas where employment 
conditions were more favorable. Only at the peak seasons in bumper-crop years 
could Texas agriculture begin to utilize the hordes of migrants swarming over 
the State looking for woik. In less abundant years and duri. g slack seasons there 
was a vast surplus of migratory labor. From time to time there were cries of 
labor shortage, to be sure; and the farmers and agents would then bring more 
Mexicans into the State. 

It was therefore inevitable that, with the expansion of agriculture and other 
industries in other States, the migratory movement should spread out into those 
regions. It streamed out flrst into adjoining States, on its own many times, 
following the trail of rumor; and again under the direction of labor contractors 
and agents who, faced with the surplus labor situation iii Texas, began making 
contacts with employers in other productive areas. 

A new type of labor agent appeared on the scene with this dispersion — the 
emigrant agent. His primary fmiction was to act as intermediary between labor 
in Texas and prospective employers elsewhere. In time he assumed mere and 
more responsibility. He might act as direct representative of an employer ; he 
might direct groups of laborers from the time they left Texas until they returned, 
reaping a goodly sum for his efforts. He negotiated, he contracted, he controlled, 
he exploited migratory labor. He had no regard for seasonal needs of Texas 
farmers. If he could persuade the migrants to start for the Mich'gan beet fields 
or elsewhere, so nuich the worse for Texas farmers if the labor supply was short. 
The emigrant agent very soon became one of the most serious problems in Texas 

Record exists of trips to the Louisiana cane fields in the nineties. By 1910 
there were in Louisiana 1,025 Mexicans ; in Oklahoma there were 2,744 ; in Colo- 
rado there were 2,o02 ; and in Nevada there were 752 as against 98 ten years 

During this period Mexican labor was employed chiefly in the cultivating and 
harvestiJig of cotton, corn, sugarcane, and fruit; but it was also in demand in 
mines and on railroads. 

Kansas City, as the entrance to the wheatlands, early became a temporary stop- 
over and distributing center of immigrants passing to Eastern and Midwestern 
States, where the demand for Mexican labor developed rapidly. Aecordirgly the 
Mexican population in Kansas jumped from 71 in ICOO to 8,429 in 1910. In 
Missouri the Mexican population moved up from 162 in 1900 to 1,41S ten years 
later, wilh tlie result that St. Louis became a di-stributing center only secondary 
in importance to Kansas City. 

Paul S. Taylor, op. cit., p. 102; United States Census, 1900, 1910, 1920. 1930. 


The growth of Mexican popnlntion in the next decade paralleled the demand 
for their Inbor. Louisiana had li,487 ; Kansas liad 1H.770; Missouri had 3,411. 
Large-scale immigation from Texas into Arizona accounted for some major 
part of the 61,580 Mexicans there in 1920. Anglo-American n)igration to Ari- 
zona from less likely portions of Texas and Oklahoma had connnenced also. 

It is significant for later considerations in this study that during the decade 
from 1910 to 1920, demand for Mexican labor in the beet fields of Michigan 
was greatly intensified. In this State, Mexican immigration by 1920 was 20 
times greater than in 1910, with a total of 1.833 Mexicans in the later year. 
By 1930, the Mexican population in Michigan had reached 13,336. The cen.sius 
for this same year showed 4,.'i.52 Mexicans in Louisiana, 19.1 oO in, 
57,676 in Colorado, 114,173 in Arizona. In increasing numbers also, Mexicans 
were found in Wyoming, Nebraska, Idaho, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, 
and Indiana. 

A large proportion of these Mexicsni laborers, according to certaiii distribution 
studies, were engaged in rural occupations, ^^'ith a smaller proportion in indus- 
trial enterprises.'" The population Hgures of the United States census cannot he 
all-inclusive. As has been pointed out, no satisfactory count of mobile Mexican 
and other migrator.v 1; bor has been made. Even though, however, these iwpula- 
tion figures are inidovibtedly incomplete, they do show definitely tha.t not all the 
migrants who left Texas and other border States looking for work returned. 
Large numbers, of course, from year to year, went back and forth, following 
routes that in time assumed patterns of migration. 

By 1933-34, certain of these patterns were fairly clear. According to one 
authority, a work i>attern was to be found in Texas and Oklahoma, beginning 
at the southern tip of Texas and extending north into Oklahoma, and north- 
west and west across Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona into California." A 
pattern of grain crop migration extended from Houston to El Paso, from 
Dallas to El Paso, and fronv Amarillo to El Paso, from which junction routes 
flowed out to the West. Two routes cut across the Texas I'anhandle from 
Oklalioma to Albuquerque, New Mexico. The beet and berry pickers moved 
frcrtn as far south as San Antonio all the way across intervening States 
to Minnesota, with branch routes extending out to States on either side of 
the main routes. 

In the meantime, during these years from 1910 to 1930, there was rapid ac- 
celeration in the manufacture, sale, and use of mecliauized farm equipment. 
In 1925, the sales of farm tractors in the United States accounted for .'?92,- 
506,790, or only 27.2 percent of all farm equipment sales. In 1929, the record 
year before 1937, tractor sales amounted to $155,406,163, or 33.9 percent of 
total equipment sales. By 1935, the percentage of tractor sales to the total 
equipment sales had risen to 40.8 percent. 

In the State of Texas, the number of tractors rose froni 13,817 in 1920 to 
73,981 in 1936." The effect of this mechanization upon Uiigratory farm labor 
and farm tenancy had made itself felt long before 1935. Many tenants, thrown 
upon their own resources, joined the migrants, adding to the labor congestion. 
Dust Bowl refugees, displaced tenants, habitual migratory laborers — Mexican, 
white, Negro — dispersed in all directions in search of work. In the meantime, 
immigraMnn from IMexico into Texas continued. 

By 1935, the migratory labor surplus had become a major problem in the 
United States, particularly in California and Texas. An analysis of the inmii- 
gration and dispersion factors brings to light the next factor in the employment 
problems previous to 1935 — an unorganized labor market. 


For years the annual labor supply was a subject of contention, some claiming 
shortage, some declaring abundance, some admitting possible abundance but lack 
of availability. There was no disinterested agency those years to organize a 
labor market" that would provide labor supply when and where needed within 

^ .Tobn N. Webb, The Miffratorv — Casual Worlcer, Washington, 1937, pp. 8S-89. 
" Ibirl., pp. .34-:;!). . . ,r i, • .■ ^ . • , 

!>* C Horace Hamilton, The Social Effects of Recent Trends in Mechanization of Agricul- 
ture, A. and M. College, Texas, Progress Report No. 579, December 1938, pp. 1-2. 


the Srate and to set up an economy of employment that would abolish waste 
movem'ent and loss to both employer and worker. 

Local organizations, snch as chambers of coninierce, local and State newspapers, 
labor and emigrant agents flashed notices and "ads" and bulletins calling for 
labor or promising labor to demanding farmers. Some farmers, needing perhaps 
from 50 to lou workers, would cry loudly for 1.000, merely to assure themselves 
au abundant supply from which to pick and choose. The employer's interesi in a 
plentiful labor siipply is, obviously, twofold. He desires a mobile labor reserve 
large enough to handle his peak operations ; he desires, equally, a supply that 
must accept low wages, long hours, and poor working conditions. Wiih a labor 
market entirely unorganized, the farmer-employer had to depend upon deliberately 
scattered rumors and advertising to achieve his two desires. 

On the other hand, it happened that a farmer was actually in need of labor 
when it seemed not available. In the next county, at the same time, there might 
be surplus migratory workers eager for jobs. Again, the complete lack of coordi- 
nated effort to maintain a balanced labor market might UKike it impossible for 
the two needs — employer and worker — to meet and satisfy each other. 

Constant pressure was brought by farmers u])on their Congressmen, from 1920 
on, to let down immigration bars in order to let in surplus labor for peak seasons. 
In years of abundant crops there might be labor for most of the migrant workers 
during the short peak seasons. In lean years there was much suffering from 

Agents, interested only in personal gain, would collect fees from migrants and 
start them oft" to uncertain destinations. Arriving there they might or might 
not find work ; too often they did not find any housing or sanitary facilities ; they 
had no money ; exposure and sickness would result. Stranded migrants — broke, 
hungry, sick, unsheltered — came to be altogether too common figures as the years 

Recognition of these employment problems was not lacking, and the final factor 
in the background review of complexities is the legislative remedies attenipted. 


At least as far back as 1911 there was considerable agitation to regulate so- 
called private employment agencies, requiring licenses and bonds, and providing 
penalities for violations. 

In its 1913-14 report the bureau of labor statistics, Texas, called attention to 
the grave need of regulation of the so-called private employment agencies because 
of abuses inflicted by them upon the unemployed. A proposed uniform law 
drafted by a committee of the National Association of Factory Inspectors was 
introduced as House bill No. 705 into the Thirty-third Legislature of Texas, but 
it died on the calendar. The bureau report specifically mentioned certain evils 
in need of remedy : the charging of fees, which should be abolished unless fees 
vv'ere returned when employment was not furnished ; collusion between emiiloyers 
and agents, making employment dependent upon the services of a fee-charging 
agent, with subsequent split of these fees between agent and employer.^' 

In his recommendations to the Governor and to the legislature in this same 
report. Commissioner J. A. Starling ann.' uiiced that there would be presented to 
the thirty-fourth legislature a bill providing for a free employment bureau to 
be established by the State in four of the largest Texas cities.""^' 

With the subsequent placing of responsibility for regulating private employ- 
ment agencies upon the bureau of labor statistics, the cro(>kedness of these 
agencies came m<.re clearly into the light. From the Fourth Biennial Report, 
1915-16, on, every report for a number of years carried accounts of violations, 
open defiance, and evasicns, with recommendations. Increasingly, stress was laid 
by Ihe iicumbent conunissioner upon the need for free State employment 
bureaus." In this Fourth Report, for example. Commissioner Woodman, in 
recognition of the urgent need for direction in and organization of the labor 
market, said: 

" Third Biennial Report, 191.3-14, bureau of labor statistics, Texas, pp. 144-145. 
^ Ibid., p 11. 

21 P.'oimial reports, bureau of labor statistics, Texas, 1915-16, 1917-18. 1919-20, 


"In the enforcement of this law (employment agency law) we have made a 
study of the needs of the people patronizing employment agencies, and have 
reached the conclusion that the State would make no mistake if it established at 
least five free employment bureaus. During the harvest seasons these agencies 
should be located in whatever section of the State that might be of the greatest 
advantage to both the farmers and applicants for employment. Thousands of 
dollars per year would be saved the farmers and other employers and labor 
protected against impositions. Unemployed labor congests unless intelligently 
directed. Through a system of State employment agencies communication could 
be established between labor centers and the unemployed directed to the best 
advantage." ^ 

The ihirty-eighth legislature enacted a new employment agency law, effective 
February 28, 1923. According to this law, an employment agent, following proper 
application, pays a license fee of ,$150 for each county in which he maintains an 
employment cfHce, and executes a bond for $5,000. False advertising is prohibited, 
registration fees are not allowed, and any employment fee may not be collected 
until employment is actually furnished. Employers also are obligated not to 
make any false statements in soliciting labor."^ This law, however, was openly 
violated over a period of years.^ 

Finally, cumulative thereof, the emigrant agency law went into effect in 1929."' 
The distinction between employment agents and emigrant agents by this legisla- 
tion was cai'efully drawn. An employment agent who operates only within the 
State of Texas is subject only to the Texas employment agency law; an employ- 
ment agent who operates only as an emigrant agent is subject to the Texas emi- 
grant agency law ; an employment agent who carries on the dual enterprise of 
intrastate service to Texas employers and labor and emigrant agent service 
to Texas labor is subject to both the Texas employment agency and Texas 
emigrant agency laws. Any emigrant agent who hires, entices, or solicits 
laborers within the S ate of Texas for employment outside Texas must pay an 
annual license tax of ,$10 for each county in which he operates, an annual State 
occupation tax of $1,000. and an annual graduated county occupation tax accord- 
ing to the population of the county or counties in v/hich he operates. If said 
emigrant agent is also an employment agent oijerating within the State of Texas 
for Texas emploj^ers and Texas laborers, he is subject also to the payment of an 
annual license fee of $1.50 for each county in which he maintains an office and to 
the execution of a bond of $5,000 for each county where he maintains an employ- 
ment office.^" 

Violations and evasions of these laws measurably reduced the effectiveness and 
weakened the original purposes thereof. 

The occupation taxes in Texas, as in other States, were intended to be a 
deterrent to the exploitation of migratory laborers. They were established to 
discourage invasions from outside on the State's labor market and mobile workers. 

That the occupation tax provisions for emigrant agents in Texas has been 
largely inactive is apparent from the fact that, according to the records, only 
one company has ever paid the State occupation tax of $1,000. That was 
shortly after the passage of the Texas emigrant agency law. 

Evasion of the State occupation tax was long favored by the liberal con- 
struction on the part of the State labor department of the exemption as 
stated in section 7 of the Texas emigrant agency law.*^ 

22 Fourtb Biennial Report, bureau of labor statistics. Texas, 1915-16, p. 18. 

23 Laws of Texas Relating to Labor, 1939 ed.. pp. 28-37. 

21 Piennial reports, bureau of labor statistics, Texas, beginning 1923-21. 

2= Lav s of Texas Relating to Labor, 1939 ed., pp. 3S-44. 

2« Texas employment agencv law, art. 5208. R. C. S., art. 5210, R. C. S., Texas emigrant 
agencv law. a'-t. n221a-l. R. C. S., sees. 1. 2 : art. 7047. R. C. S.. sec. 40. 

2' Texas emigrant law, see. 7. reads : "Tbis act shall also apply in all its terpis and pro- 
visions to every other person, firm, corporation, maritime agency, or association of persons 
hiring, enticing, or soliciting laborers to be employed by him beyond the limits of this 
State, but not maintaining an ofPce therefor, except that such other person, firm, corpora- 
tion, maritime a"'oncy, or association of persons as used in this section shall not be 
required to pay the occupation taxes in order to procure a license, but shall pay to the 
labor commissioner the annual ' fee provided by this act, and shall perform all the 
other provisions of t'^is act. and such license shall in that event be limited to such holder 
thereof hirins. onticina:, or soliciting laborers exclusively and only for said holder of such 
license : provided, liowever. that tbis section shall not apply to a person where the number 
to be employed bv such person shall not exceed 10 employees." (Acts 1929, 41st leg., 2d 
C. S., p. 203, ch. 96.) 


Chief offenders in this evasion and violation of the ocenpation tax pro- 
vision are employment agents and emigrant agents representing the cotton 
grovrers of Arizona and the sugar-beet grov^ers of Michigan and certain other 

In the meantime, another remedial measure was evolving: the public em- 
ployment service. A Farm Placement Service was organized in 1SJ18 as a 
division of the United States Employment Service ; and it survived the demobi- 
lization of that Service in 1919. 

After the World War, the Service was confined to a few States in which 
easual and migratory labor was the main source of worker supply to farmers 
at peak seasons. 

Recruitment and placement of harvest hands in the wheat belt was the 
principal activity of the Service during the years until 1931 when the increasing 
use of combines displaced thousands of harvest hands. Operating from head- 
quarters in Kansas City, the Service had about 20 field officers, 1 of which was 
in Fort Worth. . 

Operations from this office originally were on a 45-day basis, allowing just 
enough time to handle the migrant labor moving to the wheat harvest in the 
Panhandle and on the North Central Plains. 

An emergency situation in which the Fort Worth office helped save the 
cotton crop in 1922 by rounding up migratory labor at the precise moment it 
was needed was the beginning of an extension of Farm Placement Service 
activity in handling the cotton season employment. In 1923, offices were 
opened in San Antonio, El Paso, and Brownsville; and service was extended to 
crops other than cotton from these offices. 


On June 6, 1933. the Wagner-Peyser Act was passed, abolishing the old 
employment service system then existing and providing for the development of 
a new system of public employment services to be set up and administered by 
the individual States in cooperation with and as a bureau of the Department 
of Labor. According to this law, one duty of the United States Employment 
Service is to maintain a farm placement service. In the thorough reorganiza- 
tion of the United States Employn:!ent Service which followed, a division was 
created at national headquarters known as the Farm Placement Service. This 
Service was charged at the outset with the organization of the agricultural 
labor market so that farmers and both regular and casual or migratory workers 
might be brought together at seasonal times, looking over toward the keeping 
available of an adequate labor supply to meet employer needs. 

Early in 19.35, a plan M-as adopted for the integration of the Farm Place- 
ment Service with the service of the regular employment offices. Federal fai'm 
supervisors were assigned to States having the largest farm prob'ems. These 
supervisors being made responsible jointly to the Director of the Farm 
Placement Service and to the directors of the State employment service to 
which they were assigned. There they were to act as members of the admin- 
i.strative staff of the State service and to be specifically responsible for super- 
vision of farm placement activities. 

The Texas State Employment Service was created by an act of the Forty- 
fourth Texas Legislature in regular session, 1935, in response to a special 
mes.sage from Gov. .Tames V. Allred. The State law directed affiliation of the 
Texas State Employment Service with the United States Employment Sem^ice, 
according to the provisions of the Wagner-Peyser Act. 

The gigantic problems facing the Farm Placement Service in Texas in 1935 
centered in migratory labor. In Texas, agriculture and migratory labor are 
inseparable. Behind the chaotic conditions of immigration, dispersion, and 
miorganized labor market, already reviewed as background, there were definite 
economic causes operating to increase the difficulties. Although some of these 
economic causes have been mentioned, they deserve more extended treatment 
in their relation to the problems and activities of the Texas Farm Placement 
Service between 1935 and 1940. Their direct bearing upon migi-atory labor 
will appear as they unfold in the following survey. 


Radical shifts are takina: place in the pi-iHlnctive enterprises of Texas. To 
a laria:e extent, these problems involve asi'i<-nltnre, mannfacturins and mechan- 
ical industries, trade and service industries, and, to a lesser extent, certain 
other enterprises. 

During the old era of Texas economy, now coming rapidly to a close, employ- 
ment was built upon natural resources — soil, timber, minerals, with its em- 
phasis upon volume production of basic raw materials and its enormous demand 
for labor of the hand, directed largely by experience to perform limited func- 
tions. Little thought was given to conservation, either of natural resources 
or of human resources. Changes in this type of economy were inevitable. 

Moving slowly at first, but gathering momentum until today they are tum- 
bling over each" other almost too fast for our comprehension, the changes in 
Texas econom.v, catching us woefully "short," have thrust us into a period of 
swift transition on the very threshold of the new era of industrialization and 

Of these changes and shifts, ijone are more spectacular than those which 
have occurred in agriculture. They include a decrease in totnl rural — farm 
population ; a sharp decline in number of croppers and a lesser decline in all 
types of tenants; and increase in farms, farm-owners, and farm managers, 
with some stress on growing absentee ownership ; a noticeable increase in farm 
laborers; a steady drop in numbers of gainfully employed in agriculture in 
proportion to decade census of gainfully employed as a whole. Under the old 
rural culture, there developed a self-maintaining family-farm institution which 
took care of all the social needs, including education, care of the aged and 
dependent, and adjustment of the unemployed. How completely this family- 
farm institution has broken down is indicated by the sweeping social security 
legislation of recent years and the persistent downward trend of the old 
system of agriculture. 

This trend is reported statistically in successive census reports. In 1935, 
for instance, the rural-farm population of Texas was reported as 2,-121,000, or 
.39.7 percent of the total population of the State, 6,117,009, as compared with 
a rural-farm population of 2,234,5.53 in 1930, or 40.2 percent of the total popu- 
lation of that year, and as compared further with a rural-farm population of 
2,205,734 in 1920, or 48.6 percent of the State total at that time. In 15 years, 
that is, there was a decrease of S.9 percent in our State rural-farm population. 
It required only 5 years, however, for the absolute number of cropper tenants 
in Texas to decrease 27.3 percent, from 105,122 in 1930, to 76,468 in 1935, 
ch;;rging the distribution of croppers to the total rural-farm population from 
21.2 to 15.3 percent. The absolute loss of all tenants was 5.2 percent, from 
301,660 to 20<S,103, with distribution percentages declining from 60.8 in 1930 
to 57.2 in 1935. P.ut this loss of 28,654 cropper tenants is significantly balanced 
by the gain of 25.601 farm laborers during the same period. As we shall 
see, this numerical resemblance is not mere coincidence. 

Increases appeared during the 5 years also in the total number of farms, 
in the total number of farm operators other than tenants, and in the total 
number of households engaged in agricultural occupation. 

Farms increased in number from 495,489 in 19.% to 501,017 in 1935, a gain 
of 1.1 percent. The niunber of full owners increased 13 percent; the number 
of part owners increased 2.8 percent; the number of managers increased 4.8 
percent. In absolute numbers, farm laborers increased 34.7 percent, from 
73,807 in 1930 to 99,408 in 1935. The number of Texas houseliolds engaged in 
agriculture, therefore, both rural-farm workers and agricultural workers living 
in towns and cities, totaled in 1930, 569,296; and in 1935, 600,425, a total gain 
of 5.5 percent. 

This increase in total number of farms with full and part owners and man- 
agers threw some emphasis on absentee ownership, thus accenting the loss of 
conununity enterprise and the accumulating decline in local agricultural 

The decline is still further stressed by the ciMisus reports of gainfully em- 
ploved over the age of 10 years. Although there has been some increase in 
al^solute numbers from time to time, there has been steady decrease in per- 
centage of agricultural workers to gainfully employed workers as a whole, 
from 62.4 in 1900 to 38.1 in 1930, a loss of 24.3 percent in 30 years. Estimates 


by the University of Texas Bureau of Business Research are that liD40 ligures 
will show that only 30 i)ercent of the gainfully employed in the State are in 

These tigurt's, furthermore, are not to be interpreted to mean that all the 
gainfully employed in agricullure in Texas in any given year are year-round, 
full-time workers. Since the outstanding characteristic of Texas agriculture is 
its seasonality, with a miiutr cultivation peak of about 2 weeks and a harvest- 
ing peak in most crops of from H weeks to 2 months, varying according to area 
and crop, it is tlie first factor to he reckoned with in agricultural employment. 

The great majt)rity of agricultural w-irkers in Texas do not labor steadily 
12 months a year at one job. Ovv-ners and tenants on large cotton acreages, 
until recently, perhaps made a year's living ofl; a single crop in a single farm 
unit. Owners and tenants on mixed or diversified farms likewise have had 
a way of rounding out a year of work and income. But small farmers and 
trajisient workers are compelled to shift from region to region, following the 
peaks of the various crops, or to find part-time jobs in other industries in 
towns or cities. There is, therefore, during the year a constant movement 
from farm to farai to other regions to town and city back to farm by agri- 
cultural workers. 

The census evidences of persistent decline are in accord with certain other 
data. Dr. A. B. Cox, for instance, estimates that agricultural workers furnished 
as high as 5<) percent of the relief cases at the peak of the depression In Texas. 
Again. 84 percent of unemployed agricultural labor in the rural coimties of the 
State are farm tenants and farm laborers ; also, the 1937 Census of Unemploy- 
ment reported 137.(X)0 jobless agricultural workers in Texas — over 59 percent of 
the total munber reported as unemployed. 

In spite of this steady decline, agriculture has not yet relinquished first place 
to manufacturing and mechanical industries, which, since 1900, liave climbed 
steadily from 7.S percent of the gainfully employed in Texas to 17.5. Agriculture 
was still in the lead in 1930 by 2i».(> percent. The rapid development during the 
past decade will undoubtedly slsow very different figures in the new census. 

Between these two trends — agrii-ultural revolution and industrialization — 
neither of which has reached a i)oint of equilibrium, either high or low, Texas 
economy now wavei's. Agriculture no longer provides employment and livelihood 
for thousands who until recently were completely dei^endent nixni it for every 
economic need. Large-scale industry, on the other baud, sufficient to support 
masses of Texas population, is still in the future. It may well be, paradoxical as 
it s(mnds. that the pre.sent expansion of industrial activities in the State of Texas, 
largely due to defense measures, will, by absorbing every type of labor susceptible 
to training and retraining, create an actual shortage in agricultural labor, includ- 
ing migratory. Trends in this direction will be noted later. 

In the meantime, the economic gap between agriculture and mechanical 
industry is filled with employment problems for which sijecific causes will now 
be ••onsidered. 

The most critical of these causes centers around cotton. The major interest 
of Texas in the cotton industry is the production of raw cotton for market. 

Of lUniosr significance is the fact that no other agricultural interest in Texas 
provides the employment opportunities Tuitil recently afforded by cotton. Cotton 
growing and harvesting have been unique in their resistance to change. As late 
as 192S, it was still possible to say that in the method of cultivation and harvesr 
the cotton erop had been subject to less progress than almost any other harvest 
crop. On the small tenant farms in the middle and eastern sections of the Cotton 
Belr cotton farming was not essentially different — from the planting of the seed 
through the picking of tlie seed cotton from the oi)en bolls — from the methods 
e)nployed in east India at the dawn of history. 

Volume cotton production in the peak years of the year just closing in Texas 
called for mass hand labor on a large .scale and gave employment and livelihood 
to thousands of farm and migratory workers. In 1928 it was estimated that 
70 pen^nt of the jxipulation of Texas was dependent directly or indirectly upon 

In the peak year of 1920, .".028,000 bales of cotton were produced on 10,374,000 
GVxas acres. Two years later, in 1928, 5,150.000 bales of cotton were harvested 
from 17.743,000 acres. Ten years later, in 1938, the harvested acreage was 42 



percent less than that of 1928. Only a small percent of the acreage released from 
cotton has been planted to other crops for harvest, and the combined income from 
livestock and livestock products and from other agi-icultural sources, although 
on the increase, has not been sufficient to offset the loss in cotton income. 

These terrific losses in income are, obviously, accompanied by equally terrific 
unemplovment and displacement. In 1930 there were in Texas 349,4.')2 cotton 
farms with 106,228 full and part owners and managers. All tenants on these 
farmers totaled 243,224—5,455 cash tenants, 147,483 share tenants, and 90,286 
cropper tenants. The decline that set in early in this decade, as already men- 
tioned, is emphasized by the shocking fact that in 1 year alone, between January 
1, 1937, and January 1, 1938, according to the 1937 Texas Population Changes 
Survev. there was a decrease of 20.000 cotton farms in the State. Since many 
displaced families from cotton farms migrated, probably, to noncotton farms, the 
displacement from cotton farms was no doubt greater than 20,000 families. 

The cotton-reduction program and the loss of world markets, to which formerly 
the bulk of Texas cotton went, are in no small degree responsible for the dire 
unemployment condition among migratory workers ; but of equal imiwrtance as a 
cause is the technological displacement — the mechanization of crop production 
and crop harvest. To quote Prof. C. Horace Hamilton in a study sponsored by 
the Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College, "The rate and magnitude of the 
recent mechanization of agriculture in this country are, to put it mildly, beyond 
fhe imagination and comprehension of the average man." 

In the Southwest Texas leads in this ma-hanization, with 61,618 tractors 
added in 1938 alone, an increase over 1930 of 165 percent. The tractor ratio in 
Texas is now 19.8 per hundred, considerably higher than that of any other 
Southern State except Oklahoma, with 19.5. The 1938 total of 98,966 tractors in 
Texas far exceeded the total in eight old South Cotton States. 

In cotton farming the most rapid mechanization has taken place in the western 
areas of Texas and Oklahoma. In Texas the high and low plains and the Corpus 
Cliristi area are almost completely mechanized. In a study made by C. A. Bonnen 
and A. C. Magee in 1937 it was found that of 141 representative farmers in the 
high plains that year, 79 percent were depending on tractor power and multirow 
equipment, as compared with only 26 percent in 1931. Furthermore, as the use 
of four-row equipment has increased the use of work stock has become obsolete. 

In the Blacklands of Texas at least 30 percent of the farmers use tractors to 
such an extent that possibly 50 percent of the cropland is cultivated with tractors. 

Although the large plantations of the river bottoms have been shjw to mechanize 
cotton, the number of tractors on them doubled in 4 years preceding 1938. Cer- 
tain factors will keep hand labor on the plantations longer than elsewhere. 

This displacement of farms and tenants by the thousands has not been confined 
to cotton workers. The same situation applied to all other agricultural activities 
in Texas in proportion to their rating as labor markets. 

Depending upon transient and m;gratory labor ahnost entirely, when any is 
needed, the Plains and Blacklands farmers keep a rapidly dimiiii.siiing number of 
tenants on their places. The displacement of from 1 to 3 families by 1 tractor is 
not uncommon. An exaggerated case, perhaps, is one reported in which 9 
families were displaced by 1 tractor. On the assumption that 1 tractor will 
C'isplace only 1 familv, more than 60.000 farm families were displaced from Texas 
farms between 1930 and 1938. We know that at least 20,000 of these families 
were displaced from cotton farms. Furthermore, since the number of tractors 
on Texas farms increased about 50,000 in a 3-year period before April 1, 1938, it 
may be estimated that more than 10,000 families have been displaced annually 
from Texas farms since 1935. 

Although, by the peculiar requirements of cotton production, technological 
displacement of cotton workers is the most spectaculnr change in Texas agricul- 
ture and accounts for much of the steady decline since 1900, the entire curve is 
skewed over in the direction of the machine. That is, mechanization has appeared 
in wheat, corn, potato, truck, and even in citrus-fruit crops. Although hand labor 
still prevails in several of these crops, and there is increase in development of 
those industries, the displaced farm workers cannot be absorbed en masse into 
truck and fruit growing, nor even into fruit, vegetable, and dairy-processing plants. 
Where do they go? Many of them, as already remarked, go to poorer and 
unmechanized farms. Some try, with no conspicuous success, to find work in 


other lines of activity. Some remain in the country to work as partially employed 
or common laborers. Increasiiifr numbers of theni migrate to towns and cities, 
there to become common laborers, alternating between agricultural and town 
occupations with the seasonal drifts. It is not a coincidence that there were in 
1935 a decrease of 28,654 croppers and an increase of 25,601 farm laborers. 
Others — thousands of them — join the transient and migratory hordes following 
the seasons of Texas crops and crossing State lines far afield. 

In ls>37 there were an estimated 600,000 of these migratory workers in Texas, 
of whom one-half worked the entire period, traveling from one crop to another 
over the State. They represented the 50 percent of migratory transient laborers 
for whom the crops of the State have, vmtU recent technological displacement and 
crop reduction, provided year-round employment. In 193S there were in Texas 
already some 2.500 mechanical choppers in use. primarily in large units, which 
previously had used m'gratory workers in lai'ge numbers. 

The experience of the Texas Farm Placement Service in attempting to reduce 
the magnitude of the problems by organization of the labor market from 1935 to 
the present I'eveals in retrospect a continuous progress toward clearer under- 
standing and increasing control of intrastate and interstate movements of migra- 
tory workers. Review of the experience of the service during each year of this 
period will indicate the developmental stages.-^ 

I'erhaps it is too obvious to mention, but it is important to keep in mind that 
the size and area of the State of Texas render ridiculous any attempt to de.scribe 
it brieiiy and simply as a whole, for assuredly it is made up of many parts that in 
themselves defy simplicity of description. 

Each of these parts or regions has its conditions and problems of climate, soils, 
rainfall, vegetation, natural resources, population, industries, numbers employed', 
crops, agricultural seasons of sowing, cultivating, and harvesting, livestock, pro- 
duction methods, seasonal characteristics — factors which bear directly upon the 
employment proijlem and dictate in no small degree the methods by which the 
problem must be handled. Certainly migratory movements of workers over the 
State must be interpreted and treated in terms of these factors. 

Preliminary observations, therefore, were undertaken by local ofBces under the 
direction of the farm-placement service supervisors assigned to Texas. These two 
supervisors, although directly accountab'e to Washington, worked under the 
direction of one of the as.sistant directors of the Texas State Employment Service 
who had been put in charge of all farm placement activity for the State. 

The agricultural worker was registered in the employment service oflSce by the 
same procedure as any other worker, and his various registration and work 
history data went through the same routine as those for any other applicant. 

But since migratory labor, with its mobility and frequently unattached state 
of transiency, did not lend itself to permanent and immediately available record 
in the active files of an employment office, other means of checking had to be 
devised. Accordingly, local employment office personnel began tentatively to 
collect for their own information and direction data on crops, peak seasons crop 
outlook, labor needs, and farmer expectations and attitudes. 

From the outset, it has been the policy of the Texas State Employment Service 
and its farm-placement service to exhaust a local labor supplv before calling In 
outside labor. In its tentative approach, therefore, to the migratory worker situ- 
ation, it had some idea that the migrants within easy distance should be the ones 
called upon first. Right here, the service, in many parts of the State, ran into 
a stone wall of determined opposition to any change from common practice. 

That is, many growers were firmly committed to the contractor system for 
obtaining their labor supply. By this system a contractor handled all negotia- 
tions for the labor required by a grower. Often the contractors would contract 
large blocks of acreage and let it out to laborers on an acreage basis Large 
growers were known to encourage their contractors to keep a surplus of labor on 
the property, allowing the workers to become so indebted they could not easily get 
away. Wages were very low in such cases. 75 cents per dav being the prevaHing 
wage. Cotton chopping was usually paid for on acreage "basis, so set that the 
average worker could not make more than 75 cents ner rlav 

Another not uncommon practice came to the early attention of the service. A 
so-called contractor would agree to furnish migratory labor to a grower on the 

^ Materials taken from flies and reports of the Texas State Employment Service. 


understanding that the selection of the gin would be left to the contractor. The 
"deal" between the contractor and the ginner then usually amounted to $1 per 
bale profit to the contractor. 

Furthermore, it was found that growers preferred outside contractors and 
laborers. When explanation for this preference was sought, service representa- 
tives learned that '"local" contractors are too exacting at times in the amounts 
they receive for hauling, and they pick up and move their gangs out without 
giving warning. It was said, too, that local labor might become too easily dis- 
couraged, whereas workers brought in from a distance were more or less helpless, 
at the mercy of the contractor as to wages and conditions of working. 

To all intents and purposes these contractors were labor agents of a type already 
discussed as part of the picture previous to 1935. From the start, therefore, the 
Farm Placement Service of Texas had to face a situation hardened by the skillful 
evasions of the Texas employment agency law. 

Owners of many of the large holdings were found to be out-of-Stale investors, 
interested only in returns. Since they could speak no Spanish and were un- 
familiar with farming and ranching methods in the Southwest, they hired Mexi- 
cans to handle their labor problems ; but to evade the itrovisions of the Texas 
employment agency law the contractors were paid, not on a direct per capita 
basis, but having brought in the workers free of registration charges, they were 
then employed to haul the crop harvested by the laborers contracted to Ihem. 

This metiiod of contracting had spread to other crops, espt'cially i«nions. It was 
found that onion growers wanted only south Texas Mexicans, brought in by 
truckloads from the San Antonio area by contractors. 

The contractor system yielded not a whit to employment servic-e approaches in 
1085. Uncontracted migratory workers, njeanwhile, roamed as aimlessly as ever. 
Frequently, these nomads, either starting out on their own or on misleading in- 
formation from a labor agent, would make an untimely arrival at some destina- 
tion where they might find neither work nor shelter. If the weather happened 
to be inclement, they would bog down in the mud along the r(nid or in some 
vacant acreage luitil they were told to move on. 

Rumors of violations of the Texas emigrant .-igency law began to tilter through 
to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and to the farm placement .'service. 

Although there was no request for an eiuigrant agency license after l&SO, it 
was discovered that some attempts were being made to ship labor out of the 
State to northern beet fields. Emigrant agents could and did, no doubt, paint 
the advantage of a summer in the beet fields of JMichigan or Colorado in rosy 
colors. While unemployed labor idled, Mexican laborers were haiUed across five 
States and l,tiflO miles to the beet fields of Michigan. Having heard the proposi- 
tion, the Mexican would count his children, load them into car, bus. or truck 
and start out for the beet fields, where wages per acre from .$17 to $20 awaited 
him and his family. 

In spite of the discouraging aspects of the labor situation in Texas, the farm 
placement service in 1935 carried on a steady if not extensive activity, its prin- 
cipal placement record i-esulting from cotton-picking .seasons over the State. 
Other crop harvests received little attention ; and total placements were small in 
proportion to the volume of labor turn-over in agriculture. 

A Kardex control was set up in 1935, maintained by district and county to 
show the status of each oflice at any time. All available county data were 
recorded, including kinds of crops, acreage of each, production of each, planting 
time, cultivating time, harvesting season. Space was prepared for regular farm 
and transient placement records, with separate space reserved for entries on 
required outside labor. 

F.y the beginning of 1936 the Texas State Employment Service had a larger 
personnel, expanded office facilities, and nearly a year of experimental experience 
behind it. The farm placement service began to expand. 

The sketchy information each local oflice had collected for its own use and the 
hasty observfitions each had made of its own vicinity had served their limited 

The iirst joint effort toward an articulated survey and analysis of the condi- 
tions and problems of the State as background for employment techniques was an 
early project of the year. The ultimate aim of all these data was to furnish a 
working knowledge of the available labor supply at any given time and of 
farmer-employer needs in the successive seasons. 


Directed from the administrative office in Austin, this survey stressed informa- 
tion on acreage and yield in all crops, manner in which labor was handled, and 
the numbers of local and migratory workers used during the peak seasons. 

Personal solicitation of growers, shippers, contractors, and laborers served the 
employment service representatives a double purpose. They gathered valuable 
and pertinent information; and by projecting their organization and its aims 
wherever they went, they established many valuable contacts. For the most part, 
they had excellent cooperation from farm agents, chambers of commerce, and 
local businessmen, many of whom openly welcomed the service as a benefactor 
to labor and to industry. 

In the administrative office, the reiwrts were studied and analyzed; and there 
began to emeige a plan of labor organization. 

The survey proceeded by districts, beginning in the Winter Garden area of 
south Texas', where winter vegetables are the basic crop, with spinach and 
onions leading in importance. It was found here that the accepted method of 
securing labor for the various seasons was through the contractor system. 

The service, however, began to receive orders; and a highlight of experience 
in this region was the receipt and disposal of an order in the San Antonio office 
from a grower's contractor at La Pryor, 130 miles from San Antonio. The order 
was for one hundred spinach cutters, with transportation, fuel, and living 
quarters furnished. 

When the order was referred to the administrative office, the farm placement 
supervisor instructed the San Antonio office to take no action until conditions 
at La Pryor could be checked. It developed that there was no shortage of labor 
at La Pryor. In the Crystal City area, due to slack prod^iction, there were 
hundreds of available spinach cutters. At Carrizo Springs, 30 miles from La 
Pryor, there w^ere spinach cutters at the very time the contractor had appealed 
to San Antonio for workers. 

Adhering to its hardening policy of referring only local labor until it is 
exhausted, the employment service refused to fill the order. Such a transac- 
tion would have produced congestion of unemployed labor in that area and 
would have aggravated the idleness of available local workers. 

This conclusion tightened into definite and final policy the practice of the 
service to supply workers only upon receipt of specific orders for labor, and 
then only when it has been ascertained that no local labor is available. Out- 
side labor was to be referred only when it had been unquestionably ascertained 
that labor demand by farmers actually exceeded the supply and that all labor 
brought in would be put to work. In such cases, the imported labor was to be 
obtained from the nearest possible point as a measure of economy in time and 

This experience in the winter garden area early in 1936, which crystallized 
into one of the fundamental principles of farm placement service policy, is an 
excellent example of the cumulative method by which farm placement service 
procedure in Texas has developed. Experience has led the way ; and experience 
has tested ideas, eliminated unsatisfactory results, established practical prac- 

The survey was carried into the citrus fruit region in the lower Rio Grande 
"Valley. The onion is an important crop in parts of this area, and in 1930 service 
representatives had opportunity to see at first hand what happens when a 
glutted market extends the season, causing delayed harvest. Production here 
was stretched out over weeks and migratory workers were stranded up and 
down the roadside, living on the rotting vegetables left in the fields after the 
harvest, suffering from sickness and lack of decent living conditions. 

IMany of these stranded workers w^ere white persons from out of the State. 
Next to cotton, the onion crop of this area received the most extensive and 
unwarranted publicity with the result that year after year migrant workers 
moved into the brush and set up their camps. 

The 1936 survey reports from this area, on the basis of observation, carried 
suggestions for dealing with the situation in 1937 and thereafter, to the end 
that such conditions might be prevented by the rerouting and redirecting of 
workers from a congested area to one where labor shortage might exist. 

Favorable to employment service corrective intentions was the attitude of 
many growers who preferred Mexican skill in their fields and who said that 

260370— 41— pt. 


Mexican labor was usually available in suflBcient numbers to perform peak 

In the coastal bend area, where agriculture is a year-round activity, the 
survey reports told of vast labor needs at the peak seasons. The system of 
contractor labor, however, promised to be a deterrent to service functions. 

From the coastal bend area, the investigation moved to Waco and Dallas 
districts, large cotton-producing areas. East Texas with its tomatoes and diversi- 
fied farming; Fort Worth with its cotton, cattle, grains, and wheat interests; 
Abilene with its sheep and goat ranching and its cotton; the north high plains 
with its wheat and cotton; El Paso with its cotton; Houston with its cotton 
and rice; Beaumont with little agricultural activity — one after the other, these 
areas were surveyed and put down into the record for all that they had to yield 
la the way of pertinent data. 

The survey was finished in July 1936, too late to serve as a guide in some 
of the south Texas districts, but in time to function effectively in other districts. 
Plans, therefore, were immediately laid toward an organizational beginning of 
the labor market in districts where the harvest seasons were yet to come. For 
the other districts, there at least existed a ground work upon which to lay plans 
for the 1937 seasons. 

The significance of migratory labor in Texas agriculture made itself con- 
spicuous in the survey. From only two districts was there no report of need 
of migratory workers at peak seasons. 

The first opportunity for putting plans into operation came with the opening 
of the cotton season in the Brownsville area, where, annually, the growers over- 
estimated labor needs. Following tradition, calls for labor went out in 1936. 
From one community, a long distance telephone message to the employment 
service office requested 2,000 pickers. An investigator was dispatched to the 
community where again he was assured of urgent labor needs, but names of 
specific growers needing labor were not forthcoming. After every grower had 
been contacted and all rumors tracked down, it turned out that bona fide orders 
for 85 workers took care of the situation. In spite of continued rumors of labor 
shortage, it was possible to handle the harvest without bringing more than 200 
workers in from outside. As was to be expected, other migrants drifted in on 
the wings of publicity and rumor; but the employment service was commended 
for the way it handled the emergency. Total placements in the valley cotton 
counties during July and August of this year were 4,264. 

The first big movement of migratory labor to be handled by the service was 
that of cotton pickers moving into the coastal bend country. In this section, 
Nueces County leads in cotton. In 1936. in spite of production control, growers 
had 190,000 acres of cotton, with an estimated yield of 80,000 bales. 

According to plan, the Service employees in the several counties of the district 
reported daily to the Farm Placement Supervisor who was stationed at Alice, 
in Jim Wells County, strategic point through which the main streams of migra- 
tory labor must flow from the Lower Valley, Laredo, Eagle Pass enroute to the 
coastal bend cotton picking section. 

On the basis of these reports regarding bona fide openings and conditions, the 
supervisor directed the movement of workers to localities where labor was needed. 
As the workers were intercepted, they were given referral cards for presentation 
at an employment service office holding orders. The card carried the name of 
the group leader or the family head and the number of workers in the group. 

When the movement started out of the valley about August 10, the service 
employees in that region were able, on the basis of their own experience that 
season, to provide advance information as to numbers and time of checking out, 
so that they might be intercepted and redirected. 

To help handle the movement more expeditiously, five employees were trans- 
ferred to the coastal bend district from other offices for the month of August. 
Two areas were consolidated ; and the number of placements in these two areas 
for August was 6,275, the majority being in Nueces and Bee Counties. 

The traditional tendency of the migratory labor to pick the cream of a crop 
and then move on to another district where the crop might not yet be ready 
gave the service some difficulty in the coastal bend area. Still skeptical as to 
the intentions and reliability of service information, the workers too many times 
would not accept the word of the Service representatives as to conditions else- 


-where. To their ultimate inconvenience and hardship, they would move off 
undirected, to follow a rumor. 

The cotton-picking season in central Texas which usually opens about the 
middle of September and that of the plains area which opens about the middle 
of October were early in 1936 so that in the midst of the picking season in the 
coastal bend area, demands for cotton pickers began to come in from those 
regions. It was difficult, and in cases impossible, to keep the pickers at work 
in the coastal bend fields. 

The total number of placements during the cotton season in these two central 
and north districts— Waco and Dallas — was 13,944 for the months of August, 
September, and October. 

When cotton picking ceased on the north plains in November, the year's cycle 
was completed ;and the migratory workers turned south again to be on hand 
when the season opened in the Brownsville district for winter vegetables and 
citrus fruits. 

Since the employment service was not able to put into practice much of its 
planning until midsummer of 1936, it had not experienced all the turns in the 
cycle; but it had built up a corpus of valuable experience to be absorbed into 
policy-making, and it had met many problems squarely and intelligently. 

In addition to situations already mentioned, the Farm Placement Service of 
the Texas State Employment Service in 1936 met and tackled the following 
problems : 

(1) A shortage of labor developing in the Dallas district, the employment 
service cooperated with the Works Projects Administration which released 1,900 
men and women from going projects to pick cotton for 2 weeks. 

(2) The need of itinerant service arising, it was provided for counties where 
no regular offices were located but where large-scale seasonal demands of labor 

(3) Headway was made with contractors. Gradually, the more reliable con- 
tractors were coming to see a possible ally rather than a competitor in the 
employment service. By actual experience, some of these contractors learned 
that by cooperating with the service, they would save themselves and their 
crews the loss of time and money that resulted from aimless and fruitless wan- 
dering over the State. They were beginning to see that an organized labor 
market where employer demand and worker supply could meet was distinctly 
advantageous to all concerned. 

The contractors were usually owners of trucks who hauled the laborers to 
and from the areas of production. The reliable and responsible type of con- 
tractor was described in a report early in 1936. From this report is quoted 
the following excerpt : 

"The only specific information I have on contractors and the way they operate 
is in connection with those with whom we have dealt — the truckmen-contractors 
who are sent by growers to our office with order for workers * * * rpj^^g 
order is sent to us by either telephone, telegram, or letter and we are re- 
quested to notify the contractors, or they are notified beforehand when to ex- 
pect orders. Certain contractors are very dependable, honest, and considerate 
of the laborer ; have known them to return workers who were ill to their homes 
at their own * * * jjj addition to transporting labor, they are 
hired to weigh the cotton, take charge of the commissaries and oversee the work 
generally. They are responsible for any loss in sacks or groceries — the groce- 
ries being advanced to workers, paid for out of wages when earned. If any of 
the workers get an allotment of groceries, then decide to leave, the contractor 
is required to pay for them. This past season, as I understand it, Messrs. 

M paid .$1..~)0 per adult for transportation of labor to their farms; $1 per 

bale for overseeing the work, and extra pay for weighing of cotton. For cotton 
chopping, I believe the pay was $1.50 a day for managing the crews and extra 
pay for transporting of labor. 

"Customary price contractor receives for vegetable harvesting is 5 cents per 
bushel, or its equivalent, or is paid on a commission basis. The farmers sell 
their crops to large companies or buyers from the East and they employ con- 
tractors for the gathering of the various crops. For this reason, contractors 
are employed more for vegetable harvesting than for cotton. They usually 
have charge of work such as grubbing land also. 


"This policy of the farmers to resort to contracting for labor has developed 
in the last few years to a great extent because the laborers have been less and 
less able to get to the work. If the farmer wanted his crops harvested, he 
had to send for the labor. Sometimes transportation is furnished free and 
sometimes a small fee charged to the account of the laborer. The truckmen 
usually serve as contractor. As you know, the farmers' employing of con- 
tractors, as far as the contractor proper is concerned, is a disadvantage to the 
laborer, as the wages paid him rightfully belong to the gatherer of the crops. 
However, this is the existing condition and the problem we face. 

"There is another type of contractor, commonly known as the 'boot- 
legger' * * * He recruits his labor, with an aim at the more ignorant, 
uninformed classes — offering work, vei-y often misrepresenting wages and 
working conditions, possibly having no definite location for them, but promising 
work, after collecting fees. He may deliver them to a farmer who knows 
nothing of his tactics, but badly in need of labor, hires them at any price 
and they are forced to remain * * *. However, this practice is not so 
prevalent as it once was." ^ 

The Texas laws regarding employment agencies and agents were evidently 
having some effect ui>on the unscrupulous contractors whose activities dated 
back to increasing stringency of the national immigration laws. Apparently, 
also, the activities of the employment service were acting as a curb on their 
bootleg methods. 

(4) The handling of migratory workers in the Lubbock area in 1!)36 was a 
vast improvement over the situation in 1935. With the cooperation of business- 
men and growers, better living conditions were provided for the migrants. 

(5) Interstate problems arose at least twice during the year. In April 1986 
employment service representatives learned that Mexican labor was being re- 
cruited in the San Antonio area for work in the beet tiekLs of Minnesota. 
The Labor Commissioner of Texas was notified that a company of workers were 
headed north on their way out of Texas, and correspondence was initiated 
between the Texas State Employment Service and the Minnesota State Em- 
ployment Service. It developed that the representative of a large Minnesota 
sugar company had written to former Mexican employees in Texas, telling 
them that there might be work available for a few families. A check upon 
the labor supply in Minnesota indicated neither shoitage of labor nor need of 
out-of-State importation. Although Texas labor officials halted the north-bound 
Mexicans, they were released when it developed that they were family groups 
in hired cars and had sutficient funds. To all intents and purposes, this was 
in violation of the Texas Emigrant Agency Law. as was the soliciting of Texas 
by growers in Arizona. Heavy rains in the Waco district delayed picking 
and irked the waiting migrants who were hearing from news reports and 
the "grapevine" that Arizona was in urgent need of pickers. The employment 
service refused to advise the workers to make the long, expensive trip ; but 
several hundred went anyway. Other pickers from various parts of Texas 
went to Arizona. Many of them were stranded there because of overcrowded 
labor supply, and many others returned to Texas late in the season with tales 
of misery. The situation in Arizona, which caused the Texas Service some 
annoyance fi-om 1936 to 1939, has been treated in fuller detail elsewhere.^" 

The year 1936, in spite of handicaps, mistakes, and inexperience, had been gen- 
erally successful. The survey early in the year had pointed to methods of handling 
migratory labor, had provided basic information for the making of seasonal 
calendars by districts, had, in short, given direction to the organization of the 
Texas farm-labor market. Problems had been met and faced squarely and intelli- 
gently, if not solved. A Kardex system of controls had been set up by districts 
ty counties. Pertinent county data were recorded in proper spaces ; placement 
records of regular and transient farm labor were kept ; and information regarding 
outside labor requirements was reported on the cards. Graphical charts had been 
■devised to visualize the year's experiences. 

The year 1937 opened on a note of fresh confidence. With its activities in the 
harvesting of spinach, citrus fruit, and mixed vegetables beginning in December 

^ Report from a district supervisor of the Texas State Employment Service. 
*> A Brief to Analyze the Texas Emigrant Agency Act and Other Pertinent Legislation, 
prepared by the Texas State Employment Service. 


193G and contiiming tlirongh March of tlie new year in the lower valley and winter 
garden areas the service had its first experience in this phase of the annual cycle. 
Over 2 300 placements were made in Zavala County in December and January, 
largely handled by interviewers transferred to the area because of their knowledge 
of Mexican psychology. In January and February there were 1,724 placements in 
3 counties of the area. 

The service chalked up success in meeting an emergency when a quarantine 
order prohibited anv shipping of citrus fruit out of the valley after April 23. In 
helping the growers and shippers, the service made 1,974 placements during March 
in the citrus areas. . , .^ , ,^ 

The San Antonio district showed over 10,000 placements during April and May, 
with the major activity in onion harvesting and cotton chopping in the coastal 

bend area. . ^^.„ ^ ,. • m 

Of particular significance during the onion season m Willacy County in the 
spring of 1937 was the establishment of the first so-called work assembly camp in 
Texas. It will be recalled that a deplorable situation arose in 1936 in this region, 
and service observers came away from the scene with corrective intentions to 
which the growers were mostly cordial. 

The camp, promoted by local businessmen and civic organizations, provided 
running water, garbage-disposal units, and sanitary units for men and women. 
The camp idea was permanently accepted, and plans for further development 
began to take shape. 

About 2,,300 placements were made during the April and May Bermuda onion 
harvest in the county. Although approximately 90 percent of the labor used in 
this harvest is migratory, the discouragement given to out-of-State workers in 
1936 favorably reacted to the advantage of growers and workers alike in 1937. 
That is, there was a considerable decrease in the use of out-of-State white workers. 
The larger portion of Mexican labor that handled the onions moved in at the close 
of the spinach harvest in Zavalla County. 

In fact, during these early months of 1937, increasing confidence in the service 
on the part of the growers, contractors, and especially the migratory workers 
themselves, began to be noticed. For example, when the onion harvest opened in 
Wilson County, as it was closing in Willacy County, 270 miles distant, the workers 
almost in a body moved from the one county to the other, reporting voluntarily to 
the employment service at Floresville for instructions and referrals. Approxi- 
mately 2,325 placements were made in the area during April and May. 

Late in May, when the onion harvest was finished in Wilson County, contractors 
and workers began to move north to Collin County, a distance approximately 325 
miles. Offices along the route were notified of the movement, and checkers were 
stationed at strategic points to count the trucks and workers and especially to 
reroute them to points where there were labor demands. 

In the heavy cotton season of 1937, growers exhibited an accented fear of labor 
shortage ; but the employment service refused to be stampeded from its policy of 
studying the actual needs before pointing any labor in any direction. It required 
constant and careful checking on all migratory labor movements, with men sta- 
tioned along the various routes to intercept and to give workers instructions and 
directions. The employment service offices were swamped with orders, and only the 
smooth functioning of advance planning kept the whole situation from becoming 
hopelessly confused and disordered. 

Peak activity in the Lubbock area found workers coming in from all sides ; 
but they were expected and preparations had been made for their coming. 
Businessmen, civic organizations, and other local interests in Lubbock co- 
operated to provide a work assembly camp on the Lubbock fair grounds. 
Here the workers found for their use lights, running water, toilets, garbage- 
disposal facilities. Contractors turned in and helped to maintain order and 
keep the fjremises in good shape. In Hockley County, Levelland turned over 
the fair park and exposition building for sleeping quarters ; and in Terry 
County, Brownfield offered a camping lot, furnished oil, stoves, electric lights, 
and sanitary conveniences. 

So successful were the camps in every way that the employment service 
was assured of their use in 1938. At the close of the 1937 season, when the 
last truck had pulled out of the camps, they were returned to the local 
authorities as clean and orderly as they bad been before the workers came. 
It is worthy of notice, too, that the labor market in counties of the area in 


which camps were not furnished was not as successfully organized or managed 
during that season. 

A new system of checking on migratory labor in Texas was begun in 1937 
with registration service established at the Lubbock camp Here, all migra- 
tory workers were registered ; the number arriving ; the number leaving ; the 
number making their arrangements directly with the farmers without employ- 
ment service assistance ; and the number moving on to other points. 

According to the register, 3,721 qualified workers were in the camp between 
October 11 and December 1. Of this number, 2,482 were placed ; G19 had made 
previous arrangements to report to employers ; 620 moved to other locations. 
No exact count was possible of the number who negotiated directly with 
farmers without employment service assistance. 

Service representatives were at the camp at all hours to assist employers 
who came to the camp in search of workers; and proper referrals were made 
of the registered workers. 

Altogether, 389 conveyances of all sorts came into the camp. Of these, 
317 showed Texas registration ; 45 Oklahoma ; 7, Arkansas ; 7, California ; 
6, New Mexico ; 3, Michigan ; 2, Kansas ; 1, Mississippi ; and 1, Louisiana. 

So effectively did the plans of the service function that the harvest moved 
swiftly ; and gins, working day and night, could not keep up with the con- 
tinuous stream of wagons and trucks. 

By the close of December 1. the season was practically over ; and approxi- 
mately 75 percent of the workers, mostly ^Mexicans, had already arrived in 
the Brownsville and San Antonio areas to begin the cycle all over again. 

Although the employment service is not a welfare agency, its effects upon 
the social and economic life of migratory labor was a remarkable aspect of the 
organization of the labor market in 1936-37. 

By routing the workers who depended upon the service from area to area, 
from crop to crop, from farm to form, even, the service was able to provide 
more consecutive working days than many of the workers had ever known 
before, and steadier income than they had ever received. Pertinent to this 
fact is that migratory workers who retui'ued to their homes in the winter 
garden from the north plains had, by December 1937, deposited more than 
$26,000 in one of the local banks. 

The effect of better housing upon these workers was a second social benefit. 
Better health, better morale, even increasing demand for adequate housing 
facilities were perfectly apparent results. 

Perhaps the outstanding feature in the 1937 program of the farm placement 
service of the Texas State Employment Service was its farm crow of 18 
interviewers who were stationed in the various crop areas during peak sea- 
sons. IVIoving from one place to another, they kept constant check on employer 
needs and available labor supply, making timely contacts between the two. 

By the end of the seasonal cycle, principal migratory routes had been mapped, 
charted, and depended upon for future needs, as the work pattern of those 
migratory workers who would depend upon the service in making the cycle 
of the crops 

Estimate of the numbers of itinerant workers in 1937 was 600,000, half of 
whom worked a maximum length of time, deducting time for travel and 
days lost because of weather conditions. The remaining 300,000 were not 
migratory workers in the true sense of the term. These went only short 
distances from home and worked varying lengths of time. For the most part, 
they were engaged in nonagricultural pursuits, in private industry, in self- 
employment, or in governmental employment ; or they were on relief. 

From all the records of the 2 years of active service there was compiled 
the first report of the farm placement service in Texas, with the title, "Survey 
of Farm Placement in Texas, 1936-37." 

To summarize the farm placement activity of 1937, it is suflScient only to 
say perhaps that placements in that year exceeded by 344 percent those of 1936. 

By the beginning of 1938, the period of exploration into the real purposes of 
farm-placement service was over. Experience was still to be the guide, as it 
must ever be in dealing with human labor and changing economic conditions ; 
but by this time the service had a definite plan and a program of action for 
every phase of the yearly cycle. Factual surveys, investigations, cooperation of 
other agencies were part of the regular routine of keeping informed and 


ready. Farm-placement procedure had taken its place as an established tech- 
nique in employment-service operations. More than that, the farm-placement 
service had State-wide and national reputation as the leading agency in effec- 
tiveness of attack on emplojment problems of farm labor, regular and 

As one evidence of this effectiveness, at the end of 1938 it had made during 
the year a total of 356,209 limited farm placements, through special mass 
referral procedures provided for peak harvest seasons in handling migratory 
labor ; and 46,826 regular placements, or those made in the local employment 
offices according to the prevailing "five point" procedure for all registrations. 

Continued effort toward more orderly and efficient work-pattern routes for 
migratory workers in the name of timeliness was one objective of 1938. As a 
.short cotton crop threatened a labor surplus in places, the employment service 
concentrated on keeping unclogged the areas where there was sufficient local 
labor and on shifting work-pattern routes so as to direct migrants to sections 
where serious need of labor had developed in the 1937 season. 

This anticipation reflecting previous experience worked out to the advantage 
of growers, contractors, and workers in more than one instance. Contractors, 
growers, and workers were displaying increased confidence in the service. The 
reliable contractor was more easily dealt with ; some of the larger growers 
still went into a state of panic as harvest seasons drew near and wanted a 
surplus of labor from which to pick and choose. Other growers, however, had 
discovered, from pleasant experiences, that the service could be depended upon 
in its handling of mass labor. 

By 1938, therefore, the employment service was an accepted unit in the cycle 
of agricultural activity in Texas. Service intei'viewers visited camp .sites and 
became acquainted with the workers. By this contact, they were able to 
organize working groups into units reporting to the service. An example of 
such organization was that of onion laborers in Willacy County. Organization 
was also effected among the spinach workers in Crystal City. 

In this area it was found that approximately 3,500 agricultural workers 
claim Crystal City as their legal residence. For 4 months during the year, they 
harvest the spinach crop ; and then 90 percent of them follow the crop harvests 
over the State for the next 8 months. No outside labor is needed in this area. 
In Willacy County there was a heavy influx of migratory white workers 
from Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana, in spite of the well-known fact that 
the growers prefer south Texas Mexican help which is available within easy 
distances. Although a work-assembly camp had been established in this area 
in 1937, and in 1938 it provided space for 3,000 persons, with water and sanitary 
conveniences furnished, there were in the camp in March only 500 migrants. 
Five miles away in a mesquite thicket 2,000 migrants were camping in most 
deplorable and unsanitary conditions. When State health and State labor offi- 
cials appeared on the scene the colony scattered. Some of the workers moved 
into the camp; others, frightened at the sight of officials, hurried from the 
vicinity and did not reappear. 

With visible evidence of the economic decline in agriculture, for reasons dis- 
cussed earlier, it had became necessary by 1938 to experiment with diversion of 
labor possessing capacity for transfer of skills. As a result of the efforts in 
this direction, numbers of former farm workers were transfered to unskilled 
labor jobs with shed operators, packers, and shippers. At the end of the har- 
vesting season in the winter garden area, a number of placements effected this 
transfer. A considerable number of former migrants, therefore, remained at 
their homes instead of moving out on to the road. The twofold result was 
increased net income for these transferred workers and better control of the 
movement out of the valley north. This movement was held back until it was 
definitely determined that migratory labor was needed elsewhere. 

As a second broadening of the labor market to accommodate migrants, the 
service began exploratory efforts to bring other agricultural interests into the 
range of service operations. Sheep shearing and truck industries were among 
these industries explored. 

As the labor market takes shape and form, however, with constant enlarge- 
ment of service operation, the more subject to uncalculated emergencies and 
conditions it becomes. Such a condition developed in the lower valley and 


winter garden sections at the close of the cotton season. Late in November 
about 3,000 persons who had gone north to pick cotton returned to the valley 
to find that the vegetable season was off due to low prices and frost and that 
early citrus was coming on to a dead market. Canneries and shipping sheds 
opened slowly with skeleton forces. The diversion plan had run into ditttculties. 

The service hit another snag in Collin County at onion harvest time. Growers, 
refusing the advances of the employment service, insisted upon bringing a 
surplus of outside labor. They brought it in ; and when employment service 
representatives made a survey at the end of the season to determine the num- 
ber of workers available for the cotton picking season in the lower valley they 
found completely stranded workers living in miserable circumstances. 

In the Amariflo district the county judge of one of the heavy cotton-produc- 
ing counties notified the employment service in March that 300 Negroes were 
stranded on a large cotton plantation in an adjoining county. Investigation 
revealed that the oi)erator of this plantation, preferring Negro labor, had hired 
certain truck owner.s to bring in Negro workers from central Texas, paying 
approximately $5 per person, that sum to be deducted from each worker's pay. 

The Negroes were housed in so-called dugouts, 3 feet in the ground, with 
weatherboard side and roof. In each of 3 or 4 of these dugouts, each 80 by 12 
feet, about 100 people slept in bunks arranged in tiers. There was little ven- 
tilation and only surface toilets in the way of sanitation. A few wood stoves, 
with cheap fuel, were furnished. Throughout the winter the Negroes had 
existed in miserable dumps, without transiwrtation to get away, with 
only enough pay to provide scanty food. The cotton harvest on this planta- 
tion extended into March on limited scale. Continuous bad weather late in 
the winter made it impossible for the Negroes to work and put them more 
deeply into debt at the commissary. 

When the sheriff visited the camp, he foimd two dead Negroes covered with 
old gunny sacks in one of the dugouts; and the others in wretched plight. To 
his questions, the owner of the property said that there was nothing to get 
excited about; the Negroes would "fade out" when the warm weather came. 

In contrast to these unpleasant exi)eriences in service attempts to organize 
the labor market in 1938, the development of work-assembly camps continued 
In the Sinton area, city and county officials purchased a plot of ground and 
turned it into a gathering point for migratory cotton pickers. At Robs- 
town a similar but smaller camp was constructed. 

At El Campo, in Wharton County, a camp was established for the workers, 
to the considerable benefit of employers, employment service, and labor. In 
Levelland, Lubbock, Lamesa, and Plainview also there were gathering points 
and camps for the migrants, with the result that handling migratory labor in 
those areas proceeded without complications. 

Although the employment service does not build or maintain these camps, 
its interest in them is several-fold. A concentration of workers at one point 
makes possible the rendering of more satisfactory service to farmers and 
laborers alike. The quieting effect of the camps upon the workers is apparent 
in the new steadiness with which many of them work in one area until the 
job is done, instead of rolling off to some other place, leaving the crop behind 
half picked. The usual tendency of migrants to get on the road toward the 
central and northern Texas sections was still active in 1938 ; but in many 
cases the workers listened to and heeded employment service advice and sug- 
gestions. The increasing confidence of the workers in the service and its efforts 
to provide them with work was constantly noted throughout this year. 

The annual crop-harvest fear and claim of labor shortage was less evident 
in 1938 than for many previous years in Texas. There was no appeal to the 
Labor Department to relax the immigration restrictions in favor of Mexican 

Although complete count of migratory workers is scarcely possible, the check- 
ing systems devised by the service prior to 1938 were refined and extended in 
that year with the result that in certain areas it was possible to arrive at 
some fairly close estimates. 

Mention has already been made of the 3,500 agricultural laborers who claim 
Crystal City as legal residence. From the Brownsville district, during the 
cotton picking season in 1938, according to a service check, 404 trucks carrying 


12,801 migrants took to the road, principally during the last days of July and 
the first of August as cotton picking opened up over the State. 

On the Sintou labor lot the following count was taken: 708 whites, 4,0bb 
Mexicans 105 Negroes, making a total of 4,899. States represented and num- 
bers from each were: Texas, 4,772; Oklahoma, 61; California, 3; Arizona, 29; 
Florida, 12 : New Mexico. 22 ; making the total of 4,899. ^ ^ onn 

The number of vehicles coming on to the lot was 413, carrying the 4,899 
persons, of which the employment service referred 4,586. The remaining 313 
moved on of their own accord. Of the 787 farmers operating 1,219 farms in 
the area, 584 placed bona fide orders for 7,870 workers, of which the service 
referred from all sources 7,768. Of these, 7,070 were placed, leaving 698 not 

Checks were made at other points also; and the estimated figure of 200,000 
to 300,000 figure of full-time migrants in the State of Texas was substantiated. 
The origins of this labor are estimated to be between 60 and 65 percent, south 
Texas labor, chiefly Mexicans; 20 to 22 percent, central Texas labor; 9 to 10 
percent, west Texas labor ; from other States, 2 to 3 percent. 

In addition to the community gathering points and camps, individual 
farmers and growers this year provided more and better housing facilities for 
the workers and their families. Shacks, sheds, and tents were erected to care 
for the migrants. As a result of all the efforts to improve living conditions 
for these workers, there was less suffering and less sickness than in any 
preceding year. 

A most promising situation in the matter of camps and gathering points 
developed in September 1938, when representatives of the Farm Security Ad- 
ministration received the assistance of the employment service in making an 
agricultural survey of Texas, with a view to location of subsistence labor camps 
in the State. . 

At the close of the survey recommendations were sent to Washington. Ihese 
recommendations included a permanent camp to be established at Raymondville 
in the heart of the area where, from time to time, unfortunate situations arise 
among incoming migrants during the onion and cotton seasons; permanent 
camps at Robstown, Sinton, El Campo, Vernon, Lamesa, Lubbock, and probably 
Childress. Later, the employment service received word that work would begin 
early in the new year on the Raymondville migratory labor camp on a site 
4 miles south of that city. 

In the meantime, the interstate migratory movement was causing some 
alarm to labor department oflicials in Texas. Evasion of the Texas emigrant 
agency law was apparently growing. Arizona cotton growers and the beet- 
field operators of Northern"^ States were the chief offenders. Claiming exemp- 
tion from the Texas occupation tax through application of section 7 of that 
law, the beet-field growers and their agents were taking out increasing numbers 
of Mexican labor, to an estimated annual total of around 8,000. For a com- 
plete discussion and presentation of these growing interstate problems of 
migratory labor originating in Texas, see the Report on the Migration of 
Mexican Labor From Texas to the Sugar Beet Fields, and A Brief to Analyze the 
Texas Emigrant Agency Act and Other Pertinent Legislation, prepared by the 
Texas State Employment Service on the basis of fact.^^ 

A word should now be said regarding the organization of farm placement 
activity in the administrative office. Here, the two farm placement super- 
visors and the district supervisors reported to an assistant director of the 
Texas State Employment Service. In this office were analyzed and processed 
all incoming reports from the field, with policies continuing to evolve from 
actual experience. 

A cotton fact survey was established to precede the opening of the cotton 
season by several months. In this survey, data pertinent to crop acreage, 
crop handling, crop yield, and labor supply were collected and put in shape 
for ready reference. A similar survey was made for other crops. 

Tlie kardex system of district and county information, kept up to date, 
had been set up by offices to show agricultural activity, migratory labor re- 
quirements, and other important information. A system of large maps to carry 

31 These reports are available for reference. 


all sorts of information regarding crops and migratory workers was worked 
out in detail. 

A special control map was devised to show movement of migrants over the 
highways of the State. Interception points where employment service employees 
were stationed to stop workers and offer them assistance of the service were 
located on the map. The farm crew of 1938 numbered 21 interviewers assigned to 
this special work from their regular work in employment service oiBces. 

For the use of this crew in the field in 1938 the first Farm Handbook was 
prepared. Designed as a practical operations guide, the handbook contained 
summaries of agricultural industries in the State, review of niigi-fttory and 
local labor problems, maps showing migratory work-pattern routes and crop 
informations, and Operations F-1, Farm Placement Procedure.^ 

Again, an annual report was prepared, entitled "Annual Report of the Farm 
Placement Service, Texas, 1938." '^ 

In 1939 the total number of placements made in Texas by the farm placement 
service was 550,074, indicating increased use of the service by farmers and labor, 
with placements in the cotton harvest alone showing 30-perceut increase over 
1938, and that in spite of reduced production. 

This quantitative evidence of increased service, however, although important, is 
not more important than the qualitative indications of greater efiiciency. 

Carrying out the policies already established through trial and error in the 
years between 1935 and 1938, the service in 1939 strengthened its position in 
the State and Nation. 

In the first place, acceptance of the employment service in the Texas scheme 
of agriculture was attained by the wider use of its assistance by farmers and 
growers. Also, it was able to project its program into fields heretofore untouched. 

Contractors, generally, also had fallen into line with employment-service policies 
by the end of 1939 ; and the labor racketeer was rapidly disappearing from intra- 
state labor. The contractor was usually a truck owner acting as "capitau" or 
"jefe" in handling contracts for a group which he represented. His dealings 
might be with farmers or with the employment service. For the most part these 
truckmen-contractors were found to be reliable and fair in their transactions. 

Closely related with this wider acceptance of the service by employers and 
contractors was the greater commimity acceptance of the service and its program, 
with hearty cooperation extended by many agencies. Realization of the economic 
and social value of an organized labor market in its area had taught more than 
one community the wisdom of aiding and abetting the service in every way 

The program of service extension into certain seasonal-crop problems, only 
superficially touched before 1937, was widened. The concentrated effort to handle 
labor needed in these crops had as its objective the rounding out of a year's 
employment and income for migratory laborers. The attainment of maximum 
employment for these workers remains a chief aim of the service. Recent studies 
have indicated that in agriculture the median gross earnings of migratory workers 
ranged from $154 to $574.^ 

Furthermore, the effort to establish a rotation of labor from one camp to an- 
other with the varying crop season has the intention of restricting workers to a 
limited area wherein they may move more easily and quickly. At the same time 
they may establish permanent living headquarters — a happy situation many of 
these migrants have never before known. From their home basis they may 
follow the crops in a given area, never roaming any great distance from their 

Since it was estimated in 1939 that there were 325,000 of these workers em- 
ployed varying periods of the crop harvesting ; and since mechanization is 
rapidly curtailing certain types of hand labor, it is important that all agricul- 
tural employment be integrated into the labor market and that efforts at 
diversion to other skills be continued. 

As in other years, uncalculated emergencies arose which taxed the cooperative 
energies and facilities of the service, agricultural operators, shippers, civic 

^Farm Handbook and Operations F-1, Farm Placement Procedure are available for 

33 This report is available for reference. 

*• Migratory Labor : A report to the President, Interdepartmental Committee to Coordi- 
nate Health and Welfare Activities, July 1940. 

i:nterstatb migration 1827 

agencies, grain elevator operators, railroad officials even — introducing new- 
factors of coordination of effort into the service program. 

Bootleg immigration of Mexicans into Texas was apparently reduced to the 
minimum. The alertness of immigration officials and the activities of the 
border patrol had practically put an end to the illegalities rampant up to 1935. 
Following the outljreak of the war in September, border restrictions tightened. 

Interstate problems of migratory labor became increasingly serious. The 
accumulation of evidence regarding the evasion and violation of the Texas emi- 
grant agency law led to the preparation of a study and a brief,^" the former in 
1939, the latter in 1940. In 1939, there w^ere 4 emigrant agents operating in 
Texas with the knowledge and consent of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 
Through these agencies there were cleared for beet fields in other States a total 
of 4.315 workers. In 1938, there had been 2. During these 2 years, many other 
workers went out undirected, bringing the estimated total up to between 5,000 
and 8,000. The pernicious practices involved in the handling of these workers 
were rapidly bringing the authorities to a state of action.^" From authentic 
reports it is known also that a total of 7,812 migrants passed border check 
stations into California this year, a decrease of 10 percent from 1938." 

Tightening of organization and management in the administrative office was 
reflected in the increased efficiency and smooth functioning of local offices. The 
effect of experience in previous years and analysis of that experience made 
Itself apparent in the 1939 handling of migratory labor situations. 

Procedural changes, emanating from the administrative office, simplified the 
interviewing routines and clerical work in the local offices, allowing more time 
for productive activity. All superfluities were trimmed and procedures pared to 
absolute essentials in order to get the job done with maximum expedition and 

There were 25 in the 1939 farm crew, working in the cotton and wheat harvests 
of 45 counties. Again, they were provided with a Farm Handbook for Crew 

Also, an administrative office procedure reduced to definite lines of routine 
the handling of migratory labor problems and provided for systematic controls. 

The success of the program was seen to hinge on integrated day-by-day control, 
with the administrative office acting in the capacity of clearing house on labor 
supply and demand, as well as directing authority for the movement of migra- 
tory labor. 

Camps and labor lots grew in number and popularity. The camps to be built 
under the Farm Security Administration continued in projection on paper, with 
plans for actual construction taking form. 

With the publication of the Annual Report of the Farm Placement Service, 
Texas, 1939,=" publicity on the value of the service began to appear. Typical of the 
appreciation of the work performed by the service is this statement in a State 
newspaper : 

"Formerly it seemed little could be done about the problems of the migratory 
workers and the farm owners who require seasonal labor. This is the fifth year, 
however, in which tlie Texas State Employment Service has attacked these prob- 
lenis on a State-wide scale. The results have been highly gratifying." ^ 

This same news article was impressed by certain factors in summary: 

"The local worker received a greater amount of employment due to the coordi- 
nation of demand and supply in the community. * * * Transient workers 
were sent to the proper places at the right time and in the correct numbers, assur- 
ing them of more work and relieving them from being stranded in a locality with 
no work available. The entire group of workers had employment for a greater 
amount of time and spent less time and money looking for jobs. 

"The farmers' crops were harvested quicker, giving a definite increase in the 
quality of their products, as damage from weather conditions was decreased. 

" Report on Migration of Mexican Labor from Texas to the Sugar Beet Fields, 1939, 
and A Brief to Analyze the Texas Emigrant Agency Act and Other Pertinent Legislation, 
1940 — Texas State Employment Service. 

^ Briof, op. cit. 

s' United States Department of Labor. U. S. E. S., Annual Report, 19.38 ; Bureau of 
Employment Security, Annual Report. 1939 (Farm Placement Service, California Reports). 

^ This handbook is available for refernce. 

"This report is available for reference. 

<« Houston Chronicle, September 2, 1940. 


This meant a higher price for the crops. The speed with which the crops were 
gathered lessened the danger of complete destrnction by storms. The farmer was 
also saved the money which he formerly had to spend in going considerable 
distances in search of workers. 

"Each community benefited from the service rendered workers and farmers 
* * * there were no instances of disturbances resulting from maladjustments 
in the labor markets of local communities." 

To date, the year 1940, sixth of Texas State r]mployment Service and Farm 
Placement Service activity in Texas, although moving tlirough its recurrent cycles 
of weather, crops, and seasons, and although superficially presenting, under the 
familiar names of migratory labor, farm crews, concentration camps, the prob- 
lems which have annually faced the service since 1935, is in fact offering a set of 
problems familiar in name only. The cycles may be the same — spinach and mixed- 
vegetable picking, onion harvest, cotton chopping, cotton picking, wheat harvest, 
citrus season — but the tide has changed. In 1940, to date, there have been no 
waves of migratory labor washing on to the shores of an ocean of work. 

That statement does not mean that there has been a decrease in service farm 
placements. Rather, as a matter of fact, to the end of July there had been in 
Texas a total of 203,259 farm placements in comparison with 180,400 farm place- 
ments during the same period in 1939, an increase of some 13 percent. 

Neither does it mean necessarily that there is or will be an actual labor shortage 
in Texas this season. It simply means that there are fewer migratory workers 
available for the seasonal peaks than there have been for many years. Its sig- 
nificance lies in the trend it may be setting toward labor scarcity. 

The phenomenon — for such it is — of a Texas swinging into the heavy harvest 
seasons of the year without hordes of migrants rolling in trucks or limping in 
broken-down Fords over the byways and highways to the fields is another and 
new experience for the employment service. 

Reasons for the phenomenon, varied as they are, are not far to seek. Curiously 
enough, several different forces operating toward entirely separate ends have 
embraced migratory labor in their respective zones of influence. 

The first of these operating forces is the Mexican farm-repartition project. 
Under the endorsement of the present Mexican Government this project began 
to expand rapidly in 1939. The purpose of the project is to establish Mexicans 
on redistributed farm lands in Mexico, principally in the State of Tamaulipas, 
located in northeast Mexico. The applicants for land must be agricultural work- 
ers, and, if accepted, they receive certain initial assistance from the Government. 
The effect of this project upon migratory labor in Texas may be seen from 
the report of one of the Texas farm-placement suijervisors who made a trip to 
the border late in August of this year.^* 

Since January 1, 1939, Mexican consuls in Brownsville, McAllen, Laredo, and 
Eagle Pass report that there have been returned to Mexico from the lower Rio 
* Grande Valley a total of 4,451 Mexican agricultural workers. Records of the 
Mexican consul in Brownsville show that in 1939 repartition clients numbered 
452 families, or, on the conservative average of 5 persons to a family, a total of 
2,260 persons; and in 1940, to date, 83 families, or an estimated 415 persons, 
making a total from the Brownsville area since January 1, 1939, of 2,675. These 
persons were recruited in a territory extending from Brownsville to Donna on 
the west and as far north as Falfurrias. The fact that Brownsville is the nearest 
Texas point to the repartition project in Tamaulipas accounts for the prepon- 
derant number of repartitionists who passed through the Brownsville consulate. 
Records of the Mexican consul at McAllen show that in 1939 repartition clients 
numbered 148 families, or an estimated 720 persons ; and in 1940, to date, 83 
families, or about 415 persons, making a total since January 1, 19.39, of 1,1,35. 
These workers moved out of an area between Donna on the east and Rio Grande 
City on the west to as far north as and inclusive of Edinburg. 

Clearing through the Laredo consulate were 210 repartition clients in 1939 and 
181 to date in 1940, making a total of 391. This area extends from Roma on the 
west to the Webb County line on the north. 

From the Eagle Pass area the records of the Mexican consul showed that in 
1939 repartition clients numbered 183 persons, with 54 thus far this year, making 

*^ Report, dated August 31, 1940. 



a total of 237. Because of the distance of Eagle Pass to the repartition lands 
aie Mexican Government, until further notice, is no longer paying the expenses 
of repartitionists from that region-only those having means ot support and 
expense money heing approved by the Eagle Pass consulate. ,.pf,„.„pd 

In addition to these 4,451 Mexican agricultural workers who ha^e letuiim 
permanentlv to Mexico as repartitionists, immigration authorities have assibte<l 
1.26G aijricultural workers to return to Mexico from the lower valley aloiie^ 
From points in the interior of Texas it was estimated that 50 percent of the 
1103 Mexicans returned to Mexico through the Bureau of Immigration were 
agricultural workers. The grand total, therefore, of Mexican agricultural work- 
ers who have returned to Mexico through the points indicated in the report since 
Januarv 1, 1939, is approximately 6,268. 

An aiialvsis of the immigration reports brings out interesting facts regarding 
the tvnes of Mexican labor, aside from repartitionists, leaving through Bureau 
assistance and included in their total figure of 1,818— already included m the 
grand total of 6,268. ^ ^ ,• t on 

Among the Mexicans returning to Mexico during the fiscal year ending June oO, 
194(1 according to the reports of the assistant chief of immigration at Browns- 
ville', there were 116 aliens and 235 American citizens of Mexican descent from 
the lower valley seeking permanent entry into Mexico. From Dallas, San 
Antonio, Austin, and other interior points a total of 378 Mexicans, most of whom 
had had previous agricultural experience, passed through the immigration bureau 
at Brownsville. Another fact revealed by the records at Brownsville is that 
75 American citizens of Mexican descent who reside in Matamoros, Mexico, work 
regularly in Texas, and 121 citizens of the same type residing in Matamoros cross 
the rivpr intermittently for agricultural employment in Texas. 

The city of Laredo is the main gateway to Mexico for deportees and undesirables 
from all over the United States, and immigration reports from that point show 
only total numbers, with no separate break-down for Texas and the Rio Grande 
Vaflev. The estimates of the local official show, however, 725 deportees— coming 
from as far north as San Antonio, Victoria, and Houston— and 800 voluntary 
departures to prevent deportation. His estimate of agricultural workers from the 
Rio Grande Valley making permanent entry into Mexico through the Laredo 
ollice, aside from repartitionists, during the fiscal year was 815 persons. 

A second force operating to influence in migration of agricultural 
workers this season is stated to be the tightness of the immigration restrictions 
on the border, with the effect that it is daily becoming more difficult for illegal 
entrants to enter or to remain in Texas and the United States as a whole.*^ 

A third operating force has to do with the failure of many Mexican cotton pick- 
ers in the Brownsville area to take to the road this season. One reason advanced 
for this unusual condition is that at the end of their migrating season last year 
many workers returned to the lower valley with no money to show for all their 
work and long journey. The increased effort of the employment service to organ- 
ize year-round employment for these people at easy distances from their legal 
residences through diversion and better service to other agricultural interests is 
apparently meeting with favorable response, for workers in that area are actively 
concerned with rounding out 12 months of work in other local industries. 

Another reason advanced is that many are delaying their migration because of 
the recently enacted Federal law requiring them to register and be finger- 
printed at the post offices of their places of legal residences. Since the first 
registration date was August 27, it was impossible for many of them to leave prior 
to that date. An immigration official has predicted that after November 15, 
when the Bureau of Immigration starts checking those who failed to register, 
there will be many more agricultural workers missing from Texas. 

Concrete evidence that there are fewer migrants on the roads coming out from 
the Brownsville district this year rests in a report given out by the quarantine 
station of the Pink Boll Worm Division of the Department of Agriculture on the 
Falfurrias road. For the year 1939, 15,000 cotton sacks of transient workers were 
inspected at this station. On the basis of 1 sack to a i>erson, this figure may be 
interpreted as meaning 15,000 persons. It is estimated that this figure represents 
about 85 percent of the total number coming out of the lower valley last year. 

^2 statement of an assistant chief of immigration, August 1940. 


The remaining 15 percent did not have sacks. On that basis, close to 20,000 
niigi-atory workers left that section last year. 

According to the same report, this year up to August 22 only 8,3S4 cotton sacks 
had been inspected at this point, a loss of nearly 50 percent. A few migrants, of 
course, will drift out from the lower valley the rest of the year to add to the 
number of inspections. 

A fourth operating force is the direct effect of the Farm Security Administra- 
tion camps upon migratory labor. Tliere are now 4 of these large camps ia 
operation in south Texas — at Raymondville, Weslaco, Sinton, and Robstown. 
These camps offer permanent housing to agricultural workers at a rental of 
approximately $S per month. On August 29 the Weslaco transient labor camp 
had a population of 325 persons in 87 families, all of whom had been residents of 
the Weslaco vicinity for several years. None of these families joined the migrat- 
ing crews in 1939. This year, between August 10 and August 25, 15 families of 
74 persons checked out to go north to pick cotton. 

By arrangement between the Farm Security Administration and Employment 
Service representatives, permanent residents in the camps are considered as local 
labor. Pursuing its policy of calling upon local labor first, the service is handling 
these permanent residents along with other crews of local labor. In the event 
that the local labor supply is exhausted, laborers in the camps who do not have 
permanent status are to be eligible for referral and placement by the service. 

A fiifth force operating to the decline of agricultural workers is the attraction 
to other industries presented by industrial expansion, particularly in national 
defense projects. One example may be cited. The need of dump and other type 
trucks at the building of the Corpus Christi Naval Air Base has inspired numbers 
of Mexican truck owners to take their trucks, formerly used to haul agricultural 
migrants over the State, and head for Corpus Christi. 

A sixth force operating to the unbalance of the labor supply in Texas is the 
induced interstate migration of labor from Texas to other States. One of the 
functions of the Texas State Employment Service is to work toward greater 
stabilization of migratory labor in Texas. This statement does not mean that 
the migratory labor market in Texas should be stabilized to the point where no 
reserve is available; but it is imperative that there be direction and control of 
this type of labor, if orderly service be rendered the employer. Until the em- 
ployment service began to organize the labor market in Texas, as we have already 
seen in this report, there was no control and no direction. During the past 5 
tears the service has made considerable progress toward an organized labor 
market. Gradually the service has readied the point of efficiency where there 
can be no considerable movement of workers out of the State without the 
knowledge of the service. 

Since 1938 the annual migration from Texas to the northern beet fields has 
become increasingly heavy and increasingly serious to the farm-labor supply in 
Texas. Again it may be repeated that without migratory labor in large quanti- 
ties at certain times in certain parts of the State Texas agriculture cannot carry 
on, in spite of the reduction in cotton crops and in spite of the reduction of hand 
labor by mechanization. Serious as this mechanization has been for thousands 
of Texas agricultural workers, it has still not reached the point of self-sufficiency. 
The migrant worker is still needed in large numbers. 

Last year it was estimated that between 5,000 and 8,000 workers were taken 
out of Texas by growers and emigrant agents. The early estimate this year was 
10,000 people who ordinarily pick cotton. As the present cotton picking season 
got under way, checking of unfilled orders in the local offices of the employment 
service disclosed that the early estimate was far too low. The shortage is 
definitely and seriously reflected in the lack of cotton pickers, a lack easily 
verified by farmers in several localities at this time. Whether or not an actual 
emergency arises in any part of the State remains to be seen. 

Earlv in March the service learned that there were four emigrant agents 
rounding up Mexican labor in the San Antonio area. These agents represented 
beet growers in Michigan and Ohio. They gave out the information freely that 
they would send out 4,200 workers from that area. The Dallas office reported 
the activity of agents and growers in that area. There were in all six so-called 
licensed agents this season in Texas as against four in 1939 and two in 1938. 
According to State labor department figures, they sent 6,624 workers to other 
States. An employment service check showed that the coastal bend area, the 

i:nterstatb migration 1831 

lower Rio Grande Valley, Laredo, Crystal City, and Eagle Pass areas were being 
drawn npon for beet field workers. Special attention was given to tlie Texas 
emigrant agency law which is difficult to enforce.'^ A decision handed down from 
the office of the attorney general of Texas in March,'' the sharper attention of 
the State labor department, and the cooperation of the other agencies mentioned 
has at least started agitation for the strict enforcement of the law. 

Highly pertinent to the interstate migration situation is the statement made 
by an immigration official that we are losing many more agricultural workers to 
industry of the sugar-beet States than are going back to Mexico. His estimate is 
that each year, of all those going to the beet fields, 25 percent never return to 
Texas, or not as agi-icultural workers at any rate. He said that the older men, 
women and children may return, but that husky boys and men between the 
ages of 21 and 35 drift into Detroit and other cities, permanently lost to 

agriculture. ^ „ ,^ . .^ ., 

Since the Michigan laws require medical examination of all Mexicans recruited 
for the beet fields before thev leave Texas, it is apparent that only the most fit 
are allowed to go to the fields. It is from this preferred group that Texas 
loses the 25 percent mentioned by the immigration official. From good authority ,*" 
it appears that the United States Health Department, by providing part of the 
funds for this medical examination, is a party to the violation of the Texas 
emigrant agency law and a party to inciting unnecessary migration. 

In addition to beet-field growers in other States, cotton growers in Mississippi 
this year have sent trucks to Texas to carry cotton pickers to that State, in spite 
of threatened labor shortage in the very regions where they solicited labor. 

With all these forces in operation, the employment service has been able thus 
far to keep reasonable order and system in the labor market. Harvesting may be 
slower than usual, but it is the intention of the service to get the job done. 


On the basis of the background facts and factoi-s of immigration, dispersion, 
unorganized-labor conditions, and legislative remedies attempted, and the ex- 
Ijerience of the Texas State Employment Service and Farm Placement Service 
since 1935 in meeting the challenge of these complexities as they contributed to 
employment problems of migratory farm workers originating in Texas, the follow- 
ing observations are here offered : 

1. Previous to 1935 the continual conflict between immigration restrictions and 
employer demand for cheap labor in Texas agriculture brought about a surplus and 
unregulated labor supply. 

2. The increasing stringency of the immigration laws in conflict with employer 
demand for more and more Mexican labor gave rise to the activities of the various 
types of unscrupulous labor agents who victimized both employer and worker. 

' 3. Attempts at legislative remedies eventuated in the Texas employment agency 
law of 1923 and the Texas emigrant agency law of 1929, neither of which has 
been successfully administered to date. 

4. The labor market before 1935 was entirely unorganized, with consequent 
loss of time, money, and motion to employer and worker alike. 

5. Since 1930 the decline of cotton and mechanization of agriculture have 
created serious problems for Texas agricultural hand workers, throwing tenants 
and regular farm workers by the thousands into the already congested migratory- 
worker class or setting them adrift in towns and cities. As of 1939 there were 
325,000 of these workers in Texas. In 1940, because of peculiar forces operating 
simultaneously, there may be reduction in the numbers of migratory workers. 

6. In the past 6 years the employment service has refined procedures to the point 
of a control and direction of the intrastate migratory-labor market. It has been a 
gradual pointing of method and policies on the basis of experience. Better 
organization has from year to year brought about less aimless wandering of 
migrant labor. In 1940 there is marked a settling down of migratory workers in 
Farm Security Administration camps or in other homes close to restricted areas 

^ Law, op. cit., and brief, op. cit. 

** Opinion No. 0-2120, liability of person, firm, or corporation conducting business as an 
emigrant agent to occupation tax and license fees * * *. March 25, 1940. 
« Statement of an assistant chief of immigration, August 1931. 


in which they may, with the help of the employment service, try to evolve new 
work patterns on a year-round basis. This program, in many cases, calls for 
diversion — transfer of skills to other industries or seasonal work in new agri- 
cultural activities. 

7. Therefore, in its concern for stabilization of migratory labor, the employ- 
ment service interprets that stabilization to mean controlled and directed 
migration of workers when and where and in what number needed at seasonal 
peaks, preferably not far distant from home bases, with new work patterns 
evolved to fill out the rest of the year. 

8. The social and economic effects upon migratory workers of regulated 
employment and systematic work patterns, of more and steadier income, of 
better housing facilities are inevitable byproducts of an organized labor market. 

9. The employment service policy of exhausting the local labor supply before 
calling upon outside labor has proved to be sound and effective. The community 
should come first. If the laborers of any given community are given first chance 
at community employment, aimless wandering will eventually be reduced to a 
minimum. In case of need, the employment service has clearance facilities 
for bringing in outside intrastate or interstate labor. 

10. The interstate problems centering upon migratory labor are so serious 
as to demand either new legislation or strict enforcement of the legislation 
already on the statute books. The disrupting of the labor market in Texas at 
peak seasons reveals itself with special force in 1940 as a very real peril to 
workers, farmers, and State prosperity. With immigration from Mexico at a 
standstill, with active emigration of Mexicans from Texas back to Mexico taking 
out agricultural workers, with the constant drain of migration out of the 
State to the beet fields or other industries, there are more unfilled orders in 
the employment offices of the Texas State Employment Service at this season 
than ever before. 

The Chairman. In order that we might question you a little coii- 
cerniiio: the fine paper that yon have already submitted, v^ill you 
briefly tell iis something about the Texas migratory labor problem, 
how many people are involved, how many people you have ])laced, 
and how your agency has met that problem ? Just proceed briefly in 
your own words. 

Mr. BoKD. I am going to ask Mr. McKinley to answer the first part 
of that question because he has been Avorking with those facts long 
before the program started — since 1912. 


The Chairman. You may proceed, Mr. McKinley. 


Mr. McKinley. To begin, let us go back a little to get the back- 
ground. Texas is presumed to be a source of inexhaustible cheap 
Mexican labor. The need for agricultural labor in Texas dates back 
along after the Civil War times. Of course, there was not much 
slave labor in Texas, and Texas, of, being originally a part of 
Mexico, there was lots of Mexican labor in Texas in the beginning 
when it became a State. As I said, there was not much slave labor 
and quite a good deal of the slave labor they had in Texas escaped 
and went to Mexico and it was necessary to depend almost entirely 
on Mexican labor for agriculture, sheep shearing, cowpunching, and 
everything like that, and after we developed in that State we needed 


more and more ^Mexican labor. Of course, while ^ye have had 
emigration losses dating away back, emigration losses were never 
tliought very nuich of and never j^aid very much attention to by Texas 

Farmers were able to go to the border and bring out Mexicans or 
hire labor agents to herd up Mexican labor for them and haul 
them in by train or by wagon, and sometimes the labor even walked 
from the border to the interior of the State. To show the back- 
ground, the farmer has depended almost entirely on Mexican labor, 
and he had various ways and means of getting it. We never had 
any restrictions on labor agents until about 1919; somewhere along 
in there the legislature passed a law licensing employment agencies. 
That was brought about because of the labor agents who would 
charge workers so much per head to get them a job and send them 
to places where they were not needed. All of those things entered 
into it and brought about the passage of a law licensing the employ- 
ment agencies. Then, later on, the railroads, taking lots of Mexican 
labor out to do track work and other things, and farmers from other 
States coming into the State after labor there was a very rigid emi- 
grant agent act passed, but it hasn't had much effect. Now, at the 
present time we are confronted every year with a proposition of other 
States coming into Texas after Mexican labor. During the spring of 
this year we kept a pretty accurate check and approximately 10,000 
Mexican workers went to Michigan and Ohio to work with the sugar- 
beet industry. That movement out of the State into the sugar-beet 
States has increased gradually year by year and there has been very 
little done about it. Of course, we are not an enforcing agency and 
can do but little except to pass on our observations to other agencies 
as we go over the State in our farm placement work. The agricul- 
tural system that we operate under in the State of Texas, and, I pre- 
sume, in California and other States, is such that migratory labor is 
absolutely essential to harvest our various crops; whether it is right 
or wrong — wliatever social aspect it may have, the farmers have to 
have migrant labor. 

Mr. Curtis. At that point, what percent of your migratory laborers 
in Texas are Negro, and what percent are Mexican, and what percent 
are white ? 

Mr. McKiNLEY. Of course, it is all an estimate, but about 85 per- 
cent of our migrant laborers in Texas are Mexican, about 5 percent 
Negro, and the rest, of course, white. 

Mr. Curtis. Of this Mexican labor, how many of them go beyond 
Texas farther north ? 

Mr. McKiNLET. As I just mentioned probably 10,000 went into the 
beet fields this spring; last year we estimated about 7,000. About 
3,000 more went into the sugar-beet fields this year than last year. 

Mr. Curtis. Of that 85 percent Mexicans, how many of them are 
not citizens of the United States? 

Mr. McKixLEY. I don't know, but it is presumed that they are all 
legal aliens. 

260370—41 — pt. 5- 


Mr. Curtis. What do you mean by legal aliens, an alien, but law- 
fully here ? 
Mr. McKiNLET. Yes. 


Mr. Cttrtis. How many emploj^ment offices do you have in Texas ? 

Mr. McKiNLET. We have 102. ^ 

Mr. Curtis. How do you locate these offices? 

Mr. McKiNLEY. We locate these offices, the majority of them, in 
heavy agricultural areas. 

Mr. Curtis. How many comities do you have in that great empire 
of Texas? 

Mr. McKiNLEY. About 85 of the total 254 counties have heavy agri- 
cultural activity. 

Mr. Curtis. Do all 85 of those counties have some special problem 
in agricultural labor? 

Mr. McKiNLEY. No ; they don't all have special problems ; there are 
approximately 60 of them that do require special attention, that use 
lots of migratory labor in harvesting their crops. 

Mr. Curtis. What Irind of county supervision do you now have 
in determining the need for your bureau ? 

Mr. McKiNLEY. Mr. Banks can better answer that. 


Mr. Banks. In making those surveys for us, and we have had 
unusual success with it, we ask the cooperation of the State ex- 
tension services, the triple A organization, the farm organizations 
such as certain granges, farm bureaus, and committees in each of 
the counties, and we gather information from each of the counties 
and the men in our local offices are in contact all the time with 
those men in the local community gathering such information, 
and we have a system in Texas that every office has a map of the 
county in which they operate, the crops as they are actually planted 
each year are actually spotted on that map, and the permanent farm- 
ers are spotted on the map. 

The Chairman. Do you have all that information and give it to the 

Mr, Banks. No; that is for the use of our local offices in placing 
farm labor; of course, any of our information is available to the 

The Chairman. Do the large farmers come to your office to let 
you know that they need so many men at such and such a time? 

Mr. Banks. Yes; the way we operate, we don't send any labor 
into any community unless we have a written order signed by a 
farmer for a laborer. 

The Chairman. All right, when we were over at Chicago the 
statement was made over there that one of the sugar-beet ^corpo- 
rations in Ohio or Michigan, one or the other, sent their medical 
men down to Texas to conduct a physical examination of the workers 
before they were brought north. 

Mr. Banks. That was in Michigan, the Michigan Sugar Co. and 
the Michigan Sugar Growers Association operate through the State 


health department of Michigan, where they have stringent heakh 
laws, and they sent men to San Antonio to make examinations, 
assisted by local physicians whom they employed in San Antonio. 

The Chairman. Do you have any other system of physical ex- 
aminations before your workmen can be sent from place to place? 

Mr. Banks. No; practically all our placements are within the 
State of Texas, and those sugar companies have never used the 
Texas State Employment Service or the employment services of their 
own State; they operate through private employment agencies. 


The Chairman. Has it been your experience or your observation 
in the last few years to know how much revenue per capita these 
migrant workers earn or receive in a year? 

Mr. Banks. There have been various reports on that. We have 
that incorporated, I believe, in part of the brief, but I know in 
several instances, two or three cases, at least, a Mexican family has 
worked an entire season, from planting to harvesting, in the sugar- 
beet fields and returned to San Antonio with $25 or $30 to show 
for their year's work. 

The Chairman. How does that compare with the ordinary settled 
agricultural laborer in the State of Texas? 

Mr. Banks. Now, in Texas we have the average Mexican laborer 
who starts out in the lower Rio Grande Valley and works in a cycle 
up into north Texas and back again. 

The Chairman. You have a great deal of intrastate migration ? 

Mr. Banks. Yes ; I think I can safely state that they are employed 
in Texas at least 9 months or more out of the year. 

The Chairman. What is your current price per hour or day or 
month that these agricultural workers are paid ? 

Mr. Banks. Cotton picking, the principal activity, is paid for on 
a piece rate of so much per hundred pounds; that varies from 
40 cents in El Paso Valley, where there is an abundance of cheap 
labor, to 50 to 80 cents through central Texas; the cause of the 
drop down to 40 cents in the El Paso Valley is because of all the cheap 
labor there. 

The Chairman. How much can a good ordinary picker earn in a 
day at 60 cents a hundred pounds ? 

Mr. Banks. We estimate, by taking the family as a whole, most 
of those pickers work in family groups, every member of the family 
will probably pick 150 pounds a day ; of course, we have some pickers 
that when it comes to picking cotton will pick 700 or 800 pounds a 

The Chairman. Per individual, or does that mean three or four 
children ? 

Mr. Banks. Three or four in the family, maybe five or six in a 
family, and maybe each one will average 150 pounds per day. 

The Chairman. How many individuals have you placed on jobs? 

Mr. Banks. I will let Mr. 'Bond answer that. 



Mr. Bond. The employment service placed 540,000 and some odd 

people last year, in 1939. . n <. ^t 

The Chairman. Explain to the committee the procedure, from the 
angle of a worker arriving in your State and wanting a job, what 
he does and what you do for them ? 


Mr. Bond. May I take a minute here? Before I answer that ques- 
tion i would like to show you a map of Texas which points out the 
offices of the Texas Employment Service. Mr. McKmley told you 
we had 102 offices and how they are located; they are located m 
accordance with the supply and demand for labor and the mdustrnil 
structure of the community, some on the basis of manufacturmg, some 
ao-riculture, others on whatever community structure there may be. 
We open these offices whenever the condition in a given area warrants 
the service that can be given by the placement bureau. We have 
attempted to adjust the supply and demand for labor by brnigmg the 
worker and the employer together at the right time and m the right 

The question that you asked— I want to proceed just a little more 
first. We have in Texas around 500,000 farms ; in some parts some of 
those farmers require labor to harvest their crops, others don't. One 
of our big farmers farms twenty or thirty or forty or fifty thousand 
acres, others farm 20 acres or 30 acres and maybe down m the valley 
10 acres, but the agricultural structure in Texas requires a given 
number of agricultural workers to harvest the crops. They can't 
get around it, and our job is to find the number of employers in Texas, 
farmers who need workers, and the number of workers who are avail- 
able for these jobs. For the last 7 years we have made individual 
studies by counties ; we contact the individual farmer and find how 
many acres he has, we find the number of people in his family, what 
he plants and how he plants it, we find out his seasons, at the same 
time we are making that survey that Mr. Banks told you about. We 
contact labor and find how many local workers there are, how many 
Mexicans there are, how many Negroes there are, how many whites 
there are ; then our records are set up so that we know by counties, 
by communities, at what time of the year a certain activity is going 
to start in a county. You will notice here we have a system, we 
maintain a system of card indexes, that is, we set up the 254 counties 
in Texas and this shows every agricultural county and the migratory 
labor and various conditions in that county. 


The Chairman. What is the personnel in your office ? 

Mr. Bond. It all depends on the activity in the county; it runs 
from 150 down to 1 man in an office. If there is a lot of activity 
out here in some particular county for a few months we may send 
in a bunch and then take them out when the activity ceases. 

The Chairman. Those are not all full-year offices? 


Mr. Bond. No ; they operate at those times that the conditions in the 
community require it. 

Mr. Parsons. What qualifications do you require for a man or 
woman to operate one of those offices ? 

Mr. Bond. It depends on the community that he is in. If it is highly 
agi-icultural he will have had some farm background, will be able to 
speak Spanish— 90 percent of them can speak Spanish anyway— and 
will be familiar with the agricultural problems and working condi- 
tions and will understand the people he has to work with. It is his 
job to contact the people in the community, the employers and the 
workers, and then furnish work to the local workers in the community. 

Mr. Parsons. How many years have you had the employment service 
in Texas ? 

Mr. Bond. It was originated as a result of the Wagner-Peyser Act 
in 1933. In 1933 and 1934 it was the National Reemployment Service 
and in 1935 the Texas act created the employment service which took 
over the old reemployment service. In 1935 we looked, and didn't do 
a very good job of looking in some cases, but we did try to find out 
what the problem was and now with 5 years' experience we know by 
communities and by farms and by conditions what the agricultural 
structure of the counties is. 


Mr. Parsons. Does the State government pay the cost of this? 

Mr. Bond. The State government pays a very little of the cost; they 
pay a share, the local county pays a share, and some of the cities pay a 
share, but most of the money furnished at this time comes from the 
Social Security Board. 

Mr. Curtis. How much do you charge the worker for getting a job 
for him, anything? 

Mr. Bond. I hope not, we are not supposed to — there is no charge. 

Mr. Curtis. It is a public service ? 

Mr. Bond. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. And this is run in connection with your Social Secu- 
rity set-up? 

Mr. Bond. Yes; we believe the important thing, whether it is un- 
employment or anything else, is to find a man a job and all our efforts 
are directed toward finding a man a job and not to pay benefits. How- 
ever, we do seek to pay benefits on time and in the amounts due to 
people that are entitled to them. However, that is a bookkeeping 
proposition; the problem is to go out and find jobs and bring the 
workers into the community where they are needed, when they are 

Mr. Parsons. You have certainly done a fine job in that respect. I 
am just wor.derip.g wh:\t kind of conditions did exist before you got 
this set-up in the State of Texas? 

Mr. Bond. Well, the conditions are not entirely corrected ; there are 
pretty bad conditions there now, but maybe in another 5 years we will 
be able to correct them a little further than we have. I will say that 
when the Farm Security Administration, the W. P. A., and some of 


these other things came in there was a chaotic condition and the 
workers migrated from one end of the State to the otlier, which is 
1,400 miles ; they would leave the Rio Grande Valley and go 200 miles 
up in the State of Texas to find a job picking cotton, when they could 
have got one by going 30 miles. 

Mr. Parsons, What did they do down there before the days of modern 
transportation ? 

Mr. Bond. Well, do you mean back in the days of 1850 ? 

Mr. Parsons. No ; 30 or 40 years ago. 

Mr. Bond. Well, at that time they have been known to go on foot as 
far as that and get up in some end of the State and then get stranded. 

Mr. Parsons. You have seen a great improvement since 1935 ? 

Mr. Bond. Since 1935 we have seen a great improvement. In 1935 
we would contact farmers and they would look down their noses at us. 

Mr. Parsons. You filled how many jobs last year ? 

Mr. Bond. Last year there were over 500,000 placements made, and 
I mean by placements there was a written order by the farmer and veri- 
fied by the signature of the worker and the signature of the emploj^er. 

Mr. Parsons. Do you keep a record of that man so that if he is 
pleasing to the farmer he can obtain his services again the next year ? 

Mr. Bond. If it is a local man he can ; if it is a migrator}- worker, of 
course, he can't. At first we didn't know that we were going to be able 
to supply the men and sometimes they would give us an order for 500 
men and then send trucks up some place else for a like number. 

Mr. Parsons. Do these people have to be citizens of the State of 
Texas, or if an alien or a Californian or anybody that happens to be in 
the State of Texas wants a job, do you send them out? 


Mr. Bond. Yes ; we take care of anybody that applies. These Mexi- 
cans are supposed to be legal aliens, but our facilities are open to 
anybody that comes in. Now, we like to take care of our own people 
first, but if a Californian comes into a community we would qualify 
him as a local man and would certainly rather put him to work than 
get a man some 1,400 miles away. 

Mr. Parsons. With your system you are likely to curtail the migra- 
tion of those folks long distances like to Michigan and Ohio and to 
the beet fields? 

Mr. Bond. Nothing would make us happier ; we prefer to keep them 

Mr. Curtis. Those legal aliens, do they stay the year around? 

Mr. Bond. Sometimes they do and sometimes they go back ; we are 
having a little trouble with them now ; the aliens have to register and 
have to go to the post office and they are a little afraid to register. 

Mr. Curtis. You have made a placement of half a million people in 
a year ? 

*Mr. Bond. Yes ; that is right. 

Mr. Curtis. How much in wages have they drawn ? 

Mr. Bond. It is in that report ; we have worked it up, on cotton pick- 
ing for example, at 40, 50, 60, and 70 cents per 100 pounds, depending on 


the crop and the number of laborers in that community at that time. 
Mr. Curtis. How much of this work was done by your 85 percent 
aliens is the type of work that can be done by citizen labor? 


Mr, Banks. May I interrupt there ? There is a little confusion there 
on this Mexican labor ; possibly not over 25 percent of it is alien, the 
rest of them are native born. 

Mr. Bond (continuing-). We assume that all the aliens are legal 
aliens; we wouldn't deal with them unless they were. 

jMr. Curtis. Eighty-five percent of them are Mexicans? 

Mr. Bond. Yes. 

Mr. Curtis. And of that 85 percent, 25 percent of them are not 
citizens of the United States ? 

Mr. Banks. We assume that. 

Mr. Curtis. So about 20 percent of the total are not citizens? 

Mr. Banks. That may be correct : I don't know, nobody does. 

Mr. Curtis. Now, that 20 percent, those that are not citizens, are 
they doing a type of work which cannot be done by citizen labor ? 

Mr. Banks. No ; if that 20 percent is right when you mention that 

Mr. Curtis. It is not my figure, he said it was an estimate of 85 
percent Mexican and 25 percent of that Mexican labor was alien ? 

Mr. Banks. I will say this, that if his guess is correct, and it is purely 
a guess, there is nothing they are doing that the local people in Texas 
can't do. 

Mr. Curtis. Now, what is your guess, that about 85 percent of these 
people are of Mexican descent ? 

Mr. Banks. That is right. 

Mr. Curtis. Of that 85 percent what is your guess as to the number 
of them that are aliens ? 

Mr. Banks. I don't know ; I just haven't the slightest idea. 

Mr. Parsons. You have that in your records, don't you ? 

Mr. Banks. We could go back and count them ; yes. I have never 
been asked that question before and hadn't thought about it ; our duty 
is to get these people on the job when they are needed. 

Mr. Parsons. But you do have a big population of American citizens 
that are Mexican in descent ? 

Mr. Banks. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Curtis. What service do you extend to the nonresident people 
in your State ; that is, nonresident employers. Suppose the employer 
is in Colorado or elsewhere, do you have a service whereby they can 
contact you and obtain laborers or do you just do what you can as a 
matter of courtesy ? 


Mr, Banks. Well, the State employment services throughout the 
country are affiliated with the United States Employment Service 


which is a part of the Bureau of Employment Security of the Social 
Security Board, and we operate back and forth from one State to an- 
other. 1 am not talking about agricultural labor, because we do not 
cooperate with other States in agricultural labor unless the employers 
in other States can employ these people. It is not violating any of our 
State laws or the intent of any of our State laws. We are not ^oing to 
recruit 500 or 100 or any Mexicans for Michigan if that doesn't follow 
the laws on our statute books ; if they can meet those conditions, then 
maybe we will assist them if we know there is an absolute shortage of 
labor in that community at that time, but we are not going to get them 
in when there is a local worker there that can do the job and we would 
not send any man anywhere if we thought there was a local man in that 
community that could do the job. 

Mr. Curtis. Is there anything else you think of you want to include 
in your oral statement? 

Mr. Banks. To clarify the picture I might state this : We know the 
approximate time of the year they migrate, we know where they mi- 
grate from, we know whether they are Negroes, Mexicans, or whites ; 
we know where they go ; we know that in one section of the State they 
have a lot of farms and use a lot of farm hands; we know in other 
sections of the State we have large farms and no farm hands ; we know 
that in some sections of the State they need workers and in some sec- 
tions they do not ; we know when this migration starts, it starts in the 
valley. I told you there was some 1,49^ miles over which they could 
migrate, and it starts out down here [pointing to a map of Texas] in 
the valley around July 1 and ends up here around El Paso in this 
area about December 15. Our 102 offices report daily to the admin- 
istrative office so that in the administrative office we act more or less 
as a train dispatcher would operate. 

Mr. Curtis. Do you use telephones ? 

Mr. Banks. We use telephones, teletype, telegraph, and anyway we 
can get the information in there the fastest. 

Mr, Curtis. Suppose a group of workers applied at El Paso, Ama- 
rillo, Dallas, or any particular place, about possible employment down 
here at Brownsville, what system do you have that all your offices do 
not converge too much at Brownsville? 

Mr. Banks. The Browns\alle office notifies the Austin office daily of 
the conditions during the cotton season; that is, if they have 100 jobs 
or 500 Mexicans, or whatever it is. 

Mr. Curtis. In other words, you clear through the State office? 

Mr. Banks. Yes; the office in Austin knows whether there is a 
movement starting out of the valley or going into the valley, whether 
there is a shortage of labor or a surplus of labor, whether it is raining — 
and that is an important factor — we may start a group up here 
some place and it may start raining and rain for 10 days and there is 
no reason to send them up there and let them stay on relief or as com- 
munity charges until they can get work. By keeping close check on 
all those things we know where there is a shortage and we move them 
in there. 

Mr. Curtis. Suppose a family comes down from Arizona and goes 
into one of your offices and there isn't any work available in the 


wliole State of Texas tlie}^ can do, and won't be for 10 days, and 
they are out of money and out of gasoline, what do you do about it? 

Mr. Banks. Well, we feel sorry for them ; send them to the relief 
people. We are not a relief agenc}^, we are purely a labor exchange. 

Mr. CuKTis. What does the relief agency do ? 

Mr. Banks. I think those people are here; they can tell you that. 

Mr. Curtis. Do you have much of that problem ? 

Mr. Banks. Yes, sir, we do; we have workers coming in from 
all sections of the United States. 

IMr. Curtis. How many applications do you suppose you have had 
to deny, not deny because you are glad to give them jobs, but how 
manv have you had to turn down because there were no jobs avail- 

Mr. Banks. We don't turn anybody down; when those people 
present themselves to' us we register them under the classification 
we think they are best fitted for and when the job comes up and 
they fit the need most nearly, they get the job. 

Mr. Curtis. How many people every year take the card that you 
give them or register with you, for whom you never have a job avail- 
able that season? 

Mr. Banks. I don't know; I wouldn't even know how many local 
Texas people there are registered that don't get jobs; we have an 
active file of 257,000 people now that are registered that we are 
trying to get jobs for. 

Mr. Curtis. This committee is to investigate the interstate migra- 
tion of destitute persons, those that can't get any jobs at all and 
who cross the State lines and there are undoubtedly people in that 
class coming into your State; I wonder if you have any information 
about how many people are coming into Texas? 

Mr. Banks. There are lots that come into Texas from Oklahoma, 
California, Arizona, and all over, but I do not have that informa- 
tion ; we have been too busy with our own folks and I know that 
we have enough labor in Texas for all the jobs. 

The Chairman. Under the resolution passed by the House of 
Representatives, of course, we are concerned by the migration of 
destitute citizens from State to State, and we are interested, of 
course, in the State set-up that you have depicted here and from 
which we must arrive at some conclusions that will assist if possible 
in a solution of this mass migration and care of destitute citizens. 
Now, in our hearing in New York, Chicago, Montgomery, and 
Lincoln, Nebr., we had many witnesses who presented facts show- 
ing that they receive so much misinformation as to employment. 
Have you any information at this time, as to how the Federal Gov- 
ernment could do something like you are doing in Texas ? 


Mr. Banks. You don't want me to brag a little, do you? 
The Chairman. The world is yours, brag if you want to. 
Mr. Banks. I believe if the local employment offices in some of 
these other States could be strengthened and could be staffed and 


equipped to handle their local employment problems that a great 
number of these migratory workers from these other States would 
stay home. It is a condition over which they, and nobody else, have 
any control. 

The Chairman. That is it; there is worn-out land, and tractors, 
and various causes for interstate migration, and one would be a 
very great optimist if he thought it would cease entirely? 

Mr. Banks. That is right ; but we have 10,000 that go to Michigan 
and get jobs. If the State of Michigan has the people to do the 
work let them hire them and we will get our Texas people jobs and 
that will stop it to some extent. 

The Chairman. Yes ; but if people start out and they receive a lot of 
misinformation about employment, what do you say about that? 

Mr. Banks. I think it might be well if there were some kind of 
legislation enacted that would prohibit the migration of labor across 
the State line unless there was a definite shortage of labor existing in 
these other States. In other words, we don't want any workers coming 
into Texas unless we need them; and if they are coming into Texas 
and going on relief, they might as well stay home and go on relief 

The Chairman. Do you know any instances of private employment 
agencies shooting these migrants across State lines, telling them that 
they were going to get jobs, and taking probably the last dime they 
have ? 

Mr. Banks. In the last 5 years we have heard of many such instances 
in Texas. Whenever we find such situations we see that the proper 
authorities are notified; since we are not an enforcement agency, we 
cannot tell that fellow to stop, but we can tell the proper authorities 
of it. 

The Chairman. But you do know of instances of that kind? 

Mr. Banks. Hundreds of them. 

The Chairman. That is one thing this committee can do and will 
have jurisdiction over — private employment agencies shooting people 
over State lines. We will have jurisdiction over that, and that would 
be a very important recommendation for this committee to entertain, 

Mr. Banks. I think that would be very important; that advertising 
they pass out — they advertise, pass out handbills, have agents come in, 
go over the radio and paint a rosy picture — and these bring into dif- 
ferent communities hundreds and hundreds of workers which they 
can't place, attempting to flood the market ; and the result of that you 
know as well as I do. 

The Chairman. You can readily see where this Congress would 
have jurisdiction over that, because in the crossing of State lines that 
would be interstate commerce. 

Mr. Banks. Surely. 

migration or beet workers to Michigan 

Mr. Sparkman. Mr. Bond, I have been very much interested in this 
matter of migration of these Texans into the Michigan beet fields. 


We heard something about that at the Chicago hearings, and you 
discussed it to some extent here. How are they carried up there 
ordinarily ? 

Mr. Bond. I have a complete report here on that that we haven't 
wanted to turn loose. 

Mr. Sparkman. If you haven't wanted to turn it loose, maybe that 
is all the more reason why we would want to get it. 

The Chairman. Is there any way we can get that? 

Mr. Bond. I am going to give you a copy of it ; we decided that you 
might as well have it. I am going to ask Mr. McKinley to explain 
that ; he worked up the report and knows how they travel and what the 
conditions are. 


jNIr. IMcKiNLEY. The beet industry — we have it from one of the offi- 
cials of Michigan — desires Mexican labor. It is in our record that a 
]Mexican will do about three times as much work as the average worker 
in Michigan will do for the same amount of money. So the Michigan 
13eople license these labor agents in Texas to recruit labor for the beet 
fields. The agent has to pay $150 for a license and has to put up a 
bond and comply with the State law^ ; then he is turned loose, and he 
sends out the grapevine and gets ipeople rounded up. In 1938 they 
only licensed two agencies. 

Mr. Sparkman. Are they licensed in Michigan or Texas? 


Mr. McKinley. I am talking about Texas ; I am staying away from 
Michigan as far as I can. In 1938 they licensed two agencies to 
recruit labor for them and in 1939 four, and then business picked up 
and they licensed six during the year 1940. Well, those people are 
gathered together and examined, and they leave us the weak, sickly 
ones; they cull them out and take the best labor all to Michigan. 
Tlie truck drivers go in pairs, and there w^ill be two truck drivers 
in one truck, but those people will be stacked up in the trucks like 
cattle standing up, 35 to 40 people in one truck, and they drive 
straight through just as rapidly as they can go. They don't stop 
except for Avater and oil and perhaps break-downs and things like 
that. Of course, the people are subjected to hardships, but strange 
to say they like it, that class of people look on that as sort of a 
holiday or outing, and they will take that trip year after year more 
for the outing than anything else. 

Mr. Curtis. Do some of them come back with any money? 

Mr. McKinley. Very few of them come back with any money. 
The truck drivers make plenty of money out of it; one truck driver 
was reported to Mr. Banks as having made $3,000 for hauling ]\Iexi- 
cans to Michigan last year ; he charged about $11 a head and he takes 
35 or 40 at a trip and makes 3 or 4 trips. The person, after he is 
thrown out there in Michigan — I don't know much about it in Mich- 
igan — but if they could work regularly straight through the thin- 
ning and hoeing and topping and all that they could make some 
money, but they don't make much money in the long run. 


Mr. Sparkman. I notice one of these truck driver companies re- 
quired that not more than 30 should be transported in one truck? 

INIr. McKiNLEY. Yes ; that was this year. 

Mr. Sparkman. So they are beginning to get around to some form 
of reguhition? 

Mr. McKiNLET. Yes. 

Mr. Sparkman. You say they make the trip sometimes as much 
as 3 days and nights without stopping to sleep or anything? 

Mr. McKiNLEY. Oh, no; they don't stop. The Interstate Commerce 
Commission has a law or rule that all railroads hauling cattle must 
stop at the end of 36 hours and remove the cattle so they can stop 
and eat and rest, but the Mexican sugar-beet worker is not thus 

Mr. Paesons. Wliat is the longest trip that you know of? 

Mr. McKiNLEY. A little over 1,600 miles. 

Mr. Parsons. That would take a little over 3 days to drive that? 

Mr. McKiNLEY. Anywhere from 48 to 60 hours. 

Mr. Sparkman. What do they do for food, take it with them? 

Mr. McKiNLEY. Oh, yes ; they take a little food. 

Mr. Sparkman. And water? 

Mr. McKiNLEY. Yes; a jug of water. 

Mr. CuETis. Are those fellows licensed for the transportation of 
persons in interstate commerce? 

Mr. McKiNLEY. I don't think so. 

Mr. Curtis. They are evading the law then, aren't they? 

]\Ir. INIcKiNLEY. Yes ; I really believe, and I am sincere about this, 
that if the various laws were enforced that things would be remedied 
a great deal. 

Mr. Curtis. We have enough laws to eliminate that, practically. 

Mr. McKiNLEY. The I. C. C. is making an investigation at this 
time, and it is said by those people that they have sufficient laws to 
regulate that. 

Mr. Parsons. Mr. McKinley, do you have any comment to make on 
the sanitary conditions during this transportation; it seems to me 
that that would be rather important? 

Mr. McKiNLEY. It is so rotten I regret to have to discuss that in a 
mixed audience. 

Mr. Parsons. Is it covered in your report? 

Mr. McKiNLEY. It is covered in that report that we just gave you. 
It is appalling, revolting. 

Mr. Parsons. It is very bad? 

Mr. McKiNLEY. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. How many thousand annually do you estimate go 
out of the State? 

Mr. McKiNLEY. We estimated 10,000 this year; we got an ac- 
curate check of 6,000, from those agents that are registered under 
the State labor department, from their reports of how many workers 
they sent out. They sent out over 6,000 and those that went out in 
their own jalopies and one way and another we estimated that with 
all of them there was a total of at least 10,000 went out this year. 


Mr. Curtis. Have we shut you off on any point you wanted to 
clear up here? We have asked these questions rather informally. 

The Chairman. That is, anything not contained in the statement? 

Mr. Bond. I think it is all contained in the brief. 

The Chairman. I want to express the thanks of this committee 
for your very fine paper here, and it has been made a part of our 
record; we thank you very much. 

(Witness excused.) 

(The report on migration of Mexicans to Michigan was received, 
as follows:) 

Reportt on the Migration of ^Mexican Labor From Tbisas to the Sugar-Beet 


Each year there is a migration of thousautls of Texas workers to the sugar- 
beet ttelds of Colorado, Michigan, Ohio, Nebrasiia, Minnesota, and California. 

This report is made as a factual analysis of the conditions surrounding this 
migration ; the conclusions are apparent. The existence of such a system affects 
the supply of labor available to harvest Texas' agricultural crops and is 
obviously acting to oppose the economic and social welfare of Texas' agri- 
cultural workers and employers. 

the season and labor requirements 

Work in the sugar-beet fields, in a season which encompasses a G-month 
period, is intermittent ; that is, within the season there are lag periods between 
cultivation processes and harvesting. This highly seasonal aspect, together 
with the arduousness and monotony of the work deprives it of any great attrac- 
tion for most laborers. Because of this fact, which makes difficult the secur- 
ing of local labor over a contract period, the growers and growers' associa- 
tions, in close contractual relationship with sugar manufacturers, recruit 
migratory labor to do their work. The largest percentage of this labor is 
Mexican. Perhaps an adequate explanation of the preference for this par- 
ticular nationality is given in the following quotation from an employment 
authority of one of the leading northern sugar-beet-producing States : 

"Other concerns say quite frankly that they prefer Mexican labor and insist 
upon having it for the reason that the Mexican sugar-beet field worker will 
do about five times the amount of work that the local farm hand will do for 
the same amount of money." 

The wages offered the Mexican laborer are tempting. Both the Jones-Costigan 
Act of 1933 and the Federal Sugar Act of 1937 contain clauses which were intended 
to raise the wage level for the beet-sugar worker — minimum wages were to be 
established by order of the Secretary of Agriculture, and regulation of child labor 
reduced the amount of that type of labor which could be used in the fields by 
growers who subscribed to the quota system under the acts. These provisions 
have served to raise wages to some extent, at any rate enough to make them 
attractive to the Mexican laborer, whose agricultural wage in Texas appears much 
lower by contrast of gross unit. (From .$17 to .$21 per acre is the current average 
for all processes.) 

However, the wages paid by the growers vary in scale approaching the minimum 
established under the quota system, according to the supply of labor available 
for the intermittent work during the 6-month period ; it is. therefore, obviously to 
the advantage of the grower to encourage a surplus of labor influx. As this is 
true, It is also a fact that acreage allotted to individuals or family groups is 
reduced and thereby the income to the worker decreases. 

In the past few years more of this ^Mexican labor is moving from the Southwest, 
with the bulk moving from south Texas to the beet fields of the Midwest, and 
large numbers moving from the northern part of Texas to Colorado and the far 

From 6.000 to 10,000 of these workers are part of this movement from Texas 
annually. It is estimated that some 5,000 have been transported from San Antonio 


and vicinity to Michigan alone for the 1S39 season. Approximately 2,500 move 
out of the Dallas vicinity each year, some going north, many more going west, 
some under contracts, some free lance. 


There are operating in Texas four licensed employment agencies whose express 
function is the recruitment of Mexican labor for work in the northern beet fields. 
Three of these agencies are in San Antonio and one in Crystal City (in the so- 
called Winter Garden area where great numbers of Mexicans are used annually 
in spinach and onion harvests). 

The relationship between agencies and the growers and manufacturers is not 
made public, but it is acknowledged that these agencies are the direct representa- 
tives of a growers' association and sugar manufacturers in Michigan. 

Twelve labor scouts work for these agencies, spreading out and recruiting 
Mexican labor exclusively. Michigan law requires that hospitalization and 
medical care be provided by the State for all tuberculosis cases ; therefore, in the 
I'ecruitment of labor from San Antonio south all applicants are required to pass 
a physical examination before they can be offered a contract of employment and 
assigned to truckers for transportation. 

Recruitment begins in Texas in March, and this year the San Antonio agencies 
indicated that their needs had been supplied on April 27. The season does not 
open in the beet fields until approximately the first of June, so this means that 
Texas Mexican labor reaches the beet-field areas approximately a month before 
harvest time. 

After the workers have passed physical examinations and have been accepted, 
a written contract is signed in most cases between the worker and grower or 
association. These contracts, a facsimile sample of which is attached to this 
report, in general specify the acreage on which the hand work is to be per- 
formed, the manner in which the work is to be done, whether housing is to be 
provided, and the rate of wages per acre which is to be paid. They also usually 
provide for the time of payment in relation to the completion of each process of 
cultivation, the conditions under which credit may be advanced, and the portion 
of wages which may be held back until completion of the harvest season. (This 
latter to insure, of course, that the worker does not move out during a lag period.) 

After the applicant has been accepted and signed up, he and his family in 
most instances are put in touch with the truck drivers whose business it is to 
transport workers to the fields for a specified charge. Although it is held that 
the sugar companies have nothing to do with paying for transportation, they do 
provide for payment by advancing the money for these costs out of the workers' 
first pay. Testimonials of workers who have been transported to the fields show 
that the amount is about $11 per person (sometimes as high as $15) — $9 of this 
goes to the truck driver and $2 to the employment agency. 

Some workers go in their own cars or trucks ; many move out in spite of the 
fact that they have failed to pass physical examinations, and large numbers make 
the trip without specific promise of employment or written contract. The free- 
lance groups in most cases find themselves stranded in the North, or have to 
wait around for employment for such long periods, receiving credit from the 
growers in the meanwhile, that they become so indebted that they have no money 
at the end of the season to return to their residences. 

Several of the sugar-beet producing States require physical examination for the 
laborers entering their State with the examination given after the worker has 
entered the State ; this means, of course, that many himdreds of workers make 
the long trip only to find that they are physically unfit and will not be accepted 
for labor in the beet fields. In most of these cases they are left stranded more 
than a thousand miles from their residence with no money or means of return 
transportation and no source of work to earn money enough for return fare. 

Representatives of beet-growers' associations, although not maintaining special 
employment agencies, also operate in north Texas, with headquarters in Dallas. 
For the 1939 season it is estimated that some 2,500 workers left for the beet fields 
from this area. 

Solicitation in Texas on the part of Colorado companies is limited ; this is 
undoubtedly due to the fact that the migration each year, unsolicited, is of such 
magnitude that large-scale recruitment is unnecessary. However, a Colorado 


agent operating in Crystal City this year is estimated to have directed some 
2,500 workers to that State. 

State employment services in sugar-beet States are aware that a surplus of 
labor moves into their States annually at the sugar-beet season, and that this 
surplus acts to the dertiment of local labor. In April of this year the Texas 
State Employment Service was advised by both the director and the farm- 
placement supervisor of the Colorado State Employment Service that an over- 
abundance of labor was moving into that State from south Texas. The aid of 
the Texas service was solicited in putting a stop to this immigration. 

When the Michigan State Employment Service was informed, early this year, 
by the Texas service of the operation of emigrant agents in Texas recruiting labor 
for five Michigan sugar-beet concerns, it was shown that the Michigan State 
Employment Service also is aware of the import of such a situation. Quoted 
below are paragraphs from a letter received from the director of the Michigan 
service : 

"The situation concerning sugar-beet field workers is just about the same this 
year as in previous years. It is a little early yet to expect to receive definite 
orders, but our people are keeping in touch with the farmers and refi;ners in their 
respective territories and have promises from some that all the help that can 
be secured through our oflBces for this indvistry will be hired. Other concerns 
say very frankly that they prefer Mexican labor and insist upon having it for the 
reason that the Mexican sugar-beet field worker will do about five times the 
amount of work that the local farm hand for the same amount of money. 
Further, that they are more dependable, and that they are on the job ready to 
prepare for the harvest, while the local farm hand is very apt to desert the 
sugar-beet work in favor of some easier job about harvest time, which, of course, 
makes a very awkward situation for the sugar-beet farmers. 

"As we said before, we are contacting the growers and the factories. We have 
succeeded in getting a few orders. In 1 office we had an order for 12 men and 
placed 10, but it is too early now to expect placements in any greater quantity. 

"We shall continue to check this field very closely and expect to be able to place 
some workers, although we do not hope to be able to stop the influx of sugar-beet 
field workers from the South." 


The increased deposits in south Texas banks at the end of the beet season, 
which are usually attributed to agricultural earning of farm laborers, most 
probably comes from the truck drivers who transport the thousands of workers 
to the beet fields at an average of $9 per head. In fact, one driver in a volun- 
tary statement acknowledged that he cleared approximately $3,000 in the 1938 

Formerly the growers and companies transported workers by train; but a 
representative of a large association recently stated that this practice had been 
stopped because a great part of the labor now has its own conveyances, and 
because trucks which make the trips with workers stay in beet-growing sectors 
to do the hauling of beets. 

The trip to the northern fields from Texas is about 1,600 miles, across five 
States. The interest of the truckers is, of course, to make as many trips as 
possible within the 6-week transportation period preceding the opening of the 
season, and some of them manage to make as many as seven. The average 
number of persons transported in one trip is between SH and 4.5 in a single 
truck; one Michigan company this year is known to have specified that no 
more than 30 persons should be carried on its contract loads, a fact which dis- 
gruntled the drivers no little. Usually, however, as many men, women, and 
children as possible are crammed into the truck, some of them having to stand 
all the way to their destination, and begin a trip in which an average speed 
of around 45 miles per hour is maintained and the runs are often 48 hours 
without a stop. 

Few, if any, of these truckers have interstate permits for the hauling of paid 
passengers, and often drive hundreds of miles out of the way to avoid crossing 
State lines on main highways. 

Many of the drivers are stated to be unscrupulous in their attempts to exploit 
'he workers and to exact additional fees from them above the amounts ad- 



vanced bv the growers and companies. The testimony of workers has re\^aled 
that the' greatest number of complaints is leveled at these truckers. These 
complaints are perhaps clarified in the following paragraphs: 


The conditions under which labor is transported to the beet fields and the 
return to the worker in income is represented more vividly by the following 
statements of Mexican workers who have made the trip than by any summary 
description which could be given. , ^ ^ 

In ^pite of the fact that the workers were told that such statements were 
not being secured in any ofiicial enforcement capacity, it was difficult to get 
many of them to talk ; although a few were verbose to the extent that their 
statements had to be condensed for clarity. 


Did not work in fields last year. Made trip as truck driver, but operation 
on lung caused him to stay home this season. In making trips to Lii^wood, 
Mich not over two stops in 24 hours were made. Required 3 days and nights 
to miike trip. Never stopped for bowel evacuations unless passengers made so 
much noise he had to stop. Says some of the drivers stimulate themselves 
with liquor or marijuana in order to stay awake, and that in the recent wrecK 
in Missouri beer was found in the driver's cab. (Was told that one of the 
victims of this wreck was buried in San Antonio today.) Some of the trucks 
carry a relief driver and are O. K. Made a trip with Antone Escobedo m 
1937 who is still driving, and has made two trips this season. Ten dollars and 
tweiitv-three cents is paid for each worker by R. E. Schanzer, Inc., which is 
later deduceted from earnings of workers. A copy of letter from this company 
is attached. Father says he did not go this year on account of operation on 
lung of son. 


Went to Michigan in 1987, but did not go last year. Did sell six 1-gallon cans 
to occupants of one truck last season to be used as receptacles for bowel evacua- 
tions etc and dumped along the road as they traveled on. Any food and water 
used 'had 'to be taken along and food was eaten cold, as no stops were made on 
the schedule of 40 hours for the trip. Said he had (Jecided not to go again because 
he knew that trucks were unsafe and too crowded. That prior to 1933 beet 
companies transiwrted workers by trains which usually arrived at the destina- 
tion iust a few davs before time to go to work. He also complains that facili- 
ties of schools for" children are very bad. He further states that employment 
aeents make all the arrangements for transportation with truck drivers and 
notifv applicants when truck is to leave. (Agents and beet companies claim they 
have' nothing to do with transportation.) $11 is deducted from each worker s 
earnings, $9 of which is for transportation and $2 for the employment agent. 



Truck, he, and faniilv of six sons went to Ohio m last season ; carried 40 adult 
workers to Findlay, Ohio, to work for the Great Lakes Sugar Co. This was a 
7938 Ford V-8 owned and driven by Jose Rodriguez. Did not go through any 
entrant agency. Driver solicited and carried the labor north independently 
Tru?k did stop a few times for bowel evacuations and eating when he truck 
nee ed gas or oih but on most occasions cans were used as urinals and dumped 
out of the truck. Passengers had to stand all the way, and one man tied 
h inself upright to a stake so he would not fall out if he should happen to fall 
a leep $15 was deducted from each worker for transportation. This is also 
shown bv attached statement of itemized receipts and expenses by the author 
of t^"s statement, which shows that on August 10 the total earnings at that 
Ume were $464.77 and expenses were $246.67, leaving a cash balance due of 


According to the statement, $36 of this was held back in order to keep worker 
until second part of job was underway. The total approximate earnings of the 
seven men from June 1 to December 1 was $!)0!t. After paying all expenses and 
$150 for a car, they returned to San Antonio with $2.3 each. Half of the trans- 
portation fee is paid driver by the sugar company on delivery of workers and the 
other half when it is determined as to how many of the workers stay on the job. 
This family is leaving next Wednesday in own car to Findlay, Ohio. Has letter 
from son-in-law advising them that job is open. 


Left San Antonio May 6, 1938, with Trinidad Colunga (who at that time was 
in business with the Frank Cortez Emigrant Agency of San Antonio. Tex.). The 
trip to Saginaw, Mich., required 5 days and 4 nights. The weather was cold and 
rainy. No top on trucks, nor seats: roads were bad, and truck had no brakes. 
AVorkers forced driver at point of gun to sto]) and buy brake fluid, they lending 
him the money with which to make the purchase. After reaching Saginaw they 
were shifted to Seewin, Mich., and finally luiloaded at St. Louis, Mich., where 
they were employed. This truck was double decked and had as passengers 35 
adults and 10 children. Some of those on the top deck hung their legs down 
around the necks of those below, and caused several fights while en route. 

The Michigan Sugar Co. was fair in its dealings with workers, but truck 
drivers cheated them on every turn. No stops were made except for gas and oil. 
The wife of Adolfo Salamone was very ill en route ; thought she was dying, but 
truck would not stop for medical attention. The driver collected $15 for each 
worker from the Michigan Sugar Co. This money was later deducted from 
workers. Driver attempted to collect still another fare direct from workers, but 
without success. It was said that one boy had to stand on his feet the entire trip 
to Saginaw, Mich. Schools were provided for children under 15 years of age. 
Complained that acreage allotted to his family of live workers was too small, 
and that after all deductions were made he and family returned to San Antonio 
on November 12, 1938, with only $25 for their 6 months in the beet fields. 

Adolfo Salamone returiied to San Antonio with $6 at the close of the season. 
He also received vegetables to eat in lieu of cash for work done for farmers out- 
side of the beet fields. He is a neighbor of Ravago. 


Left May 1, 1938, with Pedro Sifuentes for Hopetown, Ohio (name of town may 
not be correct), to work for the (Ireat Lakes Sugar Co. There were 37 adults 
and 8 children in the truck. Spent 2 days and 3 nights on road ; $10 was charged 
each worker for transportation ; nothing for children. No stops were made unless 
forced to ; when such stops were made they ate if they had time. Pedro Sifuentes 
and a Mr. Pena, of Realitos, Tex., are now soliciting labor for the same company 
and will leave the coming Wednesday if they get up a load. Thinks that he will 
be one of the load. Children under 15 years of age must go to school. Between 
15 and 17 they get work permits for the asking. Sajs treatment of company 
was fair and that he made money. 


Three Texas statutes may be said to have potential regulatory power in the 
trafficking of labor, both interstate and intrastate. These laws are known as the 
emigrant-agent law, the employment-agency law, and the motorbus law ; the first 
two of these can be classified as labor statutes; the latter may have its effect 
upon the movement of labor only by inference in its regulation and licensing of 
common and contract carriers as defined in that statute. 

Briefly, tlie content of these laws is as follows : 


(1) The term "emigrant agent" is defined to mean every person, firm, corpora- 
tion, or association of persons engaged in the business of hiring, enticing, or 
soliciting laborers in this State to be employed beyond the limits of this State. 

260370— 41— pt. 5- 


(2) It requires the payment of an annual license fee of $10 to the labor com- 
missioner of Texas after the emigrant agent has filed application for such license 
and has paid the occupation tax as provided in the law. 

(3) The occupation tax required as payable to the State is $1,000 annually, with 
the payment of an additional tax to the county where said emigrant agent oper- 
ates or maintains an office, this latter tax graduated in amount upon the basis 
of population of the county in which operated. 

(4) Exempt are persons, firms, associations of persons, or corporations which 
do not maintain an office in the State for the purposes of hiring, enticing, or 
soliciting labor for use beyond the limits of the State. 


(1) Defines the employment agent as every person, firm, partnership, or asso- 
ciation of persons engaged in the business of assisting employers to secure 
employees and persons to secure employment, or the collecting of information 
regarding employers seeking employees and persons seeking employment. 

(2) Application for license must be made to the commissioner of labor and 
a license fee of $150 paid for each county in which an employment office is to 
be maintained by said agent. 

(3) Records of the employment agency must be open for inspection by the 
department of labor ; and the law is prohibited of such items as falsification in 
advertisement, irregular referrals, furnishing of employment to children in vio- 
lation of compulsory school-attendance laws, division of fees with persons to 
whom help is referred, collection of fees before applicant is employed, and induc- 
ing of employees to leave one job for another. 

(4) Exceptions to the law apply to agents who charge a fee of not more 
than $2 for registration only in procuring employment for school teachers, to 
department or bureaus maintained by State, Federal, or municipal governments, 
to farmers or stock raisers acang jointly in securing labor for their own use 
where no fee is collected or charged directly or indirectly, nor to any free 
employment bureau or agency chartered under the State law. 

Investigation of these laws in operation reveals that the Sta*^e Labor Depart- 
ment of Texas has been lenient in its interpretation of the Emigrant Agency 
Act in particular. Statements from both the labor commissioner and one of 
his deputies reveal that the four agencies now maintaining offices and operating 
in Texas — three in San Antonio (Bexar County) and one in Crystal City (Za valla 
County) — have been required only to pay the license fee of $150 as prescribed in 
the Employment Agency Act plus the $10 license fee required in the Emigrant 
Agency Act. This means simply that there has been no action for or collection 
of the $1,000 occupation tax required in the Emigrant Agency Act. It was 
stated by an ex-labor department deputy that to his knowledge this tax had 
been collected in but one instance since the passage of the law in 1929. The 
explanation for ignoring that section of the law specifying the $1,000 occupation 
tax and the popiilation-based county tax was that as the labor recruited by the 
licensed agency was for a particular association of growers they were exempt 
under section 7 of the law. This section of the law is here quoted : 

"Sec. 7. This Act shall also apply in all its terms and provisions to every 
other person, firm, corporation, maritime agency, or association of persons hiring, 
enticing, or soliciting laborers to be employed by him beyond the limits of this 
State, but not maintaining an office therefor, except that such other person, firm, 
corporation, maritime agency, or association of persons as used in this section 
shall not be required to pay the occupation taxes in order to procure a license 
but shall pay to the labor commissioner the annual license fee provided by the 
Act, and shall perform all the other provisions of this Act, and such license 
shall in that event be limited to such holder thereof hiring, enticing, or soliciting 
laborers exclusively and only for said holder of such license: Provided, horcever, 
That this section shall not apply to a person where the number to be employed 
by such person shall not exceed ten employees." 

The labor officials pointed out the specific instance of one agent operating 
in Crystal City who is employed by a Colorado association. As he dealt with 
only one association, even though it covered the entire State of Colorado reach- 
ing out into other States, the Department had decided no occupation tax was 


due the State, and state that the same applies to others operating in San 

In consideration of the possibility that the collection of the occupation tax 
lay within the powers of the tax division of the comptroller's department, the 
comptroller was contented. It was his opinion that it was the duty of the 
comptroller's department to see that the tax was collected by the counties. An 
investigation of this feature is now under way in the comptroller's department, 
and an opinion on the application of the Emigrant Agent Act will probably 
be requested from the attorney general's department. 


(1) Defines motor-bus companies as every corporation or persons owning, 
controlling, operating, or managing any motor-propelled passenger vehicle not 
usually operated on or over rails, and engaged in the business of transporting 
persons for compensation or hire over the public highways within the State of 
Texas, whether operating over fixed routes or fixed schedules or otherwise. 

(2) Regulation within the law is vested within the railroad commission of 
the State of Texas. 

(3) A driver's license with a $3 fee may be required for the operator of such 
common carrier; application for certificate of convenience and necessity must 
be made to the commission, together with the filing fee of $25. Such carriers 
must display identification plates issued by the railroad commission, and issu- 
ance of certificates to such carriers shall take into account (1) probable perma- 
nence and quality of service offered by the applicant, (2) financial abilities and 
responsibility of the applicant, (3) character of vehicles and character and 
location of depots and termini, (4) experience of the applicant in the transpor- 
tation of properties and the character of the bond or insurance proposed to be 
given to insure the protection of the public. 

The motor-bus law has had little or no effect upon the operation of truckers 
in the transportation of migratory labor, both interstate and intra.state. It is 
common knowledge that few, if any, truck operators make application to the 
railroad commis.«ion for permit and license under this law regiilating common 


Texas law regulating common and contract carriers requires that before cer- 
tificate or permit for operation is granted by the railroad commission the car- 
rier must show compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Act of 1935. 

The Federal Motor Carrier Act of 1935 defines, in paragraph 14, section 203a, 
"common carrier by motor vehicle" as any person who or which undertakes, 
whether directly or by a lease or any other arrangement, to transport passen- 
gers or property, or any class or classes of property, for the general public in 
interstate or foreign commerce by motor vehicle for compensation, whether over 
regular or irregular routes, including such motor-vehicle operations of carriers 
by rail or water, and of express or forwarding companies, except to the extent 
that these operations are subject to the provisions of part I. 

'Contract carrier" is defined as any i)erson not included under paragraph 14, 
section 203a, who or which, under special and individual contracts or agree- 
ments, and whether directly or by a lease or any other arrangement transports 
passengers or property in interstate or foreign commerce by motor vehicle for 

Certificates and permits for operation must be issued by the Interstate 
Commerce Commission after full application has been submitted in writing 
to the Commission. Certificate is based on rulings of "public convenience and 
necessity" ; and identification plates are issued to certified carriers. 

Every common carrier is required to publish and file a tariff. A tariff 
is a publication which states the carrier's rates and charges and the rules 
and regulations under which he will handle and transport commodities. 

A carrier must satisfy the Commission of his responsibility by filing an 
approved surety bond policy of insurance, qualifications as self-insurer, or 
securities or agreements satisfactory to the Interstate Commerce Commission. 

Safety regulations are detailed and extensive. 


There is' no indication that the Federal Motor Carrier Act of 1935 has 
been niKle aOTliai Die to the "truckers" engaged in the regular transportation 
ofworkels acMss he State line at an average charge of $9 per head. 

n haralieady been noted that most of these "truckers" avoid crossmg the 
State ?ine on main highways, possibly with the knowledge of their liability 
under the act. 


(^) Texas labor is being recruited and transported out of the State in 
numbeiJfaie enough to curtail labor supply for the harvesting of Texas 

^'■(?r?li'^Xn^'pS:S?ar^xaminations prescribed by some States tends 
to take the "cream" of Texas labor for out-of-State work and leave the local 
-fanners with "culls" to do their work. 

(3) Con mions existent in the mass movement and transportation facilities 
ore rev^^lti^ne and should be prevented for the general social good 

^rThe ?krniii4 of the Mexican laborer making the 1,600-mile trek are 
dissipated in the llg periods within the season, and any appreciable net return 

'^ (T)^ Texas law, regulatory in intent, is in need of more strict construction 

in JJ^fOji;^[^;i™*j^ commerce regulation offers possibilities as a deterrent to mass 

''r^%l^^:r:i^^£^'^^e of the damaging effects of labor 
suJpluses moving into their States for the sugar-beet harvest; but no effective 
control has been developed. 


TTapsiinile contracts between grower and laborer. . t,t- i • 

Facs-.niile expense account of a Mexican laborer on his season in Michigan 

^"^FaSmiie of form letter distributed by a growers' e^iPloymj^^f "^^i"*^^- ^ 
Copy of a letter from one laborer who left in April 1939 for the beet fields 

''^Fa^csTmile of article appearing in San Antonio Express on movement of 
Mexicans to Michigan beet fields. 

[ Specimen cop.v ] 
Undersigned grower and field worker agree— 

?S''a*tnS''d worra:,rpmperl,v care to,- ...- acres o£ .ugar beets accord- 
inc to instructions given from time to time by the grower. 

To buncL and thin beets so as to leave the beets, when hoeing is completed 
not more than 8 to 10 inches apart on the average, leaving only the sturdiest 
beets, one in a place. . , ^ 

To hoe the beets whenever required during the growing season, so as to 
remove all weeds, keep the beets clean in the rows and for 4 inches on eacu 
side of each row. 

To furnish hoes and topping knives. 

To null and top beets when ready for harvest, removing all the dirt possible 
bv striking beets together before removing tops. Knives are to be used for 
topping only— not for picking up or handling beets. 

To ton beets at the lowest leaf line at a right angle to vertical axis. 

To pile topped beets in piles consisting of the beets from 16 rows, the piles 
to be at least 2 rods apart. To cover piles with all the leaves immediately 

To pile all beet tops in neat piles when they are not needed to cover piles 
of beets to the end that grower may be able to use the tops to best advantage 
and not have them scattered about the ground. 


To level aud prepare the surface of the ground where beets are to be piled. 

To accept as full payment for said work the amount shown on the schedule 
printed on the back of this contract, payable as stated in said schedule. 

To pav the cost and expense of doing any work which he fails or refuses 
to do at 'the time or in the manner in which it should be done, and he authorizes 
the deduction of any such cost or expense from the amount herein agreed to be 

^'^To pay any cost or expense, including attorney fees, imposed on the grower 
or Michigan Sugar Co. by reason of any attachment or garnishment of the 
amount payable to him hereunder, or by any litigation of any nature, or by 
any damage done by him to property of the grower or said company, and 
he authorizes the deduction and withholding of the amount of any such cost 
or expense from the amount payable to him. 

The grower agrees — . 

To keep beets cultivated clean between the rows m a proper manner, and gne 
them at least one cultivation before they are blocked and thinned. 

To lift the beets when ready for harvest. , ^ , . ^ ^ 

To pay the field worker for said work according to the schedule printed 
on the back of this contract. 

To make all settlements with the field workers through the company s 

^To furnish free a suitable dwelling for field worker to live in until harvesting 
is completed and to provide pure water. 

That to secure payment to the field worker, any and all proceeds to whicn 
the grower may in anv way become entitled to receive under his contract 
with the company shall be charged with the amount to which the field worker 
rnay become enti'tled to receive hereunder, and the company in behalf of the 
grower and for his account, and as provided in the grower's contract with 
the company, is authorized to make payment of same direct to the field worker, 
and this contract (or a copy thereof) when filed with the company shall be 
an order for such payment. 

To haul or deliver the beets to the Michigan Sugar Co. 

General agreements : 

In case the grower fails to obtain a satisfactory stand of beets, or, if at any 
time during the time for i>erformance of work hereunder, the condition of the 
crop shall be such that in the judgment of the grower further work on the crop 
would not be justified, the grower may terminate this contract by giving notice- 
to the Michigan Sugar Co., the field worker, and the holders of any orders given 
by the grower and paying the field worker the fair value of what he has done to 
such date as nearly as may be according to the following schedule. 

The grower and field worker shall be bound by the acreage as measured and 
the tonnage per acre as determined by the company. 

In the event the grower and field worker disagree as to any matter pertaining 
to this contract or the performance thereof in any respect, or as to the amount 
payable hereunder, either party may notify Michigan Sugar Co., or upon said 
company hearing of any such disagreement, it may appoint a representative 
to look into such matter and his decision shall be final and binding upon the 
parties, but that company shall not come under any liability to the parties or 
either of them if it fails or refuses to decide such matter or because of any 

All debts incurred by the field worker as a result of credit extended or guaran- 
teed by the grower or Michigan Sugar Co. shall be paid out of proceeds due the 
field worker hereunder from whatever source. 

Michigan Sugar Co. by acceptance of this order as noted below, or othervdse, 
shall not come under any obligation or liability to either of the parties hereto 
except to pay to the field worker as far as may be out of money that may become 
payable to the grower, and then only after deducting therefrom any amounts 
owing by the grower to said company and any other items provided to be first 
paid by the terms of the contract with the grower, the amount to which the field 
worker may become entitled to receive hereunder. 




For blocking, thinning, and hoeing: $11 for blocking, thinning, hoeing, and 
keeping beets free from weeds, payable $9 when work is completed and $2 when 
beets have been harvested. 

For harvesting 

Net tons per acre : ^«^« P^*" ^^n 
Below 4 $1. 50 


Net tons per acre ; ^«*« '*<"'' ^o" 

Below 10 $0.91 

11 . 89 

12 . 87 

13 .85 

14 . 83 

15 . 81 

16 or above . 80 

(The rate for all fractional tonnages between 4 and 16 tons rounded to the 
nearest tenth of a ton shall be in proportion within each interval.) 

(Provision has been in the determination that if, because of unusual circum- 
stances, it is essential to employ labor on other than a piece-rate basis, and/or 
in those circumstances in which the use of special machine methods are used, 
rates other than the above may be applicable provided such rates are approved 
by the State committee as equivalent to the piece rate for such work specified 
herein. See your field man.) 

Final settlement, according to terms of contract, to be made as soon as iiracti- 
cable after all beets have been delivered and net weight per measured acre 


Fully understanding the grower's contract with field worker for the season of 
1939, copy of which is printed above, we have subscribed our name below and do 

hereby faithfully promise to work for , growers of the 

Michigan Sugar Co., plant. 

If accepted, we agree to take care of acres of sugar beets, according to 

the terms of aforementioned contract, which we agree to sign with grower when 

Address: Signature: Age: 

City: Date: Signature: Age: 

Worked for plant last year. Signature: Age: 

Signature: Age 

Signature : Age 

Signature: Age 

Signature : Age 

Signature : Age 

Signature : . Age 

(Vease el lado reverso del papel.) 

(Reverse side of contract is in Spanish and same is omitted.) 


1. This agreement, made in duplicate and agreed to on date specified here 
below between party of the first part and party of the second part, who have 
signed this agreement in duplicate. 

2. Party of the first part agrees to plant beets just as early in the .spring as the 
ground will be in condition. 

3. Beets are to be thinned by the second party as soon as all beets show six 
leaves, leaving only the largest beet in a place. Doubles must not be left when 
thinning is finished. 

4. It is understood and agreed by party of the second part that all rows shall 
be worked the full length, soil conditions permitting, so as not to interfere with 
the cultivation, and that all work on the beets is toi be done in the order of 

5. After beets are blocked and thinned and weeds start to grow in the row, 
hoeings must be started at once* and beets are to be kept clean and free fi'om 
weeds until August 1. 


6. Weeds must be hoed out and the beets kept clean in a strip not more than 
6 inches wide in the row, by said second party (to be known as the worker's row) 
and said hoeings shall be done at such time as is deemed best by the parties 

7. Party of the first part agrees to keep beets cultivated between the rows in 
a husbandlike manner, leaving a strip not more than 6 inches wide. It is under- 
stood that the cultivator must precede all hand work, cultivating once or twice 
before blocking and thinning, and immediately after thinning, as soon as the beets 
stand up. Weeds shall not be allowed to grow so big in the grower's row that 
the cultivator will shove them back in the worker's row, and thus the second party 
be held responsible for a dirty field. As much cultivating shall be done by the 
party of the first part as is necessary to keep the grower's row free from weeds, 
and as much hoeing shall be done by party of the second part as shall keep the 
worker's row clean and free from weeds. 

8. When beets are ready to harvest and the American Crystal Sugar Co. has 
notified party of the first part to begin harvest, the beets are to be lifted by party 
of the first part and party of the second part agrees to pull and top every row of 
beets, striking them together to remove all the dirt possible. 

9. All beets are to be well covered by second party with all the tops each 
day if not being hauled from the field that day so as to prevent freezing and 
shrinking and the beets becoming black and thus becoming unfit for making 
sugar. The surface of the ground where piles shall be made shall be leveled 
and prepared by first party and beets shall be piled free from tops and trash 
by second party. 

10. No beets are to be pulled and left exposed over night on the field. If 
beets are pulled one day and are to be topped the next day, they must be 
piled by second party so as to protect them from freezing. 

11. Party of the first part agrees to furnish a suitable dwelling place, clean, 
dry and warm, free from cracks, crevices and leaky roof, not adjacent to barn- 
yards and feed lots, convenient to drinking water, a place suitable for a family 
to live in. 

12. Party of the second part agrees to maintain at all times clean and whole- 
some conditions within and around his home. Failure to have house ready upon 
workers' arrival, party of the first part agi'ees to pay necessary board and 
lodging of the party of the second part until house is ready. Should party of 
the second part refuse to use dwelling after it is completed according to above 
agreement, then they shall pay for their own board and lodging. 

13. Party of the first part agrees to transfer party of the second part and 
their belongings from the railroad station to their dwelling place, and return 
them again when their work is finished in the fall. And if the party of the 
first part fails to do this, he is willing to pay a reasonable amount for such 
moving expenses. 

14. Second party sluill have the right to occupy said dwelling only during 
the life of this contract, and when the work herein provided is completed, shall 
vacate said premises within a reasonable time; and if second party at any time 
for any reason, except sickness of himself or family, ceases or neglects to per- 
form the work and in the manner as herein provided, he shall immediately va- 
cate said premises, hereby waiving all notice and demand so to do; and first 
party may maintain action of ejecting without any preliminary notice or demand 
except notice of such action. 

15. Party of the first part agrees to furnish sufficient hoes, files, and topping 
knives to party of the second part to do the work. 

16. Should party of the second part at any time fail to perform the work at 
the proper time and in the manner as above agreed, party of the first part 
shall have the right to have such work performed and deduct the cost of doing 
it from the amount due said party of the second part. 

17. It is further agreed that in case the party of the first part fails to secure 
a satisfactory stand of beets, this contract shall be considered void, and that 
if at any time during the growth of said crop of beets its condition shall be 
such as not to justify a continuance of the -work on the crop, this agreement 
shall be considered null and void as to the unfilled portion of it, and the party 
of the second part shall receive pay for only what has been done. 

18. In case of any dispute or any question arising as to the advisability of 
continuing the work on the crop, or as to the measurements of the field, said 


dispute shall be decided by the American Crystal Sugar Co., or its field repre- 
sentative, having authority to so decide. 


19. Cross-cultivated fields shall be those fields which have been cultivated with 
the row and across the row at least once immediately before thinning and 
at least once with the row and across the row inmiediately before hoeing. 

Blocked fields shall be those fields which have been cross cultivated only before 
thinning with no successive cross cultivation afterwards. 

Old method or hill drop fields shall be those tields which are blocked out by 
hand, fields planted by a hill drop drill or where no cross cultivation has been 


20. Payments for hand labor for beets properly thinned and kept clean until 
August 1 will be made when grower has completed credit arrangement to do so, 
but in no case prior to August 1, 1939, at the following rates : 

Per acre 

Cross-cultivated, fields $9. 50 

Blocked fields 10. 50 

Old method or hill drop fields 12. 00 

Payments for harvesting will be made at the following rates : 90 cents for each 
ton up to and including 7 tons per acre, plus 8(1 cents for each ton per acre above 
7 tons, with a minimum of $5.40 per acre, said minimum to be advanced upon 
completion of topping, but in no case prior to October 25, 1939. 

Any balance due above minimum harvest payment, to be paid on or about 
December 1, 1939, based on average yield of entire acreage harvested by grower 
signing this labor contract. 

If the use of special machine methods of planting, cultivation, or harvesting 
reduce the amount of labor required as compared with the common method in use 
in the area, the wage rate and minimum wage rate is to be agreed upon by the 
producer and laborer. In both cases the rate must be approved by the A. A. A. 
State committee. 

The above rates per acre for blocking, thinning, and harvesting, and for 
handling of cases where the use of special machinery in planting and harvesting 
are used are in conformity with determination made under date of March 30, 
1939, by the Secretary of Agriculture, for district 2, which includes Iowa, 
Minnesota, and eastern North Dakota. 


It is agreed that to insure the faithful perfoi-mance of this contract a deduction 
of $1.50 per acre shall be made from the price for thinning and hoeing and this 
amount shall be paid when all the work for the season shall have been satis- 
factorily completed. 

If labor contractor shall cease work before completion of this contract through 
no fault of his own, the grower agrees to pay the labor contractor in full for 
all labor actually performed without any deduction whatsoever. 

21. Should party of the first part during the life of this contract arrange 
credit for the second party to obtain groceries and clothing necessary for their 

maintenance, the total cost of which shall not exceed $ , then the amount 

of such credit shall constitute a just debt due said first party, and second party 
agrees that any credit so arranged by first party up to the amount herein agreed 
upon, shall constitute a partial payment on any amounts due said second party 
under the terms of the contract, and may be deducted in whole or in part from 
any settlement with said second party. 

22. Memorandum of special agreements, if any, between grower and labor con- 
tractor : 

Unless otherwise specified in Memorandum of Special Agreement above, the 
grower further agrees to pay the contractor for thinning, hoeing, and harvest- 
ing whether or not said work is performed, provided the contractor presents 
himself at the proper time and is ready and willing to do said labor, unless 


crop is partially or totally destroyed, by causes beyond control of grower, or 
unless there is a crop failure. , , . ,. , 

''S Witnesseth the party of the second part agrees and binds himself to care 

for (luring the vear 1939, acres of sugar beets, more or less, according 

to above agreement^ and a correct measurement to be taken by the parties of 
the first and second part. 

24. Signature of grower or party of the first part ot 


Witness : 

25. Signature of worker or party of second part __ 

Witness : 

Mr. Telesforo MAXDrjANO. 

To Great Lakes Sugar Co. 

August 10, 1938. 

Tg r iHS * ■ 

Money loaned of Joe Rodriguez $1- 0'> 

Transportation 1^5. 00 

Equipment •-- < ^ ^ 

May 28. Equipment °- ^y 

14. Equipment ^- '"■ 

Tota, ^^ ^^ ^ 

D. T. Richards grove "^^^ ^^ 

H. R. Brown grove 17.87 

Rental for 2 cabins 36. 00 

Total expenses ^. 218. 65 

Groceries at Findlay <& Rawson 28. 02 

Grand total expenses "l^L^I 

C. R. Royce I?- ' ?n 

Vernon Royce H^- ^. 

F. H. Ohl.s 77.00 

9 Tns. thinned for Mr. Clark 72. 00 

Total earned ^^^- '^'^ 

Less expense 246. 67 

Total 200.10 

Checks enclosed 164. 10 

From Clark 36. 00 


87. 48 

164. 10 

This check will be mailed very soon. 
Respt. yours, 

A. S. Tennant. 

Beet Growers' Empix>yment Committee, Inc., 

Sag'inaw, Mich. 
De^ar Sir: In an.swer to your recent inquiry, we wLsh to advise that from 
acreage contracts already written, it appears that the growers will need con- 
siderable beet labor for the 1938 season. 


We call your particular attention to the fact that for the 1938 season neither 
this organization nor the Michigan Sugar Co. will pay for the transportation 
of workers to or from Michigan. 

However, in cases where it is necessary to assist workers financially to get 
to Michigan, we have made arrangements to advance to our growers a rea- 
sonable portion of such costs of workers employed by them. Each advance 
is made upon the arrival of the workers in Michigan and the amount of such 
advances will be deducted by the grower from wages earned by the workers 
and the grower will repay the amount of the advance to us. 

All labor arrangements for this coming year will be handled through the 
Beet Growers' Employment Committee, Inc., instead of the Michigan Sugar 
Co. as in former years. I personally represent this committee for this area, 
and any further communications from you relative to arrangements for this 
coming year should be addressed to me. 

All laborers are requested to bring with them whatever cooking utensils, 
blankets, and other small household equipment they may require. 

For your information, we are enclosing an application for employment 
printed in English and Spanish which contains a specimen copy of the contract 
between grower and field worker, which contract you will sign upon your 
arrival. Please sign this application and return it and at the same time 
notify us as to the approximate date of your arrival. 
Yours truly, 

M. Eastment, Assistant Seeretary. 

(Same form letter being used 1939 season.) 

Alger, Ohio, April SO, 1939. 
Mr. A. R. AxVAEEZ. 

Dblvr Friend: I am writing you this letter to let you know that I arrived 
O. K. at Ohio, and also to tell you the following : That thei*e were 48 of us 
all from Corpus in the truck, that is, including women and children, the head- 
quarters of the company is at Findlay, Ohio, and that is where the sugar 
factory is also. All the people that arrive here from Texas, Indiana, and 
Illinois that most people come from are sent to Findlay, Ohio, and from there 
the company takes charge of them and sends them out to the surrounding 
small towns so I was sent to this little town called Alger, Ohio. I am also 
sending you a contract that is used here for the year 1939. I believe this is 
all for today. If you want to know more about how we are getting along, 
write to me and I'll let you know. This company treats us very nice so far. 
Your friend, 

Bej^t Vargas. 

The name of this company is Great Lakes Sugar Co., Findlay, Ohio. 

[From the San Antonio Express, Thursday morning. May 4, 1939] 

Four Thousand San Antonio Farm Laborers Sbint to Michigan Beet Fields — 
Health Exams Given by State — Clinio OpENEa) Here to Safeguard Against 
Contagious Diseases 

Four thousand beet field workers are on their way to Michigan after being 
given physical examinations under auspices of the Michigan State Department 
of Health at a clinic operated on El Paso Street here for about 2 weeks. 

Since Michigan law requires that the State must provide hospital or other 
care for all persons with tuberculosis, Michigan established the clinic here 
to prevent entry into the State of persons infected with tuberculosis or other 
contagious and infectious diseases. 

In addition to the 4,000 workers, about 1,000 to 1,500 children accompanied 
their parents to Michigan, according to Frank Cortez, representing the Beet 
Growers Employment Committee, Inc., of Michigan. 

Through the employment committee representative, the State of Michigan 
is protected against a surplus and destitute influx of beet-field workers. 


Cortez said. Only persons certified by the clinic and who have been guar- 
anteed employment through the committee are permitted entry into Michigan, 
he said. Workers pay their own way to the beet fields but in case work is 
not available the employment committee must provide return transportation 
for the migratory laborers, he said. 

Past experience with stranded and needy migratory agricultural laborers 
resulted in the new regulations, Cortez said. The beet-field workers will be 
paid $18 per acre, he said. Work will last 6 to 7 months, the workers also 
working on other crops, he said. Housing is provided but the workers pro- 
vide their own food. Workers sent from here went to Saginaw and Mount 
Pleasant areas in Michigan. 


Mr, Parsons. State your name and address to the reporter, Mr. 
Gonzales, and you may either stand or sit, whichever is your 

Mr. Gonzales. M. C. Gonzales, San Antonio, Tex. 

Mr. PERSONS. You are an American citizen? 

Mr. Gonzales. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Pars, NS. B^rn in the State of Texas? 

Mr. Gonzales. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parso>s. You are legal adviser or counselor to the Consul 
General of Mexico ? 

Mr, Gonzales. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. But you are not speaking officially for the Govern- 
ment of Mexico, you are speaking for yourself because you know 
the conditions? 

Mr. Gonzales. I am speaking with the knowledge and consent of 
the Consul General of Mexico but not officially. 

Mr. Parsons. You have studied this problem for several years and I 
understand you were in the service during the World War ? 

Mr. Gonzales, Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. Where were you stationed and what work did you do ? 

Mr. Gonzales. I was in the Diplomatic Service of the Government 
of the United States in Madrid, Spain, and in France during the World 

Mr. Parsons. What were your duties ? 

Mr. Gonzales. I was in the Intelligence Service. 

Mr. Parsons. Since the World War what have you been doing? 

Mr. Gonzales. I came back and studied law at Texas University and 
St. Louis University and I have practiced law 16 years and 15 of those 
16 years I have spent in the Mexican consular service in the State of 

Mr. Parsons. You have a prepared statement ; how long will it take 
you to read it ? 

Mr. Gonzales. It won't take long, 15 or 20 minutes. However, I 
would like to make some remarks before I do that. 

Mi'. Parsons. Proceed. 



Mr, Gonzales. I am deeply grieved by the statements made by the 
officials of the State of Texas awhile ago and I want to protest in the 
name of about 1,000,000 citizens of the United States of Latin-Ameri- 
can extraction. I want to state that the Supreme Court of the United 
States has held, and I will be glad to state the case, that the so-called 
Mexican people belong to the United States; they go so far as to make 
the statement that the so-called Mexicans or Latin-Americans should 
be classified as belonging to the white race, and certainly it is em- 
barrassing to me to appear before this committee and be placed in the 
light that I don't belong to the white race. That is one reason, and I 
would like to discuss it with j'ou while I am here, why we have so much 
trouble with labor in Texas, purely racial prejudice. It is conmion 
knowledge that up to about 1924, the Mexican peons were virtually in 
a state of slavery, no question about it, and those people were coming 
into Texas looking for better living conditions that they were entitled 
to as human beings, not as cattle as they have been classified by another 
official of the State of Texas, but when they came here they lived in 
that same condition, and they lived in inferiority and humiliation and 
they came in here and struggled in the cotton fields of Texas and 
Texas prospered as the leading State in the Union in the production of 

Mr, Parsons. You are probably right there, but I don't think the 
officials of Texas meant any derogation. 

Mr. Gonzales. I don't think they meant to say they were inferior 
to cattle either, but he complained of the fact that tlie railroads are 
made to stop to rest cattle and that these truck drivers didn't stop at 
all wdiich indicates that they were worse than cattle. 

The Chairman. But he didn't feel that way, Mr. Gonzales, he was 
indicating that they received worse treatment than cattle. 

Mr. Gonzales. Oh, no; I didn't say that, but he says that our people 
make this trip and live worse than cattle because they like it and says 
that we are not of the white race and naturally I am embarrassed and 
I do not feel free to talk before you in that sort of light. I want to 
talk before you and bring before you some information as to these 
things so that you can compare it witli what they have said and you 
will notice there is some disparity and a little difference. I immedi- 
ately sent a circular letter to all the consuls in Texas when Mr. Wolf 
said he wanted me to help in this matter. I asked for specific informa- 
tion. I said, give the approximate number of Mexican citizens in 
each consular jurisdiction, the number, a])proximate number, of Mexi- 
cans born in each jurisdiction — in other words, we want to answer 
definitely the question you are asking, how many are citizens of the 
United States that are of Latin extraction or Mexican extraction. 
There is no such thing as a Mexican race. Mexicans are composed of 
Indians and Caucasians — Will Rogers was Indian and Caucasian — but 
we find that there is really no such thing as a Mexican race ; therefore, 
we say Latin-Americans. I asked them to give the approximate num- 
ber of Latin- Americans born in Texas, the number of Mexicans and 
Texas Mexicans that leave annually looking for temporary employ- 


ment, the character of the work performed, the means of transporta- 
tion, the length of time away from the place visited, the salaries re- 
ceived and the place where they worked, difficulties which they en- 
counter in attempting to make the trip to look for work, and an 
opinion as to the best way to solve the various problems confronting 
Mexicans and Texas Mexicans in connection with migi-ation from 
Texas to other States in search of work. Those are the specific points 
and here are the specific answers. 

Mr. Parsons. Do you have the replies there which you received 
from them ? 

Mr. Gonzales. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. Do you have a copy of them? 


Mr. Gonzales. I am going to give all these to him. The approxi- 
mate number of Mexican citizens in each consular jurisdiction is 376,- 
000; the approximate number of Mexicans born in each jurisdiction is 
750,000; the number of Mexicans and Texas Mexicans that leave an- 
nually looking for temporary employment is 66,100. There are over 
a million and two hundred thousand Latin Americans, don't you see? 

Mr. Parsons. In the State of Texas? 

Mr. Gonzales. Yes. 

The Chairman. What is the population of the State of Texas, if you 

Mr. Gonzales. Six million ; so we have a little over one-sixth of the 
population of the State of Texas. Now, the number that leave an- 
nually looking for temporary employment is 66,100, and you are going 
to find that that varies a great deal with the figures of the labor depart- 
ment of the State of Texas, because they don't report any except the 
ones they know about. 

Mr. Curtis. That 66,000— do they cross the State line? Is that 
what you mean by leaving home ? 

Mr. Gonzales. Yes ; by leaving the State to look for temporary em- 
ployment outside. The next point is the character of work performed, 
which includes farming, grubbing, cotton picking, strawberries, water- 
melons, pecans, fruits, laborers, sheep herding, onion planting, chop- 
ping cactus, beet fields. The next question I asked was means of trans- 
portation, and we have three — automobiles, trucks, and the railroads — 
and pretty soon I will elucidate some on that. Length of time away 
from home and places visited : They leave in November and they go to 
Michigan, Wisconsin, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minne- 
sota, Nebraska, California, Oregon, and Washington. Then, as to 
salaries received in places where they work, they work in the beet fields; 
laborers get from $18 to $24 per acre by contract. The work consists 
of thinning, cleaning, and blocking the beets. Cotton pickers get 50 
cents per 100 pounds and the most they can pick a day is 300 pounds. 
However, California pays $1.25 per 100 pounds, and, due to the quality 
of the cotton, a laborer can pick 300 pounds. For that reason in Texas 
they employed married men in order that the group of pickers might 
earn sufficient to live on, and the work is done on a contract basis. 


Next is the difficulties which they encounter in attempting to make the 
trip to look for work. Wages are so low that heads of families are 
irnable to earn enough for even the bare necessities, which forces them 
to forego working for such inadequate wages and stay on relief. Even 
in the instances where they work for starvation wages the laborers have 
trouble in having their accounts adjusted satisfactorily. Migration is 
also rendered difficult for the reason that Mexican citizens who have 
lived here for a quarter of a century have had a number of children 
born on far-away farms where doctors are not available aid the serv- 
ices of nonregistered midwives are used, and no record is kept of birth, 
so that it is difficult to establish the citizenship of those children whose 
parents are aliens, and because of the stringent immigration super- 
vision they are forced to stay in Texas and forego the opportunity to 
earn a living wage in some other State. 



Tlierefore, the most frequent problem concerning the migratory 
destitute person, whether Mexican or American of Latin extraction, 
is the immigration laws, the S.ate laws requiring special license plates, 
chauffeur license, and payment of agency fees, bonds, occupation tax, 
and insurance ; also, economic conditions, and last, but not least, racial 
prejudice and failure to secure written labor contracts. I asked 
their opinion as to the best way to solve the various problems con- 
cerning Mexicans and Texas Mexicans in connection with migrations 
from Texas to other States in search of work, and this is the answer 
I received on that. The creation of a Federal bureau of coordination 
to study and plan conveniently the activities and fixing a timely 
itinerary for the particular class of workers by contacting the large 
enterprises in the various places where Mexican laborers go to look 
for work. To see that written contracts are entered into before the 
laborer leaves and that the contracts in some way guarantee perform- 
ance thereof. The enactment of a Federal law dealing with inter- 
state migration of destitute persons in search of employment. Those 
are the questions I submitted and the answers I received. In addi- 
tion to that I have a brief resume I am going to give in a few words. 
Here is just my situation here; I don't want to impose on your time. 

The Chairman. Take all the time you want. 


Mr. Gonzales. It requires about $500 to operate an emigrant agency 
law each year and the agent can only send workers to a particular 
city or place outside of the State of Texas. 

About $1,750 per year is required to pay license and tax expenses 
in order to maintain a general agency in Texas. The occupation tax 
costs about $1,000; county taxes about $200; employment agency li- 
cense about $150; bond $50, and other similar expenses required by 
article 7047. 


I will take just a minute to read you that particular part of that act. 

Abt. 7047, R. C. S., Sec. 40. Occupation Tax on Emigrant Agents. — From 
every person, firm, corporation, or association of persons engaged in the business 
of an emigrant agent, an annual State tax of $1,000 and in addition thereto, 
in each county where said emigrant agent operates or maintains an office, an 
annual tax, on a population basis, according to the preceding Federal census as 
follows : In counties under 100,000 population the sum of $100 ; in counties having 
a population from 100,000 to 200,000 inclusive, the sum of $200 ; and in counties 
over 200,000 population, the sum of $300. The term "emigrant agent" as used 
herein means the business of hiring, enticing, or soliciting laborers in the State 
to be employed beyond the limits of this State and is also meant to include every 
person, firm, partnership, corporation, or association of persons maintaining an 
office to hire, entice, or solicit laborers to be employed beyond the limits of this 
State; and is also meant to include every person who as an independent con- 
tractor or otherwise than as an agent of a duly licensed emigrant agent procures, 
or undertakes to procure, or assist in procuring laborers for an emigrant agent ; 
and every emigrant agent shall be termed and held to be doing business as 
such in each and every county wherein he, in person, or through an agent, hires, 
entices, or solicits any laborer to be employed beyond the limits of the State. 
Provided, however. That the term "emigrant" agent as defined in this act does 
not mean any person, firm, association of persons, or corporations or maritime 
agent that hires, entices, or solicits laborers for his or its own use beyond the 
limit of this State where an office is not maintained therefor. It is further 
provided that the provisions of article 7048 authorizing the payment of an 
occupation tax quarterly shall not apply to emigrant agents as herein defined, 
but such agents shall pay in advance the tax for 1 entire year. Said tax shall 
be paid to the tax collector and upon production of a receipt showing the pay- 
ment of the amount due the State, the tax collector is authorized to receive the 
amount due for each county (acts 1929, 41st Leg., 2d C. S., p. 16, ch. 11, sec. 1). 

That is the law and an officer of the law is sworn to enforce it, and if 
it is there you have got to enforce it, but when that law or regulation is 
bad I think we ou^ht to change it. 

It is contended l)y some people that the cotton kings of Texas are 
responsible for the legislation in Texas, the effect of which is to force 
laborers to stay in Texas and pick cotton for 50 cents a hundred pounds 
instead of being permitted to leave the State freely at the request of 
large concerns in other States of the Union where they might earn three 
and four times more money. 

They contend that the emigrant agency law of Texas is discrimina- 
tory and unconstitutional, in that it provides that it shall be inappli- 
cable where the number to be employed shall not exceed 10 employees. 
In other words, if a family of 10 have an opportunity to work either in 
the State of Michigan or Mississippi, they can go, but if the family 
consists of 10 plus 1 child 14 years of age, then the law says that 
it will be necessary for some person to obtain a private emigrant agency 
license to operate in Texas for the purpose of representing the employ- 
ing concern and pay $150 fee, file a $5,000 bond with the labor depart- 
ment, and an agency license fee of $10. That only for one particular 
place. If it were clesired to send others to different places, then an 
occupation tax of about fifteen or seventeen hundred dollars. The fee 
charged by the agent is $1 per head and he receives that money if and 
when the laborer works, and after he has paid his transportation 
expenses, his groceries, living expenses, and so forth. 

Under the present set-up, unsatisfactory as it is. 7,000 or 8,000 Mexi- 
cans — he said 10,000 and he is probably right — leave the latter part of 


April of each year for the beet fields of Michigan ; some by truck and 
some by train. Train fare is $15 per person, one way, and $10 per 
person by truck with no charge for children under 14. The laborers 
travel 25 in a truck, and the truck driver agrees to wait for his com- 
pensation until after the laborer has earned enough money to pay for 
his sustenance and transportation. The company assumes the obliga- 
tion to pay for the return transportation from the moment that it 
employs the workers. 

A family traveling by truck in search of work is stopped in the 
different States they cross and required to obtain chauffeur's license, 
plate for trucks, and so forth. Such a requirement does not apply to 
automobiles with trailers or passenger automobiles. 

As a result of these rigid requirements of the law, there has developed 
in Texas the insidious practice of bootlegging transportation. Private 
emigrant agencies complain that there is no effective police protection, 
either local or State, to curb these activities, with the result that irre- 
sponsible persons operate outside the law, charging exorbitant fees 
for transportation, extra fees for contracting, with no insurance against 
accidents and no assurance that labor will be secured when the destina- 
tion is reached. 

The transportation of laborers, even when operating under the law, is 
wholly unsatisfactory because it is done under the "share expenses, 
l^aying from what you earn" basis. Traveling 25 in a truck with a 
large number of young children makes comfort and safety impossible, 
and in case of an accident or death there is no one responsible nor able 
to pay compensation to the dependent children or other relatives. 

In regard to the question of citizenship, the ratio is about 20 percent 
Mexican citizens and is arrived at by figuring that in a family of six 
the father and mother were born in Mexico and the four children in 
Texas. However, with the repatriation program of the Mexican Gov- 
ernment, the intense activity of the United States immigration inspec- 
tors in deportation matters, the effects of the alien registration law, 
and lastly tlie Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, will cause a 
great reduction in the number of aliens who will remain in the United 
States. In addition, the obligatory military law of Mexico, plus the 
fact that no alien can be employed in any of the W. P. A. projects, has 
of late tripled the number of aliens seeking naturalization in the United 

The official records of the labor department at Austin, Tex., do not 
appear to reflect the true conditions relative to migratory laborers. The 
figures furnished me by the bureau of labor statistics show that 4,315 
laborers left Texas for the Beet Belt in 1939, and that 6,624 migrated 
this year. 

Apparently there are no restrictions in other States controlling the 
exodus of laborers to Texas, because we perceive every year a large 
number of Anglo-American and Negro unemployeds who visit the 
cottonfields and the citrus-fruit regions in search of work, and that 
condition tends to congest the labor difficulties already existing. 

Now, I want to cite a specific case if you will bear with me. Under 
date of September 9, 1940, 1 received a letter from McLemore, Mont joy 


& Hobbs, planters, Greenwood, Miss., and they had previously been to 
our office and they said they wanted us to secure for them 100 laborers 
and would pay them good money. 

Mr, Parsons. That was the consular service ? 

Mr. Gonzales. Yes ; and I said, "I will not do that unless you show 
me that you are a responsible concern," and he said, "I will do that," 
and here is the letter I received from him : 

McLemorb, IMontjoy & Hobbs, 
Greenicood, Miss., September 9, 1940. 
Mr. Manuel C. Gonzales, 

Attorney for Consul General of Mexico, San Antonio, Tex. 

Dear Mr. Gonzales : Pursuant to our conversation when I was in San Antonio 
several days past, I am enclosing you lierewitli excliange for $400 payable to 
"Manuel C Gonzales, Attorney for Consul General of Mexico, San Antonio, 
Texas." As you advised me, I am sending you this money with a view of you 
obtaining me some cotton pickers to be transported here on the following basis. 

If you can get some Mexican who owns his own truck, I will be willing to pay 
him $4 per head for all pickers over the age of 12 years that he might bring liere 
on a truck payable $2 per head when they arrive here nad $2 per head when 
they return to San Antonio, and, of course, I will notify you when they arrive 
here and also when they might leave here. I will let the owner of the ti'uck weigh 
the cotton and haul it to the gin, which will not be over 2 or 3 miles, and give 
him $1 per bale for this service. In the event the owner of this truck should 
not be able to organize and get the pickers, then I will be willing to give him $3 
per head instead of $4 and give .$1 per head to someone yow might employ to get 
up these pickers, and that would be payable when they arrive here. In other 
words, I want the cost to me to be not over !?4 per head for those of 12 years old 
and older and delivered here. 

The picking season here will last until after December 1 and they will not 
have to move any after their arrival here and I will furnish them with houses 
to live in and their wood while here. I would want them to stay until the 
season is over, but not later than December 15, 11)40. 

Our cotton crop will run around three-fourths to a bale per acre and is a Texas 
cotton, the Acola cotton planted and bred by Mr. Rogers, of Navasota, Tex. 

You advised me to forward you this money and it would be spent in accordance 
with my instructions or returned. I am today having the bank of Greenwood 
write you in regard to me, also. 

I would be glad to get one load of pickers but will appreciate up to 100 pickers, 
2 or 3 truckloads. I have contracted several other sources but I don't know 
whether they will produce. 

You can wire or call me at phone 418 after 7 p. m. at my expense if you find 
it necessary. In any event, I would be glad to hear from "you at an early date 
as to what you think you may accomplish, as I want the pickers at once. 

We are paying 50 cents per hundred here, and should the price be raised I 
would be glad to increase the price to the prevailing price here; and in no event 
will it be lower than 50 cents. I will pay them off each Saturday. 

I would lie glad if you would put out several feelers among your friends and 
communicate with me as soon as possible, as I would like to get these people up 
here as soon as I can. 

My reason for wanting a man who owns his truck is that he can weigh and hold 
the crowd together, and also that they will feel safe in returning at the proper 
time. It is about 600 miles to Greenwood, no further than west Texas, and the 
trip can be made in about 18 hours by truck. 

With best wishes and kindest personal regards, I am, 
Sincerely yours, 

A. M. Hobbs. 

260370— 41— pt. 5- 


On the same date I received this letter from the mayor of Green- 
wood, Miss. : 

City of Greenwood, 
Greenwood, Miss., September 9, 1940. 
Mr. Manuel C. Gonzales, 

Attorney for Consul General of Mexico, 

San Antonio, Tew. 
Dear Mr. Gonzales : My friend Mr. A. M. Hobbs tells me that he is just back 
from your country and has solicited your help in getting some cotton pickers. 

I am writing this to let you know that Mr. Hobbs is one of our most prosperous 
men, has quite a large farm, and is a man of affairs in this country. I have 
known him for many years. Anything that Mr. Hobbs tells you or says he will 
do you can depend upon it — a splendid gentleman — and you can assure any of 
your people that they will be in good hands should they make a deal with Mr. 

Yours very truly, S. R. Keesler, Mayor. 

Then I said that wasn't enough, that I wanted a bank, and I received 
this letter from the president of the Bank of Greenwood, Miss. : 

The Bank of Greenwood, 
Gi-eenwood, Miss., September 9, 1940. 
Mr. Manuel C. Gonzales, 

Attorney far the Cotuiil General of Mexico, 

San Antonio, Tex. 
Dear Sir: Our customer Mr. A. M. Hobbs advises that he has made arrange- 
ments with you to secure laborers to pick cotton in this section and requests that 
we write you with reference to his financial responsibility and general standing. 
Mr. Hobbs and his wife own large plantation interests in this county and are 
financially responsible for their obligations. We are sure they will live up to 
their contract made with you and satisfactorily look after the labor they employ. 
Very truly yours, 

Frank R. McGeoy, Jr., President. 

Mr. Parsons. Where were yon to get these people ? 

Mr. Gonzales. In Texas. 

Mr. Sparkman. All aliens? 

Mr. Gonzales. No, sir; I told him I wanted him to write me a 
letter and to send me references, and he sent the references, and he 
sent a letter with a cashier's check for $400, and said, "Get me some 
Mexicans" — that is what I am protesting, a Mexican is called a Mexi- 
can whether he is a citizen of the United States or Mexico — and he 
sent me this $400 not to pay me, I don't charge, but in the event 
they get stranded to pay their way back. I said, "We are not agents, 
we don't charge, but we want to help relieve the condition of these 
people here." I submitted all these letters to the bureau of labor 
statistics at Austin and they wrote me on September 12 this letter : 

BuREXAu OF Labor Statistics, State of Texas, 

Austin, September 12, 19^0. 
Mr. Manuel C. Gonzales, 

Attorney for Consul General of Mexico, 

San Antonio, Tex. 
Dear Mr. Gonzales : Mr. C. F. Stockburger has presented to us for consid- 
eration the letter that Mr. A. M. Hobbs, of Greenwood, Miss., wrote to you on 
September 9, 1940. This letter, together with a letter of the same date, 
addressed to you by the Bank of Greenwood, Greenwood, Miss., are being 
returned to you herewith. 

We have carefully considered this matter, and it appears that the proposed 
plan of operations come within the provisions of the emigrant agency law of 



Texas. We note that a copy of the laws of Texas relating to labor, 1939 
edition, was given to you on July 2, 1940, and reference is made to the emigrant 
agency law of Texas which is set out on pages 38-44 of that publication. 

You will note that section 7 of the emigrant agency law provides "that this 
section shall not apply to a person where the number to be employed by such 
person shall not exceed 10 employees." 

Inasmuch as Mr. Hobbs desires to employ more than 10 persons in Texas, for 
employment beyond this State, it will be necessary that some person obtain 
a private emigrant agency license to operate in Tex;as for the purpose of 
representing Mr. Hobbs. It would be necessary for such person to obtain an 
employment agency license and pay a fee of $150; file a $-5,000 bond with this 
department, and in addition obtain a private emigrant agency license and pay 
a fee of $10. 

At present there are six licensed private emigrant agents in Texas, each of 
whom represents one specified out-of-State client, and none of these may 
represent any other out-of-State client under his present license. There is no 
general emigrant agent in Texas who is licensed to represent any and all per- 
sons in other States. 

It is the special duty of this department to enforce the provisions of the 
emigrant agency law, and we desire to do this in a strict, yet fair and impar- 
tial manner. If some person in Texas should desire to obtain a license to 
represent Mr. Hobbs, we shall be glad to furnish such Texas citizen with appli- 
cation and bond forms and to give the matter of issuing a license our careful 

Very truly yours, 

T. Y. Collins, 
Chief Deputy, Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

P. S. — Section 40 of article 7047, R. C. S., comes under the jurisdiction of the 
State comptroller and the county tax assessor-collector, consequently the en- 
forcement of this particular law, if and when applicable, comes under their 

T. Y. C. 

Mr. Curtis. At that point I want to ask a few questions. You are 
a lawyer, are you not ? 

Mr. Gonzales. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Curtis. Now, w^ould it have been lawful for you, not as an em- 
ployment agent but merely as a friend to these people, to have passed 
this information to 400 able-bodied people using the $400 for food and 
transportation costs and taken those people there? 

Mr. Gonzales. No; that would have violated the law. They told 
me hands off, and I had to drop the matter. 

Mr. Curtis, Don't they define what constitutes an agency? 

Mr. Gonzales. Yes; they define what constitutes an agency, and I 
told them, "We are not charging, we are representing a free foreign 
power that has aliens here and are sending not only aliens but Ameri- 
can citizens that want to go ; they want to go and want the work, and 
I want them to have it. Can I do it?" And they said no, not with- 
out a $150 license. 

Mr. Curtis. Wliat would have happened if, before you discovered 
that the State had some objections to this, that 400 people 

Mr. Gonzales. One hundred people, $400. 

Mr. Curtis. All right, what would have happened if 100 people got 
this information and started out on their own ; w^ould they have been 
stopped ? 

Mr. Gonzales. They told me that in their letter that it was their 
duty to enforce this law. 


Mr. Curtis. If those people had got the information and started out 
on their own, would the State of Texas have stopped them ? 

Mr. Gonzales. It is my opinion that they would if there was more 
than 10 traveling. 

The Chairman. Why couldn't they break it down in groups of 10? 

Mr. Gonzales. It is hard enough "to get trucks enough to haul them 
in groups of 25 or 30, 

The Chairman. You say that 10 people together can't get out of 
the State of Texas? 

Mr. Gonzales. Ten can, but not more than 10. The law says — 

This section shall not apply to a person with a number to be employed by such 
person shall not exceed 10 employees. 

Mr, Parsons. Was that regulation passed to stop out-of-State mi- 
gration ? 

Mr. Gonzales. I think that is what this man said awhile ago ; he said 
they wanted Texas labor to stay in Texas; he said, "We are being im- 
posed on, we want to keep people out and we want ours to stay here," 
but we get a chance to go over here and get $3 a day, and do I have 
the right of locomotion or do I have to stay here? 

Mr. Curtis. Suppose they reached the border of Texas and they 
don't know why they are going, maybe they are going to seek tempo- 
rary employment and maybe they are going to stay forever; do they 
still stop them if they are going to stay forever? 

Mr. Gonzales. I will say this, Ave are dealing with a type of people 
who are illiterate, and when they ask, "Where are you going," they 
say "so and so," they are afraid of the immigration law, and they will 
say, "We are looking for work, we are hungry, look at the children." 
I don't think that a group of a few that they are going to restrain 
them. A wdiile ago he says that they make a Mexican laborer produce 
three times as much as anybody else in the Michigan beet fields and 
from 3,000 to 5,000 are wanted for work there every year, and now the 
way the thing is going tliey are going to be deprived of that. They 
don't go because they want to leave ; they wouldn't if they had work 
here. It isn't true that they go for the lure of adventure, like he 
says; it is hard for them to travel like that, but they are going because 
they have no work here, they are hungry, their children are hungry, 
and they have to have work. Now, they are going to have to change 
that situation in order to send those people over there. 

Mr. Parsons. Suppose you had called up a friend of yours and told 
him this man needed 100 laborers. 

Mr. Gonzales. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. And that this friend of yours, being one of those who 
was seeking employment, told a number of friends of his, and they got 
40 or 50 of them together, or even the 100, and hired them a truck to 
take them, do you mean to say that the State of Texas wouldn't have 
permitted a man to haul them out of there to Mississippi? 

Mr. Gonzales. I can't speak for the State of Texas; I simply laid 
the facts before them. I didn't want to be classed as an agent; we 
weren't charging anything, and they said, "No, sir." 

The Chairman. In other words, you are giving us a specific case ? 


Mr. Gonzales. Yes ; I am not speaking for them, but I am just going 
by what they said in this case and the letter is clear. 

Mr. Curtis. Do you think a State has the right to regulate a special 
employment agency ? 

Mr. Gonzales. Within the State of Texas ; yes, sir. 

Mr. Curtis. And it is your contention that by doing that they are 
controlling outward migration? 

Mr. Gonzales. Definitely, and this is a clear case, and I think it 
comes within your jurisdiction. 

Mr. Curtis. This might be a serious question. The State in which a 
person enters sometimes raises a question of whether or not they can 
enter; there are certain matters of health, and so on; but this is the 
first time I have heard of a restriction on leaving a State, unless it is a 
convict or something like that. 

Mr. Gonzales. This one does in certain numbers. 

Mr. Curtis. Do you have anything further to add? 

Mr. GoNz.vLES. I don't think I have other matters of mistreatment 
of Mexicans in the State of Texas, except those that are due to racial 
prejudice. We have a good deal of trouble cashing the checks given by 
the Federal Government on the triple A proposition, which is one of 
so many other things that makes farming very, very difficult now for 
Mexican labor. 



Mr. Parsons. You mentioned in the beginning that you were having 
some trouble because of aliens in registration and the draft, and one 
thing and another. Do you expect quite an exodus ? 

Mr. Gonzales. Of Mexican citizens ; yes. 

Mr. Parsons. Of the Latin Americans who are aliens in this country 
going back to Mexico ? 

Mr. Gonzales. Yes ; I do. 

Mr. Parsons. There will also be within the next few weeks a com- 
pulsory military law in Mexico, will there not ? 

Mr. Gonzales. That is right. 

Mr. Parsons. Is that to be a kind of a selective draft law of some 

Mr. Gonzales. It is between certain ages. 

Mr. Parsons. Will that complicate the situation in Texas for agri- 
cultural labor if any appreciable number go back; you say there are 
l)robably 350,000 in Texas who are still aliens! 

Mr. Gonzales. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. And around 650 or 700 thousand Latin Americans 
who are American citizens ? 

Mr. Gonzales. That is right. 

Mr. Parsons. If 10 percent of those who are aliens went back, that 
would be 30,000? 

Mr. Gonzales. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. That are laborers in the State of Texas? 

Mr. Gonzales. Yes. 


Mr. Parsons. If 20 percent went back, that would be 60,000 ; would 
that complicate the employment situation in the State of Texas? 

Mr. Gonzales. I don't think so, because we are overstocked and we 
would still have lots left to go to Michigan. 

Mr. Parsons. In Chicago we had some testimony on these Mexican 
workers that go to the beet fields in Michigan. Tliey are giving them 
physical examinations and better care, are they not? 

Mr. Gonzales. I understand that is due exclusively to the fact that 
the laws of Michigan have a fund of $1,000 set aside for the treatment 
of a tubercular person, and whenever somebody goes there and is found 
in that State they take this $1,000 and treat him, and the State of 
Michigan decided it was a lot cheaper to send a doctor down to Texas 
and pay him a quarter apiece to examine them. 

Mr. Parsons. How many of these come back from these out-of- 
State migrations with any money? 

Mr. Gonzales. I don't think they have much money ; they are free 
spenders and they have large families; they don't bring any money 

Mr. Parsons. You want to promote migration rather than having 
it closed down at the Texas line? 

Mr. Gonzales. It is the principle; we want to cooperate with the 
State authorities and the Federal Government, but we don't think we 
ought to be encroached upon and not have the freedom that other 
people have. 

Mr. Parsons. They ought to be paid more money, too, but the 
operators of these fanns and canneries and so on can't pay more? 

Mr. Gonzales. That is right. 

Mr. Parsons. And still get the product to the consuming public at 
the price they do ? 

Mr. Gonz.Cles. That is right. 

Mr. Parsons. Do you have any other suggestions to make to the 
committee ? 


Mr. Gonzales. None except those recommendations that we very 
respectfully make; that we think the control should be by Federal 
law and not left to the State. 

The Chairman. You see, Mr. Gonzales, the proposition is simply 
this. Congress and the courts, particularly the Supreme Court, have 
spent millions of dollars on iron and gold and different commodities 
going through the States, but we haven't spent one dime yet to 
regulate human commerce, have we? 

Mr. Gonzales. No, sir. 

The Chairman. In South Dakota it is a felony to bring a destitute 
citizen into that State. In New York one of their appellate courts 
entered an order of deportation against a destitute citizen ; an Ohio 
cobbler who came there became destitute and wanted to stay there 
and the a]:)pellate court said he was deportable. All the time, under 
the Constitution, you are not only a citizen of the State of Texas, 
but you are also a citizen of the other 47 States, so we have some 
work ahead of us. 

Mr. Gonzales. Yes; we certainly have. 


Mr. Bond (from the floor). I should like to say this. The Texas 
State Employment Service nor any other agency of the State of 
Texas discriminates by reason of race, creed, or color. If I have 
offended the gentleman it is because I didn't know when to use the 
words Latin American and Mexican. We certainly don't consider 
them illiterates. I have here a brief which goes into that law in 
pointing out certain facts about the hiring, and enticing and solicit- 
ing workers going across State lines. There is no law that prevents 
people from coming and going of their own volition, but it does 
prevent employers from enticing these people. 

Mr, Parsons. Mr. Bond, you heard the case I predicated to Mr. 
Gonzales, if he had called some friend and he had called some 
friends and they got a group together and hired a truck and got 
transportation to take them over to Mississippi, would it have been 
illegal under the laws of the State of Texas? 

Mr. Bond. There are health laws, motorbus laws, and I. C. C. laws; 
it would depend. 

Mr. Parsons. If he had distributed the $400 and told these fellows 
and they told others and the 100 got together and hired a truck and 
a man to drive them over there would it have been illegal to take them ? 

Mr. Bond. No; I can hire a truck and take anybody anywhere in 
the United States. 

Mr. Parsons. More than 10 people? 

Mr. Bond. No. 

Mr. Parsons. Who wrote this letter? 

Mr. Bond. I think that letter is right ; I am sticking up for some- 
thing I don't have anything to do with, that is the Labor De- 

Mr. Parsons. That is all; I just wanted to ask you that question, 
Mr. Bond. 

The Chairman. That is all, Mr. Gonzales; you have brought us 
some important information. Thank you very much. 

(Witness excused.) 

The Chairman. Your brief on the Emigrant Agency Law, Mr. 
Bond, will be accepted and made a part of the record. 

(The instrument so offered and received by the committee, being 
in words and figures as follows, to wit:) 

Opinion of Attornbti' General Regarding Occupation Tax Required by Texas 

Emigrant Agency Law 

office of the attorney general of texas 


Gerald C. Mann, Attorney General 

Received by Comptroller : April 25, 1940. 
Opinion No. 0-2120. Re : Liability of per.son, firm or coriwration conducting 
business as an "emigrant agent," as defined in article 5221a-l. Vernon's An- 
notated Civil Statutes, and also as an "employment agent," as defined in 
article 5210, Vernon's Annotated Civil Statutes, to the occupation tax levied by 
article 7047, subdivision 40, Vernon's Annotated Civil Statutes, and the license 
fees required respectively by articles .5221a-l and 5210, Vernon't Annotated 
Civil Service Statutes, and related questions. 


Hon. George H. Shkppakd, 

Comptroller of Public Accownts 

Austin, Tex. 

Deab Sir: By your letter of March 22, 1940, /you submit for the opinion of 
this department the two following questions, which, together with factual 
statement and pertinent statutes, are quoted therefrom : 

"Questions have been presented to this department relating to the operation 
of employment agencies for which the State is collecting or attempting to collect 
two license fees and one occupation tax from each operator. 

"An explanation of the operation of such agencies, the definitions and the 
tax or fees imposed by tlie laws follows : 

"emigrant agents, article 7047 

"Article 7047, subdivision 40, Vernon's Annotated Civil Statutes, imposes a 
State tax of $1,000 on emigrant agents and in addition thereto, said article 
imposes a State tax in each county where such emigrant agent maintains an 
office based on population in the following amounts: 

"Counties under 100,000 population $100 

100,000 to 200,000 population $200 

Counties over 200,000 population $300 

"Emigrant agent is defined as follows : 

" 'The term "Emigrant Agent" as used herein means the business of hiring, 
enticing, or soliciting laborers In this State to be employed beyond the limits 
of this State and is also meant to include every person, firm, partnership, cor- 
portation, or association of persons maintaining an office to hire, entice, or solicit 
laborers to be employed beyond the limits of this State; and is also meant to 
include every person who, as an independent contractor or otherwise than as an 
agent of a duly licensed emigrant agent procures, or undertakes to procure, or 
assist in procuring laborers for an emigrant agent ; and every emigrant agent 
shall be termed and held to be doing business as such in each and every country 
wherein he, in person, or through an agent, hires, entices, or solicits any laborer 
to be employed beyond the limits of the State.' 

"The above tax is collected by the County Tax Assessor-Collectors of each 

"emigrant agent, .\rticle r)22ia-i 

"Article 5221a-l, "Vernon's annotated Civil Statutes, provides that each emi- 
grant agent shall, before operating in Texas, secure a State license from the 
commissioner of labor, the fee of which is $10 annually. Emigrant agent in this 
act is defined as follows : 

" 'The term "emigrant agent" as used in this act means every person, firm, 
corporation, or association of persons engaged in the business of hiring, entic- 
ing, or soliciting laborers in this S^ate to be employed beyond the limits of this 
State and is also meant to include every person, firm, partnership, corporation, 
or association of persons maintaining an office to hire, entice, or solicit laborers 
to be employed beyond the limits of this State ; and is also meant to include 
every person who, as an independent contractor or otherwise than as an agent 
of a duly licensed emigrant agent procures, or undertakes to procure, or assist 
in procuring laborers for an emigrant agent ; and every emigrant agent shall 
be termed and held to be doing business as such in each and every county 
wherein he, in person, or through an agent, hirest, entices, or solicits any 
laborer to be employed beyond the limits of the State.' 

"employment agent, article 5208 TO 5221 

"Article .5210, Vernon's Annotated Civil Statutes, provides that every employ- 
ment agent shall procure a State license from the conmnssioner of labor for 
each county where an employment office is to be maintained by an employment 
agent, the annual fee of which is $150 per county. Employment agent is de- 
fined as follows : 

" 'The term "employment agent" means every person, firm, partnership, or 
association of persons engaged in the business of assisting employers to secure 
employees and persons to secure employment, or of collecting information re- 
garding employers seeking employees, and persons seeking employment.' 



"111 certain areas of the State, principally San Antonio and other areas with 
a large Mexican popnlatioii, employment agencies have been established whose 
principal business is that of an emigrant agent as defined in article 7U47, sub- 
division -Kt, but who also engage in the business of assisting persons to secure 
employment in Texas which brings them within the provisions of article 5208, 
Vernon's Annotated Civil Statutes, an employment agent. 

'The State labor commissioner has issued licenses to sucli persons as employ- 
ment agents and collected an annual State license fee of $150 for eacli county 
of operation under article r»210. 

•'In addition the labor commissioner has issued a license to the same persons 
or agenices as emigrant agents and collected an annual State license fee of 
$10 for each county of operation under article 5221 a-1. 

"Now the county tax assessor-collector of each county of operation has 
demanded payment of the tax in the amount of $1,000 (or the other graduated 
amounts imposed on suboffices) from the same persons or agencies for operating 
as emigrant agents under article 7047, subdivision 40, Vernon's Annotated Civil 

"The questions are therefore as follows : 

"']. When an agency operates in Texas as an emigrant agent hiring and 
soliciting laborers in this State for employment beyond the limits of the State 
and at the same time operates as an employment agent engaged in assisting 
persons to secure employment in the State or employers to secure employees in 
the State, will such agency be required to pay all three license and tax fees 
prescribed by articles 7047, n221a-l, and 5210, Vernon's Annotated Civil Statutes? 

"If you answer negatively, please advise me which of the fees or taxes such 
agency will be required to pay. 

"2. If an agency operates in Texas as an emigrant agent hiring and soliciting 
laborers in Texas for employment beyond the limits of the State, and does not 
assist employees in securing employment in Texas or assist employers in Texas 
in .securing employees, will such agency be required to pay all three license or 
tax fees? 

"If you answer negatively, which license and tax levies will he be required 
to pay? " 

A distinction .should be pointed between a license fee collected under the gen- 
eral police power of the State, and an occupational tax levied under the general 
powers of taxation and revenue residing in the legislature, except as prohibited 
by the Constitution of Texas or of the United States. At 27 Texas Jurispru- 
dence, page 892, we find the following statement regarding the nature and attri- 
butes of license fees : 

"Licensing measures quite generally provide for the payment of a sum by the 
licensee to defray the expense of issuing the and examining the applicant 
or supervising the business to be conducted. Such charges are usually denom- 
inated 'fees.' A fee is not a tax, but a price exacted for the exercise of 
a privilege. It is levied under the police and not the taxing power, and therefore 
differs essentially from both a property and an occupation tax. As a rule, pay- 
ment of the license fee is made a prerequisite to the right to the priv- 
ilege sought, and in many cases pursuit of the activity without previous payment 
of the required fee is made a criminal offense." 

In this classification falls the fees exacted from emigrant agents by article 
5221a-l, Vernon's Annotated Civil Statutes, and from employment agents, under 
article 5210, Vernon's Annotated Civil Statutes, hereinafter discussed. 

On the other hand, although occupation taxes are sometimes levied under 
both the police and revenue powers of the State, the primary purpose of the 
levy is revenue in contradistinction to regulation, as in the case of a license fee. 
The legal attributes of an occupation tax are stated at 27 Texas Jurisprudence, 
pages 894-895, as follows : 

"A tax imposed on the privilege of engaging in an occupation or calling 
licensed by law is denominated an occupation tax, or sometimes simply as a 
license tax. An occupation tax is a direct, specific tax upon the person pursuing 
the occupation, trade, or business; but the subject matter of tjie tax is the priv- 
ilege evercised, not the person who exercises it nor yet the property used in the 
exercise of it. The tax is therefore neither a property tax nor a poll tax. 
Doubtless, an occupation tax must be levied before an obligation to pay arises. 
Such taxes are levied primarily for the purpose of raising revenue, but regida- 
tion may be a secondary object, and generally it seems that occupation taxes 
are imposed under both the police and the revenue powers." 


In the latter category of an occupation tax, levied primarily for revenue rather 
than regulation, is the tax levied by subdivision 40, article 7047, Vernon's 
Annotated Civil Statutes, hereinabove described. 

The legislature was not content merely to realize revenue from the occupation 
or business of emigrant agent, but deemed such occupation or business to be 
sufficiently affected with a public interest to warrant its regulation and require, 
in the interests of the public welfare, certain conditions prerequisite to engaging 
in such business. Hence the enactment of article 5221a-l by the legislature in 
1929, bringing the conduct of this particular type of business under the control, 
supervision, and regulation of the Commissioner of Labor Statistics of the State 
of Texas, and providing, in section 2 thereof, for the following application and 
payment of license fee to pursue such business : 

"Seo. 2. Each emigrant agent shall, before operating in Texas, secure a State 
license as such, on application therefor to the commissioner of labor statistics of 
the State of Texas. Such application shall be in writing on form prescribed by 
said commissioner and shall be verified by the applicant. Where the application 
is made by a firm, partnership, or association of persons it shall state the names 
of all the members of such firm, partnership, or association of persons and shall 
be verified by each of them ; and where by a corporation it shall state the names 
of all officers and duly verified by authorized officer. The application shall state 
the post-office address and the residence and citizenship of each applicant named 
therein. The application shall state where the main office of the applicant is 
and/or is to be located. It shall also state the counties in which the applicant 
proposes to do business and the place in each county where such business is to be 
conducted, provided the application may be subsequently amended in this respect 
by supplemental application filed with said commissioner, duly verified, adding 
counties not named in the original application and stating where such business 
is to be conducted in each such added county. No person shall engage in the 
business of any emigrant agent in any county not named in such original or 
amended application. When an emigrant agent has filed such application and has 
paid the occtipaiion taxes as provided by lair and pays to the labor commissioner 
of Texas an annual license fee of ^10, the said commissioner shall issue to him 
a State license as an emigrant agent, ichicJi sJiall entitle him to do busivess as 
such in any county named in said license in which said county tax has been paid. 
Such emigrant agent shall file with the tax collector of any county in which he 
proposes to do business a certified copy of his license." [Italics ours.] 

The statutory definition of emigrant agent being identical in both the tax 
measure and the licensing measure, it is readily apparent from the italicized 
portions of the latter act above quoted that the legislature contemplated the 
collection of an annual license fee of $10 for each place of business in addition 
to occupational taxes levied by subdivision 40 of article 7047, Vernon's Annotated 
Civil Statutes. In fact, payment of the latter tax is a condition prerequisite 
to the issuance of the license by the commissioner of labor statistics under article 
5221a-l, Vernon's Annotated Civil Statutes. But even abent such statutory ex- 
pressions, our conclusion would still be that both the occupation tax and the 
license fee would be collectible, due to the fundamental distinction between the 
two levies, pointed out earier in this opinion. 

If in addition to the business of emigrant agent, the same person, firm, or 
corporation was engaged in business as an employment agent, as indicated in 
your first question, then the license fee in the amount of $150 levied as a regula- 
tory matter under the police power by article 5210, Vernon's Annotated Civil 
Statutes, would be required, cumulatively to the occupational tax and license fee 
herein-above discussed. By comparison of the statutory definitions of the terms 
"emigrant agent" and "employment agent," it is apparent that two distinct and 
dissimilar occupations or businesses were contemplated — the first term embracing 
the business of hiring persons to be worked or employed only outside the State 
of Texas, while the latter term includes purely internal or intrastate transactions 
in the bringing together of employers and employees into relations of employment. 

Therefore, we say that any person, firm, corporation, or association of 
persons engaged in Texas in the dual business of emigrant agent and employ- 
ment agent, each as defined by statute, would be required to pay the occu- 
pation tax levied by subdivision 40, article 7047. Vernon's Annotated Civil 
Statutes, upon the business of emigrant agent, and would also be required to 
pay the license fees levied by articles 5221a-l and 5210, Vernon's Annotated 
Civil Statutes, respectively, upon the business of emigrant agent and employ- 


ment agent. This being an affirmative answer to your first question, the neces- 
sity of answering the second portion thereof is dispensed with. In answer 
to your second question, it follows from the foregoing discussion that a person, 
firm, or corporation operating in Texas as an emigrant agent, as defined by 
statute, and not as employment agent, as defined by statute, would only be 
liable to the occupation tax levied by subdivision 40, article 7047, Vernon's 
Annotated Civil Statutes, and the license fee levied by section 2, article 5221a-l, 
Vernon's Annotated Civil Statutes. 
Yours very truly, 

ArroBNET General of Texas, 
By (signed) Pat M. Neff, Jr., Assistant. 
By B. W. B., Chairmcm. 
Approved April 23, 1940. 

(Signed) Gerald C. Mann, Attorney General of Texas. 

The Chairman. We will stand adjourned until 2 o'clock. 
(At 12:45 p. m., an adjournment was taken until 2 p. m.) 



Mr. Parsons. The committee will come to order. The next wit- 
ness will be Mr. C. H. Rivera. State your name and address to the 
reporter for the record, please. 

Mr. Rivera. C. H. Rivera, Mercedes, Tex. 

Mr. Parsons. Where is it you live, Mr. Rivera? 

Mr. Rivera. Mercedes, Tex. 

Mr. Parsons. Is that the correct pronunciation of your name, 
Rivera ? 

Mr. Rivera. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. Are you a native-born citizen of Texas, Mr. Rivera ? 

Mr. Rivera. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. Of Latin American descent? 

Mr. Rivera. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. How old are you? 

Mr. Rivera. Thirty-five. 

Mr. Parsons. Married? 

Mr. Rivera. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. Have you any children ? 

Mr. Rivera. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. What is your occupation? 

Mr. Rivera. Well, I was on a crew there in Texas. 

Mr. Parsons. What do you mean by a crew ? 

Mr. Rivera. Well, picking cotton with a crew of 15 or 20 or 25 
men, picking cotton. 

Mr. Parsons. Are you kind of a foreman or boss of the crew or 
something ? 

Mr. Rivera. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. Wliere is your home? 

Mr. Rivera. Mercedes, Tex. 

Mr. Parsons. Have you been living there all your life ? 

Mr. Rivera. Yes, sir. 


Mr. Parsons. Did you migrate from that town to other parts of 
Texas on this migrant-hibor seasonal employment ? 

Mr. KivERA. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. Explain to the committee just how this crew of men 
are got up and where you go to and where you work and what your 
wages are and so on; just give us a general picture. 

Mr. Ei\^RA. During the cotton-picking season we pick in the 
valley down to Robertson and Corpus Christi and then as far as 

Mr. Parsons. As far as the State of Mississippi? 

Mr. Rivera. Yes. 

Mr, Parsons. Are you planning to go there this year? 

Mr. Rivera. No. 

Mr. Parsons. Where are you going to work this year? 

Mr. Rivera. We are already in the valley and we plan to pick fruit 
next month. 

Mr. Parsons. Do you start with fruit i)icking or do you start on the 
cotton ? 

Mr. Rivera. No : we start on vegetables until about May, then we 
go into the tomato harvest and then into cotton again. 

Mr. Parsons. How many men are there in this crew? 

Mr. Rivera. S'ometimes 25 or 30, sometimes more. 

Mr. Parsons. You travel together, do you? 

Mr. Rivera. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. Do you take your families along? 

Mr. Rivera. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. How much of a family do you haA^e? 

Mr. Rivera. I have a wife and five kids. 

Mr. Parsons. How old is the youngest and the oldest ? 

Mr. Ria'era. Fourteen years is the oldest and 7 months is the 

Mr. Parsons. You travel together, do you? 

Mr. Rivera. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. Do you carry those that are old enough to work 
along with you and do they work in the fields? 

Mr. Rivera. Yes, sir. 


Mr. Parsons. They probably earn as much revenue for the family 
as you do yourself, some of the older ones? 

Mr. Rivera. No. 

Mr. Parsons. How much wages do you get ? 

Mr. Rivera. Sixty-five cents and we pay pickers 50 cents; we only 
make 15 cents weighing and hauling it to the gin. 

Mr. Parsons. Per hundred pounds? 

Mr. Rivera. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. How many pounds per day can you and your family 

Mr. Rivera. About 500. 

Mr. Parsons. You mean the entire family only makes 75 cents a 
day all together? 


Mr. EivERA. No, no, no; tliey pay Go cents to me and I pay 50 cents 
to the men for picking it and that leaves me 15 cents for weighing 
and hanling it. 

Mr. Parsons. And you don't pick? 

Mr. Rivera. No. 

Mr. Parsons. But your family piclvs? 

Mr. Rivera. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. And you get 65 cents a hundred pounds for what they 

Mr. Rrt:ra. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. And you get 15 cents a hundred pounds for all that 
is picked and you haul and weigh? 

Mr. Rivera. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. Do you get up this group of men ? 

Mr. Rivera. We have been together for quite a while and we just 
travel together all the time. 

Mr. Parsons. About how much do you and your wife earn in a year, 
what has been your past records ? 

Mr. Rr^ra. When I work on a shift I get a straight salary, $40 a 

Mr. Parsons. Is that in addition to this 15 cents ? 

Mr. Rivera. No, no. 

Mr. Parsons. That includes that, does it ? 

Mr. Rivera. No, no; that is different ; that 15 cents is picking cotton, 
but when I work in a packing shed loading vegetables I am the fore- 
man then. 

Mr. Parsons. And that is wdiat you are planning to do this year in 
the fruit season, picking and packing? 

Mr. Rivera. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. Can you tell the committee anything about the con- 
tract labor situation in Texas so far as intrastate and also out-of- 
State migration is concerned? 

Mr. Rivera. Well, you mean about the situation of the labor there? 

Mr. Parsons. About the contract system, do you have contractors? 

Mr. Rivera. Well, all the packing sheds contract to harvest carrots 
and beets and cabbage and they pay the contractor 18 cents per crate 
delivered to the shed. 

Mr. Parsons. And he gets up a crew ? 

Mr. Rivera. He gets his crew and he pays them 10 cents and that 
leaves him 8 cents. 

Mr. Parsons. For transportation? 

Mr. Rivera. Yes ; but he has got to pay for the twine to tie it with 
and the man to Iielp load it ; there is a terrible expense. 

Mr. Parsons. That is a system that has grown up over the years ? 

Mr. RI^^RA. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. How long has that been going on in the State of 

Mr. Ri\t:ra. That has been going on for years. 

Mr. Parsons. Wliat is your estimation of your earnings this year 
so far, since January 1, 1940, how much have you earned up to the 
present time, you and your family ? 


Mr. Rivera. Well, I worked January, February, March, and April 
and part of May in a packing shed and I was making $35 a week. 

Mr. Parsons. That was some more fruits and things grown in Texas 
for the markets ? 

Mr. Rivera. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. And you got $40 a week ? 

Mr. Rivera. Well, $35. 

Mr. Parsons. This season will open again at what time ? 

Mr. Rivera. About the middle of next month. 

Mr. Parsons. And you expect to go back at $40 'i 

Mr. Rivera. I don't know whether they will pay that much or 
not; every year they cut them down and down. 

Mr. Parsons. You have earned as high as $40 a week ? 

Mr. Rivera. I got as high as $60 a week. 

Mr. Parsons, You are just one of the very small percent, however, 
that earn that amount of money in this migrant labor. How far do 
you travel from home ? 

Mr. Ri\t.ra. In the packing business I go to Mississippi, Tennessee, 
packing cabbages and carrots. 

Mr. Parsons. Have you your own car ? 

Mr. Rivera. No ; the company furnishes trucks. 

Mr. Parsons. They send down for you ? 

Mr. Rivera. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. Do they drive through seven or eight hundred or a 
thousand miles without stopping? 

Mr. Rivera. No. 

Mr. Parsons. You were l-'.re this morning and heard the employ- 
ment officers of Texas describe some of these trips ? 

Mr. Rivera. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. Does that frequently happen ? 

Mr. Rm:RA. I don't know. 

Mr. Parsons. Driving men out of Texas to Mississippi twelve or 
fourteen hundred miles without stopping? 

Mr. Rivera. I don't think so. 

Mr. Parsons. That is all. 

(Witness excused.) 

(The following material relative to truck transportation of laborers 
from Texas to Michigan was received from the Interstate Commerce 
Commission and accepted for the record.) 

Interstate Commer(;e Commission, 

Washington. December 2, 1940. 
Re Trausportation of Mexican Laborers 
Hon. John H. Tolan, 

Chmrman, Special Committee Investigatiufj 

the Interstate Migration of Destitute Citizens, 

House of Representative's. Washington, D. C. 
My Dear Congressman : In your letter of November 19, 1940, addressed to 
Chairman Eastman, you state that your committee is deeply interested in the 
allegedly illegal truck transportation of migrants, that you understand the Inter- 
state Commerce Commission is making an investigation of such truck transporta- 
tion, that a preliminary report has been made for the States of Ohio and 
Michigan, and that you believe that this preliminary report would be helpful 
to your Committee. 

I assume that the matter to which you refer is the transportation of Mexican 
laborers by truck from Texas to other States for work in the beet fields. Gen- 


erally speaking, this has not involved migration for permanent settlement in 
the other States, but rather a seasonal two-way movement. 

The problems presented have been more of an economic and social nature 
than of technical regulation of transix)rtation. So far as I know, no authorized 
carrier has complained or has shown any interest in whether the transportation 
referred to was investigated. Much of it would no doubt be beyond the ecope 
of the Commission's authority, because of the exemption provided by section 
203 (b) (9) applicable to those engaged in "occasional" transportation in inter- 
state commerce and "not engaged in transportation by motor vehicle as a 
regular occupation or business." Nevertheless, many violations of the Motor 
Carrier Act may have occurred. For a long time we have planned to assign an 
investigator to devote attention exclusively to investigation of that type of 
tran.sportation for such period as may be necessary, but limited personnel and 
funds have prevented up to the present. 

It is contemplated that investigation would center in Texas, where the 
laborers are procured. The States mentioned by you, Ohio and Michigan, would 
also be proper fields of action, and some investigations have been made there. 

The most recent was one conducted by District Supervisor Hymans of our 
Bureau of Motor Carriers, reported by him under date of October 21, 1940. 
Attached hereto is a copy of that report, and of the accompanying statement 
of Angel M. Garcia. Also, I am forwarding a copy of a report by the same 
district supervisor, dated August 19, 1938, and of his memorandum to District 
Director Purse, dated August 8, 1939. Investigation of the specific complaint 
dealt with in the two communications last mentioned was closed on the ground 
recommended by Mr. Hymans. 

Nothing is found in our files from Ohio that would be helpful. 
Very truly yours, 

Clyde B. Aitchison, Acting Chairman. 

Re L & E 19311-12 October 21, 1910. 


Subject : Evidence concerning unlawful interstate transportation of Mexican 

Transmitted herewith is statement of Angel M. Garcia, requested in your 
memorandum of September 26, 1940, addressed to District Director Purse. 

Attached also are photostats of certain papers which Mr. Garcia lent to me 
(showing he paid $60 for transportation). 

The statement brings out what facts I could obtain from Mr. Garcia. He 
speaks very poor English ; and I reduced the statements to writing as I under- 
stood them. 

For further aid in the subject, see my reports of June 27, 1938. and August 19, 
1938, Francis Dillon v. Joe Rodriqucs. under Docket L & E 8953-8958, copy of one 
of which is attached. In that investigation I found that the Michigan Sugar Co., 
Saginaw, Mich., working through the Beet Growers Employment Committee, Inc., 
advanced funds to laborers; took their notes and assignments; and also advanced 
funds to truckmen for transporting laborers ; as per the laborers' assignments. 
The pai>ers herewith further support this, and also show that M. C. Henderson, 
of the employment committee, is known to Garcia. 

In 19.38 I found that some of the Mexicans operating the trucks often stayed 
in the north and worked in the fields during the summer, making a round trip 
for hire each year. They hauled their families and other laborers working with 
them. Others, however, only made trips in the migrating season and did no farm 

If those leads are not sufficient, a person could go from farm to farm, quizzing 
any laborers who would cooperate, and they miglit identify other truckmen. 
In addition, the files of the Michigan State Department of Labor and Industry 
at Lansing, j\Iich., may reveal the names of other truckmen who have been 
questioned by State police. 

The northward migration is in April and May, the southbound travel in Novem- 
ber. If the State police of Texas and Michigan would list the names of migrant 
truck owners found on the roads, in these seasons, for several successive years, 
we should be able to identify those outside section 203 (b) (9). 

IggQ interstatp: migration 

The purpose of this investigation is very laiiclal)le, and the above ideas are 
suggested as additional approaches. 

E. M. Hymans, District Supervisor. 

Statement of Angel M. Garcia 

This statement is made by Angel M. Garcia, presently working on the farms 
of Arthur Murray and Roland Tobin, near Valley Center, Mich. 

In the winter I reside at 2r)13 North Harwood Street, Dallas, Tex. 

In the early spi'ing of 1940, I received an invitation from R. S. Wait, 
assistant secretary of the Beet Growers' Employment Connnittee, Inc., of 
Croswell, Mich., to work in the Michigan sugar-beet lields. 

As there directed, I reported to the employment agency of Frank Cortez, 
2110 Munger Aveime, Dallas. Tex. 

In my party were six persons : Jesus Martinez, Anacleto Alanez, Anastacio 
Mendoza, J^utinio Gebara and his wife, and myself. 

I was informed that transportation north by truck would cost $9 per person, 
plus $1 for office fee. This totalled .$(50 for my party, and is shown as an 
"Assignment-transportation B. G. E. C", on my statement from the Michigan 
Sugar Go. dated August H, 1940. 

Our party of six were carried fi'om Dallas, Tex., to Croswell, Mich., in a 
truck owned or operated by Cristobal Trebino and B. Roberto Trebino, of 
Magnolia Street, Dallas, Tex. I understand that the Trebinos received $9 
per person for furnishing this transportation. There were about 20 persons 
i-iding in the truck, which left Texas about May 15, 1940. 

Trebino did not stay in Michigan, but returned to Texas. 

In the year 1939, I was carried north in the spring, and sonth in the fall, in 
the truck of the Trebinos, with one of them driving. 

Likewise, in the year 1938. I was carried north in the spring and south in the 
fall in the truck of the Trebinos. The trips cost me $9 each way, in 1938 
and 1939. 

Cristobal and Roberto Trebino remained in Michigan in the summer of 1938, 
and in the sununer of 1939, and worked in the sugar-beet fields near Brown 
City, Mich. 

In the winter. I believe the Trebinos use their truck about Dallas, Tex., for 
transportation of wood, gravel, and onions. 

It is my understanding that Trebinos' arrangements f(n- transportation and 
for bringing our party north were made with M. C. Henderson, treasurer- 
assistant secretary. Beet Growers' Employment Committee, Inc., Saginaw. Mich. 

Above statement read to me and believed by me to be true and correct. 

ixtlikstate commerce commission, 

Bureau of Motor Carriers, 
L & E 8953-8 Detroit, Mich., Auffuat <S, li)A9. 



Re Joe Rodriquez, Blissfield, Mich. Illegal transportation of Mexican laborers. 

Nothing further has been done on this matter since September 10, 1938, many 
other matters having occupied my attention. Since September 10, 1938. much 
of the affected territory has been assigned to Supervisor Moynihan and I have 
not visited it as frequently as before. 

No State official, labor official, or passenger carrier has made any complaint 
concerning illegal truck transportation of Mexican laborers this year. 

The newspaper carried an item about one sugar mill closing because the 
United States Department of Agriculture had restricted the Michigan acreage 
of sugar beets this year. 

As Mr. Scott has pointed out. the case is not one of great concern to the 
passenger transportation industry, and was presented to us in the cause of 
social betterment. Since the bulk of the operations are by persons not in 
transportation as a business, I believe we can close the matter account "insuffi- 
cient evidence." 

E. M. Hyams, District Supervisor. 

Copy to District Supervisor E. A. Moynihan. 


Interstate Commerce Commission, 

Bureau of Motor Carriers, 
Detroit, Mich., August 19, 1938. 

summary of IN\'ESTIGATI0N (TO DATE) 

To : Frank L. Purse, district director. 

From : E. M. H.vmans, district supervisor. 

Re Complaint — Francis J. Dillon, 180.5 Ohio Building, Toledo, Ohio, v. Joe 

Rodriejuez. Blissfield, Mich. Submitted account memo, Colonel English to 

District Director Purse, August 11, 1938. 
L & E 8953-S 
Dist. File C-793 

Xature of Alleged Violation. — Section 206 (a3). Transportation of persons for 
hire without certificate or permit. 

Section 222 (c). Evading and defeating regulation. 

Suninmnj. — As reported on June 27, 1938, a letter of warning was sent to 
all officers of sugar companies and growers' associations whose names were 
furnished by the State of ^Michigan, Department of Labor and Industry. 
The table attached, exhibit A, shows what replies were received to date and 
their nature. 

Particular attention is directed to reply received from Mr. M. C. Henderson of 
the Beet Growers' Employment Committee, Inc., 507 Second National Bank 
Building. Saginaw, Mich. 

I had been informed by the State officials that Mr. Maurice Eastment of 
this committee was most active in arranging transportation of labor. Mr. 
Henderson, in his reply, exhibit B, appeared to speak for this committee and 
on August 11, I visited their offices in Saginaw, INIich. Present at the interview 
were Mr. Henderson, who is now executive secretary of this committee, and 
J. K. Worley, an attorney and a member of the firm of Hill, Hamblen, Essery & 
Lewis. Mr. Worley actually represented the Michigan Sugar Co. 

I learned that this committee represented farmers who grow sugar beets and 
sell them to the ^Michigan Sugar Co. of Saginaw, Mich. This committee did 
not represent growers who sold their beets to other sugar processors. 

Mr. Henderson stated he had succeeded Mr. Eastment as executive secretary 
of the committee and that INIr. Eastment is now field manager for the Micliigan 
Sugar Co. at Alma, Mich. 

Our conversation brought out the fact tliat the Michigan Sugar Co. does not 
invite laborers into Michigan or introduce them to farmers or pay them. 
However, it does enter into contracts with the farmers and guarantees them 
certain sums for the crops they will grow. The committee acts as agent of the 
growers in hiring workers and sees tliat the workers are housed and paid. 
Mr. Henderson said tliat in the last few years tliere had been no need to solicit 
labor. Each spring, lie admitted, the committee or the company would receive 
inquiries from Texas and soon truckloads of the laborers would arrive near 
the fields where they had worked previous years. To deal with the inquiries, 
the letter (exhibit C) was prepared and was used as a form answer. 

Mr. Henderson did admit that the Michigan Sugar Co.. through C. F. Hearn, 
auditor, kept books for the growers and their laborers, and kept record of tlie 
amounts due each. 

He admitted that tlie company advanced funds to the farmers for seed, fer- 
tilizer, and other purposes. He also stated that funds were advanced to truck- 
men and to laborers, if they were reliable and were known to the field secre- 
taries. The matter can be illustrated in this way: 

Some of the Mexican families always reside in Michigan and are known to 
be field agents of the sugar company. If one of these men, having a truck, 
tells the field secretary tliat he has friends in Texas who would like to come 
nortli to work during the summer and the reputation of the truckman is good, 
the company will advance funds to the truckman for gasoline and expenses. 
The company will take a promissory note from the truckman in advance of the 

Similar arrangements exist in making advances to reputable laborers who 
need funds for groceries, bedding, or other purposes. If the truckman brings 
a group of laborei-s north and they are not able to pay their fare, the laborers 
may make an assignment of wages to the truckman. Sucli an assignment is 
made on the form attached as exhibit D. The company will honor this assignment 
260370—41 — pt. 5 9 


and will see that the truckman is paid directly out of funds due the farmer wha 
employs the laborer. 

Mr. Henderson and his counsel denied that the honoring of such assignments 
constituted a device to evade or defeat regulations. 

Naturally, neither the company nor the committee opened its books and 
permitted me to see the extent of such assignments. 

Mr. Henderson did admit that once in 1937 the company needed labor in an 
emergency, and arranged with a Kansas City employment agency to ship them 
in, using railroad service to Jackson, Mich., and chartered bus to the various 
beet fields. 

I directed the conversation to Frank Cortez, 508 El Paso Street, San Antonio, 
Tex., whose name appeared on the many rosters or lists carried by the truck 
drivers, and seized by the Michigan State police. See exhibit G, report of 
June 27, 1938. Mr. Cortez appears to run an employment bureau in San 
Antonio, Tex. 

Mr. Henderson stated that Mr. Cortez pretended to have the only licensed 
employment bureau, authorized by the State of Texas to export laborers from 
the State. He stated that Mr. Cortez had approached the committee and had 
demanded that it deal solely through him in negotiating with Texans regarding 
employment in Michigan. This, he said, the company and committee refused 
to do. 

Apparently, the committee would receive persons directed to Michigan by 
Mr. Cortez, but, according to Mr. Henderson, it did not place requisitions or 
orders for help with him. 

The conversation was then directed to more constructive ways of transport- 
ing these persons. I stated that, whether or not the Michigan Sugar Co. was 
legally arranging the transportation, it was the source of funds and the em- 
ployrnent it offered the reason for the transportation. I appealed to Mr. 
Henderson and Mr. Worley to consider lawful and improved means of trans- 
portation. The possibility of obtaining excursion rates on railroads or bus 
lines, and the possibility of chartering si:>ecial busses was discussed. Then, I 
suggested that the committee or the company might even operate its own busses 
and transport the laborers in private carriage. All this, I explained, would be 
a wholesome improvement over truck transportation. 

Naturally, the men promised to explore these possibilities, and our meeting 

Recommendations. — Thus far, we have this attitude on the part of the sugar 
companies : 

1. General denial that they arrange or furnish transportation. 

2. Admission by a committee secretary, and company representative, that the 
company does honor assignments of wages, made to a truckman for the laborer's 

In proceeding against these sugar companies, it appears difScult to obtain 
evidence direct from them, unless we have access to their books. Papers and 
evidence furnished by disgruntled employees, or by outsiders, seems all that 
we can get at this time. 

I believe it will be necessary for our agents and supervisors actually to 
contact employees and see what evidence they will furnish. What other evi- 
dence falls into the hands of the State department of labor and industry will 
not be different than that explained in report of June 27, 1938. 

The movement of laborers is slow now, and will not resume until the south- 
bound trek starts in October and November. Accordingly, there is no activity 
to report at this time. 

I do suggest that a special agent contact Mr. Cortez in San Antonio, Tex., 
and learn from him what his arrangements are. 

Will he testify as to who gives him orders and directions? Does any Michi- 
gan company or committee send requisitions to him? I would be glad to learn 
what explanation he gives of his Michigan connections. 

Beyond this, then, I believe any case against the Michigan Sugar Co. and 
Beet Growers' Employment Committee, Saginaw, Mich., would have to be 
worked up from stories and testimony of the laborers themselves. 

Any suggestions as to other ways to proceed will be appreciated. In the 
meantime, I shall make whatever other contacts with sugar companies that 
I can. 

I shall also try to make contacts with the State Department of Labor and 
Industry, and through them meet some of the laborers. I shall thus try to 


obtain affidavits or evidence from the laborers, and will make further report 
later. Any assistance given by special agents will be appreciated. 

E. M. Hyhans, District Supervisor. 


Mr. Sparkman. You are Mrs. Val M. Keating, assistant admin- 
istrator of the W. P. A. at San Antonio, Tex. ? 

Mrs. Keating. Associate director of the division of employment, 
not administrator. 

Mr. Sparkman. The very valuable statement that has been pre- 
pared by your organization will be inserted in the record at this 
point, after which we hope you will answer some questions that may 
be asked bv members of the committee. 

Mrs. Keating. I have looked over — naturally I haven't had time 
to read it caretullv— but I have looked through this very fine report 
that you have made available to us as well as the statement you have 
prepared and it is very comprehensive; it gives us a fine picture of 
the background of migration in the State and we are glad to have it 
and make it a part of the record. 

Statement Submitted by Mrs. Val M. Keating, Associate Director. DmsioN 




I. Introduction. 

II. Some Aspects of the economic basis for migratory casual farm labor. 

III. Social effects of the migratory casual farm labor problem in Texas. 

IV. Conclusions. 


Today's gentleman farmer tills the soil from the completely enclosed cab 
of a stream-lined, rubber-tired tractor, equipped with radio, spittoon, and 
cigar lighter. 

If. as his glittering machine chugs efficiently down the precise furrow, he 
squints across the field toward the highway, he may see a battered jaloppy 
struggling along with its load of men, women, and children clinging to the 
paintless sides of the venerable vehicle which bears them and all their poses- 
sions in an interminable hunt for sufficient work to keep them alive. 

It is possible that the jaloppy's dejected occupants may be members of the 
three or four families whose livelihoods disappeared with the acquisition of that 
single piece of farm equipment. 

Since 1930 the tractor has added more than 60,000 Texas farm families to the 
gray stream of migrants who wander over agricultural America in an endless 
search for jobs Mechanization is a major element in the economic upheaval 
which has uprooted farmers from the soil in such numbers that the 1937 
Census of Unemployment was able to report that 130,000 Texas agricultural 
workers were jobless or underemployed. 

Migration, according to Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins' preliminary 
report to the Senate on this subject, falls characteristically into two main 
types. First is migration for permanent relocation in response to major 
economic changes such as industrialization, drought, and depression. Second 
is continual migration from job to job in response to season or irregular 
fluctuations in the demand for labor. Both of these causative elements are 
found in studies of migration in Texas. 

1 Material assembled by members of the Work Projects Administration staff in Texas. 


Although the path of the migrant worker may seem to the casual observer 
to be an aimless one, the bulk of the stream clearly follows seasonal agricul- 
tural needs, principally those of the cotton crop, from the lowest tip of South 
Texas to the upper reaches of the Panhandle. 

The principal interchange of labor within Texas is between the cotton areas 
of the lower Rio Grande. Corpus Christi, Austin, Waco, and Lubbock and the 
winter garden area of the upper Rio Grande around Crystal City. The har- 
vesting of all Texas cotton requires perhaps 40,000 nonresident workers. In 
the coastal bend area alone, 20,0<X) migrants are needed for cotton, and at least 
half of these go into the vegetable district for work during the winter. Onions 
are there transplanted by hand in November and December; spinach is picked 
from December to February and onions are harvested in April and May. 
From May to July the routes are less distinct, but about July 1 these migrants 
begin picking cotton in the lower Rio Grande area. They follow the ripening 
cotton, first northeastward along the coastal bend and then northwestward to 
the Lubbock Basin and the Texas Panhandle. Cotton picking in this northern 
portion of Texas lasts until November when work for migrants has begun again 
in the winter vegetable district.^ 

Several interstate routes also enter and leave Texas, depending largely on 
the harvest conditions of the particular year. Texas cotton pickers have 
often entered Oklahoma on their northward swing, but the recent droughts 
iavfc reversed this flow. In extremely good years the Texas cotton pickers 
have been recruited to help local labor harvest bumper cotton crops to the 
east, as in 1925 when they went to the Mississippi Delta, and as in 1936 when 
they went to the Arkansas Delta. These migrations to the old plantation 
country, when a share tenant is available for every 1.5 or 20 acres, are excep- 
tional." Also sporadic are the migrations of Texas cotton pickers to the straw- 
berry fields of Arkansas and the similar movement of northern berry pickers 
to Texas cotton fields after the season in Arkansas. Some migrants also prob- 
ably combine seasonal work in Texas, Arizona, and California. Finally, workers 
have been recruited in Texas for work on sugar beets in Colorado, Montana, 
Michigan, Minnesota, and Iowa in years when the beet harvests required more 
labor than was available locally. It is possible to combine the sugar beet 
season from May to November with the winter vegetable season of Texas. In 
the past, even the canneries of Alaska have drawn workers from Texas.* 

Symbolized by the rickety automobile piled high with paltry possessions, the 
tattered nomads of Texas' are accustomed to low wages and long workless 
periods. Rarely are they above the stage of acute need and few families 
posse<^s means to cope with illness or other emergencies. Most of them are 
American-born. Although their children are numerous, few are able to attend 
school, none for adequate periods. Their seasonal migrations touch most of 
Texas and their social difficulties become part of the heritage of the communi- 
ties through which they are forced to pass. If they cross State lines, they 
.ieopardize the last bulwark of the needy, a chance at public aid. Even remain- 
ing in Texas, they are denied relief if they have lived for less than 1 year 
in the State or for less than 6 months in the county where application is made. 
Thus, surplus commodities or W. P. A.-made clothing, the only forms of direct 
relief dispensed in the State, are seldom in the reach of transient families. 

Social security legislation largely overlooks the interstate migrant. Agri- 
cultural workers have been excluded from the unemployment compensation 
laws so far enacted and from Federal old-age annuities. Nonresident workers 
are inadequately covered in most State .social-security laws. Many workers 
now stand to lose whatever compensation they may have accumulated if they 
migrate from one State to another, unless special arrangements to cover such 
cases are successfully established by future interstate agreements. 

Most of their migrant lives are spent in ditch-side camps and rural slums. 
Privacy, hygiene, and sanitation are qualities seldom associated with these 
dwellings. It is obvious that sucli conditions create more than the normal 
amount of illness among those who must bear them; yet, medical attention 
usually is not available for those without funds or without status as local 
relief charges. 

1 Excerpt from preliminary report of Secretary of Labor to Senate committee, 1st sess., 
75th Cong., Migration of Workers, vol. I. pp. 91-93. 

2 Ibid. 


Welcomed when needed, migrants are shunned when no more work is available 
in the commnnity. Newspaper advertisements, newspaper articles, out-of-State 
grapevine (an agent may be employed to drive along the highway, stopping at 
poolrooms, filling stations, and other public places spreading the word that plenty 
of work is available in a certain locality), cooperation from relief agencies and 
chambers of commerce, utilization of farm labor services, all prove to be effective 
means of recruiting workers to areas with a need for temporary farm aid. Ari- 
zona growers, who silent $300,000 advertising for workers in 1920, with the result 
that 20,000 applicants were secured, were able to attract 30,000 workers in 1937 
with a campaign which included $900 for newspaper want ads as its greatest single 
expenditure. Independent growers in Arizona have paid for radio time in El 
Paso, San Antonio, and Fort AVorth to bring Texas workers to their fields. 

Lewis T. Nordyke, Amarillo newspai>erman, who made the migratory-labor 
circuit to study the work of the Texas State employment service in charting the 
way for Texas workers, reported encouraging news in the resultant article, which 
appeared in the March 1940 issue of Survey Graphic : 

"Today there is a new order, thanks to a modern sort of round-up in Texas. 
The farm placement division of the employment service keeps at its fingertips 
definite information on crop conditions and labor needs in every important agri- 
cultural community in the State. And it keeps tabs on its army of migrants, 
even though there are 600,000 of them. AVhen a cotton, vegetable, or fruit section 
needs workers the service knows it. and it routes only enough laborers to handle 
the work in an orderly manner. Other workers who ordinarily would rush to 
any area with a rumored labor shortage are routed elsewhere. 

'""This is not to say all phases of the social, economic, and health problem 
created by the crop-following workers have been solved in Texas or any other 
State, but there is definite proof of a workable plan that has a good chance to 
become national in scope through Federal-State cooperation. In routing the 
migrants during the past 2 years in a manner surprising but satisfactory to the 
workers and the fai-mers, and in making 403,039 farm placements in 1938 and 
close to 500,000 in 1939, the service demonstrated that the needed workers could 
be handled without serious confusion. (A placement means a man, woman, or 
child has been placed in a job.)" 

Nordyke referred in his article also to south Texas housing units constructed 
at Raymondville, Robstown, Sinton. and Weslaco, in which the Farm Security 
Administration provides accommodations for approximately 5,500 persons. Pre- 
viously camping grounds had been provided by various communities where large 
forces of migratory labor congregate. 

Although such improvements have been effected, there is still a monumental 
problem which taxes the minds of who must cope with the troubles of the 
migrant thousands. Speaking before the farm tenancy committee of the Texas 
Agriculture Workers Association at Austin on February 15, 1940, John H. Caufield, 
of the Farm Security Administration, declared that the four Farm Security Ad- 
ministration camps for migrants are admittedly a palliative. 

'•They provide temporary anchorage for these drifters, where they can have a 
minimum of comfort and essential sanitation — at least enough to safeguard 
against the outbreak of those epidemics which have bred previously in the dis- 
ordered and destitute camps which the migrants occupied perforce. The graph of 
typhoid fever through Texas has in the past few years followed true to the graph 
of the migrants' march, pointing with disconcerting certainty to the fact that 
this problem of the migrants is also a problem for the remainder of us." 

Daily some angle of the many-faceted problem of the migrant is brought to the 
attention of those who represent the Work Projects Administration in the field. 
On the following pages is material taken from various reports and studies 
prepared or reviewed by Work Projects Administration officials. 


The basic economic factors of supply and demand seem to operate to form 
the basis for migratory casual farm labor. A large group of unemployed, low- 
income i)ersons, unable to obtain full-time, year-round employment in any one 
locality provides the supply. An agricultural economy so organized that a uni- 
form amount of labor cannot be efiiciently used throughout the year provides the 


Since other developments affecting migratory casual farm labor, such as mech- 
anization, Agricultural Adjustment Administration, etc., appear to be factors 
affecting one or the other of these two basic factors, they will be discussed with 
supply and demand. 

1. Supply of migratory casual farm labor. — The presence of a large number of 
skilled agricultural workers unable to obtain continuous employment on farms 
of their own, provides the potential supply of migratory casual farm laborers. 
Two large groups appear to comprise the potential supply. 

(a) Displaced farm tenants: This group, consisting primarily of "other" white 
and Negro tenants but including some Mexicans, has become available largely 
because of the decrease in the number of farms, particularly cotton farms. The 
displacement of tenants has resulted from a number of factors, two of the more 
important appearing to be the Agricultural Adjustment Administration program 
and mechanization. The Work Projects Administration social workers state that 
the displacement of farmers because of the crop control programs varies over the 
State from negligible in the east Texas pine woods country to "an average of 
two out of five sharecroppers and tenants will be displaced" in west Texas. In 
central Texas they estimate that "25 percent of the tenants and sharecroppers will 
be forced to leave' the farm if cotton acreage is not increased." Another from the 
same section of the State says that of the total referrals (persons sent by the 
department of public welfare as eligible for Work Projects Administration em- 
ployment) 38 percent from Collin County, 43 percent from Cooke County, and 
30 percent from Denton County resulted from the crop-control program. 

While the Agricultural Adjustment Administration program probably directly 
resulted in the displacement of some tenants, it is believed that the most im- 
portant influence was in accelerating the rate of mechanization which in turn 
displaced the tenants. In partially mechanized areas where mechanization is 
generally profitable, the advantages to be gained through the Agricultural Ad- 
justment Administration program by displacing the tenant was merely one more 
factor placed in the balances in favor of mechanization. A survey of opinions 
of landowners and tenants in 14 Texas counties was made by the farm tenancy 
committee of the Texas Agricultural Workers Association. Tlie results showed 
that out of a total of 645 farmers replying, 420 or 65.1 percent considered both 
Agricultural Adjustment Administration and mechanization as contributing to 
displacement in their areas. An additional 70 or 10.9 percent considered mech- 
anization as the cause and an additional 46 or 7.1 percent reported the Agricul- 
tural Adjustment Administration program as the cause.^ 

The extent of tenant displacement, the importance of mechanization in such 
displacement and the result of displacement are described by Hamilton as follows : 

"That actual population displacement in Texas cotton growing areas has 
reached serious proportions is demonstrated by the 1937 Texas population changes 
survey which indicated a decrease of over 20,0ll0 farms in the State between 
January 1, 1937, and January 1, 1938. Since many displaced families from cotton 
farms likely migrate to noncotton farms, the displacement from cotton farms has 
likely been greater than 20,000 families. In connection with the annual popula- 
tion surveys for the past 2 years .scores of letters have been received from cor- 
respondents giving illustrations of the displacement of farm tenants and laborers 
by tractors. The displacement of from 3 to 5 families by 1 tractor is not un- 
common. One case was reported where 9 families were displaced by 1 tractor. 
Assuming that 1 tractor will displace 1 family only, more than 60,000 farm fami- 
lies have probably been displaced from Texas farms since 1930. Also, since the 
number of tractors on Texas farms increased about 50,000 in a 3-year period 
before April 1, 1938, it may be estimated that more than 10,000 families have been 
displaced annually from Texas farms since 1935." 

" 'Where do these displaced farm families go?' is a question which is frequently 
asked. Many of them, as I have already indicated, move to poor farms unsuited 
to cotton production with farm tractors. 

"A larger number migrate to towns and cities and become common laborers, 
alternating between agriculture and the town. Many displaced tenants and 
croppers remain in the open country as partially employed farm or common 
laborers. At the time of this writing the Works Progress Administration is 

^ C. Horace Hamilton, "A Survey of Public Opinion on Farm Ownership and Tenancy in 
Fourteen Representative Counties," 1939, mimeo. 


trying to take care of 76,000 farm families. A late report is that some of these 
people are to be shitted to the care of the Farm Security Administration which 
was already assisting nearly 30.000 Texas farm families. Welfare and em- 
ployment service offices in the State for the past 2 years have been reporting 
unusuallv heavy requests for aid from these displaced farm families. The 1937 
census of unemployment showed approximately 130,000 unemployed and par- 
tially unemployed agricultural workers in the State. This is almost identical 
with the number of agricultural wage workers reported as employed by the 
1935 agricultural census. 

•The displaced family faces the prospect of a lower income. The typical 
farm tenant in the high plains or in the blackland may be expected to earn 
a net farm income of from $800 to $1,000 annually, even with cotton prices as 
they are today. As either a common or an agricultural laborer the same tenant 
cannot expect to earn more than from $250 to $300. A survey just completed 
in Texas shows the farm-laborer family median income to have been only $220 
in 1937 — when opportunities were excellent for cotton picking. 

'The surplus of farm tenants available has created considerable competi- 
tion among tenants for places to rent; and, as a result, rental rates are rising. 
In areas that once followed the straight third-and-fourth share rent systems, 
cash rents, and privilege rents of various types are being used. Pasture land, 
which tenants formerly received free of rent, now rents fi'equently for $1 per 
acre. In some areas tenants are being charged cash rent for their dwellings. 
In many areas from $3 to $6 per acre is being charged for land planted in feed 
crops. On many of these farms the cash rent on the feed land amounts to 
more than the income from cotton." ' 

William C. HoUey testifies further to the surplus of agricultural labor and to 
its cause in Collin, Fisher, and Upshur Counties when he states, in an unpub- 
lished report, that farm conditions contributing to relief include mechanization 
in Collin and Fisher Counties (but not in Upshur) and overpopulation for the 
present type of agriculture in all three counties.^ 

Since few of the displaced tenants are Mexican and since approximately 85 
percent of the migratory workers in Texas are Mexican,* it appears that the 
displacement of tenants has been a factor of relatively little importance in 
intrastate migration. Nevertheless, this displacement provides a; potential 
migratory labor supply. 

No accurate data are available to explain why displaced "other" white and 
Negro tenants have not assumed a more important place in the migratory 
casual-labor market, but certain factors seem to have some place in the picture. 
White and Negro labor is unable to compete successfully with Mexican labor 
on a price basis ; ^ they are less tractable than Mexican laborers ; * they seem 
less nomadic; and they do not operate in large groups with a single leader 
with which a farmer may deal, as do the Mexicans. These and other factors 
have resulted in minimizing the entrance of displaced tenants into the migra- 
tory casual-labor market. 

('&) Mexican farm laborers: As pointed out above, Mexicans form the major 
part of the migratory casual farm labor in Texas. Most of those workers have 
never been farm operators on other tlian a very small scale, if at all. They are 
accustomed to extremely low standards of living and are organized into definite 
groups that regularly make the migratory casual farm labor circuit. 

Hamilton described the procedure followed in providing and managing migTa- 
tory casual cotton laborers as follows : 

"Already there has developed a widespread labor system — a system which has 
in it great possibilities of labor exploitation. The labor contractor furnishes a 
large open truck, recruits a group of laborers, and transports them, presumably 
free of charge, across the State as the cotton picking and the truck and fruit 

2 C. Horace Hamilton, "The Social Effects of Recent Trends in Mechanization of Agri- 
culture." Progress Rept. No. 579, Division of Farm and Ranch Economics, Texas Agri- 
cultural Experiment Station, mimeo., December 1938, pp. .8-9. 

a William C. Holley. "Survey of Changes in Types of Relief Needs in Selected Rural Areas, 
June to December 1938," unpublished. ^ , ,„„„ „ 

* Farm Placement Service, Survey of Farm Placements in Texas, 1936 and 1937, Texas 
State I'mplovment service. 1038. p. 82. 

sjliid., p. 38, States "It is significant that local labor does not protest the influx (of 
Mexican labor), as thev cannot live on the low wages paid to transient Mexicans." 

• Quotations from hearings before the Senate Committee on Immigration, reported m 
ibid., pp. 44-45. 


harvesting seasons progress. The contractor, usually a Mexican with a truck, Is 
a contact man and business agent for the laborers. He takes the resi)onsibility for 
contacting farmers, \\-eighing ami hauling cotton (or truck crops), and of col- 
lecting the laborers' earnings from the farmer. For these services and for trans- 
porting the laborers, the contractor receives from the laborer from 5 to 10 cents 
for each hundred pounds of cotton picked, and from the farmer about $1.50 
per bale. 

"The rapid increase in the transient labor population has complicated health, 
sanitation, and liousing problems in towns where labor concentrates. The farm 
population of some larger cotton counties is virtually doubled during the busy 
part of the picking season. There is a movement on foot now to provide both 
temporary and permanent camps for transient lalxn-ers at strategic centers in 
the State. Already a number of small towns in cotton centers have cooperated 
with the Texas employment service in setting up temporary camps equipped 
with shower baths and sanitary toilets. These camps serve as points of contact 
for laborers and employers. On any Sunday, during the cotton picking season, 
these camps are greately congested witli trucks, old cars, and people — farmers, 
cotton pickers, men, women, and children. During the mornings there will be 
seen mucli informal diddering between farmers, labor contractors, and lieads of 
families. A farmer will approach a group of pickers, contact tlie contractor 
and perhaps two or three of tlie family heads. Information as to the number of 
pickers, amount of cotton, camping or housing facilities, and wage rates are 
quickly exchanged. If the preliminary information is suitable to both pickers 
and farmers, a cpiick trip is then made to inspect the field of cotton. Large 
groups or truckloads of pickers prefer, of course, the larger fields, and the 
thicker cotton. If the field is too small, the cotton yield too low, or very diffi- 
cult to pick, the leaders go back to camp and make another contact — unless per- 
chance they are stopped en route by a farmer looking for pickers. If the cotton 
is satisfactory, the truck returns to the camp and brings the entire group of 
pickers out to the farm where they usually stay until the crop is picked over 
once. Due to the fact that most of the transient pickers move in large groups, 
small farmers quite frequently have difliculty in locating pickers. Labor is also 
diflicult to get for second pickings." '' 

The Farm Placement Service reports that the labor market in the west Texas 
cotton fields, was "organized to a hitherto unconceived point" in 1937 so that the 
speed of picking was in excess of the capacity of the gins.^ Since this was an 
extremely large crop and since the area was the most distant from the main 
point of supply, it appears that there is an adequate supply of migratory casual 
farm labor already organized in addition to the potential supply represented by 
displaced tenants. 

2. Domunl for mipratoru casual farm labor. — The demand for migratory casual 
farm labor is dependent upon a farm organization resulting in short peak periods 
of high employment with relatively longer periods of low employment. Such 
farm organization is frequently accompanied by a partial mechanization of 

A description of throe types of farm organization will clarify the above state- 
ment : viz, small, nonmechanized farms represented by the east Texas cotton 
farms: large, fully mechanized farms such as the western wheat farms: and 
large, partially mechanized farms, represented in the most marked form by the 
semiarid cotton farms of the south plains and by the coastal bend area around 
Corpus Christ! (mechanized except for chopping and picking), and to a less 
marked extent in the central Texas black belt. 

(a) Small nonmechanized farms: East Texas cotton farm. The outstanding 
characteristics of this type of farm are that it is not mechanized (resulting in 
part from topography. p<ior soil, and the inertia of an established farming 
pattern) and tliat it is operated on a family unit basis. An analysis of data 
compiled by Hollev and Arnold shows that per acre cotton labor requirements 
in this area are divided as follows: Freplauting 16.2 percent, planting 2.1 per- 
cent, cultivating 46.3 percent, and harvesting 35.4 percent.^ This means that 

' IT.imilton, Op. Cit., pp. 9-10. 

8 Farm Fl.ncemeut Service. Op. Cit., p. 74. , , „, , t, ..:■••(- *■ 

9 Extracted from William C. Hollev and Lloyd E. Arnold. Works Progress .Administration, 
National Research Project. Cotton, Philadelphia. li^SS, tables 6-18, inclusive, pp. 23-50, 


the need for labor on snoh a farm is relatively constant, so that, even thongh one 
Individual owned a larir(> number of sucli farms, it would pay him to keep 
permanently employed laborers rather than to use migratory casual labor. 

The insignificance of migratory casual labor is furtlier indicated by the fact 
that the maxinnim farm placements made by the employment service in the 
two east Texas districts in any month in 1937 were 860 in October and 95 in 
September, respectively, in district 10, Longview, and district 11, Beaumont." 
No extensive use of migratory casual workers may be expected in this area unless 
there is a change in type of farming so that other crops with peak labor demands 
are developed or unless means, such as mechanization, are developed to decrease 
the time required for some, but not all, phases of cotton production. 

(b) Large, fully mechanized farms — semiarid Panhandle wheat farms: At 
the present time very little outside labor is required for the operation of the 
Panhandle wheat farms. (Table I, Labor used per acre in producing winter 
wheat in the western hard winter wheat section, 1909-36, gives the labor 
requirements for wheat in this region.) Tliis is true notwithstanding the fact 
that 1.2 hours per acre, or more than 50 percent of the labor required per 
acre for a wheat crop is required for harvesting which is completed in a 
period of from 1 to 2 months. This concentration of working time does not 
result in the use of migratory-casual farm labor because of the small amount 
of time required; thus a three-man crew (combine man, tractor man, and 
trucker) can harvest 1,000 acres of wheat over a 6-week period of 12-hour 
days. If the labor is not available in the family group, it can usually be 
obtained from resident neighbor families. The explanation of a high concen- 
tration of total time required without the use of a migratory-casual labor 
lies in the fact that the family group is not fully employed much of the time. 
On specialized wheat farms little work is done from October 1 or November 
1 to June 1. Such labor as Is required must be more skilled in the use of 
machinery tlian Is the usual migratory-casual worker. 

It is interesting to note that the first farm placement oflSce in Texas was 
established to care for the wheat harvest in this area." At this time it will 
be noted from table I, 3.4 hours per acre were required to harvest the wheat. 
Moreover, unskilled labor could be used. It is estimated that from 100,000 to 
200,000 migratory-casual lal)orers were employed during 1919, whereas the 
number today is negligible." This change resulted from the mechanization 
of the wheat harvest, thus making it possible to handle large acreage with 
little or no outside help. 

Based on employment-service data, there were approximately 2,8.50,000 acres 
of wheat in this region in 1937." On the ba.sis of the 1919 labor requirements, 
this would have reqiiired some 9,700,000 hours of labor for liarvest but only 
approximately 3,420,000 hours in 1936. Most of the additional 6,300,000 hours 
would have been done by migratory-casual workers. 

The experience in the Panhandle wheat area indicates that employment of 
migratory-casual labor Is dependent upon peak seasons in which adequate 
labor cannot be obtained locally to handle as many acres of crops as can 
otherwise be raised, and that the mechanization of such phases of produc- 
tion may result in complete displacement of the migratory-casual workers. 

ic) Large-scale partially mechanized cotton farm: The large-scale partially 
mechanized cotton production of the south plains and Corpus Christi region 
and to a lesser extent of the black belt, illustrates this type of agriculture 
which requires most migratory-casual labor. These areas employ the greater 
portion of the migratory-casual farm labor of the State. 

Table II, Labor requirements per acre for cotton production, shows the 
time required for each phase of cotton culture in the major regions, and the 
percentage that the major operating phases represent of the whole. 

It will be seen from table II that the western semiarid region, including 
the south plains area, requires only slightly more than half of the time 
required for its nearest competitor, the Texas black waxy area, which is turn 

^"Farm Placement Sei'vice, op. cit, fig. 8J and 8K. 
^1 Farm Placement Service, op. cit., p. 18. 

^ ]{(>bert B. Elwood, Llo.vd E. Arnold, D. Clarence Schmutz, and Eugene G. McKibben, 
W. 1'. A. National Research Project, Wheat and Oats. Philadelphia, 1939, p. 94. 
^ Farm Placement Service, op. cit., pp. 5-6. 



roquiros less (han half (lie time of any area except the western hill (including 
the east. Texas area). Moreover, over W percent of the total time required 
for (he western semiarid area is used in harvestitiK. 

The ahove .situation results from numerous factors, foremost among thera 
beinj; (he us(> of large-scale equipment, freciuenlly (rac(or-(lrawM, and the 
natural g(>ographi(' cliaracleristics of the area, both making possible the use 
of larg«^-scai(> (Mpiiiiment and decreasing the amount of cultivation needed; 
e. g.. whereas, hoeing and chopping nquirod 'M hours per acre in the Mississippi 
Delta, they required only 0.1 hours in the semiarid south plains region. 

Taiu.k I.- Labor used per aci'e m produnvfj irhitcr wheat in the western (vnd 
winter tvhcat section 1909-S6 

[Western, including Texas Panhandle) 

Total hours per acre 















O-t iHTCpnt of farms were using tractors in 1936. 

Extnictixl from Work Projects Administration, National Research Project, Wheat and Oats, Philadel- 
phia, 1939, tabic -l, p. 37. 

Table II. — Labor 

requirements per acre for cotton prod 











("iitliiiE; sprouts and 

I'lonnin!; torrncos 


Flat breaking or plow- 
ing . . 































17. 6 



47." i 































Harrow lug 

BcHldiiiR . 

I,ayiiiR olTrows 

Applying commercial 















llooing and chopping.. 

I")usting and spraying. 
















Extracted from William C. HoUey and Lloyd E. Arnold Work Projects Administration National Re- 
search Project, Cotton, Philadelphia, 1938, tables 6-18, Inclusive, pp. 23-50, Inclusive. 

Hamilton states that: 

"The most rapid mechanization of cotton farming has occurred in the western 
cotton areas of Texas and Oklahoma. Several large areas in Texas are almost 
completely mechanized; e. g.. the high and low plain and tlie Corpus Christi area. 
Bonnen and Magee found that of 141 representative farms in the high plains in 
1937, 7i) percent were depending on tractor power and multirow equipment. In 
many connnunities i)ractically lt>0 iK'n-ont of the farms deviend upon tractor 
jwwer. In Lultbock County in the heart of the high plains, a sample of 43 
farmers interviewed during the sunnner of lO.vS' while they were in town for their 
agricultural conservation checks, included only two farmers who did not use 


tractor power. Twenty-seven of the 43 fanners were using four-row tractor- 
drawn cultivating and planting equipment. On these 27 farms were found 28 
tractors pulling four-row equipment; 5 tractors pulling two-row equipment; one 
other tractor ; 52 farm families ; 445 crop acres per operator or farm ; 343 acres 
per tractor; and 224 acres p<'r farm family -operators and laixtreis. On farms 
having only one set of four-row equipment, the mean acres In croi)s was 398. 

"Fourteen of the 43 farms used two-row cultivating and planting equipment, 
but no four-row e<iuipmeiit. On these 14 farms were found: 26 two-row tractors; 
34 farm families; 5(13 crop acres per farm; 271 crop acres per tractor; and 207 
crop acres per family. Nineteen of the 43 farms surveyed had no workstock 
whatever; and the other tractor farmers had very few workstock in active use. 
These situations are considered typical of the plains area." " 

Ilolley points out that conditions in the Mississippi Delta and Texas black 
waxy are also conducive to the use of large scale labor-saving machinery and 
that many units (the entire plantation, not cropper units within a plantation) 
are large enough to use equipment economically."^ 

The movement to mechanize the Texas black waxy is apparently under way, 
Hamilton reports: 

"The farms in the black lands of Texas are also being mechanized at a rapid 
rate. Reconnaissance surveys indicate that at least 30 percent of the black- 
land farmers use tractors and that possibly 50 percent of the crop land is culti- 
vated with tractors." " 

The data given above for the south plains area indicates that eflficient specialized 
cotton farming in that area is dependent upon migratory casual labor or upon the 
development of a mechanized method of harvesting cotton. It should be pointed 
out that at the present time harvesting cotton in the semiarid south plains region 
consists of "snapping" or "pulling bolls" instead of picking. This has greatly 
increased the productivity of labor. Although the snapped cotton is of a lower 
grade, improved gin equipment has reduced the lowering of the grade." More- 
over, the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station has developed a stripper type 
mechanical harvester for use in this area that has shown promising results.'* 
Further improvements in this machine and in ginning may materially affect the 
use of migratory casual labor in this area. 

Ilolley points out that mechanization in the Texas black waxy and the Missis- 
sippi Delta has been retarded because of the problem of getting pickers. The 
development of a satisfactory mechanical cotton picker would then not only 
displace migratory casual workers in the Texas black waxy but "no doubt would 
facilitate a concerted rush toward the use of large-scale machinery for the pre- 
harvest operation and would thus result in considerable displacement of agricul- 
tural workers. That such a development lies within the not-too-distant future 
seems probable." " 

Since Holley gathered his data the trend toward mechanization in the Texas 
black waxy has been accelerated possibly partly because of the more eflBcient 
organization of the migratory casual workers by the employment service and 
partly because of such factors as Agricultural Adjustment Administration 

The above discussion indicates that in the production of certain crops migratory 
casual labor takes the place of machinery in the peak labor phases of production. 
Employment will be given to migratory casual labor as long as it is the cheapest 
methf)d of harvesting the crop. If a satisfactory picking machine can be devel- 
oped that will pick cotton at a lower cost than can the migratory casual laborers, 
they will be displaced. It appears that such a machine is "just around the 
corner" and probably awaits only a shortage of men or an increased labor cost to 
come to the front. Slight increases in cost and improvements in ginning might 
result in substituting "sledding" in the south plains area for picking. A success- 
ful cotton picker for use in the Mississippi Delta and Texas black waxy also 
appears likely to be developed if the supply of migratory casual labor is limited 
or if the price is materially increased. It has been pointed out above that the 

" Hamilton, op. cit.. p. 5. 

^ Holley and Arnold, op. cit., p. 58. 

" Hamilton, op. cit., p. 5. 

" Holley and Arnold, op. cit., p. 51. 

"Ibid., p. 63. 

"Ibid., p. 61. 


mec'hanizatiou of other phases of production has been made possible only by the 
supply of migratory casual labor to handle the liarvesting and, in some areas, 
chopping. It should be pointed out here that once the other phases have been 
mechanized, there is little possibility of demechanizing them because of a shortage 
of available migratory casual labor — the full impetus of both progress and inertia 
will be pushing toward mechanization of the last steps in cotton production. 

If labor costs should increase and the price of cotton remain low, there would 
probably be a tendency toward greater diversification with crops that ai'e sus- 
ceptible to mechanized handling throughout substituted for cotton. There would 
be little possibility of a return to small specialized cotton units susceptible to 
being handled completely by a single family group. 


1. The need for migratory casiial labor results from sliort peaks of labor needs 
with longer periods in which it is not needed. 

2. The displacement of full-time tenants by the mechanization of tlie major 
preharvest operation in peaks of employment in cotton production. The mecha- 
nization with its accompanying displacement, was made possible only because 
of the presence of migratory casual labor. In some areas, such as the Mis.sissippi 
Delta, the problem of obtaining an adequate supply of such labor is retarding 
preharvest mechanization. 

3. The development of satisfactory mechanized equipment for caring for the 
peak needs that can be made available at a cost below that of migratory casual 
labor will displace such labor. A shortage of migratory workers in areas now 
"geared" to their use or a material increase in cost would probably result in 
the use of mechanical equipment and tiie permanent displacement of the mi- 
gratory casual worker. 


Material based on observation of Work Projects Administration social workers 
in the various sections of Texas. 

South Texas 

J. H. Breeding, district employment officer for Work Projects Administration 
in the Laredo territory, writes as follows : 

"A very peculiar circumstance exists in Eagle Pass, Maverick County, espe- 
cially during the spinach harvest. Information has come to me from a reliable 
source that at least from 250 to 300 workers cross the Rio Grande River from 
Piedras Negras every morning during the spinacii harvest, rent trucks on this 
side of the river to take them to the fields. They earn approximately 75 cents 
to $1 per day, but, on returning each night to Piedras Negras, they exchange 
their money into Mexican money and at the present rate of exchange they will 
have approximately 4V2 to GV^ pesos each for the day's work. This amount of 
Mexican money in Mexico will go much further than the 75 cents or $1 in our 
money on this side of the river. This situation has been thoroughly checked 
and it was found that 70 percent of these people are American citizens but live 
on the Mexican side — when this was found out there was nothing to be done. 
What I want to bring out in this case is that tho.«;e people coming from the 
Mexican side of the river ai'e, of course, helped to the fullest extent due to the 
money exchange, but those who live on the American side are deprived of the 
opportunity to work to hold their body and soul together. Work Projects 
Administration could never assign all of them. The Mexican merchants are 
benefited whereas our own are not. 

In the cotton-producing sections of our district migratory workers are handled 
much differently from what they were. Crops are not so good this year ; con- 
sequently, I'll say not over 400 or 500 have come into the district. Heretofore 
the farmer would hire his own cotton pickers, he would provide shelter and 
other conveniences for them, and would see that they received medical attention 
if needed. They were privileged to go to town on Saturday and remain until 
Sunday night. By doing this they had an opportunity to attend church, prepare 
their clothing for cleanliness and health. The time usually needed for crop 


gathering was approximately 2 months. Nowadays, this method has been done 
away with and the farmer deals with only one person, who hires a crew, and 
wants the cotton picked in 1 day if possible. The farmer knows nothing of 
the welfare of the pickers, as they come today and leave tomorrow. Chances 
are that if a mother or child should need medical or other attention they got it 
the best way they could, and since they, of course, could not leave for the fields 
that day they were replaced by someone else by their boss and that was probably 
the last of them. It has been brought to my attention that under this method 
of picking cotton, farmers request 8 or 10 times as many pickers as are needed 
and as a result no one makes a day's wages and they are on the go most of the 

In Willacy County the competition between gins is so keen that each has a 
solicitor working among the farmers promising cotton pickers provided they 
bring their cotton to a certain gin for ginning. This very often works a hard- 
ship on the pickers in this way : If a gin solicitor promises to have pickers at 
a certain farm at a given hour of the day and is an hour or two late and in the 
meantime a different gin solicitor should appear the farmer will agree to let his 
crew pick the cotton if they get there first. The first crew, with women and 
children, arrives later. Their jobs have been taken so they, of course, must go 
on their way with maybe only a cup of coffee for breakfast and no time to prepare 
lunch as they must find another field before they can stop — children do not 
understand going hungry. 

The naval base project at Corpus Christi is causing many people to rush there. 
A large percentage of these have not, as yet, obtained employment ; consequently, 
many are on the streets. How long they can hold out without employment and 
what may happen if they do not obtain it remains to be seen. This project is 
supposed to employ about 15,000 workers when in full swing. 

Texas Coastal Plains 

John W. Myers, Work Projects Administration social worker, writing from 
the Coastal Plains area of Texas where cotton picking and rice harvesting an- 
nually attract large groups of migrant workers, reports : 

'•In the last 3 years we have seen no ce.s.sation of migration of workers even 
in the face of increasing Federal aid and an attempt to more completely stabilize 
the individual. We would not say that transiency has increased but rather it 
has become an epidemic lasting for only a few" months out of the year with the 
persons engaged returning to their homes at the end of the crop seasons, rather 
than continuing a wandering throughout the year." 

These seasonal workers are predominantly of Latin-American descent with a 
smattering of Negro and white families. It has interested us to note that the 
Latin-American never goes to the cotton field without taking his family with him. 
The Negro almost always leaves his family at home and goes with a group of 
other Negro males while the white laborer may vary, depending on the type of 
harvest to be gathered. We believe that the white workers' motive in taking 
his family is that it may assist him in his labors, to his greater profit. 

It is impossible to estimate the numbers of transient workers who come into 
the Coastal Plains cotton-producing area each year in July and August. They 
come from urban districts and small communities all over Texas, congregating 
in the Rio Grande Valley for the beginning of the cotton season, working through 
Kleberg, Nueces, San Patricio, Refugio, Calhoun, and Jackson Counties by the 
last of August or the 1st of September. We have seen as many as a thousand 
families entering some large cotton plantations in San Patricio County at one 
time. We know of many instances where the employment service has requisi- 
tioned from their urban headquarters as many as 500 families. We have seen 
both employment-service men and individual farmers on the highways early in 
the mornings and late at night stopping these migrants to persuade them to 
pick their fields. 

During these past 3 years we have seen many camps used by these labore!rs 
and have had occasion to inspect the camps and to talk with the occupants. For 
the most part the landlord furnishes only a space for camping, the worker must 
furnish his own tent or shelter of some sort as well as his household furniture. 
A few farmers provide shacks consisting of one or two rooms for the workers 
but I have never seen a camp of this sort with any household equipment nor 



any kitchen or sanitary facilities. Water is usually provided free but wood 
is seldom given and the worker is expressly forbidden to cut down trees. He 
depends upon waste cotton stalks and other heat-giving materials which his 
children can pick up for fuel. Occasionally, a family has an oil stove and buys 
its own fuel oil. These shacks are in such a state of disrepair as to defy descrip- 
tion. Families are encouraged to share these places together and it is no un- 
common occurrence to see four or five families with an average of five people 
per family occupying one small house, ill-ventilated, ill-lit, and offering but scant 
protection from the elements. 

At a plantation in Calhoun County last year I entered a camp house of this 
sort which was occupied by 26 people, adults and children. One family had 
brought its bed which was set up in the best room of the house and which 
was occupied by four small children, all of them ill with pneumonia. It had 
been raining and the father of one of the children, who incidentally were from 
different families, had hung by wires and string half a dozen tin containers 
from the rafters over the bed to catch the rain water. I asked him if there 
was no better way of stopping the water and he said that that was the driest 
part of the house and the roof was in such condition that it could not be re- 
paired. There had been no medical attention given these children until the 
time of my visit when I asked a doctor from Port Lavaca to call on the family. 
One of the children later died. 

Very rarely can these people afford medical attention. In my experience and 
from the stories I have heard from the workers, free county-health service Is 
not available. This morning a man came into the office to tell me he was leav- 
ing W P A to go cotton picking. I asked him what they did when a member 
of the family became ill. He stated if they had the money they went to town 
to find a doctor to visit them. If not, he said, "We suffer." He added that 
this kind of work was a very hard life. I have never known of any instances 
where transient children attended school. Most of the people depend on re- 
turning to their homes in October or November, and usually put their children 
in school at that time. On the road these privileges are denied them and are 
made impossible because of the very reason of their transiency. Pneumonia, 
colds, coughs, malturition, and rickets seem to be common diseases in transient 
camp's. I expect that if it were possible to obtain accurate statistics on deaths 
among the migrants, we would find them to be alarming. The medical profes- 
sion has rarely evidenced sympathy for their plight and attend them only in 
a spirit of grumbling. I know of one instance of a doctor in Snyder, Tex. 
Scurry County, who refused to let a man take his child to the (doctor's) ofl5ce. 
After some persuasion he finally drove his car to the farm and asked them to 
bring the child to his car where he diagnosed the case. This child who was also 
suffering from pneumonia, died, too. There is a very definite solidarity among 
these people, very strongly exemplified by the death of one of its members. Each 
family contributes what it can spare to help with the funeral expenses. I have 
been "told that in many instances, particularly among the Mexican families, the 
bodies are not embalmed but are burietl in a local cemetery. 

The predominant religion among the Latin-Americans is Catholic but there 
are many of the Baptist faith. I mention the two groups by name as it would 
appear that each carries the impact of its religious beliefs with it. I have seen, 
however, many of the families cotton picking on Sunday and as far as I know, 
giving the day no unusual implication. Some of the workers have told me that 
they go to church when they are near town where one is available which wiH 
admit them. They say that "this is rare. One of our local W. P. A. workers who 
picks cotton each year told me of an experience he had in Brownfleld, Tex., Terry 
County, when he attempted to enter a Baptist church. He had sat down when 
the ushers told him he must leave. 

The work of the women is incredible and extremely difficult. The custom is to 
arise at about 4 a. m. to cook breakfast and enough food to take to the field for 
the noon meal. They usually begin cotton picking by daylight and work through 
to dark, spending only a few moments at rest on the cotton sacks during the 
noon hour. When the pickers return to the camp, the women then must attend 
to their camp duties, preparing supper, nursing any sick children, washing 
clothes and dishes, mending, etc., until it is often 10 o'clock before they are able 
to get to bed. Then, too, there is no medical attention for them during child- 


birth ; midwifery is the commou practice. It is not easy to tell how these people 
sufifer and yet retain a rather happy philosophy. It is easier to understand how 
with an average wage of 50 or 60 cents per hundred pounds of cotton a family 
cannot make more than $2 or $3 a working day, and when one considers the 
transportation expenses, the time lost going from one farm to another, we 
realize that about 3 or 4 days' work a week is the best they can average during 
the season. I have never been able to understand to my own satisfaction the 
motivating factors in transiency. I believe that they engage in this work in an 
effort to increase their income, but long experience in talking with these people 
has led me to believe in many case's they are less secure in the field than at home. 
I am quite certain that no moralistic implication should be given to transiency. 
It must be understood as a struggle for life and should only be approached with 
that in mind. Each year when the pickers return they tell us at intake of their 
experiences and that they would rather starve than to go the following year. 
And yet we see the same families leaving again. 

Southeast Texas 

Leslie E. This, social worker with headquarters at Beaumont in the Works 
Projects Administration, Houston district, reports as follows : 

"Orange County 

"No assistance whatever is tendered migrants by the local county agency 
nor are any health services available whatever. Approximately two applicants 
a month who are migrant workers come to the relief office. The county worker 
feels that about five of her cases a month leave the State, usually for Louisiana, 
seeking work. Ahnost always they return stating that they have found no 
employment. The Salvation Army tells us of pitiable families coming to their 
attention ; usually they are in an old car and have either run out of gas near 
town or have not enough gasoline to move on ; children are neglected looking, 
ragged, and half nourished. Recently a young unmarried mother traveling with 
her family was confined at the Salvation Army shelter — complications arose 
and she was taken to the hospital, the baby was born and the mother imme- 
diately returned to the Salvation Army. We were told that it was unusual 
to get medical care even for this type of emergency. What medical care is 
extended migrants is given by the Salvation Army worker in charge who knows 
little or nothing of caring for the sick. Children who travel with families are 
out of school and often covered with large sores and impetigo. 

"Families and single men receive care overnight and one meal. About 1 in 
10 applicants is a family group. Some petty thievery exists, such as stealing 
clothes from lines. Usually the families have been on the road for a long time 
and seemingly have no destination in mind. They know only that they are 
looking for employment and there was none at their last destination. 

"Jefferson County 

"There seems to be but little migration of agricultural workers into Jefferson 
County. The rice harvest in the fall is mostly taken care of by common labor 
from Port Arthur and Beaumont. However, some migration from the outside is 
absorbed as is evidenced by the fact that the Port Arthur Salvation Army has 
an employment service and at the present time had referred about 30 workers 
to the rice fields. These workers are housed if single in a large bunkhouse and 
if married in rough cottages supplied with outside running water. The families 
furnish their own bedding. Pay is $2 per day. The bulk of workers coming into 
Jefferson County appears to be from the skilled and semiskilled workers with a 
fairly large number of common laborers seeking work at the shipyards and 
refineries. It is impossible to secure even an estimate of the total number of 
these workers. 

"Port Arthur. — ^The relief agency does not help migrants and has not done so 
for 2 years. They state that 2 years ago they were swamped with applicants, 
15 to 20 per week, while at present not over 5 families of transients a month 
apply. Families endeavoring to find employment in Port Arthur usually stay at 
a well-known large, rambling frame house that has no cooking facilities whatever 


and a common toilet ; for this lodging a family pays 25 cents per night. In one 
locale east of town some 25 families are living in trailer camps existing on odd 
jobs while hoping for regular employment. Lack dt clothing, adequate shelter, 
and medical attention is evident. No medical care is available except in case of 
extreme emergency. Few workers leave Port Arthur seeking private employ- 
ment — a few colored workers go to the rice fields in the fall. About 2 years ago, 
shortly after the Federal Government withdrew from the transient program. 
Port Arthur was swamped with migrants and transients. We are told that the 
police department 'ran all of them out of town.' Even at the present comment 
exists on strong-arm methods used to rid the 'town of migrants. During 1938 
as many as 75 migrants and transients marched on the city hall for assistance. 
Last winter some 35 to 50 transients and migrants were cared for by the Salva- 
tion Army ; of this number from 5 to 8 were family groups ; care is given them 
overnight only. Health of migrants is bad. During the winter time colds 
abound. No medical care is given if migrant or transient is able to travel at all. 
About one-half of the children show evidence of malnutrition. Lack of clothing 
is the cause of many of the colds. The major of the Salvation Army estimates 
there is 35 percent less transiency now than 2 years ago. Children seem to secure 
an average of about 3 months education per year. Some petty thievery exists 
but only two hold-ups in the last 5 years have been attributed to migrants. 

''Beaumont. — The city-north county relief agency offers no help to migrants. 
The Salvation Army has noted a decrease in transiency of about 30 percent as 
compared with transiency 2 years ago. The need for medical care is acute ; 
no services whatever are available even for emergencies. When an emergency 
arises services of a willing physician must be secured and then persons are 'shot 
out of town as soon as possible.' Families are ragged, the need of shoes and 
warm clothing is very apparent. We are told that about 50 percent of the 
transients and migrants are undernourished. The usual diet for single workers 
while on the road seems to be bread and coffee. A decrease in the number of 
juveniles on the road as compared with 2 years ago is marked. Few of the 
workers coming to the Salvation Army have any skill and of these the majority 
are truck drivers. The major in charge feels that about 15 percent are liquor 
addicts. The average number of migrants and transients cared for is 250 per 
month ; of these about 15 are families. 

"The Labor Hall informs us that about 5 percent of union men are continuously 
on the road seekhig employment. About one-half of these men take their families 
with them. Not many industrial migrants are at present in the city but a year 
ago the city was flooded, caused by comment in eastern papers regarding the 
boom along the Gulf Coast. At present skilled workers are migrating to Nash- 
ville, Tenn., where another defense unit is being built. Of the woi'kers flocking^ 
to the local shipyards — which has reached as high as 300 a day but now does 
not average over 50 to 60 — it was felt that possibly 75 percent were migrants. 

"Some additional observations. — In making this report the outstanding obser- 
vation has been that no one knows the extent of migration nor will anyone try to 
estimate it. Few are deeply interested in the problem. No one visited really 
knew how the families live. The health of the families must be guessed at as no 
diagnosis or examination of the migrant is made. It api)ears that no agency re- 
cently has visited in the homes or camps of any of these workers and so informa- 
tion as to education of the children, church attendance, etc., is sketchy. 

"Most of the existing agencies now concerned with transients and migration 
portray an attitude of distrust toward the migrants and transients. Estimates 
of alcoholism vary from 15 to 85 percent. As regards willingness to work it is 
generally agreed that about 50 percent are 'worthy.' One is astounded at the 
lack of understanding of the migrant problem on the part of the workers now deal- 
ing with the situation. The only concern is to get them back to their legal settle- 
ment or at least to get them out of the city. As one worker put it when they tell 
him that they need gasoline for their car, he tells them, "What are you complain- 
ing about, I don't even own a car.' 

"As regards the problem seen in our Work Projects Administration office we 
would estimate that about 2 percent of our workers are at a given time out of 
the city seeking employment. Usually the family is left at home to shift as best 
they can. Marital trouble often residts from the prolonged leave of the head of 
the family. In at least one instance, 2 months ago, a worker awaiting assign- 


ment was killed while riding a freight train looking for employment. Seldom 
does the worker secure employment of a permanent nature — usually he obtains a 
few odd jobs at most. 

"It is the consensus of opinion among the agencies visited that the migration of 
unskilled workers is largely between Texas and Louisiana. Usually it is found 
that the resident in Jefferson County formerly lived in Louisiana and goes back 
to his old home looking for employment and much the same appears to be true on 
the part of those common laborers coming to Jefferson County, though not to the 
extent of the Jefferson County workers leaving for Louisiana. Migration from 
other States appears to be far heavier among the skilled and semiskilled workers." 

Central Texas 

Robert S. Via, district supervisor of intake and certification for Work Projects 
Administration in the Austin area, reports the following : 

"In past crop seasons we have had a large number of migratory workers visit 
this district and we have had residents of this district migrate to other agricul- 
tural centers. The extent of migratory labor is limited to agricultural industries. 
There is only a very small number of industrial migrant workers and this 
group of workers would normally represent a class of workers from the skilled 
and semiskilled group, who, under normal conditions, would not be applicants for 
public assistance of any kind. 

"Those migrating from the district migrate for cotton picking, onion picking, 
and to the beet fields. Those migrating to the district are for cotton picking and a 
limited number for onion harvesting. We have some migration within the district 
for cedar cutting. During last year's harvest season for cotton and sugar beets 
we had a large number of workers leave this district for south Texas and west 
Texas for cotton picking and to Michigan, Colorado, and Minnesota for the beet 
fields. The cotton crop for this year is late and we will be unable to tell at the 
present time whether there will be migration to north and west Texas. We have 
noticed a very distinct decline in the number of Mexican migratory workers who 
are coming into the district for cotton picking. It seems that the alien registra- 
tion law and the fact that some of the aliens' return to Mexico is a factor that is 
preventing migration of some of the Mexican families. I think that there is a 
definite fear among the alien Mexican workers regarding moving their residence 
to follow employment. 

"As you know, we are in the center of a very good cotton belt and it is my 
estimation that we have had as many as 9.000 migratory workers visit the district 
within a single harvest year. I estimate that 5,000 residents of this district leave 
the district to follow the cotton crop during normal crop times. If we have a 
good cotton crop in north and west Texas, migration is increased in this district 
because the workers try to stay employed and work on to west Texas, which part 
of the State other than the lower valley has good cotton to pick. If the cotton 
crop is short in west Texas migration within the district and without the district 
is curtailed. I estimate that we have approximately 1,500 workers who migrate 
to the beet fields. We have approximately 300 Mexican workers who come into 
this district for the onion harvest near Taylor. 

"Tlie cedar cutters usually travel within a radius of 3 counties and the 
estimated number of workers moving is approximately 1,000. Mode of trans- 
portation for the Mexican workers coming into the district consists of a large 
truck which is in fair mechanical condition. This truck is often loaded with 
as many as 20 to 25 workers consisting of family groups. In 1938 and 1939 this 
type of transportation was quite prevalent. This year it seems to be on a def- 
inite decline. Workers seem to prefer an old car and to seek out employment 
for themselves thus eliminating the transportation payment and fees for a 
truck foreman. We have a very few trucks that make' a practice of hauling 
workers while following the harvest. The white and Negro workers use the 
car or pick-up truck almost exclusively. If at all possible, the traveler secures 
an old abandoned house where he is permitted to stay while harvesting crops. 
These abandoned houses could not meet even the lowest standard of decency! 
They are slums of the worst sort. In addition to this, they are crowded with 
three and four families. 

"The workers camp beside the road in tents, sleep on the ground, under bridges, 
or on the trucks. When they leave the highway, they go to the field. Workers 

260370 — il— pt. 5 10 


often carry their small children and incapacitated workers with them because 
there is no place that they might leave them while they work. These workers 
also often camp on streams and small tributaries in smaller towns. The sani- 
tary conditions that they ai'e forced to endure are a menace to their health 
and to the health of the local citizens. Water is often drawn from abandoned 
wells and streams and in some cases it is hauled quite some distance. Most 
of the well water, to my knowledge, has not been tested for drinking purposes. 

"Medical attention is available for acute emergencies because the other pickers 
and migratory workers are more than likely paid once a week and they can 
secure emergency aid by small payments. At times workers hear that crop 
conditions are better on up the line and they very often get ahead of the crop. 
Some of this is cavised by false information and some workers are forced to 
move on because of the numerous available workers where they are now em- 
ployed. These workers often find themselves without food for several days. 
If their old car happens to break down, if it cannot be wired together again, 
the expenses for repair often absorb the whole season's income. 

"The prevailing wage for cotton picking is between 50 and 60 cents a hundred. 
The span of employment for a day's work covers between 10 and 14 hours a 
day. Workers who travel to the beet fields and to north and west Texas and 
to the onion fields usually return with less than $30 cash after a season of 
employment. Total employment usually amounts to a subsistence wage. A good 
worker in some of our cotton can pick 2.j0 pounds. I talked to a 10-year-old 
boy today who has been picking 100 pounds a day. Children 8, 9, and 10 years 
old often pick with their families. As the father states, it is the only time that 
the family has to earn a little money. 

"Negro rural schools are usually operated for six months out of each year. 
Most of the Mexican schools are operated for 7 months and majority of the 
white schools 9 months. Rural schools in this part of the State do not begin 
luitil after the cotton crop is gathered. School attendance in the white, coloi'ed, 
and Mexican schools, does not reach its peak until around the 1st of January. 
Some of the migratory workers attend church, but this factor again is determined 
by the local facilities available for these workers, the distance to be traveled, 
the health condition, and the amount of clothing. 

"I have recently visited in the homes of several average tenant farmers. Their 
houses, furniture, bedding, clothing, and household necessities are deplorable 
in a great many cases. The migratory worker's conditions are often not any 
better in his between-seasonal location than they are while he is on the road. 

"It is my observation that the crime conditions, especially petty thievery, are 
always on the decrease while employment is available. The county probation 
officer of Travis County states that to his knowledge there has not been a single 
case brought to his attention where migratory workers were involved. County 
attorneys in several counties state that the migratory workers are well behaved 
law-abiding workers. 

"In the past the 'cotton pick' has been looked forward to by the colored 
population as an economic and a social experience and an opportunity to leave 
their destitute surroundings while following the harvest. 

"One of the workers interviewed stated, 'I do not intend to follow the cotton 
crop this year.' He related that year he traveled in an old truck and 
secured a dilapidated house to live in while picking cotton. There were several 
families in this house. He had no one at the house to leave the 1-year-old baby 
with because the mother also found it necessary to pick cotton. The baby got 
sick. He stated that the doctor said 'the baby has fever.' The baby died on 
this trip. This year they have another baby. Under normal conditions he 
places his children in school in November. His plans are to secure employment 
in and near his residence. He stated that his family of six. which consisted of 
three large children, could earn approximately $20 a week in good cotton, but 
traveling from place to place and running the risk of having his family get sick 
and live under trees is an experience that he does not care to go through again. 

"The average cedar cutter usually lives in the edge of small towns in crude 
huts constructed from boxes, tin, and scrap lumber. The workers often have a 
small tent, which will not house the family. All of the cooking is done in the 
open. The prevailing wage for cedar cutting would average approximately 75 
cents a day for 5 months of the year. The majority of the cedar cutters are of 


the white race. On the average they remain longer in one place than the other 
types of migratory labor in this district." 

North Central Texas 

Observations of Agnes A. Wright, supervisor of intake and certitication for 
Work Projects Administration in the Waco area, are quoted as foUovrs : 

"The 22 counties comprising district 8 represent an agricultural rather than 
an industrial area. There are, however, a number of plants, such as cotton 
mills, twine factories, oil mills, gins, compresses, etc., that employ industrial 
workers. The scope of such employment is not such that unemployed industrial 
workers from other States or sections would ordinarily be drawn to this region 
in the hope of obtaining the type of work to which they had been accustomed. 

"With respect to unemployed industrial workers the district oflBce and the 
Texas State Employment -Service at Waco gives interesting figures. Since July 
1, 1940, there have been approximately 10 applications per day from what they 
term 'transient industrial workers.' Not since 1930 or 1934, it is stated, have 
applications approaching this number been received. Approximately oO percent 
of the applicants are highly skilled people — 30 percent are semiskilled and 20 
I)ercent are qualified for unskilled labor only. It is assumed that publicity 
regarding the defense program has led these people to a metropolitan center 
where they hope to find industrial activity. It was stated by the Texas State 
Employment Service representative that the skilled workers were for the most 
part men, who, having lost their place in the industrial world in 1930, or after, 
had maintained themselves since with employment of any type they could secure, 
but now hoped to reenter the specialized line in which they are skilled. 

"Although in certain of the counties comprising district 8 diversity of agri- 
culture is practiced and cattle raising is increasing in importance, this portion of 
Texas is still predominantly a cotton-producing area. Cotton remains the com- 
modity from which people hope to secure 'cash money,' and its harvesting is the 
event of the year that promises to the unemployed person an opportunity to earn. 

"For an interval — becoming yearly more brief — there is a demand for workers- 
men, women, and children — anyone who can pick cotton. It is known that there 
are not available in McLennan County enough local workers to harvest the cotton 
crop even in years of scant production. 

"The greater number, therefore, of the migratory workers of district 8 are the 
men and women who, with their families, follow the harvesting of cotton. Within 
recent years cotton harvesting that was formerly a lengthy and somewhat desul- 
tory undertaking has become a well-organized and businesslike activity. Under 
the management of the Texas State Employment Service, which agency serves as 
the liaison between the producer and means of harvesting, cotton is picked and 
taken to the ghi. The producer states to the Texas State Employment Service 
representative that he has so many acres to be ready for picking at a certain time. 
He may state his preference with respect to white, Mexican, or Negro pickers, and 
Texas State Employment Service does the rest. The producer has but to accept 
his gin receipts and pay the bill. 

"The harvesting of the McLennan County cotton crop is now accomplished in 
approximately 1 month. Migrant workers who began in the valley in May have 
gradually come north, reaching McLennan County the last of August and first 
part of September. By October 1 they will be moving north, their number aug- 
mented by local people. As the cotton opens they move across the plains and to 
the Panhandle. By Christmas they will have again come south — some to their 
homes in McLennan County and a hoped-for assignment to Work Projects Ad- 
ministration and others to the Rio Grande Valley, where they will work among 
the winter vegetables until time to begin again next year on opening cotton. 

"The Texas State Employment Service office states that in July the unemployed 
agricultural people of McLennan County began their migration in search of 
work. It is estimated that 400 individuals left the county that month. Many 
who went south at that time to pick cotton joined the northward-moving crews 
and are now picking in McLennan County. Tlie agency states that since the 
beginning of cotton harvest, approximately August 15 in this county, they 
have directed 2,750 individuals to producers in need of hands. Of this number, 
approximately 100 are transient people from other States. In the 14 counties 


comprising the Texas State Employment Service district 8,743 individuals have 
been directed to employers. 

"Not far from the suspension bridge on the east side of the Brazos River in a 
grove of pecan trees is the Texas State Employment Service camp for migratory 
vt^orkers. Toilet facilities and running water have been provided. Signs, 'Cotton 
pickers,' mark the road for those in search of work and those with cotton to 

"Two pleasant yoimg men, Texas State Employment Service representatives, 
have a temporary office under a roof of willow boughs supported by four posts. 
The office furnishings are a table and camp chairs ; the telephone is in a box on 
the trunk of a great elm tree, overhanging all. When I called no one was in the 
camp except the two young men, for so urgent is the demand for cotton pickers 
thai those wanting work do not need to wait. The Texas State Employment 
Service representatives stated that if 1,000 people came in they could be placed 
the next day. 

"These men drew a distinction between migratory workers and transients. 
To the latter they gave the rather general classification of Grapes of Wrath people. 
Most of them, they asserted, did not want to work. These Grapes of Wrath 
people, they maintained, 'mooched' for a living, and when offered cotton to pick 
refused on the grounds that they had not planted the cotton. Farther down the 
river some of these people are camped, with the making of willow furniture their 
visible means of support. 

"On the table under the elm tree lay the daily ledger of the Texas State Employ- 
ment Service interviewers. How neat and orderly the whole procedure with 
respect to migrant workers appeared on the white page * « * 

" 'September 2 : Crew leader, Jose Gonzales ; address, Alice ; number in crew, 
ai ; families, 4 ; adults, 12 ; juniors, 14 * * * Referred to E. R. Willis, Route 4, 
Mount Calm ; approximate days to pick, 3. Crew leader, Jim Turner ; address, 
Elmo, Mo.; number in crew, 23; families, 4; adults, 9; juniors, 12 * * * etc' 

"Juniors are children big enough to pick cotton. One wonders about school. 
They attend, we understand, between Christmas and time to start work again. 

"If there is illness when the workers are camped near Waco they may go to 
the city clinic. When on Route 4, Mount Calm, for example, the worker makes 
what arrangements he is able with the local physician. The Waco city clinic, we 
learn, is reluctant to receive any except emergency cases. Should treatment be 
given for other than extreme cases, migratory workers might be tempted to 
become residents of Waco. Recently a woman was admitted to the city hospital 
for the birth of her child. In certain instances where there is pi'otracted illness 
in the family of a migrant worker that forces him to leave the crew, the Salvation 
Army assists. 

"That agency stated that during the month of July they gave assistance to 
approximately 30 families on the road searching for work. These families were 
unattached to a Texas State Employment Service or other work unit and had no 
definite objective other than the hope of finding employment. Some stated they 
had heard that there was work at a certain place. The fact that during the 
month of August fewer transient families asked assistance of the Salvation Army 
was attributed by that agency to the fact that many had joined themselves to 
Texas State Employment Service units or others and were following the cotton 

"It was stated by the Texas State Employment Service representative that 
approximately 70 percent of the people whom they term 'migratory laborers' and 
whom they direct to work in various parts of the State are Mexican, 10 percent 
are Negroes, and 20 percent are white. There are independent units, it was 
stated, whose crew leaders do not register with Texas State Employment Service 
but make their own arrangement with the cotton producers. 

"Today I visited some of these people and I wish I were able to present them 
clearly. They are camjjed on the outskirts of Dawson, a town of 2,000 population 
in Navarro County near the Hill County line in the very best of the black land 
sector. The fact that these families are not under the aegis of Texas State 
Employment Service, but work with their own crew leaders could not, I believe, 
cause an appreciable difference in their mode of life and that of the people 
directed by Texas State Employment Service. 

"There are, I should say, between 25 and 30' families camped under the scattered 
irees on a small debris-littered tract adjoining the gin on the highway. In two 


crudely built trailer houses with unscreened doors live the crew leaders or bosses 
with their families in what is, by comparison, a condition approaching comfort. 

"Mrs. Tucker, a boss' wife, talked with me as she completed with an inadequate 
amount of water the washing of the utensils used for breakfast. She is a frail 
little woman, very tired and ill-appearing, with her face swollen from an 
abscessed tooth. It was caused, she said, from 'pyorrhea of the gums' and she 
treated the condition with kerosene. Her daughter, a girl of 18 perhaps, in 
soiled slacks, sat on the sheetless, unmade bunk and worked at a small piece of 
embroidery. The daughter's baby, crying, so the mother said, because of its 
'sore eyes' crawled on the floor. Flies were everywhere. 

"Mr. Tucker had brought the crew to Dawson in June to harvest the onion 
crop and they stayed on to pick cotton. The cotton crop, above average at Daw- 
son, is not good anywhere. The bolls are small and it is said to be hard to get 
200 pounds a day. The pay is .50 cents per hundred. Tlie bosses or crew leaders 
own the trucks that haul the cotton to the gin. 

"Across the small ravine and just beyond the railroad track is the camp of Mrs. 
Brewer. It has been set up on the concrete floor remaining from some former 
building and consists of two torn wagon sheets placed tentwise and covering 
inadequately two mattresses spread on the ground and several boxes fllled with 
clothing. A few feet away is another small improvised shelter of tarpaulin. 

"Mrs. Brewer gave to the visitor the only seat, the lard can, on which she her- 
self had been seated while she peeled potatoes. There are 13 in lier party^her 
own family of 7 and her sons with their wives, as well as her nephew. TwV) 
battered cars, a small makeshift trailer, the mattresses, cooking utensils, and the 
torn wagon sheets are all they own. 

"The family had started out from somewhere in Oklahoma when the twins, 
now 10, were lo days old, and have been on the road ever since. They were 
farmers but could never get a start again to farm, and so eacli year they follow 
what work they can find. Sometimes winter overtakes them in New Mexico, 
Arizona, or the valley. They 'try' to get into a house for the bad weather but 
sometimes can't find one. The twins, Virgil and Virgie, have never seen the 
inside of a school, but the next child, a boy of 14, almost finished the first reader. 
The older children can all read and write because they got some schooling before 
the family started out. 

"Virgil and Virgie, attractive children with bright, intelligent faces, were called 
In to see the visitor as they were not picking that morning. Their mother said 
they were puny. With their brother's wife, a girl of 15, they were playing a game 
with Betty Joe, 12, whose family had the next tent. 

"Betty Joe's family came from Missouri 3 years ago. Her father, mother, and 
four brothers picked while she remained to prepare dinner. She has finished Ihe 
third grade, for last year she went to school in Weslaco from Christmas 2 
weeks before .school was out, and she learned how to do long division. Betty is 
an attractive cliild, surprisingly clean in that home that is a piece of tarpaulin 
suspended over a mattress. The cooking is done on a camp fire and water is 
brought from a distance. 

'Of the four children, the 15-year-old sister-in-law — for I consider her a child, 
too — was the only one who appeared imhappy. She had reached the seventh 
grade in school, she said. She stated also that she would 'like to stay in one place.' 
I thought the faces of Virgil and Virgie clouded when Betty talked of school and 
long division. 

"Mrs. Brewer was glad they could attend church now. Right in the camp is a 
preacher. He talks to them about the Bible, she said. 

"Tlie Richards family are camped on the extreme corner near the highway. 
There are nine in the party, for Ethel, the oldest child, is married — she's nearly 
18 — and her husband is with them. The youngest child is 3V2- AH were picking 
cotton except Mr. and Mrs. Richards, Ethel, and the baby. Mrs. Richards waa 
cutting wood with which to cook the dinner on the improvised stove made from a 
bent piece of automobile fender. A wagon sheet made a scant shelter over a 
battered bedstead on which was a mattress and some soiled bed covers. 

"Ethel is expecting her baby by September 10. She is worried, although they 
have made arrangements to get a doctor. Her mother pointed out that even if 
it does rain they can keep the bed dry. Other members of the family sleep on the 
ground on quilts. 


"Last winter they were in McKinney, but the children couldn't get much school- 
ing because they didn't have clothes. They asked at the relief office but were 
turned down every time. There wasn't a chance, she said, to get any money ahead 
to buy clothes with cotton at 50 cents and what it took to get something to eat. 

"Mr. Richards, unshaven, unhappy, and unfriendly, appeared. He said that 
the people in the offices wouldn't do anything for anybody. He had never been 
on Work Projects Administration but worked for a short time during Civil 
Works Administration. Mrs. Richards expressed concern because it was so hot 
down in the bottom where the children were picking. She must once have been 
a very pretty woman for her eyes are beautiful. 

"With the exception of Mrs. Tucker, no woman I saw in the camp wore either 
shoes or stockings. A number of families had no shelter of any kind other than 
that afforded by their battered cars. 

"Before leaving Dawson I made yet another call at a comfortable looking 
house with a well-kept yard. I stopped to make an inquiry regarding an 
address. Across the road from the house is an enclosed grove with a con- 
spicuous sign 'No Camping.' The owner of the house, middle-aged, complacent, 
comfortable, and withal as prosperous in appearance as her home, came to the 
door. Because she had the glint of humor in her face I hardly expected the 
extent of feeling to which she gave expression when she spoke of the migratory 

"The outrage of all that 'trash' being still in Dawson was more than she 
could stand. 'And do you kno^v,' she said, 'they were camped right across the 
road there, 32 families of them, those nasty, thieving people, that I had to look 
at every time I came out my front door. Every morning they made their fires 
and the smoke came right over here. They even got typhoid fever ! Well, 
I did everything I could here and then I started phoning. I phoned to Corsicana, 
to Dallas, to Austin, and finally got some action. I got them cleared out and 
made the city put up that fence. And then, if they didn't go up the road a 
piece and squat right down again ! And they have babies ! You can drive 
along that highway anytime and see those women as big as barrels. The la^ 
ought to do something about it. They could at least be moved far enough oft 
in the country that they wouldn't be near any dwelling. It makes me sick to 
think about them.' " 

Northicest Texas 

Findings of social workers employed in the 21 northwest Texas counties com- 
prising the Work Projects Administration district headquartered at Fort Worth 
were reported by Anne Houle, district supervisor of intake and certification, as 
follows : 

"The communities at large feel little or no responsibility for aiding the migrant 
as they have sufficient problems on hand in trying to meet the needs of resi- 
dents. They are fearful that if help is extended, other migrants will be attracted 
and the burden will become excessive. 

"Those who follow seasonal labor undergo a great amount of hardship, poverty, 
and ill health. Employers feel little or no responsibility for helping them find 
decent housing or providing them with places to stay. Some move in with 
friends or relatives. Some live in jungles, under the bridges, sleep by roadsides, 
or in low-priced tourist camps. 

"The greatest amount of assistance given the person who comes to the atten- 
tion of the community is in the majority of cases only overnight shelter, one or 
two meals, and sufficient gasoline to get to the next community. Those in need 
of medical attention are given emergency assistance or temporary medical care 
in a few communities. 

"Migrant children have little or no opportunity for education, and lack clothing 
to attend school even if facilities are available. 

"The following information was received from county workers of the local 
relief offices and city and county officials in Clay and Montague Counties : 

" 'These rountier; do rot attract migrants l.ecau'-e there is no demard for extra 
farm labor. There are 2 through highways and the 250 families and units receiv- 
ing assistance each year are usually stranded for short periods because of 
economic and health reasons. A few stop with relatives and stay a longer 
period. They travel by automobiles, wagons, and on foot. There has been an 


increase in tlie number for the past few years because of the lack of employment 

" 'In Clay Comity emergency food orders are issued and limited amounts of 
gasoline furnished. No provisions are made for shelter. Medical attention is 
not available. In cases of childbirth the county doctor delivers the patient, but 
it is usually on the side of the road or in a car. Tuberculosis, pellagra, and 
malnutrition are some of the dietary diseases which present health problems. 

" 'There are about 20 profe.ssional beggars among the number annually coming 
to the attention of county workers of the local relief office and other officials in 
Clay County. These travel in car trailers and automobiles ; a few walk. They 
send their children from house to house begging. Some of them feign blindness 
and lameness. Petty thieving is frequent and the offenders are apprehended. 
County workers state that the children of migrant families never attend school 
and church. These families were not beggars until the economic situation became 
so bad, according to our informants. 

" 'Montague County furnishes food and shelter when it is necessary for short 
periods of time. Hospitalization is paid for by county funds in dire emergencies. 
Appendicitis, pneumonia, and maternity cases are the more frequent emergencies. 
A number of the families have established their residences in the county and are 
good citizens. There are few thefts among the migrants and no crime on record. 
The children do not have school and church advantages.' 

"The following reports are from Haskell, Knox, Young, Wise, Archer, "Wichita, 
Parker, Palo Pinto, Jack, Baylor, Eastland, Callahan, Stephens, Shackelford, 
Throckmorton, Wilbarger, Foard, Hardeman, and Tarrant Counties: 

" 'A few Mexicans migrate to Haskell and Knox Counties, however, they are 
transported by the employer ; the cost of transportation being deducted from 
their salary which is $1.25 a day. 

" 'In Young County oil field workers who came to town during the oil boom 5 
years ago remained, supporting themselves with irregular work in the oil fields. 
Now, due to the shut-down in this work, they are making application to Work 
Projects Administration. 

" 'In Wise County very few transients apply for public aid. The county judge 
said that the few who do are professional beggars. No help is given them. They 
are never given meals or gasoline. When someone becomes ill, the judge sends 
that person to the county farm where he can be cared for by the county doctor. 
The judge thinks that to help such i>eople encourages other transients. " 

" 'According to the superintendent of Wise County schools the school census 
showed an occasional farm family moving into the county and then out before 
the next census. The secretary of the chamber of commerce and the county 
worker of the local relief office also reported that a few farm families moved 
into the county, and then became dependent on the county for aid. Most of 
these people make application for Work Projects Administration, according to the 
county worker. 

"'The Mexican families who work in the Bridgeport mines are self -supporting 
and never ask for public aid. They have legal residence in Bridgeport, but go 
to Wisconsin during the season to work in the beet fields. 

" 'In Wichita County the one agency that assists transients is the Salvation 
Army. All other agencies refer transients asking assistance to this source. 
Only in emergency cases does the county welfare office give any help, even in 
emergencies the only assistance given is grocery stamps. 

" 'The Salvation Army provides maintenance for 24 hours, longer in some 
cases. There a bed and two meals are given to the transient. They have a cot 
house for the men located near the Salvation Army headquarterf^i. The women's 
quarters are in the same building with the kitchen and other offices. When neces- 
sary the army arranges for medical care through the city health department. 
When a transient family with a car is stranded, gas and groceries are given to 
the family. The largest number of people are serviced during the fall and 
winter months. Many of these are "bums constantly on the go." However, there 
are some earnestly seeking employment, having become jobless in their native 
locale. The Salvation Army worker who has charge of the women's quarters and 
the kitchen stated that in all her contact with these migrating families, she has 
never heard them mention schooling for their children. They usually attend 
religious services provided by the Salvation Army while they are being given 


assistance. The Salvation Army is financially assisted in this work by the local 
community chest. 

" 'The county case worker in charge at the local relief office stated that few 
referrals for AVork Projects Administration are taken on these families. Everj 
effort is made to return the families to their legal residences. '"They must have 
a good reason for being here" to be referred for Work Projects Administration or 
given any kind of county assistance. This is done in accordance with instruc- 
tions from the commissioners court. 

" 'According to the city-county health office, transients presenting health prob- 
lems in Wichita Falls are usually referred to health officials by the Salvation 
Army, and are given necessary emergency or medical treatments at the office or 
at the general hospital. The most common ailments for which they I'equest med- 
ical treatment are cuts, bruises, blistered heels, and overexposure. The health 
department states that most transients treated there are suffering from malnu- 
trition. The venereal clinic treats all transients who are in need of and who 
request treatments. 

" 'According o the local Texas State Employment Office, there were 2,161 initial 
and continuing out-of-State claims filed for unemployment compensation from 
January until August 1939. Duriug the same period in 1940 there were 3,280 
claims filed, showing that there have been more unemployed out-of-State workers 
in this area in 1940 than in 1939. The Texas State Employment Service repre- 
sentative states that most of the claimants are unemployed oil-field workers. 

" 'Although this is not an outstanding cotton area, the Texas State Employment 
Service estimates that 4,000 to 5,000 cotton pickers pass through each fall en route 
to fields in the Panhandle or in south Texas. Only 400 to 500 remain long enough 
to do any work here. The wiige scale last fall was 50 cents per 100 pounds; 
most of the families "camped out" in their cars and tents. The cotton-picking 
season in this county usually lasts from the first part of September until the latter 
part of October. At that time the pickers usually migrate to the Panhandle 

" 'The city police department reports that thefts are much more severe in the 
fall and winter than in the other seasons. This is attributed to the increased 
need of local low-income families during cold weather and to the increased num- 
ber of transients during those seasons. The officials state that most thefts among 
transients consist of pilfering, stealing articles from unlocked cars, and occa- 
sional housebreakings. 

" 'During the fall in Wilbarger County there is always more migration among 
agricultural workers than at any other time of the year. In this vicinity there 
is a great amount of cotton grown yearly and seasonal farm laborers begin to 
migrate here in order to secure this employment, which lasts, as a rule, until the 
end of December. While this employment is available the individual families are 
able to sustain themselves adequately ; each member picking cotton averages $1.25 
per day, and there are always four or five persons in every family capable of 
doing this type of work. 

" 'After this work is over, there is no other employment available. It is at this 
time of the year that these migrating families are compelled to seek public aid. 
They can secure only one grocery order in Wilbarger County, and the county will 
furnish them with sufficient gasoline to return to their legal residence. If these 
persons refuse to return to their locales, there is the county welfare farm in this 
county, which provides one-room houses for families unable to pay rent. Accord- 
ing to the county worker of the county welfare office, persons do not remain on this 
farm long, as the living conditions are extremely crowded. 

" 'This locality also has a community welfare association, which is sponsored 
by the citizens and merchants. These persons contribute to this organization and 
the funds are used to assist migrating and destitute families by furnishing gro- 
ceries temporarily during the time they are stranded here. 

" 'During cotton picking the living conditions are usually crowded. Some land- 
owners have tenant houses in which employees may live. Others have no facili- 
ties whatsoever ; thus the workers and their families are forced to live in tents 
or out in the open with no shelter at all. It is when this type of living conditions 
prevail that there is always poor sanitation and i^ossibility of diseases spreading 
rapidly. The county physician and nurse's services are available to transients 
when medical attention is needed. 


" 'There is not a Travelers' Aid nor Salvation Army in Wilbarger County. The 
county welfare worker and county judge issue all assistance of this type. Accord- 
ing to the county welfare worker, the problem of migration is not a great one in 
this section of the State. According to the statistics the county welfare worker 
has on record, an average of about six transient families a month seek assistance. 
There is such a large percent of persons living in this immediate section who 
depend on seasonal farm woi'k, and do obtain it yearly, that there is generally a 
comparatively small number of migrating families who come to this locality. 

" 'According to a representative of the Texas State Employment Service in Tar- 
rant County, this agency does not register migrants ; therefore, they have no 
record of the number that ask them for information and service each month. 
However, migrant farm laborers, especially cotton pickers, often come to the office 
and ask about the best place in Texas to go to pick cotton. 

•' 'According to a representative of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce there 
are approximately 200 families living in tents, tin shacks, and trailers. Most 
of these people are dispossessed tenant farmers who have quit the road. They 
live in squalor. If their medical and food needs become acute, they apply for 
help at city welfare or the Salvation Army. However, at times they seem to 
lack the energy to ask for help. Petty thieving exists only to a small degree. 
The children usually do not attend school nor does the family go to church. 

" 'The city welfare department in Fort Worth does not give direct assistance 
to migrant workers and very little emergency aid in issuing grocery orders. The 
city welfare helps with Government commodities and works out plans with the 
Salvation Army for their care until their legal residence is established and veri- 
fied. City welfare attempts to verify their legal residence and makes plans for 
their return. City welfare may return them by bus or train, with charity rates. 
If they have a car, city welfare will buy oil and gasoline. If they have household 
furnishings, they are sent by truck. 

" 'According to the social worker of the Salvation Army in Tarrant County, 10 
percent of the people who come to her attention are migrating farmers who usually 
originate from Louisiana, Mississippi, and some from Arkansas. Very few find 
employment, as Mexicans and Negroes are used almost exclusively in this section. 
The majority of the people are single men, or, if married, have left their families 
at home while they look for work. Some have heard that Texas is rich in oil and 
come hoping to get rich in the oil fields. 

" 'About 40 percent suffer from malnutrition. They have had to beg for food ; 
have liA'ed in "jungles" and eaten "pot luck." Many are tubercular, coming here 
in search of better climatic conditions. They are health hazards as they usually 
crowd in with relatives, if they have any here, or friends made on the road. 
Many have impetigo and social diseases and cause these diseases to spread because 
of their manner of living. When those suffering with social diseases come to the 
attention of the Salvation Anuy. they are given room and board so that they can 
take treatment until they are past the infectious stage. Tlie Salvation Army also 
arranges for medical attention in emergency at the City-County Hospital. 

" 'The majority of transients who linger in Fort Worth live in the "jungle" 
or under the two large bridges in the city. Under the bridge the flat concrete 
serves as the floor and the concrete supports of the bridge make the walls. Tin 
and wood from old boxes serve to fill in the remaining spaces. Usually bedding 
and an old stove are the only furnishings, the bedding consisting of old rags. 
There are no sanitary facilities. Old and young sleep on the same pallets. 

" 'Recently a family of nine came to the attention of the Salvation Army. The 
father came to ask for help. Since the Salvation Army has a regulation that the 
entire family must be present when help is requested, the father apologized for 
having to ask the social worker to walk with him to his old, battered car to inter- 
view the other members of the family. She did so and found the reason they 
were unable to come in person was that they did not have sufiicient clothing to 
cover them. 

" 'The majority of those coming to the attention of the social worker of the 
Salvation Army are illiterate. Some have third- and fourth-grade educations. 

" 'It is the opinion of the Fort Worth Chief of Police that crime increases where 
transients are concentrated. He stated there were 57 convicted transients during 
the year of 1935 (when transient bureaus were in existence) with charges varying 
from robbery to murder. They had more petty thefts and general crime during 
that time than at any previous or present period. There has been a steady de- 


crease in the number of migrants brought to the attention of the police depart- 
ment since the transient bureaus were abandoned. 

" 'His experience during the last 3 or 4 years has indicated that those transients 
above 17 years of age who have come to the attention of the police department 
are definitely "bums." The majority have criminal records behind them and have 
no plan except to wander and "avoid the law." The majority are arrested on 
petty theft charges and are held only temporarily in jail. They do not desire work 
and refuse a job if one is offered them. The general direction of transients in 
Fort Worth is from east to west and west to east since it is a gateway city on 
the principal highways. There are very few family transients at the present 

" 'It was estimated that the individuals in the police department contribute 
about $15 per month for meals and gasoline for transients. 

" 'Those under 17 years of age are cared for by the juvenile department. 
This department handled 128 run-away boys and 40 run-away girls during the 
year of 1939, 20 percent of whom were Negroes and 5 i^ercent Mexicans. These 
boys and girls are picked up by the police department, usually at night while 
loitering on the streets, and are confined in the juvenile ward. Attempts are 
made to contact parents through the juvenile offlcers in the city from which the 
children have migrated. There are no transportation funds available locally 
except in an emergency where the child is small and the parents cannot come 
for him. Occasionally the commissioners' court will appropriate transportation 
and occasionally the city welfare will assist. The older boys are merely taken 
to the edge of town and told to leave. The Travelers' Aid assists with the 
solution of problems occurring in connection with girls. In the majority of 
cases, however, the parents or the juvenile authorities in the city from which 
the children migrated provide transportation home. In very few instances do 
the juvenile boys wish to continue transiency. They are usually anxious to 
return home after a few days on the road. There was no estimate available 
on the number of juveniles who leave home two or three times. They believe 
the second and third offenders to be a small proportion of the load, however. The 
majority of the boys are of the poor class and leave because of financial difBculty 
at home, lack of congeniality, and lack of parental supervision. They come from 
nearby States in search of jobs. Very few have high-school education, and the 
majority have completed about the fifth or sixth grade. No provision is made 
for school attendance while in Fort Worth. Only occasionally does the juvenile 
officer have contact with a child in poor health. The only problem related to 
health seems to be a question of cleanliness. Some leave home to keep from 
attending school but this is not a major problem. As a general rule there are 
more transient juveniles in the spring and fall. The oflBcer had no explanation 
of this increase except that weather conditions are better at those times. If no 
provision can be made for transportation of run-aways to their homes they are 
"turned loose" to provide for themselves the best way possible. None of these 
boys have had work experiences. They usually are traveling in groups of two 
or three. They have no definite plans as to their future and are usually glad to 
return home. A very few have been sent to the training school for boys due to a 
lack of better facilities for their care. The only crime prevalent among this 
group is petty theft for food. The majority have been without food for a day 
or two when taken into custody. Negro boys are referred to the Negro Young 
Men's Christian Association. There are very few foreigners among this group. 
The majority are from urban centers where boys from poor homes take this 
alternative to remedy their living conditions. The boys who migrate from Fort 
Worth usually return in a few days. 

" 'Most of the transient girls who come to the attention of the juvenile 
officer are girls who have quit school in the fifth or sixth grades due to heavy 
school fees in the higher grades and a lack of proper clothing. No training school 
or detention home is available for Negro girls under 18 in the State of Texas. 
A bill has been passed but no appropriation has been made to provide these 
facilities. In an emergency the Negro Young Men's Christian Association will 
secure temporary private care for a Negro girl. Pregnant girls are referred to 
the Volunteers of America for service. Girls who have a venereal disease are not 
accepted in any local public agency. They have to provide their own room and 
board and are referred to the United States Public Health Service Clinic for 
treatment. If they become noninfectious the Volunteers of America or the Girls 


Service League will accept destitute girls for temporary care. A large number 
of girls migrate to Fort Worth purposely to secure treatment at the United States 
Public Health Service Clinic. They are usually returned to their homes and 
arrangements are made with the clinic to send by mail the necessary supplies 
for treatment. The average age of girls brought to the attention of the juvenile 
department is 13 to 16. 

" 'The transients cared for by the Girls Service League are given overnight 
care and are encouraged to stabilize themselves. This agency attempts to limit 
their applicants to destitute girls about 30 years of age, referring the older 
women and families to the Salvation Army and the pregnant girls to the Volun- 
teers of America. The older women, if employable, are accepted on a temporary 
basis. Many of the nonresident girls have paid bus fares or railway fares in 
order to come to Fort Worth in search of work and only need help until they 
can find a job. They usually find employment within a short time. There are 
no provisions for Negro girls. The Girls Service League also maintains a 
permanent residence for girls of the low-income group, after a transient girl has 
become stable but is not entirely self supporting. The Girls Service League co- 
operates with the Travelers Aid Society and the City Welfare in making plans 
to return the girls to their homes. All public agencies refer girls to this organi- 
zation. Some are bordering on delinquency and a few have been convicted on 
petty theft charges, but it appears that this organization comes in contact with a 
much higher type of migrant than most agencies. Most of the girls have had 
work experience in cafes or housework, and they have had numerous persons 
with college education, a few undergraduate nurses, a few school teachers, 
and a few stenographers. While some consider their transiency an adventure 
there are just as many who have a horror of being stranded away from home. 
This organization does not accept a gixl who is known to have a venereal disease. 
She is required to take enough treatments to become noninfectious before 
they will accept her. This organization considers their best work is done when 
they are able to help a girl reenter school. Any plan that is made with a girl 
under 18 is made through cooperation with the parents of the girl in another 
city. Many of the girls accepted for help are nearly prostrated from hunger and 
many are suffering from bad colds. Medical aid is available in an emergency 
through the City-County Hospital and a private clinic. This organization main- 
tains its own placement agency. The majority of the girls who have family ties 
are glad to return home. Those who have no human ties are encouraged to 
consider this as their home. 

" 'The head of the Mexican Presbyterian Mission reports that some Mexican 
families in Tarrant County leave this locality to go to the beet fields and the 
onion fields. Fifteen years ago Fort Worth was considered the employn.ent 
center for such workers. Trucks from many States came hei'e to pick up scores 
of workers who were transported to such States as Indiana, Iowa, and Michigan, 
When these families arrived at their destination about the beginning of May 
they found a house with some furniture and a stove provided by their employer. 
Work was assigned to families by the acre, and they received pay by the acre 
for clearing the field and harvesting the crop. In between planting and harvest- 
ing workers could seek other employment, and each member earned from $25 
to $30 per season. At that time medical care was frequently provided by the 
■employer. The children of such workers practically never attended school. 
Gradually, however, the wage scale has been depressed until an entire family 
may spend from May imtil December working the fields and average only $175 
per season. No longer do they receive medical treatment or have stoves fur- 
nished. Employers discourage sick or injured employees from remaining on the 
place since only able-bodied workers are wanted. Instances of injustice have 
been reported, such as the appropriation of the cars of migrant workers who were 
unable to pay a reputed tax or license fee of $30 to $!iO for using the roads of 
one Oklahoma county. The technical grounds claimed in this case were that 
private cars were being used as public carriers, whereas in every instance the 
group in the car consisted of relatives. Employers have also instituted the prac- 
tice of paying lower wages with the promise of a bonus if the yield justifies one. 
In nearly every case the bonus was never paid. 

" 'A study made of the workers who habitually migrate to the beet and onion 
fields revealed that not a single child of the entire group had graduated from 
high school. Since this is the situation and in view of the increasingly less fa- 


vorable working conditions, leaders of the Anglo-American group have greatly 
discouraged the practice of migrant agricultural labor. At the present time it is 
estimated that not over 30 families in Tarrant County continue to migrate each 

" 'Eastland and Callahan Counties have no industries which boast of large 
pay rolls, and the farm labor is so limited that there is no incentive for migra- 
tory families to settle or even stop here. Transient families who are on the 
road looking for work usually pass through without stopping unless they are in 
need of food or gasoline. 

" 'In Eastland County the city manager or the chamber of commierce usually 
gives enougli gasoline to stranded families to get them out of the county. This 
is done in only the most needy cases, and the orders are reconunended by the 
county worker. 

" 'In Callahan County this same practice is followed except that the county 
worker has the full responsibility of issuing. 

" 'In Eastland County the average number a month assisted is 3, and in Calla- 
han County the average is 12. 

" 'Migration is not a great problem in either Palo Alto or Jack County. Ac 
cording to the county workers there are never more than 12 or 15 transients each 
year who find their way into the relief office in either county. The county offers 
no assistance to these people other than occasionally furnishing them transpor- 
tation home. 

" 'In Parker County the problem of handling transients and migrant workers is 
principally in the hands of the chief of police of Weatherford. City officers 
arrest a number of them for vagrancy. According to the chief of police, the rea- 
son for the presence of the migrants is that Weatherford is on the direct 
highway and railroad to California. 

" 'When questioned regarding the type of people he contacted, he said that 
they were mostly a very low type of white families. He has seen few Mexicans 
and very few Negroes. Most of these families pass through during the fall and 
winter. They work in the groves of California, or are following the cotton harvest 
westward. The few people who remain in Weatherford do so only during the 
time when produce is abundant. Some steal or beg vegetables from the farmers 
and merchants. Most transients do not remain in Parker County to look for 
work. They stop for food and temporary shelter, and the main object of the 
city officials is to get themi out as soon as possible. The chief of police gives 
them 3 gallons of gasoline, a few groceries, which consist of lunch meat and 
broad, and when there are children, milk and cake. Three gallons of gas, they 
figure, will carry these people well out of the county. The city does not finance 
this aid. It is furnished by an organization called the United Charities. Contri- 
butions to this organization come from the principal business people and mer- 
chants of the town. Dispensation of the organization funds is left entirely to the 
discretion of the city chief of police. 

" 'There is not a great deal of vagrancy, but the few people who get into trouble 
are put in jail if they are unable to pay the fine required for their offense. However, 
if a single person refuses to leave the town when he is requested to do so, he also is 
put in jail. 

" 'When a person comes through town who is very much diseased, the city does 
not attempt to give such a person medical aid. Instead, he is driven 6 or S miles 
out of town and left on the highway. 

" 'AH transients who give trouble are registered, searched, and sent to the county 
jail to be fingerprinted. One evening 600 transients were searched and in all 
only $6 was found. Several years ago they cared for 52 men in 1 night but now, 
the chief of police states, conditions are much better since by providing work 
the Work Projects Administration has helped to keep people in their own com- 
munities. No medical aid is given transients, except in emergency. No pro- 
vision is made for hospitalization or care in case of illness or childbirth. Relief 
is given only where it is absolutely necessary. 

" 'On the first Monday in every month tliey have tiT:de day in Parker County. 
People come from all over the county and from outside the county. They start 
gathering on Saturday before this first Monday and at that time the county has 
its worst trouble with transients and vagrants. A certain class of transients 
comes into town Saturday before the trade day and beg and sell pencils on the 
streets. They are the only transients that the chief of police knows who attend 


church. They usually attend a Methodist or Baptist service and then do a very 
lirofitable business of begging after church is over. 

" 'The county superintendent of schools reported that some provision is made 
in the rural schools for the children who have to miss scliool because their parents 
take them to the cotton patch. When Parker County children return from the 
cotton patch they are given every consideration. They are put in the grade in 
which they belong, and they are given extra help if they are unable to keep up 
with their class. They can either make this work up in school or at home. The 
teachers use their own discretion in cases of this sort and such consideration is 
generally given only to children of "responsible" people. Tliese children, they 
feel, miss school because of necessity and the manner In which their families make 
a living. The child who misses 3 or 4 months of schooling because his family moves 
about indiscriminately is not given this consideration and must take his" chance 
of passing. The superintendent said tliat families who are "responsible" are 
allowed to check books out for their children while they are in the cotton patch 
and in the last week many books had been checked out'for this reason. 

" 'The county sheriff said that the county had no funds for transients or 
migrant workers. The funds available in the county are used for indigents within 
the limits of the county. Crimes of theft, petty larceny, and l)urglary go through 
the county court. Offenders are warranted a line or jail sentence.' If given a 
jail sentence, they are placed in the county jail, but are not given labor to do. 
Each transient is fingerprinted and prints are sent both to the State office in 
Austin and Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington. The few migrants 
who have courage enough to remain in town stay in a camp under a viaduct 
which is located on the east side of tf»wn. This camp is known as the "Juno-le" 
there. As long as visitors don't disturb the peace, they are a law unto themselves 
It is said that many of these people eat discarded produce and garbage from the 
nearby public market. 

" 'The secretary of the chamber of commerce said that migrant labor does not 
represent a problem in Parker County. Local labor is sufficient to plant and 
harvest crops. The only people who come in to help with the harvest are young 
students who help during vacation with the peach harvest. They are financially 
able to look after themselves. The county agent gives very much the same 
report as the secretary of the chamber of commerce; however, he said that in 
the near future it might represent a labor problem since the peach harvest was 
growing so much. Most farmers, he said, made their harvest by hiring local 
people, or "swap" labor. There had been instances of truckers- coming into 
the community and helping with a fruit harvest. They carry their families on 
the truck with them. They are, however, financially able to care for themselves 
while they stay inthe community and do not ask for public aid. 

" 'The county case worker reports that the county has no funds for transients 
On the few occasions that transients have applied at the local relief office for 
assistance, they have been referred to the sheriff's office. It would not be 
practical for them to administer relief since all cases requesting food or com- 
modities must be endorsed by the department of public- welfare supervisor who 
contacts the local office only periodically. In the fall quite a few Parker County 
people leave the county to pick cotton in west Texas. The county workers 
say that very few of these people have to be returned at the expense of the 
county where they are stranded. In the last 4 or 5 months Parker County has 
sent for only three families, all stranded in California. 

" 'The Red Cross is the only agency or organization responding to requests for 
assistance of migrants in Stephens County. However, the chamber of commerce 
and county cooperate when the need of a migrant family is in excess of the 
amount that can he granted by that agency. An average of eight applications 
come to the attention of the Red Cross worker each month with an average 
monthly expenditure of $16. Food and lodging are provided for 1 night, and 
travelers must pass on the' following day. Four doctors cooperate by giving 
medical attention. Medicine is purchased with Red Cross funds. No plan is 
made for hospitalization. 

" 'Most of the migrant workers are traveling to Arizona or California. When 
they pass through on their return trip they tell of their delusion concerning 
employment. Others are on their way to El Paso with the expectation the 
climate will be beneficial to their tubercular condition. Persons who leave this 
locale usually gd to west or south Texas to obtain seasonal employment. On 



their return they tell of "roughing it" while away and by this mode of living 
were able to save enough money to buy a supply of groceries and shoes for the 
children of school age. They have no plans other than to apply for Work 
Projects Administration reassignment upon their return. 

" 'We have information that the extent of migration in Shackelford County is 
small. An average of three migratory workers apply for assistance each month. 
All applications are referred to the county social worker, and with the approval 
of the county judge or commissioners, food and gasoline are provided in order 
to "get them out of the county as quickly as possible." Medical aid and medicine 
are provided for those who are ill. No hospitalization is available. 

'"Throckmorton County has an average of five migratory applications for 
assistance each month with an average monthly expenditure of $10 for this 
nurnose Food, gasoline, medical care, and repairs on cars are included m 
requests and grants. It is reported that the children of these families are 
undernourished, as they do not have milk or an adequate diet. The county judge 
Interviews those in need and makes necessary investigations m practically all 
cases. The county worker cooperates if her services are requested, ihe 
expense of the grants are paid by the county.' " 

South Plains 

Mary M Bowers, district supervisor of intake and certification for Work 
Projects Administration in the Lubbock area, reports on migrant workers as 

^ "The cotton center in the South Plains area is Lubbock. Consequently during 
the cotton season large numbers of migratory agricultural workers come to this 
section No data are available on the number of workers who come here. How- 
ever there is little variation in the influx from year to year. The majority of 
these workers come from south Texas where they have been following this type of 
seasonal work in the various localities as it is available; others come from 

Oklahoma. ^ , • i. 4.1, 

"In the fall of 1939 there was a period of 10 days to 2 weeks between the 
closing of the cotton season around Waco, Dallas, and Fort Worth, and the 
opening of the season in and around Lubbock. However, an unprecedented gram 
crop of 'row feed' provided employment for many of these migratory workers 
until the cotton season opened. ^^ ■■ ^ 

"Cotton-picking season begins about October 10 and the last scattered part 
of the crop is pulled by the end of December. This season, of course, is dependent 
on the extent of tlie crop. ^ ^ ^ v, t. *-i -. 

"Migrant workers begin their influx around the middle of September. By the 
middle of October on the roads are all makes of rickety cars filled with famdies 
and workers on their way to pull cotton. Those workers who travel in family 
groups usually provide themselves with supplies and equipment. Some live in 
cotton pickers' shacks on the land of the farmer in whose field they obtain work ; 
some camp on the free lots provided by the various towns ; some camp beside the 
highway ; some live with friends. ^ ,. 

"The conditions under which these workers live vary. Those who live m 
cotton pickers' shacks have only bare shelter. Frequently, the house itself is in 
a state of dilapidation. Few sanitation facilities are present. Free lots are 
provided by the different cities throughout this area. In Lubbock the parking 
space at the fair grounds is available to these migrant workers. Water is 
accessible There are two pit-type toilets available for the entire group; no 
bathing facilities are provided. The Texas State Employment Service stations a 
routing office at this lot and the workers are sent to farmers who have fields of 
cotton to pull. 

"It has been apparent in the last few years that there are fewer migrant 
wliite families than previously. Approximately 60 percent of the migrant workers 
who come to this area are Mexican laborers who travel with labor contractors. 
El Capitan, the labor contractor, brings a large number of workers here by 
truck. He is the contact man who handles all the business arrangements for the 
group. He provides the farmer with labor, weighs the cotton, keeps a record of 
the amount of each worker's picking, and hauls the cotton to the gin. The laborer 
receives from 40 to 50 cents per 100 pounds ; El Capitan receives 10 cents per 
100 pounds for his work. 


"The food eaten by these workers depends largely on weather conditions. If 
the weather is good and a day's work available, the workers eat well. However, 
if the weather is bad, many times they apply to city and county oflBcials for food 
and surplus commodities. 

"Health, particularly among the Mexican group, is bad. A great percentage 
of the Mexican cotton pickers have tuberculosis or venereal disease. There are 
two Mexican families in Lubbock now who came here in the fall of 1939 to pull 
cotton. In both families active tuberculosis prevented the families from moving 
on. Now the county is providing food. 

"Most of the children in these families do not attend school during this season 
because they are needed in the field to work. They do not attend church 
because of inadequate clothing. 

"The .sheritf's office reports that during cotton season petty thieving increases 
100 percent and is particularly prevalent on Saturday night. 

"Although the primary agricultural work available in this area is cotton 
pulling, there is also grain harvesting in September, October, and November. 
From June 10 to July 10 the wheat harvest is in full swing on the north plains. 
Many farm laborers from this section go to the north plains for the duration of 
the harvest. The men go singly, leaving their families in residence. 

"When cotton season is over, the workers, presumably, return to their homes. 
However, there are some who remain stranded in the various counties. The 
county tlien must assist these families with food. Some remain and apply for 
certification to Work Projects Administration; others are given transportation 
to get out of the county." 

Nwtheast Texas (A) 

Work Projects Administration's Marshall District includes 24 Texas counties 
in the northeastern section of the State. Reporting on conditions in the southern 
portion of this block of counties, social worker Louis A. Townsend writes : 

"During the last 3 years the problem of the migrant worker has become of less 
and less importance in the part of deep east Texas that makes up the southern 
half of Work Projects Administration, District No. 1. 

"The county case worker of Shelby County reports that her agency, this 
year, authorized return of 25 families from other States, chiefly California.* ' Most 
of these families have been away from Shelby County for some 4 or 5 years, 
but have been unable to meet residence requirements inother States when forced 
to request relief. The number of returns authorized in all counties of the area 
IS materially smaller this year than it has been in the last 3 years. 

"Not only is the number of persons leaving east Texas to find seasonal work 
smaller than it has been since the depression period began, but the number 
of itinerant workers coming into or passing through the section has dropped 
to almost nothing. 

"Almost all of the counties in the section from Panola County on the north 
and from the Louisiana line on the east to Jasper and Newton Counties on the 
south and Nacogdoches and Cherokee Counties on the west, have largely the 
same type of soil and the same basic economic and agricultural problems* Chief 
among the characteristics of the farms in these counties is their never varying 
smallness. The country is peopled with stranded sawmill workers turned 
farmer on a small scale. There is a great number of these small units and each 
unit can be worked with only a part of each man's time. For this reason there 
is a surplus of labor that causes the migrant farm laborer to avoid the section 

"Another reason there is almost no migration among the population of east 
Texas is the changing aspects of the lumber industrv. As previously «tated 
the entire section was originally populated by sawmiil workers. Now almost 
every farm can furnish an experienced sawmill worker should the demand for 
such workers increase. Occasionally, as happened this year in Tyler County a 
mill will cut out a section of timber and move, often to another county When 
that happens, many of the workers will move with the mill, but they will move 
to a full time job and a home in a company house. 

"Road builders often move all or part of their workers into the section when 
working on east Texas contracts. These workers, as with the sawmill workers 
can hardly be called migratory laborers as thev have a degree of securitv and 
may be expected to move on to another job with the same contractor 


"The section under discussion sent large numbers of workers into tlie oil 
fields of east Texas not many years ago. Many have returned; others have 
made their homes there. There is now almost no traffic between the oil fields 
of Texas and the farms of east Texas. The few people still going to the oil 
fields are young persons strong enough to take the hard work required, and they 
usually have no family. 

"Although there is almost no problem in this part of east Texas as regards 
migrant labor, the fact that the problem is so unimportant, generally, does not 
affect the suffering of the few families from each county who do join the annual 
pilgrimage to the cotton fields of soutli and west Texas and of Mississippi. 

"The average family which goes to the cotton fields is over large. The trans- 
portation is always uncertain, dangerous, and expensive. A large part of all 
earnings must go into oil, gasoline, tires, and repairs as the family must move 
with the crop. One family which went west to pick cotton told of hardships 
connnon to most such groups. Almost all of the family bedding went along; 
very little else of the household furniture could be carried. Everything was 
loaded into or on an old Chevrolet touring car, and on top of that went the 
family of eight. The children were from 3 to 15 years of age. Four of them 
should have been in school. 

"The trip was one of a long series of car troubles and ended some 75 miles 
short of their original destination when the tires refused to go farther. For 
six weeks the family found work on the farm in front of which their car had 
died and in the neighboring fields. The cotton in that central Texas section 
was not good and though it reduced the family earnings, it kept other migrant 
families out of the section. 

"When the family first pulled in to the farm that was to be their home for 
6 weeks, there was"^ no food for another meal and no money to buy any with. 
The farmer took a chance and advanced a few days' pay in the form of flour, 
lard, and bacon. 

"The family was allowed to sleep in a smokehouse, but lived and cooked 
around a fire by their car in a small grove of woods. The menu was simple. 
Mostly it consisted of dried beans, flour gravy, hoe-cake bread, and occasional 
bits of salt bacon. 

"All members went to the field. The two younger children played near the 
wagon but the others worked. 

"At the end of G weeks this family had made enough to put tires on the car, 
buy food and gas to return home. The fall rains set in the last week of work 
and the family started east. 

"They did get home but three of *^he children were ill ; most of their bedding 
was riiined by hard wear and rain. None of the children went to school the 
first half of the year. Neither the youngest nor the oldest child returned at 
all that year. The youngest was ill, the oldest found a small job. 

"This family will not go again to the uncertainties of life on the road. The 
man prefers the prospects of Work Projects Administration work, odd days of 
farm labor, and perhaps direct relief to the sorrows, the exposure, and the 
suffering he saw his wife and children undergo." 

Northeast Texas (B) 

The northern half of the Marshall Work Projects Administration district is 
covered in the following report from Thelma Watson, senior social worker : 

"The report on migration submitted to you by Mr. Louis Townsend fairly 
pictures the story for the southern half of District No. 1, but this picture changes 
somewhat for the northern half, which contains the oil fields, the larger towns, 
and the more important agricultural areas. With the assistance of Mr. George 
Samuels and Mr. Gill Barnett, an attempt has been made to outline the picture 
for this part of the district. ^ ^ .^ .^v, 

"There is comparatively little migration, either into or out of the area, with 
the exception of Gregg County (and, to a lesser extent. Rusk County) at this 
time Since the first of the year approximately GOO families have moved out 
of Greo^g County and gone to Illinois oil fields. These people were regular 
oil-field workers'who alwavs "follow the fields." Most of them had been in east 
Texas since the earlv davs of the oil boom here, but moving on to the next boom 
is a normal way of life for them. About half of those who movetl had definite 


iobs waiting for them but tlie other half were only hopeful of finding something 
■when they got there and, having been out of employment overlong in the east 
Texas field, were willing to take a chance of securing work. In most of these 
cases the whole family was moved by car, as finances were very limited and it 
was too expensive to leave a household behind to be supported. The trip itself 
was usually not too uncomfortable, as the cars on the whole were better than 
those used by the average migrant, but housing at the end of the journey was 
.an acute problem. The scarcity and outrageously high cost of shelter, char- 
acteristic of the early days of any oil field, forced these people to camp out 
in tents, shacks, or whatever flimsy shelter they could provide for themselves, 
with no running water and no sanitary facilities in most cases. Food costs 
were excessive and jobs made doubly difficult to secure, due to the fact that the 
Illinois field is strongly unionized by Congress of Industrial Organizations, and 
many of the workers were unable to pay the $50 membership fee required. If 
they did secure work, wages were good— $4.50 to $6 a day— but regularity of 
work was not assured. 

"These families have returned in large numbers— a few voluntarily, but many 
more were returned by agencies, public and private. Some of them are reluctant 
to come back. They miss the excitement of the boom, and feel sure they would 
eventually have found work, had they been allowed to stay. Others, especially 
the ones who have the larger families, seem willing to join again the stranded 
population of a county which at least provides adequate medical services, where 
■ costs are lower and housing available, and where they can look forward to Work 
Projects Administration employment, if nothing else. 

"Migration of agricultural laborers out of the district has materially decreased 
in the last several years, but it has not stopped. Each fall an appreciable number 
of people leave for cotton picking, most of them going west and following the 
harvest as far as New Mexico. The most common procedure is to move out by 
families, traveling in imiwssible looking jalopies hung with bedding, cook vessels, 
and miscellaneous bundles. In a good year a large family can make a fair profit 
■on a 'cotton pick' if they use good judgment in selecting their destinations. They 
report they are paid from 50 to 80 cents per 100 pounds for pulling bolls, and 
300 pounds a day is about average for an adult. 

"Housing is very uncertain. On many of the farms the pickers live in sheds 
.or barracks, but not infrequently they have to camp out by the roadside en route, 
;and in the fields or woods when they arrive. Even if they live in barracks they 
■usually have to cook outside. Their diet is about the same as a home meal — side 
meat, peas, corn meal— except that they are less apt to get fresh vegetables, and 
more likely to have treats such as store bread, sardines, and cheese. 

"A 'pick' is considered a success if the family supports itself until the return 
."home, and has been able to buy clothing for the winter. Some families earn 
•enough to support themselves through the winter, but they appear to be a marked 
minority. The average picker, on his return, is usually very little better or worse 
•off than before he migrated. If the weather wasn't too bad and if there was no 
sickness, the families seem to enjoy the adventure and excitement of their trip. 
However, very bad weather causes them acute discomfort and frequent illness 
•because of the inadequacy of shelter and sanitation. None of those who have 
spoken of illness that has developed during their trips have been able to secure 
medical attention except in the most acute emergencies. However, it must be 
noted that this would have been true had they remained at home, in most of 
•the counties of this district. 

"These families normally plan to remain in the community from which they 
left, working on Work Projects Administration or doing odd jobs and farm labor, 
Tuntil the next fall, when many of them will go west again. 

"Trucks from the west come into these counties in the fall, also, and pick up 
mien -wlio are either single or plan to leave their families at home. The truck 
•owner makes his profit from the charge he makes for transportation, and his tour 
throug'h the cotton fields is apt to be well organized, as he knows where to take 
•the men, and usually has contracts to furnish pickers ; 50 cents a day is his usual 
■charge, and the men have to get themselves home. They are fortunate to be able 
to do this -witli enough money in their pockets to buy school clothes for their 

"There is a small, third class of migrants familiar to us in our relatively 
iprosperous counties: the families who are perpetually on the move, remaining 

:260370 — 41 — pit. 5 11 


for a few months here, on their way from no place in particular to no place in 
particular — camping along the sides of the roads, living in decrepit trailers, or 
jerry-built shacks of tarpaper, old boards and tin. They go about in groups, or 
send the children out alone, peddling paper flowers, plaster dogs, baskets or 
similar indispensible articles. They are usually dirty and anemic looking, in- 
adequately clothed, and frequently scabious. If they become known to the relief 
agencies it is never possible to make any kind of plan with them, as they are sure 
to move on again, sooner or later. 

"Of each migrant group these things may be said : school attendance is irregu- 
lar and infrequent ; health hazards are great and sanitation poor, and they 
develop no ties with any social institutions, churches, schools, or community 
groups, while they are on the road." 

Texas Panhandle 

A. A. Meredith, Work Projects Administration district manager for the 
Amarillo territory embracing 26 counties in the Texas Panhandle, describes the 
situation of migrant workers in that area as follows: 

"The situation in our district is somewhat different from that in many other 
sections of the State. We have two harvests in this section that furnish 
temporary seasouable employment. The wheat harvest in the latter part of 
June and the first part of July, and the cotton harvest which starts usually 
around the middle of September and may continue until around Christmas or 
until shortly after. 

"In the wheat harvest in this section of the country there is very little call 
for outside labor. This harvest is largely handled with Panhandle people mov- 
ing from one county to another, but they are not truly a migratory group. 
Usuall.v we have a small percentage of workers from Kansas and Oklahoma who 
make the wheat harvest in this section. Due to the fact that our wheat harvest 
in this section calls for semiskilled types of labor, since it is mechanized by the 
use of combines and tractors, it does not attract and make employment for the 
usual migratory workers. 

"Our cotton harvest is of the type of work which attracts migratory workers. 
The large part of our cotton in this district is grown in 8 of our counties ; namely, 
Hall, Childress, Collingsworth, Wheeler. Donley, Parmer, Briscoe, and Gray. 
During the 1939 cotton harvest season the Texas State Employment Service 
made placements of approximately 5,000 cotton pickers in that territory. This, 
of course, does not mean there were 5,000 individuals placed, as many indi- 
viduals and groups were given placements as high as 5 or 6 times, and it does 
not represent a migratory group of this number, as in all probability the larger 
percentage of those placements were either local residents or those who came 
from an adjoining county to make this harvest. The Texas State Employment 
Service records do not disclose what percentage of their placements were local 
or what were outside labor. 

"We do not have in this district the large congregation of migratory labor 
during the cotton season that is prevalent in many other sections of the State 
even adjacent district 17 (Lubboch) to the south of us. The problems that other 
sections are confronted with in regard to the health, crime and living condition 
of large groups of migratory labor are not so prevalent in this district. We have 
cases where the workers in our cotton fields are camping oTit-of-doors, in tents, 
or even in the open during the picking season. We have seen families or groups 
of these workers living in this condition or camping out in shacks that were 
wholly unsuited for human habitation. Windows and cracks had been closed 
with pieces of cardboard. Roofs leaked in event of rain so that protection was 
wholly inadequate for human beings. In most of these instances conditions were 
so crowded that it was wholly unsanitary even if the buildings had been suit- 
able for human habitation. While we are unable to furnish any accurate infor- 
mation as to the number of people that have lived under these conditions in this 
section during the harvest season or as to the number of children accompanying 
them and the births that may have occurred, we do know that such conditions 
have existed. 

"This group of people do not have adequate medical attention, since under the 
rules governing the operation of county and city health officials in most coun- 
ties, local health services are not readily made available to them. Facilities for 


the preparation and serving of food is inadequate and their diets are far from 

"Because of the conditions under which these people are living and the lack 
of their feeling of responsibility to the locality in which they are working due 
to the very temporary residence they have in the community, many of them are 
guilty of committing petty thievery and many use a portion of their week's 
wages on Saturday night for a spree in town with the resultant filling of local 
jails over the week-end with men and women both charged with intoxication 
and other small crimes. 

"Due to the life that is led by this group of people and the fact that their resi- 
dence in one locality is of such short duration, the children of these families do not 
have an opportunity to attend school or church, with the natural result that they 
are developing another generation of migratory workers. 

"The necessary gasoline for transportation in their broken-down cars or trucks 
is generally furnished them by the political subdivisions in which they last worked, 
without regard to what employment they may have during their stay in a com- 
munity. They are generally broke at the end of their employment and it becomes 
necessary for the local political subdivisions to furnish them transportation out of 
the community. In discussing this problem with county judges in this section, we 
have been informed that a large percent of this type of labor do not even have a 
registration on their cars or trucks, but the local authorities have never attempted 
to enforce the law requiring this with this group of people, because the individuals 
do not have the money to pay for the license and the court costs of enforcing the 
law. Due to the financial condition of our counties, they feel that they are 
obliged to use all funds available in sponsoring Work Projects Administration 
projects for the care of their local unemployed and direct relief cases." 


From various reports in the foregoing sections, a number of facts are obvious : 

1. The total lack of general relief in most Texas counties forces some workers 
who have exhausted all possibilities for employment ac home to go on the road, 
particularly when they are encouraged to do so by handbills and other media 
promising decent wages in other localities and by the pr^'mises of labor contractors. 

2. Most migrants do not choose the type of existence which they lead, but are 
forced to accept it by changes in agricultural and industrial methods over which 
they have no control. 

3. Correction of the causes of migration and its resultant problems are too 
complex to be left to the migrants themselves but must be solved by science. 
Industry, and government. 

4. Prompt action is necessary to assure even the right to live for a not incon- 
siderable section of the citizenry represented by the agricultural migrant and his 

Pending the developments necessary to provide normal employment opportuni- 
ties near the point of residence for migrants who now have no opportunity to earn 
a decent livelihood on the road, and in lieu of a better and sounder way of meeting 
the problems, the recommendations recently made in the general report adopted by 
the WTiite House Conference on Children in a Democracy should be considered : 

1. Financial responsibility for interstate migrants should lie with the Federal 
Government, since local public opinion and existing settlement laws and other 
statutes denj assistance or community services to many migrant families. In the 
actual provision of such facilities and services the Federal Government should 
operate through State and local authorities wherever practicable, but should take 
direct responsibility for their operation whenever necessary. 

2. State and local governments should take financial and administrative re- 
eponsibility for families that migrate within State boundaries. Actually groups 
of migrant families often include both interstate and intrastate migrants. In 
the provision of services, therefore. Federal, State, and local Governments should 
work out cooperative plans which will assure the provision of services to families 
when needed, regardless of where ultimate financial responsibility may lie. 

3. Government employment services should take responsibility for the orderly 
guidance of migrant labor in seasonal employment in agriculture and other oc- 


4. Plans for the employment of migrant families should take into account the 
'desire for resettlement of those families for which seasonal labor is only a make- 
shift and whose primary desire is to carry on independent farming operations. 

5. To deal with the more immediate and also the continuing problems of agri- 
cultural workers and their families, which constitute at present the majority of 
migrant families, it is desirable that measures relating to wages and hours, col- 
lective bargaining, and social security be extended as soon as practicable to all 
agricultural labor, with such adaptations as may be necessary to meet their needs. 

6. Housing and sanitary regulations should be made applicable to the shelter 
of migratory and seasonal labor, and adequate appropriations and personnel 
should be made available to the appropriate agencies to enforce these regulations. 

7. Long-range measures that may prevent families from becoming migrants 
should be introduced both in agriculture and in industry — in agriculture, by such 
means as preventing soil erosion and soil exhaustion, and helping farmers to 
iraeet technological changes and difliculties of financing operations ; in industry, 
by measures to offset technical and economic changes that result in communities 
being stranded because of permanent discontinuance of local industries. 

Certain recommendations made in July 1940, in A Report to the President on 
Migratory Labor by the Interdepartmental Committee to Coordinate Health and 
Welfare Activities also merit serious thought. Several which do not duplicate 
in general those in the above-mentioned report are quoted : 

"Education and welfare. — Communities with large migrant groups should be 
aided in extending educational, recreational, and welfare services to migrants on 
the same basis as those provided for residents. Federal aid for such welfare 
services should be contingent upon the maintenance of equitable service to both 

"Living conditions and housing. — The Farm Security Administration's camps 
ifor migratory agricultural workers should be continued and multiplied. Per- 
manent labor homes in greater numbers should be provided, and garden home- 
steads should be made available by the Federal Government, looking to the .settle- 
ment of migratory farm workers on the land. 

"Health and medical care. — In addition to the health and medical services fur- 
mished by the Farm Security Administration as a part of its program listed under, 
■'Living conditions and housing' above. Federal funds should be made available to 
the States to be used, together with State funds, in providing health and medical 
(Services — both preventive and therapeutic — for migrants. Federal aid should be 
•conditioned upon provi.sion for administration liy a State agency and upon States 
rmeeting within 3 years specified Federal requirements covering length of resi- 
dence within the State. 

"Employment and toorking conditions. — "A. Legislation should be passed em- 
|)owering the Federal Government to regulate interstate labor contractors. 

"B. Interstate transportation of workers by truck should be regulated by the 
Interstate Commerce Commission and a cooperative enforcement program should 
he worked out among the Commission and other Government agencies concerned. 

^"C The farm placement service should be extended and strengthened as rapidly 
as possible in the interest of both seasonal employers and migratory workers. 
Federal funds for this purpose should be made available. 

"D. Migratory workers should continue to have the protection of the Fair Labor 
Standards Act wherever it is now applicable to them. If any changes in this 
law are considered, they should be in the direction of extending — rather than 
•contracting — its coverage. 

"E. Children of migratory workers should be protected from employment too 
jyoung, and after they reach working years they should have the same safeguards 
as youthful workers in full-time industrial employment. The full support of 
public opinion and community services is necessary to make these protections 

"F. The protection of the social-security programs should be extended to migra- 
tory workers — in public assistance, by uniform and less restrictive standards of 
State residence; in the insurance programs (old-age and survivors' insurance and 
unemployment compensation), by extension of coverage to agricultural wage 

"Relief for migrants and their families. — To meet immediate emergency situa- 
tions, appropriate Federal programs, such as the Work Projects Administration 


and Farm Security Administration, should be financed and directed toward fur- 
nishing more effective aid to migratory workers. To provide for a continuing 
program of aid for this and other groups, a general relief program should be estab- 
lished on a Federal-State basis, Federal funds being made on a 'variable grants' 
basis under administrative provisions similar to those provided in the public- 
assistance programs under the Social Security Act and with added safeguards 
to prevent discrimination against migratory workers." 

Much of the actual starvation, serious illness, danger of epidemic, and collapse 
of family life now occurring among migrants could be obviated by the measures 
recommended. Such measures, however, should in no way supplant efforts to 
eliminate the causes of the problem. Pending complete solution, decency and 
humanity demand that victims of the migratory-labor situation be allowed oppor- 
tunity to live on a level compatible with the dignity of a human being in a 

Dangers in the migratory-labor problem as it affects rural youth are pointed 
out in the concluding chapter of Rural Youth on Relief, a study prepared by the 
Division of Social Research of the Work Projects Administration : 

" 'Masses of idle and poverty-stricken rural youth can augur no good for rurall 
America,' the Work Projects Administration researchers warn. 'Idleness, poverty,, 
and ignorance form a vicious circle — and the persons within the circle may easily 
become the prey of demagogic and irresponsible leaders. But in this situation iss 
a greater danger — an increasing development of a lethargic, unambitious, and 
listless class, a class that is willing to accept a living standard below that of 
peasantry. The longer the vicious circle has been in operation the more imminent 
may be the danger of either of these developments. But it is well to recognize 
that during the depression many youth in good as well as poor land areas have- 
unavoidably acquired habits of idleness and have lost visions of accomplishment. 
A defeatist attitude may become permanent, even though opportunities later 

"Poverty and want in agricultural areas may indicate not only a lack of oppor- 
tunity for work ; they may also result from the exhaustion of natural resources 
by forces outside of agricultural society. National recovery, as reflected by city 
prosperity, does not necessarily augur economic recovery for rural territory. A 
job may no longer guarantee farm youth a future, since it may lead to no advance- 
ment on the agricultural ladder." 

Although particularly significant when applied to youth, the conclusions are no 
less appropriate for the entire mass of struggling migrants who interminably 
follow the fugitive promise of jobs across the Nation's farm sections. 


Mr. Sparkman. We would like for you to answer a few questions 
and also give us any additional suggestions or go over any of the high 
points in the statement that you care to. I wonder if I might ask you 
this — what do you believe are the main causes of migration so far as 
Texas is concerned? 


Mrs, Keating. I feel qualified to speak only as an observer; I am 
not an agricultural economist and in the presence of people from thei 
Farm Security Administration and the Agricultural Adjustment Ad- 
ministration I would certainly be quite out of place in saying I knew 
anything about the causes, from my own knowledge. My belief is 
that in Texas the chief causes of migration are soil erosion and deple- 
tion, displacement because of the increased, greatly increased, use of 
machinery in agriculture ; likewise the very fact that a great deal of 
machinery is used demands migration because it demands short-time 
peak employment rather than well-regulated, all-year-round employ- 


ment. I think also there is some migration in Texas because of gen- 
eral industrial and manufacturing unemployment as well as agricul- 
tural employment. For example, very recently there was a large in- 
flux into a relatively small east Texas county where a paper mill was 
announced as about to open. Likewise, in the Corpus Christi area 
where a large defense program was announced, it is my understand' 
ing that thousands of nonresidents have poured into Corpus Christi. 
However, I think the greatest number of migrants in Texas have 
taken up their mode of life because of agricultural rather than 
industrial necessity. 

Mr. Sparkman. Texas, while a great part of it is industrial, is 
primarily agricultural, isn't it ? 

Mrs. Keating. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Sparkman. We have listened to many people in these various 
hearings discuss these obstacles and the difficulties among the various 
States with reference to the settlement laws. I wonder if you have 
any comment to make along that line ? 


Mrs. Keating. In Texas the law states that a person is not eligible 
to assistance who has not been in the State for a year and in the par- 
ticular county in which he is seeking assistance for at least 6 months. 
We find in some other States the length of time required for the 
establishment of residence is even longer. I think that, from a na- 
tional point of view, I would say that the difference in settlement 
requirements does cause a problem. So far as Texas is concerned, 
since we do practically nothing to take care of residents, I can't say 
that our settlement laws cause any discrimination against the mi- 

Mr. Sparkman. In some States we have found the period of settle- 
ment is required to be as long as 5 years. In Texas it is 1 year ? 

Mrs. Keating. One year. 

Mr. Sparkman. But you are protected in the short time by the fact 
that you are not able to do anything in the way of direct relief, is 
that it? 

Mrs. Keating. I am quite confident that the amount we spend 
for migrants is utterly negligible, since the amount we spend through 
the various Federal programs in the State is extremely limited. In 
other words, we have no State-wide general relief program. 

Mr. Sparkman. Let me ask you this question, how long must a resi- 
dent of Texas be gone from the State before he loses his settlement? 

INIrs. Keating. He loses it after 1 year. 

I\Ir. Sparkman. Does he lose it immediately if his intention is to go 
away permanently and not to return ? 

Mrs. Keating. I believe he immediately loses it. Likewise, there is a 
clause which indicates he can immediately regain it if his intention is 
to remain in Texas, but any administration of that law, that I have 
heard anything about, indicates that relief agencies hold very closely 
to the year's residence requirement. 


Mr. Sparkman. In other words, it would be the year that would be 
the guide rather than the intention which, of course, is always hard to 
prove ? 

Mrs. Keating. Yes. 


Mr. Sparkman. What about the relief policy in Texas, you started 
to say something about that? 

]\Irs. KE.VTING. Texas is one of the few States that does not have a 
State-wide general relief program. 

Mr. Sparkman. What is the reason for it ? 

Mrs. Keating. Well, first of all it is unconstitutional. Of course, we 
could amend the constitution, but we haven't seen fit to do so. The 
constitution prohibits the State from appropriating money for the 
benefit of an individual ; likewise it places upon the county commis- 
sioners' courts the care of destitute citizens. However, the limitation 
on the funds which the county commissioners' courts may use for this 
purpose makes it practically impossible for them to carry out the 
mandate of the law. They are permitted to use only a limited portion 
of the general funds of the county and are not allowed to levy any 
special taxes for relief purposes. Therefore, until the constitution is 
amended to permit the State to appropriate general relief funds or 
the laws limiting the amount that the counties can spend for relief are 
amended, we will go on not having any relief except that which is 
provided by the Federal Government tlirough its several progi*ams 
which operate in Texas. 

Mr. Sparkman. Mrs. Keating, we have found in my own State, and 
I am sure it is true in a great many other States, that those States 
where they are not bound by the same constitutional inliibitions you 
mentioned here, where the State is not able to match all the available 
funds, that the gi^eatest benefit can be had by using whatever money 
the State can afford to match Federal funds and therefore make what 
money they have go further than it would without the participation in 
those programs and they naturally resorted to that, rather than spend 
it on direct relief. Direct relief is a local concern and the Federal 
Government doesn't participate in that ? 

Mrs. Keating. No. 

Mr. Sparkman. I wonder if constitutional inhibitions were removed 
in Texas would that condition prevail. 

Mrs. Keating. The State constitution has been amended to provide 
that the State may participate in social-security benefits, for instance, 
aid to dependent children, aid to the blind, and aid to the aged. How- 
ever, although the constitution has been amended to provide for those 
benefits, the legislature has so far appropriated funds only for the 
aged, not for dependents or for the blind. 

Mr. Sparkman. I am curious to know what the aid for the aged is, 
what do those payments average ? 

Mrs. Keating. As I understand it the average grant was about $14 
for the past year ; it has been between $9 and $10, 1 believe, per month 
for the last several months. 


Mr. Sparkman. Does that include the local and State with Federal 
participation ? 

Mrs. Keating. It is State and Federal only ; no local. 

Mr. Sparkman. I wonder what ideas you might give us, from your 
own thinking, on this problem of interstate migration of destitute 
citizens — whether you think it is a Federal problem and how it might 
be met by the Federal Government insofar as you have thought it 
through ? 


Mrs. Keating. Of course, I think the causes are so much deeper and! 
so much broader than my field has allowed me to delve into, that I 
feel quite incompetent to "speak except from the point of view of what 
actually happens to the people that migrate within the State and 
across State lines. I think that pending economic and social adjust- 
ments, which I think will have to take place, such as the increase iiL 
the possibility of people owning their own homes and farms on a 
scale and of such size as to support a single family, that until meas- 
ures of conservation and prevention of depletion of the soil are 
attained ; that until new employment and possibly an entirely different 
type of economy than agricultural is found for those whose services 
are no longer needed on the farm because of the displacement of them 
by machinery ; that pending that time the Government, and I am not 
prepared to say whether that should be Federal, State, or local, but I 
say the Government, does have at least the responsibility of seeing to 
it that those citizens have an opportunity to feed, clothe, and house 
themselves, send their children to school, and have medical attention^ 
when in need of it. I see at this time both interstate and intrastate 
migrants living in circumstances which certainly are not a credit to 
any level of Govermnent, I know of my own observation over a 
period of 7 years in Texas, in a capacity in which it was my business 
to be obsei-vant of such matters, that there are thousands of persona 
who, through no fault of their own, but because of a changing 
economy, are not able to send their children to school, some of them 
not at all, many others through only the first, second, or third gi-ades ;. 
that women are delivering babies under wagons and in cars without 
the benefit of any attention; that persons afflicted with tuberculosis 
and venereal diseases are given no attention at all ; that people suffer- 
ing from pneumonia because of exposure, and from the dietary 
deficiency diseases because of lack of food, are wandering the roads- 
in and out of Texas by the thousands; that much I can say. 

Mr. Sparkman. I appreciate very much the statement you have 
made, that you believed it was a governmental problem but that you 
couldn't distinguish as between Federal, State, and local governmental 
responsibility. Of course, our concern is naturally the extent tC" 
which the Federal Government should participate. I wonder if you 
have any ideas as to whether, if there is a duty on the part of the 
Federal Government, whether that could best be applied after the- 
condition of migration has developed or by further extending the 
various benefit programs it has started, such as Social Security, Farm 


Security, W. P. A., and possibly helping us in direct relief and things 
like that. 

Mrs. Keating. I think that if the Federal Government is justified in 
providing for some of its needy citizens it is justified in providing for 
all of its needy citizens. I see no difference in need in a person 65 
years of age and need in a person 63 yeai*s of age. I see no difference 
in caring for a person who is blind, which the Federal Government 
assumes as part of its responsibility, than for a person who is crippled 
by some other handicap. I do believe that the extension of some of the 
other services you have mentioned might result in less ineffective 
migration. When I say ineffective migration I mean that I don't think 
that any human being should be prevented from going to any other 
place, in fact, he should be encouraged to do so if he benefits himself by 
doing so, but in this footloose wandering I do not think he should be 
encouraged, and I think he should be discouraged in many instances, 
provided there is legitimate employment at home or some of the assist- 
ance that you have mentioned is available. 

Mr. Sparkman. Mrs. Keating, for myself I want to express my 
appreciation and that of the committee for the very fine contribution 
you have made. Mr. Curtis or the chairman may have some questions. 

The Chlvirman. Mrs. Keating, the more I think of this problem — 
and I have lived with it for a year, and I don't know anything about 
it yet — in my mind all the time keeps occurring the question, "What 
is the best thing to do about it ?" Of course, the papers carry the story 
about the refugees in Europe, which is a tragic thing, we all agree on 
that, but we have thousands upon thousands of refugees right in our 
own United States on the roadsides today, and I think you will agree 
with me that the family's first duty is to take care of its own family. 
Is that right ? 

Mrs. I^\ting. Yes, sir. 

The Chairman. I think also you will agree with me on my theory 
that there are two possible solutions. I am talking about immediate 
help — that is. short-term help — what we are going to do about these 
people now who can't get into States and get relief. Are we going to 
let them starve or what are we going to do about them ? That is short- 
term assistance ; and, speaking for myself only, I think they are in a 
<:lass by themselves. And if the States won't help them the Federal 
Government ought to step in and say no American citizen is going to 
starve while he is trying to establish a residence, but we have let them 
go for 150 years. Now, the long term would be along the lines of low- 
vcost housing projects, as advocated by President Hoover and Mrs. 
Koosevelt — strangely enough, that is one time they got together — but 
I can't get it into my head how these countless thousands, Stateless, 
jobless, and homeless, are going to get through it. What do you think 
about it ? Should the Federal Government, in grants-in-aid to States, 
allow so much money to various States and take in these interstate 
migrants? Do you think that is the proper thing? 

Mrs. Keating. Congressman Tolan, from the national point of view, 
I think that many of the people about whom we are talking would be 
assisted by the plan which you have outlined. However, speaking for 
the group in my own State, since we have no funds appropriated to 


take Ccare of our own citizens, and since we haven't appropriated sums 
to take care of dependent children and dependent blind, for whom the 
Federal Government has offered to give a part of the help, I am not at 
all hopeful that transients coming into Texas could be given any assist- 
ance, because I doubt if we would do that when we don't even appro- 
priate funds for our own local people. However, I know that condi- 
tion does not prevail in a large number of the States. I do believe 
that grants-in-aid to the States that are willing to carry a portion of 
the cost would equalize that cost. 

The Chairman. A peculiar thing that this investigation has dis- 
closed is that some States say they have no migrant problem. Wlien 
we were through New Jersey they showed us the best farms, with no 
problem at all, but when we got into the proposition it was disclosed 
in the testimony that there were thousands of people living in shacks 
waiting for the oyster season in the great State of New Jersey. And 
here is Congressman Sparkman from Alabama ; he was named on this 
committee and he had not worried about migrants leaving his State^ 
but lo and behold the first thin^ he ran into was many thousands of 
persons leaving the State ! So it isn't Oklahoma or any other single 
State. The idea is that they are outcasts when they cross State lines, 
although they are still citizens of the 48 States. We are going to try 
to fix a status for them. I think your testimony has been very, very 
valuable. Think this thing out and see if you could give us some help. 

Mr. Curtis. How does the State of Texas rank with the other 47 
States in per capita wealth ? 

Mrs. Keating. I don't know its exact position, but it is not one of 
the poor Southern States ; it is a wealthy State in natural resources. 
However, if its income is average over the entire population we have 
a very large group who, according to the figures compiled by other 
agencies, have an average of about $250 per year. 

Mr. Parsons. Thank you very much, Mrs. Keating. 

(Witness excused.) 

Dr. Lamb. Mr. Chairman, may I introduce these for the record? 

The Chairman. Yes. 

Dr. Lamb. These are two studies prepared by members of the staff 
of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas and the Texas 
Technological College at the request of Hon. W. Lee O'Daniel, the 
Governor of Texas, and I would like to have them entered for the 
record at this point. They are on the subject of migratory farm labor. 

The Chairman. We will be glad to enter them in our record. 

(The studies mentioned are as follows:) 

Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, 

College Station, Tex., September 16, 1940. 
Mr. John H. Tolan, 

Chairman, Special Conwiittee Investigating the 

Interstate Migration of Destitute Citizens, 

Oklahoma City, Okla. 
Dear Mr. Tolan : At the request of the Honorable W. Lee O'Daniel, Governor 
of the State of Texas, I am enclosing a study made by some members of our staff 
with reference to migratory farm labor in Texas agriculture. 

I hope that this brief will be of some value to you in the determination of the 
extensiveness of this problem. 
Very cordially yours, 

T. O. Walton, President. 


Study by Membkrs of the Staff of the Ageioulturai. and Mechanical College 
OF Tks_\s, College Station, Tex., Pkepared at the Request of Hon. W. Lee 
O'Daniel, Governor of Texas 

outijne, miqr.vt0ry farm i^bob in texas agriculture 

A. The total amount of farm labor. 

B. The amount of migratory farm labor. 

C. Reasons for the employment of migrants. 

D. Use made of the services of migratory workers on farms. 

1. Cotton. 

2. Wheat. 

3. Citrus. 

4. "Vegetables. 

5. Rice. 

E. The migrants. 

1. Race and origin. 

2. Cycle of employment. 

3. Transportation. 

4. Housing, sanitation, and health. 

5. Education. 

6. Earnings. 

F. Migration to and from Texas. 

1. Migration to Texas. 

2. Migration from Texas. 

Migratory Farm Labor in Texas Agrioulturb 

A. THE total amount OP FARM LABOR 

There were 501,017 farms in Texas in 1935. The census of agriculture of that 
year reported that during the first week in January hired help was being used 
on 66,845, or 13.3 percent of these farms. Only a small percentage of tenants and 
croppers were using hired help, but 19.1 percent of the owner-operators were 
doing so. The average number of hired helpers employed per farm then using 
such help was 1.97 workers. 

Of the 980,932 workers on farms in January 1935, 849,304 were members of 
the farm families and 131,592 were hired helpers. Since the first week in January 
is not a busy season on most farms, this figure is more indicative of the number 
of workers employed on a regular rather than a seasonal basis. 

Significant also was the figure given in the same census, reporting that 24,271 
farm operators had worked off their own farms for hire in agricultural pursuits 
during the previous year. This did not include the perhaps larger number of 
members of the operators' families who likewise worked part time off the 
operators' farms. The average number of days that farm operators worked ofC 
their own farms was 94 days. A large number of these were tenants or croppers 
on small places, who devoted only a part of their time to their own crops and 
the remainder to work for wages for their landlords or other farmers in the 
locality. Some of them no doubt "followed the harvest" and thus for a time 
were "part-time" migrants. 

The 1930 census reixtrted 842,001 persons gainfully employed in agriculture. 
Of this number 198,760, or 23.6 percent, were classified as wage workers. By 
1935 the number of farm wage workers had increased by the amount of 25,601. 
The 1940 census will likely show a still further increase. 


No exact figures are available on the number of migratory farm workers em- 
ployed in Texas. The number is estimated at 250,000 to 325,000— the latter 
figure probably being the more accurate. 

The Texas State Employment Service reported 403,035 placements made in 1938 
and 550,074 in 1939. These placements include only those facilitated by that 
agency and do not include the perhaps many times greater number made inde- 
pendently. These figures include placements of the same worker made more than 
once, hence are not to be interpreted as numbers of workers. 



The labor on farms is furnished by the farm operator aud members of his fam- 
ily, regularly employed helpers, workers temporarily employed within the locality, 
and migrants. 

When the nature of farm production requires a large labor force for short 
periods only, it obviously is not economy to keep permanently employed a suffi- 
ciently large foi'ce to meet the requirements in peak seasons. Farm operations 
are on the larger part of the farms in Texas highly seasonal. This is not the case 
to such an extent on livestock, dairy, and poultry farms, and farms on which a 
number of enterprises are carried on. But on farms raising cotton and other row 
crops, truck crops, wheat, rice, and other grains, and citrus fruits, large amounts 
of labor are needed during harvest season. 

Hand labor is required in the harvesting of cotton — the major Texas crop — 
truck crops, and citrus fruit. No machines have been sufficiently perfected for 
common use in these harvesting operations. When crops are ready, they must be 
harvested at once ; otherwise, they will be damaged or ruined. 

On many Texas farms, by the use of improved machinery, the operator and his 
family, perhaps aided by regular hired helpers, can carry until harvest time a 
production that will require a large force working for a short while to harvest. 
Since all crops in a locality mature at approximately the same time, many locali- 
ties do not have enough workers available to complete the harvesting expedi- 
tiously. The Texas State Employment Service reports that 70 counties of the 
State must rely upon migratory laborers during the harvest season. 

For the above reasons migratory workers are indispensable in Texas 


Agriculture affords the overwhelming part of the employment for migrants in 
Texas. While many migrants alternate between agricultural and nonagricultural 
enterprises, many are strictly agricultural workers. A survey showed that from 
67 to 95 percent of migrants' earnings come from farm enterprises. 

The need for and the use made of the services of migratory workers on farms 
in Texas is suggested by a consideration of the volume of production of certain 

1. Cotton. — The major farm enterprise in Texas is cotton growing. The pro- 
duction of this crop affords more employment than any other single industry, 
both agricultural and industrial. A tremendous amount of labor is engaged in 
the planting, chopping, cultivating, and picking of cotton. During chopping and 
picking seasons a large amount of seasonal labor is required. 

The reduction in the cotton production of the State during late years has cut 
down enormously on the labor required for this crop. This is indicated by the 
fact that in the peak year of 1926, the cotton acreage was 17,749,000 and the 
bale production was 5,477,000. Two years later the acreage was 16,887,000 and 
production 4,941,000. By 1932, the acreage was 13,334,000 ; bale production was 
4,307,000. Since that time the reduction has been precipitous. In 1038 only 
8,784,000 acres were grown and 2,964,000 bales harvested. 

Of the total amount of labor required to produce the cotton in Texas, even 
though the production has diminished, the percentage of that done by hired 
heliJers has been inereasing. This has been due to a number of factors. One 
was the development of the cotton-producing areas in the high- and low-plains 
areas, where low-cost-production methods are practiced and where larger farm 
units are worked. Tractors and multirow equipment are in common use, not 
•only in the high and low plains but also in the Corpus Christi cotton area and 
to a larger extent that formerly in the black waxy prairie section, and even on 
plantations in river bottoms. The result is that the average acreage of farm 
•operators is increasing, and the use if hired help in harvest is likewise neces- 
;-sarily increasing. In the high-plains cotton area, the majority of farmers operate 
from 160 to 320 acres of land, of which from 80 to 85 percent are in cultivation, 
and the cotton production per farm averages not less than 25 to 30 bales. A 
large proportion of hired labor is used for harvesting (1). 

2. Wheat. — Over 3,000,000 acres of wheat were grown in Texas in 1934 and 
over 26,000,000 bushels harvested. This involved the use of 12.2 percent of the 


crop land harvested for that year. Wheat was grown on 31,804 farms and the 
average acreage harvested per farm was exceeded only in Washington, California, 
and Montana. 

Production of wheat is concentrated in the Panhandle area of the State and 
characterized by large-scale methods of production. Tractors and combines are 
commonly employed in harvesting, and crews for such harvesting usually consist 
in part of hired workers. 

3. Citrus. — The production of citrus is localized in the Rio Grande area of 
the State. That this industry is increasing in importance is indicated by com- 
parative figures for 1930 and 1935. During that period for oranges the number 
of trees increased 56 percent ; field boxes of oranges produced increased from 
316,245 to 1,049,476 ; and value of crops from $618,259 to $1,049,476. For grape- 
fruit, the number of trees increased during this period 81.8 percent ; field boxes 
produced rose from 997.551 to 3,878,920; and the value of the fruit jumped from 
$l,941,ai6 to $3,491,028. 

Many small growers harvest their own crops. The larger part of the crop, 
however, is harvested by crews of laborers sent out by the canneries and packing 
Bheds which buy the producers' crop on the trees. That most of these pickers 
are migrant is indicated by the fact that 75 percent of them in 1939 were recruited 
by the Texas Employment Service (2). 

4. Vegetables. — The commercial production of vegetables has developed in late 
years as a major agricultural enterprise in several localities in Texas. Note- 
worthy are the developments in the lower Rio Grande Valley and the winter 
garden areas from which are shipped enormous quantities of vegetables to 
northern and eastern consumption centers during winter months. Important 
also are areas in the counties around the vicinities of the cities of Corpus Christi, 
Jacksonville, Fort Worth, and Dallas. 

The growing importance of commercial vegetable production in the State (3) is 
revealed by the increasing amount of harvested acreage and quantity harvested. 
The acreage harvested increased from 1925 to 1935 for selected vegetables as 
follows : Onions, from 10,000 to 23,000 ; potatoes, from 28,000 to 49,000 ; tomatoes, 
from 10, 784, to 36,200 ; spinach, from 14,000 to 36,000 ; carrots from 5,750 to 9,100; 
cucumbers, from 980 to 7,300; cantaloups, from 3,000 to 6,000. In 1935, Texas 
produced over 2 'A million bushels of tomatoes, over 3% million bushels of 
spinach, nearly 4,000,000 watermelons, and over a million bushels of carrots. 
Although commercial vegetable production is not a major source of income to 
Texas agriculture, the total acreage devoted to such production increased from 
191.490 in 1929 to 373,206 in 1934— an increase of 94.9 percent. 

Vegetables must be harvested quickly when they are ready to harvest, otherwise 
they will become overripe, spoil, or become otherwise commercially unacceptable. 
Rarely does the grower have a family or local labor force suflicient for such 
work. He must, therefore, rely upon migrant workers. 

5. Rice.— In 1934, Texas devoted 110,000 acres to rice and produced nearly 
5^2 million bushels. This crop was grown on 553 farmfe, which had an 
average of 200 acres in rice. These farms are located principally in 9 counties 
In the coastal prairie areas in the general vicinities between the cities of Houston 
and Beaumont. 

Rice is harvested with a binder and shocked. After it goes through three 
eweat periods, and the moisture content is proper, it must be immediately 
threshed. Growers rely upon migratory labor for work in shocking and threshing 
this grain. 


1. Race cmd origin. — Investigation shows that 85 percent of all migratory 
workers of the State are Mexican, 10 percent are whites, and 5 percent are 

It is estimated that 60 to 65 percent of these workers, chiefly Mexicans, claim 
south Texas as their home; 20 to 22 percent, central Texas; 9 to 10 percent, 
west Texas ; and 2 to 3 percent, places in other States. 

2. Cycle of employment. — The principal migratory labor routes follow very 
closely the areas of greatest cotton production in Texas. The cotton harvest 
begins in the lower Rio Grande area around the 1st of July, reaching the peak 
around July 15. Following that date, two movements of laborers begin. One is 


to the Corpus Christi cotton area and the other is to the coastal prairie area 
southwest of Houston. After cotton liarvest gets under way in these areas, the 
rice farmers from Houston to Beaumont are calling for migratory labor. 

Migrants next take either the eastern route up the Trinity River Valley to 
central and thence to north Texas, or the route following the Brazos River into 
central Texas, and thence into the north plains. The high plains cotton area ends ' 
the cotton harvest in late November or early December. The workers then return 
to the Rio Grande Valley for citrus-fruit-crop harvest, extending from December to 
April, or the vegetable crop, beginning in January and ending in June. Spinach 
and other vegetables in the Winter Garden area also require large numbers of 
workers in January, February, and March ; onions in the lower Rio Grande Valley 
during April and May ; and onions in the Corpus Christi area during May and in 
north Texas in June. This completes the labor cycle for migratory farm workers. 
From there they go into the cotton harvest again. 

3. Transportation. — A study indicated that 20.2 percent of the farm laborers 
furnish their own transportation ; 3.2 percent traveled by bus or rail ; 59.4 percent 
are furnished travel by labor contractors ; and the other 17.2 percent are either 
given transportation by farmers employing them or "hitch-hike." The average 
distance traveled between jobs ranged from 135 to 480 miles. 

4. Housing, sanitation, and health. — The housing of migrants has always been 
a serious problem. They are usually left to provide their own living accommo- 
dations en route to jobs and frequently on jobs. Observations reveal shocking 
conditions. It is not uncommon to see hundreds camped on vacant lots in towns 
in employment areas or along highways en route to find work. Several towns 
have provided camp grounds with sanitary toilets, running water, and bathing 
facilities. In others deplorable conditions exist. Makeshift tents provide shelter, 
if any, subjecting the migrants to exposures of rain and chill. They sleep on the 
ground and cook over open fires. 

Such exposures, lack of sanitation, and poor diet leave large numbers ready 
victims of disease. The living conditions not only undermine the health of the 
workers themselves but jeopardize that of the resident population. Camping in 
towns without sanitary toilet facilities and along streams from which municipal 
and sometimes rural home-water supplies are taken are obviously menaces to 
public health. 

The Farm Security Administration lately has established camps at four con- 
centration points — Sinton, Robstown. Ramondville, and Weslaco — and is now 
erecting camps at Princeton, Harlingten, and Crystal City. These camps afford 
adequate shelter and sanitary conditions. The present camps will accommodate 
around a thousand families and the ones under construction nearly 500 more. 
These camps provide much-needed housing for some part of the migratory labor 
force in the State. 

5. Education. — A survey of 620 migrant workers selected at random in a num- 
ber of Texas cotton areas indicates that the educational attainment for the 
group is low. Almost 20 percent of the white laborers had little or no schooling, 
while 40 percent of the Mexicans and 5 percent of the Negroes had none. The 
percent who had completed elementary school was 10 i)ercent for Mexicans ; 33 
I)ercent of the whites, and 25 percent of the Negroes. 

General observations lead to the conclusion that seldom do children of migra- 
tory workers ever attend school. Shifting from locality to locality would 
preclude much progress if they did. Compulsory attendance laws are ignored. 

6. Ear7iin(/s.—l>!o exact figures are available on the earnings of migrant farm 
workers. General observation, sample checks, and the number of relief applica- 
tions from among them indicate that their earnings are deplorably low and far 
from adequate to provide decent standards of living. 

A survey in Karnes County in 1936 showed the average annual earnings of 325 
workers to be $171, of which 95 percent was derived from agriculture. A survey 
of 620 agricultural laborers in a number of Texas areas in 1938 showed the 
average earning to be about $225, of which about 67 percent was derived from 


No exact figures are available on the movements of migratory farm workers 
in and out of Texas. While there is an undetermined amount of such interstate 


migration, the problem within the State is generally considered, whether prop- 
erly or not, largely an intrastate problem. The larger number of the migrants 
who work in the State appear to remain here most or all of the time. Some 
exceptions to this permanency, however, are noted below. 

1. Migration to Texas. — There appears to be no evidence that many migratory 
workers have come to Texas from other States. Checks by the Texas State 
Employment Service lead to the estimate that only between 2 and 3 percent of 
migrant farm workers in Texas come from other States. 

2. Migration from Texas. — Evidence shows movements of migrants from 
Texas in three definite directions : 

The first is a spasmodic migration of an unknown number of cotton pickers 
into the Mississippi Delta and the Arizona cotton regions. It appears that most 
of these return. 

The second is an annual migration of Mexicans to Northern States — princi- 
pally to Michigan and Minnesota — to work in the sugarbeet fields. The number 
formerly estimated at 3,000 is now thought to be 8,000 a year. It is estimated 
that 75 percent return at the end of the crop season. 

The third is a migration largely of displaced tenants to California. The 
volume of such movements is probably not definitely known. Counts at border 
check stations of California are reported to show a total of 8,684 Texans entering 
that State in 1938 in search of employment. Government surveys show Texas as 
one of the States from which a considerable number of migrants in California 
have come. 


(1) Bonnen, C. A., and Thibodeaux, Types of Farming Areas in Texas, No. 554, 

Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, 1938. 

(2) Annual Report of Farm Placement Service. Texas State Employment Serv- 

ice, 1939. 

(3) Gabbard, L. P., and Bonnen, C. A., Statistics of Agriculture, Circular No. 80, 

Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, 1937. 

Study ^ Submitted by Texas Technological College, Lubbock, Tex., at the 
Request of Gov. W. Lee ODaniel, Austin, Tex. 

I. TYPES OF migrants 

1. Industrial workers. — No reports were received of interstate migration of 
industrial workers except from El Paso, Tex. (see below under "Areas"). Re- 
ports indicate that there is the usual movement from community to community 
of intrastate industrial workers, especially in the building trades, but with the 
exception of El Paso, no report indicated any problem of local maintenance 

2. Seasonal agricultural migrants. — This refers to those agricultural laborers 
who regularly move from one section of the Nation to another, following crop 
harvest, especially such migrants as fruit and vegetable packers. 

"West Texas crops are not of the kind which attract this sort of seasonal 
migratory labor. The only area which might be affected is extreme southwest 
Texas, to which this type of laborers report in late June, July, and early August, 
for the packing of cantaloupes. 

There are no indications of local problems or needs for care for this type 
of migrant. 

3. Agricultural workers and general unskilled labor. — There is evidence of some 
interstate movement of this type of migrant. The largest movement, however, 
indicates that the movement is intrastate, and depends upon crop conditions in 
the various sections of the State. 

It appears from reports that this intrastate movement of agricultural laborers 
and common labor is the most general type of migrant within the State. 

1 Reporting conditions in west Texas ; that is, approximately that area north and west of 
a line from Fort Worth, Tex., to slightly southeast of El Paso. Tex. (Because of the brief 
time available, the material herein presented was gathered largely by telephone conversa- 
tions and hurried correspondence. Time was not available to prepare a questionnaire, and 
secure data in the form of replies to questionnaires.) 



There are two general causes for this type of migrants : 

1 These persons represent largely farm workers and former tenants who have 
been displaced by the mechanization of large farms and by the reduction in cotton 
acreage permitted to be planted in the cotton-growing sections of the State. 
Data submitted from Lubbock, Tex., by the Salvation Army, which is the organi- 
zation taking care of transient relief, indicate that "more than 90 percent of the 
persons served by his organization (the Salvation Army) are single men, and 
in all probability will be affected by any type of military conscription that might 
be placed in operation." This report further indicates that the load is largely 
intrastate, and increases and decreases with crop conditions; that is, the data 
Indicate that the large load of intrastate movement comes to the community dur- 
ing the cotton-picking season. If there is an abvmdant cotton crop, most of the 
workers find jobs immediately ; if the cotton crop is somewhat reduced, or the 
migrants do not find jobs picking cotton, the load increases. The same tendency 
Is reflected from other localities reporting by telephone. 

in. AREAS 

1 The north Panhandle.— Reports from the Panhandle area, through which 
passes one of the east-west highways most generally traveled by migrants, indi- 
cate that there is some general movement of migrants, chiefly agricultural 
workers, from Oklahoma and points east and north, but that these migrants are 
merely passing through, and do not constitute a problem of local relief ; that is, 
do not remain in the community. . . 

2 Central south plains of west Texas.— The number of interstate migrants m 
this area is very small, and no reports indicated a local relief problem. Condi- 
tions regarding intrastate migrants are reflected in the report given above for the 
city of Lubbock. No reports indicated a problem of local maintenance and relief. 

3 Southivest Texas.— The report from El Paso, Tex., does indicate some burden 
thrown upon the local community for relief of interstate migrants. Many of 
these may originate in Texas, but are planning to move to States farther west. 

El Paso is a sort of gateway to the West, at which converge several main 
traveled continental highways and railroads, and this no doubt accounts for the 
larger load there. Relief agencies there indicate that there is an interstate 
transient relief problem. 


1. Interstate problems — industrial xoorkers. — In the area hurriedly surveyed, 
it would appear that there is no problem of local relief and maintenance for 
interstate migratory workers except in El Paso, as indicated above. The report 
further indicates that in none of these areas is there any considerable migration 
of industrial workers. One reporter gave as his opinion that the demand 
for industrial workers in sections more industrialized than west Texas draws 
such transient workers to other areas rather than to or through this area. El 
Paso, Tex., is an exception. 

There is an intrastate movement of such workers, but no relief problem results. 

2. Agricult\n-al n-orkers and common labor. — There is no problem of the regular, 
professional, seasonal agricultural migrants, such as fruit and vegetable packers, 
largely because seasonal crops usually harvested and packed by this type of 
labor are not grown in the area surveyed. 

There is some interstate movement of agricultural laborers going to other 
States and passing through Texas. This is true of the north Panhandle area, 
and of extreme southwest Texas where highways converge at El Paso. No 
reports, except from El Paso, indicated a problem of local relief for such inter- 
state migrants. 

3. Intrastate migration. — Intrastate migration occurs largely from the move- 
ment of agricultural laborers moving from one section to another, to harvest crops. 
The relief problem is temporary, and does not assume any considerable propor- 
tions, except when such laborers move into communities where there is a shorter 
crop and therefore less chances of employment than during previous years. None 
of the communities reports a serious relief problem, and one from which de- 


pendable data were secured, indicates that 90 percent of such labor calling for 
temporary local relief is relief for unmarried men, and for only a short period. 

4. Causes — (1) Industrial workers. — It is apparent that the very slight move- 
ment of industrial workers is due to the fact that the section surveyed (west 
Texas) is not an industrialized section, and with the exception of the highways 
convei'ging at El Paso, is not a route generally followed by industrial workers 
moving from one section of the country to another. 

(2) Agricultural workers.- — The movement of migratory agricultural workers 
through west Texas is due to main traveled highways across the Nation, and ap- 
parently due to the mechanization of farms, and the reduced acreage planted to 
crops, which therefore displace the agricultural worker in his home community. 
Intrastate movement does occur continually year after year, and presents a 
problem only when workers move to an area where crops are shorter than usual. 

It would apijear, therefore, that the burden thrown upon local communities in 
west Texas (with one exception) of caring for interstate migrants, is not one of 
serious proportions. 

Respectfully submitted. 

Clifford B. Jones, 
President, Texas Technological College. 


Mr. Curtis. You may state your name for the record. 

Mr. Martin. George R. Martin. 

Mr. Curtis. Where were you born ? 

Mr. Martin. Whigham, Ga. 

Mr. Curtis. How old are you ? 

Mr. Martin. I wnll be 62 the 22d of November. 

Mr. Curtis. Were you raised on a farm ? 

Mr. Martin. No, sir; not altogether. 

Mr. Curtis. What was your father's business ? 

Mr. Martin. Dentist. 

Mr. Curtis. How old were you when he died ? 

Mr. Martin. I was 21 in November before he died in the spring. 

Mr. Curtis. How much education did you have? 

Mr. Martin. I got through the eighth grade. 

Mr. Curtis. How old were you when you started to work for your- 

Mr. Martin. I believe I worked some for myself when I was about 17 
years old. 

Mr. Curtis. "V^Hien did you begin agricultural labor ? 

Mr. Martin. That is what I was doing then, farm work, working 
for wages. 

Mr. Curtis. Where was that ? 

Mr. Martin. Thomas County, Ga., near Thomasville. 

Mr. Curtis. What were you doing ? 

Mr. Martin. Feeding a cane mill, where they make sirup. 

Mr. Curtis. Did you ever work in the fruit any ? 

Mr. Martin. Yes, sir ; I did not until after I was 21 ; I went to Florida 
when I was 22 years old and began working in the fruit. 

Mr. Curtis. How long did you stay in Florida ? 

Mr. Martin. I went there when I was 22, and I was there about 8 
years, I guess, regularly employed, then I got to where I would go up 

260370 — 41— pt. 12 


in Georgia and work in the peaches in the summer and then out in 
other States. 

Mr. Curtis. Working in the canning end of it or what ? 

Mr. Martin. Packing. 

Mr. Curtis. Did you work with anything besides fruit in Florida ? 

Mr. Martin. I w^orked in the nursery budding trees, I learned thai. 

Mr. Curtis. Did you do any vegetable work ? 

Mr. Martin. I j^icked tomatoes. 

Mr. Curtis. When did you leave Georgia ? 

Mr. Martin. In 1924. 

Mr. Curtis. Why did you leave ? 

Mr. Martin. The tomato work had opened in Mississippi and I came 
on out there to work in the tomatoes. 

Mr. Curtis. Where did you go from there ? 

Mr. Martin. I came to this State and worked in the cantaloups 
and then went to Colorado. 

Mr. Curtis. How long did you stay in Colorado ? 

Mr. Martin. I was there about a month. 

Mr. Curtis. Where did you go in Colorado, what place ? 

Mr. Martin. I was at Hasty, Colo. 

Mr. Curtis. Where did you go when you left Colorado ? 

Mr. Martin. I went to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, Mercedes. 

Mr. Curtis. Mr. Martin, I wish you would tell the committee briefly 
in how many States you have worked in this fruit and vegetable and 
nursery business since you have started out? 

Mr. Martin. Well, I worked in Florida, Georgia, Carolina, Mary- 
land, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New York State, Colorado, and 

Mr. Curtis. Do you have a family ? 

Mr. Martin. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Curtis. How much of a family ? 

Mr. Martin. I have a wife and three children of my own and a step- 

Mr. Curtis. How old are your own children ? 

Mr. Martin. The oldest was born in 1929. 

Mr. Curtis. Eleven years old? 

Mr. Martin. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Curtis. How old is the youngest child ? 

Mr. Martin. She will be 8 next December. 

Mr. Curtis. How old is your stepchild? 

Mr. Martin. She will be 15 in December. 

Mr. Curtis. You were going to these various States before you were 
married ? 

Mr. Martin. Yes, sir ; mostly. 

Mr. Curtis. When were you married ? 

Mr. Martin. I was married in 1928. 

Mr. Curtis. What did you do in 1932 ? 

Mr. Martin. In 1932 I worked in a fruit-packing house in Alamo, 
Tex., in the valley, and then left there and went up into Arkansas 
and down there I didn't do hardly anything the rest of the year. 

Mr. Curtis. Did you work on the C. W. A. any ? 


Mr. Martin. Yes, sir; I worked on what they called the C. W. A. 

Mr. Curtis. How long- were you on that ? 

Mr. Martin. I don't know exactly, but it must have been a couple 
of months or more ; 2 or 3 months. 

Mr. Curtis. What did vou do in the next 3 years, 1933, 1934, and 

Mr. Martin. The Government let me have a mule along about either 
1933 or 1934, I am not positive, but I believe it was 1933, and I kept 
that mule a little over a year and gave it back to them and went out 
to work for wages again. 

Mr. Curtis. Then, the next 2 years what did you do in 1936 and 
1937, where were you and what were you doing? 

Mr. Martin. I began working, I was working for Sherry in the Rio 
Grande Valley, that is the Texas Fruit Growers' Exchange, and I 
Avorked for them until I left and went out and worked in the tomatoes 
a while and then I went back to the valley and worked in the fall: 

Mr. Curtis. In these last 2 years, 1938 and 1939, where did you work? 

Mr. Martin. I worked for the Rio Grande Valley Association from 
January to about April. 

Mr. Curtis. What kind of an association is that, a growers' associa- 
tion ? 

Mr. Martin. Yes. sir ; then I went on clown and worked for an ex- 
change in Brownsville. 

^Ir. Curtis, Were you out of the State of Texas at any time in those 
2 years? 

Mr. Martin, Yes ; I worked in the tomatoes in Arkansas, then went 
into Tennessee and worked a little while there. 

Mr. Curtis, Do you have a legal residence in Texas ? 

Mr, Martin, No, sir. 

Mr. Curtis. Since the time you started out about 41 years ago, since 
you were of age, have you voted regularly ? 

Mr, Martin. No; there would be lots of times I wouldn't be qualified 
when it come time to vote, I would be in some other State. 

Mr. Curtis. Have you voted at all ? 

Mr. Martin. One time. I believe, in x^rkansas, is the only place, 

]Mr. Curtis. Since you became of age you voted once ? 

Mr. Martin. Yes. sir. 

Mr. Curtis. What haA'e you been doing this year? 

]Mr. Martin. I worked in the tomatoes in the spring about 3 or 4 
weeks tlien went to Arkansas and worked in the tomatoes there. 

Mr. Curtis. What is the general difference, if any, in wages you 
found in the various ])laces you have worked ? 

Mr. Martin. The kind of work I do the wages are pretty near the 
same one place as another, it is kind of what we call a trade and the 
drifters get all about the same prices. 

Mr, Curtis, Is there some difference? 

Mr, Martin. Very little, but in the scale of labor it is some different. 

Mr. Curtis. What do you mean ? 

Mr. Martin. The day labor work in these packing houses. 

Mr. CunTis. What is that difference ? 


Mr. Martin. In Colorado they get about 30 cents, in Arkansas they 
get 25 cents and in Texas they get 25 cents. 

Mr. Curtis. Would you say that the places where wages are the 
lowest it costs you the least to live? 

Mr. Martin. No ; I don't believe it does. 

Mr. Ciirtis. Have you found any competition to your detriment 
among alien labor from Mexico ? 

Mr. Martin. Well, I think it keeps the people that belong on this 
side from getting more money for their work. I think they would get 
more money if it wasn't for the Mexicans coming over from Mexico. 

Mr. Curtis. Do you see any of them smuggled or bootlegged in? 

Mr. Martin. No, sir ; but they get a permit to come over and visit 
their folks and come in and work in the vegetables and also in the 

Mr. Curtis. They get from the United States Immigration Service 
a visitor's visa? 

Mr. Martin. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Curtis. If the Federal Government provided that anyone issued 
a visitor's visa could not be employed as a laborer during that time 
that would take care of that, wouldn't it? 

Mr. Martin. It looks that it would. 

Mr. Curtis. Does that have anything to do with your wandermg 
around over the whole country ? 

Mr. Martin. Well, I don't know as it does except I think that there 
would be better wages ; I think we would get a better price for picking 
cotton if it wasn't for so much of that. 

Mr. Curtis. Would you be able to spend more of your time in 
Texas — do you consider Texas your home now ? 

Mr. Martin. Yes ; most of the work I do is in Texas. 

Mr. Curtis. What are they paying for cotton picking this year ? 

Mr. Martin. Fifty cents a hundred for quite a while, and when wo 
began scrapping where it was thin, 75 cents a hundred. 

Mr. Curtis. How much can you make a day at that ? 

Mr. Martin. Me and my folks could pick, where the cotton was 
good, me and my wife and three little kids could pick about 400 pounds. 

Mr. Curtis. iBack in the early 1920's how much money could you 
make traveling around this way ? 

Mr. Martin. I expect I made — lots of months I would put in a 
pretty good month in the packing houses, maybe in a month I would 
make $150, and maybe the next month I would make $50. 

Mr. Curtis. Have you ever been on relief ? 

Mr, Martin. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Curtis. When was the first time that happened ? 

Mr. Martin. I believe it was just before I got on with the C. W. A. 
in Arkansas, along in either 1933 or 1932, I am not positive, but I 
think it was 1933. 

Mr. Curtis. Have you ever been stopped at a State line when you 
tried to enter a State? 

Mr. Martin. No, sir. 

cmm 1 
m->ihrrn.KSit:sr administkation, i<i:<iH).\ i;i<inr. 

2r>Oo7(» — 41 — pt. 5 (Face p. 19:13) 



Mr. CimTis. Have you ever had any question raised about entrance 
to a State or receiving relief because you did not have a legal residence 
some place? 

Mr. Maetin. No. 

Mr. Parsons. Are you going to vote this time, Mr, Martin ? 

Mr. Martin. No, sir ; I won't be qualified to vote this time. 

Mr. Curtis. That is all. 

(Witness excused.) 


Mr. Parsons. Mr. Evans, give your name to the reporter. 

Mr. Evans. C. M. Evans, regional director, Farm Security Admin- 
istration, Dallas, Tex. Mr. Chairman, I should like to introduce three 
of my staff members, Mr. William J. Green, assistant director, Mr. 
Lee Ozbirn, and Mr. B. J. Walker. 

Mr. Parsons. The very excellent statement, with its illustrations, 
which you have submitted to the committee, has been received and will 
be made a part of our record.^ 

Statembint Presented by C. M. Evans, Regional DrREoroK, Farm SECiTKrrY Admin- 
istration, Dallas, Tex., on Migratory Farm Labor and the Farm Security 
Administration in Texas and Oklahoma 

Less than half a century ago, Oklahoma farmers were rooted to the soil. One 
ihundred percent of them were landowners, because land was to be had free merely 
for the planting of a stake in it. But today more than 60 percent of Oklahoma 
farmers are tenants (chart I), and 41 percent of those tenants, both in Oklahoma 
and in Texas, break loose like the tumbleweed every year and go rolling across the 
prairie until they lodge for a year against a barbwire fence, only to break loose 
3iext year and go tumbling on again (table 1). 

Table 1. — Percent of farm operators iy term of occupancy, 1935 


Less than 
1 year 

1 year 

2 to 4 
years, in- 

5 to 9 
years, in- 

10 to 14 
years, in- 

15 years 
and over 














Tenant -. 



Owner .-..,--._.. 




United States total: 

Owner ._- 










All farm problems are solved, or more easily solved, once you have anchored 
the farmer to one spot. A. C Williams, president of the Federal Land Bank of 
Houston, says that the man who succeeds in paying out a farm is the man who 
gets on one piece of land and plans to spend the remainder of his life there. 
And so the farm-tenancy problem is, first of all, a problem of making the tumble 
weeds stay put. 

Helping the landless man to acquire land has been an objective of the United 
States Government since 1785. And even from the start, with land at $2 an acre, 

* Additional statement by Mr. Evans will be found on p. 2196. 


it was realized that many settlers were not able to buy even this $2 land without 
credit. When the first Government land was offered for sale, immediate payment 
was insisted upon. By 1800, 4 years' credit was being allowed. But in 1820 
the Government went out of the farm-credit business and stayed out of it for 
80 years. After that first 20 years of operation, the land purchasers still owed 
the Government almost half of the $44,000,000 with which they had been charged. 
Time had been extended for the indebted landowners through 13 separate and 
distinct relief acts passed between 1800 and 1820. 

A minimum price of $1.25 an acre was set up in 1820, making it p<issible for a 
man to buy an 80-acre tract for $100. From then until 1900 the Government 
disposed of the public domain at prices which made credit unnecessary. But by 
the turn of the last century, free land worth having had all been taken up, the 
value of the average farm had decreased slightly during the generation following 
the Civil War, sliding from $3,251 in 1860 to $2,896 in 1900. But in the 10 years 
following 1900 the average farm doubled in value, jumping from $2,896 to $5,471. 
The price per acre went from $15.57 to $32.40 in those first 10 years of the cen- 
tury, and continued, as we all know, on the upgrade until the middle twenties. 

As soon as laud took this upward turn increasing pressure began to appear in 
Congress for long-time credit and low interest rates. Mortgage agencies and 
commercial banks were unable or unwilling to grant the terms which farmers 
required, making loans of only 5 years. Interest rates in the South and West 
were admittedly high in comparison with the East and Central West. 

Fifteen years of discussion brought the Federal Farm Loan Act in 1916. It 
provided a 40-year period of payment and lower interest rates. But land con- 
tinued to slip out of the hands of the man who cultivated it. The farm-tenancy 
chart still curved upward (chart 2^). Only 18 percent of Federal land-bank loans 
made during the first 5 years were actually for purchase of land, and this propor- 
tion has since that time not even been equaled. 

Through 1936 the average amount loaned annually through the Federal Farm 
Loan Act to buy farms had been $14,592,151. That would have bought, at $4,000 
per farm, between three and four thousand farms a year. We do not know how 
many of those farms were bought by actual farmers and how many were bought 
by business or professional men as an investment or to satisfy their innate urge 
to own a piece of agricultural earth. But we do know that twenty to thirty thou- 
sand tenant farmers each year have been added. Today half the Nation's farm 
land is owned by investors (p. 1935). With his limited capital, the actual dirt 
farmer has not been able to comjiete with the businessman or the speculator. 

Where he has been able to buy any land at all, the farmer has usually been 
compelled to content himself with that which is comparatively cheap and com- 
paratively unproductive. It is almost exclusively upon submarginal land that 
increases have been shown in ownership of farms by actual farmers (charts 4, 
5, and 6^. Yet it is in those very areas that paying for a farm is most difficult. 
in spite of the lower price. An Alabama survey shows that land which produced 
less than a third of a bale of cotton to the acre was foreclosed in 28 percent of 
the cases, while land which produced half a bale to the acre was foreclosed in 
only 21 percent. This was in spite of the fact that the land growing a third of 
a bale sold for only $28 an acre, as compared with $71 an acre for the better land. 
Buying cheap land, not worth even its cheap price, has been the unprofitable 
alternative to which the farmer has been forced, in spite of the more liberal credit 
extended by the Federal Government since 1916. 

As it became evident that there was to be no great remedy for the landless 
through this Federal act, action was demanded locally in many of the agricul- 
tural States. South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota were among those 
which embarked upon State programs to help tenants become owners. South 
Dakota, after making approximately $41,000,000 in land-purchase loans, found 
herself in 1937 with a deficit of more than $17,000,000, or approximately 40 per- 
cent of the amount invested. North Dakota had a deficit of more than $7,000,000 
on a total of $40,500,000 loaned. Minnesota, after issuing $66,000,000 worth of 
bonds, showed a deficit of approximately $7,000,000 at the end of 1934, after 
which no further loans were made. 

1 These charts held in committee files, not printed. 




A chief cause given for failure in tlie State program was that those in control 
were too close to the people they were serving, too susceptible to demands for 
liberalism and lenience. 

But the Federal Government suffered also from this same complaint after pas- 
sage of the Reclamation Act of 1902, which started irrigation projects for sale 
to homesteaders. A total of $228,000,000 was expended on those projects, of 
which Congress charged off sixteen million. Out of the $212,000,000 left to be 
repaid by homesteaders, payment of only $56,000,000 had been made up to June 
30, 1934, leaving a balance of $157,000,000 outstanding. 

Instead of paying back the cost over the 10-year period as originally provided, 
the settlers had been allowed to extend that time first to 20 years and later in 
some cases to 40 years. Many of the projects had been in operation for a quarter 
of a century, yet repayments amounted to little more than 25 percent of the 
obligated debt. A report issued by the Department of the Interior in 1934 read : 
"It is a pertinent fact that although the reclamation debt is a prior lien on the 
land, yet in very few cases during the entire history of reclamation has the lien 
been enforced by legal process, despite thousands of cases of nonpayment. Fully 
as much as a quarter of a century ago the reclamation settlers learned that 
payment could be postponed by appeal to political methods." 

With all the assistance that the Government has given farmers on the Federal 
irrigation projects, tenancy in 1930 was almost as high on these projects as for 
the country as a whole. It had increased from 24 i)ercent tenants in 1925 to 36 
percent in 1930. 

The National Resources Board in 1934 iwinted out what it considers the essen- 
tial weakness of the Federal program in the past, as follows: "Comparatively 
little attention has been given in this country to the training of prospective 
settlers or to their subsequent: guidance. It has been assumed that if men could 
only be helped to acquire farms, the rest could be left to their individual initia- 
tive. The subsequent experiences of settlers do not support this assumption." 

This new approach indicated by the National Resources Board has been 
accepted by the Farm Security Administration in its program of land for the 
landless. The Farm Security program was defined by the Bankhead-Jones Farm 
Tenant Act, passed during the summer of 1937. The new act endeavors to carry 
out the precautions suggested by Secretary of Agriculture Wallace when he said : 
"I am anxious that the procedure be safeguarded in every possible way so that 
it will not be possible for some future Congress, 10 or 15 years hence, to say that 
this law was enacted without sufficient thought as to the mechanics for the 
supervision of the tenant while beginning those agricultural practices and habits 
which are necessary when a man is operating his own land." 

The act provides that the Secretary may prescribe covenants which will assure 
proper farm practices and guard against speculation. Should the borrower sell 
the farm without first obtaining the consent of the Secretary, the latter may 
declare the unpaid balance immediately due and payable, and he may invoke the 
same penalty if the borrower fails to comply with any of the conditions in regard 
to farming practices. Some critics of the act have pointed out that declaring the 
mortgage to be immediately due and payable will not stop speculation if the 
borrower can obtain enough cash to meet the demand. 

In accordance with the provisions of this bill, State advisory committees selected 
counties in which loans are to be made for purchase of land by tenants. All coun- 
ties in Oklahoma and 158 in Texas have now been designated. In each of these 
counties, three successful farmers actually living upon their own land were chosen 
as a county advisory committee to select purchasers and to pass upon the value 
of the land which they proposed to buy. These county committees were assembled 
for a 1-day school of instruction, where it was impressed upon them that they are 
to do what has never been done before — pick tenants who will purchase land 
\\athout a down payment, where those who have purchased land from the Govern- 
ment in the past have too often failed even after making a down payment. It 
was also impressed that they must pick land good enough to produce the necessary 
revenue, bought at a price which can be paid from the actual crop yields. 



There were 25 applicants for each loan which could be made from available 
funds, and the committees were able to choose from the very best tenant farmers 
in these counties. Committees estimated 50 to 75 percent of the applicants would 
probably make good as purchasers under the Bankhead-Jones plan. 

Payments under this act are actually less than most tenants in Texas and Okla- 
homa are now paying as rent. A study by Dr. C. H. Hamilton, of the Texas Ex- 
periment Station, shows that in east Texas tenants are paying as rent S^/io per- 
cent of the market value of the land which they oi)erate, that in central Texas 
they are paying 6i/^, and on the south plains 9%o percent. The Bankhead-Jones 
plan simplifies the payments still more by permitting the amount paid to vary 
with the size of the crop and the price obtained by the farmer. In years of good 
crops and good prices the purchasers will be required to pay more than 4%o per- 
cent and will be allowed to pay less in years of poor yields or low prices. 

The statistical record of the tenant-purchase program in Texas and Oklahoma 
follows : 





Applications received: 

Texas . 




$836, 735 
$426, 025 



$2, 177, 482 
$1, 070, 134 



$3, 431, 518 
$1, 833, 149 

13, 895 



Number of loans made: 




Amount loaned: 




The average cost of improvements involving new construction (dwelling, barn, 
etc. ) on farms bought in the fiscal year 1939-40 was $1,790. 

Ninety-nine percent of the maturities for the 3 years have been collected. 

Only 15 borrowers are delinquent in Texas and 11 in Oklahoma ; $4,433,418 has 
been set up for tenant purchase loans this year, 1940-41, in Texas ; $2,204,079 in 

Tenant purchase loans 



Acres per borrower (average) 

Purchase price per borrower (average)... 

Improvements, repairs, and fees per borrower (average) 


$4, 872. 69 
1, 634. 99 

$5, 129. 75 
1, 284. 48 ' 

With the passage of the Tarver amendment to the Bankhead-Jones Act by the 
present session of Congress, it is required that farms bought under the act be 
limited in value to the average value of all farms in excess of 30 acres in the 
county. This would have eliminated approximately half the farms previously 
bought in Texas and more than that number in Oklahoma. It reduces the poten- 
tial purchase price in some eastern Oklahoma and east Texas counties to as low 
as $1,000. It emphasizes management as the essential problem, as loans will not 
be made for purchase of farms unless a plan of management can be provided; 
which gives reasonable assurance that the loan will be repaid from sale of the 
farm's products. 

If such management plans can be developed, a vitally needed Influence will be' 
provided to check the trend to larger farms and the consequent displacement of 
farmers who had previously operated small units which were absorbed in the- 
larger ones. During the 1930-35 period 11,000,000 acres of land in Texas were- 
shifted from farms of less than 500 acres to farms of more than 500 acres (chart 



7).* (Charts 8 and 9' present the type of farming areas in Texas and Oklahoma, 
with the rainfall which can be expected ordinarily ; chart 10,^ the areas in which 
land is available for new settlement ; and charts 11 and 12 ^ the areas in which 
wheat farming decreased as a result of the drought years, and other areas in 
which it increased. Also see attached study of Mechanization of Farms, by Dr, 
C. H. Hamilton.)' 

The greatest activity of the Farm Security Administration is among a class on 
a lower scale of efficiency and financial security than those to whom land-pur- 
chase loans are made. They are the class from which the majority of the 
migrants come. 

They are about to lose their last hold upon the land. Two-thirds of this group 
served by Farm Security Administration in 1939 had incomes, before acceptance 
into the program, of less than $500 a year (table 2). The average amount of land 
which they operated before entering the program was 89 acres. The total number 
of families in the less-than-$500-income class in 1935 was 44,000 in Oklahoma and 
162,000 in Texas (table 3). 

These are farmers who a few years ago were on the dole or on the verge of it, 
and were ineligible for credit from private banks or Government lending agencies 
other than the Farm Security Administration. They are on the lower rungs of 
the agricultural ladder just as the tenants who are to buy the Bankhead- Jones 
farms are, for tenant farmers, on the very top rung of the agricultural ladder. 

Borrowers are drawn from the bottom of the tenancy ladder, in expectation of 
moving them, step by step, to the point where they also will be ready to graduate 
into ownership of land. A live-at-home program shifts them from a one-sided 
cotton program to livestock and subsistence farming. Cotton farming may not be 
the cause of tenancy, but the fact remains that 73 percent of cotton farms are 
tenant operated (charts 13 and 14).^ Only 21 percent of the dairy-products farms 
of the United States were tenant operated in 1930 (chart 15),^ and small as the 
number of tenants is on dairy farms, the trend is toward a still smaller percentage. 
Shifting to a dairy program or other livestock program is obviously a shift away 
from conditions under which tenancy has developed (charts 16, 17, and 18).^ 

Table 2. — Proportional distribution of active standard borroivers whose first 
crop year on the program tvas 1939, bp net ineome year before acceptance and 
by State, region VIII ^ 


Net income year before acceptance 



Region VIII 



Negative income 




.$0to$99 ... .- 


$100 to $299 


$300 to .$499 ... . 


$500 to $699 

13 8 

$700 to $999 


$1,000 to $1,499 . ... 


$l,600ormore -_ - - -- -- - 


All borrowers.. 



1 Based on county supervisors' 1939 report of the family progress of active standard rural rehabilitation 

^ Charts held in committee files, not printed. 
2 See p. 1948. 



Table 3. — Number of farm families ivith net income in 1935 of less than $500, 
number of farms less than specified sizes, and number of farm families who 
worked more than specified number of days off the farm, the State, region 
VIII, 1935 ^ 

[1,000 families] 




Number of 
farm fami- 
lies with net 
incomes in 
1935 of less 
than $500 

C D E 

Number of farms oi less than given 

F G 

Number of families who 
worked more than given 
number of days ofE farm 


Total num- 
ber of farm 

10 acres 

20 acres 

50 acres 

150 days 

250 days 

Kegion VIII. 

















' Source: United States Census of Agriculture, 1935. 

A second fundamental of the rehabilitation program is to break farmers loose 
from the half-and-half or "cropper" system. The cropper, who has no livestock 
or equipment of his own, is not even considered a tenant by the courts, but is 
classified as a farm laborer. The cropper is usually the type of farmer who must 
have continuous and detailed supervision, but the landowner is seldom able to 
give him this supervision to the extent necessary for carrying on a profitable 
farming enterprise. The share-crop system has not only resulted in destruction 
of soil fertility but has disintegrated the basic social fabric. One of the most 
disastrous effects of mechanization and big-scale farming is the displacement 
of croppers (charts 21 and 22^). 

Where croppers are qualified to become true tenants, the Farm Security Admin- 
istration is financing them to the purchase of livestock and equipment and helping 
them to develop plans of farm and home management under which they will 
gradually grow in managerial ability. It is helping them to locate on better land 
and to negotiate leases which will give them a longer term of years upon these 
farms, with compensation for improvements they may make upon land and 

In 1934 there were approximately 1,000,000 farm families upon relief, 100,000 
of them in Texas and Oklahoma (charts 19 and 20^). There appeared to be 
two possible methods of meeting the emergency — first, continuing to hand out 
direct charity, or, second, to put these families into a position where they could 
■support themselves. The Administration turned to the second method. It 
authorized a system of supervised loans to these needy families, with sound 
farm and home management plans backed by finances adequate to carry out these 
plans. But in the first year or two of the emergency, 90 percent of the time of 
the rural supervisors was required for loans or grants to relieve urgent necessity. 
Farm plans and home plans were made out in the office, without visiting the 
farm or studying the actual realities of each situation. With dozens of destitute 
men packed into his office all day, clamoring for checks, writing to their Con- 
gressmen about the delay, caring not for a long-time plan but for immediate cash 
in hand — the supervisor could not get into his car and drive out to spend half a 
day on the land, detailing a plan for any one family. Nor could he reject a family 
'because it was located on a farm too small for adequate operation, or because 
the land was unproductive. The job was to get the family to work, producing 
as much as possible of its own food supply. That did not cost as much, in the 
end, as it would have cost to carry these families on direct relief, and it was 
better to have the beneficiary stand on his own legs, even if he wobbled because 
of an inadequate farm or an imperfect plan. 

Progress has been made by a large number of borrowers in the face of the 
imperfect administration of the first few years. Gradually the urgency of the 
situation has relaxed and now supervisors are able to bring practice more nearly 
into line with theory (table 4). 

^ Charts held in committee files, not printed. 



That these families are actually moving toward economic independence is indi- 
cated by the fact that borrowers in Oklahoma produced $4,740,475 worth of goods 
for home consumption last year, as compared with only $2,366,740 worth before 
they came into the Farm Security Administration program, according to a State- 
wide survey of borrowers made this year (table 5). 

Table 4. — Average numher of supervisory visits to active standard rural rehaHl- 
itation borrowers in 1939, by race and by State, region VIII ^ 








AU bor- 

Race of borrower 





Region VIII . . . - 








Oklahoma . . 


Texas .- - - --- 


I Based on county supervisors' 1939 report of the family progress of active standard rural rehabilitation! 

Table 5. — Average amount of gross family income and amount, proportion and 
change in value of home-use products, of active standard rural reJiabilitation 
borrowers, year before acceptance on program and 1939, by State, region VIII * 










Year before acceptance 


39 crop year 

Increase in value 






Value of home- 
use products 


Value of home- 
use products 

of home-use 


tion of 


tion of 



tion of 
year be- 
fore ac- 

Region VIII 








Oklahoma -.- 


Texas .-..- 


' Based on county supervisors' 1939 report of the family progress of active standard rural rehabilitation) 

A pressure cooker is a standard item in a Farm Security Administration loan, 
if the family does not already have one. Last year our families in Oklahoma 
canned 4,825,322 quarts of fruits and vegetables, or an average of 269 quarts per 
family. They produced 10,166,541 gallons of milk for home consumption, an 
average of 567 gallons. 

The 17,938 standard rehabilitation borrowers in Oklahoma had an average- 
net income last year of $505.70 per family, as compared with $295.21 in the year 
before they came to Farm Security Administration for help. This represents an. 
increase of 71 percent (table 6). 

Moreover, these families increased their average net worth — over and above 
all debts — from $596.98 before they came into the Farm Security Administration 
program, to $838.82 at the end of the 1939 crop year, a gain of 41 percent. 

The borrowers in Oklahoma have repaid $4,343,507 into the Federal Treasury 
as installments on loans totaling $14,309,143. The typical rehabilitation bor- 
rower family in Oklahoma has borrowed $797.70 and already has repaid $242.14. 
Since maich of the money loaned does not fall due for 4 or 5 years, there is every 
reason to expect that the great bulk of it will be repaid. 


For farmers overburdened with debt, the Farm Security Administration lias 
;a means by wliich their debts can be adjusted to their abilities to pay. Debt- 
distressed farmers and their creditors may meet with the county farm debt 
;adjustmeut committee for discussion of their mutual problems. Often it is pos- 
sible for them to reach agreements for time extensions, reamortizations, or 
reductions in principal and interest. 

Table 6. — Average net income year hefwe first crop year on program, avera{^ 
net income 1939, and percentage change in net income of active standard 
rural rehabilitation borrowers, by first crop year on program, region VIII ^ 






net income 
year before 


net income 


Average change in net 

First year on program 


of net in- 
come year 
before ac- 






1935 -- 






1938 . 




1 Based on comity supervisors' 1939 report of the family progress of active standard rural rehabOitation 

Activities of county committees since 1935 have enabled 4,909 Oklahoma 
farmers to reach agreements with their creditors, in most cases avoiding fore- 
••closure and permitting the farmers to remain on their land and make substantial 
.payments to their creditors on what otherwise might have been bad debts. These 
^farmers operate 1,180,350 acres of Oklahoma farm and ranch land. The scale- 
downs in interest and principal amounted to $2,936,682, or 21.7 percent of the 
• original indebtedness. Taxes amounting to $287,021 were paid to local govern- 
mental agencies as a direct result of these adjustments. 

The ultimate goal of the Farm Security Administration's rehabilitation pro- 
,gram is to assist the farmer to be moderately prosperous, secure, and able to go 
Tinder his own steam. Our records indicate that in Oklahoma more than 4,500 
rfarmers have left the Farm Security Administration, fully rehabilitated, and are 
attractive credit risks to banks and other financing agencies. More than 80 
ipercent of all matured installments have been repaid. 

These farmers have not only been freed from dependence upon others for their 
teams and tools, but they have also been emancipated from the credit system 
which has been one of the most deadening and overpowering burdens of the 
southern tenant for more than half a century. Even in recent years, when credit 
Ihas been easier in practically all other lines, surveys made in a number of 
•southern States indicated that the prevailing rates of interest to tenant farmers 
at local banks, credit stores, or commissaries have been running as high as 
;35 to 40 percent. This percentage does not show on the face of the note as being- 
so high, but that is what it actually figures when computed accurately upon the' 
basis of time that the money is used. It was found also that prices charged at 
the credit stores and commissaries frequently were 20 to 25 percent above prices- 
iit which the same supplies could be purchased for cash. The Farm Security 
Administration, by making loans that bear only 5 percent, figured on the time 
actually used, has lifted from its borrowers a load that of itself alone was enough 
to kill the spirit and paralyze any move toward economic independence. This 
statement is made with full realization that the high interest rates and excess 
•charges for goods were frequently the result of losses which the lending and 
.-selling agencies had experienced in this class of business, and were in a measure 


due to the hazards and uncertainties unavoidably connected with tenants who 
were here this year and gone next, with nothing certain about their income or 
their habitation except that it would be uncertain. 

The livestock program, which is being made the basis for rural rehabilitatiou 
plans, was the foundation of Denmark's farm recovery. Today on a Danish 
farm of the size corresponding to the average Texas or Oklahoma farm, that is 
from 75 to 150 acres, there are 45 cows, 92 pigs, 3SS chickens, in addition to the 
average 15 head of work stock. On the smaller farms, the proportion of livestock 
is almost twice that much. This condition exists where three-fourths of a 
century ago there was a one-crop system hardly less specialized than that of our 
own cotton farms, with grain constituting 60 percent of all Danish exports. In 
place of the poverty-stricken farmers of the grain era, the livestock program has 
resulted in an income of $44 per acre on the smaller farms, and $10 an acre on 
farms equal in size to the average in Texas and Oklahoma. That $10 an acre 
is the return to the operator for work and management, and is over and above any 
interest and overhead chargeable on the capital invested in land and equipment. 
Such a system would mean a return of $750 to $1,500 a year on the average Texas 
or Oklahoma farm, whereas we all know that at present it is a rather small 
fraction of that amount. The average Texas cotton farm produces only 6 bales 
of cotton, which means at present prices about $250 to be divided between the 
landlord and the tenant. 

The Farm Security Administration program does not overlook that other vital 
factor in success of small farmers — cooperation. Ninety percent of all Danish 
dairy farms, and 86 percent of all the cows in Denmark are included in dairy 
cooperatives ; 75 percent of all Danish pigs find their way to market through 
cooperative packing plants. The groups who are being aided by the Farm 
Security Administration are scattered here and there, constituting a com- 
paratively small proportion of any community, and therefore they can usually 
participate only in such cooperative activities as are already in existence. These 
Farm Security borrowers constitute merely one element of a number which must 
be brought together to set up a community cooperative enterprise. It is diflBcult 
for these farmers, on the lower rungs of the agricultural ladder, to take leadership 
in such an enterprise, but Farm Security is encouraging them to take whatever 
steps are practical. 

Often we have found grou of low-income farmers who needed equipment or 
services which no one farn r could afford to own by himself or which were 
too large or expensive to r solely on family-size farms. By using the Farm 
Security Administration's t operative and community loan service, farmers in 
the same neighborhood can get together to buy a tractor, purebred breeding 
sires, spraying equipment, etc. 

During 1939, some 5,000 Oklahoma farmers used these facilities which were 
provided by Farm Security Administration loans made during the year. These 
loans were for: 

Purebred bulls 29 

Jacks 39 

Stallions 18 

Harvesting machinerj' units (combines, grain binders, roAv binders, etc.) 68 

Threshing machinery units (for grain, peanuts) 21 

Tractors and plows for land preparation 6 

Feed grinders and ensilage cutters 15 

Haying machinery (presses, mowing machines) 15 

Miscellaneous (sirup mills, corn shelters, sawmills, pond-building equipment, 

boars) 5 

Total 216 

The definite purpose of carrying on a program of diversified farming was be- 
hind the making of these loans. For example, a purebred bull will enable a 
community to carry on a dairying industry. A peanut thresher will make it 
possible for sandy-land farmers to have a new cash crop. 

These loans enabled small farmers to compete with large, well-financed farm- 
ers who have the land and resources to use the latest type of large-scale 
machinery. They had the elTect, too, of improving land tenure and assisting 


farmers toward farm ownership. Landowners are more anxious to rent to 
well-equipped farmers and to sell their land to them. Well equipped farmers 
can operate more profitahly, and in communities where loans have been made 
for purebred herd sires, farmers boast that they are growing out of debt with 
their young livestock. 

We have found that many of the farmers who dropped out of the Farm 
Security Administration program failed because they and their families were in 
no physical condition to operate a farm. In a recent survey of low-income farm 
families, it was found that 22 percent had unpaid doctor bills and more than 
half of the serious illnesses were without treatment of a physician. A majority 
of the childbirths were unattended by a doctor. 

Our medical-aid loans are made for two puri^oses — first, to rehabilitate the 
family by improving their health, and second, as a straight matter of business. 
Farmers who are in no physical condition to work can't repay their loans. 

As one way of meeting such a situation, the Farm Security Administration 
has organized cooperative medical bureaus in 20 counties of Oklahoma by the 
end of the year 19o9. By these bureaus medical care was brought to 2,232 
families containing 11,529 members. 

A recent allotment of $96,000 was given to Oklahoma to use in improving 
sanitary conditions in and around homes of low-income farmers. Sanitary 
toilets, improving the water supply so that it will be sanitary, and screens for 
the houses are being provided. The money is being spent chiefly in eastern 
Oklahoma where hookworm and malaria are most prevalent. 

An amount up to $100 per farm is being handled on a trading basis to bring 
about the largest possible contribution of labor and materials from owners of 
the land and the tenants. The Work Projects Administration, National Youth 
Administration, and State health department have furnished labor and technical 
guidance in addition to the Farm Security Administration's contribution, which 
has largely been for materials. 

In a limited number of cases, in order to get a family off to a sound start, small 
grants for food, fuel, and other urgent necessities have been made to supplement 
the standard farm-and-home-plan loan. Usually these grants were just enough 
to tide the family over until it could make its first crop. They have averaged 
$80.23 per family,' or a total of $1,546,704 over a 4-year period. 

Another objective of the Farm Security Admini. -ntion is to help tenants and 
sharecroppers to increase the security of their Ian itenure agreements so they 
can plan ahead for crop rotations, soil conservation' -nd avoid the waste of fre- 
quent moving. Thirteen thousand six hundred and lune tenant farmers in Okla- 
homa financed by the Farm Security Administration have obtained written leases 
in place of verbal agreements. 

It is to the example of England that Farm Security has turned for precedent 
in its effort to promote leases under which tenants will be able to occupy the same 
farm for a longer period of years and will be encouraged to make improvements. 
Dr. Earl Brandt, recently lecturing at Louisiana State University, who studied 
the English system at first hand and later acted as arbitrator of landlord-tenant 
relations in his native Germany, says : "It is generally agreed upon that the land- 
lord has the upper hand in the tenancy situation. But this does not mean at all 
that the landlord has the power to force tenants to operate a farm to the greatest 
benefit of both parties and of the commonwealth. Force on the one hand and 
passive resistance or defensive inertia on the other prevent the development of 
prosperous farming. 

"Such a deadlock can only be broken by a changed psychology. The first re- 
quirement for a reform of a degenerate tenancy is a new interpretation or a new 
philosophy of the principle of tenancy." 

As a practical means of setting up this new standard of relation between land- 
lord and tenant. Farm Security has developed a new lease. Chief features of 
the lease are compensation to tenants for improvements which they make upon 
the landlord's property and safeguards against termination of the lease on short 
notice. Expectation is that the increased interest which the tenant will take in 
maintaining the property and in carrying on an efficient farming system will more 
than pay the landlord for the concessions that he makes under this agreement. 
(See tenure survey of the Texas Agricultural Woi'kers Association.^) The mere 

^ See p. 1945. 


fact of entering into a written agreement, to clarify the conditions which are 
already tacitly in effect, is considered worth while, even though no new prin- 
ciples are introduced. The unfair attitude of many landlords and the undepend- 
able attitude of many tenants are largely the outgrowth of the unbusinesslike 

, and unsatisfactory relationships which have existed between them, and the dis- 
trust between them is largely due to their failure to enter into a definite tenure 

: arrangement which would be mutually fair and profitable. 

The migratory-labor problem in Texas and Oklahoma has resulted largely from 
insecurity of tenure, the one-crop farming system, and the inadequate credit 
system developing over a long period of years. It has been intensified in recent 
years by mechanization of farming, discussed in the attached paper by Dr. C. H. 
Hamilton, formerly of the Texas Experiment Station. 

It is estimated that 70,000 farm families are now wanderers upon the highways 

, of Texas and Oklahoma, living by such precarious earnings as they make in the 
harvests which they follow from the Rio Grande to the Red River with the 

r seasons. Their annual cash income, per family, in Texas amounted to $154 in 

The remedy is to anchor these families to the land, before they lose their grip 
upon it. When this fails, and the families become migrants, their lot may be 
alleviated by the provision of labor camps, such as have been constructed and 
are now being constructed in various parts of Texas. The camps provide tem- 
porary housing, sanitary, health, and social facilities. They assist local farmers 
to solve their labor problems ; and help the State, county, and city health ofiicials 
in the promotion of health and sanitation progi-ams; and aid the community, 
State, and Nation to build a stronger democracy by a well-rounded program to 

: meet the education, cultural, and social needs of these laborers. 

Permanent camps are located in areas where seasonal work runs continuously 
over a period of from 4 to 6 months. Shelters, tent platforms, and trailer lots 
in each camp now open will accommodate 250 to 300 families. In addition there 

.rare from 25 to 50 labor cottages available to families who have the prospect of a 
more i)ermanent employment pattern in the local community and who because 
of their energy, skill, and ambition have reasonable prospects of again establishing 
themselves on the land. 

A general assembly or community building provides complete facilities for 

r group meetings, church and Sunday school services, kindergarten, dances, and 
■ other community functions. There are reading and librax'y rooms. General 

.space is provided for indoor recreation and for various educational projects. 
A large central utility building is provided with shower baths and laundry 
tubs with hot and cold water, and sewing and ironing rooms. The opportunity 
to clean up and wash their clothes is one of the features of the camps most 
appreciated and enjoyed by the people who use them. 

Each community is provided with a modern clinic fully equipped and supplied 
with a complete stock of medical supplies and drugs usually found in any modern 
urban clinic. A registered nurse is on the staff of each camp to care for minor 
illnesses ; conduct child welfare and prenatal clinics : to promote a community 
health program and to assist in the promotion of the general welfare of the 
community. The medical program includes the services of physicians to care 
for the more serious illnesses, advise in regard to child welfare, give physical 
examinations, and render professional services as needed. 

All families are required, immediately upon registration in the camps, to 
register with the Texas State Employment Service. All contacts between em- 
ployers and employees are established through this agency, and hiring is done 

Iby the aid of these officials or their representatives. 

A community manager and small staff, employed by the Farm Security Adminis- 
tration, are in charge of camp property, operations, applications, assigning 
c[uarters, and maintaining the Government property in good condition. 

Self-government by a camp council elected by the residents is encouraged in 
-every way possible. 

The solution of problems of migratory labor and tenancy in general involves 
something far more fundamental than labor camps or lease forms or cooperative 
agreements or obtaining adequate livestock and equipment. 

The spirit of the tenant farmer in Texas and Oklahoma is the spirit of the 

pioneer, questing for a new land where he can build a home to be his castle. 

His spirit is no different from that of his father who left the British Isles or 

the Continent in search of freedom. When the tenant farmer feels that his free- 

.i-dom, either political or economic, is being cramped, he picks up and moves. His 


fathers moved first into the older Southern States, then into Texas and Oklahoma, 
and the sons today are moving on to California, and failing to find there a home 
which will be their castle, they are turning hack again to Texas and Oklahoma. 
They are ripe for leadership which will show them the wisdom of ceasing to 
be a human tumble weed, and of taking root. 

Back in the old countries from which their fathers came, the cousins of our 
tenants are working out their problems in the way which is giving them security 
on the land. The Danish farmer who now plugs along in his livestock farming, 
let us not forget, is descendent of the Vikings who once drove pirate crafts across 
a stormy sea. If the Danish Vikings could be domesticated, we should be able 
to make our human tumble weeds take root. 

We can say that already, even among these families with which we deal upon 
the lowest rung of the agricultural ladder, they are taking root. Fruit ti-ees 
and vines were planted last year by 4,627 rural rehabilitation families in Texas 
and by 4,819 of these families in Oklahoma. They are being given, under Farm 
Security Administration leadership, a new vision of home, even though it is a 
rented home. They have decided to stand and fight where they are. People do 
not plant fruit trees and vines unless they have hopes of eating the fruit. 


A. Results of Farm Tenure Questionnaire of the Texas Agricultural Workers 


B. "The Social Effects of Recent Trends of Mechanization of Agriculture," by 

C. H. Hamilton. 

United States Department of Agricultttre, 

Farm Security Administration, 

Dallas, Tex., July 12, 19J,0. 
In reply refer to : RS-3-JHC. 
Mr. Eugene BuTLEit, 

President, Texas Agricultural Workers Association, 

Care of Progressive Farmer, Dallas, Tex. 

Dear Mr. Butler: The farm tenancy committee of the Agricultural Workers 
Association has tabulated and analyzed the results of a comprehensive question- 
naire on the tenancy situation in Texas. This questionnaire was prepared and 
submitted in cooperation with the State land use planning committee, and most 
of the answers were made by county land use planning committees, covering about 
40 counties in all sections of the State. 

Tenure Survey of Texas Agricxh.tural Workers Association 

Notable facts developed include evidence of a heavy swing of sentiment toward 
long-term leases and Government policies which aid tenants to become owners of 
small farms. 

All answers but two were signed by landowners, the suggestions being made 
by owners rather than by tenants themselves. 

A heavy majority favored legislation which wovdd require advance notice when 
either the landlord or tenant planned to terminte a lease. Time which it was 
suggested should be given before termination ranged from 30 days to 5 months 
in case of the 1-year lease, while for longer leases the suggestion was up to 8 
months. Compensation was favoretl for either the tenant or the landlord in case 
the other party abruptly terminated a lease or abandoned the farm without due 

Compulsory arbitration of disputes was favored by a heavy majority, but most 
answers opposed "professional" arbitration boards. A special committee in each 
case was favored, one member selected by each party to the dispute, and a third 
by those previously selected. 

It was generally agreed that the tenant is at a disadvantage in bargaining, 
because of the shortage of rentable farms. Most frequently quoted evidence of 
the tenant's disadvantage was "unlawful and unethical retention by the land- 
lord of Government benefit payments." Other inequities listed were excessive 
rents, or "bonus" rents, and acceptance by tenants of the responsibility for making 
improvements which should be made by landlords. 

260370—41 — pt. 5 13 


Tenants should be compensated for improvements, it was held, when made with 
the landlord's approval. Compensation favored was the assessed value at the 
time of lease termination. Replies were practically unanimous in opposing adop- 
tion of the English plan of permitting tenants to receive compensation for certain 
improvements made without consent of the landlord. 

Encouragement and aid to tenants in acquiring ownership of small farms was 
unanimously approved, the type of aid usually suggested being long-term loans at 
low interest such as is now being provided through the Farm Security Adminis- 
tration. A graduated land tax was frequently suggested under which small, 
owner-operated farms would be comparatively free fi'om taxation, but an increas- 
ing rate would be applied to investment holdings. Value, rather than acreage, 
was favored as the basis for taxing the larger tracts. 

I invite your attention to the fact that a "flexible lease," obtained at any county 
oflSce of the Farm Security Administration, provides a form for adopting sugges- 
tions made in these answers as to more profitable relations between owners and 

Detailed analysis of the answers follows : 

I. A three-fourtlis majority were in favor of a law which would require notice 
by either landlord or tenant to terminate the customary 1-year or continuous 
lease. The amount of time that would be given under the proposed law ranged 
from 30 days to 5 months. The majority replies indicated that there is little 
need, if any, for changing the customary date of terminating leases or changing 
tenants. The customary date, it was stated, is July or August for turning back 
small grain lands, after the harvest. January 1 is the customary date for turning 
back land planted to row crops, along with the tenant's house. 

II. An 80-percent majority said that the present laws establishing the land- 
lord's lien operate fairly and equitably to both parties. 

III. Replies were almost unanimous in opposing authority for tenants to make 
improvements and claim compensation therefor unless they had first received 
authorization from the landlord, but that tenants should be compensated where 
landlord's authorization had been received. It was suggested by most that com- 
pensation should be on the appraised value of the improvements at the time the 
lease is terminated. A two to one majority held against a State law which 
would permit the tenant to rebuild and collect compensation when the dwelling 
or other necessary facilities on a tenant farm had been destroyed or damaged by 
fire, flood, or other causes beyond his control. 

IV. Compensation for abrupt termination of the lease by the landlord, or aban- 
donment by the tenant, was favored by more than three-fourths of those answer- 
ing the questionnaire. Most of these believed compensation should be assessed on 
the basis of actual damages, such as the expense necessary to complete the crop 
when abandoned by the tenant or the value of the growing crop to the tenant 
if he is evicted without proper notice. Many favored leaving the damages figure 
to the arbitration board. 

Most of the answers were against fixing a fraction of the crop rent as damages 
for disturbance. The consensus of opinion, however, was that a tenth or more of 
the year's rent was not too much damages to assess where a 1-year automatically 
renewable lease was terminated without adequate notice. About half of those 
answering this question held a tenth was too small. 

Minimum period of advance notice to terminate a lease of 3 years or longer was 
given as 30 days to 8 months. Ninety days was most frequently named. Mini- 
mum notice to terminate a 1-year automatically renewable lease varied from 10 
to 180 days, although 90 days was again most popular. 

The feeling was frequently expressed that possessions of most tenants would 
not satisfy a judgment or penalty assessed against them for violation of the 
rental agreement. 

Legislation suggested included compulsory notice, uniform rules of abandon- 
ment and eviction, making this a compulsory contract matter, or leaving it to 

V. Opinion was evenly divided as to whether minimum standards of housing, 
sanitation, and health should be set by State law. It was held that most land- 
lords are not able with the present level of farm income to build or maintain bet- 
ter housing, sanitary, and health facilities, and that to require a compulsory 
standard would be to force tenants in many cases to leave the houses, however 



j)oor and unf^anitary. Others felt that improved facilities, if built, would be 
abused by tenants and not kept in repair. 

AlmfKst oue-half, however, favored State legislation and a public agency to 
determine and approve the minimum standard. This was preferred rather than 
for tenants to make such improvements, in case his landlord failed, and deduct 
the cost from his rent. Two-thirds of those favoring legislation would force the 
tenants to maintain the property and be responsible for minor repairs. 

No imanimity was shown as to the nature of the minimum standards which 
should be required. Most answers mcluded a water supply free from contamina- 
tion, sanitary toilet, screens, and a good roof. 

VI. A 75-percent majority held that disputes between landlords and ten- 
ants should be submitted to arbitration. In case either party fails or refuses 
to arbitrate, it was the general opinion that State laws should permit the other 
party to go ahead and that the verdict should be legally binding. A large major- 
ity favored arbitration by special committee rather than by a standing committee, 
tlie special committee to consist of one member selected by the landlord, one by 
the tenant, and the third by the two previously selected. Opinion was heavily 
against use of a "professional" arbitration committee. 

VII. It was the general opinion that sharecroppers have approximately the 
same standing in law and in actual practice as third-and-fourth tenants, and that 
sharecroppers would lose these advantages if they should be classed as farm 
laborers or wage hands. 

VIII. In regard to amendments or new laws needed to encourage ownership 
of family-sized farms, most replies suggested expansion of the present Farm 
Security Administration activities, with their long-time purchase loans and low 
interest rate. Some suggestions were made that family-sized, owner-operated 
farms should be exempt from all taxation. A closely divided vote disapproved 
restrictions which would limit farms to family-sized units. A heavy majority 
Indicated that homsteads should be exempted only from State taxes but not local. 
As regards bond issues, sentiment was strongly against exempting homesteads. 
But the majority approved a land tax under which small owner-operated farms 
would be comparatively free from taxation, and an increasing rate be applied to 
investment holdings. A somewhat smaller majority approved the principle of 
escheat laws under which a land title reverts to the State after investors have 
held it a number of years or a penalty tax is applied. General disapproval met 
the suggestion of a capital-gains tax, to be applied when land is sold, as a means 
of discouraging or penalizing land speculation. 

IX. As to types of owners doing the more effective job of preserving the land 
and maintaining satisfactory arrangements with tenants, local farmers with sur- 
plus land, and local private investors were voted the best. 

X. No support was found for the suggestion that each rented farm be appraised 
periodically and the rate of rent fixed by law. Disapproval was likewise given 
to suggestions that a tenant have the legal right to purchase the farm at any 
time if he desired to use it as a homestead, the price to be established by Gov- 
ernment appraisal. 

XI. No unanimity was expressed as to what should be done, if anything, about 
"suitcase farmers." This term is applied to operators who own or rent laud 
upon which they do not live, and work that land in wheat or other crops which 
can be produced and harvested in a short period. Suggestions made were that 
"time will take care of this," "leave it to A. A. A.," "put them off," "permit them 
only on land not good for family-sized farms." 

XII. Shortage of farms on which a fair living can be made puts landlords in a 
superior bargaining position, and unsatisfactory housing and living facilities 
which the tenant is forced to accept is the most common form in which this in- 
equality of bargaining position is manifested, according to the majority of 
answers. Unlawful, unethical retention of Agricultural Adjustment Administra- 
tion price parity and soil conservation payments by the landlord was named next 
most frequently as evidence of this inequity. Other inequities listed were bonuses 
and excessive rates of rent, and acceptance by tenants of the responsibility and 
expense of making farm improvements which should be made by landlords. 

The minority who held that landlords are suffering from unequal bargaining 
position pointed to poor return from their farms as evidence. 

XIII. Comparative legal and economic responsibility of landlords and tenants: 
No clear-cut opinion. 


XIV. The tenant's need for a farm was held more vital to human welfare and 
also from a "plain business viewpoint" than the need of a landlord for a tenant 
to oi>erate his farm. In every opinion, save one, the tenant without a farm was 
considered to be suffering a greater inconvenience and loss than the landlord who 
is unable to get a tenant. 

Greater loss is sustained by the tenant in the case of abrupt and unexpected 
termination of his lease than by the landlord whose tenant moves without ade- 
quate notice, according to four-fifths of the answers. A great majority held that 
public welfare and the community interest is also involved in this. 

Encouraging ownership of the land by those who work it was dominant in the 
legislative solutions offered. The Farm Security Administration's "tenant pur- program" was specifically named in several questionnaires as the most 
desirable solution. Without mentioning Farm Security Administration's farm- 
purchase program by name, many others agreed that long-term financing at a low 
rate of interest was the answer. Other suggestions were continuation of Agri- 
cultural Adjustment Administration price parity and soil conservation payments, 
encouraging more written leases, requiring Agricultural Adjustment Administra- 
tion committeemen to enforce regulations against landlords getting an unfair 
share of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration payments, refinancing dis- 
tressed owner-operated farms with long-term loans at low interest, discouraging 
large holdings, discouraging investment in land by those who have no intention 
of farming it, expanding the Farm Security Administration's rural rehabilitation 
program, and extension of the work of the land-use planning committees. 

One reply urged : "Everything possible should be done to increase the 'love of 
the land.' The father of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind said in sub- 
stance, 'To an Irishman the love of the land is like his love for his mother. 
It is the only thing worth working for, worth fighting for, worth dying for.' It 
made me feel like an Irishman, too. Wang Lung in The Good Earth would not 
sell his land, even though he was starving. Home ownership will increase the 
'love of the land' more than anything else." 

Respectfully submitted. 

C. M. Evans, 
Regional Director, Chairman Farm Tenancy Committee. 

[579 Progress report, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station and A. and M. College of 
Texas, College Station, Tex., December 14, 1938, A. D. Jackson, editor] 

The Social Effects of Recent Trends in Mechanization of Agricultxtrb, bt 
O. Horace Hamilton, Economist in Rltral Life, Agricultural Experiment 
Station, A. and M. College of Texas . 


The rate and the magnitude of the recent mechanization of agriculture in this 
country are, to put it mildly, beyond the imagination and comprehension of the 
average man. The year of 1937 marks the high point in the manufacture and 
sale of farm tractors and other farm equipment in the United vStates. According 
to a recent report of the Bureau of the Census (1), the value of farm equipment 
sold by manufacturers for use in the United States amounted to $-507,146,913 (see 
table i). This figure is to be compared with $409,090,155 in 1936, $302.2.59,557 in 
1935, only $90,000,000 in 1932, and in 1929, the record year before 1937, $458,- 
000,000. Farm tractors alone accounted for 42 percent of the farm equipment 
sales of 1936 and 1937. In 1925 the sales of farm tractors accounted for only 
27.2 percent of all such sales. During the 3-year period, 1935 to 1937, farm ma- 
chinery manufacturers sold for use in the United States 565,792 tractors. In 
1937 alone more tractors were sold for domestic use than were enumerated on 
farms in 1920. 

According to the estimates of the Farm Equipment Institute (2), there were, 
as of April 1, 1938, on the farms of the Nation 1,527,989 tractors— less than 3 
times as many as wei'e sold in the 3-year period preceding 1938 (see table 2). A 
recent survey of 3,000 farms shows that 40.3 percent of the tractors on farms and 
ranches in the United States were bought in the 3 years preceding 1938 (3). The 



estimates of the Farm Equipment Institute are likely conservative (see table 3). 
Their estimates show for the State of Texas 73.981 tractors in 1936 and 98,966 in 
1938 — an increase of 34 percent. Their figure for 1938 may be too low by 17,000, 
for, during the same period, gasoline tax refunds to farmers using tractors in- 
creased 57 percent.^ 

Table 1. — Farm equipment sold for use in the United States 1922-37 


of tractors 




All types of 
farm equip- 


All types of 
farm equip- 


of tractors 






1928 ._ 

$507, 146, 913 
409, 090, 155 
302, 259, 557 
382, 190, 716 
458, 091, 248 
402, 872, 036 

$214, 192, 212 
123, 432, 843 
133, 054, 559 
155, 406, 163 
122, 281, 032 








$391, 868, 822 
364, 751, 042 
277, 924, 547 

$131, 667, 221 
92, 506, 790 
77, 418, 955 
53, 860, 771 


Source: United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. Reports on the Manufacture 
and Sale of Farm Equipment and Related Products. Data for 1931-34. Figures for years previous to 1937, 
quoted from Paul S. Taylor, "Power Farming and Labor Displacement in the Cotton Belt," p. 27. United 
States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Serial No. R 737. 

Table 2.- 

-Trend in the number of horses, mules, and tractors on farms, Texas 
and the United States, 1920 to 193S 

United States 



Number in lOOO's 

Number in lOOO's 










11, 163 
16, 401 
19, 767 


15, 640 

16, 016 
16, 319 
16, 676 

18, 886 
22. 082 
25, 200 
























1 No data. 

Source: United States Census of Agriculture, 1935, vol. 3, p. 243 for data from 1920 to 1935. Data on 
horses and mules, 1936 to 1938, from the Division of Crop and Livestock Estimates. Data on tractors from 
the Farm Implement News, April, 1936, 1937, 1938. 

iThis conclusion Is verified by the results of farm-management studies (4, 5) which show 
; ,?/^^'^'^''^^*^ pnnual gasoline consumption per 2-row all-purpose tractor to be slightly over 
1,000 gallons in the highly mechanized areas of west Texas and approximately 750 gallona 
in the less mechanized blackland area. The low consumptioA per tractor in the blackland 
Is oflfset by the higher consumption by 4-row tractors on the plains and by the larger 
tractors found in the Panhandle wheat area. Since, however, the 2-ro\v all-purpose tractor 
is the most prevalent type in Texas, a rough estimate of 1,000 gallons per tractor may be 
used. At 4 cents per gallon, the State refund would amount to $40 per tractor. The 
amount of gasoline taxes refunded to farmers in Texas during the year ending August 1, 
1038, was $4,640,414. Therefore, if the average tractor consumed 1,000 gallons the num- 
ber of tractors in use in Texas during 19.38 must have been approximately 116,000. If the 
tarm Equipment Institute's estimate is correct (and it may be), the average consumption of 
gas per tractor would be about 1,172 gallons per year (see table 3). It is entirely possible, 
or, that the mean consumption of gasoline per tractor has been increasing in the more 
recent years. It is interesting to note that the institute's estimate for 1936 is almost 
identical with that based upon the 1,000 gallons per year estimated consumption ; and that 
my estimate for 1931 (estimate A, table 3) of 40,099 is very close to the number of farm 
tractors enumerated in 1930 — 37,348. 



The increase in the use of the all-purpose, rubber-tired tractor has charac- 
terized and dominated recent agricultural mechanization in the United States. 
For instance, of the 565,792 tractors sold for domestic use, 72.7 percent were of 
the all-purpose type, and nearly 50 percent of these were equipped with rubber 
tires. Table 4 shows the trend of tractors manufactured in the United States — 
both for export and domestic use, by type of tractor. The all-purpose tractor 
designed to list or flat-break 2 rows or furrows at a time has beeu most common. 
It has been found that these tractors can also be used in cultivating and plant- 
ing 4 rows at a time. During the past year, farm machinery manufacturers have 
begun to feature smaller tractors designed for 1-row equipment. A streamlined, 
completely enclosed tractor, equipped with radio, spittoon, and cigar lighter, hag 
also been developed for the gentlemen farmers who since 1933 have found farm- 
ing to be so attractive. 

The types of machines powered by the all-purpose tractor, as well as the types 
of farming being mechanized should be given attention. One of the character- 
istics of recent mechanization trends is that nearly all types of farming are 
being invaded in varying degrees. A rough idea of The types of tractoi'-drawn 
farm equipment may be obtained by scanning the different classifications of 
manufacturers' sales for 1937 (1). Over $50,000,000 worth of harvesting ma- 
chinery, nearly $29,000,000 worth of plows and listers, $25,000,000 worth of 
planting, seeding, and fertilizing machinery, and $20,000,OuO worth of cultiva- 
tors and weeders are shown in the census reports. Although some of these 
machines may be either horse- or tractor-drawn, their descriptions and values 
indicate that the tractor-drawn equipment accounts for from 60 to 80 percent 
of the total value of sales. 

The types of crops and farming subject to recent mechanization is indicated by 
the following selected list of 1937 domestic farm equipment sales : 

Two-row cultivators 121, 158 

Two-bottom moldboard plows 110, 168 

Two-row corn planters 53,922 

Grain combines 29, 403 

Grain binders 31,259 

Manure spreaders 60, 057 

Corn pickers 13, 586 

Corn binders 16,698 

Potato diggers 5, 703 

Beet lifters 1, 797 

Mechanization in the production of wheat, corn, and cotton has, of course, been 
most spectacular ; but such machines as potato and beet diggers should not be 
overlooked. Truck crops in general, however, present many obstacles to mech- 
anization (13). Although wheat is the most highly mechanized of all the major 
crops, there has been a surprisingly large amount of mechanization in wheat 
states during the past few years — most surprising when the effects of the 
drought and depression are given due consideration. Tliis is illustrated by the 
fact that the number of tractors in the West North Central States increased 
from 318,160 in 1930 to 504,157 in 1938. Even in North and South Dakota the 
number of farm tractors increased approximately 30 percent during the last 8 
years ; and in Nebraska the increase amounted to 61 percent. In Kansas the 
number of tractors showed an estimated increase of 39 percent during the period, 
the 1938 figure being 91,801. 



Table 3. — Recent trends in the amount of gasoline-taw refunds to Teams tnrmert, 
showing estimated number of gasoline tractors in use, 19S1 to 1938 

Fiscal years (ending Aug. 31) 

All refunds 

Refunds to 
farmers ' 

to farmers 

Estimated number 
of tractors 




$6, 871, 302 
5, 780, 486 
3, 507, 329 
3, 275, 142 

3, 682, 661 
2, 951, 596 
2, 037, 705 
1, 603, 971 


92. 067 
73, 789 
50, 943 
43. 740 
37, 824 

98, 960 

1937 . . 


1936 - 

73, 981 






' Refund made at the rate of 4 cents per gallon. 

' Assuming that the average refund per tractor was .$40. 

s Estimates made by the Farm Equipment Institute, Chicago, 111., on the basis of estimated tractors 
sold in each State and an allowance made for obsolescence. 

Source: Annual Reports of the Comptroller of Public Accounts of the State of Texas, 1931-38 and the 
Farm Implement News, April 1936, 1937, and 1938. 

Table 4. — Number and value of tractors manufactured in the United States, by 
type of tractor, 19S5 to 1937 










All tractors .- 

283, 155 
53, 882 

34, 602 

227, 185 
39, 068 

164, 879 

31, 741 
106, 343 

18, 774 


42, 384, 936 


66, 418, 335 

1, 575, 415 

$214, 853, 968 

2S, 509, 515 


54, 602, 581 

1, 101, 054 


Wheel I 

24, 397, 535 

All purpose -. -- 

59, 030, 060 

Track laying 

37, 056, 960 

816, 108 

1 Except all purpose. 

Source: United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. The Manufacture and Sale of 
Farm Equipment and Related Products, 1937, p. 5. 

If we take the ratio of tractors in 1938 to the number of farms in 1935 as a 
measure of mechanization, Illinois ranks first place with a ratio of 59.7 percent. 
Illinois also ranks first not only in the total number of tractors in 1938, 138,192, 
but also in the largest number of tractors added since 1930. Other States show- 
ing a high tractor-ratio, in order : North Dakota, Kansas, Iowa, South Dakota, 
Nebraska, Montana, California, New Jersey, and Indiana. The significant thing 
about these 10 highly mechanized States is that they almost span the entire 
Nation from New Jersey to California. In these States are found approximately 
45 percent of all the tractors in the United States; a percentage which has 
declined only slightly since 1925. In 1920, 52.5 percent of all the Nation's tractors 
were in these 10 States. (See table 5.) 

Although the greatest degree of mechanization is found in the North Central 
States, we must look elsewhere to discover the higher and more spectacular rates 
of mechanization. The most widespread high rates of mechanization are found 
in the South and Southwest. Mississippi leads the Old South both in the number 
of tractors added since 1930 and in the rate of increase ; the number of tractors 
increasing from 5,542 in 1930 to 14,703 in 1938, an increase of 165 percent. Yet 
the tractor-farm ratio for Mississippi was only 4.7 per hundred. In the South- 
west, Texas leads, with 61,618 tractors added — an increase over 1930 of 165 
percent. The tractor-farm ratio for Texas was found to be 19.8 per hundred, 
considerably higher than any other .southern State, except Oklahoma, which 
showed a ratio of 19.5. It is interesting to note than there were estimated to 
be more tractors in Texas than in 8 Old South cotton States — reaching from 
North Carolina and Georgia to Arkansas and Louisiana. Although the old cotton 



States of the South still have few tractors compared with the North and West, 
they all show high rates of mechanization. 

The most rapid mechanization of cotton farming has occurred in the western 
cotton areas of Texas and Olvlahoma. Several large areas in Texas are almost 
completely mechanized ; e. g. the high and low plains, the Corpus Christi area. 
Bonnen and Magee (6) found that of 141 representative farms in the high plains 
in 1927, 79 percent were depending on tractor power and multirow equipment 
as compared with only 26 percent in 1931. They also noted a very rapid increase 
in the use of 4-row equipment. In many communities practically 100 percent of 
the farms depend upon tractor power. In Lubbock County, in the heart of the 
high plains, a sample of 43 farmers interviewed during the summer of 1938, while 
they were in town for their agricultural conservation checks, included only 2 
farmers who did not use tractor power (7). Twenty-seven of the 43 farmers 
were using 4-row tractor-drawn cultivating and planting equipment. On these 27 
farms were found 28 tractors pulling 4-row equipment ; 5 tractors pulling 2-row 
equipment ; 1 other tractor ; 52 farm families ; 445 crop acres per operator or 
farm ; 343 acres per tractor ; and 224 acres per farm family — operators and labor- 
ers. On farms having only 1 set of 4-row equipment, the mean acres in crops 
was 398. 

Fourteen of the 43 farms used 2-row cultivating and planting equipment but 
no 4-row equipment. On these 14 farms were found: 26 two-row tractors; 34 
farm families ; 503 crop-acres per farm ; 271 crop-acres per tractor and 207 
crop-acres per farm family. Nineteen of the 43 farms surveyed had no work- 
stock whatever, and the other tractor farmers had very few workstock in active 
use. These situations are considered typical of the plains area. 

The farms in the blacklands of Texas are also being mechanized at a rapid 
rate. Reconnaissance surveys indicate that at least 30 percent of the blackland 
farmers use tractors and that possibly 50 percent of the crop land is cultivated 
with tractors. 

Table 5. — Trend in the number of tractors in use in the United States and in 

selected groups of States 




■ 1937 






The United States 

1, 527, 989 

690, 266 

97, 473 

98, 966 

641, 284 






1, 382, 872 
630, 236 
84, 888 
88, 306 
579, 442 






1, 248, 337 

577, 215 


73, 981 







920, 021 
397, 687 
48, 529 
37, 348 
436, 457 






505, 933 
229, 936 
30, 841 
16, 780 
228, 376 






246, 083 

10 highly mechanized States • 

8 Old South cotton States ' 


129, 269 

Remainder of the United States. 
Percentage distribution: 
The United States --- 


10 highly mechanized States... 

8 Old South cotton States 


Remainder of the United States 



' Illinois, North Dakota, Kansas, Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, California, New Jersey, 
and Indiana. 
' North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana. 

Source: Farm Implement News for data of 1936, 1937, and 1938. United States census for the years 1920, 
1925. and 1930. 

The large plantations of the river bottoms have been slow to mechanize. 
Nevertheless, a survey of 196 plantations revealed that the number of tractors 
on them had doubled during the past 4 years. The average plantation had 1.5 
tractors and 382 acres of cotton in 1938 (7). Most of the tractors on these 
plantations were used only for breaking, discing, roadwork, and ditching. Many 
plantation operators interviewed stated that they expected to shift to tractors 
extensively in the near future. Two imiiortant factors, however, will retard 
mechanization on plantations: (1) Because of the dense weed growth, the heavy 


foliage of the cotton plant, and the slow opening of the cotton bolls, a relatively 
large prop(»rtion of labor used in cotton production on the plantations must be 
hand labor; and (2) because of the restrictions of the agricultural consei-vation 
program, plantations cannot utilize the additional land released by mechaniza- 
tion in either cotton production or in the production of livestock and feed for 
the market. A small farmer can milk a few cows or feed some calves and hogs 
without conspicuously violating the regulations of the agricultural conservation 
program ; but a shift to commercial dairy farming on plantations would not be 
permitted. Furthermore, the plantation is set up primarily for commercial 
cotton production, and not for mixed or general farming. The type of labor 
needed for cotton picking is entirely different from that needed for livestock 


Long before the tractor became an important source of farm power, the 
development of labor-saving machines, together with other changes in tech- 
nology, had greatly reduced the amount of labor needed per unit of agricultural 
product or per unit of land cultivated. For instance, it has been estimated that, 
in 1830, 288 hours of man-labor were required to produce a hundred bushels of 
wheat on 5 acres of land. By 1880, with the use of machines available at that 
time, 100 bushels of wheat could be produced with only 129 hours of man-labor; 
and by 1900, only 86 man-hours were required. Finally, by 1930, only 49 man- 
hours' were needed to produce 100 bushels of wheat on 5 acres (8). 

In the production of corn, the number of man-hours needed to produce 100 
bushels dropped from about 180 in 1880 to 104 in 1930 (22). Since 1930 the per- 
fection and the increased use of corn picking and corn husking machinery has 
likely reduced the number of hour.s needed still further. The average amount 
of labor now actually used in the production of 100 bushels of corn in the 
United States as a whole has been recently estimated to be 90 man-hours, as 
compared with only 49 hours in the Corn Belt (9). Between 1911 and 1934, 
the same report, indicates that the total number of hours of man-labor used 
to produce the Nation's corn crop decreased from 2,898 millions to 2,276 millions, 
or approximately 21.5 percent. 

In the production of cotton, with the exception of harvesting, a similar condi- 
tion prevails. McCrory and others, in a National Resources Committee reiwrt, 
estimate that, on the average, in 1930 only 235 man-hours were required to 
produce a bale of cotton as compared to 285 in 1900, and 304 in 1880 (22). 
Holley and Arnold, in a Work Projects Administration national research report 
estimate that the actual number of man-hours required to produce one bale of 
cotton decreased from 271 in the period 1907-11 to 218 in the period 1933-36 
(10). This .same report shows, however, that only 178 man-hours were required 
to produce one bale in the entire western cotton area ' in the period 1933-36. 
Furthermore, the total number of man-hours utilized annually in cotton produc- 
tion in the United States decreased from 3,343 millions in the period 1907-11 
to 2,489 in the period 1933-36, a decrease of 25.5 percent. A part of this decline 
was due to the fact that in the latter period the annual production of cotton in 
the United States was nearly a million bales less than it was in the former 
I)eriod. Also, in the latter period cotton production had shifted to the western 
areas where labor requirements per bale were lower than in the older areas. 

Other reports of the Work Projects Administration national research project 
indicate that there have also been substantial reductions in the number of man- 
hours used in producing sugar beets and potatoes (11, 12). In the case of sugar 
beets, the reduction in the use of man-labor was about 17 i^ercent between the 
periods 1920-24 and 1928-32 — dropping from 112 man-hours per acre in the for- 
mer period to 94 in the latter. However, the full effect of recently developed 
harvesting machinery has not been felt in the case of sugar beets. The number 

= The area reaching from central Texas (not incUulins the black land) to California. In 
some of the highly mechanized areas of the west the number of man-hours required per acre 
may be as low as 20 or 25. 


of man-homs required to produce an acre of potatoes in selected areas has de- 
creased from 86 to 64 between the periods 1909-13 and 1934-36, a decrease of 
25.6 percent. Since 1910 it is estimated that approximately 50,000,000 man-hours 
of labor have been eliminated in the production of the Nation's potato crop. 
In other commercial truck crops the trend in labor demand is generally upward. 
Mechanization in the production of many vegetable crops is very difficult, and, 
due to rapid urbanization, the acreages of si^ch crops has expanded considerably 
in the last few years (13). The same might be said about many fruit crops. 

The net result of recent trends in farm mechanization (along with other tech- 
nological changes) has been summarized in the most recent report of the Work 
Projects Administration national research project (23). Briefly stated, this 
report shows that "from 1909 and 1929 the output per person working in agri- 
culture increased approximately 37 percent. This increased productivity made it 
possible for 7.5 fewer persons to produce an agricultural output which was 27 
percent greater in 1929 than in 1909." Other studies indicate a similar situa- 
tion (22). 


The extent of mechanization and the decrease in the demand for labor in cotton 
farming have been indicated. The social effects of mechanization will now be 
presented briefly. The displacement of thousands of farm croppers, tenants, and 
farm laborers is the most serious problem. Adequate data are not available to 
show the complete picture in all its details, but a number of recent studies and 
surveys do show that the situation is a most critical one. Bonnen and Magee (6) 
have shown that the use of 2-row tractor-powered farm equipment on all farm 
land in the high plains of Texas would reduce the number of farms to 58 percent 
of the 1935 census count, and that the use of 4-row tractor equipment would 
further reduce the number of farms to 33 percent of the 1935 figure. Langsford 
and Thibodeaux (15) have shown how the mechanization of plantations in the 
Mississippi Delta area would reduce the plantation labor force per plantation 
(having 750 acres of crops) from 40 families under the horse-drawn 1-row system 
to 24 families under a 4-row tractor system. This amounts to a decrease of 
40 percent. In this estimate they are quite conservative, because they are assum- 
ing that some of the 24 families would be kept there primarily for the purpose of 
hoeing and picking cotton. If the Delta should come to depend upon transient 
labor as the plains and black lands of Texas do, then less than 24 families might 
be kept on the plantation. Already we know of many instances where transient 
cotton pickers have been transported in trucks from Texas to Mississippi. 

That actual population displacement in Texas cotton-growing areas has reached 
serious proportions is demonstrated by the 1937 Texas population-changes survey, 
which indicated a decrease of over 20,000 farms in the State between January I, 
1937, and January 1, 1938 (16). Since many displaced families from cotton farms 
likely migrate to noncotton farms, the displacement from cotton farms has likely 
been greater than 20,000 families. In connection with the annual population sur- 
veys for the past 2 years, scores of letters have been received from correspondents 
giving illustrations of the displacement of farm tenants and laborers by tractors. 
The displacement of from 3 to 5 families by 1 tractor is not uncommon. 
One case was reported where 9 families were displaced by 1 tractor. Assum- 
ing that 1 tractor will displace 1 family only, more than 60,000 farm families 
have probably been displaced from Texns farms since 1930. Also, since the num- 
ber of tractors on Texas farms increased about 50,000 in a 3-year period before 
April 1, 1938, it may be estimated that more than 10,000 families have been 
displaced annually from Texas farms since 1935. 

"Where do these displaced farm families go?" is a question which is frequently 
asked. Many of them, as I have already indicated, move to poor farms, unsuited 
to cotton production with farm tractors. A larger number migrate to towns 
and cities and become common laborers, alternating between agriculture and the 
town. Many displaced tenants and croppers remain in the open country as 
partially employed farm or common laborers. At the time of this writing, the 
Works Progress Administration reports a certified caseload of 80,000 farm 
families — 48,000 of whom were awaiting assignment. A late report is that some 


of these people are to bo shifted to the care of the Farm Security Administration, 
which was already assisting nearly 30,000 Texas farm families. Welfare and 
employment service offices in the State for the past 2 years have been reporting 
iinusuallv heavy requests for aid from these displaced farm families. The 1937 
Census of Unemployment showed approximately 130,000 unemployed and partially 
unemployed agricultural workers in the State. This is almost identical with the 
number of agricultural wage workers reported as employed by the 1935 
Agricultural Census. 

The displaced family faces the prospect of a lower income. The typical farm 
tenant in the high plahis or in the black land may be expected to earn a net farm 
income of from $800 to $1,000 annually, even with cotton prices as they are today. 
As either a common or an agricultural laborer the same tenant cannot expect 
to earn more than from $250 to $300. A survey just completed in Texas shows the 
farm laborer family median uicome to have been only $220 in 1937 — when 
opportunities were excellent for cotton picking (7). 

The surplus of farm tenants available has created considerable competition 
among tenants for places to rent : and, as a result, rental rates are rising. In 
areas that once followed the straight third-and-fourth share rent systems, cash 
rents and privilege rents of various types are being used. Pasture land, which 
tenants formerly" received free of rent, now rents frequently for $1 per acre. 
In some areas tenants are being charged cash rent for their dwellings. In many 
areas from $3 to $6 per acre is being charged for land planted in feed crops. On 
many of these farms the cash rent on the feed land amounts to more than the 
income from cotton. 

The mechanization of cotton farms has increased what might be called the 
patch cropper system. The patch-cropper, similar to a hoe-cropper in some of the 
southeastern States, may receive a small cash wage and in addition the cotton 
produced on a 4- or 5-acre patch. In west Texas the patch may be as large as 
35 or 40 acres, and the cropper may receive a cash wage as well as some 
perquisites. No surveys are available to show the extent and characteristics 
of the patch-cropper system over wide areas. 

The mechanization of cotton farms in Texas and in some other States has 
greatly enlarged and intensified the transient labor problem. New social rela- 
tions, institutions, and problems are arising out of this situation. Already there 
has developed a widespread private and unregulated system of transporting 
transient labor — a system which has in it great possibilities of labor exploita- 
tion. The labor contractor furnishes a large open truck, recruits a group of 
laborers, and transports them, presumably free of charge, across the State as the 
cotton picking and the truck and fruit harvesting seasons progress. The con- 
tractor, usually a Mexican with a truck, is a contact man and bu.siness agent 
for the laborers. He takes the responsibility for contacting farmers, weighing, 
and hauling cotton (or truck crops), and of collecting the laborers' earnings from 
the farmer. For these services and for transporting the laborers, the contractor 
receives fi'om the laborer from 5 to 10 cents for each 100 pounds of cottion 
picked, and from the farmer about $1.50 per bale. 

The rapid increase in the transient labor population has complicated health, 
sanitation, and housing problems in towms where labor concentrates. The farm 
population of some large cotton counties is virtually doubled during the busy part 
of the picking season. There is a movement on foot now to provide both tem- 
porary and permanent camps for transient laborers at strategic centers in the 
State. Already a number of small towns in cotton centers have cooperated with 
the Texas Employment Service in setting up temporary camps equipped with 
shower baths and sanitary toilets. These camps serve as points of contact for 
laborers and employers. On any Sunday during the cotton-picking season these 
camps are greatly congested with trucks, old cars, and people — farmers, cotton 
pickers, men, women, and children. During the mornings there will be seen much 
Informal dickering between farmers, labor contractors, and heads of families. A 
farmer will approach a group of pickers, contact the contractor, and perhaps two 
or three of the family heads. Information as to the number of pickers, amount of 
cotton, camping or housing facilities, and wage rates are quickly exchanged. If 
the preliminary Information is suitable to both pickers and farmers, a quick trip 


is then made to inspect the field of cotton. Large groups or trnckloads of pickers 
prefer, of course, the larger fields and the thicker cotton. If the field is too small, 
the cotton yield too low or very difficult to pick, the leaders go back to camp and 
make another contact — unless perchance they are stopped en route by a farmer 
looking for pickers. If the cotton is satisfactory, the truck returns to the camp 
and brings the entire group of pickers out to the farm, where they usually stay 
imtil the crop Is picked over once. Due to the fact that most of the transient 
pickers move in large groups, small farmers quite frequently have difficulty in 
locating pickers. Labor is also difficult to get for second pickings. 

Just how many years the mechanized cotton farms will be able to get an ample 
supply of cotton pickers at prevailing wages remains to be seen. No effort has been 
made to organize this group of workers, which, it is estimated, number between 
200,000 and 300,000. Under conditions that are developing, some sort of labor 
organization may appear. If the organization of cotton pickers should be suc- 
cessful, the cost of picking cotton might rise to tlie extent that the farmers would 
lose much of what they have gained by mechanization. If such a condition ever 
arises, we may expect a widespread demand for mtM;'hanical cf)tton pickers. Several 
mechanical pickers have already been developed. Although their performance is 
still much below that of hand pickers, the leading agricultural engineers believe 
that the development of a successful cotton picker is now a possibility. The 
mechanization of the preharvest operations in cotton production will very likely 
speed the development of harvesting machinery. In the event of a major war, 
an acute shortage of labor might arise. Taking all these things into consideration, 
it seems to me mechanical cotton picking could very easily become an actuality 
within the next 10 or 15 years (17, 18, 19, 20). When that time comes the 
southern part of the country may present the Nation with its social and economic 
problem No. 2. 


In this paper we have had the time and space to present only some of the more 
immediate effects of recent trends of mechanization in agriculture. If there are 
those in this group who would contend that the conditions which have been 
described are only temporary, may I call your attention to some of the more 
permanent social effects of mechanization. Mechanization in agriculture has 
l)een going on for a hundred years or more. It is likely to continue for many 
decades. Even though technological unemployment brought about by the intro- 
duction of one machine may disappear in time, we would still be faced witli 
problems of a continuously changing technology, and hence continuous problems 
of human maladjustment. 

The invention of machines, and more important their exploitation by monopo- 
listic corporations, may be considered as one very effective means by which a 
nonagricultural economic group cuts out for itself a juicy slice of agricultural in- 
come. In this sense farm-machinery manufacturers and the large oil companies 
are engaged in the process of agricultural production, without having to take 
nearly so many of the risks as does the farmer. Just how these outside interests 
are able to capitalize on the situation is indicated in a recent report of the Federal 
Trade Commission. Among other things, this report is quoted as saying : 

"The ability of the International Harvester Co. to make more net profits in 1937 
than it made in 1929 (in fact, enough to break all records for net earnings before 
1937), though the cash income of the farmer for 1937 was nearly 18 percent less 
than it was in 1929, can, the Commission believes, have only one explanation. 
It was the result of a policy by the International Harvester Co. to advance prices, 
which policy could not have succeeded if conditioias of free and open competition 
had prevailed in this industry" (21). 

The situation just referred to illustrates only one way in which the farmers of 
today have become so much more dependent on outside economic forces than were 
the farmers of 150 years ago. One authority on this subject summarized the 
results of technological advance in agriculture as follows : 

"In 1787, the year the Constitution was framed, the surplus food produced by 
19 farmers went to feed 1 city person. In recent average years 19 people on farms 
have produced enough food for 56 nonfarm people, plus 10 people living abroad" 

If this statement is true, then the farmer of today is 66 times more dependent 
upon outside markets, economic conditions, and organizations than was the farmer 


of 150 years ago. Temporarily, mechanization increases the individual farmer's 
income; but ultimately, if mechanization actually lowers cash costs, he is forced 
to cut his prices, and at the same time pay higher costs for land and fixed costs 
for both land, machinery, and motor fuel. The only possible way for the farmer 
to maintain the favorable position which he has gained by mechanization would 
be to imitate the industrialists and organize a monopoly with or without the help 
of the Government. Temporarily, farmers might he successful by adopting such 
a program; but since this is a democracy and since the farmer is outnumbered 
more than 4 to 1, what chances does he have of maintaining such a position? 

Another way in which the farmer loses some of the advantages of mechaniza- 
tion is through continually rising standards and costs of living. He has appar- 
ently Increased his productivity in doing a few things : but he has relinquished 
to others the doing of a hundred things which he once did himself with little or 
no cash costs. Therefore, we may well ask : ''What does the farmer of today 
have in terms of ultimate human values, contentment, leisure, mental health, and 
security that the farmer of 1787 did not have?" And as "farmer" in this ques- 
tion we must Include farm laborers as well as the farmers who operate hundreds 
of acres with machinery. 

Another angle to this question is the fact that the mechanized farmer and 
the machinery manufacturer have shifted a lot of their costs on to the shoulders 
of the State. There is little need here to enumerate the many services which the 
State now performs for rural and urban residents. True enough, industry and 
mechanized agriculture must ultimately bear some of these costs through taxation 
or through depreciation in Government bonds ; but the economic and political 
system by which such an indirect payment of costs is made necessary is neither 
desirable nor efficient. There are too many groups of one kind or another who 
are trying to get and are succeeding in getting a larger and larger slice of the 
producer's income. We have reached the point where governmental employees 
and beneficiaries of governmental assistance are currently cartooned and lam- 
pooned as being enemies and parasites on society. 

The development of new governmental functions and programs — such as social 
security, farm security, agricultural adjustment, the works program, and the 
housing program — is the fruit of poorly controlled mechanization in both industry 
and agriculture. Under our old rural culture, we had developed the family -farm 
institution in such a way that our social needs, such as education, care of the 
aged, the dei^endent, and the unemployed, were met without any elaborate political 
organization or expense. The fact that we are now spending billions of dollars 
to do things which were once done by the farm family for itself demonstrates in a 
dramatic manner just how valuable the family-farm institution was to society. 

Along with the machines which the farmer has bought, he has been furnished 
with a set of ideas about the social advantages of mechanization. He has, for in- 
stance, been thoroughly inculcated with the theory of social and technological 
progress ; the theory that social and historical evolution is always onward and 
upward ; the theory that older and simpler forms of agrarian and social organ- 
ization passed away because they were bad ; and. finally, the theory that he need 
not exert any effort to develop new social organizations and institutions; because 
what he has are adequate and that if they were not adequate new ones would in 
some mysterious manner come into existence as a result of more, bigger, and 
better machines. 

We might clarify the issue here by saying that just as we cannot attribute 
social evils to the inanimate machine, neither should we attribute to the machine 
some mysterious capacity to mold and develop our social life. The actual forces 
that determine the patterns of our social institutions are more likely to be human 
than mechanical in character. Whether or not machines are to do the wonder- 
ful things claimed for them depends upon how individuals and groups of indi- 
viduals make them, how they sell them, how they manage them, and, finally, how 
they distribute their products. In the final analysis, we must evaluate the social 
effects of mechanization, not by what these social effects might be under certain 
ideal conditions yet to be realized, but rather upon what the social effects are 
here and now or jiave been in recent years. 

Still another permanent social effect of farm mechanization and other tech- 
nological changes is the fact that a larger and larger percentage of agricultural 
products going into the market are being produced by a smaller and smaller per- 
centage of the farm population. In 1930 the Census reports show that about 90 


percent of farm products going into the market come from 50 percent of the farms 
of the Nation. Since today there are more people on farms than in 1930 and 
since the mechanization of farms has displaced thousands of people from com- 
mercial farms, the probability is that much less than 50 i^ercent of our fanna 
are producing 90 percent of the farm products going into the market. If this 
were not true, then 600,000 farmers during the past few years have blundered in 
buying tractors. As individuals they did not make mistakes. Many of them had 
either to mechanize or to quit. However, as a group, they have along with the 
help of their city brothers, contributed to a very critical social problem. 

We might conclude this paper by pointing out that the social effects of mecha- 
nization in agriculture should not be considered as entirely isolated from other 
technological and economie trends. Mechanization of agriculture is rather a 
part, a very important part, of the current and everchanging order of things. 
Its significance cannot be appreciated without an understanding of the entire 
social and economic order ; nor can much be done about it, without doing some 
thing about the rest of the world at the same time. As one writer put it, we are 
in a position where it seems we cannot continue mechanization without great 
social cost nor can we stop it without great social cost (22). 

The question of the hour, it seems to me, is whether or not we can develop 
some efficient and stable, social institutions which will control the machine and 
give us the same .social and human values which are enjoyed under a more simple 
agrarian organization. If you should ask me, at this time, whether I thought 
that such institutions could be developed, I would be forced to reply : "Yes ; but 
it is very improbable." The social system toward which we are now evolving 
seems to be little more than a set of makeshift compromises in a descending 
spiral of social disintegration. However, if it is necessary that I end this p?per 
on an optimistic note, it may be said that a downward spiral is more pleasant 
than a downward plunge. So, if it is down that we must go, let us make the 
spirals as long and as wide as possible. Who knows but that we may hit an 
upward current somewhere and see yet again the mountain heights of freedom 
and democracy. 


1. United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, The Manu- 

facture and Sale of Farm Equipment and Related Products, 1937, Wash- 
ington : 1938. 

2. Farm Implement News, April 7, 1938, and April 8, 1937. 

3. United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. Farm Oars 

and Tractors Superannuated. News Release, Special T-1, Wa.shington: 

4. Thibodeaux, Ben H., Bonnen, 0. A., and Magee, A. C. An Economic Study of 

Farm Organization in the High Plains Cotton Farming Area of Texas. 
To be published shortly by the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station in 
cooperation with the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, United States 
Department of Agriculture. 

5. United States Soil Conservation Service, the Bureau of Agricultural Econom- 

ics and the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station cooperating. A Study 
to Determine the Social and Economic Effects on Farms of a Definitely 
Planned Progi'am of Soil Conservation. In progress. The assistance of Mr. 
C. H. Bates, associate agricultural economist, leader of the project, is 

6. Bonnen, C. A., and Magee, A. C. Some Technological Changes in the High 

Plains Cotton Area of Texas. Journal of Farm Economics, vol. XX, No. 
3, August 1938. 

7. The Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, the Works Progress Administra- 

tion, and the Farm Security Administration. A Study of Farm Mechani- 
zation and Farm Labor Changes, 1938. A study in progress. 

8. Hurst, W. M., and Church, L. M. Power and Machinery in Agriculture. 

United States Department of Agriculture Miscellaneous Publication No. 
157. Washington : 1933. 

9. Macy, Loring K., Arnold, Lloyd E., and McKibben, Eugene G. Changes in 

Technology and Labor Requirements in Crop Production : Corn. Works 
Progress Administration National Research Project, Report No. No. A-5, 
Philadelphia : 1938. 


10. HoUey, W. C, and Arnold, Lloyd C. Changes in Technology and Labor Re- 

quirements in Crop Production : Cotton. Worlis Progress Administration 
National Research Project, Report No. A-7, Philadelphia : 1938. 

11. Macy, Loring K., Arnold, Lloyd E. McKibben, Eugene G., and Stone, Edmund 

J., Changes in Technology and Labor Requirements in Crop Production: 
Sugar Beets. Works Progress Administration National Research Project, 
No. A-1, Philadelphia : 1938. 

12. Knowlton, Harry E., Elwood, Robert B., and McKibben, Eugene G. Changes 

in Technology and Labor Requirements in Crop Production : Potatoes. 
Works Progress Administration National Research Project, Report No. 
A-4. Philadelphia : 1938. 

13. See forthcoming report on Changing Technology and Labor Requirements of 

Crop Production ; Vegetables, by J. C. Schilletter, Robert B. Elwood, and 
Harry E. Knowlton. National Research Project of the Works Progress 

14. Lombroso, Giua. The Tragedies of Progress. New York, Button & Co., 1931. 

15. Langsford, E. L., and Thibodeaux, Ben H. Plantation Organization and 

Operation in the Yazoo Mississippi Delta Area. Manuscript of bulletin soon 
to be published. Based upon a cooperative study between the Bureau of 
Agricultural Economics, United States Department of Agriculture, and the 
Mississippi Agricultural Experiment Station. 

16. Hamilton, C. Horace. Population Changes in Texas, 1937. INIimeographed 

release, division of farm and ranch economics, agricultural experiment sta- 
tion, Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College. 

17. Home, Roman L., and McKibben, Eugene G. Changes in Technology and 

Labor Requirements in Crop Production : Mechanical Cotton Picker. Works 
Progress Administration National Research Project, Report No. A-2, Phila- 
delphia, 1038. 

18. Johnston, E. A. The Evolution of the Mechanical Cotton Harvester. Agri- 

cultural Engineering, September 1938 (vol. 19, No. 9). 

19. Smith, H. P. Progress in Mechanical Harvesting of Cotton. Agricultural 

Engineering, September 11'38 (vol. 19, No. 9). 

20. Bennett, Charles A. The Relation of Mechanical Harvesting to the Produc- 

tion of High-Grade Cotton. Agricultural Engineering, September 1938 
(vol. 19, Nor9). 

21. Farm Implement News. Farm Implement Manufacturers Income. July 14, 


22. National Resources Committee. Technological Trends and National Policy. 

Section on Agriculture by S. H. McCrory, R. F. Hendrickson, and Committee. 

23. Shaw, Eldon E., and Hopkins, John A. Trends in Employment in Agriculture, 

1903-36. Works Progress Administration, National Research Project, Re- 
port No. A-8, Philadelphia, 1938. 

24. Bressler, Raymond G., Jr., and Hopkins, John A. Trends in Size and Pro- 

duction of the Aggregate Farm Enterprise, 1903-36. Works Progress Ad- 
ministration, National Research Project, Report No. A-6, Philadelphia, 1938. 

25. Taylor, Paul S. Power Farming and Labor Displacement in the Cotton Belt, 

1937. Monthly Labor Review, March and April 193S. 


Mr. Parsons. I should like to ask you a few questions, some of them 
based on the material in your statement and some of them on subjects 
not covered therein. 
• Mr. Evans. I shall try to answer them. 

Mr. Parsons. Do you have what is known as farm management divi- 
sion of your Texas office? 

Mr. Evans. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. "VVlien we were down in Alabama we heard from the 
representative of the Farm Security of Florida, who gave a very fine 


description of how the migrant camps were working down in that 
section. How many do yon liave in your region here ? 

Mr. Evans. We have four camps that are completed and occupied, 
and four others that are in the process of being built at this time. 
These camps have only been in use about 6 months. 

Mr. Parsons. The committee had someone before it at the hearings 
down there that called the camps the "ambulances waiting at the end 
of a dangerous curve." I would like to have your theory and for you 
to tell the committee how these camps were obtained and about life in 
the camps and how they are operated, and so on. 

Mr. Evans. I think perhaps the committee would be interested in a 
background going a little further back than just the immediate set-up 
of the camps, and while they might be termed the "ambulances" we 
look upon these camps as a solution to a change in system, perhaps 
more than simply an emergency service for an accident victim. I 
think the thing goes back a good many years to the point when we 
considered the migrant laborer a normal thing for our country. Some 
25 or 30 years ago when some of us were younger we went out to work 
in communities where there was a peak load of labor and came back 
home at the end of the season. For instance, we started in the wheat 
harvest in Texas in early June and wound up in Illinois, Michigan, or 
Canada and came back in the fall and considered that a normal summer 
trip. The difference at the present time is that the migrant laborers 
do not have a home to come back to, and while only the men went in 
those days, the entire family goes now because they have been detached 
from the land and go from place to place with no objective known as 
"home" to go back to. 

Mr. Parsons. Good roads and cheap automobiles have made it possi- 
ble for these families to start on wheels ? 

Mr. Evans. That is right ; now then, the question as to why we have 
this problem at the present time is based on the fact that in agriculture 
there are about four things that have been taken into consideration to 
make agriculture a complete set-up ; one is people, one is land, another 
operating capital, and the fourth is knowledge about how to carry on 
the proper type of agriculture. When one of these is out of balance 
the whole system breaks down ; for instance, we have people being de- 
tached from the land because they do not have money, operating capital, 
with which to carry on agriculture suitable to that type of land, so we 
have a displacement of several families and the man who owns the 
land takes a smaller investment and buys a tractor and these families 
are detached from the land permanently. 


Mr. Parsons. What percent of farm labor do you think has been dis- 
placed by mechanization on the farm? 

Mr. Evans. In Texas in the past 10 years tractors have increased 
from about 30,000 ten years ago to about 130,000 to 160,000 at the 
present time, and in Oklahoma I believe the number of tractors in- 
creased from about 10,000 in 1930 to about 60,000 at the present time. 


Mr. Parsons. That would put at least 100,000 people out of employ- 
ment, would it not? 

Mr. Evans. Yes; we have found by investigation that every time you 
get a tractor on the farm you displace probably or potentially about 
three-fourths of a family, but we have found by proper management 
the tractor does not necessarily decrease the carrying capacity of the 
land. That is based upon the "fact that a lot of our agricultural upset 
comes from unemployment. For instance, the cotton farmer works 
about 100 days a year, the average wheat farmer with a tractor and 
modern equipment works about 6 weeks out of the year, and the prob- 
lem is to make some employment for that man for the full 300 days out 
of the year that he and his family are capable of being employed. Just 
because the tractor can cultivate crops and break land cheaper is not a 
bad thing because when these modern methods are used we are bound 
to increase our efforts to indulge in a balanced sj^stem of farming 
rather than a one-crop system. For instance, we have found where 
one man was operating four or five or six hundred acres with a 
tractor that by proper planning he could introduce other items than 
wheat, sorghums, and so on, and be able to plan that farm and take 
care of four or five families, and do it better than when it was taking 
care of one family on wheat. 

Mr. Parsons. Do you think that the tractor has made conditions 
worse over the whole of America ? 

Mr. Evans. I think we would be in a sad plight if we had the trac- 
tors taken away from us ; I think their use has been abused, certainly, 
by farmers who have bought tractors and displaced families in order 
to get the triple A benefits. 

Mr. Parsons. I would like to have your comments on that. 

Mr. Evans. I think the consensus of opinion — and I gathered this 
from the farm tenancy hearings we held in Oklahoma City and at 
Austin, Tex. — is that if we use these tractors properly the thing will 
go along all right, but if we use these tractors to engage in a one-crop 
system of farming, why, the thing won't do so well. I don't know 
whether I have answered your question or not, I don't think I have. 
Will you state that question again, I think I got a little off the track. 

The Chairman. You can put me back on the track if you tell me 
what three-fourths of a family is. 

Mr. Evans. Well, every time you get 100 tractors probably 75 families 
are displaced. 

Mr. Parsons. I asked you the question. Do you think the tractor 
has been a detriment to American agriculture as a whole ? 

Mr. Evans. I don't think it has ; I think it has been abused. 

Mr. Parsons. Do you have any figures on how many tractors we are 
using in America today? 

Mr. Evans. No sir ; I do not, outside of this region. 

Mr. Parsons. But you say that out of every 100 tractors there are 
displaced probably 75 families which would be on an average of 4 
people to a family, which would be 300 people out of every 100 
tractors ? 

Mr. Evans. That is right, but if they are used properly that wouldn't 

260370— 41— pt. 5 14 



Mr. Parsons. Do you think the manufacturer of the tractor has 
given labor and employment to the number of people that have been 
displaced ? 

Mr. Evans. I don't know about that. 

Mr. Parsons. Here is another angle to the tractor story. Before tlie 
days of the tractor it all had to be done by horses and mules and they 
were grown by the farmers and were a source of revenue and in addi- 
tion to that they consumed the surplus oats, corn, and hay, and now 
every tractor that is purchased does the work of probably three teams, 
WliEit do you estimate to be the displacement in farm stock ? 

Mr. Evans. I don't think I have those figures in mind, but we do 
have in mind the cost of feeding these teams, which is very great, es- 
pecially on our small farms. We find it difficult to figure out a plan 
for our small farms that will make enough feed to feed a team and 
still have enough land left to devote to commercial products. 

Mr. Parsons. Yes; but on the other hand the farmer was growing 
small grain for a cash crop and the surplus was consumed by the stock 
and they are no longer there, because there is not much of a market 
for them and thus no inducement for the farmer to produce them.' 
The extra corn that went to the extra horses has flooded the market 
and brought down the price of hogs and the price of corn, creating 
surplus after surplus, whereas, in the old days, the farm stock con- 
sumed that. 

Mr. Evans. There is some merit to that contention. However, we 
wouldn't want to give up our automobiles and tractors and still stay 
in the farming game. 

Mr. Parsons. Proceed. 

Mr. Evans. In the matter of the triple A, with respect to tractors, 
the general consensus is that if the subsidy followed the family rather 
than the land we would not have this displacement. We can't figure 
out a farm plan to take care of a large number of families, because 
the subsidy does follow the land and this makes it easy for a land- 
owner to buy a tractor and displace a number of families. 

Mr. Parsons. There is a trend in that direction ? 

Mr. Evans. It seems evident. 

Mr. Parsons. Oklahoma was admitted to the Union in 1907, wasn't 

Mr. Evans. I think it was: 

Mr. Parsons. A few years ago nearly everybody in Oklahoma owned 
their land ? 

Mr. Evans. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. Practically all of it had been homesteaded ? 

Mr. Evans. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. Today what is the percentage ? 

Mr. Evans. I believe 61 percent of our farmers in Oklahoma today 
are tenants, with 57 percent in Texas. 

Mr. Parsons. What has brought about that situation ? 

Mr. Evans. There are several factors that have entered into that. 
One thing has been the increased cost of living in these days that pre- 
vents a family from living in comparative comfort, and when I say 
comparative I mean as compared to a neighbor. That has caused 


unrest in these days among a great many of the farmers. Farmers in 
those days lived iii dugouts or semidugouts, with sod roofs over them, 
and they were happy without telephones, radios, and bathtubs, and 
without automobiles. At the present time, even though that: same 
farm would produce as large a cash income as it did at that time, it 
would not in any degi'ee make the family nearly so contented. So 
there has been an unrest and the industrial development of our country 
beckoned to our vouth and they have gone where wages were higher. 
The same thing was true in the plantations in Texas, when industrial 
wages were opened to Negro tenant farmers they went to Chicago or 
New York and were happy when wages were good but were very 
unhappy when employment ceased. 


The Chaieman. Now, describe to the committee about your migrant 
€amps and how they are operated and the cost of them ? 

Mr. Evans. These migrant camps were a new experiment to us; 
they were not built for the purpose of attracting customers, but for 
the purpose of relieving a very distressing condition of the migrant 
family seeking labor at different times during the year. These 
families, because there are families that migrate now instead of just a 
single male individual in the family, the head of the family took the 
entire family with him and traveled as best he could and found work 
wherever he could. Because their income was not sufficient to enable 
them to stop at comfortable places they camped at the side of the road 
where there were no sanitary facilities, where flies spread filth and 
disease — scarlet fever and typhoid fever and everything else of that 

The Chairman. They never had any medical care at all? 

Mr. Evans. No medical care; where mosquitoes spread malaria 
fever; it was a distressing condition not only to the families them- 
selves, but to the community in which they congi'egated. Now, it does 
seem desirable that certain communities that produce winter vegetables 
and winter fruits, and even communities that produce large quantities 
of cotton or wheat or rye, should have additional labor at certain 
seasons of the year. 

The Chairman. You wouldn't stop that kind of migration ? 

Mr. Evans. No. 

The Chairman. We found one city down in Florida whose mayor 
appeared before us in Montgomery, Ala., who said his population was 
about 5,000 normally and about half of the year he had as many as 
10,000, and for at least one-third of the year there was as many as 
15,000. That brings a considerable problem to a little mimicipality of 
5,000, when it is twice doubled at those seasons of the year. Do you 
have some of those situations ? 

Mr. Evans. Our survey indicated there were about 50,000 farm 
families that traveled on or stopped on the highway. 

The Chairman. In your region ? 

Mr. Evans. Yes; and since they were largely gathered in the 
southern extreme where the winters are mild and the season peak loads 


of labor are needed in the citrus fruit and the winter vegetables, we 
first set up our migratory camps in that area. 

The Chairman. That was done by the Farm Security Administra- 
tion ? 

Mr. Evans. By the Farm Security Administration. 

The Chairman. About what did those cost per camp? 

Mr. Evans. About $220,000 per camp. 

The Chairman. And house how many people ? 

Mr. Evans. These camps will take care of from two to four hundred 
families in the shelters or major quarters and in addition to that 
there is ample space for those that have their own camping equipment. 
These camps are not only equipped with shelters to keep out flies 
and mosquitoes, but with a community bath, a shower-bath system, 
and are serviced with a community laundry with tubs and hot water 
for doing their own laundry. 

The Chairman. Do they have sanitary facilities? 

Mr. Evans. Sanitary facilities are provided and in addition we 
found it necessary to provide medical service, so local doctors are 
engaged on a per diem basis to come as needed on stated intervals 
where they interview people that the local nurse has indicated were 
in need of medical service. 

The Chairman. How much do you charge them per week or month ? 

Mr. Evans. There is no charge made for the service as such ; how- 
ever, the camps are managed by a council of campers and they make 
a charge in most instances of 10 cents a day to their own members 
and they administer this fund on their own account. These funds 
are used for such things as may be needed in the way of emergencies 
to keep up the place. 

The Chairman. What do they charge each family per week or 
month for rent ? 

Mr. Evans. That is the charge, 10 cents a day, and that goes into 
their own fund. Now, in the case of laborers, of course, in each of 
these camps there are labor cottages that have from two to three 
rooms each in which it is contemplated that people who secure per- 
manent jobs in the community may live for a year. ^ 

The Chairman. What is the rent charged on those ? 

Mr. Evans. What is that, Mr. Walker? 

Mr. Walker. From $6 to $7.50 a month ; the idea being that these 
people can live there until they get established and then move out 
into the community. 

The Chair:man. Is there any effort being made to amortize the cost 
of that to the Federal Government ? 

Mr. Evans. No, sir; I think there is no plan on foot to amortize 
that cost. 

Mr. Parsons. You have heard the testimony here today about this 
migratory proposition ; that it is national in scope we agree. Have 
you any suggestion to make to the committee that will help us or 
guide us in formulating regulations on this all-important problem ? 

Mr. Evans. Yes, sir ; I think I have. 

Mr. Parsons. Your paper is a very fine paper and contains a great 
amount of information and is a source of much statistical value to 


US and if you have any suggestions to make I would like to have them. 

Mr. Evans. I will not refer to the statistics in the paper in order 
to save time, but I w^ould like to say that we look on the problem of 
migration and the problem of the migrant family somewhat as the soil- 
conservation people look on the prevention of flood or erosion and 
that brings us to see that the only safe solution is to stop the flood 
at its source. After these families are detached from the land and 
are en route no one claims them as their own folks and no one has 
any interest in settling them in any community. 

Mr. Paksons. And they don't only come from Oklahoma and Texas, 
do they ? 

Mr. Evans. They come from everywhere, we had one in our camp 
this last week from Illinois. 

The Chairman. And all the people don't go to California; Cali- 
fornia has about as many people on the road going to other States as 
there are going to California ? 

Mr. Evans. Yes ; we have some in our camp from California. 

The Chairman. They starve to death in California as well as in 
other States? 


Mr. Evans. With respect to stopping the flood at its source and the 
Xjroper solution of the problem, I would like to say that the Farm 
Security Administration has set up a plan of operation that loans may 
be made to low-income families, farmers, who have no credit, at a 
reasonable rate of interest. That is the operating capital I mentioned 
a while ago and that is the key to the situation in many instances. 
Now, the amount of the capital is not so important as the cost of the 
capital ; some of these folks formerly were able to get loans but as our 
survey showed about 20 years ago the average tenant farmer had to 
pay about 66 percent per annum for the money on which he operated 
so even though capital were available it was not at a reasonable rate 
of interest and would be of no service, so we now have these reasonable 
loans on a reasonable rate of interest over a long period of time. It is 
provided that the money used for subsistence should be repaid at the 
end of the first crop season, about 6 or 7 months from the time the 
loan is made, and the balance in 2 to 5 years. We propose to make 
the loan not at 50 percent per annum, but at 5 percent per annum, and 
3 percent for our land (purchase loans which are repayable over a 
period of 40 years. Before the loan is made there must, of course, be 
a farm-debt adjustment because if a man was more in debt or owed 
more money than he could pay there is no chance. 

The Chairman. He is worse off than he was before ? 

Mr. Evans. Yes; so there must be first a farm-debt-adjustment serv- 
ice, and that is performed by local people who know the situation and 
then a rehabilitation loan is made and a provision in that loan is that 
he must raise as nearly as possible all the food the family consumes, all 
the feed that the animals consume, and that he must have at least two 
sources of cash income. We will not make a loan to a strictly cotton 


farmer or a strictly wheat farmer; we feel he must have two sources 
or more of cash income, that makes for better balanced farming,, 
and unless we do we have deserted our purpose. Not every farmer can 
borrow sufficient money to carry on his operations properly so he can 
make in addition to what we call the individual loan a loan which we 
call a community loan ; for example, if several farmers need a hay baler 
or feed grinder seA^eral of them can go in together and get that, where- 
as an individual farmer couldn't afford that alone. 

The Chairman. xVnd they can pool their resources and do that ? 


Mr. Evans. Yes, sir ; now, in the western part of our territory there 
is a water-facilities loan, one of the very best pieces of aid in countries 
with short rainfall, and I think you are familiar with that. 

The Chairman. Do you have any pump irrigation in your region? 

Mr. Evans. Yes, sir. 

The Chairman. Is it paying its way? 

Mr, Evans. We think it is. I will give you an example in Jones 
County, Tex., which is an area of 20 inches of rainfall. A family lived 
on a 74-acre farm and were unable to make a good living on it. How- 
ever, they secured a water-facilities loan of $350 and dug a well, put 
in a windmill, dug a pond, and irrigated about 1 acre of land and the 
difference in what that acre of land produced in food was sufficient to 
help that family live on that farm. 

The Chairman. I saw a lot of those irrigated farms in Nebraska. 
We had some witnesses out there who advocated pmxip irrigation; 
one member of this committee is almost sold on it ; he lives in Nebraska. 

INIr. Evans. He is a good witness. 

The Chairman. Do you have any other suggestion to make to the 
committee as to how we can help this national problem? 

Mr. Curtis. I would like to ask a few questions. 

Does your water-facilities board reach all the counties in the 
drought area? 

Mr. Evans. No, sir; it does not. 

Mr. Curtis, Then the Farm Security Administration cannot loan 
any money on those counties not reached ? 

Mr, Evans, Only for other purposes. 

Mr. Curtis, I mean for water facilities, for irrigation ? 

Mr, Evans. No. 

Mr. Curtis. And you can't loan any to anyone unless it is sort of a 
desperate need ? 

Mr. Evans. That is right. 

Mr. Curtis. They have devised no long-time irrigation loans to 
reach middle-class people in many counties? 


Mr. Evans. No ; now, I think we should consider that not only the 
drought counties are suffering from lack of that service, but the areas 
that have poor drainage and large rainfall should have that service; 



it is the thing working in reverse. Now, these loans are extended for 
the purchase of hxnd and for the leasing of plantations on time basis. 
On the latter cash rent is paid and they are in turn leased to a group 
of tenants on the farm ayIio operate it as a business of their own. Then, 
adding to the loan progTam for these low-income people must be the 
grant program, and I would like to say just a few words about the 
grant program. It is divided into several different types; formerly 
it was just a form of relief, now it is altogether different. The grants 
are divided into two types, the emergency type, the grant made in 
case of disaster, hail, or flood, or tornado, and those grants that are 
made for food and seed to start over again. Another type is the 
medical cooperative or even an individual medical grant; and the 
other type of grant is one made for some standard service, such as 
sanitary facilities, and throughout the South we are making a great 
many of those. Some of those are made larger to include money for 
screening of houses to keep out flies and mosquitoes and to build 
sanitary type toilets and to improve the water supply by curbing the 
wells. Another program that seems to be badly needed is some sort 
of a subsidy on rural housing. If a person lives in town and doesn't 
have screens or has cracks in the floor or doesn't have water or 
electricity, every one of those things, it is terrible, but if a man lives 
in the country and has those conditions it seems to be taken for 
granted. Another grant is a grant made to balance a farm plan; 
there may be a farm here with a family on it and that is in Johnson 
grass, or the family may be sick of pellagra or some nutritional 
disease, and if we could make a grant so they could get along for one 
year they would get going alone after gaining their health or cleaning 
up the farm. 

Mr. CuKTis. Your farm-management division is aiding and assist- 
ing in working out these plans for the assistance of farmers, is it not? 

Mr. Evans. That is right ; and we couldn't get along in this pro- 
gram if it weren't for the services of the vocational teachers, exten- 
sion workers, and more particularly, this labor service you heard from 
this morning. Then, I would say we need a work program for rural 
people, we have had rural people going to town to work on municipal 
works, but I don't know of a farm in Texas or Oklahoma that doesn't 
need something done on it and most of these owners would have this 
something done if they could finance it. I am speaking of ditching 
and clearing and building fences and building storm cellars and 
houses, but when the owner goes to town to borrow the money to do it 
that way they say they will let us have the money at a high rate of 
interest but want it paid back in 6 months. If we had a way w^e could 
get them this money for 20 years to let them make these improve- 
ments, the men that would do the work would work perhaps for 6 
months on the farm on which they were living and it would be a self- 
liquidating thing, so the problem of stopping the flood at its source is 
to provide sufficient capital so that the man can rehabilitate himself 
before he leaves the farm. 

Mr. Curtis. Keeping him tied to the soil ? 


Mr. Evans. Yes; and make him put in full time by either having 
a work progi-am on the f ann or in the community. If we can do that 
w© would not have these migratory camps, or at least we would have 
them only as temporary stations. 

Mr. Curtis. What did you say the rate of interest was that he 
would have to pay from private sources? 

Mr. Evans. I am talking about 20 years ago, the A. and M. college 
of Texas made a survey and they found that the average tenant 
farmer paid 66 percent per annum on the money used to make his 

Mr. Curtis. How much was it 5 years ago ? 

Mr. Evans. It had got down to where there wasn't anyone that 
was willing to do it at that rate; there was no source of income to 
make a crop on. 

Mr. Curtis. Then it is still 66 percent? 

Mr. Evans. Then the Farm Security Administration was estab- 
lished and loans made to farmers at 5 percent. It was an unheard-of 

Mr, Curtis. Is it still 66 percent? 

Mr. Evans. It will range from 7 to 9 percent. 

Mr. Curtis. What was the rate when the Farm Security came in? 

Mr. Evans. It was about 50 percent, but there wasn't any credit 
available at that time from any source. 

Mr. Curtis. Don't you have a usuiy law in Texas? 

Mr. Evans. Yes, sir; but just like our immigration laws and labor 
laws, when they break them no one pays much attention to them. 

Mr. Curtis. I don't know much about your land ownership down 
there, but do you have very much agricultural land owned by men 
wealthy enough so that they are income-tax payers, Federal income- 
tax payers? 

Mr. Evans. I doubt if you will find very many land owners that are 
Federal income-tax payers unless they have an income that conies 
from some source other than the land. 

Mr. Curtis. I mean, they do pay income taxes, when you have cor- 
porate ownership or ownership of large holdings of land by an 

Mr. Evans. We have found it difficult to purchase land in a great 
many counties, more particularly in Oklahoma, and there are a great 
many things that enter into it, mineral rights, and so forth, that give 
it a speculative value. 

RE^^SION OF tax structure 

Mr. Curtis. Here is what I am getting at. There has been a sug- 
gestion made by a number of people interested in our tax structure 
that if there is someone who takes certain funds and invests them in 
things that require labor — here is a man that has income from many 
sources, among other things he owns farms, and they advocate that 
if he will build new houses or new barns on those farms and create 
that much activity — that the amount of money he uses for that be 


charged off on his income tax as an operating cost and not be con- 
sidered as new capital investment. What do you think of that? 

Mr. Evans. I think it woukl promote building. 

Mr. Curtis. And I am wondering, do yon have a type of ownership 
of that kind in Texas that that would help? 

Mr. Evans. I think we do ; we have a great deal of land owned that 
has been acquired by foreclosure. 

Mr. Curtis. Do these land owners want good houses and buildings 
and wells, or has it been that the land didn't produce enough to 
finance it? 

Mr. Evans. I think if the land produced enough we would have 
much better conditions at home; the whole thing is caused by low 
income for farm products, regardless of the cost of production. 

Mr. Curtis. There is what I am getting at ; there are certain limi- 
tations to the Treasury of the United States, we can't get all of these 
things now. If we spend this tax money from the Treasury on rural 
housing, that doesn't increase the productivity of the land nor add to 
the price structure ? 

Mr. Evans. No, sir. 

Mr. Curtis. Now, if you spend that money and increase the pro- 
ductivity of the land and also add to the price structure, do you think 
those people would go ahead and improve their land themselves ? 

Mr. Evans. I think they would. 

The Chairman. Thank you very much. 

(Witness excused.) 


Mr. Parsons. Give your name and address to the reporter, please? 

Mr. Stewart. James M. Stewart. 

Mr. Parsons. Where were you born and reared? 

Mr. Stetwart. Oklahoma. 

Mr. Parsons. In what county? 

Mr. Stewart. Jefferson. 

Mr. Parsons. How old are you ? 

Mr. Stewart. Thirty. 

Mr. Parsons. Were you born on a farm ? 

Mr. Stewart. Yes, sir. 

Mr, Parsons. Have you been on a farm all your life? 

Mr. Stewart. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. AVas your father a tenant farmer or did he own his 

Mr. Stewart. He was a tenant farmer. 

Mr. Parsons. How many acres did he farm ? 

Mr. Stewart. Anywhere from 50 to 100. 

Mr. Parsons. How many children were there in the family, in your 
father's family? 

Mr. Stewart. Six of us. 

Mr. Parsons. You all worked on the farm like all of us country 
boys who worked on the farm ? 


Mr. Stewart. Ri^ht. 

Mr. Parsons. Are you married ? 

Mr. Stewart. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. How many children do you have? 

Mr. Stewart. No children. 

Mr. Parsons. Are yon still farming? 

Mr. Stewart. No, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. How long has it been since you farmed ? 

Mr. Stewart. 1925. 

Mr. Parsons. Why did you quit? 

Mr. Stewart. Tractors and boll weevils and overhead expense. 

Mr. Parsons. What have you been doing since 1925 ? 

Mr. Stewart. Labor and one thing and another, farm labor. 

Mr. Parsons. Over the State of Oklahoma or out of the State? 

Mr. Stewart. Texas and Oklahoma. 

Mr. Parsons. Did you ever come on one of these tours up the Pacific 
coast following the farm and vegetable work and apple picking up the 
Pacific coast ? 

Mr. Stewart. No, sir ; I have never been that far up. 

Mr. Parsons. About what do you earn annually in your work ? 

Mr. Stewart. In a year ? 

Mr. Parsons. Yes ; in a j^ear. 

Mr. Stewart. It runs different sometimes, sometimes maybe $200, 
sometimes maybe $300. 

Mr. Parsons. Do you get paid in cash ? 

Mr. Stewart. Cash mostly. 

Mr. Parsons. Do you take your wife with you? 

Mr. Stewart. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. Does she work, too ? 

Mr. Stewart. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. You both work and earn probably from $200 to $300 
in cash annually ? 

Mr. Stewart. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. Do j^ou have a car ? 

Mr, Stewart. No, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. How do you get back and forth between the various 
places ? 

Mr. Stewart. Just go with other tourists. 

Mr. Parsons. A bunch of you team up together ? 

Mr. Stewart. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. When did you go to Corpus Christi ? 

Mr. Stewart. Sometime, I believe, in 1932 or 1931. 

Mr. Parsons. How long were you down there? 

Mr. Stewart. About a month, I believe, something like that. 

Mr. Parsons. Did you find any employment there ? 

Mr. Stewart. Vegetable work. 

Mr. Parsons. Did you ever apply for relief anywhere? 

Mr. Stewart. In Oklahoma ; on the C. W. A. 

Mr. Parsons. Was that since you came back from Corpus Christi? 

Mr. Stewart. I believe it was ; I don't remember. 

Mr. Parsons. How long were you on relief ? 


Mr. Stewart. I was on the C. W. A., I think, about 6 weeks. 

Mr. Parsons. They cut you off? 

Mr. Stewart. They cut the C. W. A. out 

Mr. Parsons. Have you ever been on the VV. P. A. i 

Mr. Stewart. No, sir. , ,,r t^ 4 • 

Mr. Parsons. Have you tried to get on the W. P. A. since i 

Mr. Stewart. Yes. ax • ^ u a 4-7 

Mr. Parsons. Did they say you have a sufficient budget i 

Mr. Stewart. Yes. . • r\^ ^ -u 

Mr. Parsons. Do they pay higher wages m Texas than in (Jklahoma 

for farm labor ? 

Mr. Stewart. About the same. 

Mr. Parsons. What are vour plans for the future ? _ 

Mr. Stewart. Well, my plans now, I imagine, will be m Texas. 

Mr. Parsons. Did you pick cotton this year? 

Mr. Stewart. Yes, sir. ^ ^-u • 

Mr. Parsons. How many of you teamed together to go out on this 

migrant labor? 

Mr. Stewart. Only four of us now. 

Mr. Parsons. Four families? 

Mr. Stewart. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. Do you all get along all right? 

Mr. Stewart. Yes. 

conditions in migratory camp 

Mr. Parsons. Did you ever live in one of these migratory camps? 

Mr. Stewart. Yes ; I am living in one now. 

Mr, Parsons. Where? 

Mr. Stewart. Raymondville, Tex. 

Mr. Parsons. How do you like life there? 

Mr. Stewart. It is about as good a life as I can find. 

Mr. Parsons. Much better than it used to be ? 

Mr. Stewart. It is much better than camping out on the road. 

Mr. Parsons. I understand those are operated in a democratic way 
by the members of the camp. Do you think the people are going to 
take good care of those camps and keep them painted up and nice and 
sanitary ? 

Mr. Stewart. I believe they will. 

Mr. Parsons. They take an interest in it, do they? 

Mr. Stewart. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. You are just typical of thousands that we know that 
seek employment in this way. Do you have any suggestion to make 
to this committee as to how we could better the conditions for you 
l^eople that migrate? 

Mr. Stewart. Well, that is about the only way that it could be ad- 
justed to make it better. 

Mr. Parsons. Would you like to own a farm yourself? 

Mr. Stewart. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. But the section in which you grew up and where you 
were a boy didn't have sufficient rainfall to produce? 



Mr. Stewart, That is right. 

Mr. Parsons. You would still be on the farm if it did ? 

Mr. Stewart. Yes. 

Mr. Parsons. That is all. 

Mr. Curtis. How many people live in this migratory camp where 
you live? 

Mr. Stewart. During the cotton season there was somewhere around 
1,000 people there. 

Mr. Curtis. What kind of buildings are they ? 

Mr. Stewart. Tin buildings. 

Mr. Curtis. Are they divided into family units? 

Mr. Stewart. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Curtis. How many rooms allowed to a family ? 

Mr. Stewart. Just one-room buildings. 

Mr. Curtis. One-room buildings? 

Mr. Stewart. Yes ; they are set out in units in rows. 

Mr. Curtis. One room for a family ? 

Mr. Stewart. Yes. 

Mr. Curtis. And what is in that room ? 

Mr. Stewart. Nothing; whenever a family occupies the room they 
put in a bed and stove. 

Mr. Curtis. That is what I mean. 

Mr. Stewart. A bed and stove. 

Mr. Curtis. Are there any chairs or tables ? 

Mr. Stewart. You can build a table ; they have got material and you 
can build a table and benches or whatever you want yourself. 

Mr. Curtis. How many are there now? 

Mr. Stewart. I think there are 13 families there now. 

Mr. Curtis. Do they pay any rent? 

Mr. Stewart. Yes. 

Mr. Curtis. How much do you pay ? 

Mr. Stewart. Two dollars a month to the camp fund. 

Mr. Curtis. How do you get in there, to whom do you apply ? 

Mr. Stewart. Just the camp ; F. S. A. committee manager. 

Mr. Curtis. Have there been people turned away because there 
wasn't room since you have been there ? 

Mr. Stewart. No, sir ; not that I know of. 

Mr. Curtis. That can take care of 1,000 people or 1,000 families? 

Mr. Stewart. Well, there have been 1,000 people at this camp and 
it wasn't full. 

Mr. Curtis. But there are 13 families there now ? 

Mr. Stewart. Yes. 

Mr. Curtis. Of those 13 families how many of them have some 
work ? 

Mr. Stewart. All of them are working now. 

Mr. Curtis. What are they doing? 

Mr. Stewart. Picking cotton. 

Mr. Curtis. How long have they been there ? 

Mr. Stewart, Well, I don't remember how long some of them have 
been there ; they move in and out. 


Mr. Curtis. Do you expect to stay all winter? 

Mr. Stewart. I was figuring on it ; yes, sir. 

Mr. Curtis. You will have to pay $2 a month ? 

Mr. Stewart. Yes, sir ; $2 a month camp fund. 

Mr. Curtis. You will have to pay that all winter ? 

Mr. Stewart. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Curtis. Do they provide any fuel ? 

Mr. Stewart. Nothing only an oil stove. 

Mr. Curtis. Where do you get the oil for that, do you buy that 
yourself ? 

Mr. Stewart. We buy it ourselves. 

Mr. Curtis. Do you get any provisions ? 

Mr. Stewart. No, sir. 

Mr. Curtis. Suppose there is a family in there that doesn't have a 

Mr. Stewart. That is what we do with the $2 a month ; we pay that 
into the camp fund and this $2 a month stays in the camp fund, and 
if a family stays in there that is in distress they can go to the office 
and get supplies out of this fund. 

Mr. Curtis. Suppose someone came in and wanted to stay there and 
never did find any work ? 

Mr. Stewart. He could work in camp and work a grant, 

Mr. Curtis. Who from, out of this $2 ? 

Mr. Stewart. No; from the Government, from the F. S. A.; he 
could get a grant from the F. S. A. 

Mr. Curtis. For how long a period of time ? 

Mr. Stewart. I don't know ; it is just so much a month. 

Mr. Curtis. You don't know how many months they would give it 
to them ? 

Mr. Stewart. No ; I don't know how far they would go. 

Mr. Curtis. That is all. 

The Chairman. Thank you very much, sir. 

(Witness excused.) 


Mr. Parsons. Dr. Cauley, give your name to the reporter. 

Dr. Cauley. T. J. Cauley. 

Mr. Parsons. Dr. Cauley, you are Chief of the Kegional Economic 
Survey Section of the Soil Conservation Service at Fort Worth, Tex. ? 

Dr. Cauley. Yes, sir. Also, I should like to have G. S. Klemmedson 
introduced here. 

Mr. Parsons. What region do you represent ? 

Dr. Cauley. Region 4 of the Soil Conservation Service which is 
known as the Western Gulf Region. 

Mr. Parsons. The statement prepared by you gentlemen has been 
received and will be entered in the record at this point. 


Statement by T. J. Cauley and G. S. Klemmedson of the Soil (Jonseirvation 
Sebvice, Fort Worth, Tifx. 

Soil Erosion and Ruilvl Emigration in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas 

The purpose of this paper is to indicate briefly the relationship between soil 
erosion in the States of Arkansas, Olilahoma, and Texas, and the migration of 
rural people from the areas affected. Also an effort will be made to point out 
some possibilities of improving the situation. 

Land suffering from soil erosion may be divided into two general classes on 
the basis of whether the condition requires curative treatment or only preventive 
treatment. If 25 percent or more of the topsoil has been lost through sheet ero- 
sion or gullying, the land falls in the class requiring curative treatment. If the 
land is suffering from erosion but less than 25 percent of the topsoil has been 
lost, it falls in the class requiring preventive treatment. 

Curative treatment, as used in this connection, consists of such relatively comh 
plex and expensive measures as terracing, construction of outlet channels, gully 
control, retirement of land from cultivation with subsequent sodding or refores- 
tation, 'use of meadow waterways, and installation of water-spreading systems. 
Preventive treatment, on the other hand, includes such comparatively simple and 
inexpensive practices as contour-cultivation, strip-cropping, crop rotation, use of 
cover crops, and controlled grazing. 

According to surveys recently made by the Physiail Surveys Division of the 
Western Gulf Region of the Soil Conservation Service, there are 12,215,609 acres 
of land in Arkansas in need of curative treatment, 25.268,034 acres in Oklahoma,' 
and 97,297,316 acres in Texas,' or a total of 134,780,959 acres in this class in the 
three States. Put into percentages, these figures indicate that 36.1 percent of all 
the laud in Arkansas is in this class, 62 percent of that in Oklahoma, and 38.1 
percent of that in Texas. 

According to the same surveys, there are 3,285,827 acres in Arkansas requiring 
preventive treatment, 5,664,207 acres in Oklahoma, and 51,163,507 acres in Texas, 
or a total of 60,113,541 acres in this class in the three States. Putting these fig- 
ures into percentages, we get 9.7 percent for Arkansas, 13.9 percent for Okla- 
homa, and 36.4 percent for Texas. 

The total rural population of the land in Arkansas which is in need of curative 
treatment is 541,597: of that in Oklahoma, 1,007,480; and of that in Texas, 
3,684,602— a total of 5,233,679 people on land of this class in the three States. 

' The corresponding figures for land in need of preventive treatment are : Arkan- 
sas, 151,838 ; Oklahoma, 196,848 ; and Texas, 962,937, or a total of 1,311,623. Com- 
bining the totals for the two classes of land, we find that a grand total of 
6,545,302 rural people are dependent upon land which is in the process of being 
washed out or blown out from under them. 

These figures include, in addition to the people who live directly on the land, 
those who live in the neighboring villages and are dependent indirectly, but 
none the less really, upon the land for a living. 

A good illustration of the effect of soil depletion upon village people is to be 
found in the fate of the little town of Goforth in Hays County, Tex. A compara- 
tively few years ago, Goforth was a prosperous trading center, including several 
general stores, a meat market, a barber shop, a blacksmith shop, a drug store, 
a post ofllce, and a large cotton gin. The rolling black land was mined for cotton, 
and erosion ruined it. Today less than 5 percent of it is in cultivation whereas 
at one time as much as 95 percent was cultivated. When the soil was gone, the 
farm people left ; and when the farm people left, the village people had to go, too. 
Their means of livelihood was gone just as surely as if they, too, had been 
farmers. At the present time, Goforth is completely abandoned— a ghost town, 
with deserted buildings; somber, weather-beaten, decaying walls; lopsided 
dilapidated houses and store buildings ; rust-pitted gin machinery strewn beneath 
a creaking, swaying tangle of sheet iron— a grisly monument to soil erosion ana 
the disruption of human lives which it wrought. 

1 All figures given for Oklahoma and Texas in this paper exclude the portion of the two 
States lying within the High Plains, since this area is part of another region of the Sou 
Conservation Service. 


From the standpoint of the future potentialities of this situation it should be 
stressed that soil erosion is a process which does not proceed at a constant rate 
of speed. Instead, once the process is started and particularly after the advanced 
stages are reached, it proceeds at an accelerated rate. This means that land 
which now needs only preventive treatment will soon need curative treatment, 
and that land which now needs curative treatment will very soon reach the stage 
where it can never be cured — irretrievably lost so far as agricultural purposes 
are concerned. 

When this final stage of soil depletion is reached, obviously the people must 
leave the land or starve. They go wherever economic opportunity appears to 

In the meantime, however, there is a little-appreciated tendency for rural popu- 
lation to concentrate in the poor land areas. At least, such a tendency has 
operated during the past 10 years. During the depression period many people 
who had lost their jobs in industrial and commercial occupations returned to the 
farms. Almost all of them lacked adequate capital for farming. If they bought 
land at all, they had to buy the cheapest. If they rented land, they had to rent 
that quality of land which was in least demand and could be operated with the 
least and poorest equipment. High-priced land was beyond their reach either for 
purchase or for lease. 

During these same years but more particularly since 1934, the development 
of farming on the better lands in these States has been in the direction of mech- 
anization, with a considerable reduction in the number of tenants, share croppers 
and hired laborers. Due to foreclosure and other factors, there has also been 
a sizable reduction in the number of farm owners. These people who have been 
pushed off the better farms have, to a considerable degree, moved into the poor 
land areas. Their reasons for doing so were essentially the same as those of the 
unemployed industrial and commercial workers mentioned above, which is to 
say that they took poor land because it was all that they could get. 

A good example of this sort of development is to be found in central Texas. 
The Blackland Prairie of Texas constitutes one of the best farming areas in the 
South, but the rural population of practically every county in it has declined 
during the past 10 years. The east cross timbers area lies to the east of the 
Blackland Prairie, and the west cross timbers area to the west. Both of these 
are areas of poor, sandy soil, most of which is badly eroded. But almost all of 
the counties in these areas have had an increase in rural population during the 
past 10 years, as against a decrease in the two preceding decades. So long as 
economic opportunities were available in the cities and in the more favored 
farming regions, people left these areas of poor land. But during the 1930's they 
have been driven back again, and they are there now. 

Thus the areas of poor laud have become badly overpopulated. The average 
size of the farms is too small for economic operation; the farmers have inade- 
quate equipment and power, and cash incomes are miserably low. The people 
are there not from choice but from necessity. The whole development constitutes 
a distress movement. 

Without aid, it is certain that the bulk of these people will not long remain 
where they now are. If superior economic opportunities appear elsewhere, they 
will go immediately to them. If the failure of such opportunities to appear causes 
them to stay where they are, their ill-advised use of the land will destroy it to 
the point that they cannot continue to get a living of any sort from it. 

What are the possibilities of conserving what is left of \he soil on these lands 
and of improving the depleted portions? Generally speaking, it may be said that 
the physical techniques for accomplishing these objectives are known and ready 
for use. They have already been used successfully by the Soil Conservation 
Service in its demonstration projects and in many soil conservation districts. 
Definitely, from a physical standpoint, the job can be done. Gullies can be sta- 
bilized ; hillsides can be terraced and contour-cultivated or retired to grass and 
trees ; cover crops can prevent washing and blowing of the soil ; water can be 
conserved in the drier areas ; and various other measures can be applied as the 
nature of the particular problem requires. Our technicians know how to do all 
of these things. 

The obstacles are not physical; they are economic and social instead. The 
typical reasons why the average farmer in such an area cannot apply a com- 


plete and coordinated soil- and water-conservation program to his farm are the 
following: (1) He lacks the necessary equipment and labor supply to do the work 
himself; (2) his cash income is too small to enable him to hire the work done; 
(3) if he is a tenant without secure tenure, as he frequently is, he has no incen- 
tive to improve the land over a long period of time, because the chances are that 
he will not be able to stay on it long enough to get the benefits; (4) he has little 
or no livestock to which he can feed the hay and grain crops which are essential 
parts of an adequate conservation plan ; and (5) the smallness of his cultivated 
acreage does not allow the retirement of any considerable portion of it to grass 
or trees for conservation purposes. In the case of small farm owners, the pres- 
sure of fixed charges in the form of interest on mortgaged indebtedness and 
taxes frequently necessitates the exploitation of the land. 

As to the remedies, we must reconcile ourselves first of all to the fact that the 
application of adequate conservation measures to farms of this sort must be made 
largely by the Government if it is to be made at all. The farmer can contribute 
his own "labor, but that is essentially all. And in many cases it will require a 
great deal of education and persuasion to induce him to do even that much. 

This may appear to be a pessimistic statement ; but. nevertheless, such are the 
facts. For example, there is an area of very badly eroded land in Wise County, 
Tex. The average net income of the farmers in the area is about $200 per year. 
Even if the whole of this income were spent on conservation, it would not be 
enough to cover the cost of controlling just one of the very numerous large gullies 
that are to be found on almost every farm. And, obviously, a farm family with 
so small an income cannot reasonably be asked to devote more than a small frac- 
tion of it to soil-conservation measures. 

The Government has, of course, already come to the assistance of people of this 
sort to some extent through the Soil Conservation Service. During the past fiscal 
year this agency cooperated with 16 soil-conservation districts in Arkansas and 
24 in Oklahoma. Texas had no organized districts last year but was assisted 
by 23 Civilian Conservation Corps camps doing soil-conservation work. Many of 
the soil-conservation districts have sponsored Work Projects Administration 
projects. These projects have served as a means whereby the rural relief load 
can be carried in such a way as to reduce one of the main causes of the need for 
rural relief. The relief workers are given an opportunity to tide themselves over 
their immediate distress and at the same time to help rebuild the fundamental 
economic foundation of the community. 

In spite of a reduction of approximately 15 percent in its funds, the Service pro- 
poses to cooperate during the present fiscal year with 26 districts in Arkansas, 
36 in Oklahoma, and 42 in Texas. This expansion has been made possible only 
by a serious reduction in the amount of assistance given to each district. The 
contribution of the Service is now confined largely to that of technical direction 
plus what labor is available from the Civilian Conservation Corps camps. 

It should be clear from these facts that the Soil Conservation Service, with its 
present resources, is not going to be able to get the job of saving the farm land 
done soon enough to prevent the displacement of a vast number of farm families 
and other iiiral people. If this calamity is to be avoided, the work of the Service 
must be expanded so that it can do a larger share of the conservation work on 
distressed farms than it is now doing through the soil conservation districts 

In the second place, there is a grievous need for an improved farm-tenure system. 
In all three of the States under consideration, well over half of the farms are 
operated by tenants. Most of these tenants move every year. They have no 
permanent interest in any particular farm and consequently are not much con- 
cerned with soil conservation. For example, of the 319 farmers in the lower 
east saline soil conservation district in southeastern Arkansas who have agreed 
to establish complete conservation programs on their farms, only 20, or about 
6 i>ercent, are tenants, whereas approximately 50 percent of all farms in the 
district are operated by tenants. 

In addition to the tenants, there are great numbers of so-called farm owners 
whose farms are so heavily mortgaged in proportion to their earning capacities 
that they are in dire danger of losing them through foreclosure. Such "owners" 
do not liave much more of a long-run interest in the conservation of their land 
than do tenants. 

Pictures and maps on following pages are from photographs fur- 
nished to the Committee bj^ the Soil Conservation Service (see testi- 
mony of Dr. T. J. Cauley and G. C. Klemmedson, pp. 1973, et seq.) and 
the Farm Security Administration and submitted to the Committee. 

They illustrate graphically the effects of water and wind erosion 
and also show some of the remedial work done to secure water in 
proper amounts at the proper time. 


chased by tlie Soil Conservation Service and converted to a use tor which they are suited. 

„„„ provision o,„„„«d ao.i., * »-SS',K;SS"ir "■" "™ '-'" """' '°"' ""' ""° 


Eroded land no longer profitable for cultivation of crops. 


Same field 2 years later after it was talvi-n mn u\ ilic .-mhI ( nuM-i \a! mi] Service, turned to pasture land 
that provides luxuriant forage for livestock. 



Destruction precipitated by products of erosion. 'Y\n< stream cliannel lias silted up t(j the bridge level, 
leaving the bridge "high and dry" and useless. 

Cropland eroded by a heavy rainfall. There are 61,525,208 acres of land in this class in Region 4 of the Soil 
Conservation Service. From such devastation, thousands of farm families have been forced to flee. 


Farm machinery abandoned in the fields when a dust storm swept over the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma, 
devastating crops, cutting off source of lood and income for thousands of farm families. These are the- 
conditions migrant witnesses meant when they said they were "blowed off" their lands. 

Advanced staj;i> of wind erosion. These once fertile fi'-lds are iiothinir hut waste land after a seri( 



Sand pile 1 uii after a severe duststnrm in the entrance of a chicken house on an Oklahoma Dust Bo'.vl farm. 

>€P*»Tl«tNT or ACmCUiTURC 

See p. 1988. 




/ -JLy **-, 

~"^7n--~^._l-IVlNG ON FARMS, NOVEMBER 1937 

r\ "^ 

-j-V ■'■'^;-''\-:Vv;;v^:-;Vvl^^^ S 

/.;" " 

Y \- ■■■■■ ■ •■ '■■ 'MM^-^':^^^$i<^p:^^^ 


\'i \ 

}■ ■■.W~^~^~~^ 



/ ■ ■ / -V- ■ • ..'.•..•:.".. \':}-:-:-'' ■' X ■ .■-■■■•- l vss 

/ .■■ ' / '^ • /•^'^ ^^--'---'-y"';^^-;^ 




UNITED STATES TOTAL XT^ ^\ ^* ""'^'^dP^ 

fe- A 

971,000 PERSONS \ JP^ 

V .-J^ Each dot represents 

) \. C V 1 100 persons 


♦\ 1 ^ 2 



NEG 35912 


Figure l. —Totally unemployed and emergency workers living on farms in November 1937 were most 
numerous in the "South, notably in the hills of eastern Kentucky and West Virginia, North Carolina, 
northern Georgia, and Alabama, western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma. Relatively few were regis- 
tered in the Corn Belt, notably the prairie portion, where in most counties farm population declined 
during the depression. In general, the unemployed farm population is greatest in areas of high birth 
rates, hilly or poor soils, and small farms. (See p. '.988.) 




Figure 2.— Persons living on farms who registered in the unemployment census of November 1937 as partly 
unemployed were numerous in the Cotton Belt, particularly in the Mississippi River bottom lands of 
eastern Arkansas and southeastern Missouri. But large numbers registered also in the Appalachian 
region, extending from Maine to northern Georgia and Alabama, in Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, and the 
Lake States, also in the valleys of the Pacific Coast. Relatively few registered in the Corn Belt and 
the Wheat Belt. (See p. 1988.) 



It is probable that there will never be anything closely approaching complete 
conservation farming in this country until our farm lands are iu the unincumbered 
ownership of the people who work them. 

In the meantime, lu)wever, much good could be done by improving farm-leasing 
systems. The great need is for longer-term leases and increased security of 
tenure. Closely related to this is the need for lease provisions which will com- 
pen.-ate tenants for conservation measures and other improvements which they 
make on the land. In general, the tenant should be given adequate incentive to 
conserve and improve the land ; and the landlord should be given protection 
against exploitative practices on the part of the tenant. 

It must be conceded, however, that there are some tenants who can never be 
materially changed in their atitude toward the land by such provisions. They 
are a poor lot, whose present condition is largely the result of the poor judgment 
which they exercised in the selection of their parents, an error which lies some- 
what too far back for us to do anything about it, but the better ones can be helped, 
and that is something. 

Prepared by Western Gulf Region, Soil Conservation Service. 


Mr. Parsons. I have gone OA-er your statement here and it has some 
very interesting data. You make the statement here that in these 
three States of Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas there are five and one- 
fourth million people living on land on which 25 percent or more top- 
soil has been lost, and that they are a problem for the other people in 
that State. Will you elaborate upon that situation ? 


Dr. Cauley. Erosion is of two particular types, of course, as to the 
cause — water erosion and wind erosion. Roughly speaking, east of the 
one-hundredth meridian water erosion is the more serious and west of 
that boundary wind erosion is the more serious. The results are 
essentially the same so far as the fertility and surface structure of the 
soil are concerned and the ability of the land to produce. One aspect 
of soil erosion and the deficiency of land which results from it and the 
concentration of rural population on such land is, I suspect, not very 
generally appreciated. We think, or at least a great many people are 
prone to think, of poor land areas as areas of sparse population ; that 
is not true by and large, for the areas of poor land are areas of dense 
rural population, relatively speaking. 

Mr. Parsons. Tell us what, in your judgment, has caused that situa- 

Dr. Caulet. It has been a product, particularly during the past 10 
years, of urban unemployment and of the processes of mechanization 
and a consequent expansion in size of farms on the better land areas in 
the country, generally speaking. During the worst of the depression 
period the people who had, during the preceding decade, the 1920's, 
gone to the towns and cities, lost their jobs. Those of them who did 
lose their jobs came back in great numbers to the farms or farming 
communities from which they had gone, and naturally when they came 
back they had very little capital, if any at all. If they bought land, 
they had to buy the cheapest land, and if they rented land they had to 
rent that quality of land for which there was the least demand, so of a 

260370 — 41— pt. 



necessity that back- wash of urban population concentrated on the poor 
land in areas because that land was the only land which was available 
to people of such meager resources as they had at the time they came 
back. In essentially the same way, the farm families which have been 
pushed off the better lands by tractor farming, commercial farming in 
all its typical manifestations, which has developed in the past 8 or 10 
years, have gone in considerable numbers to this poor land where they 
can still get access to a little land of a sort with comparatively little 
money outlay. It is extremely difficult for a tenant to get good land 
nowadays, even when that land is offered for rent by an owner, unless 
he is able to pay the price and buy the relatively complex and expen- 
sive equipment which is required for the work. 


Mr. Parsons. Is there a great deal of corporate farming in your 

Dr. Cauley. Tliere is corporate farming of an involuntary sort, the 
various insurance companies and banks and other lending agencies 
have become owners of considerable blocs of farm land through fore- 
closure. Then in certain parts of this region there is land in cor- 
porate ownership that is going to be farm land; it is land that is 
owned by large lumber companies, and the timber has been cut from 
it, and it is going to be farm land, but it is owned by the lumber 

Mr. Parsons. Have the insurance companies, and so forth, been 
caught by the spirit of the farmers in the community, so as to leave 
them on the farm if they are good workers and honest men ? Have 
they been cooperative in 'that regard ? We have the testimony of the 
Union Central Life Insurance Co. over at Cincinnati and had their 
farm manager there showing what they were trying to do to help the 
farmer in the Great Plains area. What has been your observation? 

Dr. Cauley. I haven't had an observation that would be a represen- 
tative sample. The one case that I call to mind was to the contrary. 
A representative of the company told me his company's policy was 
never to permit the foreclosed owner to stay on the land after his 
foreclosure, because if he knew they were going to do that he would 
quit paying that much sooner, because he was going to get to stay 
there anyway, so they enforced a strict policy of evicting all ex- 
owners from the land. ' I am not at all sure that is typical. 


Mr. Parsons. You have a very interesting work. Wliat recom- 
mendations do you have to make to this committee to guide us in 
formulating legislation? First to try to tie down these farmers to the 
soil and where that can't be done, how to aid and assist those that 
have to go on the road and third, how to help those that migi'ate for 
industrial purposes and flock into the cities in the hope of obtaining 
employment and then find it is like the pot of gold at the end of the 
rainbow, it isn't there. Wliat suggestion do you have to make to us 


and what comments do you have to make, if any. on the water re- 
sources in your section ? 


Dr. Cauley. I should like to speak for a few minutes on that and 
then I should like to have Mr. Klemmedson say a few words. Very 
frankly we should like for the Soil Conservation Service to have more 
money than it now has. 

Mr. Paksons. That is quite right. 

Dr. Cauley. We are not able to reach anything like all the farmers 
and all the farm land which is desperately in need of the sort of thing 
that we can do for it. Soil erosion can be stopped, the mechanical and 
agronomic measures which are necessary for stopping soil erosion are 
definitely known and we can apply them. 

Mr. Parsons. Both as to drought and flood ? 

Dr. Cauley. Yes, sir ; the work is done at the present time largely 
through soil conservation districts, which are local organizations, units 
of local government organized under State laws and made up of land 
occupiers, both farm owners and tenants. The Soil Conservation Serv- 
ice works through these local agencies. We are cooperating at the 
present time with soil conservation districts in Arkansas and Okla- 
homa and we are beginning to do so in Texas. The Texas districts are 
just being organized. There are so many of those districts, so many 
new ones coming in, and there is such a great demand for the assistance 
which the Soil Conservation Service can give to them that we have had 
to expand our resources on so many of them that we are at the present 
time giving them practically nothing except technical dii'ections, which 
is, of course, a splendid thing within itself, but it is awfully inadequate 
from our standpoint. There are hundreds of thousands of farms in the 
three States which w^e have to consider here on which the farm income 
is so miserably low that we cannot reasonably expect that farm family 
to spend more than a small fraction of it for the purpose of applying 
soil conservation measures, the several benefits of which will accrue in 
time not to him, but to what we term posterity. 

Now, the farmer with a net income of $200 a year isn't in a position 
to spend very much of that for the benefit of posterity ; he is not going 
to have any posterity, or his family isn't, if something isn't done a 
little more immediately. He is not able to spend the necessary amount 
from that income. We can go out there and give him the finest sort 
of farm plan, lay out his terrace lines with mathematical precision 
and give him a crop plan that will hold that soil until doomsday, but 
if the cost is $600 to carry out that program — and $600 is not an 
exorbitant sum of money from the long-run view to keep the earth 
together — $600 is a staggering amount for the farmer on that eco- 
nomic level ; and if that soil is to be conserved for the benefit of the 
Nation at large from now on, the Nation at large is going to have to 
bear a larger percentage of the cost of having it done than we now 
stand ready to do with the $20,000,000 that the Soil Conservation 
Service has to treat the several hundred million acres of land in the 
United States which is in desperate need of this service. 


Mr. Parsons. And if something isn't done in time, posterity is going 
to need this soil for productive service? 

Dr. Cauley. Yes ; and this need of posterity is not so far off in south- 
eastern OkL^homa, for example, and some other parts of the region 
so far as that is concerned. I would like to close with a Chinese 
proverb, "It is much later than most people realize." 

Mr. Parsons. I think that is quite appropriate at the moment. 


Mr. Parsons. Do you have a statement to make. Mr. Klemmedson? 

Mr. Klemmedson. We have already submitted some material ^ to 
the connnittee to show the direct correlation between the location of 
these migratory families and the unemployed people and the farmers 
with incomes of less than $1,000. (See pp. 1983 and 1984.) We also 
introduced a soil-erosion map ^ showing that the areas of severe erosion 
correlate with these areas and that it is due to the fact that so many of 
these farms have washed awa}' that we are losing farms every day. I 
think, in the United States, we are losing 20 farms a day. 

Mr. Parsons. By water erosion ? 

Mr. Kle:\imedson. By water erosion. In fact, we are losing hun- 
dreds of thousands of farms that will never be replaced, so we feel if 
we are going to protect humanity we must permanently protect the 
soil upon which these people depend for their future incomes. An- 
other thing that very few people have realized is that a soil-conserva- 
tion district is a local unit of government ; it is a democratic set-up 
and these districts can accomplish a number of these adjustments. 

There are millions of acres of farm and forest land in the South 
that have been eroded, misused, and bunied o^er. You will see 
photographs of their condition in this illustrated folder.^ You can 
visit southeastern Oklahoma and Arkansas in a month or so and you 
will see a tremendous smoke haze all over the country where the 
farmers in that area are burning over those forests ; they are burning 
away future incomes. We have been doing some work to protect these 
forests and farm lands and we feel that the Soil Conservation Service, 
through the soil-conservation districts, can go in and control that 
land by bringing about desirable physical and economic adjustments 
in land use with a view to bettering human welfare, conserving nat- 
ural resources, and reducing the hazards of floods and siltation so 
that the people can stay on the farms permanently. Much of that 
land is owned by absentee owners, men in Peoria, 111., and Michigan, 
and New Hampshire. 

Mr. Parsons. Man has done a lot of foolish things in times past, 
hasn't he? 

Mr. Klemmedson. He certainly has. 

Mr. Parsons. We are buying up millions of acres of land to reforest. 
You cut down, through this section, nearly all the trees on it. You 

1 See statement of Louis P. Merrill, p. 1979 et seq. 

- The soil erosion map is not printed, as it was in color that could not be reproduced 
in black and white. Reference is made to black-and-white maps on pp. 1983 and 1984, 
in this connection. 

2 Some of the photos are reproduced on p. 1977 et seq. 


didn't have many to begin with, and now you are trying to get trees 
to grow • you went in there and plowed up all this buttalo sod and if 
it had been left alone there would have been sufficient moisture to have 
kept the soil from blowing ? 

Mr. Klemmedson. That is right. 

Mr. Parsons. What suggestion would you make to this committee 
to aid in this problem? 


:\Ir Klemmedson. The suggestions we have in our report are on 
the permanent order side rather than the short-term type. We feel 
the need of land use regulations that would be of advantage to the 
soil -conservation districts, some sort of additional State and Federal 
aid to assist farm owners on the farm and forest lands. For example, 
we have 400,000,000 acres of farm-forest land in the South that 
I am sure would produce enough income for those families so that 
we wouldn't have to move them around. In McCurtain County the 
farmers will make 65 cents an acre trying to grow cotton on cut-over 
land. If they controlled that land and those forests, using good 
farm-forestry practice, they could make an annual income of $2.50 
to $5 an acre from that land. Some of that land has in the past cut 
as high as 20,000 board feet per acre. 


We suggest the establishment of a national rural works conserva- 
tion program to provide employment for farmers and conserve our 
resources and provide additional funds for technical supervision of 
such a program. We need additional legislation and financial as- 
sistance on land tenure problems and an extension of the Bankhead- 
Jones Farm Tenant Act in order to make more farms available to 

Mr. Parsons. The Soil Conservation Service and the Farm Security 
have done a great work in the past 5 years? 

Mr. Kj^emmedson. Yes; they have. 

Mr. Parsons. You are to be higlily complimented: it is too bad we 
didn't start 25 years ago but it is better late than never, to get back to 
the Chinese proverb. 

time required and methods of land restoration 

Mr. Curtis. You used the example of its costing $600 to restore 
certain farms, assuming it is not forest land, how many crop seasons 
does it take before a return in increased production is evident? 

Dr. Cauley. That depends a good deal on the rainfall; in the 
semiarid portion of the region where we can put in terraces, that will 
conserve most of the rain that falls, it will be evident immediately, 
the very first year, in increased crop yields. However, if it is where 
water erosion is much more severe it is usually necessary to take 
out of production entirely such an acreage of land and put it in trees 


or grass and leave it 5 or 10 years ; and on strictly timber plantations 
it will be longer than that before any monetary return will come from 
that land. 

Mr. Parsons. You are using some revegetation methods to make the 
land stop eroding? 

Dr. CAuiiET. In general, a revegetation process is better than a 
mechanical process. 

Mr. Parsons. What is the name of that plant you are using? 

1. "kudzxj" peocess of REIVEGETATION 

Dr. Cauley. Kudzu. 

Mr. Parsons. You are using that ? 

Dr. Cauley. It has been used in eastern Oklahoma, Arkansas, 
Louisiana, and parts of east Texas, but it is essentially a wet -climate 
plant and won't work in regions farther west. 

Mr. Parsons. All you can use it for is to hold an embankment, for 
instance ? 

Dr. Cauley. No ; it makes good hay ; it is a legume. 

Mr. Parsons. Wliat do you mean, if you cut it in the field? 

Dr. Cauley. Yes; you can cut it and bale it. 

Mr. Parsons. Does it have any permanent effect ? 

Dr. Cauley. Yes; it is a legmne, a soil builder; it puts nitrogen 
in the soil. I would like to make one more point, the very vital con- 
nection between land tenure and soil conservation. In spite of the 
fact that tenant farmers can participate in the program of a soil- 
conservation district so far as the law is concerned, and they are given 
every encouragement to do so by the Soil Conservation Service, it is 
hard to get their cooperation. We have obtained cooperation from 
some tenant farmers, but in the very nature of the tenant-farmer 
system, a tenant farmer who moves every year, who has no security of 
tenure, but just a simple verbal agreement from one year to another 
year, that tenant farmer has no permanent interest in conserving the 
soil on that farm or any other farm because he is not or probably will 
not be there when the time comes to reap the benefits from it. So as 
long as we have farms operated by farm tenants who are not going 
to be particularly interested in soil conservation, we are not going to 
have any soil conservation, and that applies to the range sections as 
well. When range land is leased at 75 cents an acre a year the thing 
to do from the standpoint of the tenant is to put as many head of 
sheep or cattle as he can on that land and get every blade of grass off 
of it ; because, when he leaves, anything that is left is so much loss, so 
far as he is concerned. I talked to a ranchman out in Concho County, 
Tex. We were looking at his range and I said, "Don't you think it is 
overgrazed?" And he said, "Mister, you might lather it and take a 
safety razor and get a little more off, but I don't know how you could 
otherwise," and I said, "Don't you think that you will ruin it that 
way?" and he said. "Mister, I'm not as bad off as you think I am; I 
don't own this land." 

The Chairman. Thank you very much, Dr. Cauley, your report has 
been made a part of the record. 

(Witness excused.) 


(The following statement was received later and accepted for the 




CoNSB3l\^NG Both Human and Natural Resources by a Conservation of the 
Physical Resotltices Upon Which People Depend in the Future 


The principal object of all agricultural programs is human conservation and 
welfare. There would be no advantage in saving soil or water or increasing 
farm incomes, or rehabilitating needy rural families if all these activities did 
not redound to the benefit of both present and future generations of farmers. 
Human life is our measure of the worth of all things. As Secretary Wallace 
has said : 

"Damage to the land is important only because it damages human lives. The 
whole purpose of conservation goes back to that fact. Soil saving is not an end 
in itself. It is only to the end of better living." ' 

The location of agricultural and nonagricultural families moving to California 
between 1930 and 1939, the location of farms reporting less than $1,000 worth of 
products in 1929, and the location of the farm unemployed have a similarity in 
geographic distribution. Both the farm unemployed and farmers of income be- 
low average are, in general, most numerous where the birtli rate is highest, the 
farms smallest in terms of crop acres, the soil of low productivity, the area of 
severe erosion, most of the people poor, and the agriculture largely either com- 
paratively noncommercial or of a one-crop character. In such areas the need for 
conservation of natural resources is great. The Soil Conservation Service 
through its various subprograms has enabled the Department of Agriculture to 
make a large contribution in conserving both human and natural resources. The 
following pictures^ illustrate some of the conservation problems and the type of 
work which is being done to solve these problems. 


In the United States, soil erosion — 

Costs the farmers and ranchers not less than .$400,000,000 annually. That 
means a loss of more than $7.50 for every man, woman, and child living in 
rural areas. 

Has already ruined about 50,000,000 acres of farm land for practical and 
profitable cultivation. This represents a loss of more than 320,000 farms 
equal in size to the 1.56-acre average for all United States farms. When farms 
are ruined, their operators join the unemployed and many of them must go on 

Virtually has ruined another 50,000,000 acres. 

Has impoverished 100,0<X>,000 acres more. 

Causes abandonment of 800,000 acres of land each year. This loss by 
abandonment is the equivalent of 7,500 40-acre farms annually, or 20 such 
farms daily. 

Has, where active, seriously reduced per acre crop yields despite improved 
cropping methods, improved seed, and fertilization. 

Washes or blows from the fields every year 3,000,000,000 tons of soil 

Causes 750,000,000 tons of solid matter to be dumped into the Gulf of 
Mexico annually by the Mississippi River. 

^ H. A. Wallace, The War at Our Feet, Survey Graphic, February 1940. 
= See pp. 1977-1983. 



But the destructiveness of soil erosion cannot be fully measured by tons of 
soil lost, by acres destroyed, or by dollars. 

Immeasurable and scarcely within our comprehension is the damage to 
humanity, for poor land begets a poor people. 

When the topsoil is removed by erosion, the productiveness of the land is 
lowered almost to the vanishing point and — 

Farmers find it increasingly difficult to wrest a living from the land. 

Living standards decline. 

Churches, schools, and other necessary institutions suffer. 

The security once offered by productive fields vanishes. 

Opportunity wanes. 

Faith is shaken. 

Hope falters. 

Even liberty and democracy are menaced. 

Thus it can be seen that we have come in this country to a physical land 
crisis of enormous importance. At hand is the utter necessity for land con- 
servation if we are to preserve our fundamental soil resources for the general 
welfare of the Nation and for the use of posterity. 


/. Soil Conservation. 

Legislative origin. — Soil Conservation Act of 1935. (Original progi-am of the 
Soil Conservation Service.) 

Objective. — To conserve basic soil a,ud water resources by extending sound 
land-use practices to all private land vulnerable to soil erosion and public 
lands in cooperation with other agencies. 

Activity involved. — (1) Research determining the character, causes, and effects 
of soil erosion and the development of practical measures for erosion control ; 
(2) surveys made to determine the facts needed in planning and prosecuting 
erosion control and moisture conservation work; (3) demonstrations to illus- 
trate the practical effectiveness of soil-conserving land-use practices, and to 
prove the techniques of erosion control through actual application on land ; 
(4) dissemination of information regarding erosion and its control through the 
ordinary media of public communication: (5) cooperation with Federal, State, 
and local agencies in the field of conservation, land-use adjustment, and related 
fields; (6) cooperation with and assistance to land-use action groups formed 
under the authority of State law. 

//. Submarginal land purcluxses. 

Legislative origin. — Title III of the Bankhead-.Jones Farm Tenancy Act of 
1937. (Program formerly administered by the Bureau of Agricultural Eco- 

Objective. — To correct social and economic maladjustments in rural areas by 
changing the pattern of occupancy and consequent use of land. Although the 
program deals directly with the conservation of physical and human resources, 
it involves consideration of those social and economic problems, such as land 
ownership and settlement, size of holdings, type of farming, and systems of 
local public finance, which frequently must be dealt with before conservation 
can be reconciled with productive use of the land. 

Activity involved. — (1) The purchase of submarginal land or land not pri- 
marily suited to cultivation: (2) the development and improvement of pur- 
chased areas for sustained use; (3) the management of purchased land under 
uses to which they are adapted, or the transfer of such lands to appropriated 
Federal. State, or local agencies for administration; and (4) cooperation with 
local groups of farmers and public agencies in furthering such programs as 
land use, water conservation, rural zoning, and more efficient and economical 
, local government. 

///. Flood control. 

Legislative origin. — Flood Control Act of 1936 and supplemental legislation. 

Objective. — To plan and carry out watershed protection measures with a view 
to reducing the hazard of fiood to human life and property, and damage to 


stream channels, reservoirs, harbors, and ditches by deposition of eroded 

Activity involved.— (1) In cooi^eration with the Bureau of Agricultural Eco- 
nomics and the Forest Service, preliminary examinations of authorized water- 
sheds to determine the existence and seriousness of flood problems and the 
practical possibility of alleviating flood hazards and siltation by land treatments ; 
(2) in cooperation with the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and Forest Serv- 
ice, surveys in authorized watersheds to obtain essential physical, social, and 
economic information and, on the basis of such information, to develop tech- 
nically and economically sound plans for watershed treatment in the interests 
of flood control and prevention of siltation; and (3) actual protection work on 
the agricultural lands of each watershed in accordance with the program devel- 
oped through the surveys, and cooperation with the Forest Service which man- 
ages the protection work on forest-type lands of each watershed. 

IV. Water Facilities. 

Legislative origin. — Water Facilities Act of 1937. 

Objective. — To assist farmers and ranchers in the improvement and develop- 
ment of farm and range water supplies in arid and semiarid areas with a view 
to promoting better use of the land and advancing human welfare. 

Activity involved. — This program is limited to the 17 Western States and is 
carried out cooperatively with the Farm Security Administration and Bureau 
of Agricultural Economics, and other agencies, through the Water Facilities 
Board. The Soil Conservation Service is directly responsible for detailed plan- 
ning and installation of facilities. 

(1) In harmony with general plans developed by the Bureau of Agricultural 
Economics, assisting farmers and ranchers in planning the development of 
water supplies which will facilitate improvements in land use; (2) to construct 
and install, or assist farmers to construct and install water facilities, such as 
wells, ponds, reservoirs, dams, pumps, springs, stock water tanks, spreading 
systems for utilizing run-off water, and similar improvements. 

V. Farm Forestry. 

Legislative origin. — Cooperative Farm Forestry Act of 1937. 

Objective. — To foster the practice of farm forestry in agriculture with a view 
to conserving soil and water resources, improving farm income, and aiding in 
the establishment of sound and economical land-use methods. 

Activity involved. — This program is carried out jointly with the Forest Service, 
Agricultural Extension Service, State Experiment Stations, State Foresters, and 
the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. The Soil Conservation Service is re- 
sponsible for the action phases of the program. 

(1) Producing or procuring and distributing forest planting stock to farmers 
(Forest Service — Soil Conservation Service) ; (2) advising farmers regarding 
the establishment, protection, and management of farm forests (Extension Serv- 
ice — Soil Conservation Service) ; (3) investigating the economic and other 
benefits of farm woodland management; and, (4) training personnel in methods 
of bringing about the use of farm forestry practices in agriculture. 

VI. Drainage and Irrigation. 

Legislative origin. — Agricultural Appropriation Act of 1932 and subsequent 
appropriation acts. (Programs formerly administered by Bureau of Agricul- 
tural Engineering.) 

Objective. — To develop efficient and economical methods of draining and irri- 
gating agricultural land with a view to promoting better land use. 

Activity involved — (1) Investigation and reporting on laws and regidations 
affecting the organization and administration of drainage and irrigation districts 
and companies; (2) development of basic hydraulic information involved in 
the design of drainage ditches, tile drains, and pumping plants; (3) investiga- 
tion of methods of applying irrigation water to farm lands; (4) development 
of apparatus for accurate measurement of the quantity of irrigation water deliv- 
ered to the farmer; (o) development of pumps and equipment for utilizing 
underground waters; (6) development of diversion dams and desilting works 
for diverting flood waters into irrigation canals; (7) the making of snow sur- 
veys for the purpose of forecasting irrigation water supplies; and, (8) opera- 
tions carried out under the drainage programs. 



The Chairman. Will you give your name and address to the re- 
porter ? 

Dr. Brannen. C. O. Brannen. 

The Chairman. Where do you live? 

Dr. Brannen. Fayetteville, Ark. 

The Chairman. In what capacity do you appear here ? 

Dr. Brannen. I am head of the department of rural economics of 
the University of Arkansas. 

The Chairman. Do you have anyoiie with you whom you would 
like to introduce at this time? 

Dr. Brannen. Yes; this is William H. Metzler, of the College of 
Agriculture, University of Arkansas. 

The Chairman. Dr. Brannen, you filed a very illuminating state- 
ment here, and that, of course, will be inserted in the record and in its 
entirety. We have to finish this afternoon with the witnesses we have, 
and I would like to ask you just a few questions, and anything else 
you want to offer, you may. 

(Statement submitted by C. O. Brannen is reproduced below:) 

Changes in Labor Used on Cotton Farms in Upland and Lowland Areas op 
Arkansas, 1932 to 1938, Inclusive '■ 

Submitted by C. O. Brannen, University of Arkansas College of Agriculture 

A considerable number of renters, sharecroppers, and wage families in Arkan- 
sas, according to a survey in six counties, lost their places on cotton farms during 
the period from 1932 to 1938. Based on number of families per 10,000 acres of 
cropland, for each 100 of such families on farms in 1932. the number displaced in 
each of the surveyed counties is as follows: (Delta) Chicot 20, Mississippi 14, and 
Pulaski 12; (Coastal Plain) Clark 7; and (Hilly Upland) Pope 25 and 
Independence 19. 

Accompanying the net decline was a redistribution of the resident families by 
tenure. In each of the delta-type counties, a considerable shift occurred from 
share renters and sharecroppers to wage laborers. In the coastal-plain county 
sharecroppers replaced .share renters as the predominant group, while wage fami- 
lies remained unimportant. The numbers of share renters and sharecroppers 
declined in the hilly-upland counties. 

Comparable with the shifts in tenure of resident families from 1932 to 1938 
was the shift in acreage of cotton by tenure. The percentage of cotton worked 
by wage hands increased in all counties, while acreages worked by share renters 
and sharecroppers decreased. This shift in cotton acreage by tenure, like the 
change in number of resident families, was variable from year to year. 

The changes that have taken place in the labor organization on Arkansas cotton 
farms since 1932 are associated with the other changes that have taken place on 
these same farms during this period. The cotton-production control programs 
in effect since 1933 brought shai'p declines in cotton acreages in all areas, and in 

^ Taken from "Land Tenure in Arkansas : II. Change in Labor Organization on Cotton 
Farms," by J. G. McNeely and Glen T. Barton, Ark. Agr. Expt. Sta. Bui. 397. 



1938 all counties included in the survey had less than 60 percent of their 1932 
acreages. Corn was planted on much of the land taken out of cotton in the delta- 
type and coastal-plain counties, while pastures and feed crops other than corn 
replaced cotton in the hilly-upland counties. The total labor requirements for the 
production of all crops, inasmuch as the crops substituted require substantially 
less labor than cotton, have decreased. 

At the same time that total labor requirements for crops were decreasing, the 
mechanical power available for the production of crops increased. From 1932 
to 193S the number of tractors per 10.000 acres of cropland increased in the three 
delta counties, from 10.5 to 17.3 in Chicot, 12.5 to 29.6 in Mississippi, and 16.8 
to 24.3 in Pulaski. Smaller increases in the use of tractors took place in the 
coastal-plain and one of the hilly-upland counties. 

Share-renter and share-cropper families remaining on farms suffered losses in 
economic oppor<tunity. From 1932 to 1938, in the delta-type counties, average 
cotton acreages per share renter declined from 25 to 13 acres, while those of share- 
croppers declined from 15 to 10 acres. Cotton acreages of share renters in the 
coastal-plain county declined from 19 to 11 acres, while those of sharecroppers 
declined from 17 to 12 acres. Corn acreages ijer family increased only slightly 
for all tenure groups during this period, and acreages of other crops remained 
unimportant. To make up the loss in acreage, share renters and sharecroppers 
relied more than formerly upon wage work as a source of income. 

The solution of this problem of displacement of farmers and farm labor on 
cotton farms is not obvious. Further developments in mechanization, which in 
varying degrees will substitute machinery for labor, are likely to occur as in the 
past. The disturbed international situation and reduction in demand for cotton 
on the part of foreign countries may lead to a further reduction in the aci'eage 
of cotton. If employing farmers should retain a larger number of renters and 
sharecroppers, the amount of acreage per family allowed might be further reduced, 
which would be likely to result in a lower standard of living for those remaining 
on farms. The alternatives available to employing farmers are: Displacing of a 
percentage of families and giving larger acreages and better economic opportunity 
for those remaining, or retaining a larger number of families with .small acreages 
and a relatively low standard of living. 

The need is for finding outlets in industrial and commercial employment for 
workers who are being displaced either by mechanized equipment or by reduction 
in the acreage of cotton. 

Table 1. — Change m residetit tenant and wage fanulies on cotton farms in 
selected counties in Arkansas, 1932 to 1938 ^ 

(Based on number of families per 10.000 acres of cropland '] 

Area, county, and tenure ' 




Delta type: 

Share renters 











N^u7nber * 





Percent * 

Share croppers 

—36 8 

Wage families- 


Single wage hands. 

Total or average.- 




— 20 5 


Share renters 


163 4 


— 27 7 

Share croppers 

— 28 

Wage families 

144.3 { 152.9 
7.8 ' 13.6 


Single wage hands.. 

+74 4 

Total or average. 

398 5 .^44 n 


— 13 7 

Footnotes at end of table. 



Takle 1. — Change in resident tenant and wage families on cotton farms in 
selected counties in Arkansas, 1932 to 1938 — Continued 

[Based on number of families per 10,000 acres of fropland] 

Area, county, and tenure ^ 


:Change 1932 to 1938 



Delta type— Continued. 

Share renters . . 


















15 2 

Wage families 


Single wage hands 

Total or average 





Coastal Plain: 

Share renters . . 










16 4 

Share croppers . 

+ 1.1 

Wage families 

Single wage hands. 

Total or average _ 





Hilly Upland: 

Share renters 










Wage families.- 

Single wage hands _ 

Total or average 

















Sharecroppers _ 

Wage families-.. 

Single wage hands 

Total or average 





1 Data compiled from Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin 397. 

2 Statistical sample of the survey for 1938 shown in Table 2. 

3 The share-renter group includes 7 cash renters. 

« Plus sign indicates increase, and minus sign indicates decrease. 

Table 2. — Number of families in the survey sample in 1938 ^ 

Delta type area 


Hilly upland area 







Delta type- Continued. Number 
Share renters 2 144 



















Share croppers 373 

Wage families 177 

Single wage hands 28 

Total... i 722 





70 65 

Data taken from Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin 397 
' Seven cash-renter families included with share renters. 


Migration of Farm Families to Urban Centers in Arkansas 
Submitted by Win. H. Metzler, University of Arkansas College of Agriculture 

I. Nature and extent of movement. — Large numbers of farm families in Arkan- 
sas have moved to town iu.the last 8 years in an endeavor to find a more secure 
livelihood. A study of these migrant families in 12 urban centers in the State 
revealed that the people were relatively young and usually inadequately trained 
for urban employments. The most typical family was composed of husband, 
wife, and one to two children. In areas of the State where there was any high 
proportion of Negro population, the proportion of Negro migrants was above the 
population average. 

In the delta section of the State the major proportion of the migrants were 
cropiiers, renters, or laborers. In the upland areas most of them had been 
tenants or owners. These differences indicate two different types of movement. 
Migration in the Delta was largely associated with displacement of cropper 
families by mechanization and acreage reduction, while migration in the upland 
area was associated with drought, crop failure, and lack of economic opportunity 
in agriculture. 

A total of 3,347 of these families were contacted in the 12 urban centers. All 
had moved from farms within the past 5 years"; approximately 1 in 5 had been 
living in town in 1929 and had failed in an endeavor to make a start in farming 
during the depression period. A few had wandered widely over the country 
before settling in town, but three-fourths of the migrant families had either 
moved in from the same county in which the city was located or from adjacent 
counties. Croppers and laborers especially were inclined to make short-range 

The migrants constituted 16.5 percent of the entire population in Helena, 
17.1 percent in Forrest City, and 11.8 percent in Blytheville. In the upland 
cities they constituted only from 5.0 to 12.8 percent of the city population. 

If the movement to the selected cities is typical of the State as a whole, then 
there must be a total of 45,000 to 50,000 farm families attempting to make a 
start in the cities of the State. In addition to, there is a large number 
of single individuals. 

See table I and chart I for extent of the movement to the selected Arkansas 
cities. For source of movement see chart II. Chart III indicates dilferences in 
tenure that are typical for the various parts of the State. 

II. Reasons for movement. — The movement is largely dominated by lack of 
employment, particularly in Delta areas. The proportion of families who mo^•ed 
to town because they wanted better schools, better facilities, and the like, was 
34.5 percent in Harrison, 18.4 percent in Hope, and only 5.6 percent in Blytheville 
and 4.7 percent in Helena. 

The reasons for the movement centered around "no money in farming" and 
displacement. At Blytheville, in the Delta. 41.1 percent of the migrants gave 
displacement as the major reason for their movement ; this percentage for other 
cities was Jonesboro 21.4 percent, Forrest City 19.7 percent, and Pine Bluff 11.3 
I)ercent. In the coastal plain the percentages were 10.1 percent in Hope and 4.9 
percent in El Dorado; in the hilly upland it was 8.3 percent in Harrison and 5.7 
percent in Fayetteville. 

"No money in farming" was given as the reason by 39.6 percent in West Helena 
and 12.0 percent in Blytheville, both in the Delta, and by 26.7 percent in Hope 
and 15.3 percent in Harrison. 

The proportions mentioning "desire to be on W. P. A." as a part of their 
motive were : Harrison, 8.3 percent ; Pine Bluff. 5.4 percent ; and Hope, 2.3 per- 
cent. While the major cause was usually something else, the presence of public 
assistance facilities entered into the decision to attempt a start in the city. 

Table II itemizes the major reasons given by the migrants for their move- 
ment to town ; table III gives their income the last full year on the farm. 

III. Urban adjustment. — Two-thirds of the families studied were making 



enough of an urban adjustment that they had decided to stay in town. A 
large proportion of these families, however, were employed by the W. P. A. 
or were doing other relief work. One-third of the migrants either had a job 
before coming to town or received one almost immediately after entering. If 
the migrants did not obtain employment at that time they usually had a difficult 
struggle ; the percentage of the heads of migrant families who never had a steady 
job were 39.9 percent for Forrest City, 34.8 percent for Monticello, 14.0 percent 
for Hope, and 43.3 percent for Harrison. 

The proportion of families that had been given public assistance also varied 
widely from one city to another. It ran as high as 74.4 percent for the white 
families migrating to Forrest City and as low as 32.5 percent for migrating 
to El Dorado. Negroes were on public assistance less often than whites. 

The cities studied are able to take care of only a portion of the migrants. 
Many of them must be satisfied with a relatively low standard of living or 
migrate to other centers where they may be able to fit in to better advantage. 
It has been found that much of the migration to the Pacific coast is not directly 
from Arkansas farms but from the towns and cities. The sample from the 
Pacific ^Migration Survey of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics indicated 
2,076 uonagricultural and only 1,727 agricultural families from this State. 

In 1939 the proportion of the heads of families that had private employment 
varied from 44.7 percent in Forrest City to 79.0 percent in West Helena. One- 
fourth of them in Blytheville and Forrest City were making a living from odd 
jobs and only 3.8 percent in Fayetteville. The proportion on Work Projects 
Administration varied from 24.2 percent in Monticello to 2.4 percent in West 
Helena. The proportion who were wholly unemployed varied from 1.5.1 percent 
in Helena to 2.6 percent in Jonesboro, and the percentages were commonly 
higher for Negroes than for whites. 

The average income of the migrant families in 1939 varied from one city 
to another in similar fashion. White families in El Dorado averaged $902.12; 
in Hope, .$782.68: in Jonesboro, $776.25; in Forrest City, $470.50; and in Monti- 
cello, $496.77. Negroes made considerably less ; the range was from $375.05 in 
West Helena to $2,57.41 in El Dorado. 

Table lY indicates how long it took the migrants to obtain a relatively steady 
job in town ; table V gives their public assistance record and table VI their 
occupation and income at the time the schedule was taken. 

Table I. 

-Xiiniher and proportion of families in Arkansas cities that migrated 
from farms during the years 1934-39 i 


Migrant families 

Nonmigrant families 


Urban center 







tion of 
that are 






















2, 215 





2, 510 

3, 5.54 



Jonesboro ... 

12 8 

Forrest City 



187 1 398 
167 203 
49 20 


Pine Bluff 




El Dorado... 









North Little Rock... 


Fayetteville. ... 



1, 968 



22, 382 

10, 761 

33, 343 

36, 690 


* For purposes of the study migrant families are those that have moved from rural areas since Jan. 1, 1934. 
Source: Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station Rural-Urban Migration Survey. 



Table II. — Major reasons for moving as given hy migrant families to selected 
urhan centers in Arkansas 

Major reason 

North Del- 
ta, Blythe- 

South Del- 
ta, Helena 


Delta, Pine 


Plain, Hope 



Trouble with landlord - 



Sickness, death, or disability -. 

Marriage and divorce 

No money in farming 

To be on Work Projects Administration 

Prefer urban employment 

Town advantages 

Miscellaneous — 

Families reporting 











































Source: Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station Rural-Urban Migration Survey. 

Table III. — Average income of migrant families during last year on farm, by 
race and tenure status, by urban centers 







At home 


North Delta, Blytheville: 






666. 10 












372. 10 



108. 33 

441. 28 





783. 00 
393. 33 


565. 83 


342. 33 


428. 66 
268. 03 


108. 33 

509. 32 

346. 45 

South Delta, Helena: 









155. 50 



238. 58 




975. 00 
250. 00 


334. 12 
273. 45 



240. 33 
179. 75 



189. 00 
122. 00 



100. 00 

345. 83 

Negro - 

187. 45 

Central Delta. Pine BluS: 



357. 67 








205. 00 

162. 91 





126. 61 


128. 95 


112. 96 



308. 03 
195. 66 


205. 00 

238. 76 



Coastal Plain, Hope: 



388. 82 




163. 93 


179. 60 


235. 00 

207. 52 





468. 07 



320. 00 
280. 00 


125. 00 
169. 92 



156. 05 


235. 00 

285. 85 


164. 73 

Upland, Harrison: White. 



296. 00 


357. 73 


128. 00 




162. 50 


Source: Arkansas .Agricultural E.xperiment Station Rural-Urban Migration Survey. 



Table IV. — Lenffth of time before rural-urban migrants obtained employment in 

town, Arkansas, 1935-39 

Obtained employment 

Never had 






Within a 

Within 6 

Within a 

Within 5 

a steady 


Forrest City- 













































































































4 8 








Harrison: White 














43.3 74 

Table V. — Public assistance record of heads of migrant families from farms to 

Arkansas cities, 1935-39 


Type of relief received 



Work relief 

Work relief 
and public 

Other public 

North Delta, Blytheville: 























South Delta, Helena: 






















Central Delta, Pine Bluff: 










White. -.- 








6 4 8 




Coastal Plain, Hope: 





Total --- 





















rpland, Harrison: White 








Source: Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station Rural-Urban Migration Survey. 



Table VI. — Urban employment and income of heads of rural urban migrant' 
families last year before schedule icas taken 

Area and city 


Odd jobs 

W. P. A. 



North Delta, Blytheville: 
Total - 

Number Percent 
129 45. 7 

















574. 15 


351. 06 

South Delta, Helena: 























Central Delta, Pine Blufl: 
Total - 


















702. 78 

343. 22 

Coastal Plain, Hope: 




















782. 68 


348. 42 

Upland, Harrison: White... 









557. 19 

Source: Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station Rural-Urban Migration Survey. 

Population Pressure in Upland Areas of Arkansas 
Submitted by Wm. H. Metzler, University of Arkansas College of Agriculture 

I. Introduction. — Migration from Arkansas to other States has been clue to a 
variety of causes. The immediate cause as seen by most of the migrants them- 
selves is drought and crop failure in the upland areas and displacement due to 
acreage reduction in the Delta. These situations have not only served as imme- 
diate causes but have also caused many of the migrating families to be so de- 
ticient in financial resources as to make it extremely difficult for them to gain, 
a new start in some other part of the country. 

Back of these situations, however, lie some background factors that are of pri- 
mary impoi'tance. Settlers in the State included many people who were not 
skilled in agriculture but who made a large part of their livelihood by hunting, 
fishing, and timbering. They were gradually forced into agriculture by shortages 
of game and timber, and as they cleared off the land the soil soon washed down 
the hillside slopes. Productivity of the farms rapidly diminished and they be- 
came subject to drought. Birth rates among these people were quite high and all 
the easily tillable land was soon occupied. Many of the young people had to join 
the strong westward movement to find homes in Oklahoma, Texas, or on the- 
PaciPo coast. The first of the reverses that struck these upland farmers was the- 
decline in price levels that followed the World War. Many of them could no 
longer farm their small hillside holdings at a profit. Industrial depression, 
drought, and displacement have made their economic position even more pre- 

II. High birth rates. — The underlying population situation that has resulted in 
emigration from the upland areas of the South is that of high birth rates, low 
standards of living, and inadequate agencies for cultural development. These- 
constitute a complex which cannot be classified into cause and effect. They con- 
stitute instead a vicious circle which has been undermining the welfare and op- 
portunities of these people at an increasing rate. 

In terms of births in proportion to deaths, from 1924 to 1929, 7 upland counties- 
had more tlian 4 births for every death, 14 more had from 3 to 4 birth.s^ for every 

260370— 41— pt. 5- 



death, and all but 16 of the 75 counties iu the State had more than 2 births for 
every death. Birth rates during previous decades had been even higher. The 
birth rates were highest in tlie upland counties in which resources were lowest. 
Table I indicates that the areas of high birth rates are also areas of low incomes, 
high relief rates, and high rates of migration from the area. Table III indicates 
that they are also the areas of lowest soil productivity. 

A rough calculation from the Census would indicate that approximately 40,576 
young people reached the age of 17 in Arkansas in 1930. In comparison with this 
number who arrived at working age only 11.161 people died. If the number who 
reached the age of 65 were used for comparison, instead, this was 15.585. In 
.either case a rapid expansion of the economic structure in the State would be 
necessary year after year if all the young people were to be afforded a chance to 
make a livelihood. When they are unable to find such opportunities, it is in turn 
impossible for business and industry to expand. 

Chart I presents comparative reproduction rates in the Nation at large, while 
•table I presents the situation in Arkansas. 

III. Population pressure. — The result of years of high birth rates in the south- 
.east has been a congestion of population in that area. Population has piled up 
there in spite of emigration. A table showing index numbers of farm-population 
pressure on producing area, farm income, and farm wealth indicates a range of 
•pressure in the United States from 309 in South Carolina to 28 in Nevada. The 
index number for Arkansas is 244, that is, there are approximately 21^ times 
■as many farm people in relation to farming resources in this State as there are 
in the Nation as a whole. 

When the same formula is applied to individual counties in Arkansas, it in- 
•dicates that the highest pressure exists in the upland areas. The index of pres- 
sure in Stone County was 389 and there were 9 other counties with a farm 
population pressure 3 times the national average. Only 5 counties in the State 
had less than twice the national average. 

Stated in terms of crop acres alone, which are a highly important part of the 
agricultural resources, there were 12.2 acres of cropland per farm person in the 
'United States as a whole in 1930 and only 6.1 acres in Arkansas. Acreages ran 
much lower than this in the upland area of the State. The extreme was 3.2 acres 
per farm person in Garland County while there were 4 in Newton, and 4.4 in 
"Hot Spring and Saline Counties. This meant from 17 to 23 acres per farm family. 

There were 234 acres of cropland per farm family in North Dakota in 1935, 
147 in Nebraska, 86 in Iowa, and 76 in Illinois. The average for the United 
■States was 48 and for Arkansas 24. The farm situation in Arkansas is definitely 
different from that in the Northern States. The State has been overpopulated 
in relation to farm resources for some time and the overpopulation is increasing. 
Migration has not been rapid enough to keep population pressure from reducing 
the standards of living. 

The data presented are averages for the counties and States and do not indicate 
the situation among the low-income groups. Acreages per family are consider- 
ably lower for them as there is considerable variation in farm size within the 

In 11 counties in the State in 1930, 9 of which were upland and 2 Delta, 
the census indicates that over half of the farms had incomes of less than $600. 
In 4 of these upland counties 1 farm family in 6 had incomes of less than $250. 

It would seem from these data that, unless agriculture becomes more profitable, 
at least 450,000 of the existing population in the State should move elsewhere if 
-resources, wealth, incomes, and standards of living of farm families in the State 
are to approximate those in the rest of the Nation. This is a very general esti- 
mate and seems modest compared to the estimate of some students that there 
are 9.000,000 too many people in the South. Population pressure, however, does 
not necessarily result in migration. In some situations, a constant or declining 
income on the farm may be divided among an increasing population. This is 
occurring in the South, as well as the process of migration. Resulting low stand- 
ards of living have to be recognized as a national problem. 

Table II presents figures and indexes of population pressure for the various 
States of the Union. Table III presents similar indexes for the high and low 
.counties in the State. Chart II presents the indexes in graphic form. 


IV. Draining away of excess population hij migration. — Emigration from 
Arkansas to other States is not a new thing. Heavy emigration lirst began in 
tlie nineties. The census indicates that over 100,000 people born in the State 
have moved elsewhere during each decade since 1890. During the decade 1920 
to 1930 the number was over 230,000. 

Olilahoma and Texas have received the greatest number of these migrants. 
In 1930, 212,107 people living in Oklahoma and 116,392 living in Texas were 
natives of Arkansas. There were also over 30,000 native Arkansans living in 
Missouri, California, Louisiana, and Illinois. 

Most of this emigration was from the upland northwestern half of the State. 
Three upland counties lost as much as one-third of their population during the 
decade ; 19 upland counties and 1 Delta county lost more than one-fifth of their 
population. Only 15 counties in the State did not lose population by the migratory 
process, and these were either urban or located in the Delta.^ 

These areas of emigration have been areas of high birth rates and relatively 
low soil productivity. The desirable farm land has all been taken up and the 
excess sons and daughters have had to go elsewhere in order to obtain a living. 
This has been to the cities and toward the western frontier. 

It should be understood that much of the so-called migration from Arkansas is 
really from North or South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, or some other South- 
eastern State. Census data indicate that more than one-fourth of the population 
in Arkansas in 1930 were born outside the State, most frequently in one of the 
States to the southeast. Population pressure in the entire area is being relieved 
by a westward and northward movement. When the migrants arrive in Cali- 
fornia, or in Michigan, they only give the last State of their residence, which is 
not the ultimate source of their migration. The State of nativity of the migrants 
likewise does not tell the entire story. 

Chart IV indicates the States from which people moved to Arkansas prior to 
1930 and chart V the States to which they moved from Arkansas. 

V. Closing of migration outlets.— The decade 1930 to 1940 presents a movement 
back into the State. Of a sample of 6,164 rehabilitation clients studied, 1,647, 
or approximately one-fourth, had returned to Arkansas, their native State, to 
find some means of earning a living. The largest proportion of these returned 
from Oklahoma or Missouri. Texas, California, and Louisiana were next in 
order in number of people who returned to the State.' 

These people had generally left the State during the period from 1925 to 1929. 
The movement back into the State started strongly in 1929 and was most marked 
in 19.30. , . 

The data all indicate that a strong movement out of the State had set in during 
the twenties. This was abruptly checked by the depression. 

Judging by rehabilitation data and the 1935 census figures, the returning popu- 
lation tended again to settle in the counties from which migration had been 
•strongest, that is, those in the northwestern upland part of the State. 

VI. The influence of the drought. — This movement, however, was quite tem- 
porary. Economic opportunities in the State were materially reduced by a suc- 
cession of droughts that started in 1929 and were particularly severe in 1930, 
1934, and 1936. The shortage of rainfall was particularly great during the grow- 
ing season, and crops burned up before they could mature. In 1936, 11 of the 
Ozark counties had a corn crop of less than 3 bushels to the acre. Only a few 
counties in the State had more than 6 bushels. This culminated a period of 7 
yenrs in which corn and other crops had been partially destroyed each year. 

The effect of the drought was to throw the people on relief or rehabilitation 
rolls. Of 20,889 rehabilitation clients in the State in 1935 approximately 85 per- 
cent in the upland areas attributed their distress to crop failures due to drought. 
The proportion of the population that went on relief rolls in some of these upland 
counties during periods of crop failure ran as high as 75 percent. In 1935 approx- 
imately 15 percent of the farm families in the Ozark region were clients on the 
rehabilitation program. The latter group had dropped so low in farming re- 
sources that they were unable to continue farming without obtaining assistance. 

1 "Population Trends and Adjustments In Arkansas," Wm. H. Metzler, Ark. Agr. Expt. 
fita. Bui. 388. , . , ^ ^ 

2 Characteristics of Rural Rehabilitation Clients, Wilson and Metzler, Ark. Agr. Expt. 
Sta. Bui. 348. 


Migration from the St.Tte coincided largely with these dronght periods. Heavy 
emigration began in 1934, was reduced in 1935, and set in in earnest in the fall of 
1936. During the fall of 1936 many families were contacted in Madison County 
who were moving from the State to California. Migration was from the farms 
on the rocky mountain slopes. Soil on these farms was so thin that the crops 
burned up entirely after a few days of dry, hot weather. Farmers in the valleys 
frequently were able to weather the drought and were not so inclined to migrate. 

In the mountain area investigated at that time. 68.3 percent of the farm fami- 
lies had cash incomes of less than $250, 26.7 percent had incomes of from $250 
to $499, and only 5 percent had incomes of over $500. '^ 

Chart VIII indicates the rainfall situation in the State from 1920 to 1939 and 
chart IX the corn yields per acre by counties in the State in 1936. 

VII. Sources and destination of -migrants from this State. — Since the various 
States have established systems of public welfare, they have become interested 
in sending indigent citizens back to the States of their origin. A total of 7,714 
requests of this type were received by the Arkansas Department of Public Wel- 
fare between January 1. 1938. and May 15, 1940. A total of 3.792, or almost half, 
were received from California : 534 requests were received from Oklahoma, 381 
from Michigan, 371 from Illinois, and 338 from Louisiana. 

These are from the same States that showed a large amount of migration from 
Arkansas prior to 1930. California, however, has apparently become the mecca 
for many of them. 

The State department of welfare has adopted the policy that they will not 
return migrants to the State unless the migrant voluntarily states that it is his 
desire to return. Accordingly only 14.8 percent of the requests have been granted. 
It is significant that 25.2 percent of these requests received from California were 
granted, as compared with 4.8 percent for all other States. 

Tabulation of the migrants enumerated in California by the Bureau of Agricul- 
tural Economics in cooperation with the California school system indicates also 
that the major proportion of all migrants from this State, both indigent and self- 
supporting, come from the northwestern part of the State. The only data from 
States other than California are on the number of requests received by the 
Arkansas State Department of Welfare. They also indicate a higher proportion 
of migrants fi-om the upland counties. 

Table V indicates the number of requests from other States for return of 
migrants to Arkansas. Chart VII presents the same material graphically. Chart 
VI indicates the proportion of Arkansas migrants to total population by counties 
in the State. 

VIII. Miff ration irithin the State. — Population movement during the i^eriod 
19S0 to 1935 was in the direction of increasing the population in the upland areas 
and decreasing it in the Delta. A gain of 26.9 percent in farm population occurred 
in Saline County, while Marion had 24.4 percent, Boone 21.9. and Pike 20.5. These 
were all upland counties already highly overpopulated in terms of economic 
resources. On the other hand, the displacement process had commenced in the 
Delta counties, and most of them showed small lo.sses in farm population. 

A third movement was from cities to the country and was particularly marked 
in those counties in which urban centers were located. These migrants did not 
move far, and some have been contacted in a study of migrants to town. As many 
as one-fourth of the urban migrants interviewed had moved to the country at one 
time or another but had been luiable to make a success of farming. 

The 1940 census material indicates rather high increases in population in the 
southeastern and northeastern Delta counties. The increase of 24.5 percent in 
Desha County, 21.2 percent in Chicot, and 17.7 percent in Mississippi County indi- 
cates considerable movement to those areas. On the other hand, Delta counties in 
east-central Arkansas showed a decline in population. 

There is considerable evidence to indicate that upland farmers are moving into 
the poorly drained and formerly unsettled areas of Delta counties. Of 219 new 
settler.* in Desha County in 1937. the majority had crme from O'tachita Mountain 
counties. Studies of the success of these migrants have been made in Mississippi 

3 Sickness and Medical Care in an Ozark Area in Arkansas, Wilson and Metzler. Ark. Agr. 
Expt. Sta. Bui. 353. 



and Louisiana. It seems, however, that if a heavy cycle of rainfall should occur 
many of these new settlers might be driven out by floodwaters. 

Chart X indicates the counties from which the migrants to Desha County moved. 

IX. Can Arkansas t^npport its people? — Economic conditions among Arkansas 
farmers have improved rapidly during tlie past several years. On the other hand, 
there is need for additional economic opportunity. Much of the land in the State 
is not being farmed. A careful survey might indicate which of these areas could 
be developed for farming purposes. In the Delta there are large acreages of 
fertile land that need to be cleared or drained, but the clearing and draining are 
too much of a financial burden for private individuals to undertake. It also 
seems possible that much of the tax-forfeited land, owned by the State or drain- 
Dge districts, could be returned to production if suitable financing arrangements 
■could be worked out. 

The Farm Security Administration is successfully reestablishing many farmers 
"in farming operations in the State. Through the .supervision of members of its 
staff, clients are doing much more farming than they did before. They have more 
acres in crops, a wider diversity of enterprises, and much larger production for 
home use. Their success indicates the pos.sibility that the State might support 
-a larger population if farmers are taught how to utilize existing resources to the 
best advantage. An intensification of their program, together with a provision 
for the settlement and financing of young farm couples, might reduce considerably 
the emigration rate from farms. 

Equally important is the development of industrial and commercial oppor- 
tunities in the State. It seems po.ssible that an industrial security program might 
■be devised resembling the Farm Security which would set up means by which 
ex-farmers could develop industrial and business projects of their own. A pro- 
gram containing definitely more of the personal enterprise element, as compared 
with present work-relief programs, should fit many of these migrants, while others 
might fit more easily into a labor status. Such a program would be expected to 
promote more small private enterprises and operate on the basis of loans rather 
than of Government employment. The industrial projects of the British Special 
Area Commission should offer some suggestions. 

Table I. — Population increase related to per capita farm income, proportion 
of families on relief, and population change by migration, 1920 to 1930 


per 100 




tion of 
on relief, 

by mi- 


per 100 




tion of 
on relief, 

by mi- 

Madison. _.. . 


$146. 72 
162. 69 
145. 10 
158. 70 
143. 32 
102. 76 
184. 72 
165. 94 
158. 77 
153. 90 
145. 82 
169. 01 
154. 97 
173. 76 
140. 75 
234. 64 
220. 78 
220. 88 
178. 56 
192. 14 


-.37. 1 









$178. 69 

249. 15 
160. 67 
182. 10 
154. 20 

173. 16 
170. .59 
274. 78 
212. 38 
167. 20 
230. 51 

222. 17 
178. 97 

120. 27 
143. 87 

165. 28 
165. 39 
199. 82 
276. 20 
159. 33 
219. 34 
290. 47 
196. 13 











Van Buren 

Scott . . .. 


Little River 






Hot Spring 

Drew . 









17 1 



— 14 8 

Pike. _.. 


13 6 

Sharp .. 

Yell ... . 

12 1 

















— 13 2 

Cleveland. _ 











- 15. 3 










Tabue I. — Population increase related to per capita farm income, proportion 
of families on relief, and population change by niigratimi, 1920 to 1930 — Con. 


per 100 




tion of 
on relief, 


by mi- 


per 100 






tion of 
on relief, 

by mi- 




$250. 45 
186. 13 
221. 88 
189. 93 
279. 48 
247. 13 
164. 72 
233. 21 












6 9 




St. Francis 




Lee - - - - . . 


$214. 96 
173. 32 
191. 83 
187. 06 
196. 45 
138. 35 
201. 24 







Benton _.. 

-11 1 









Arkansas State 






Source: Compiled by the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station. 

Table II. — Ntimber of farm people in proportion to farm resources, by States, 


Farm in- 
come per 
farm person 

wealth per 
farm person 

Crop acres 

per farm 



of farm population pres- 
sure on ' — 




area 2 



and area' 

South Carolina 

$153. 42 
158. 38 
174. 06 
193. 93 
180. 69 
194. 38 
215. 25 
329. 80 
601. 48 

454. 79 
378. 30 
377. 67 
540. 21 
686. 66 
34Q. 18 

455. 66 
299. 84 
363. 01 
348. 97 
494. 87 
377. 20 
318. 55 
454. 12 
533. 65 
385. 58 
493. 81 
648. 90 
467. 75 
510. 25 
720. 95 

$479. 75 
456. 10 
603. 38 
50S. 36 
604. 17 
580. 52 
735. 40 
916. 89 
875. 13 
l,'ai4. 25 

1, 657. 66 
2, 495. 08 

2, 999. 52 
1, 584. 74 
1, 790. 85 

1, 792. 34 

2, 710. 90 
1, 826. 21 
1, 789. 64 
1. 986. 66 
1, 928. 63 

1, 796. 56 

2, 063. 93 
2, 507. 91 
2, 377. 68 

1, 847. 92 
2, 498. 58 

2, 459. 29 

2, 913. 44 
2, 912. 97 

3. 789. 51 

2. 807. 92 

3, 379. 56 







































































































" 122 















North Carolina . 



Mississippi - . 




Arkansas . 


Tennessee _. . ... 


West Virginia . 


Kentucky . .. 






Rhode Island . ... 


Massachusetts .. 


Connecticut .. . 




Pennsylvania . 


Maine. . 


New Jersey 




Delaware.- . _ . .. 


Oklahoma .. 






Vermont . 





Wi.sconsin . . 



New Mexico 










Idaho . - - . .. 


Oregon i 


See footnotes at end of table. 



Table II. — Nu7nl)er of farm people in proportion io farm resources, hy States, 

J 9S0— Continued 

Farm in- 
come per 
farm person 

wealth per 
farm person 

Crop acres 

per farm 



of farm population pres- 
sure on— 





and area 

Colorado .^ 

$662. 24 
545. 40 
705. 90 
648. 38 
598. 35 
677. 02 
740. 54 
865. 23 
I, 208. 89 

6, 052. 32 
2, 986. 85 
5, 105. 28 
3 811.66 

4, 047. 21 
3, 462. 29 

5, 010. 92 
,5, 911. 41 







North Dakota -.. 


Iowa .-- 


South Dakota . - . 





Wj'oming _ . . . 




United States. . - 


1, 880. 27 






1 All index numbers are based on 100 as the average ratio of farm people in proportion to farm resources- 
in the United States as a whole. 

2 Productive area is calculated in a general way in proportion to the productivity of the land itself: crop- 
land has been weighted as 5 times as productive as pasture land and 20 times as uroductive as timerland 
Since actual productivity of these 3 types of land varies so widely, the result is still only an approximation' 
but is much more accurate than if all land had been given the same weight. 

3 Ratios of farm population to farm income, farm wealth, and productive area are given equal weight. 

Source: Compiled from the United States census of 1930 by the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, 

Table III. — Pressure of farm population on cropland^ productive area, wealth, 
incoine: 10 highest and 10 lowest counties in Arkansas, 1930 


Stone 1 

Newton i 

Hot Springs ' 


Searcy ■ 

Dallas 1 

Cleveland ' 

Garland i 


Montgomery i_ 



Boone ' 



Carroll i .._. 

Washington i 

Benton ' 



Arkansas State 
United States.. 

Crop acres 

Per farm 



Per farm 



Value of 
crops per 
crop acre 

$16. 80 


Index of farm population pressure — 

On pro- 






On in- 



On area 
and in- 



1 Upland. 

Source: Compiled from United States census data by Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station. 



Table IV. — Requests for return of indigent families to Arkansas in proportion 
to total families, by regions, Arkansas, 1938-40 ^ 



Requests received, 1938-10 ' 

Percent of requests to number 
of families 







Northwestern Ozark 

52, 783 
47, 765 
94, 260 
159, 720 

438, 639 




2, 035 





3 35 

Southeastern Ozark 


Coastal Plain .. 











I Requests received from Jan. 1. 1938, through May 15, 1940; total number of families in specified regions 
in Arkansas obtained from United States census, 1930 

Source: Arkansas Department of Public Welfare, 
sion by Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station. 

Compiled from office records of the social service divi. 

Table V. — Migrant families from Arkansas: Requests for return to the State 
received and granted hy the Arkansas Department of Public Welfare, by 
States,"- 1938-40 ' 




Total, 1938-40! 






























































































































Oklahoma . 





Louisiana _. 





New York 











Colorado . . 









New Mexico 




District of Colimibia 




North Dakota -- 





Nevada _.. . 














' The department of public welfare also received and granted requests which originated within the State: 
1938, 12 received, 1 granted; 1939, 21 received, 3 granted; 1940. 5 received, none granted. 
• Requests received and granted through May 15, 1940. 

Source: Data from Arkansas Department of Public Welfare, compiled by Arkansas .Agricultural Experi- 
ment Station. 



Table VI. — Money income of all families in an upland area of high emigration^. 

Arkansas, 1936 





Income level 





$250 to 


$750 and 








19. f. 








.9 6 



$437. 50 
375. 00 
187. 50 






Source: Wilson and Metzler, Sickness and Medical Care in an Ozark Area in Arkansas, p. 24. 

Table VII. ^ — Major reasons for Arkansas rehahilitaUon applicants being on 

relief, 1934 ' 



Closing of 

Northwest Arkansas. _ 

Northwest Ozark 

North-Central Ozark.. 
Upper Arkan.'^as Valley 

Ouachita Mountain 

Northeast Ozark 

Central Arkansas. 

South Coastal Plain... 
Delta -. 


















' Data compiled from Characteristics of Arkansas Rehabilitation Clients, Wilson and Metzler, Arkansas 
Agricultural Experiment Bulletin 348. 

Table VIII. — Counties in Arkansas compared as to requests received for return 
to this State, 1938-40,^ and migrants enumerated on Pacific coast ' 


s from— 


Number per thousand 




Requests from— 





Arkansas . 




















































Ashley . _ 


Ba.xter _.. 








Calhoun . . 

. 5 



Chicot . 






Cleburne . .... 






Conwav . - 


Craighead. . 


Crawford ... 










For footnotes see end of table. 



Table VIII. — Counties in Arkansas compared as to requests received for return 
to this State, 1938-40, and migrants enumerated on Pacific coast — Continued 

Requests from— 


Number per thousand 





Requests from— 









































































Franklin ._ 



4 2 


1 5 

Grant . 

2 2 


3 2 



Hot Spring 

5 4 




2 1 


2 8 


1 3 



Johnson . . 

2 4 




2 2 

Lee _-. .. 




Little River 



4 3 


1 4 


5 4 



Miller . 






Montgomery . 

3 4 

Nevada . . 



2 1 














3 1 






1 1 

St. Francis 








Sebastian ._ 


Sevier . 




Stone . 




Van Burcn 


Washington ... . . 




Woodruff... . 


Yell ■ 


' Requests from Jan. 1, 1938, through Jan. 15, 1940. 

2 Enumerated 1939 by U. S. Department of Agriculture and California State Department of Education 

Source: Data compiled from records of Arkansas State Department of Welfare and data from U. S. 
partment of Agriculture in California, by Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station. 




Table IX — Crop acreages and net tvorth of Fai-m Security clients, by areas, 
Arkansas, 1935, 1936, 1937 

Crop acreages per client 

Net worth per client 








Northwest Ozark . 




231. 70 
227. 52 

268. 33 
257. 02 
394. 02 



Coastal Plain - 

630. 71 

Delta - 

327. 73 

State - 







Source: Data compiled from records in the regional oflSce of the Farm Security Administration by the 
-Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station. 

Nonlocal Labor Duking Harvest Seasons in Fruit, Vegetable, and Cotton 

Are^^s of Arkansas 

Submitted by J. L. Charlton, University of Arkansas, College of Agriculture 

I. Areas: Number of laborers. — Nonlocal labor is used on farms in Arkansas 
primarily in four areas ; for the picking of strawberries in a central county and 
in adjacent parts of two counties in the northwest ; for peach picking in the 
concentrated orchards (10 square miles) of the south central; and for cotton 
picking in the delta. With the exception of that for the Negro cotton choppers 
transported from Memphis, the demand for outside farm labor is largely confined 
to harvest operations. 

Nonlocal laborers and the accompanying members of their families who engage 
in the fruit and cotton harvests during a normal season probably exceed 15,(XM) 

II. Types. — The nonlocal laborers found in these areas are of two general 
types. The first, migratory, travel from place to place and depend on itinerant 
types of work for a livelihood. The second type, casual laborers, have a base 
residence and supplement local employment by engaging in harvest work else- 
where. A majority of casual workers, at their place of residence, have some 
connection with the farm, either as laborers, renters, or owners. Some of the 
Important differences between these types will be shown later in this report. 

Several special tyiDes of nonlocal farm laborers come into the State for cotton 
picking. Kinship groups of persons of Mexican descent come from southern 
'Texas, traveling by truck, to the two southeastern delta counties. The truck 
'driver is usually the interpreter and manager for the kinship group, weighs the 
cotton in the field and hauls it to the gin for a payment of 10 to 15 cents per 
hundred pounds, which tends to meet the cost of transportation of the families.* 

Another important special type is the Negro cotton pickers transported from 
Memphis. During the peak season more than 6,000 are transported daily into 
the northeastern counties of Arkansas and even as far as southeastern Missouri.' 

III. Origin and itinerary. — The place of origin of the nonlocal laborers is con- 
vened mainly to the Southwestern States. A majority of casual laborers reside 

1 Estimate includes the Negro cotton pickers transported from Memphis but excludes 
those transported from local villages and towns. The term "nonlocal" refers to laborers 
who live too far away from the place of harvest work to return daily. The exception in 
this definition of nonlocal is the inclusion of the Memphis cotton pickers, who, by means of 
huge trucks and long-distance transportation, return daily to the city. 

2 Some planters gave as their reason for not employing Mexican pickers, in spite of the 
convenience of securing a group of pickers and a manager, that they did not usually pick 
as cleanly as local laborers. 

' Usually the truck operators charge the employer 1.5 cents for each 100 pounds of 
•cotton picked by the laborers transported. The practice of employing Memphis Negro 
laborers for both cotton chopping and cotton picking is becoming of increasing impor- 
tance. Many of such laborers are displaced croppers, previously farming in the same 
area. The availability of these displaced croppers for chopping and picking cotton is 
a factor in the further increase of mechanization in the area. 


within Arkansas. The strawberry area in northwest Arkansas draws, in addi- 
tion, casual workers from Kansas and Oklahoma ; the peach area from Texas, 
Louisiana, and Oklahoma ; and the cotton area primarily from the hill counties 
of Arkansas and Tennessee. A greater proportion of migratory than casual 
workers come from States other than Arkansas. 

IVligratoi*y workers do not tend to repeat a given itinerary year after year. 
Mfty-three percent of migratory laborers reported that last season was the first 
time they had come to the particular harvest area where interviewed, and 51 
percent reported that they were not acquainted w^ith any other migratory family 
working in the area at that time. It is clear that no considerable number of 
families move from area to area along a concurrent route. Naturally the gen- 
eral movement is northward following change of season, the migratory berry 
pickers of the central Arkansas area coming from Louisiana and moving to 
Kentucky ; those of the northwest area coming from southern Arkansas, Texas, 
and Oklahoma, and moving into Missouri and to Michigan. The movement of 
migratory cotton pickers does not have even a general pattern. 

IV. Labor supply.— One of the most obvious facts in connection with nonlocal 
labor in the harvest is the oversupply. Many laborers pass through the harvest 
without obtaining work at all, and, of those having work, only a minority spend 
the full season in the area. Those who remain during the entire season are em- 
ployed, except for cotton picking, about half of the time. 

Conditions giving rise to general unemployment are the principal causes of the 
oversupply of laborers. Some local practices, however, tend to cause the un- 
necessary travel of many laborers. The calls for laborers are mainly of "un- 
controlled" types such as the radio and the notices sent out by the State employ- 
ment .services.* The employers, while general publicity is being given to the 
harvest, use individual methods of obtaining laborers." The combined effort of 
the agencies and the employers and the need for work on the part of the laborer 
inevitably lead to a surplus supply. The migratory workers, though having been 
forewarned, may find that the harvest area is a part of their itinerary and the 
travel cannot be avoided in the search for other work. 

While general conditions tend to produce unbalance in the supply and de- 
mand for harvest labor, several local practices are tending in the direction of 
stabilization. Some employers keep in contact with the casual laborers and re- 
employ them year after year ; and, especially among growers of the more ex- 
tensive acreages in the peach area, definite preference is expressed for the casual 
laborers who are organized into crews. It is simpler for the employer to main- 
tain contact with the crew managers and inform them of the harvest labor 
needs. The laborer may thereby be informed of crop failure without leaving 
his residence. 

v. Variation in product iov . — The most variable factor affecting the demand for 
nonlocal labor is production. Both berries and fruit are subject to frequent 
weather hazards, the berry crop failing in excess of 1 in 3 years; and the i>each 
crop half of the time. (See attached chart.) The demand for nonlocal labor is 
either cut off entirely or the return at piece rates during low production years is 
not sufiicient to provide subsistence expenses of the migrant families during the 
harvest sea.son. Cotton growing is more stable than fruit and berry, although 
during an average of 1 in 4 years production is reduced to the i)oint to which no 
considerable demand exists for nonlocal labor. 

VI. Income. — The modal wage rate in strawberry picking is 2 cents per quart ; 
in peach picking, 121^ cents per hour, plus a bonus of 2iA cents i>er hour to be 
paid if the worker remains until the end of the season. The modal rate for 
cotton picking in the southern part of the Delta is 65 cents per hundredweight 
and in the northern Delta 75 cents. 

_ ^ These notices specified that a given number of workers were wanted at a particular 
time, but admonished that they should not come without particular items of living 
equipment and only after receiving a response to an inquiry addressed to the employ- 
ment service. 

^ Employers prefer an oversupply of laborers for strawberry picking that makes 
it possible to hold the pay rate at 2 cents per quart and to nick over the fiplds after 
the morning dew and in time for transporting the berries for shipment in the early after- 
noon. Tiiis oversupply during the 10.39 harvest reduced the earning power "of the 
individual laborer to approximately 60 cents per day of some employment. " 


The average number of hours of work per day, based on days worked rather 
than days in the area, approximated 5 in the strawberry area, 8 in the peach 
area, and 10 in the cotton-growing area. Average earnings last season for days 
employed were GO cents in the strawberry area and about $1 in both peach and 
cotton picking. 

Unemployment is, of course, another factor in the relatively low annual income 
of casual and migratory-worker families. The family head was completely un- 
employed nearly 30 iiercent of the time. This refers to total unemployment since 
partial unemployment could not be ascertained. Workers frequently reported 
spending a considerable portion of the year in such makeshift types of work as 
collecting and selling junk, salvaging and selling wood, or picking wild berries 
for sale and engaging in odd jobs that might practically be considered unemploy- 

About 90 percent of the cash income of the migratory workers comes from 
labor earnings, primarily in migratory types of work. Only about 3 percent of 
the cash income of the migratory workers comes from work relief. On the other 
hand, more than 20 percent of the cash income of the casual workers is from work 
relief. Wage work comprises the chief source of the casual laborers' income and 
this, with the possible exception of work in the northern Delta cotton area, is 
primarily earned in the area of permanent residence. Only 10 percent of the 
casual workers' income is net cash income from farming. However, the casual 
workers' production of food is an important aspect of their income. The mean 
cash income during the year for migratory families approximated $450 and that 
of the families of casual workers $300. 

The difference is not so great if considei-ation is given to the higher cost of 
travel of migratory workers and to the fact that casual workers receive per- 
quisites as farm laborers or farm tenants, and are able to produce a considerable 
part of the food consumed. No attempt is made to set a monetary value on food 
produced and consumed by the casual workers for which they make no direct 
money payment, but the number of families producing a part of family living was 
ascertained in two areas. I>ess than 5 percent of migratory workers reported 
remaining in one place long enough to have a garden. In the two areas in which 
home production was reported, about 7.o percent of casual workers had some 
kind of garden. Fifty percent reported having hcgs, 7.5 percent chickens, 65 
percent a cow, and more than 7.t percent canned either fruit or vegetables or 
both. Therefore, in terms of total value of consumption, the ainiual income of the 
ca.sual workers probably equaled or exceeded that of the migratory workers. 

VII. Living leveJ.— In consequence of low income the level of living of non- 
local laborers is low. Itinerant laborers lack the community status that makes 
it possible to secure medical services and adequate relief during periods of 
unemployment. In spite of a lower cash income, the casual workers have some- 
what better security, producing some of the food consumed and receiving medi- 
cal care and relief at the place of residence. 

The migratory workers provide their own mobile shelter, usually an auto trailer 
or covered truck. If the farms are scattered, as the larger strawberry and cotton 
fields, the migratory workers camp on the property of the employer. If con- 
centrated, as the peach-growing area, he uses the roadsides and tends to con- 
gregate at a central point. Both casual and migratory workers, unless prior 
contact has been made with the employer, remain in the squatters' camp until 
work has been engaged. 

The in-harvest housing arrangement for the casual workers (since they rarely 
have adequate equipment) is more make.shift than the mobile shelter of the 
itinerants — shetls without floors or windows, barns and chicken houses, aban- 
doned tenant houses, as provided by employers: or school and church buildings, 
camping without shelter, if no provision is made by employers. 

Crowding of families in the shelter provided at camp sites and the use of com- 
mon sources of water — open wells, springs, creeks — without sanitary precautions 
are a hazard to health, both of workers and of local residents. 

Among the fnmilies of the workers, both sickness and mortality rates are 
high. Though the sample in this respect is small, it is indicated that the casual 
workers have lower sickness and death rates than the families of the migratory 
workers. Conditions of health being at least partly the result of long-time 
f.nctors, the indications have primary significance as representative of low-income 


and socially disadvantaged groups. However, the laborers reported many cases- 
of influenza, chills or malaria, tuberculosis, heart trouble, and "sores" as being 
prevalent in the families during the preceding 12 months. The casual workers, 
at least at their residential base, were usually able to secure a physician for 
serious illness. The migratory workers, even at childbirth, with only several 
exceptions, were not able to secure the services of a physician. 

The educational attainment of the children of migratory families is low — the- 
fourth grade for those who have already stopped school, the fifth for those who- 
attended school a part of the preceding session. School attainment of casual 
workers is only slightly higher than that of migratory." The average grade- 
completed by the children of both the casual and migratory workers is lower 
than that of the parents. 

VIII. Conclusion. — The data indicate the existence of two distinct types of 
nonlocal laborers — those who are characteristically itinerant ; and those who- 
have a base residence and siipplement annual income through outside harvest 
work. The present oversupply of nonlocal laborers and the pressure of popula- 
tion in hill areas indicate that the demand for nonlocal harvest labor in Arkansas 
could be met entirely by casual workers. The organization of casual laborers 
in local working crews with a leader maintaining contact with the employers 
and informed of crop conditions portending probable labor demand, establishment 
of the minimal housing requirements, provision of transportation to the harvest 
area, are possible lines of approach. But of primary importance is the establish- 
ment of some security at a base residence where the worker is identified with a 
community and through part-time farming or other means may meet the essen- 
tials of higher living standards. Implementing that type of adjustment by the 
public agencies would be consistent with a trend that has already shown con- 
siderable headway among the nonlocal laborers employed for the harvest in 
several areas of Arkansas. 



The Chairman. Yon have made an extensive study, Dr. Brannen, of 
changes of labor used in cotton farming in upland and lowland areas 
in Arkansas. Wliat changes occurred and to what extent did these 
changes affect migration ? 

Dr. Brannen. The sample study for the study included three low- 
land counties and three upland or what we call hill counties. The 
farms studied, I think, were typical of the counties from which they 
were selected. In those counties we have found that from 1932 to 
1938, a 7-year period, the number of families residing on those farms 
tended to decrease year by year and over the entire period. The 
average for the six counties showed that there were from about 8 
percent to a little over 20 percent fewer farmers living on those farms 
m 1938 than in 1932. In other words, out of every 100 families, there 
had disappeared from those farms, residents on those farms in any 
capacity, whether laborers or sharecroppers or renters, and there were 

• The harvests of both strawberries and cotton occur during the school session. In 
the strawberry area more than half of the children between 5 and 9 years of age and 
90 percent between 10 and 14 years are engaged in strawberry picking. 


from eight to slightly over twenty fewer families in some counties in 
1938 than in 1932. 

The Chairman. That is borne out by the released population figures 
showing that there are 1,000,000 less people on farms in the Great 
Plains States today than there were 10 years ago? 

Dr. Brannen. That is right. 

The Chairman. Is there anything else you haven't finished ? 


Dr. Brannen. Well, I should like to say that certainly those families- 
had to migrate somewhere. 

The Chairman. It seems so hard to attract the necessary attention 
to the points involved, that there will come a time w^hen you just can't 
make a good year, drought, soil erosion, or whatever it may be. We 
understand there has been a considerable shifting of population in 
Arkansas, both in the form of interstate and intrastate migration. 
What has been the extent of that migi'ation and in what direction ? 

Dr. Metzler. There have been over 100,000 people migi-ating from 
Arkansas every decade since 1890, and that has been largely to Texas,. 
Oklahoma, and California. There has been a certain amount of migra- 
tion to the southeast, but that has been offset by movements into Arkan- 
sas. Arkansas itself is congested. 

The Chairman. In what part of Arkansas is this population pres- 
sure and to what extent was this pressure relieved by out-migration?' 

Dr. Metzler. It has been in the upland area — that is, instead of 
the delta. In the uplands we have had the greater amount of popula- 
tion pressure in the past, but at the present time the coastal plains 
show about as much population pressure as the hills ; there are about 
10 times as many people in proportion to resources in these areas in 
Arkansas as there are in some States in the Union. 

The Chairman. Doctor, you are professor of rural economics at the 
University of Arkansas, at Fayetteville, Ark. ? 

Dr. Brannen. Yes. 


The Chairman. Arkansas depends, to some extent, on nonresident 
labor during harvest ; is that largely migratory labor ? 

Dr. Brannen. It is, largely ; they have a bunch move in during the 
fruit season and then move out again, but we do have a smaller per- 
cent that are definitely migratory coming from out of the Southwest. 

The Chairman. How much nonresident labor is usually employed ? 

Dr. Brannen. I have a study by Mr. Charlton and he says there 
are about 15,000 nonresident laborers in the State. 

The Chairman. From w-hat States do they come ? 

Dr. Brannen, From all over the Southwest ; it seems to be no one 
particular place and there seems to be no pattern or movement that 
they follow. 

Mr. Curtis. The number of farms has decreased in Arkansas for the 
last 10 or 20 years, would you say ? 



Dr. Metzler, The number varies from one county to another; we 
have had a large increase in farms in the uph\nd areas which are 
iih-eady overcrowded, probably due to people coming back. 

Mr. Curtis. What do you mean by upland areas ? 

Dr. Metzler. The State could be divided into two sections by a 
line running from the northeast to the southwest corner, and it is in 
that northwest upland half where the population is dense in relation 
to the amount of land and the amount of production they can get out 
■of their farms. In that area we have population pressure. We find 
that farmers have to divide their farms in order to take care of excess 

Mr. Curtis. Do you think the soil of Arkansas is supporting all the 
iarmers that it should support, or is it supporting too many ? 

Dr. Metzler. I have an estimate that I prepared on the basis of 
■comparison with other States which indicates we have probably 
450,000 more farm people than our proportion in relation to our 
resources ; that is, as compared with the United States. That is rather 
a conservative estimate because it has been estimated that there are 
l^robably 9,000,000 too many farm people in the Southeastern States. 

Mr. Curtis. You say you have lost population for several decades? 

Dr. Brannen. From 1920 to 1930 we lost over 230,000 by migration. 

Mr. Curtis. You don't know what the 1940 Census will show ? 

Dr. Brannen. I haven't checked it, but we show an increase of 
approximately 1% percent, and that is an increase from migration 
back from urban centers, from Oklahoma and other States. 

The Chairman. Thank you very much, gentlemen. We have your 
reports and everything in the record and I am sure they will be very 
valuable to us. 

(Witness excused.) 


Mr. Sparkman. You may state your name and whom you represent. 

Mr. Hays. Brooks Hays, regional attorney for the Farm Security 
Administration, Little Rock, Ark. 

Mr. Sparkman. Mr. Hays, we do not have any prepared statement 
from you, but we happen to know of your great interest in this matter 
and particularly in the farm-tenure condition and we would like to 
have you talk to us just as you see fit, but in the course of your testi- 
mony we should like for you to tell us something about the farm-tenure 
situation in Arkansas. 

Mr. Hats. I presume you would like to know something al)out the 
Land Policy Act. 

Mr. Sparkman. Yes. 

land policy act 

Mr. Hats. The Land Policy Act grew out of the Farm Tenancy 
Commission, which has been in existence about 4 j^ears, as I recall. 


and has been interested in two things. First, in the encouragement 
of land ownership and doing everything in its power to establish 
families on land which they can expect to come to own, and in improv- 
ing tenure where ownership is not feasible for one reason or another. 
First, I think this work is significant because it shows that Arkansas 
is trying to work out its problem as a State without calling on the Fed- 
eral Government, and then it has a great educational significance. We 
have been able to establish an atmosphere in which the problem can 
be approached with a chance to work it out. We have land owners, 
businessmen, newspaper editors, public officials, social workers, edu- 
cators, and I should say a very fine cross section of the State leader- 
ship and it has attempted to bring public opinion to the point of 
adopting some of these things from the social side, and that is of 
tremendous significance, I think. We have studied not only such 
j)roblems as Dr. Brannen and Dr. Metzler have presented here, and 
incidentally they are both connected with the work, but we have gone 
into the related problem of health and education, those problems 
that are closely tied in with the whole problem of farm tenancy. 

The most outstanding achievement was the passing in 1939 of this 
Land Policy Act, which you referred to. We found when we first got 
into this proposition that we had a surplus farm population in 
Arkansas, and while I do not recall the exact figures we know there 
are thousands of families in Arkansas that are definitely surplus farm 
labor. There are two solutions, if we are going to anchor them to the 
land ; that would be to take the land that is now being used and make 
it more productive from the human standpoint; and then actually 
to bring additional land into the use of that group. We found 
almost a million and a half acres of what is called tax forfeited 
land, land that had gotten on the State tax books. That was a 
State resource and could be handled by the State and it didn't 
involve such complication from a human standpoint. We could go 
to the legislature and say here is a vast resource that the State con- 
trols and that is being used now in a way that isn't socially desirable — 
that means it was sold in a haphazard way for $1 an acre and any- 
body could come up and put $40 on the table and buy 40 acres of farm 
land. Much of that land was suitable for agriculture, and a lot of it 
was potentially suitable for agriculture, so that we could hope to hold 
a lot of these people that had been going west and keep them on the 
land. We did that by setting up a procedure that we called land 
classification, and it is the very heart of this plan, and means that no 
land can be disposed of by the State until it has been classified as 
suitable to be returned to private ownership through sale or donation 
and the person who buys it, if it is to be used in farming, is a suitable 
person to occupy that land. There are other angles to it that don't 
interest us so much here; the use of land for industrial sites, close to 
industrial or urban centers, but from an agricultural standpoint the 
act seems to be of great significance. 

I don't want to burden you with details, but I will introduce a state- 
ment which gives a summar}^ of the act.^ It seems to be that at least 

1 See p. 2020. 

260370 — 41— pt. 5 17 


we have a scientific ai)])roach to the xmng, of the land that the State 
lias. At one time Arkansas owned 2,000,000 acres and we now have 
1,300,000 acres. We adopted in that plan an old procedure that had 
been of little use because the speculator had g:otten the benefit of this 
land, and that is called the donation procedure. It is important noAV, 
because we can get some good land as well as poor land, and we divided 
the State into two sections, that which is suitable for farming and 
that which isn't at the present time. We have been handicapped by 
lack of funds, but I think the legislature will fix that. We have been 
handicapped by a lack of a good tax title law. In other words, you 
can't get a man on that land if you can't give him security. We have 
]:)erhaps 1,300,000 acres, much of which is suitable for a homestead 
program and we are giving these people a chance now that they 
wouldn't have had otherwise. In section 6 of that law you will find a 
provision for the transfer to any Federal agency of large tracts suit- 
able for farming. That is desirable because a lot of times you cannot 
find the facilities for social services, schools, and churches, unless you 
can get a large enough tract available that gives them the resources 
for that sort of thing, and then, too, they would have the agricultural 
facilities themselves that go with large operation, and we believe that 
that has possibilities. We believe this also ought to be taken into 
account, it shows how important these safeguards are against land 
speculation. The things that the Federal Government is doing to 
control land in the South are opening up a vast amount of land that 
has heretofore been swampland of no value, that was on the tax books, 
and we have large tracts of land now with the drainage problem 
solved and it is as fine as any land in the world. 

I happen to know of one tract of 21.000 acres in Arkansas County, 
where an effort was made to handle it individually without reference 
to this type of planning I am speaking of, but because we have this 
set-up it is now in the hands of the land-use committee and the plan- 
ning board and men who know land and understand the problems. 
We knew it wasn't desirable for that 21,000 acres to get into the flow 
of speculation, that it should be used for homestead purposes. You 
can settle a lot of families on that much land, and it is our desire to 
do these things to improve conditions and foster the things that the 
State has done to use its resources wisely. 

Mr. Sparkman. In the statement you will leave with us, have you 
gone into detail in the explanation of this law and how it has worked ? 

Mr. Hats. I believe this statement covers everything you would 
be interested in. 

Mr. Sparkman. I hope it does, because I am very much interested in 
it and we know it will be a very valuable addition to our record in this 
case ; if it does, fine, and if not we may call on you for further informa- 

Mr. Hays. You may be interested in knowing that the Farm Tenancy 
Commission is composed of representatives of the Colle.qre of Aafricul- 
lure. Farm Security Administration, Agricultural Adjustment Ad- 
ministration, Soil Conservation Service, State Planning Board, two 
representatives of the public at large — that is all in the statement. 
That is important because this isn't a problem of whether the Federal 


Goveriiiiioiit will occupy a particular administrative area or whether 
the State will occupy that area: we know there are places, of course, 
on account of ]e<iislatiAe concepts where that is true, but one of the 
interestijig- out<2:rowtlis of this experiment is that you are occupyin^^ 
this overlappino- territory witli a cooperative effort. 

It hasn't required an act of Con;:yress; you have this ao;ency in the 
field, and I happen to represent one of the governmental agencies, but 
I speak more as a member of the State commission than I do as a 
Federal officer. The thing is that the two have w^orked together and 
occupied that overlapping territory together ; for example, in plan- 
ning the location of a family on land owned by the State a man comes 
in and files an application and we send an "inspector out there ; he 
goes to a committee of land planners who have a Federal agency in the 
field that does that, and they have their maps that show the type of 
soil and other factors that go into the determination of whether or not 
that is a desirable homestead, and that is the first facility he uses, a 
Federal land-planning committee set up by the Federal Government 
but composed of local people who know land and know local problems. 
These local committees are a vital part of it, and the plan has proved 
to be very workable in the experience we have already had. We liave 
had many more applications than we could handle because of limited 

Mr. Parsons. This applies, as I understand it, simply to State-ownea 
land ? 

Mr. Hays. Right. 

Mr. Parsons. It does not deal with privately owned land at all? 

Mr. Hays. That is right. 

Mr. Parsons. You don't touch the land until it comes into owner- 
ship of the State? 

Mr. Hays. No, sir. 

Mr. Parsons. What portion of those lands that are usable have you 
disposed of ? 

Mr. Hays. I wonder if Dr. Brannen could answer that question bet- 
ter than I could. 

Dr. Brannen. I think it would be a small percentage at the moment, 
because we just started operating about 8 months ago, and a few home- 
stead donations have been made, but the percentage would be low. 

Mr. Parsons. It has been met with the proper response? 

Dr. Brannen. May I emphasize, if I might, Mr. Brooks Hays' state- 
ment in regard to the opportunity of further settlement. In the east- 
ern part of the State there are considerable areas of State-owned land 
which are just as good as any we have that will be usable when they 
are granted and homesteads of colony types, 50 or 100 families, and I 
expect that we could settle possibly 50,000 families in eastern Arkan- 
sas on as good land as we have after the drainage problem has been 
worked out. 

The Chairman. Thank you very much. 

(Witness excused.) 


(Tlie statement by Brooks Hays, submitted to the committee, is as 

Statement on the Arkansas Land Policy Act, by Be(x>ks Hays. Rkc.ional 
Attorney, Farm Security Administration, IvITtle Rock, Ark. 

The Arkansas Farm Tenancy Commission is an honorary body appointed hy 
Gov. Carl E. Bailey in 1936. Its outstanding achievement is the successful spon- 
sorship of tlie State land policy act (act 331 of the acts of 1939). 

The commission conducted surveys and authorized studies of the problem of 
farm tenancy and the related problems of migration, low educational standards, 
inadequate health facilities, etc., and unanimously recommended to the general 
assembly the type of legislation now in force in Arkansas. Finding about a mil- 
lion and a half acres of tax forfeited lands in State ownership the commission 
worked out a plan of using these lands for homesteads for tenants and share- 
croppers lacking farm opportunities. The commission concluded, on the basis of 
its research, that a beginning could be made in the long-range program of land 
ownership by adopting sound principles in the use of State lands, displacing a 
haphazard and outmoded plan of selling these lands indiscriminately for $1 an 

Results to date have been satisfactory, though administration of the act has 
been handicapped by lack of funds for field and technical services. There has 
been considerable public interest in the general plan of the farm tenancy com- 
mission to encourage the anchoring of farm people upon land which will provide 
an adequate standard of living. 

The basic policy of this legislation is well expressed by section 1 of the act 
which declared it to be the policy of the State of Arkansas to provide for the de- 
velopment and conservation of the human and soil resources of the State ; to pro- 
tect the lands owned by the State, and to provide for their classification and best 
use in the interests of the future general welfare and agricultural well-being of 
the State; to encourage the settlement of the farm families of the State upon 
family-sized tracts under conditions conducive to successful farming ; to pre- 
serve land in public ownership suited for public use as forests, parks, or other 
purposes; to cooperate with Federal agencies having similar and allied objec- 
tives ; and to protect and promote the health, safety, and general welfare of the 
people of Arkansas. 

The administration of the act is vested in two State agencies: (1) The com- 
missioner of State lands and (2) the land use committee of the State planning 
board. The commissioner is the administrative ofiicer but the land use committee 
is charged with the duty of classifying the tax-forfeited lands and supervising 
the inspection, appraisal and classification of the lands according to the most 
appropriate use. The present land use committee is composed of: Three repre- 
sentatives of the College of Agriculture of the State university (including the 
dean and director of extension), two representatives of the Farm Security Ad- 
ministration, two representatives of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, one 
representative of each of the following: The State forestry commission, the 
State parks commission, the State game and fish commission, the State agricul- 
tural and industrial commission, and the Soil Conservation Service ; the director 
of the State planning board, the chairman of the State farm tenancy commission, 
the commissioner of State lands (ex officio) and two representative citizens. 

State lands are to be classified as to whether they should be retained in 
public ownership, allocated for agricultural settlement through cooperation with 
Federal agencies or returned to private ownership through sale or donation. No 
lauds shall be sold to private individuals except in accordance with classifica- 
tions made by the committee. Conveyances of land returned to private ownership 
shall contain such restrictive covenants on alienation as the committee deems 
necessary to insure the use of the land in a beneficial manner and the act 
further provides that all mineral rights shall be reserved to the State. 


The act provides for outright donation of lands properly classified as agricul- 
tural lauds to those individuals demonstrating their fitness for agricultural pur- 
suits and lands to be so conveyed shall be in family-sized tracts. Final certifi- 
cates of donation are not issued until the prospective donee estal)lishes residence 
on the laud and engages in farming operations on it for a period of 2 years. The 
encouragement of settlement in isolated sections where social services are not 
available is prohibited. The committee is authorized to determine what 
constitutes a family-sized farm considering location, fertility, and type of 
farming. The commissioner of State lands is given authority to allocate land.s 
suitable for disposition by the United States Government or by individuals or 
oi-ganizations approved by Federal agencies and cooperating with the Federal 
pi-ogram and is authorized to enter into contracts with the Government for the 
handling of the State's lands in accordance with the declared policies of the act. 

Isolated tracts not large enough to provide a suitable farm unit may be sold 
1(1 adjacent land owners where such sales do not result in the purchaser having 
,1 farm greater in area than a family-sized farm considering the location of 
the tract. 

The land use conuuittee is given wide powers in administering the act and is 
iuithorized to promulgate rules and regulations governing not only the classi- 
fication of lands, but the determination of eligibility of applicants under the 
donation procedure and, in substance, is authorized to develop sound principles 
governing the use of State-owned lands. 

The general assembly failed to appropriate any money for the special service 
to be rendered by the land office under the land policy act but a transfer of 
$1,000 from another State agency has enabled the deputy land commissioner to 
make field trips for the purpose of inspecting the lands to be donated and 
interviewing the applicants. Prior to passage of the act no inspections of any 
kind were authorized and donation certificates were issued as a matter of 
course. Under the present procedure it is possible to determine the qualification 
of applicants for homestead certificates and to fit the size of the proposed home- 
stead to the particular family needs. 

In carrying out the act the land commissioner's staff has had the cooperation 
of local offices of other governmental agencies, both State and Federal, par- 
ticipating in the program. In this connection, it should be noted that the maps 
and other facilities of the county land planning committees have proved to be 
an indispen.sable aid to proper administration. It is believed that the authority 
contained in section 6 for the transfer of land in large tracts to Federal agencies 
will enable the Farm Security Administration to expand its service where it 
appears that settlement in groups is more de.sirable than individual homestead- 
ing. Such planning would embrace community services and loans for improve- 
n)ent which are often not available in individual cases. 

In the opinion of Tenr.ncy Commission members, the land policy act should 
be supplemented by legislation strengthening the title to tax-forfeited lands so 
that loans for improvements may be supported by good security. 


The Chairman. You may state your name and address. 

Mr. Eapp. J. C. Rapp, McGehee, Ark. 

The Chairman. You haven't filed a statement with the committee, 
have you? 

Mr, Rapp. I have a brief statement. 

The Chairman. Do you prefer to read your statement? 

Mr. Rapp. No, sir; I don't prefer to read it, but I will brief it to 
save time. 


The Chairman. Go ahead and put your statement in the record and 
afterward make such comments on it as you may wish. 
(Tlie statement mentioned is as follows:) 

Statement of .1. C. Rapp, I\I( Gehek, Ark., on Behalf of AcitK lurintAL Council of 


Tho Agrrit'ultural Council of Arkansas llirdiijjli its dfficcrs selected a committee 
to make investigation and report to the Hnuse Committee on Interstate Migration 
at its hearing at Oklahoma City, Okla., on September 19 and 20, 1940. This 
committee is composed of C. N. Houck, residing at Marianna, Lee County, Ark., 
and operating a farm in St. Francis County, Ark., president of the association and 
chairman of the committee, and the following members : Rufus Branch, Pecan 
Point, Mississippi County, Ark. ; J. C. Rapp, McGehee, Desha County, Ark. ; Harold 
Young, Little Rock, Pulaski County, Ark. ; Fred A. Isgrig, Little Rock, Pulaski 
County, Ark. 

It will be noted that the various members of the committee reside in different 
areas and sections of the delta country, and therefore their combined informa- 
tion covers the entire area of apprdximately 30 counties, which produce approxi- 
mately 80 percent of the cotton raised in the State of Arkansas. Each member 
of the committee is the operator of a cotton farm, and the combined operation of 
the members of the committee is in excess of 10,000 acres. This statement, to be 
delivered by one member of the committee, is the combined statement of the 
entire committee made after conference and investigation. 

First, it is the opinion of the committee that the question of migratory labor 
as it alTects Arkansas is of negligible importance and probably is not even a 
problem in this area. There has been a shift of labor from the farms during 
the period from 1930 to 1940. There are probably two contributing causes : 

First, in 1930 cotton farming became exceedingly unprofitable, and some labor 
on the farms sought work elsewhere in an effort to better their financial 

Second, there has been some shift of labor due to the change of farming methods, 
there being some change from sharecroppers to day labor. Howevei', it is nctt 
probable that more than 25 percent of the delta farming region is farmed by day 
labor, the remaining 75 percent still being farmed by tenants or sharecroppers. 

Not all of the estimated 25 percent of labor changing from sharecroppers to 
day labor has left the farm. It is probable that one-half of this number have 
remained on the farm, preferring to work for day wages rather than to assume 
tlie hazard of tenant or sharecrop farming. Some who have left the farms have 
gone to the cities, severing a farm connection for the purpose of getting employ- 
ment upon Work Projects Administration, where the wages paid are much better 
than the day wages paid on the farm. 

Mechanization of the farms has played but small part in the shift of labor, 
iuid the reduction of cotton acreage has had but small influence upon this situa- 
tion ; while fewer acres of land were cultivated in cotton, cotton farming methods 
have assumed the form of intensified farming, and more work is used upon an 
acre of cotton under reduced acreage than was formerly used per acre. As a 
result, this has required an increased amount of labor per acre in the culti- 
vating season, and the result has been an increase in production, and there 
is almost as much cotton to be harvested under the restricted or reduced 
acreage as was produced under a larger acreage so that the number of people 
employed in the harvesting of a cotton crop and acreage of other crops, such as 
corn and feedstuffs, which has been increased proportionately to the decrease of 
cotton land, makes it necessary to employ about as much labor as ever was 
employed on the farm. 

In the season of cultivation it is necessary for the operators of good-sized farms 
to bring in outside labor to supplement the farm labor in the chopping or hoeing 
of the cotton, and in the fall, or harvesting season, outside labor is now, as it lias 
always been in the past, necessary to harvest the crop. 


There exists upon the farms iii the delta section of Arkansas a shortage of 
hil)or, which shortage has existed for tlie past several years, and a larger popu- 
lation of lahor could find places and homes upon the land than are now doing so. 

The committee is not uiunindful of the fact that the migratory-labor problem 
does exist elsewhere and that in some sections of the country it is a problem of 
serious import, and we are in sympathy with any effort to improve or better 
the condition of the migrant laborer. In this connection it is necessary to know 
that the supply of labor needed at peak times, that is, during the cotton-chopping 
period and the cotton-picking period, is available in the nearby villages and towns 
in the delta section of Arkansas. This labor is made up largely of the Negro 
population of the villages and towns referred to, from labor temporarily unem- 
ployed in the cities and from the women who leave their household duties during 
the peak periods referred to and go to the farm to engage in the chopping of 
cotton and in the picking of cotton — this to supplement a family income. 

This labor is transported in trucks of the farmer and is carried from the homes 
of the workers to the fields in the morning and back to their homes again at 
night at the end of the day's labor. The exi)ense of this transportation is borne 
by the farmer or the person who uses the labor. Transportation is furnished 
free to the laborer. 

Another source of labor for the delta is the adjoining hill section where 
families engaged in farming on a small scale in the hills leave their small farms 
and go to the larger farms in the delta sections for employment. In some sec- 
tions of the delta, Mexicans are brought from Mexico to work during the heavy 
cotton-picking season. These people always return to their homes when the 
season is over — invariably declining any offer of the landlords to give them crops 
and homes to induce them to stay. 

With reference to the suggestion that the cutting up of the large farms into 
small farms will solve the problem of labor, we do not agree. It is our experience 
and observation that a great percent of the labor employed in the delta section 
has no desire to own or oiierate a farm, many of them preferring to engage in 
day labor which has a fixed earning without hazard. Furthermore, the equip- 
ment and stock necessary to proper farming is too great a burden upon a small 
unit of land. 

With reference to the shift of population, or the change in the status of farm 
labor, the committee desires to call attention to the fact that in the years from 
1930 to 1936 millions of acres of land in Arkansas were forfeited to the State 
for nonpayment of taxes. The State acquired title to much of this land and 
after the State had acquired title to this land it was sold at $1 per acre, much of 
it of the rich delta type of land. Many former renters availed themselves of the 
opportunity to acquire the land at this small cost of $1 per acre and became farm- 
ers and are engaged in farming upon their own land. 

The population of the farms in the delta section has not been materially re- 
duced, approximately the same number of people living upon the land and sub- 
sisting since the reduction of acreage of cotton and the change of farming methods 
as lived upon or populated the same farms before the change came. 



Mr, Rapp. The Agi'iciiltiiral Council of Arkansas represents the 
delta section of the State. It has a membership in 30 counties, 18 of 
which are practically entirely of a delta-type soil. The remaininof 
counties are partly delta and partly hill land. The problems in the 
delta counties of Arkansas are so different from the problems in the 
hill sections that the farmers in the delta decided it would be well for 
them to have an organization to study their own problems, which are 


peculiar to their situation, and that was the cause of the founding of 
this agricuhural council. The agricultural council learned of this 
meeting and they got together a connnittee of their members over the 
State and have "submitted a written statement of which you have a 
copy. I am merely going to brief that statement in order to save 
time. At a meeting in Little Rock every phase of the agricultural 
problem was discussed. It was admitted there was a decrease in the 
number of farms in the delta section, it was admitted that tractor 
farming had had something to do with it, it was admitted that our 
farming is more or less seasonal, that we have two peaks at which we 
need more labor than at any other times, and that is the time of chop- 
ping cotton and the time of picking cotton. In picking cotton, we in 
the delta section are rather fortunate because of the fact that in the 
hill section of Arkansas the crops are usually small and the families 
there can pick their crops early in the season and then come to the 
delta and help with the crops there. 

In addition to this help we get from the hill section in harvesting 
our crops we have available a number of Negro families who live in 
the small towns and who will come out to pick cotton during the 
picking season and will help with chopping, both the men and women, 
and that almost meets our needs for labor. However, just recently 
we have begun to import or bring in a few Mexicans and the Mexican 
labor has proven very satisfactory. We have been so impressed with 
the type of work they have done that we have offered them homes, 
tried to make tenant farmers out of them, but they have refused, say- 
ing they didn't care to spend the full year there, but they have come 
back from time to time to help in the crops and a few are now drifting 
m. The agricultural council went on record as heartily favoring the 
efforts of this committee in passing some legislation which will help 
in the migi'atory labor problem. You have our best wishes, we shall 
be glad to be of service to you in anything we can do, and while there 
is not much of a migratory labor problem there now, probably there 
Avill be later on. If I may be permitted to express an opinion I should 
like to say a few words on my own if I am permitted to do so. 

The Chairman. You surely are, Mr. Rapp. 


Mr. Rapp. In the first place I myself have been a migratory laborer. 
I originated in Kentucky, went to Missouri, then Tennessee, then Cali- 
fornia, and wound up in Arkansas. I am heartily in sympathy with 
the migratory problems and I am very glad I was not interfered with 
in my travels because I am very glad that I am where I am now located. 
As someone testified at this hearing the income is so very low at the 
present on the farms that it is my opinion after considerable thought 
and considerable investigation that the individual farm, the 40-acre 
or 80-acre farm, is almost certainly doomed to extinction under pres- 
ent conditions and it is going to go the way of the cross-roads shoe- 
maker, the cross-roads blacksmith, and the small-town tailor. 


The Chairman. And the independent store? 

Mr. Rapp. That is right, and the inde^^endent store. The income is 
so very small that no man, regardless of his ability, frugality, and 
industry and good judgment and everything that goes to make up a 
good businessman, can at present prices make enough money to have 
the standard of living that we feel a man is entitled to on a 40-acre 
farm. There is no way, on 80 acres, that a man can make a living 
like a man in a large industry can make; his income is around $1,200 
a year. There is no man in this house that can make enough money 
to educate his family, keep a car, radio, and other conveniences that 
we feel necessary. Unless conditions change the small farms will 

The Chairman. On that point our attitude toward farms has 
changed. In the early days 80 percent of the people lived on farms 
and they tell me they lived there and didn't really enter into the life 
with the idea of making a lot of money, but they raised their food 
and fed their family. Now, you are down to 25 percent of the people 
living on the farms and they don't even raise a vegetable patch, so the 
attitude has changed? 

Mr. Rapp. Yes; the 40-acre farm cannot be handled economically 
because small farmers, if they would go in and buy the equipment 
necessary, such as equipment for putting up hay, which costs approxi- 
mately $2,000 whether you have 40 acres or 400 acres, and there is 
other equipment you need, and the 40-acre farm will not yield enough 
to enable the individual to buy the equipment he needs, and he is in 
competition with the large farmer. 

The homesteader referred to a moment ago by Mr. Brooks Hays has 
my utmost sympathy. Sometimes men have gone on those places and 
built the best house the}' could and started to clear; I saw one man 
day before yesterday, he has worked faithfully and done his best, his 
children have worked as well as his Avife, and his allotment of cotton 
is very small because you can't get an allotment of cotton on a new- 
farm. The result is the man sold his old farm and applied the pro- 
ceeds to this farm and when he got ready to prove up his title he came 
to me and asked if he could borrow some money, if I could possibly 
let him have $50 or $60 to get his title to this land, but on investigation 
he found it would take $560 to pay improvement taxes and back taxes 
and all; $560 was twice the present sale value of the land. 


There is a man who has made every effort and he is going to be a 
migrant, and on that subject I want to say a few words too. In look- 
ing at these pictures around here, hearing the witnesses that have been 
before you today, I have been impressed with one thing that should 
be included in your migratory labor bill, which I haven't heard men- 
tioned, and that is facilities for educating the children of these 
migrants. Those children that you see in those pictures on the wall 
of those men and women probably are children of families who did 
the best they could with the earnings they had. They didn't know 


how to protect their heahh and tliey didn't know what sanitation 
meant ; they were not edncated to meet the problems of everyday life. 
We had one man here today, an educated man, he was a migrant, he 
was getting along very nicely because that man had the opportunity 
in his childhood to be educated. Any law that you may pass for the 
protection and aid of the migrant should include a compulsory educa- 
tion for his children until they are at least past the eighth grade. If 
you want to stop a thing at its source, if you want to help the tenant 
farmer and the migrant help him by saying that his children must be 

The Chairman. Thank you very much, Mr. Rapp. The report of 
your council will be received and made a part of our record. 

(Witness excused.) 

The Chairmax. The conmiittee will stand adjourned until tomor- 
row morning at 9 : 30. 

(Whereupon at 5 p. m., the hearing was adjourned until 9 : 30 a. m., 
Friday, September 20, 1940.) 


miDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 1940 

House of Kepresentatives, 
Select Committee to Investigate 
THE Interstate Migration of Destitute Citizens, 

Washington^ D. (\ 
The coininittee met at 10 a. m., September 20, 1940, in the State 
Capitol Buikling, Oklahoma City, Okla., Hon. John H. Tolan (chair- 
man ) presiding^. 

Present were Representatives John H. Tolan (chairman), Carl T. 
Curtis, Claude V. Parsons, and John J. Sparkman. 

Also present were Robei-t K. Lamb, chief investigator; George 
Wolf, chief field investigator; Creekmore Fath, field investigator; 
Irene Hageman, field secretary. 


The Chairman. The committee will please come to order. Governor 
Phillips will be the first witness. 

Governor, I noticed in the Daily Oklahoman this morning tliat 
this committee was nervously awaiting your appearance; well, 
we have had governors and mayors all over the country and we find 
that governors are just about like everybody else and just as human. 

GoveiTior Phillips. I didn't see the paper, Mr. Chairman. 

Tlie Chairman. The migrants make us just about as nervous as the 
governors. Governor, you may proceed with your presentation in any 
way you see fit. This is a very important hearing in Oklahoma, and 
Oklahoma is a very important State, and we shall leave it to your 
own good judgment. Governor, would you like to make your pres- 
entation before being interrupted or not? 

Governor Phillips. Well, it is immaterial to me — whatever you, as 
chairman of the committee, or the members of the committee, desire. 

The Chairman. I think you should proceed in any way you see fit. 

Governor Phillips. I have here a report which has been prepared 
by a committee composed of State officials, men from the university 
and the agricultural schools, and representatives of industry, and 
farmers, which in a way sums up what we think has been the trouble 
with our ability here to furnish employment to our people, and we 
tell you the thing that we think is destroying the possibility of the 
small man to make a living in agriculture under present conditions. 



The Chairman. That is what we want to know, Governor; you just 
proceed as you wish and your full report will be inserted in the record. 

Governor Phillips, I have it here and will present it for your re- 
port. I have sufficient copies to give to each of you. Of course, the 
exhibits which are attached to tliis report, graphs and detailed in- 
formation, are available only for the original which I, of course, will 
file with the committee. I might read a page or two of it, and then, 
if the cursory examination which you will be able to give this report 
calls for an explanation or verification of the items in the report, I 
have the men here who will be willing to go on the stand and give 
details of the things that I refer to in the report itself. 

(Statement of Governor Phillips appears below:) 

Rei'Oet of Hon. Leon C. Phitjlips, CtOveenor of Oklahoma 

Mr. Chairman aud gentlemen of the committee, we in Oklahoma are fully aware 
of the serious problem confronting the various States brought about by migrating 
populations. The problem has become acute in a number of our States, and 
particularly so in California. 

This attempt by the Federal Government to establish the causes and take 
remedial measures is a step in the right direction and meets with our hearty 

We Oklahomans, who still believe this to be a good place to live, welcome an 
investigation as to our arrival here and oiu' intentions to stay here. 

Volumes could be written and hours spent in recounting the advantages and 
virtues of Oklahoma and her citizens. 

Our vast — almost inexhaustible — coal beds ; our huge deposits of oil, lead, zinc, 
and other minerals; our range in climatic conditions permitting an unparalleled 
diversification of crops, i-anging from cotton, melons, peanuts, corn, and vegetables 
in the south to fruits, wheat, and other small grains in the central and northern 
areas ; our increased production of livestock, including hogs, sheep, dairy, and 
beef cattle ; the fighting spirit of our pioneers ; the contribution of our citizens to 
literature, art, and culture; our skyscrapers, beautiful homes, and educational 
institutions — all these and many other things too numerous to mention make 
Oklahomans very proud of their great State. But you are here for the purpose of 
investigating the migration problem, and we will confine our remarks to that 

Upon receiving notice of this meeting. I appointed a special committee, con- 
sisting of educators, busines.smen, industrialists, and farmers, to make a study of 
the problem and submit remedial suggestions to your committee. 

The local committee has made a comprehensive study of the proljleni and in 
all good faith asks that the cnri'ective measures suggested in the report be given 
your sympathetic and earnest consideration. 

For the sake of brevity and continuity, the report which I shall submit sets out 
the problem, suggests the causes and remedies. 

An appendix to this written statement, containing bulletins, documents, maps, 
graphs, etc., supporting the statements made herein, has been prepared for your 
further study. 


During recent years the migration of dependent classes of people has been 
brought to public attention. Looking back a hundred years, when the west coast 
country was uninhabited for the most part by white people, this migration would 
have been hailed with great acclaim. But times have changed, and now it pre- 
sents grave social and economic problems both at its origin and at its destination. 

The present westward migration is largely a continuation or renewal of a 
movement that began when the Europeans came to the New World, and which 
continued in great volume with a greater or a lesser degree of regularity until 
just before the World War. 

In earlier years it was encouraged and fostered by every possible means, because 
there were virgin lands of great fertility, rich mines of lead, silver, copper, and 


gold, and later fields of oil to be exploited. In those days manpower was needed 
in the great West. Now the picture is different. The alluring flush production 
from those resources has ended. The need, except for unsteady, seasonal, and 
relatively cheap agricultural laI)or. has subsided greatly, and we are becoming 
aware th:it such unlimited movements of jiojiulatiou are fraught with distrc^ssing 

Migration is a thing whicli, in Ibc course of everyday affairs, must be expected 
continually. Unhappy would be the pei>i)le who by law or by other circum- 
stances were forbidden to move from one place to another. Motion, or mobility, 
is a law of the universe, and as such it is a necessity for man. 

Most migration is in .some measure a .search' for opportunity, an attempt to 
find new resources from which a livelihood may be gained, an effort to make 
new adjustments to the exigencies of life, and a quest for new experiences and 
for swurity. However, there are those who migrate to get away from a real 
opportunity and honest toil. 

There are .some who are naturally shiftless, hate work and will go to most 
any length to avoid it. Some of those boys came over to Jamestown and learned 
a fair lesson from Capt. John Smith when he issued the decree that those who 
would not work wcmld not eat. I am afraid that all the States have a number 
of these folk left and the State that hands out the most money, food, and cloth- 
ing free will find its population ever increased by the indolent and lazy. Let 
us bear in mind that we cannot help men permanently by doing for them what 
they could and should do for , themselves. You cannot build character and 
courage by taking away a man's initiative and independence. 

For these reasons it is desirable that we take a sane view of it and refrain 
from any ill-considered .iudgments or actions until we have studied the problem 
thoroughly in all of its cause-effect relation.ships. 

Migration of dependent classes is not a new thing. The Israelites were im- 
poverished by drought when they went to Egypt. Georgia was settled in 1732 
by refugees from England. The poor, the oppressed, the disfranchised, and 
the rich as well, have always bet^n highly migratory. Also, it may be observed 
from history that, while there are exceptions to be sure, the migration of 
wretched peoples in times past has often resulted in improvement in their 
situation, and not infrequently in their transformation into a prosperous society. 

The seriousness of the migration now going on in this country grows not out 
of the fact that people are moving so much as that the conditions exist in 
the country which make moving a necessity. This in turn is largely a result 
of the stage of maturity which has been reached in America. 

In Oklahoma, as a si>ecial case, the transition of the last 10 years or so has 
been great in its extent and harsh in its effect. Agriculture has been curtailed 
by the national policy, by soil depletion, and by climatic conditions. In addition 
to these forces, mechanization of farm production and industry has assumed 
large proportions. The extractions of minerals and ix^troleum has been re- 
stricted drastically by far-reaching international, political, and economic devel- 
opments and by internal economic conditions. Unquestionably, the decline of 
oil and mineral production in Oklahoma has left workers idle. The timber 
industry in Oklahoma, like agriculture, has begun to suffer great disadvantages 
because of limitation of supply and market factors. The pmcessing industries 
have never become highly developed in Oklahoma because of many circumstances, 
among them being an unfortunate geographic location in respect to markets, 
and discriminatory transportation rates. The inevitable result of all this is 
that Oklahoma has a very limited capacity for absorbing in other fields workers 
who have been displaced in one field. Oil-field workers and agricultural labor- 
ers, for example, cannot shift easily from one of those occupations to the other, 
because both are OA-ercrowded. Hence, we have an economic situation of limited 
alternative uses for human labor which, with the advent of these conditions, has 
i-esulted in a large unemployed population whose only apparent hope of being 
able to make a living for themselves is to move in search of some form of 

The problem is e.specially severe in Oklahoma at this time, because the State 
was built upon a succession of booms, rushes, and runs, if not for free land, 
then for the oil fields, the construction camps, the spawning cities and towns. 

All populations have their flotsam and .jetsam. The man and woman who 
came to these uninhabited prairies 50 years ago with the noble purpose and 



(letermiuatioii to have a home generally succeeded; and his and her successes 
are today the enduring foundations of this typical American State. Pioneering 
has no easy .lobs. The man looking for "soft snaps," little work and big pay, 
drifts from piixt' <" pliice. He is, as a fact, a perpetual refugee from labor. 

Then again, in the mining and oil sections, the discovery of gold, silver, or oil 
always causes a sudden heavy inrush of population; and the history of all such 
booms is the sanu^ — an exodus of population, a drifting away of those who had 
rushed in— when the treasures of nature in that particuhir place have been 
exhausted. Oklahoma has had all of these experiences, but now Oklahoma has 
matured and is becoming saturated with people. The population is small, rela- 
tive to the area of the State, but is large relative to the opiwrtunity for remuner- 
ative employment either on the farms or in the towns and cities. 

In the last decade the State of Oklahoma has lost 74,679 residents. The 
western half of the State alone has lost 71,413 persons. 

In the 5 years just passed, the State has lost 33,274 farms. Yet in the 10 years 
since 1930* only 24,890 farm units have been lost— a factual situation which 
clearly proclaims an increase in farms and population between 1930 and 1935, 
only to see a violent reverse, resulting in a net loss to the State in the last 5 
years of more than 30,000 farms and more than 100,000 citizens. 

In beginning a study or consideration of emigration from this State, it must 
be always kept clearly in mind that Oklahoma constituted one of the last fron- 
tiers of free land, open to a settlement and accessible to that great migrant band— 
the American pioneer. In 1907 Oklahoma was admitted to the Union. In the 
33 years that have passed since Oklahoma became an integral part of the Union, 
the State has witnessed a growth — economically, socially, and in populace — 
which all but defies human imagination. Certainly it defies parallel by any 
neighboring State whose resources, geographic location, and size is comparable 
to what was once the Indian country. 

Oklahoma, admitted as a State in 1907, today has a imputation of 2,334,437. 
Kansas, on the north, admitted as a State in 1861, has today a population of 
1,779,137; Arkansas, on the east, admitted as a State in 1836, has a population 
of 1,947,268. It is well for us to realize that Oklahoma today has a total popula- 
tion greater than Kansas, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, Louisiana, or 
Mississippi— States comparable in geographic location and size to Oklahoma. 
We must realize, too, in seeking an answer, that but for the difference in area, 
the population of Oklahoma would be far greater than that of the State of 
Texas, bordering on the south and west. 

The youth of Oklahoma and its rapid growth are facts of great significance. 
We must not lose sight of these realities. 

When, but a relatively short time ago, the broad, rolling prairies of the Indian 
Territory were opened to settlement, we found, pressing from every side, north, 
south, east, and west, a migrant band of American pioneers, seeking new lands, 
seeking greater opportunities than were to be found in the older States where 
all lands had been taken and opiwrtunities were less apparent. For many years, 
as one of the last frontiers, Oklahoma to the whole Nation stood forth as the 
land of opportunity. It was but natural that the land hungry should crowd in. 
To the allurement of free lands, this great pioneer band responded, and Oklahoma, 
as a State, became a child of migration. 

The settlement of Oklahoma differed but little from that of many other States, 
except that whereas the older States had gradually, almost imperceptibly, been 
settled by the advancement of the pioneer with his covered wagon and his sod 
plow, great sections of Oklahoma were settled almost overnight by an influx from 
every side of land-hungry pioneers, a citizenship adventuresome in spirit, mobile 
by habit and heritage. It is natural that a State with such a background should, 
as to its citizenship, go through a period of flux. Other States were populated 
by the gradual extension of settlement. In Oklahoma, on the other hand, a rapid 
growth of population, as it now appears, resulted in a maladjustment of citizen- 
ship to economic and natural resources. Prior to 1935 the State was an area of 
absorption ; then, under the existing economic conditions, it became, in effect, an 
area of dispersion. Oklahoma has now gone through the "growing pains" of 
youth to adulthood. It is now ready to settle down, and since its period of absorp- 
tion was of much shorter duration, since the movement of peoples into Oklahoma 
was more floodlike in its aspect than that of any other State of the Union, it is 






but natural that in entering upon this new era of dispersion its emigration should 
partake of the characteristics of its immigration, as to suddenness and volume. 

But having so recognized the realities of the situation, it is well that considera- 
tion be given to the causes which have contributed and are yet contributing to 
this need of a readjustment. Only by discovering these causes, only by ascer- 
taining why, for a period of years ending in 1935, Oklahoma was able to maintain 
a tolerable balance between populace and resources can we hope to take the 
remedial steps necessary to again bring into a happy equilibrium the peoples and 
the resources of this State. 

(Appendixes Nos. 1, 6, 7, and 20, held in committee files.) 

(Appendixes 2 and 3 are maps shown on pp. 2031-2032.) 


In stating the conditions which have contributed to this great movement of 
citizens from Oklahoma, it cannot be said that this is the cause for a particular 
move or that this is the cause in another instance. The truth of the matter is 
that a vast portion of Oklahoma migrants of today have simply followed and are 
now following the honorable tradition of moving. Yet there can be no question 
but that most of the more recent and excessive emigration of Oklahomans is 
attributable to one, or a combination, of the following factors : 

1. Equitable freight rates for Oklahoma. — One of the controlling factors caus- 
ing migrants from Oklahoma is the discriminatory freight-rate adjustment as 
applied to manufactured commodities from Oklahoma. 

The Federal regulating body has continued the high discriminatory freight-rate 
adjustment on manufactured commodities against Oklahoma that were applicable 
when it was an Indian nation and during Territorial days and has not recognized 
the settlement of the State. Such an adjustment is but the outgrowth of tradition. 
The natural result of the maintenance of this railroad freight-rate plateau against 
Oklahoma on manufactured products has been to stifle manufacturing enterprises 
in Oklahoma and has tended to enlarge the manufacturing industries located upon 
waterways and in the more favored freight-rate territory east of the Mississippi 
and north of the Ohio Rivers. 

The lack of an adequate and nondiscriminatory basis of railroad freight rates 
from Oklahoma on manufactured products has required the people of Oklahoma 
to depend upon the marketing of the raw products of the soil. 

Any depressing of foreign markets tends to be felt more quickly in those areas 
depending solely upon products of the soil than upon areas also engaged in manu- 
facturing. It is a matter of conmion knowledge that the foreign markets have 
been practically closed to shipments of products of the soil from the United States 
for the last few years, and this is especially true as to grains, cotton, livestock, 
and petroleum products, and this has resulted in the people of Oklahoma migrating 
to those areas depending less upon the exportation of products of the soil. 

The withdrawal of regional freight rate discriminations will materially tend 
to encourage the expansion and diversification of industries in Oklahoma. The 
Federal regulating body has continued the high discriminatory freight rate 
adjustment on manufactured commodities against Oklahoma which were ap- 
plicable during Territorial days. The reducing of the present unfair regional 
freight rates will encourage materially the expansion and diversification of 
industries for which Oklahoma has a natural advantage ; and will remove, auto- 
matically, one of the principal causes of migration from the State. 

For a more complete study of the actual freight rate conditions as prescribed 
by the Federal regulating body, applicable to Oklahoma and the industrial centers 
of the East, I respectfully refer you to a report attached hereto, prepared by 
C. B. Bee, who has spent the last 33 years as traffic adviser and special counsel 
to the freight rate regulating c