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There remains the contention of the butter lobby that butter is a kind of balance wheel for them since its increased production offers the only alternative use for their milk surplus when fluid milk sales decline. This is a key point in the argument of the butter lobby for protective laws against margarine competition, but I think it is at variance with the evidence today.
It may have been partially true once, when the evaporated and condensed milk business were in their infancy, when dried whole milk was just an idea in a scientist's mind, when cheese making was largely a home industry, and when the ice-cream business was a minor outlet for the products of the dairy cow.
But today, the situation has changed.
The following table indicates clearly how these whole-milk industries, all of them more profitable alternative users of surplus milk than butter, have grown in recent years :
By contrast, as we have seen, total butter production during this period dropped more than 600,000,000 pounds or approximately 29 percent.
Moreover, the expanded margarine production which might be expected if antimargarine laws are removed would offer an important outlet for milk products in times of depression as well as prosperity. For skim milk constitutes approximately 15 percent of the constituents of margarine.
Now, of course, the more milk we divert to butter production, the less we have for fluid milk and other whole milk products—such as ice cream and cheesewhich, unlike butter, utilize the full nutritional value of the milk solids. In the course of butter manufacture, the rest of the milk is fed to livestock, thrown away, or converted into nonfat dry-milk powder. And since butter utilizes little of the nutrients in whole milk besides vitamin A, these nutrients are wasted when not converted for some human use.
W. A. Wentworth, vice president of the Borden Co., pointed out, in an address to the Minnesota Ice Cream Manufacturers Association in December 1947 that if we had attempted to produce enough butter in 1947 to make the per capita consumption 10 years ago possible, it would heve been necessary to divert 1312 billion pounds from fluid and whole-milk uses.
He said: "If this 1312 billion pounds were to come from the supply for some other dairy products, it would take more than all of the milk which will be made into whole milk cheeses this year (1947) or it would take 80 percent of the milk which is being made into both ice cream and evaporated milk in 1947.”.
Any attempt, therefore, in good times or bad, to increase butter production would necessarily be at the expense of these whole-milk products and of fluid milk and fluid-milk distribution, whole-milk industries such as ice cream, cheese, and dried milk, the income of dairy farmers, and the health of our people.
It is difficult to understand how even the butter interests can make any considerable number of farmers believe that it is ever to their economic interest to protect butter production at the inevitable expense of milk production.
For the sale of the dairyman's product as butterfat is, as I have stated, a sale at the lowest price for that product, and the sale of fluid milk is the highest. Other whole-milk products, such as cheese, ice cream, etc., fall in between these extremes. The average price paid to farmers for butterfat sold as fluid milk or cream during the 10-year period, 1936–45, was about 74 cents per pound, for milk sold as butterfat about 37 cents. Consider what this meant to the dairy farmers of this country.
This fact was not lost upon all of them, of course, and accounts for the fact that while much more milk was produced in 1947 than a decade ago, much less butter was manufactured.
The statistics graphically tell the story of the decreasing importance of butter and the rise of fluid milk and other byproducts.
In 1946, the dairy farmers' total cash income from the sale of all his dairy products was $3,716,374,000, of which only $548,874,000 came from the sale of butterfat and farm butter-exactly 14.7 percent of the total. Just 10 years before, income from butterfat and farm butter had amounted to 29.5 percent of the dairy farmers' total income.
As a result of declining butter production and increasing utilization of milk for fluid use and in whole-milk products, butter today, in certain sections of the country, constitutes such a minor factor in the dairy industry as to make the claim of the butter lobby that the industry's continued prosperity depends upon the suppression of margarine an absurdity.
The following table graphically illustrates the extent of the decline in butterfat production and butter manufacture in terms of farmer income:
Source: Data from Agricultural Statistics, U. S. Department of Agriculture.
HOW BEST TO “PROTECT" THE DAIRY INDUSTRY
The real interests of the dairy industry—and of the country as a whole would best be served by expanding fluid-milk consumption, at least until we achieve the nutritional goal of 100 quarts more per person per year recommended by the Bureau of Home Economics. This could be done through educational campaigns emphasizing the importance of fluid milk and of other wholemilk products in the individual diet; through expanded use of milk in such nutritionally desirable projects as the school-lunch program-which should be extended to every public school in America ; and, of course, through wider use of modern milk-production techniques and improved marketing methods.
But this could not be done, of course, if any considerable portion of the total milk supply were diverted from fluid and other whole-milk products to butter manufacture.
THE ANTIMARGARINE" LAWS HURT AMERICAN FARMERS
One of the unfortunate aspects of the Federal antimargarine laws is the harm done American farmers who produce the ingredients which go into margarine.
These ingredients are the products of farms in 44 of the 48 States. Their sale to the margarine market constitutes an important source of income for over 2,300,000 farmers in every section of the country.
Eighty percent of the constituents of margarine are vegetable fat; 15 percent is skim milk-pasteurized and cultured; the other 5 percent is made up of salt and various other flavoring ingredients.
For the fiscal year 1946–47, according to the Bureau of Internal Revenue, 47.4 percent of the vegetable fat used in margarine was cottonseed oil, 41.5 percent was soybean oil, and 3.1 percent was peanut oil. Corn oil and other vegetable oils account for the remainder.
The total farm value of the cottonseed produced in 1946 was $246,473,000. This was shared, in part, by 1,600,000 cotton growers who received income from cottonseed oil. The most important market for cottonseed oil in 1946 was shortening. In 1947, it was margarine. During the first 9 months of 1947, margarine used 32.5 percent of the total cottonseed oil refined. In 1946, 222,814,000 pounds of cottonseed oil was used in margarine. During the first 9 months of 1947, 194,484,000 pounds were used in margarine.
It is absurd for certain spokesmen for the dairy interests to continue to repeat that margarine is a “minor” market for the cottonseed farmer. Even if it were true, it would not excuse discriminatory laws against margarine, but the record reveals that it is not true.
The pleas of the cotton South for the removal of these burdens on the livelihood of its farmers have been heard many times in this Congress. They have gone unheeded, largely, I think, because the cotton farmers were neither so wellorganized as the “butter farmers,” nor so influential politically-due largely to the political situation in the South.
But the contest, this time, is not one between the cotton South and the butter North. Aside from the increasingly powerful protests of housewives and other consumers from every section of the country, there is another group of American farmers who have a vital interest in the repeal of these one-sided laws. The soybean farmers, too, are deprived of a fair return for their labor by legislation which prevents margarine from competing, like other domestic products, in a free American market.
There are three great soybean-producing areas in this country: The northcentral or Corn Belt region-Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, and Missouri; the Mississippi Delta-Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana; the Middle Atlantic coast–North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. These are the principal but by no means the only areas in the United States in which soybeans are produced. Thirty States produced soybeans in some quantity in 1946 and so amazing has been the expansion of this crop and the improvement in the varieties used-varieties that are adaptable to a wide range of soil and climatic conditions—that we may expect an even wider geographical distribution of soybean production in the future.
In 1924 total production of soybeans for sale as beans was 4,947,000 bushels; in 1933, 13,509,000 bushels ; in 1939, 90,141,000 bushels; in 1946, 196,725,000 bushels, or 41 times as much as in 1924.
The value of soybeans, sold as beans, has increased from $12,698,000 in 1933 to $73,052,000 in 1939 to $517,387,000 in 1946.
Perhaps the most important factor in expanding soybean production was the opening up, in the early 1930's, of prcfitable markets for, soybean oil in the shortening and margarine industries. This was a triumph of long years of research
leading to improved processing and refining methods which permitted a greater utilization of the edible properties of the bean.
Significantly, the greatest expansion of the soybean industry has occurred in the north-central region-Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, and Missouri, along with Minnesota-in the heart of the dairy-farming country. Not only does this region produce more soybeans than any other, but it harvests more of that production for sale as beans.
Just how important the soybean industry has become as compared, for example, with the butter industry, to the farmers of the Midwest, is illustrated in the following table, compiled from Department of Agriculture statistics :
Repeal of the Antimargarine Laws Would Benefit Our Country I should prefer, however, to base my argument for freeing an important market for soybean farmers from restrictive laws on another plane than competition. I am not willing, if it can be avoided, to pit one group of American farmers against another. I am for the dairy farmer, the cotton farmer, and the soybean farmer. We should never have discriminated by law against one group of American farms for the benefit of another.
No; there are other, more compelling reasons, it seems to me, for freeing this highly important market-margarine-from restrictive legislation.
These reasons are concerned with the welfare of the country as a whole--with a healthy economy and a healthy people.
In recent years, despite some improvement in production, we have been plagued with scarcity—scarcity of food, particularly of meats, grains, milk, and fats. This scarcity, which is by no means due entirely to overseas commitments resulting from the war, has been reflected in higher prices, which in turn have led to demands for higher wages.
But there is one domestic crop in which no wartime shortage developed-babies. Approximately 10,000,000 wartime babies threw the estimates of population out of line. These new Americans must be clothed and housed and fed.
It is scarcity economics to discriminate against any good food product, a product which is needed to meet the nutritive standards demanded by our expanding population.
There is, as we all know, a desperate need abroad for grain for human consumption. At the same time there is, according to the Department of Agriculture, a serious protein deficiency in livestock feeding today.
There is abundant evidence to show that meal from soybeans and cottonseed, if made available in sufficient quantities through the expansion of the vegetableoil markets, would not only offer an efficient means of overcoming this deficiency in the livestock ration but would, also, help free grain for human consumption.
Mr. Ersel Walley, president of the American Soybean Association, points out that soybean-oil meal, containing over 40 percent digestible protein, today leaves the processing plant at approximately the same price per pound as is paid for wheat or corn by livestock feeders. Yet a pound of soybean-oil meal will replace from 3 to 4 pounds of corn in the livestock ration, discourage the feeding of wheat, and will, therefore, help alleviate both the protein deficiency and the grain shortage.
Cottonseed-oil meal would prove, for all practical purposes, equally efficacious. It compares in price and nutritive qualities with soybean meal.
It is not surprising then, as an Agricultural Department publication, The Deficit in Protein for Livestock (1946), points out, that, “How much farmers will buy (of high-protein concentrates) is therefore literally only a question of how much will be available, as it is probable that whatever is produced will be bought and fed.”
One argument which has been heard often from the proponents of these restrictive laws is that soybeans are destructive of the soil and therefore economically wasteful. Little or no support for this argument has even been offered but, like the jingling radio commercial, it seems to depend on repetition alone for its appeal.
Recently the Christian Science Monitor investigated the truth of this contention. I quote from the issue of January 14, 1948:
"Spokesmen for the butter industry have made repeated claims that a substantial increase in the soybean crop, from which soybean oil, a prime ingredient of margarine, is made, would be detrimental to soil conservation and adversely affect the general agricultural economy of the Nation. It is argued that 'soybeans and other fat-producing seed crops are soil-depleting crops.'
“These claims are not substantiated by technicians in the Soil Conservation Service of the Department of Agriculture. They state: 'On the basis of our experience, if soybeans are grown, even as a clean-tilled crop, with proper conservation methods and practices to protect the land, they are no worse on the land than any other clean-tilled crop such as corn and cotton
“The soybean plant, which is a legume, benefits the land by adding nitrogen to the soil through its roots.
“ 'Soil conservation,' Department of Agriculture specialists say, 'does not mean only the conservation of topsoil, but putting all soil to the use for which it is best adapted.'
Federal technicians charge that dairy farmers are as guilty of improper utilization of their land as crop farmers. Pasture lands can be greatly injured by grazing at wrong seasons or by grazing too much stock per unit of land.”
I want to emphasize the statement of Department of Agriculture specialists in regard to soil conservation. They say, what many of us may not have considered, that soil conservation involves more than the saving of topsoil. In this sense, I think we can agree, it involves the most efficient use of a given acre of land and a given amount of farm labor; it involves putting all soil to the use for which it is best adapted.
In 1943, the Iowa State College-from the heart of the largest butter-producing State in the Nation-published the fact that 1 acre of soybeans will produce as many pounds of vegetable fat as 2 acres devoted to dairying will produce of butterfat. Their report stated also that 1 man-hour of labor will prduce 13.3 pounds of soybean oil compared with only 1.5 pounds of butterfat.
The Iowa State survey concluded by recommending that “restrictions on the sale of margarine-State excise taxes, license fees, etc.-should be removed so that its consumption may be encouraged.”
C. F. Christian, farm marketing specialist at Ohio State University, also studied this problem recently.
“The dairyman," Professor Christian revealed, “raises an acre of grain, usually corn, and has another 2 acres in hay or pasture, to produce 225 pounds of butter. The acre of corn will take at least 30 hours' work and hay and pasture require more work, and care of the cows will involve another 150 hours in producing 225 pounds of butter.
"An acre of soybeans can be grown with 14 hours of man-labor and will make about 225 pounds of margarine.
"A pound of butter represents 10 times the amount of farm labor and three times the amount of farm land that is represented by a pound of margarine.”
In conclusion, I should like to emphasize this point: I do not believe there is a single Member of this Congress who wants to destroy the butter industry. I do not believe any of the Members who have introduced bills for the repeal of the antimargarine laws want to hurt the dairy industry. It is my sincere belief that the repeal of these laws would be to the advantage of all farmers, including dairy farmers, and of the American people generally.
Much of the argument voiced in defense of the antimargarine laws has been based on an unproved assumption—that without this discriminatory legislation the dairy industry would be disrupted. There has been no proof submitted in this Congress or elsewhere, so far as I am aware, to support this assumption. All the evidence I have seen—and I have studied this question carefully—abundantly proves the contrary.
On the other hand, it is clear that restrictions which hamper and curtail the production and distribution of margarine are restrictions upon those who produce the ingredients of margarina--more than 2,300,000 American farmers. And, as I l'ave incicatec, they & re also restrictions upon the welfare of the greatest livestock industries, of needy people at home and abroad, and upon the best interests of the whole American people.
I hope that ail Members, regardless of party affiliation, will study the facts in this issue carefully and without prejudice. I am confident, if this is done, that there can be but one outcome: the antimargarine laws will be, at long last, removed from the statute books.