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PARAGRAPH 277-CITRUS FRUITS.
The duties levied by the United States under the Payne-Aldrich tariff act of 1909 amount almost to a prohibition of the export of these products from the Bahama Islands to the United States. Prices of these articles, we feel sure, will be somewhat lowered to consumers in the United States should the American Government abolish the present excessive duties on these products or if they should be reduced to some extent, and thereby the increased cost of living, which at present is a matter of concern with your people, would be reduced to articles entering into the daily lives of your people.
In view of the reasons heretofore mentioned, the colony most earnestly prays that your honorable committee will give due and careful consideration to the above-named items in your work of tariff revision and so reduce or abolish or reduce the present high rates of duty on the articles enumerated, that the trade relations with the United States, established firmly for nearly a century, may rapidly increase in volume to the mutual benefit of the people of each,
The investment of American capital in the Bahama Islands, the proximity of the islands to the United States, and the close business associations which have existed for such a length of time between the two countries are advanced as other reasons for asking your careful consideration.
I would just like to say, Mr. Chairman, that between 13 and 15 years ago, sir, the Bahama Islands were practically the home of the citrus-fruit industries; that is, I refer to oranges and grape fruits, not lemons; also, sir, of pineapples. We used to charter American schooners from 12 ti 15 in a season to come over to the Southern States and Baltimore and bring over our fruit. We used to charter between 20 and 25 schooners for three months in the year, bringing pineapples over from the Bahamas to Baltimore and New York. To-day all of those industries are practically nil. We can export grapefruit or oranges, while we raise the finest in the world, The duty absolutely kills us. We have to get crates from this country, sir; we have to pay the freight rates of the steamers that ply between here and there, sir, on all our foodstuffs. Probably it might interest you, just to give you an idea-I have been listening to a good many of the arguments from an export point of view of the United States, and I think the foreign countries also contribute a good deal to the upkeep of the farmers. A good deal has been said about the agricultural parts of this country raising grapefruits and oranges, sir, but those colonies order all their goods, especially their foodstuffs, from the United States; although we are small we are numerous, and it certainly must amount to a good deal of revenue and help the farmers in those northern districts.
This is the bulk of the stuff that we order principally from the United States: Automobiles, bicycles, butter, cattle, cement, corn, corn meal, coal, electrical appliances, fertilizers, flour, gasoline, hay, oats and bran, ice, lard, lumber, machinery, meats fresh and salt, oil, kerosene, potatoes, railroad stock, rope and canvas, soap, sugar, tea, earthenware, glassware, hardware, tinware, preserved meats and fish, textile fabrics.
PARAGRAPH 277-CITRUS FRUITS.
Sir, it is just a question of trade and commerce. We have been dealing with you, sir; in fact, we do not know how to deal with any other colony. It has been handed down to us long before your Civil War, and we absolutely deal with you, irrespective of what duties you put on in the United States. We have always done that; you have gradually shut off our industries. We buy your goods. We have to pay in kind, sir. If you drive us from your doors, why, probably in years to come we might be able to go across to the Canadian border, but that does not suit the Bahamas. And it does not suit Bermuda. It might suit some of the other West Indian islands, but we lie right in between this great continent, and I hope that we do not in vain expect to be heard. We are simply customers of the United States, and we have to pay in kind. The United States needs what we produce, and we have got to buy from the United States.
PROTESTS AGAINST REDUCTION OF DUTY ON CITRUS FRUITS.
RICHMOND, VA., January 16, 1913. Hon. John LAMB,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. DEAR SIR: I notice from the papers there will be a public hearing by the Ways and Means Committee of the lower House on January 20 for the purpose of considering the removal or material reduction of the tariff duties on citrus fruit.
I desire to call your special attention to the citrus-fruit industry in this country, and to say that from practical experience as a grower and shipper of citrus fruit from Florida any material reduction in the tariff on citrus fruits means the destruction of the industry in this country.
I have owned two groves in Florida during the past four years in one of the best citrus-fruit sections in the State. These groves are among the very best in the State, have been carefully cultivated and cared for, and yet they have not been profitable.
Although Florida has been growing citrus fruit for many years, it must be remembered that the destructive freeze of 1895 and 1896 practically wiped out the industry, and until the past three or four years there has been no systematic plan of marketing the fruit, which has militated very much against the business.
During the past few years millions of dollars have been invested in the citrus-fruit business in Florida and the growing and marketing of the fruit has made great advancement. The growers now believe they are on the road to success, but they can not stand a reduction of prices at present, and should have protection until better systems of cultivation, better varieties, and better plans for the marketing and distribution of the fruit has been thoroughly established.
It must be remembered, that Florida and southern California are the only sections in our country in which citrus fruit can be grown. The land in Florida is very poor, requiring much fertilization, and years of toil and application are required before a grove will produce profitable crops of oranges or grapefruit.
Millions of dollars have been invested in the industry in Florida during the past decade, and with proper encouragement Florida and California can supply our entire country. With oranges selling for 75 cents to $1 per box, and grapefruit at $2 to $2.25 per box, it certainly can not be shown that the growers are making but little, if any money
Citrus-fruit growing is the leading industry of Florida, and in many sections practically the only industry, and in my opinion it would be very unfortunate not only for the growers but for the consumers as well to have the business in this country destroyed or materially injured by foreign competition at present.
Trusting you will agree with me and use your best efforts to prevent any reduction cithe tariff on citrus fruit imported into this country, and with high personal regards, I remain, Very truly, yours,
W. E. HARRIS. Respectfully referred to Committee on Ways and Means.
PARAGRAPH 277-CITRUS FRUITS.
Miami, Fla, January 16, 1913. Hon. OSCAR UNDERWOOD, Member of Congress, Chairman Ways and Means Committee,
Washington D. C. The citrus growers of Dade County wish to enter an emphatic protest against lower tariff on citrus fruits. Millions have been invested in the citrus industry by thousands of people who will lose their all if compelled to meet foreign competition. Present tariff hardly covers difference in wages, cost, packing, and delivery to market.
DADE COUNTY CITRUS EXCHANGE.
LAREDO, Tex., January 20, 1913. Hon. Oscar W. UNDERWOOD, M. C.,
Washington, D. C. Please oppose any arbitrary and unfair exclusion of Mexican fruits and vegetables to-day by the Department of Agriculture. A law might be passed that would exclude our fruits from all citrus-growing States of the Union or subject them to rigid inspection. Why should four citrus-growing States have higher protection when they now make $500 the acre yearly and farm lands pay on an average of less than $5? This year the consumers of the United States paid $300 import duties on an acre of my fruit. Some 300,000 citrus-fruit growers want to hold up 25,000,000, who profit by apple growing and 100,000,000 who profit by farm and factory labor and the trades and professions. We have not 10 per cent of the pests that California and Florida have. I refer you to William G. Brown, my first cousin. or the American consul at Tampico. I have orange groves and other interests at McDonald Station, on the Seaboard Railway, Florida, but live here temporarily.
Geo. N. McDonALD.
PETITION OF SUNDRY CITIZENS OF FLORIDA, PROTESTING AGAINST ANY REDUCTION IN THE DUTY ON CITRUS FRUITS.
OCALA, FLA., January 15, 1913. Hon. S. M. SPARKMAN, Member of Congress,
Washington, D. C. DEAR Sır: It is represented that on the 20th of this month there will be held in Washington a hearing before the Ways and Means Committee of the House on the agricultural schedule. This, we understand, includes citrus fruits.
This fruit industry is the entire or main support, directly and indirectly, of the undersigned citizens and property holders. Their capital is invested in it; in several instances, all they have, and they depend upon it. At the present time there is being marketed from this State not less than 7,000,000 boxes of citrus fruit. This involves to the grower, before any possible return can be made to him, more than as many dollars in cash outlay, exclusive of land, interest on investment, or transportation charges. The grower is under heavy expense for six or more years before he has any product for sale.
Nearly or more than half of this amount, viz, $4,000,000 is for labor, and this labor charge is fixed regardless of what the consumer pays for his fruit. The labor of this industry is all employed at good wages, much of it at $2 and $2.50 a day, and more; and in addition a large number from other States are given work during the picking, packing, and shipping months.
It is a matter of positive fact that the present duty on foreign citrus fruits is no more than the difference in the actual cost of production and marketing, and that any reduction means positive loss to us and the certain crippling of the industry which is now developing over large areas.
We therefore most respectfully but earnestly protest against making the struggle of the citrus fruit growers any harder, when our loss is to be made the gain of interests that are foreign and alien.
We ask and urge you as our representative to do al in your power to prevent any decrease in the present duty on citrus fruits. Respectfully,
C. CAMP (And 1,284 others).
PARAGRAPH 277-CITRUS FRUITS.
URGES REDUCTION OF TARIFF ON CITRUS.
PHILADELPHIA, January 8, 1912. Hon. OSCAR UNDERWOOD,
Chairman Ways and Means Committee, Washington, D. C. Sir: The freeze in California calls attention to the volume of the citrus business of California and the tribute the rest of the country pays in the way of duties to this relatively small industry.
Duty on lemons, 14 cents per pound; oranges, 1 cent per pound.
A carload of citrus fruit weighs 33,000 pounds at, say, 1 cent per pound duty, $330 per car. Estimated that, say, 40,000 cars are moved from California every year, means over $13,000,000 of "protection" the American consumer pays to the "glorious climate of California."
Recent statements of the acreage under citrus cultivation in California shows that it amounts to 150,000 acres. So that the American public are paying to each acre of land under cultivation for the growth of either oranges or lemons about $90 per acre annually:
Isn't that a heavy tax to pay? Isn't it protection run mad?
The acreage that may be planted to citrus fruits is limited, while our population is steadily increasing and the demand constantly increases. Why is there any necessity for artificially advancing prices of fruits by the aid of an extortionate tariff?
These are the facts brought out by the recent freeze in California. Isn't it worthy of thought from Democrats? Very truly,
TESTIMONY OF L. B. SKINNER, REPRESENTING GROWERS OF CITRUS FRUITS, PINEAPPLES, AND VEGETABLES OF FLORIDA.
The witness was duly sworn by the chairman.
Mr. SKINNER. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I represent the independent growers of Florida, the Florida Horticultural Society, and my neighbors, who are growers, like myself, on what is called the Pinellas Peninsula. We are large producers of grapefruit and oranges. These are our only citrus product and practically our only farm product. We grow grapefruit that are luxuries without any question
Mr. KITCHIN (interposing). Do you grow any of these grapefruit that are a medicinal necessity ?
Mr. SKINNER. Yes, sir; this year we have grown a great many of them. Our market price this year has been down so low.
Mr. James. Grapefruit is not fit to eat unless it has a lot of sugar on it, is it?
Mr. SKINNER. If you visited Florida, you would get to the point where you would think sugar was an injury to grapefruit. I venture to say that this time of year sugar is an injury to grapefruit.
Mr. James Is grapefruit sweet?
Mr. SKINNER. Some grapefruit are a little bit sweet, but it is not sour. It is in a class by itself.
Mr. JAMES. I never saw one in my life that you did not have to smother with sugar.
Mr. SKINNER. We will have to bring you one. I will send you one to-morrow, and will try to cultivate your taste, because we are looking out for new customers all the time and for a wider market for our product.
Mr. KITCHIN. How many grapefruit a year do you export from Florida
PARAGRAPH 277-CITRUS FRUITS.
Mr. SKINNER. The exports, I think, are almost entirely to Canada. I have heard of one or two growers who have ventured to export, I think this year, one or two shipments to France and one shipment to England, but they were just some fellow's notions.
Mr. KITCHIN. T'hose were the luxurious kind that Brother Harrison eats at the St. Regis Hotel in New York ?
Mr. SKINNER. Yes, sir. Mr. HARRISON. But I did not eat but one. Mr. KITCHIN. But our kind you leave to our folks here at home? Mr. SKINNER. We will give you your kind. Mr. James. Is grapefruit really good as a medicine? Mr. SKINNER. It is the finest fruit on earth, and fruit is all good. Mr. KITCHIN. It is a substitute for quinine Mr. SKINNER. That is what they say. Mr. JAMES. It has been said that grapefruit really have medicinal virtue, and I would like to know what that is?
Mr. SKINNER. They claim so many virtues for grapefruit that it would be very hard for me to give them to you. However, I am satisfied to claim that grapefruit is a luxury, and a fruit which, if you start eating it, you will become a permanent customer for. In Florida we grow the finest grapefruit on earth.
Mr. James. But not at 85 cents apiece for them?
Mr. SKINNER. We would like to correct that. That is the great difficulty under which we growers labor—the difference in price between what the grower gets and the price the consumer pays. I am digressing a little from my intended statement, but inasmuch as you have interposed these questions I will state that the grower of grapefruit gets $1.75 per box, and sometimes a good deal less, while the consumer pays as high as 85 cents each for grapefruit served on the table.
Mr. JAMES. $1.75 per box?
Mr. HARRISON. But no more than one for me.
Mr. SKINNER. Yes, sir. We have here in this brief the average selling price received by the grower and the price at which they are sold at retail.
Mr. JAMES. What is that?
Mr. SKINNER. The average received for grapefruit by the growers for the seasons of 1909-10, 1910-11, and 1911-12 was, for oranges $1.45, f. o. b. packing houses, and grapefruit $2.63
Mr. JAMES. (interposing) That is per box?
Mr. SKINNER. Yes, sir; per box. And that price for grapefruit last year of $2.63 per box was with a short crop, which made the average run higher than usual. This year that would be less and we would be satisfied, judging by our experience, even with $2 per box