« AnteriorContinuar »
PROBABLE EFFECT OF LOWERING PRESENT DUTIES. The effect on importations of lowering the present duty on canned pineapples can best be judged by what actually happened under the Dingley law.
At that time by a ruling construing the paragraph affecting pineapples packed with sugar added as cited above which practically nullified the intent of the law and lowered the duty from 35 per cent, with 1 cent per pound added, to 25 per cent flat with the result as heretofore stated, that for example, in 1908, more than half of the Hawaiian production remained unmarketed.
COMPARISON OF WAGES AND CONDITIONS, We can not compete for cheapness in production with Singapore, where the growers and canners are all Chinese with common labor at 8 to 10 cents a day and foremen and skilled labor 25 cents a day. While we pay in the Hawaiian Islands for labor in our fields and canneries from $1.10 to $1.35 for common male laborers and $2 to $3 a day for foremen and $5 to $8 a day for skilled labor and superintendents.
The wages of our labor have increased 35 per cent in the last 10 years, and will continue to increase. In Singapore the wages are stationary. We make comparison of wage conditions with Singapore, because under the operation of the Dingley law, when the importations were heavy, about half the total amount imported came from Singapore.
Practically all the materials we use in the canning industry are protected by tariff duties, and for this reason in many instances cost us more than the same materials cost the producers of canned pineapples in foreign producing countries. Chief of these items is tinplate, sugar, and box shooks, nails, cutlery machinery, farm implements, rubber gloves, of which we use $7,000 to $8,000 per annum, and various other materials.
It would be manifestly unfair and unjust to reduce duties on our product and leave duties on the materials we are compelled to use.
While our industry is young and unseasoned, still we do not ask any special privileges. We desire only to be on as near an equality with the foreign producer with his free materials and cheap labor.
If the duty on tin and sugar is reduced or removed, then the 35 per cent on pineapples may be correspondingly reduced without serious injury to our industry, but a duty of 1 cent a pound should be maintained, whether packed with sugar or in juice or water, to counterbalance the difference in labor cost.
TESTIMONY OF W. R. HARDEE, DELEGATE, INDIAN RIVER
PINEAPPLE LEAGUE, FORT PIERCE, FLA. The witness was duly sworn by the chairman.
Mr. HARDEE. Gentlemen of the committee, on the lower part of the east coast of Florida there are 50,000 acres of land adapted to the successful growing of pineapples. The greatest acreage under cultivation at any time was approximately 7,000 acres. That was in 1909, when this territory produced 1,110,547 standard crates. For this same year (1909) there was imported into the United States
from Cuba 1,263,466 crates. This combined production of the two countries of 2,364,013 crates furnished the United States markets such an excess of pineapples over a normal demand that the Florida growers were compelled to dispose of their crops below cost of production. The result of this disastrous season is expressed in the report of the Interstate Commission under Opinion No. 1153 in 1910, when the growers were before them seeking relief from discriminating transportation charges. On page 560 of this opinion the Interstate Commerce Commission says:
In 1909 no new fields were planted in Florida, and old fields were not generally renewed.
Also on same page they state:
The testimony indicates that the cost of producing Florida pineapples is from 95 cents to $1.05 per crate f. o. b., and this not including interest on the investment, and in 1909 the average price received f. o. b. from all sales in southern Florida was said to be 76 cents per crate, and actual sales of the best fields showed a return of 95 cents, which was substantially less than the actual cost of production,
On page 561 of same report they say further: The difficulty with the pineapple industry for the year 1909 was overproduction both in Cuba and in Florida.
The point I wish to make is that Florida has 50,000 acres of land upon which pineapples can be grown. In 1909 there were approximately 7,000 acres under cultivation. Cuba imported into this country something over 1,000,000 crates, and by combining the two outputs, the Florida grower was compelled to sell his pineapples for 76 cents per crate. Florida has the land upon which to produce pineapples, and she can produce them, but she can not produce them at the same rate that Cuba produces them, on account of lower transportation charges, lower cost of labor, and the absence of what is an absolute necessity in Florida, heavy fertilization.
The duty at that time (1909) was, as it is now, 16 cents per crate, and on page 560 of the same report of the Interstate Commerce Commission, we find the following statement by them:
The cost of production in Cuba is less than in Florida. Land is less valuable, labor cheaper, and no fertilizer is required * * Congress has determined the amount of protection which shall be accorded the American industry.
These opinions of the Interstate Commerce Commission were based on exhaustive information furnished them in February, 1910, and under the present 16 cents per crate tariff; yet the Florida growers have not been able to reestablish themselves or to compete successfully with the cheaper production and advantageous freight rates which Cuba enjoys. That this is true is proven by the comparative amounts of production of the two countries from the year 1905 to 1912, inclusive, which are as follows:
05. 26 07 08
826, 985 949, 412 661, 634
950, 966 1,263, 466 1, 118,524 1,081, 979 1, 222,000
370, 688 574, 688 577, 806
640, 829 1, 110,547
450,000 552,000 668,000
10 11 12
PARAGRAPH 279—PINEAPPLES. From these figures it is seen that while Cuba has practically produced for the years 1910, 1911, and 1912 the same yield that it did in 1909, Florida's production has for the same years (1910, 1911, and 1912) been cut practically to one-half; a condition which speaks plainer than argument to the Ways and Means Committee to the effect that although we have at present duty of 16 cents per crate, Cuba is able to continue to grow and ship into our American markets full crops; while our Florida growers are handicapped by every element incident to production and transportation, is compelled to let his lands lie uncultivated and consequently unproductive, for the reason that the soils used in Florida for growing pineapples are absolutely unsuited to the production of other crops; while it is a fact that the land in Cuba on which pineapples are grown will yield
1 profitable returns from tobacco, sugar cane, and other agricultural produce, as has been demonstrated.
As to cost of production, as between Cuba and Florida, the following ! is based on reliable information covering several years:
The cost to establish an acre of Florida pineapples is: Land..
$100 Clearing land.
75 Plants, at $5 per thousand.
70 Setting plants...... Fertilizer, 2 years to first crop. Labor.... Equipment, etc. Total.......
500 No allowance for interest on investment.
After a field is established, there is an annual charge as follows: For fertilizer......
$70 For labor and depreciation.
145 Average annual yield, 140 crates.
Cost of production, per crate, from 70 to 80 cents. Cost of crate, nails, etc...
SO. 15 Labor..
30 120 60 45
35 Average cost, transportation..
75 Average cost, production.
1.80 Average cost of Florida to produce, pick, pack, and deliver to the eastern markets, per crate, is $1.80.
Cost of Cuban production: Average cost to produce per crate
$0. 20 Average cost to gather and pack..
We find here an average expense against the Florida grower of $1.80 to grow and put his home product in the American markets, while Cuba, with the present duty added, grows and gets into the same markets at an average cost of $1.45, or at an average of 35 cents less per crate than the Florida grower. In another opinion of the Interstate Commerce Commission, Florida Fruit and Vegetable Protective Association v. Atlantic Coast Line Railway Co. et al, the honorable Commissioner Prouty says on page 502:
Pineapples are imported in large quantities into the United States from Cuba. They come by water to various Atlantic ports and are transported from there to interior distribution, and they are also brought into the Gulf ports, reaching the Middle West, and as far east as Buffalo by this route. The cost of water transportation is low, and the rates made to interior points, especially from the Gulf, are also low. It is said that the low cost of labor in Cuba, the natural fertility of the soil, enables the Cuban pineapple to drive its American competitor from our markets.
And that it is for-
Continuing further in this connection the commission says on page 562, opinion No. 1153:
This advantage in the cost of transportation to the great markets thus reached is an advantage in favor of the Cuban pine akin to cheaper cost of production, which might perhaps properly be offset by a protective duty.
The CHAIRMAN. Your time is exhausted, Mr. Hardee.
Mr. CLARK. I am down for 10 minutes, and if Mr. Hardee desires it I am willing to transfer my time to him.
The CHAIRMAN. All right; the Chair will allow Mr. Hardee to proceed.
Mr. HARDEE. Prior to 1905 the marketing of the Cuban crop of pineapples was begun and finished much earlier than since that time. The Florida crop, on account of being materially later in maturing, did not then come into such acute competition with the Cuban output; but as Cuba has developed the industry, the growers have adopted methods of cultivation which prolongs the growing and ripening of the fruit until shipments are now dumped into the American markets when the Florida crop is moving in large quantities. The result of the 1909 season demonstrated this fact, and the Florida growers are, as is shown by the comparative output above quoted for the years 1910, 1911, and 1912, simply being held up by foreign importations, while the Florida grower from necessity allows his land, the original cost of which was from $75 to $150 per acre uncleared, to lie idle.
In addition to these discriminations, the Cuban grower has a carload minimum of 250 crates into the markets, while the Florida grower is forced to load 300 crates to secure the carload rate. This prevents the Florida grower from reaching some of the markets which could use a car of 250 crates, but can not use 300.
The Florida East Coast Railway Co., becoming alarmed at the probable extinction of the pineapple industry, issued a circular letter, from which we quote as follows:
The real trouble is, and has been, that the duty imposed on Cuban pineapples is entirely inadequate to protect the Florida grower against the cheap labor which obtains in Cuba. Even at the same rate (freight), the Florida grower is at a decided
disadvantage, since he has to pay much higher for labor and has to incur heavier expenses in the purchase of fertilizers, while Cuban labor is less than one-half what it is in Florida, and commercial fertilizers are very little used on the Cuban lands growing pineapples. Whenever there is a revision of the tariff, we shall cordially cooperate with the Florida growers in securing such an increase of duty as will fully and effectually protect our growers.
The Florida East Coast Railway Co. handles the output from our section. They run through the entire pineapple section and, becoming alarmed at conditions, issued a circular signed by the officials of their road, and they promised their cooperation at the time we came up here, but we did not call upon them to assist us, because this was gotten up hurriedly; but they are in full sympathy with us.
It will be seen by this extract that the Florida East Coast Railway Co., which has the initial haul of the entire output of Florida, had become alarmed at conditions, and like the growers, only saw its redemption and salvation through a tariff which would at least equalize the cost of production. The heavy imports into the markets of the United States of Cuban pineapples has compelled the American producer to export his products, while the Cuban pineapples occupy the markets of this country, and with the advantage of lesser freight rates accorded to long hauls by the transportation companies, Cuba has a distinct advantage over Florida and is following the Florida pineapples into the east Canadian markets:
It is not the desire of Florida growers to secure the American markets so as to inflate or raise the price of pineapples to a figure that would prohibit their ready sale or liberal consumption. Such a policy would be more suicidal than the present handicap, under which we are suffering, but they do feel that as they have all the land that is necessary to raise all the pineapples that the United States can consume, that there can be no sound business reason why they should not have that protection which will enable them to do so, providing that the consuming public is not made to suffer in the way of paying a price for them out of proportion to their value as compared with other fruits.
It must also be borne in mind that Porto Rico is becoming a factor in producing pineapples, having shipped for the year 1912, into New York, 353,287 crates.
The pineapple industry is engaged in by thousands of people who are dependent upon it for their sustenance. Individuals have invested their money in lands and equipment, which must lie idle if they can not make at least a living from the expenditures attendant upon production.
The Florida pineapple industry should rapidly increase, and will do so if given sufficient protection, and can supply at a reasonable price sullicient pineapples for all demands in American markets during the regular season, and with the Hawaiian Islands and Porto Rico, furnish a supply for all year.
It must be remembered that the pineapple is a fruit that requires almost instant handling from the field to the consumer, as it is extremely perishable, a fact which is one of the main factors in depressing and absolutely destroying the markets, when trainloads of Cuban fruit are piled up on our American markets, at a time when