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Mr. ALBERT. We thank you, Mr. Burmeister.
Mr. BURMEISTER. I wanted to bring out one more idea, since we had to prepare the statement in quite a bit of a hurry and did not get a chance to do much research on it, to bring this closer to the seed wheat import situation. I have here the Department's recent release on crop acreages planted to all spring wheat in the United States, most of which is in the North Central States, and it shows from 1951, with an acreage planted of 22,379,000 acres, that planting in 1957 had dropped to 12,384,000 acres, or approximately 10 million acres, and that would mean a reduction in the requirement of spring seed for spring wheat of about 10 million bushels in this country during that period.
Mr. ALBERT. In that connection, you stated over on page 2: With approximately 14 million acres being taken out of production during the last year under the soil-bank program, domestic requirements for seed wheat would be reduced by about 14 million bushels. That refers to all wheat?
Mr. BURMEISTER. That is all wheat.
Mr. ALBERT. And, of course, the impact would be much bigger on spring wheat ! Mr. BURMEISTER. That is correct.
Mr. ALBERT. And with reference to spring wheat, what did you say the figure was!
Mr. BURMEISTER. Since 1951 there has been a drop in the planted acreage of 10 million. So that would mean a drop in the requirements since 1951 for spring wheat seed of about 10 million bushels.
Mr. ALBERT. 10 million bushels. And what is the total requirement for spring wheat seed?
Mr. BURMEISTER. On the basis of about a bushel to the acre, it would be about 1242 million to 13 million bushels.
Mr. ALBERT. And of that, something like 3 million bushels are estimated to be brought in this year, leaving 9 million bushels available to American producers?
Mr. BURMEISTER. Yes.
Mr. ALBERT. Now you state in your very first paragraph that there is no shortage of good spring wheat seed in the United States.
Mr. BURMEISTER. That is the opinion of the people in the Department of Agriculture.
Mr. ALBERT. In other words, the 12 or 13 million bushels that are needed are amply available in this country?
Mr. BURMEISTER. Yes.
Mr. ALBERT. There is considerable extra cost to the farmer in the production of high-type seed wheat over the production of millable wheat; is that true!
Mr. BURMEISTER. That is my understanding; yes, sir. .
Mr. ALBERT. It must bring more on the market to justify growing this type of wheat; is that true?
Mr. BURMEISTER. Yes, sir. In that regard, we tabulated some recent prices, February prices of spring wheat, for seed running $2.50, $2.60 a bushel. We also
Mr. ALBERT. How does that compare with the present price of wheat?
Mr. BURMEISTER. Well, the support price, I think, is
Mr. ALBERT. Well now, this means that if there is more wheat produced than the seed-wheat market will absorb, the surplus has to go to the mills?
Mr. BURMEISTER. That is right, or into commodities, commodity support-price program.
Mr. ALBERT. As millable wheat at a lower price?
Mr. ALBERT. Now there is a possibility, after the soil bank has run its course, that we will need more seed wheat in the United States; is that right?
Mr. BURMEISTER. Yes, sir; if the acreage is expanded we will need more seed wheat.
Mr. ALBERT. Well, the acreage is almost certain to be expanded if we do not have a soil bank; isn't it?
Mr. BURMEISTER. That is correct.
Mr. BURMEISTER. Well, with the soil bank, you see, you would go below the minimum allotments.
Mr. ALBERT. That is what I say; we are already at the minimum, and you can assume it will come back to 55 million
total planted. Mr. BURMEISTER. That is correct. Mr. ALBERT. Now, to what do you attribute the fact that seed wheat unfit for human consumption has taken such an increase, as far as imports from Canada are concerned, in the last year? Why is it?
Mr. BURMEISTER. Well, it started, first, with this special Selkirk wheat. We had a severe rust damage on some of the United States varieties that they were using, and Canada, came out with the new variety called Selkirk, which was presumably rust resistant. I believe that was back in 1954 or 1955. We urged the Canadians at that time to give us opportunity to buy some of that wheat, get it started down here. And, to assure that it was rust free, they treated it, and I think that was the time when the trade learned they could bring in treated seed wheat, and at a lower duty.
Mr. ALBERT. In other words, they learned they had been missing a bet just by this emergency situation which developed ?
Mr. BURMEISTER. That is right.
Mr. ALBERT. And you say the differential there is about 11 cents per bushel ?
Mr. BURMEISTER. On the duty.
Mr. BURMEISTER. Then, in addition, the Canadian seed wheat, as a rule, sells somewhat less than United States seed wheat.
Mr. ALBERT. You have the 11-cent-duty advantage, and you get the price advantage ?
Mr. BURMEISTER. That is right.
Mr. ALBERT. And then this wheat is already treated, and you save the expense of treating it; isn't that right?
Mr. BURMEISTER. That is right.
Mr. ALBERT. Now, is it a matter of real importance to this country, and its general welfare, over and beyond the welfare of the producers of seed wheat, that we have a strong seed-wheat agriculture economy in this country as opposed to Canada ?
Mr. BURMEISTER. I would like to have Mr. Youngman answer that question.
Mr. ALBERT. Do you understand my point? We are close to Canada
Mr. BURMEISTER. I understand.
Mr. ALBERT. We can always buy wheat from Canada; we assume we can. Is this a matter of great importance nationally? Of course, it is important to the producers and important to all of us to that extent. Does it have an overall importance?
Mr. YOUNGMAN. Mr. Chairman, we have a little mixture of, let us say, influences to answer that question. Our crop-improvement associations have been active in this country for a good many years, and the Department has supported them, has worked with them. Our technicians have been very--as was mentioned a moment ago, though, it takes more to do this job, costs more, of producing certified seed. It takes a rather high standard of technical background experience. Consequently, our own development in that field has not been as great as we would like to see it. It fluctuated from year to year.
Physically, of course, we want the best quality of seed "for the farmer, and as much as he desires to use. Because of that interest, or situation, the Canadians, who are also members of that same international crop-improvement association, have seen fit to go ahead further in producing. They are producing United States variety, and our people are producing Canadian variety. It is a free interchange among the professional, technical people on both sides of the border. However, with the advent of rust, stem rust, which was catastrophic in that area in 1954 and 1955, attention was turned to Canadian varieties. On the other hand, I think we must all admit that the Department's programs for acreage control have put more premium on the use of improved cultural practices, fertilizer, and planting methods, seed varieties, than we have ever seen before. Consequently, the urge to use the best practices in order to maintain as much production as possible on the quota acreages has been more to engender modern techniques on the farm than all the teachings that the Department has ever been able to make. I hate to say that, but I think it is true. So, that is why I say it is a little bit difficult to specifically answer your question as to the importance nationally.
Mr. ALBERT. We can say this much; we do not have the same problem that we would have if we had to rely on Europe as a secondary source. As a national defense matter, we are close to Canada and it is easy to get to Canada. On the other hand, I would like to develop that along another angle. We have had experiences with rust and other diseases in the United States, and the experiences of the last few years indicate that it is good for the economy of this country that both Canadian and American producers be able to produce spring wheat seed. Is that true?
Mr. BURMEISTER. That is true. I think it is important to both countries. For one thing, practically all Canadian wheat is spring wheat, and it seems that spring wheat is more susceptible to stem rust, or
other disease hazards, than winter wheat-involves practically all of western Canada's production and much of the production in the northcentral States where spring wheat is grown. I would say that it is extremely important to both countries that developments go forward for improving, finding disease-resistant varieties, and developing them and
Mr. ALBERT. Well, it is important to both countries, perhaps, too, that both have the ability, have the farmers who have the ability in such numbers to grow good seed wheat in two separate areas where there would be less likelihood of a disease knocking them both out?
Mr. BURMEISTER. That is right.
Mr. ALBERT. So we have an interest in Canada's growing good seed wheat, and they have an interest in our growing good seed wheat, I would think.
Mr. BURMEISTER. I think that is right.
Mr. ALBERT. They may have less reason than we do because, as I understand it, their wheat, by reason of geographical location, is less susceptible to rust than the areas in which the seed is grown in this country; is that true?
Mr. BURMEISTER. That is true.
Mr. SMITH. I think there are several other factors in this that have not been mentioned which have a bearing on it. As I understand agriculture, for the last 100 years we have been trying to get a crop in northern regions, in the cold climate, and move it south-all over the western part of the United States, which is susceptible to sudden change of temperature. Now, down in Puerto Rico, you perhaps know, they have very highly skilled technicians down there who are raising wheat, haven't they? Mr. BURMEISTER. That I am not aware of. Mr. YOUNGMAN. I am not aware of it. Mr. BURMEISTER. It probably could be.
Mr. SMITH. They have experimental stations down in Puerto Rico, at the agricultural school and they tell me, the agriculture department down there, that wheat is absolutely free from any kind of contamination from the Southwest because all the rust and things we are talking about is windborne. Down in Puerto Rico—I saw the wheat growing down there—they grow two crops a year, which gives them the opportunity to do just twice what we can do up here. It is this weather change and this climate, both as to fruit and to everything else, which is constantly moving. That is the basis of why this is important to the general economy of the United States. If wheat establishes itself up in Canada, and can survive the climate up there, if you bring it down 500 miles further south it won't be subject to the winter damage and the weather damage and that is why it is important. I hope everyone realizes the importance of trying to do this experimental work. Because this matter of famine, even in Biblical times, was due to the same cause. The rust hits it, and out it goes.
Mr. ALBERT. That is true, though, in either country, that if pricewise it becomes so discouraging, no matter how much technical knowhow we have, you are going to eliminate those who have to put it in the ground in given years if the price is not right-isn't that true?
Mr. BURMEISTER. That is correct.
Mr. ALBERT. We must have a healthy economy or we won't have any reproduction of any kind.
Ănd you state in your prepared statement that the proposal to classify seed wheat as not unfit for human consumption, will not result in the decreased importation of seed wheat from Canada, except insofar as the additional duty may tend to have a restrictive effect and assuming the Secretary issues the necessary permits. Well, in other words, you feel, I take it, Canadian wheat will still be able to compete and bring in about as much as they are bringing in now, is that right?
Mr. BURMEISTER. I think so, because of the differential in price. Our main interest in this is to get the laws and regulations that apply to these things straightened out. We feel it is not
Mr. ALBERT. I think that is what we need to do, too.
ying to hold back Canadian wheat. If the United States farmers want a special variety of Canadian wheat, I think that they should have the opportunity to get it, if they pay for it
Mr. ALBERT. Does this treated Canadian seed wheat sell at a premium over our own seed wheat now?
Mr. BURMEISTER. No, sir; I think it sells below ours. Mr. ALBERT. Do you think it is the price that causes it to move or
Mr. BURMEISTER. Yes, sir; in most instances.
Mr. ALBERT. They would still have a price differential advantage, even though they move the duty differential; is that right?
Mr. BURMEISTER. I think that if you will glance at the table that I have attached here, it brings that out. You will notice for years there we did not bring much in, and most of it was brought in under permits issued by the Secretary of Agriculture, and that was certified or registered seed wheat untreated. As you look at the last 3 columns there—but in the last 3 years, beginning with 1954 and 1955, and that was the beginning of this emphasis on the Selkirk variety, a new variety--but in the last 2 full years it jumped to nearly 2 million bushels, and this year will probably run close to 3 milllion bushels.
Mr. ALBERT. Of course, the jump has not been very great at all in seed wheat permits, but in unfit for human consumption category? Mr. BURMEISTER. That is correct.
Mr. JOHNSON. You mentioned something about the President's proclamation that caused the leak. You mentioned the President's proclamation over here on the last page, and was it through this proclamation they were able to get this wheat in?
Mr. BURMEISTER. No, sir. The proclamation provisions—for the importation of certain Federal registered seed wheat outside of the quota provided, they get a permit from the Secretary of Agriculture, and as far as any Canadian wheat, I don't believe the Secretary has ever refused to let those varieties in.
We have I just learned, since last Friday-turned down some wheat from Europe, England, I believe, which the Secretary decided was not a variety that would do well in this country, and we did not issue a permit for it.