Remarks on the Gooding Bill. (In the US Senate. April 1926.)
Mr. President, I shall take only a very few moments of the time of the Senate and will not attempt any detailed discussion of the bill, for it has already been presented rather thoroughly.
I am a member of the committee and attended the hearings held on this question. I think I heard all that was contributed at that time on the Gooding bill and on the bill offered by the Senator from Massachusetts. My training leads me to have a great deal of regard for those who are in a position to give information to the people of this country. The agricultural colleges have occupied my attention and consideration for many years, and, so far as I can learn, they have uniformly supported and advocated the provisions of this bill. On such a question I have to look to someone to advise me, for I am not an expert. I am a farmer - a losing farmer - but nevertheless I believe that I must look to those who claim to know and who have information on the subject. I cannot find that any agricultural college has done other than to give a favorable report on the pending bill and to express the hope that it may be passed.
I have profound respect for the agricultural colleges of this country. If they are not worthy of respect, we should discontinue them and adopt something that is better. The farmers of this country cannot get enlightenment very fast even through the agencies of the agricultural college. They are only partial. Then, again, in the hearings Mr. Gray of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said:
(Quotation from Mr. Gray)
I entertain no fear similar to that of the Senator from New York. I cannot help but believe that the farmer is fairly intelligent. I cannot find any evidence that the coloring of the seed would create prejudice whereby he would refuse to purchase the seed. As we Senators have to learn from somebody, as we have to take somebody's advice, it does seem to me that what the agricultural colleges of this country and the farm organizations of this country say they want and would like to try is worthy of consideration.
I could not for a moment put up my own opinion against the appeals of the farm organization and of the agricultural colleges; and I also have the profoundest respect for the Department of Agriculture. What is the department for? What service is it to render us? How is it possible for the Senators assembled here, however wise they may be, unless they are experts in farming, unless they are experts in handling seed, to be sure of their opinions unless they pay deference to this advice?
In the State of Michigan I know from my own observation and from my own investigations as to what some of these impure, low-grade seeds have done; and you cannot tell their quality merely by looking at them. You cannot tell the Italian seeds from any other seeds just by looking at them. We do know that in Michigan they are an absolute failure. We do know that some of these seeds are suitable for use in some states.
I hope that neither amendment will be adopted. I hope that for once we will have sufficient confidence in the farmers, in the agricultural colleges, and in the Agricultural Department to give the farmers a chance. That is all that I ask. That is all that I appeal to Senators for.
I have done just what every other Senator has done; I have tried to get information on this subject, and I have tried to get it from authentic sources. In the hearings I was convinced that if there was ever a worthwhile bill, a bill that would really render a practical service to the farmers of this country, the Gooding bill would do it. I presume it is not a panacea; but it is a step in the right direction. Why not take it without too many limitations and give the farmers and those who want pure seed an opportunity to get it?