I HAVE today signed H.R. 6248, the Agricultural Act of 1948. Title I of this act extends until 1950, with only slight change, the temporary system of rigid price supports for agricultural products which has been in effect since early in the war. Titles II and III of the act establish another system of price supports, to take effect in 1950.
While the provisions of the act touch upon only one of the major recommendations I have made to the Congress, they do recognize the importance of price support programs as vital elements in our agricultural and national prosperity. I am glad that the Congress finally took some action on this subject, as I had repeatedly urged it to do.
However, H.R. 6248 does not provide the basic declaration of long-range agricultural policy which is needed to round out the present farm program. Instead, the Congress had to act at the last moment to prevent the death of certain existing programs and found only enough time to make a gesture toward long-range policy. The portions of the bill which approach long-range planning do not go into effect until 1950.
In connection with the price support program continued by this act, two points should be noted concerning S. 1322, which I signed a few days ago and which continues the Commodity Credit Corporation. In carrying out the price support laws it will be necessary to use the Commodity Credit Corporation. In fact, that is the Corporation's primary function. S. 1322 vests control of the Commodity Credit Corporation in a board of directors. H.R. 6248, however, makes the Secretary of Agriculture responsible for supporting the prices of farm products at specified levels. This would appear to create an unworkable separation of authority from responsibility. Fortunately, however, there are provisions in H.R. 62248 which require the price support operations of the Commodity Credit Corporation to be carried out under the supervision of the Secretary of Agriculture. Since H.R. 62248 was signed later than S. 1322, the provisions of H.R. 6248 will, of course, be controlling to the extent that the provisions of the two acts are in conflict.
S. 1322 also prohibits the Commodity Credit Corporation from continuing its long-standing policy of leasing or acquiring land where necessary for storing commodities as close to the farm as possible. This restriction will mean that the Corporation will have to ship grain for livestock feeding, for example, from farms to distant points for storage, and then later to ship it back to farm areas. This will obviously increase costs for carrying grain reserves. Only those special interests who will make money by unnecessary handling of grain will profit from this provision--which will in the end be paid for by farmers and consumers.
In signing H.R. 6248, I wish to make it plain once again that legislation for price supports is only part of the action this Congress should have taken to meet the problems of American agriculture.
The 80th Congress did not enact legislation nor provide adequate funds for strengthening the soil conservation program.
The 80th Congress did not grant adequate funds for marketing research; it did not enact a standby program for improving the diets of low-income families.
The 80th Congress did not act on the International Wheat Agreement, negotiated after years of effort to assure United States wheat producers of export outlets. The failure to act on this agreement means that the very favorable opportunity it offered to assure these export outlets may be lost.
The 80th Congress did nothing to meet the serious problems of rural housing, health, and education.
In the field of agriculture, as in so many others, most of the business of the 80th Congress was left unfinished.