The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• John F. Kennedy
Texts of a Democratic Farm Policy Statement by Senator John F. Kennedy, Together with His Introductory Comments, and of a Statement of His Own On the Same Subject, Hyannis Port, MA
August 1, 1960

JOINT STATEMENT The following Governors and Senators have drafted the statement below and have authorized its issuance from Senator Kennedy's headquarters in Hyannis. It is also being issued individually by the signers.

The signers are Gov. Herschel C. Loveless of Iowa, Gov. George Docking of Kansas, Gov. Ralph Herseth of South Dakota, Gov. Gaylord A. Nelson of Wisconsin Gov. Orville L. Freeman of Minnesota, Senator Quentin Burdick of North Dakota, Senator William Proxmire of Wisconsin, and Senator Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota.

THE STATEMENT

Vice President Nixon - a member of the Eisenhower administration team for the past 7 1/2 years - in the short span of 48 hours since his nomination has repudiated two key parts of that administration's program. This is just the first evidence of his lack of basic conviction on the issues to which Governor Rockefeller alluded so eloquently before the midnight confrontation in New York.

This lack of basic conviction has already manifested itself in the Vice President's agreement with Rockefeller that further defense funds are required - an agreement he entered into just before the President told the Republican Convention and Nation that all was well in the field of defense.

Those in the Farm Belt are acutely aware of the failures of the Republican policy on agriculture, a policy to which Vice President Nixon has wholeheartedly subscribed until yesterday. In April of 1954, speaking in Des Moines, the Vice President said:

"I predict that the verdict of history will be that Secretary of Agriculture Benson has been one of the best Secretaries of Agriculture in our history and that he was a friend of the farmer."

In September of 1956, in Rapid City, S. Dak., Nixon said:

"I am confident that our program is right and if the people stick with us the farmer will share in unparalleled prosperity."

Secretary Benson said in 1957 that he had "every evidence of the support of the Vice President" and in January of this year said he would expect Nixon to carry on present Benson policies because the Vice President "had participated in the development of the program."

Vice President Nixon said Benson was good enough for us but now he has said he is not good enough for him.

This steadfastness of support for the Republican farm program came despite the fact that-

More than 3 million persons have been driven from the farm since 1952.

Total net farm income in 1959 was 35 percent less than in 1952.

Total cost of the farm program increased from $1.5 billion in 1952 to $5.7 billion in fiscal year 1961.

Stored surpluses increased 636 percent from 1952 to 1959.

The American people will have grave doubts about a candidate who can change his beliefs with such mobility. They will be surprised that the Vice President can, with such facility, repudiate the policies of his fellow member of the administration team, President Eisenhower. The record of the past speaks far more eloquently than any new positions taken for the purpose of a political campaign. This is the most flagrant example in recent years of a political captain leaving the sinking ship.

KENNEDY STATEMENT

The Democratic leaders in the Midwest have accurately pinpointed Mr. Nixon's lack of basic beliefs indicated by his betrayal of the Benson farm program which he helped to write.

The Vice President cannot at one time say that in his role in the present administration he has not had a chance to express his own views until now and, on the other hand, portray himself as the most powerful Vice President in history. These roles are incongruous, and the fact of the matter is that the Vice President was an architect of the current disastrous farm policy, and now in the face of that policy's failure attempts to dissociate himself from it.

In February of this year, Vice President Nixon hailed Secretary of Agriculture Benson as the greatest Secretary of Agriculture in our country's history.

The President of the United States has repeatedly fought those who sought to oust Secretary Benson.

Election day conversions are not an indication of conviction and election day promises backed by a record of contradictions are worth absolutely nothing. The past is prolog.

His consistent support of this program for 8 years, his consistent adherence to the beliefs of Mr. Benson cast a shadow over this decision to drop his agricultural pilot quietly overboard. His present effort to dissociate himself from a disastrous farm program, which he himself helped formulate, is another evidence of Mr. Nixon's lack of basic beliefs.

Citation: John F. Kennedy: "Texts of a Democratic Farm Policy Statement by Senator John F. Kennedy, Together with His Introductory Comments, and of a Statement of His Own On the Same Subject, Hyannis Port, MA", August 1, 1960. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=25890.
 
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