Remarks to the Members of the National Agricultural Advisory Commission.
WHAT is good news for the farmer is always good news for the country. The farmer and the country have been getting some good news about agriculture lately.
Farm exports for the year ending June 30 were up to $6.1 billion--nearly r billion better than the best year on record previously.
Farm net income reached $12.5 billion in 1963 by the latest estimates. That is a quarter billion better than earlier estimates indicated.
For the third year in a row, farm profits have exceeded the 1960 levels by nearly a billion dollars.
This is good news. We welcome it. We wish it were even better--but we believe it will be.
In agriculture we are beginning to realize the benefit from keeping our whole economy on a stable, steady, recession-free, and noninflationary course.
Since February 1961 we have had 41 consecutive and uninterrupted months of recession-free economic expansion--the longest and largest in history. In contrast, in the 7 years prior to that point we experienced three closely-spaced recessions.
Using that date as the break-off point, the record is significant.
Since 1960, gross farm income is up 10 percent to $41.7 billion--in stable dollars. Cash marketing receipts are up 9 percent to $36.9 billion. Farm net income is up nearly 9 percent--to $17.5 billion.
Reduced to individual human terms the gains are even more encouraging. The per capita income of the farm population during the 1961-63 years has averaged one-third higher than over the 7 previous years.
You gentlemen of this Commission can be proud of your own solid contribution to this. Your recommendations have been welcomed and put to use. But more than that, you have by your example, shown a kind of leadership agriculture sorely needs--nonpartisan, unbiased, unprejudiced, and genuinely statesmanlike.
You have had disagreements. But you have done what some in agriculture seem to have forgotten how to do. You have reasoned together, worked together, and reached agreements together in the public interest.
I applaud you--I congratulate you--and I thank you.
We can make progress in agriculture. We can if we lay aside partisanship, lay aside organizational prejudices and positions, and serve the Nation's interest and the public's welfare.
If you won't mind--and I don't think you will--I would like to speak very frankly with you for a moment.
Before I knew where or what the White House was, I was plowing a straight furrow. I don't know farmers or farming from the bloc viewpoint, or the pressure group viewpoint, or the what-do-we-do-for-them-this-year viewpoint. I know farm people and farm problems as a farm boy and farm owner myself.
In this perspective, I happen to believe that the time has come for this country to find and put to use some better answers to farm policy than we have had in many years.
Partisanship won't do the job.
Pettiness and peevishness won't do the job.
Prettily packaged programs won't do the job.
We need an approach to agriculture that serves all the people.
We need both some plain old-fashioned candor--and some plain old-fashioned courage.
On our commodity programs, we need the candor to admit that criticism of some is accurate and appropriate--and the courage to say that criticism of other programs is aimless and absurd.
We need the candor and the courage to agree that the needs of rural America won't be met by commodity programs alone.
We must have community programs, to build up small town America.
We must have consumer programs, to serve growing family America.
We need not--we must not--assign rural America to the scrapheap of history. We must not--and we will not--tell the American consumer, rural or urban, to stand at the foot of the line.
Our need--our urgent and pressing need today--is to preserve the stability of our economy as a whole.
Sharp and sudden turns from the course of the past are unthinkable.
Prosperity for our people is not less important than security for our people.
Whatever our goals, whatever our will, whatever our politics or prejudices, we must proceed with prudence, with patience, with perseverance.
America is prospering. Our goal and our guide must be to make sure that America's farmers prosper in proportion, too.
Note: The President spoke at 12:15 p.m. in the Fish Room at the White House. As printed, this item follows the prepared text released by the White House.
Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks to the Members of the National Agricultural Advisory Commission. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/238806