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Statement of Senator John F. Kennedy on Tobacco Program, Bowling Green, KY

October 08, 1960

The one bright spot in the whole farm economy is tobacco. We have an excellent tobacco program, put through by a Democratic administration, and protected ever since by the Democrats in Congress.

The program has given fair prices to the producer, provided abundant supplies for the consumer, and cost the taxpayer practically nothing. The wisdom and responsibility shown by the producers in running the program in the past justify maximum freedom for them in administering the program in future years.

I hear that in Kentucky Mr. Nixon came out in favor of the tobacco program. I think that's fine. But I didn't hear Mr. Nixon when the tobacco program was vetoed in 1959. I didn't hear him on the numerous occasions when Ezra Benson tried to scuttle the tobacco program. What I heard was Mr. Nixon calling Mr. Benson "one of the greatest Secretaries of Agriculture" in history.

I have always supported the tobacco program. I supported it in the past, I support it at the present. And I will support it in the future, recognizing that some slight changes in accordance with the wishes of the producers may have to be made to meet the problem of foreign competition.

During the past 8 years, other farm commodities have fared very poorly. While farm production costs have increased by 17 percent, the price of corn has dropped by 28 percent; the price of hogs by 34 percent; the price of eggs by 35 percent. The result is an enormous drop in farm income - $3.5 billion for the Nation - that has pushed thousands of farmers to the wall.

My hope is to put all farmers on the same footing as the tobacco producer. My farm program emphasizes the two features that have made the tobacco program a success - parity of income, and effective controls to bring supply into balance with demand.

Mr. Nixon's program on the other hand is not a new program. It is only the same old Benson policies dressed up with slick, new advertising slogans. He uses the same language that Mr. Benson used. It provides the same protection that Mr. Benson's program provided by giving us a price-support level based on continued declining market prices, and if put into effect it will be the same result that Mr. Benson's program had - driving farm income lower, farm costs higher, and piling up huge stocks of unused surplus food. Programs the last 8 years have cost U.S. taxpayers more than the total of all the programs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture combined since that Department was founded almost a century ago.

It is a program which has harmed the taxpayer, the consumer, the farmer, and it has wasted $9 billion worth of food which now lies unused in our warehouses. I cannot believe that the American people or the American farmer are going to vote for 4 more years of this kind of program.

I believe they are going to return to the leadership of the one party which has shown some real concern for the farmer and the ability to meet his needs. I believe they are going to return to the leadership of the Democratic Party.

In addition, I pledge continued support for the Democratic programs that have done so much to improve living conditions for farmers and rural conununities everywhere. We will sweep away tight money and restore the Democratic policy of abundant farm credit. We will protect REA against the Republican threat of increased rates. And we will move forward again on one of the Democratic Party's proudest achievements - the TVA.

John F. Kennedy, Statement of Senator John F. Kennedy on Tobacco Program, Bowling Green, KY Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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