Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Relating to Agricultural Price Supports.
I HAVE signed H.R. 8122, a measure which takes important steps in strengthening agricultural .price supports. The new law sets aside the sliding scale for the 1953 and 1954 crop years, and delays the shift from the old method of computing parity to a new method insofar as four basic commodities are concerned. In addition, the law provides price support for extra long staple cotton on a specified basis comparable to that provided for upland cotton.
The principle of the sliding scale is that the volume of farm production can and should be adjusted downward by dropping the level of support provided farmers. As I have stated repeatedly, this is neither a workable method of adjustment nor a fair one. It would provide farmers with the least protection when protection is most needed. For example, at the present time, if farmers are successful in meeting national requests for bumper production, they would face the prospect of driving their prices down through action of the sliding scale. What they need for high production is assurance that hard work will be rewarded by stable prices, not declining prices. For this reason, I urged last January, in my annual messages to the Congress, that the sliding scale provisions of the present agricultural legislation be repealed. While the new law falls short of outright repeal, it will have the desirable effect of providing reliable price support over the next 2 crop years.
This action should help greatly to assure high farm production. Moreover, it also gives assurance to consumers that the supply of food and fiber will be as abundant as possible. An abundant supply, of course, is one of the chief ingredients in stabilizing prices at fair levels, especially during a period of national emergency.
The new law also extends for 2 additional years the requirements that the effective parity price for the six basic commodities shall be the parity price computed under the old or new parity formula, whichever is higher. This change would affect only four of the six basic commodities-corn, wheat, cotton, and peanuts--since the new price is higher for rice and tobacco.
There is considerable merit in delaying the shift from the old to the new parity during the present emergency. When the Agricultural Act of 1949 was approved in October 1949, there appeared to be a fair possibility that the gap between the old and new parity prices for wheat, corn, cotton, and peanuts would narrow during the 4-year transition period then specified. This did not materialize, due largely to the emergency which arose with the outbreak of hostilities in Korea. Old parity prices for wheat, corn, cotton, and peanuts have been higher than the new parity prices all during the period since 1950. It also appears fairly certain that by the end of 1953 old parity prices will still be well above the new parity prices for wheat, corn, and peanuts.
Under these circumstances, an additional period for readjustment is desirable before the new parity takes sole effect. This involves postponement, but by no means abandonment, of the commendable objective of a single parity standard as contemplated by the 1949 act.
The new law is a valuable addition to the agricultural legislation which has been so important in maintaining a strong and stable farm economy and which has contributed so markedly to a much needed increase in the American standard of rural living.
Note: As enacted on July 17, H.R. 8122 is Public Law 585, 82d Congress (66 Stat. 758).
Harry S. Truman, Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Relating to Agricultural Price Supports. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231214