|August 2, 1962
By Morris K. Udall
FREEDOM FOR FARMERS -- A NEW RAY OF HOPE
The House has just passed a new piece of patchwork farm legislation with still more high price supports and subsidies, but in the process there was some unexpected encouragement for a return to free-market policies.
In June I voted against a motion to kill the 1962
Freeman-Kennedy farm bill, despite a strong feeling that the time has come
to end our crazy patchwork farm legislation. I concluded a report to my
constituents on this note:
Thus my first choice is freedom; if that route isn't open and we must have controls, then they ought to be effective.
After defeat of the Freeman measure the House Agriculture Committee rushed out a new bill extending for one year the "temporary" programs of 1961-62. The bill offered more high supports to farmers who volunteer to cut acreage plus $1 billion "diversion" payments for the land removed from production.
This revised bill was reluctantly supported by Mr. Freeman and the President. It passed with strong Republican support 229 to 162. One member typified House sentiment when he said "I guess I'll hold my nose and vote for it." I voted against it, and voted one week later against the $5.5 billion Agriculture Department appropriation bill.
The astonishing thing was not passage of another "temporary" farm bill; it was a ray of hope that we might begin one day soon to cut back our costly and tangled price-support programs. I was pleased to play a small part in this significant event.
The most costly and ineffective farm laws are those governing corn and "feed grains." Prior to the debate I joned with a small band of western Democrats in drafting an amendment named for Rep. Ralph Harding (D-Idaho). This provision would have immediately terminated all corn and feed grain subsidies, thus returning to the free market a huge segment of American agriculture.
We had supposed that our gesture would get no more than a dozen votes. To the amazement of everyone it actually passed on a preliminary standing vote, 101-62. The bill's supporters then demanded "tellers, " a procedure requiring members to march through the center
|aisle and be counted either for or against; party
leaders can see exactly who is supporting or opposing an amendment. We
lost the teller round 111 to 79, and chances for a partial return to free
agriculture were torpedoed.
It is not significant that we lost; it is a vital omen, however, that 79 Congressmen were willing to risk the displeasure of Republican and Democratic leaders to support our maverick proposal. I marched through the tellers with a most unlikely group of allies: big-city liberals of both parties, western Democrats, right-wing Republicans, even two members of the John Birch Society.
In a speech for the Congressional Record, I made
these comments on a heartening episode:
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