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TUESDAY, JANUARY 16, 1934.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND PRESENT ACTIVITIES OF THE UMATILLA FIELD
STATION, HERMISTON, OREG.
STATEMENT OF HON. WALTER M. PIERCE, A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF OREGON
Mr. Sandlin. Have you a statement you wish to make to the committee, Mr. Pierce?
Mr. PIERCE. Yes, sir.
The Umatilla Field Station was jointly established in 1909 by the United States Department of Agriculture, under the jurisdiction of the Division of Western Irrigation Agriculture, and the Oregon Agricultural Esperiment Station, for the purpose of investigating problems of irrigation, crop production, and crop utilization on the rather unique type of sandy soils characteristic of the region. The problems of crop production on the Umatilla reclamation project are of a distinctly different nature from those encountered on soils more commonly found throughout the irrigated West, although the results obtained are applicable to large areas in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and certain other areas in the West where irrigation is practiced. Hence, it is evident that the investigations conducted and the results obtained are of regional application.
The importance of this work was recognized about 4 years ago by the local people and the State of Oregon when, through their active support, an appropriation of $35,000 was approved by Congress for the establishment of a new station site with more adequate facilities. This new site is now developed and consists of 180 acres of land as compared with only 40 acres formerly available, of which only about 25 acres were adapted to experimental work.
In spite of the limited facilities which have heretofore been available, the station has contributed substantially to the solution of many of the more acute problems relating to successful irrigated agriculture on the sandy lands characteristic of the area. Among the more important are those listed below:
1. The problem relating to the more economical use of water on these soils has been given intensive consideration. Before the results of studies at the station were made available, the annual use of water was 9.7 acre-feet. By perfecting an improved type of border method of irrigation, the duty of water has been reduced to 5 acre-feet, or an annual average saving of 4.7 acre-feet. Investigations are being continued with reference to the problems of irrigation along the lines of depth of penetration of the water and the effects of different quantities of water applied at varying intervals, and measuring the effects on crop yields.
2. Additional information is highly essential to the more adequate search for and the testing of specialized noncompetitive crops suited to these sandy soils and climatic conditions. This has been and continues to be an important phase of the station's investigational program with the limited appropriation available. In this connection the possibilities of Jerusalem artichokes as a source of sugar are also being investigated.
3. One new industry, which has already proven highly profitable, has been developed. This is the drug plant Arte mesia cina, the only source of santonin. Heretofore this country has been dependent upon Russia for this drug. A processing plant costing several thousand dollars has been constructed at Hermiston and is now turning out the product in commercial quantities.
4. Correlated with the foregoing is the work being done in investigating the so-called "curly-top diseases” of sugar beets. It has been found that the same disorder is an important controlling factor in the production of melons, tomatoes, and beans, as well as a number of other vegetable crops. The immediate hope for relief appears to be in finding resistant strains. A number of States in addition to Oregon are involved, including Utal, Idaho, California, and Nevada. This station is one of the more important centers for this investigation; and definite progress has already been made by this station, in cooperation with other divisions of the Bureau of Plant Industry, in finding strains, particularly of beans and melons, that are resistant to the disease.
5. An important phase of the activities of the station has been and continues to be the more effective utilization of crops by means of livestock. The various
problems relating to lamh feeding have been investigated and the results published. The raising of turkeys on these open-type. well-drained soils is developing into a promising enterprise, and various methods of handling and feeding have been devised which have materially stabilized this industry. There is acute need for and an interest in the possibilities of dairying in the region. Owing to the inadequate facilities available in the past, it has not been possible to conduct experiments with dairy herds. Buildings and stock have been provided on the new station for conducting this work.
6. During these trying times for the farmer it is highly important that his living expenses be reduced to the minimum. An important aid in this respect is the farm garden in order that each farm unit will be more nearly self-sustaining. The investigations relating to the curly-top disease, as well as other experiments and demonstrations, are contributing substantially to the necessary information required in order that the farmers may have satisfactory home gardens. Furnishing this kind of information is recognized as a station responsibility.
7. The economical reclamation of soils of this character is recognized as a major problem. More effective measures have been developed in the form of determining the best method of handling alfalfa and the possibilities of utilizing sweetclover. It has been found that when these crops are pastured reclamation is hastened. If and when the large areas capable of irrigation in the Columbia River Basin are developed, investigations such as these being conducted are of the highest importance in order that the productive potentialities of the lands may be ascertained and the problems incident to their reclamation determined.
8. Some 18 State and Federal bulletins have been published relating to the work of the station and distributed locally among the farmers and to others having similar agricultural problems. In addition, information is made available in the form of mimeographed circulars and newspaper articles in order that the results of the work of outstanding and immediate interest may be available.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 1934.
EXPERIMENT STATIONS AT MEDFORD, HERMISTON, AND PENDLETON,
STATEMENT OF HON. JAMES W. MOTT, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF OREGON
Mr. SANDLIN. We will now hear from Mr. Mott, of Oregon.
Mr. Mott. Mr. Chairman, I represent a State in which three of the agricultural experiment stations involved in this appropriation curtailment policy are located. The stations affected by the Budget estimate in Oregon are Medford, in the southern part of the First District, which I represent; the Hermiston station, in eastern Oregon; and the Pendleton station in eastern Oregon.
I do not profess, of course, to be an agricultural expert, but I do live in the country where these stations are located, and I know the effect the proposed curtailment will have on agriculture in that country. I also know the opinion of the farmers there in regard to this policy of economy, so called, so far as the experiment stations are concerned. If I should say that the people of my State are shocked at the idea of your taking away the most vital part of two of our stations and eliminating another one altogether, I would be putting it very mildly indeed.
I have listened with much interest to the arguments in behalf of experiment stations throughout the United States which are affected by the program which the administration desires to put into operation. I endorse all of the statements which have been made in opposition to this policy. The stations in Oregon, perhaps, are in no different situation than those in other States, so far as the effect of this curtailment policy is concerned, but I desire, nevertheless, to present briefly the case of each of them.
The station at Pendleton was established 5 years ago at a cost of $35,000. The people of Umatilla County, Oreg., furnished $22,000 of this money, bought the land on which the station was built and deeded it to the Federal Government, not as an outright grant, but for the purpose of building and maintaining an agricultural experiment station for the benefit of the wheat-farming industry of that locality. The principal work of that station is investigation in regard to rotation of crops. This is in a country which produces wheat exclusively, and the farmers there have long been of the opinion that their future prosperity depends largely upon a successful system of crop rotation, which they have not to date worked out. They have made tremendous strides in this direction, however, through the information and help obtained from the Pendleton station. They feel that they have already been benefitted to the extent of millions of dollars, and that if this station is now taken away, or if the activities in this regard are stopped, all of the money already expended and all the benefit that they have received will be totally wasted. Incidentally, I may say, they are rightly exasperated at the Government's disregard of the moral obligation to maintain this station after accepting $22,000 of the citizens' money to establish it.
The Hermiston station is in the cattle country of eastern Oregon. This Budget estimate, if carried out by your committee, would absolutely eliminate the Hermiston station. This is one of the few stations for the establishment of which the Federal Government furnished most of the money. It was moved to a new location only last year, and the Government expended $40,000 in moving it and in building an entirely new plant. Now they propose to close it altogether, and abandon the plant, although the total cost of operation is less than $10,000 per year.
The principal work of this station has been experimentation and instruction to the farmers on how to grow the crops upon which the cattle business in that section is almost entirely dependent. In that portion of eastern Oregon for the last two generations the country has been becoming gradually drier, and the cattle cannot longer subsist on the range alone. Crops must now be raised for those cattle. The principal crop is alfalfa, and this station actually is teaching the farmers there how to produce alfalfa crops and produce them profitably. It is also teaching them how to use water on land where the alfalfa is grown, after the water is brought there. We are spending millions of dollars on the Owyhee and other irrigation developments there, and in a few years we will have water in abundance. A vital part of the work of this station is teaching the farmers how to use this water in the production of forage crops. If that work is stopped now all of the benefit will cease and the entire expenditure of the Government in building this new station only last year will be totally wasted.
I come now to the station at Medford, in the southern part of the First District of Oregon. Medford is located in the famous Rogue River Valley, where the finest pears in the entire world are grown. The pear land of the Rogue River Valley is among the most valuable in the United States. The pears raised there are sold all over the
world, and command the highest price of any pear grown in any country in the world. Millions of dollars have been invested in this industry, which to date has had to be operated on a very expensive scale.
The problem there is to raise the fruit at a lower cost than has been possible heretofore. Unless this can be accomplished much of this great investment will be lost. It has been determined that this can be done by a proper system of irrigation, and experimentation and instruction in that direction is the principal work of this station-to put water on the land where these pears are grown and to teach the farmers how to get the water and how to use it economically.
In order to give you an idea of the size of this industry and the magnitude of its production and transportation problem, I may state that the people in this district raised about $4,000,000 worth of pears last year. It cost them nearly $4,000,000 to grow the pears and get them on the market, which is the eastern seaboard and the foreign countries. For years and years the people of the Rogue River Valley have been trying to get relief through the lowering of railroad rates. That, under present circumstances, seems to be a rather remote possibility. The Rogue River Valley has no outlet to a harbor on the Pacific coast, and its orchardists cannot, therefore, get the benefit of competitive water rates in transportation. The people in this valley who have invested millions of dollars in fruit property must find a way to lower the cost of putting their product on the market. They think now that they have found that way. They are convinced that the solution of their cost problem is going to depend largely upon the successful solution of the irrigation problem.
The producers, themselves, are by no means alone in this opinion. All of the horticultural experts, both State and Federal, who have spent years of study on this matter, agree that this is the solution, and it was upon their recommendation that the Government has undertaken this experimental work. And this is precisely what the Medford station was built for to teach the orchardists how to procure and use water and thus lower the total cost of producing and getting the fruit to market. When this is finally accomplished the Rogue River Valley, in addition to being the veritable Garden of Eden which it now is, will also be one of the most prosperous districts in the United States.
This Budget estimate now proposes to eliminate all of the irrigation work of the Medford station. Understand me, the proposal is not merely to curtail, but to eliminate. The result would be nothing less than a calamity.' People from all over the United States have moved into this famous Rogue River Valley. They have invested their life savings in their orchards; they employ thousands of people, and they furnish to the country and to the world a product the equal of which can be grown nowhere else. It is their unanimous opinion that their progress along the road to recovery and prosperity will be halted if these irrigation facilities at the Medford station are eliminated. To me such a proposal is unthinkable, and I cannot believe that this committee, for the sake of saving a few paltry dollars, will consent to it.
In connection with the proposed Budget cuts for Medford which, as I have said, would abolish the real function for which the station was intended, I again wish to call your attention to the disregard of the Secretary of Agriculture and the Director of the Budget to the moral obligation which the Government owes the people of Medford to continue the irrigation feature of that station. The citizens of the Rogue River Valley raised $5,000 in cash and gave it to the Government to help in the building and maintenance of this station. The Government accepted that money for the use for which it was given. The people there also donated the land on which the station was built, and for this land they paid $10,000. The deed conveying the land recited the condition upon which it was given. I do not intend to make further comment on this point, except to say that the people of my district believe that a policy of curtailment which contemplates a violation of the Government's moral obligation to carry on this work at Medford after accepting the people's money for that purpose is an unjustified and indefensible policy. And in their belief in this regard I want to say, also, that I heartily concur.
In conclusion let me say that the people of my State estimate that the benefits already derived from the work of these three stations run into the millions of dollars. The total amount that the Government proposes to save by eliminating one station altogether and curtailing the most vital activities of the other two is $20,000 per year. So, for the saving of $20,000 it is proposed by this Budget not only to eliminate this work that has actually meant millions of dollars to the people of our State, but it is proposed also to junk a large portion of the physical plants in which thousands of dollars have been recently invested, and to throw out of employment many of the honest, efficient, and highly trained men who have been operating these stations.
I say again our people are shocked at this proposal. They are unwilling to believe that either this committee or this Congress is going to undertake a policy in regard to their experiment station work which is as illogical, as uneconomical and as harmful as this one, even though it is recommended by the administration.
I trust your committee, having had the benefit of these hearings and of the testimony presented here from those affected in all parts of the country, may exercise your proper jurisdiction and restore the appropriation which the Agricultural Department and the Budget Director have so drastically curtailed in this budget estimate.
I thank you very much.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 1934.
DRY-LAND EXPERIMENTAL STATION, NEWLANDS, NEV.
STATEMENT OF HON. JAMES G. SCRUGHAM, A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEVADA
Mr. SCRUGHAM. Mr. Chairman, I appear to ask for the restoration of the appropriation for the Newlands project station, which is under the Office of western irrigation agriculture, in the Bureau of Plant Industry.
Mr. SANDLIN. That is one of the dry-land experiment stations, is it not?