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Mr. DEVER. Absolutely. A great many people take the view that there is a surplus of production of agricultural products. I do not agree with them.
A 10,000,000-bale crop is only a surplus of less than 1,000,000 bales. Less than 10 per cent to carry over for a business of that magnitude is too small.
Senator King. Is it not a fact that with the increasing population, if you could produce cheaper cotton goods, there would be a larger consumption of cotton?
Mr. DEVER. I presume there would be. The condition that we have now is that we have sufficient labor to work 50 per cent of our tillable soil. We have our investment there of the entire 100 per cent, but we have lost 19 per cent of our labor in the last three years. At the present rate of migration from the South, with no replenishment, in another five years we will still have our 100 per cent investment, but we will have lost somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 per cent of our labor.
The CHAIRMAN. What proportion of your labor comes from southern and eastern Europe, or is Italian or Pole?
Mr. DEVER. We could not differentiate it, because within the State of Missisippi there are only some 30,000 or 40,000 farmers out of the total population. In my county, Bolivar County, we have a population of 56,000, with a population of 8,000 aliens.
Senator COPELAND. How many Italians have you in your employ?
Mr. DEVER. Some of them have been in America 17 years; they have all been in that community all of the time they have been in America.
Senator COPELAND. Do you have any trouble in keeping them there?
Mr. DEVER. None whatever.
Senator COPELAND. Is it your belief that if there was a provision made by law so that a person skilled in the soil could be brought in, you could locate them and keep them?
Mr. DEVER. It is.
Mr. DEVER. No. I base that on this fact. In my individual case I share the crop with the farmer. I charge him one-fourth of his crops for his rental. If he has a bad year I share the loss with him; if he has a prosperous year I share the prosperity with him. If he is extra ambitious and extra active I earn just that much more.
Senator WilliS. Are these Italian families that you employ originally from the same vicinity?
Mr. DEVER. A great many of these Italians were originally brought from Italy by Colonel Crawford, who settled in that community 17 years ago. Colonel Scott brought a great many and settled there in the other side of the county. But as these men reduced their farms these Italians scattered, and I got a number of them.
Senator WILLIS. Have you made an effort to get other Italians from outside ?
Mr. DEVER. Only from Louisiana. But in doing that you have to be very careful. You can not mix the northern Italian and the
southern Italian. You can not mix the central Italian with the southern Italian.
Senator WILLIS. You are speaking now with reference to the geography of Italy and not of the United States?
Mr. DEVER. Absolutely.
Senator COPELAND. Are they still Italians? I mean to say, do they speak Italian?
Nr. DEVER. Yes; they speak a large per cent of Italian among themselves. Their business is transacted in English. Their children are in our schools. Their sons out of this colony of 34 families the only six that were available went into the American Army. Three were left in France, and three came back.
Senator Willis. From what part of Italy do these Italians come?
Mr. DEVER. From Ancona, in central Italy. That is, the agricultural class.
Senator COPELAND. Suppose you were free to do it, how would you go about getting 100 Italian families? Would you go to Italy and select them?
Mr. DEVER. Yes, sir.
Senator King. Have they sought to bring others to America from the region from which they came?
Mr. DEVER. Yes, sir.
Senator King. What assurance have you that any others from
Mr. DEVER. I have had from these Italians applications from some 40 families for homes, if they can come within the immigration requirements.
Mr. REED of Pennsylvania. They want to come as entire families?
Senator REED of Pennsylvania. Will their Government give them passports ?
Mr. DEVER. They will.
Senator REED of Pennsylvania. Is not that the sticking point, that the Italian Government wants to give passports only to the wage earner?
Mr. DEVER. Yes, sir.
Senator REED of Pennsylvania. And wants him to leave his family at home?
Mr. DEVER. Yes, sir.
Senator KING. Do you think the Italians in the south of Italy are desirable citizens?
Mr. DEVER. I think so. My experience is that they are.
Senator King. Are they law abiding? Do the young children assimilate themselves readily? Do they learn the language ?
Mr. DEVER. Very well, indeed.
Senator King. They take on American ideas and American culture?
Nr. DEVER. They do.
Senator Willis. You have had no experience on your plantation there with other than these Italians and Mexicans?
Mr. DEVER. As a young man in Texas, 20 years ago, I had a good deal to do with Polish and German labor.
Senator WILLIS. Was it the same sort of labor? The same sort of employment?
Mr. DEVER. Agricultural employment; yes, sir.
Mr. DEVER. They are good workers, but not as intelligent, if you will permit me, as German agricultural labor.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much. Now, we might call one other witness.
STATEMENT OF MR. JAMES F. GULNACK, BANGOR, ME., REPRESENTING MAINE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND AGRICULTURE.
Mr. GULNACK. Mr. Chairman, I might say that this organization that I represent has for the past two years been making, as far as we could there in Maine, a more or less intensive study of immigration, because it seemed to some of us that it meant a lot to our State.
I do not want to take any more of your time than I possibly can, and so, coming down on the train, I just jotted down some notes. If you will excuse me, I will read what I have to say, in order that I may take as little of your time as possible.
The State of Maine, the oldest permanently settled portion of the American Continent, can justly claim that her residents are as nearly 100 per cent American as any other State in the Union. The 1920 census shows that her native born form 86 per cent of her population. Of the 14 per cent foreign born, 69.5 are Canadian born, wrich increases the total of American born in Maine to 95.4 per cent. Of the foreign born, 55 per cent are living in urban districts and 45 per cent in the rural districts.
The number of farms under cultivation in Maine has decreased since 1870 and down to 1920 by 16,082, and the number of acres of improved land by 1,507,579.
Senator COPELAND. That is the decrease?
Mr. GULNACK. That is the decrease. This is a loss of 25 per cent in farms and 43 per cent in acres of improved land.
Senator King. Forty-three per cent in the State?
Mr. GULNACK. Forty-three per cent of the farms, of the total number of farms at our maximum peak, which was in 1870. Twentyfive per cent of those are now not under cultivation or not being used.
Senator COPELAND. Is not one reason for that this, that the farmer who had large acreage is now cultivating intensively a few acres, raising potatoes and things of that kind?
Mr. GULNACK. Why, no, Senator, not to any extent. As a matter of fact, as far as our potato-growing section is concerned the land is being cultivated to-day more than ever. Our loss is in the other sections. In Aroostook County, for instance, there is no difficulty, because there is a real agricultural industry there, and I will try to bring out the reason why I think it has been a success.
Senator King. How do your crops compare quantitatively now with what they were when you had the high peak of arable land, or cultivated land?
Mr. GULNACK. I have not the figures as to the total crops produced by Maine as far back as 1870. I will say this, though, that to a small extent what Senator Copeland suggested is true, that there are some sections where they are cultivating the land more intensively. It is the same way in New York. I was born up in New York State. Senator Colt knows what it is all through New England. There has been a loss of 7,500,000 acres under cultivation in all New England, as compared with what there was in 1870. There has been an exodus from the country to the cities and to other States. It is a question of immigration, and as far as Maine is concerned that is the only way to make up for that loss.
Senator Willis. You say there is no difficulty in the great potatogrowing sections, such as Aroostook County?
Mr. GULNACK. Not as far as deserted farms are concerned; no, sir.
Senator COPELAND. My father was born up around Dexter, Mich. Up around there they are all raising potatoes now, and they can get out of a few acres what they used to get out of a good many.
Senator King. I rode from Utica down to Cooperstown last summer, and it seemed to me that every third or fourth farm in that beautiful section was deserted.
Senator COPELAND. One farm in 16 in Pennsylvania was deserted
Senator REED of Pennsylvania. And what is the economic reason for it? We can not now row upstream.
Mr. GULNACK. During this same half century Maine has given liberally of her boys and girls, which in great part account for her abandoned farms. More than 50 years ago Governor Chamberlain in addressing the Maine Legislature characterized the State as a "nursery for the missionaries of civilization,” and urged the bringing here of Scandanavians, saying, “ If we can not keep our sons at home, let us bring in our cousins." His advice was followed, and a number of Swedish families were brought over for settlement in the northern part of the State-Aroostook County, now famous for its fine potatoes.
This settlement, known as New Sweden, was a success in every way. Many of the decendants of these settlers still reside there; others are living elsewhere in the State, occupying prominent positions in the business world and professional life of their communities; and most of the public schools in this part of the State are now being taught by Swedish girls. They not only have assimilated with us; they have improved us. This county alone has had a healthy and consistent growth in population, although other counties have superior advantages.
In connection with a different type of immigrants that has come in to some extent, I will refer you to Senator Fernald, who knows the situation even more intimately than I do.
A few Finns who came to Maine, having been brought here to work in the woods, went to one of the banks to see if they could borrow some money to buy a farm there. Quite a number of them bought right in the locality where Governor Fernald lives. He told our Maine farmers two years ago :
As far as the Finns are concerned, I want to say this: In our kind of business we have decided that whatever a Finn asks for in the way of an advance we will give it to him without any question, because our experience has been that, in the first place, they never ask for more than they want, and in the second place, they have paid back every cent that has been advanced to them, a thing we can not say for our natives.
Senator Fernald made that remark himself.
Senator REED of Pennsylvania. We settled the Finnish debt this week in the Senate. That bears out what you say. That is the only country in continental Erope that is in that situation.
Mr. GULNACK. The people of Maine are desirous of advertising to the people of Europe the farming possibilities of their State, in the hope that their unused farms can again become productive. That there is room in Maine for more people can be seen from the fact that the State could take, in addition to the increase averaged over the last 50 years, the gross number admissible under our present 3 per cent quota for 373 years, and then would not be any more densely populated than is Massachusetts.
We do not think it should any longer continue to be a criminal act to tell a Swede or any other desirable foreigner that he can have work in Maine if he will come there. In fact, we think that it is criminal toward the State to legislate against her advertising the possibilities of her farms, of work in the summer time at her resorts, and in the winter time in her woods. With the number of immigrants limited, with the publicity given to high wages paid in cities, what chance is there of getting desirable people to go on the farms unless we advertise their advantages to a class of people desirous of farming and willing to live the kind of life necessary.
To make this possible, we suggest for your consideration an amendment to your bill, as follows:
The Secretary of Labor, upon the verified petition of a citizen of the United States, when it shall satisfactorily appear to him after full hearings and investigation that the facts stated in such petition are true and that the immigrant for whom petition is made is a farmer or a farm laborer coming to the United States for the purpose of carrying on agricultural pursuits in the rural districts of the United States, shall authorize and require a consular officer to issue a special visé certificate to such immigrant, his wife, and unmarried child under 18 years of age accompanying him, regardless of quota or contract labor restrictions.
Senator Willis. Will you permit an interruption just there? Would it satisfy you just as well if we increased the quota and the farmers were given a preference in the issuance of visé certificates?
Mr. GULNACK. It would not satisfy me; no. I am of the opinion that our whole future legislation, if it is to handle the problem right, must be along the line of selection and not repression. When you consider that Maine could take your gross 3 per cent for 373 years and then be no more densely populated than is Massachusetts, I do not think that we need have any fear as to numbers if they are the right kind.
Senator WILLIS. You see, the difficulty of the committee is this: Suppose we fix a quota at any given per cent. Tentatively it is fixed it 3 per cent. Suppose it were 10 per cent. Why fix a quota and then go to work and enumerate a number of classes that shail come in outside of the quota ? The committee thought it more logical to fix a quota and then provide that these various classes should have preferrence in the issue of the visé certificates. But we think they should come within the quota.