« PreviousContinue »
Mr. MARLATT. Yes, sir.
Mr. SISSON: And, of course, to make an accurate inspection of Texas would cost much more money than to make a casual inspection. Mr. MARLATT. Undoubtedly.
Mr. SISSON. Has any estimate been made as to the number of men necessary to inspect the entire border for the purpose not only of ascertaining the presence of the insect, but for the elimination of the insect before it gets into Texas?
Mr. MARLATT. We have a detailed estimate which I wish to submit indicating the number of men that we will assign to that work. We propose, in the rough, on the American side to divide that district from El Paso to Brownsville into six districts, each of which will have a supervisor, and under him there will be several foremen. Then under those foremen there will be other men who will do the clean-up work. They will be more of the laborer class. The supervisors and foremen are to be competent inspectors, and the laborers, for that matter, will soon become more or less such. We have a working force mapped out for the work. We have indicated a similar working force for the inspection on the Mexican side near the border. That inspection must be reasonably thorough; we expect to see every cotton field, but it is not necessary to see every cotton plant. They are expected to examine every cotton field and be able to say that in all human probability the insect is not in it.
Mr. SISSON. In other words, my view is that: That unless your inspection is made accurate, safe, and certain, it will be like the work in the elimination of the citrus canker which affected the citrus fruit. If you leave one infected plant and abandon the work, that will simply mean that you have thrown away all the money you have expended.
Mr. MARLATT. That is the condition that obtains in all such work. Mr. SISSON. There should be an absolute elimination of the insect. because otherwise it would mean a continuous fight against it from year to year. Therefore, if we have to have the work done, there ought to be some statement of the amount of money necessary to completely destroy the insect before it gets into Texas.
Mr. MARLATT. You are right; that is my point of view exactly, Mr. SISSON. I think the greatest calamity that ever happened to the cotton people of the South was that they did not understand the Mexican boll weevil before it got into Texas.
Mr. SCHOFIELD. We understand it
Mr. SISSON (interposing). We did not understand it and the people of Texas did not understand it. Now, do you believe that an expenditure of $500.000 would be ample to eleminate the pink boll weevil in that section of northern Mexico?
Mr. MARLATT. I do not; and we do not propose to eliminate it with this appropriation. The work done under this appropriation will make it difficult for the insect to get across. It will be made difficult by the cotton free zone and by the clean-up and the watchfulness we will exercise in the inspection of the fields on both the Mexican and American sides of the border. These are simply preventive measures and not exterminative measures. That is where most of the money will go, the expenditure of which is now believed to be necessary.
Mr. SiSSON. Of course, without the cooperation of those people, we can not do anything of that sort, because we can not compel them to do anything. We can not compel the Mexican people to do anything, but it must be a voluntary cooperation on their part. We can enact legislation, and the State of Texas, at any time it sees fit and proper, can pass such restrictive measures or quarantine measures as are necessary. Of course, I am in hearty sympathy with any effort to prevent the pink boll worm from getting into the United States. I have an interest in it. All that I have is invested in cotton land, and I am in hearty sympathy with the effort, and I believe that proper thing to do is to prevent the insect from getting into the cotton districts of the United States. But how are you going to operate in a practical way until you get the cooperation of the State of Texas by proper legislation? We have had this subject thrashed out repeatedly before the committee here. Mr. Cannon will recall the discussion in reference to citrus canker. The States of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana passed legislation cooperating with the Federal Government in the elimination of citrus canker. If the State of Texas will cooperate with you, you can, unquestionably, control absolutely the whole situation; but if the State of Texts does not cooperate it is somewhat doubtful in my mind unless you establish an absolute quarantine and watch every railroad.
Mr. MARLATT. We are doing that.
Mr. SISSON. And also watch all the dirt roads and exercise the powers which the Federal Government now has under the general quarantine law passed at the instance of the fruit people. In that bill was included the word "plants," of which cotton is one, and therefore I presume the authority is ample to prevent importation into the United States if the Agricultural Department sees fit to institute a quarantine on any cotton coming from Mexico at all; but in order to permanently settle the matter I do not see how you are going to be able to do it unless you get the cooperation of Texas through the passage of a proper law.
Mr. MARLATT. Before you came in, Mr. Sisson, we went over all those points. That is what the Government is now doing under its quarantine powers to protect the border, and it is doing everything that can be done.
Mr. SISSON. I am sure of that.
MARLATT. And we discussed in detail the measures which we would take under this appropriation to prevent the accidental or natural carriage or flight of the insect across the border-by this
That is all in the record. I
modified cotton-free zone which we have susbtituted for the absolute cotton-free zone first recommended. think most of the points you have raised, perhaps, were discussed before you came in, and I think they were covered fully-unless yo should like to have them repeated?
Mr. SISSON. No: I do not care about that. I can read it later. I am not only somewhat familiar with but alarmed myself at the approach of the pink boll weevil.
of 1912. and there is authority to do all of these things somewhere. Mr. CANNON. I made a hasty examination of the quarantine act
statement which I did not fully understand, and that
is the reason I called your attention to the matter after I had examined the act.
Mr. MARLATT. Yes, sir.
Mr. SISSON. I also want to ask you this question: Do you not believe it is extremely wise that the Agricultural Department should have a fund rather in the nature of an emergency fund, so that if the pink boll weevil actually appears in Texas you can take some instant steps to arrest its spread?
Mr. MARLATT. A good deal of this fund that is now asked is in the nature of what might be called an emergency fund, not necessarily to be expended. I pointed out that out of this appropriation we are only actually proposing to spend by an immediate organization $190,000. The other $310,000 is for expenditure if the expenditure is needed or justified, and it may not be spent; but if it is needed and its expenditure is justified, the money should be available, as you suggest, otherwise we might miss the opportunity.
Mr. SISSON. I do not know whether the record shows this fact or not; but can the Agricultural Department assure the Congress that if the appropriation is made you can absolutely control the spread of the pink boll weevil into the United States?
Mr. MARLATT. I wish I could give you that assurance, but that is going beyond human knowledge. We can give you this assurance, that the measures which we are proposing cover all the possible means of prevention which seem practicable and possible of application and enforcement.
Mr. SISSON. Does the department know as much now about the spread of the pink boll weevil as they do about the spread of the Mexican boll weevil?
Mr. MARLATT. No; because we have not studied it so long. We know a great deal, because the insect has been studied for 8 to 10 years in Egypt by men competent to make a thoroughgoing scientific study of it. We ourselves have made a very thorough study of it from the habit and life history standpoint in the Hawaiian Islands, where it was introduced a few years ago by seed, and where it has put out of commission the promising cotton industry of those islands. That is the only land in American control now invaded with the pink bollworm.
Mr. CANNON. As I understand you, the expenditure you would make during this season would be not to exceed $190,000?
Mr. MARLATT. That is, that would cover the organization and the work we propose to do.
Mr. CANNON. I mean during this present season—the summer and fall.
Mr. MARLATT. Exactly; but the other fund is for work which may be necessary as a result of this survey and inspection.
Mr. CANNON. After you have made the survey and inspection? Mr. MARLATT. Or in the progress of the survey. If we then find an infested point we want to be able to stamp it right out.
Mr. CANNON. Then you do propose to spend more than the $190.000. I understood you to say that was all that was contemplated to be expended during this season.
Mr. MARLATT. I was perhaps unfortunate in my statement. The organization and the work we propose in Texas and immediately
adjacent in Mexico would cost that much. The cost of extermination if we find areas needing extermination might call for the balance. Mr. CANNON. Precisely; but Congress will meet in December, and you would then know more about it than you do now.
Mr. MARLATT. But if we wanted to do the work in November or December we could not get the money from Congress until January or February, when it would probably be too late.
Mr. BYRNS. As I understand you, this $310,000 that you ask for in addition to the $190,000 is desired so that it can be used in the event your survey develops the necessity for using it while the survey is being made?
Mr. MARLATT. Exactly.
Mr. BYRNS. That is the reason why you can not state whether or not it will be used.
Mr. MARLATT. Yes.
Mr. BYRNS. It all depends on development.
Mr. CANNON. Do you think there is a possibility or any probability that you will use this $500,000 between now and December?
Mr. MARLATT. I hope we will not.
Mr. CANNON. But I understood you to say primarily you did not anticipate using more than $190,000.
Mr. MARLATT. No; I said the $190.000 would cover the work of the experts and the organization and the survey and the clean-up work we are going to do. But it would not cover the extermination work in Mexico which we may find it necessary to do to safeguard us from the proximity of the insect and the likelihood of its entering from such proximity. This other sum we may or may not spend.
Mr. CANNON. And you may spend the additional $310,000 by going over into Mexico and cleaning that up and exterminating the weevil. I just want to know if there is a faint possibility of your doing the latter during the next six months?
Mr. MARLATT. There is more than a faint possibility. There is a fair probability that we will want to spend some of it, and if we should need to spend all of it, it would be well worth spending. Mr. Chairman, we have a number of experts from the department here if you would like to hear from them about this matter.
The CHAIRMAN. I think you have covered the matter very thoroughly. There is just one matter I would like to ask you about. I understood you to say that you did not intend to pay for cotton destroyed in Mexico: that is, you do not contemplate doing that under this appropriation?
Mr. MARLATT. We had reference to the Laguno district. We would like to have the power broadly drawn in the bill so that if we find a small patch of cotton on the Rio Grande Valley or near it belonging to some Mexican we would like to be able to destroy it, and the only way we can do that is to pay him the loss. It is much better to have the power to do that than to say that we will not pay for it, because he will then say that it will not be destroyed. If we should have to destroy 100 acres here and there, it would cost something to do it. The actual work of destruction wouldn't cost a great deal, but we could not put that on the owner, even if he should allow us to destroy his cotton, and he should be paid for the actual loss sustained on the crop. I think we ought to look at that fairly in the face. This is not
dealing with our own people. It is dealing with a planter in a friendly country, and we can not go in and destroy that man's cotton and make him no return.
The CHAIRMAN. But the question is one of policy in going into a foreign country and undertaking to eliminate a pest by destroying property and paying for it. That is a question of policy that should be very carefully considered.
Mr. MARLATT. Of course.
The CHAIRMAN. Because if we start in with these 100-acre patches we may get up to 8,000-acre patches.
Mr. CANNON. If you once got over into Mexico, would you not have a geometrical multiplication of those 100-acre cotton fields?
Mr. MARLATT. I do not think there would be much money spent in
The CHAIRMAN. I think it is a question of policy that should be very carefully considered, because if we go to Mexico, why not go to India and Egypt?
Mr. MARLATT. Of course, gentlemen, that is your responsibility. The CHAIRMAN. That is why I asked you about just what you contemplated doing. I did not want any misunderstanding about it.
Mr. MARLATT. We have the responsibility of keeping out this insect, and if we find a small field full of it near us in Mexico, with fields on our side, there is only one thing to do, and that is to eliminate it from that infested field. We have got to meet that proposition. It might mean hundreds of millions of dollars to us if the insect entered from such fields and only a few hundred dollars to the Mexican planter, but those few hundred dollars to the planter means just as much to him as the larger sum does to us. I think we have got to look at that squarely. It might not be good precedent, and it might lead, as Mr. Cannon says, to a good many hundred fields being found, and if it does we will have to stop it, but if it will be the means of cleaning up points of infestation which are too near us to be safely left, I think we ought to be empowered to do it.
Mr. BYRNS. That is the case in Mexico. That applies to Mexico. Do you ever pay for cotton fields destroyed in this country?
Mr. MARLATT. We have not.
Mr. BYRNS. I mean, if it was in Texas, would you pay for it? Mr. MARLATT. We are not doing that, and we are not asking for that now in the present plan.
Mr. SISSON. I think if the same precautions had been taken in reference to the Mexican bool weevil that the Agricultural Department are now endeavoring to take in reference to the pink boll worm the cotton industry in the South, the cotton spindles of the world would be in a very much better condition.
The statement submitted by Mr. Marlatt follows:
DETAILED ESTIMATE OF EXPENDITURES UNDER PROPOSED EMERGENCY PINK BOLLWORM APPROPRIATION.
Under this appropriation the following important work can be immediately undertaken to prevent the introduction of the pink boll worm from Mexico into the United States:
1. Cotton-free zone:
The establishment of a cotton-free zone in Texas is dependent for its full accomplishment on legislation yet to be enacted by that State. As the result of a conference with State officials July 17, 1917, the commissioner of agricul