National Geographic : 1906 Sep
ANIMAL WEALTH OF It is probable that this gain per cent was fully maintained at the many smaller markets throughout the country, and as the gain in value was much greater than the gain in number, the cattle raiser has been doubly benefited under our present tariff law. The present duty on cattle, Mr. Presi dent, is none too large for the protection of our farmers and cattle growers. The plea is made that the duty only benefits the so-called "meat trust," and enables the packers to control the price of meat, which we know is greater than it was ten years ago. I do not propose to either condemn or defend the so-called "meat trust." I simply want to assert that the duty has nothing to do with the retail price of meat, save in so far as our tariff, in giving more employment and more wages to consumers, creates a demand for meat far in excess of previous years and far in excess of the demands of any other people. I have shown that the value of cattle has increased over 50 per cent since the Wilson-Gorman tariff. Meat in the United States, under pro tection, is less in price than in Great Bri tain under free trade. Beef, according to the prices furnished by the New York Produce Exchange, was 20 to 25 per cent higher during 1905 than during 1895. But corn and hay and labor were more than 25 per cent higher. If the packers do control prices, and if they could im port cattle from Mexico, Canada, and other countries duty free, then who would benefit? We would have to pay the same price for beef, and the packers would pocket the difference. They would then compel our farmers and cattle growers to meet the foreign price, depressing the do mestic industry, reducing cattle prices, and then hold us at their mercy as re gards prices for retail consumption. SOME EXPERIENCES UNDER WILSON GORMAN ACT In this connection I want to give you our experience under the Wilson-Gorman tariff. Under the tariff of 1890, known as the "McKinley law," the duty of $1o THE UNITED STATES 517 per head on cattle over a year old was practically prohibitive. With the repeal of that law and the reduction to 20 per cent ad valorem under the tariff of 1894 importations of cattle were resumed. Let me give you a few sentences from the testimony of Representative Noonan, of Texas, before the Ways and Means Com mittee of the Fifty-fourth Congress, Jan uary 5, 1897: The present tariff has practically placed horses, cattle, sheep, and goats on the free list, and it has resulted in great loss to the breeders of stock, many of whom have been bankrupted. Numerous ranches have been abandoned or have gone into decay, and millions of acres of good grazing lands are unused and the grass wasted because the business does not justify stockmen in raising animals for market at present rates. As a consequence all of their industries are languishing from the effects of Mexican competition. Nearly half a million of cattle have been imported from Mexico into the United States through Texas ports since the repeal of the McKinley law. The ranchmen of Texas are unable to sell their stock at the price paid for the Mexican cattle. Texas cattle raisers are required to rent or buy land upon which to graze their cattle, and they are obliged to pay more than double the wages paid in Mexico. Hence citizens of Texas are almost a unit against the importation of these Mexican cattle. At least 95 per cent of the cattlemen in Texas are opposed to the present duty and are in favor of the restoration of the McKinley rate. The tariff once restored-a specific tariff and one sufficient to protect their interests the old abandoned ranches will at once be re occupied and our people will again be remu nerated for their expenditure and labor, and the prosperity they have yearned for will re turn. Our farmers and cattle raisers want protection for their product, and we should be wronging every one of our agriculturists and those depending on them by lowering the present duty. The benefit is far reaching, as can be seen by the fact that of the 325,000ooo,ooo bushels of corn produced in Nebraska in 1905, half of it was fed to cattle; the same ratio undoubtedly holding good for Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and other sections. The tariff on cattle protects and bene fits nearly one-half of our people as pro ducers or dependents, and it does not affect the price of meat to the consumer.