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most important work of my Bureau is the making of crop estimates. That uses up practically three-fourths of my appropriation and is of the most vital present importance at all times. The reason it is of importance is thís: There is a demand on the part of produ.cers of, dealers in, and consumers of agricultu ral prodi cts to know approximately the volume of the crop in which they are interested. The farmer wants to know because he wants to know whether he shall sell his crop or hold it. The dealer wants to know becai.se he wants to know how much to offer for what he pi rchases, and how much to charge for what he has to sell. The consumer wants to know for similar reasons. So that there is a constant and insistent demand for statistics of production, of acreage, and of prospects of the various crops.
The CHAIRMAN. For which is the demand most insistent?
Mr. OLMSTED. It all leads up to one thing and that is the production, of course.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. But for which particular crop is the demand the most insistent?
Mr. OLMSTED. Oh, I can hardly say. I believe there is more fuss made, if I may use the term, about the cotton estimates, than any others. The estimates we make regarding wheat and corn and oats, which are strictly speculative crops, dealt in in the ''pits,” you know, in Chicago and New York
The CHAIRMAN. Tobacco?
Mr. OLMSTED. Yes; tobacco. That is not speculative; that is not dealt with in as speculative a way as those other products are, but, nevertheless, it is a very important crop. The demand for information regarding those things is constant and pressing.
The CHAIRMAN. That is, these that you term speculative in the sense that they are of immense value and are dealt in on a speculative basis?
Mr. OLMSTED. In the sense that the gamblers handle them in the pits" and sell them on futures and margins. The CHAIRMAN. That is mainly cotton, corn, wheat, and oats!
Mr. OLMSTED. They are the principal spect:lative crops. Others are dealt in to some extent, but they are the great spec lative crops, and they are the ones we have to be particr.larly careful about, in giarding against any leakage of advance information that some speculators might take advantage of. The value of or estimates of those things is that it supplies a gap, year by year, that otherwise would remain unfilled. There would be no way at all of getting information as to what the probable production of any crop would be if we did not make these estimates, except sich estimates as might be prt out by speculators and their agents for purely selfish motives. The producer of the country would be at the mercy of a gang of specullators, who would make it appear that the crop was tremendorsly big, in order to get his product at a low price, or tremendous!-- small, in order to sell it at a high priec; and there would be no reliability to any such reports.
Our reports are issued authoritatively, on widely diversified information secured from thousands of people, and they are unbiased. The intent is not to have anyone interested in the making of these
estimates who has any personal interest in the price, and the public is thereby furnished with approximately accurate information. Of course it is an estimate, and therefore it can not be a census, but it is approximately correct as to the volume of a crop. They want to know before the crop is harvested what the prospect is, so we furnish them during the growing season with estimates as to the condition of the growing crop-what the promise of the crop is. Those things are all eagerly sought, published in every paper of any importance in the United States, and analyzed, discussed, and used, and when our estimate appears all other estimates cease. Ours is accepted as final.
The CHAIRMAN. Where do you get your reports as to weather conditions ?
Mr. OLMSTED. We get them from the Weather Bureau. The CHAIRMAN. You do not have anybody collecting data of that kind?
Mr. OLMSTED. No; we do not get that, because the Agricultural Department does it, and we use their reports.
The CHAIRMAN. You mean the Weather Bureau does it?
Mr. OLMSTED. The Weather Bureau of the Agricultural Department does it. They collect those reports, and we take their reports and use them in making our estimates. We find them very valuable.
Mr. SAMUEL. There are no favored persons, such as Congressmen, receiving your reports in advance of others?
Mr. OLMSTED. No; they receive them at the same time others do. Mr. SAMUEL. They are not favored?
Mr. OLMSTED. Oh, no, indeed; nobody is favored. They are all gotten out at the same time, and the wires are kept open. The telegraph operators are there, and the employees of the press agencies are there, and I have about 20 copies made of the estimate, and they are all given out at once. The Secretary comes over to my office; I hold them out like that—like a pack of cards--and they all grab for them, and all get them at once. Then the telegraph operators jump for their instruments, and the press agents jump for the telephones, and they all get it at practically the same moment. Nobody is given any advantage over anyone else in the way of advance information.
The CHAIRMAN. Are all these people that are under your supervision continuously employed in the discharge of their duties?
Mr. OLMSTED. Yes, sir; except when they are on annual leave or away on sick leave.
The CHAIRMAN. I mean is the work of such a character that it requires the clerks that are here in Washington, for instance, to be continuously employed in order to discharge the work of the Bureau and the Department?
Mr. OLMSTED. Yes, sir; and it is of such a character that very many of them are employed beyond their strength. The work of the Bureau has grown so and has developed so without a corresponding increase in force that the capacity of the clerks and other employees of my Bureau is taxed to the utmost. We need more clerksa good many more.
The CHAIRMAN. Take, for illustration, a stenographer. What do you use a stenographer for?
Mr. OLMSTED. Oh, we have, for instance, letters galore from all over the country asking for information. We have scores of letters every day from Members of Congress and other people who want somě definite information on some one point that they do not know just where to find in our publications.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes.
Mr. OLMSTED. And they write to us for it. If it is something that we have published, we get the publication and mark a copy of it and write them a letter and send it to them, calling attention to the page on which they will find the information. If it is some information that is not published by us, but which we can dig out of the commercial papers, we will do so and send it to them. We are constantly on tap for information regarding such matters.
The CHAIRMAN. Have you any idea how many letters, for instance, a stenographer would take dictation of and transcribe!
Mr. OLMSTED. We have a record of all the letters sent. It is a very large number. We keep our stenographers very busy all the time, constantly, either on that or on other matters connected with the work, where stenographic work is required. I have ten stenographers and typewriters in my Bureau. They are not all stenographers, however; some of them are merely typewriters. I have five stenographers, and the balance of the ten are merely typewriters, and they are busy all the time-overwhelmed with work.
The CHAIRMAN. Their work is mainly taking dictation?
Mr. OLMSTED. Yes; or preparing tables. For instance, suppose you write me for information regarding some specific product for a series of years which you want to use in a speech, or want for some constituent. I will sit down and cull out the information and put it in the form of a table and give that table to the stenographer to typewrite. I could not send it to you written with a pen, because you want it in better shape than that. I will make a little table and have it typewritten for you and send it to you with a letter. We have lots of that kind of work to do.
Then we receive requests for information from foreign Governments. We have many communications to answer-scores of them. You have no idea of the immense amount of correspondence we have to handle from all over the country.
Then our regular correspondents write in for things. They write in asking favors of all sorts. We have to refuse most of them. We have no money with which to comply with them. We have to write letters to them to keep them from being angry, so that they will keep on reporting to us. We have to smooth them down. We may have a splendid correspondent in Alabama, for instance, who has been reporting to us for fifteen years, and he may say, “It is about time I was getting a salary. I have been getting too many garden seeds and documents and no money, and I am getting tired of it.” I have got to write that man a letter and smooth him down and explain to him why I can not pay him. I have lots of letters of that kind to answer. You can readily see that there is no end of work.
The CHAIRMAN. Is there any distinction between your bureau and other bureaus in the Department of Agriculture with reference to eligibles waiting for appointment who have passed a civil-service examination ?
Mr. OLMSTED. Not that I am aware of. Whenever I need a new clerk I call on the civil service to designate three people, and select one of them, according to the rules of that body, and they always send them to me, and I always get a satisfactory person.
The CHAIRMAN. You never have had any difficulty, up to date, in finding one ready to enter your employ!
Mr. OLMSTED. I never had any-not the slightest-no, sir; and I have always had very satisfactory people so far. I have no criticism at all to make of the people they furnish me.
Mr. SAMUEL. You have no statement to make to amplify what you have said?
Mr. OLMSTED. No, sir; I can not think of anything more to say, if I have made myself clear. I hope I have made myself clear as to the importance and value of our work; because the importance of any work, I think, is measured by the demand for the results attained. The demand for ours is something enormous.
Mr. SAMUEL. You have no way of making an estimate in dollars and cents ?
Mr. OLMSTED. No; I have not. I know that our estimate of a given crop, as to the production, serves to fix in the minds of the people interested in the crop how much it is worth—how much we will have for export. Take wheat, for instance. They take my figures of the wheat crop for the year, and they say, “The whole crop will be so much; that will leave us so much for export, so much for domestic consumption, and the price of the wheat ought to be about so and so."
The CHAIRMAN. So far as affecting the value of the product is concerned, is the value of your statistical work confined largely to half a dozen or eight or ten of the principal staples?
Mr. OLMSTED. Yes, sir; as far as affecting the value is concerned, it is; those speculative crops, particularly.
The CHAIRMAN. In what particular do we get value received in connection with the other crops, except as a matter of
Mr. OLMSTED. As a matter of information to people interested in
The CHAIRMAN. Yes; but in what way does that operate to result in real, concrete, material value?
Mr. OLMSTED. That is difficult to answer. It might operate in many ways. For instance, the man interested in the sugar-beet crop knows that in his section, where he lives, the crop is not promising, and that he is not going to make more than half a crop this year where he lives, and he wants to know what the condition of the crop is generally throughout the country-whether that condition prevails all over the country or not. He writes to us for information about it. We compile that information, and we send it to him. The manufacturer of beet sugar wants to know the same thing. Our office is the only place where he can get that information. He can not get it anywhere else. There is no other agency collecting that information. They want to know in advance what the prospects of that crop are.
The CHAIRMAN. Beets and cane for making sugar would be almost staples.
Mr. OLMSTED. They are getting to be. Now, take another crop of less importance-take peanuts, for instance. We have a great
many inquiries about peanuts. That is a very important industry in the section where peanuts are produced and dealt in. The handlers of peanuts want to know and the growers of peanuts want to know. For instance, Virginia is a great peanut State; so are Georgia and North Carolina. In Virginia the crops are very poor, say, and the people down in Virginia want to know how it is in North Carolina and how it is in Florida. They write to us for it. There is no other place where they can get the information. We haveit here, because we have compiled it from the reports of all our correspondents, from all our sources, and we can give these people just exactly the information they want as to the quality of the crop and the prospects.
Mr. SAMUEL. It gives them the information necessary to set a price on their crop?
Mr. OLMSTED. To set a price or to make contracts with the farmers. It gives the farmer a chance to set a proper price on his crop: We do not confine it to a particular dealer. It is published broadcast and sent to anybody interested.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you issue information of this kind during the month prior to your general monthly summary?
Mr. OLMSTED. No; just once a month. We could not do that. You can readily see that we could not do that. This information comes in
The CHAIRMAN. For instance, in reply to any inquiries that may come in in June you give them the results of your work up to the 1st of June?
Mr. OLMSTED. That is the idea, exactly.
The CHAIRMAN. But what was being developed during June you would not disclose until the end of June?
Mr. OLMSTED. Not until the end of June-not at all; so that everybody has the same information exactly at the same time.
The CHAIRMAN. How do you protect the sources of your information so that you know in the first instance that it has not leaked out, and in the next that its integrity has been preserved ?
Mr. OLMSTED. In the first place, all the reports of our salaried people (that is, our special field agents and our State agents)
regarding speculative crops (that is, crops whose price would be affected by advance information of our reports) are not sent to me at all. They are sent in specially printed envelopes addressed to the Secretary of Agriculture and are taken charge of by him, and he places them in a locked receptacle in his office. They are kept in that receptacle, unopened, until the morning of the day on whích I am to formulaté my estimates, and are guarded at night by an armed watchman. That is how we guard those up to that day. "I do not see them at all.
Mr. SAMUEL. They are unopened?
Mr. OLMSTED. Unopened. "He puts them in that receptacle unopened, with the seals unbroken, and he keeps them there until the morning of the day on which the report is to be issued. I do not see them at all until then.
As to the reports of the voluntary correspondents, they come to me and are tabulated, each class to itself, separat ly, in the States of relatively large production-all the cotton-producing States as to cotton, for instance; the separate wheat-producing States as to wheat; the separate corn-producing States as to corn; and the