This is a transcription of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One draft of the speech exists in the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy Library. Page images of the speech can be found here.
Few National undertakings are of greater importance to the people of Wisconsin than our agricultural research program. This program is still in its infancy. Yet it has already completely revolutionized the farming concepts of this state and the nation. Last year - on the smallest acreage in 40 years - with a farm population 5 million below that of the previous decade - our farmers produced the largest crop in our history. Fifty years ago each farmer produced only enough food for about 7 persons. Today each farmer produces enough for 25 persons.
In the past 20 years, milk production largely as a result of research into feeds and livestock breeding - has increased 35 per cent per cow. The development of hybrids increased corn production 40 per cent. Our modern industrial economy, with its high standard of living, would not be possible without the products of agricultural research. And an even greater emphasis upon research - on improved methods - is absolutely necessary if we are to meet the growing needs of the sixties.
But to meet these needs we must expand - not contract our current efforts. We must look to future gains - not past achievements. For research is, as Charles Kettering said - "a tomorrow mind instead of a yesterday mind." And our future may well depend upon our ability to stay ahead of the needs of the Free World in food and fiber production.
Our present failure to support badly needed research in the name of budget balancing is seriously jeopardizing that ability. We are on the threshold of important and revolutionary discoveries - a breakthrough in speeding plant and animal growth - electronic machinery which will revolutionize farming, processing and marketing - the use of starch from grain to improve paper, which would consume 100 million bushels of grain every year - all these important developments are within the grasp of our technicians and scientists.
More agricultural research is desperately needed to control disease and pests. One million pounds of meat are condemned every day - each year the boll weevil destroys more than $500 million worth of crops -grasshoppers, cattle worms, and other insects account for another $100 million damage. This enormous destruction can and must be controlled.
But, although Mr. Benson pays lip service to this need, the fine print in his budget calls for smaller appropriations. Of special interest to dairy farmers in this, the number one dairy state, was the failure last year - and again this year - to provide adequate funds for the Dairy Herd Improvement and the Brucellosis programs. For instance, last year dairymen themselves invested about $8 million of their own money in testing cows for the herd improvement service.
Yet the success of this entire program is seriously threatened by the Department of Agriculture's failure to provide accurate reports on cow feeding, testing and management. It has been reported that hand processing of these reports can result in making as many as thirty to forty per cent of them inaccurate. A modest investment of less than $200,000 would permit the establishment of an accurate and swift machine reporting system - a system which would provide the data necessary if the testing program is to succeed.
Today's slow down in brucellosis control is even more critical. Only 10 years ago the livestock industry lost $100 million a year to brucellosis. Dairymen, veterinarians, and milk processors of Wisconsin have made a concentrated attack upon this disease. They have had much success with limited resources. But brucellosis still persists. It cannot be eliminated by local efforts alone. To eradicate it we need a full-scale national attack.
Last year, the Department of Agriculture's own program called for control over the disease by 1965 and complete eradication by 1970. To do this the Federal Government must spend at least $20 million a year. To completely eradicate this dread disease - which produces undulant fever in humans - state and Federal Government combined must spend $372 million, spread over an 11 year period.
Despite the small cost of eradicating this destructive disease, last year's budget requested only $15 million - $5 million less than our minimum need. Even though Congress succeeded in increasing the appropriation to $16-1/4 million, we fell more than $3 million short of providing the necessary funds.
Such economizing not only jeopardizes the health of our farmers and consumers, it is wasteful. The Administration's slow-up will postpone complete eradication for 11 more years - until 1981. And that means it will cost the taxpayers an additional $264 million.
In short, the slow-up is not only more dangerous - it is more costly. I intend to urge the Appropriations Committees of the Congress to restore the brucellosis program to its full vigor. Both farmers and consumers need this program to protect their investment and their health.
Some say that the outlook for American agriculture is dark. But I firmly believe that if we can but encourage farm research sufficiently, the achievements of the future can be spectacular. It is an issue upon which all Wisconsin voters - farmers and consumers alike - should make their views known. They can speak in the April primary and in the November election.