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Schedule J-FLAX, HEMP, AND JUTE, AND MANUFACTURES OF.
AMERICAN FIBER INTERESTS.
Free list, paragraph 497.—Istle or Tampico fiber, jnte, jute liutts, manila, sisal
fin---, sunn, flax straw, flax not hackled, tow of flax or liemp, hemp not hackled, einp, il:i\ inir, and tow wastes, and all other textile grasses or librous vegetable substances, unmanufactured or undressed, not specially provided for lu this act.
MEMORIAL SUBMITTED BY THE NATIONAL VEGETABLE FIBER PRODUCERS' ASSOCIATION
Minneapolis, Minn., January 11,1897. Committee On Ways And Means:
Pursuant to tbe organization of the National Vegetable Fiber Producers' Association, at St. Paul, Minn., January 14,1897, this association being composed of—
Minnesota Flax Co., Minneapolis, Minn. (F. H. Warden and A. II. Swett).
Nebraska Hinder Twine Co., Fremont, Nel>r. (B. W. Reynolds).
Floyd Valley Flax Fiber Co., Sioux City, Iowa (T. P. Gere).
Messrs. S. C. Furlow, Webber, Knowlton, and Richardson, Rochester, Minn.
Eau Claire Linen Co., Ean Claire, Wis. (H. C. Putnam).
Messrs. A. D. Fleming & Co., Albany, Wis. (Frank Woodhead), manufacturers
Mrs. O. N. Olberg, Albert Lea, Minn.
of Agriculture. Prof. W. M. Hayes, agriculturist, Minnesota Experiment Station, St. Anthony
Park, Minn. Prof. Harry Snyder, chemist, Minnesota Experiment Station, St. Anthony Park,
Jno. Niblock, Anderson, Ind. (intermittently in flax and hemp since 1861).
banlt, Minn. John T. Smith, manufacturer of upholstery tow and hemp grower, Heron Lake,
St. Paul Linen Works, St. Paul, Minn. (M. 1). Miller).
The purpose of this organization being to foster and promote the culture and manufacture of vegetable fibers in the United States, by individual and associate effort, and by legislative enactment or otherwise, through its executive committee, herewith submit the following:
Believing in the policy of protection to American industries, and being cognizant of the almost utter extinction of the flax and hemp fiber business (which formerly flourished largely) because they have not been properly or adequately protected against foreign fibers, which are produced either by pauper labor or labor paid in a most niggardly manner, and feeling confident that these industries will revive and be largely upbuilt if they be but given recognition in the tariff' schedules to a fair extent—to the degree of equalizing the vast difference between cost of American as compared with illy paid foreign labor—we beg that your committee place flax, hemp, and all foreign fibers upon the dutiable list at the following rates:
Hackled flax, known as "dressed line" 5 cents.
Unliaekled flax 3 cents.
Hackled tows 3 cents.
All other tows 2 cents.
Hackled hemp, known as "line hemp" 2^ cents.
Russian aud Italian hemps 1^ cents.
Tow of either Kussian or Italian hemps £ cent.
Sisal hemp 1J cents.
Manila hemp 1J cents.
Jute li cents.
All other fibers not herein specified li eente.
Jnte butts and rejections 4 cent.
Upholsterers' tow, or flax moss i cent.
Flax tow (paper stock) | cent.
Asking the benefit of your influence and cooperation upon the above and hoping for favorable consideration, we remain,
F. H. Warden,
FIBER RAISING CAN BE MADE PROFITABLE.
Minneapolis, Minn., January 7,1897. Committee On Ways And Means:
We have found it impossible to be personally present at the hearings of your committee upon the schedule covering flax, hemp, jute, mauila, and other vegetable fibers, and therefore take this late opportunity of setting before you our views upon this subject. We have established a small mill for the production of flax fiber for spinning purposes, and are using our best endeavors to educate the farmers to raise flax for this purpose and have made some material progress, but it is daily more apparent to us that there is a dirp necessity for an import duty upon flax and hemp fibers aud tows if we expect to live and to expand this industry to any extent whatever. Every requisite of climate and soil is now prevalent here in Minnesota aud the Northwest for the establishment of this industry upon a very large basis, aud this is evidenced by the quality of product which we have already obtained, although only established a comparatively short time. Our farmers have found the raising of flax straw for fiber the best paying crop they have had this last season, but these prices which we have to pay and the cost of labor make it questionable if others will go into this business unless there is some additional incentive than the prices now obtainable in our markets, and we believe this can only be improved by adequate protection upon these fibers against foreign fibers produced by labor that costs 50 to 75 per ceut less than ours.
Our flax is obtained by the expensive process of water retting, such as is followed by the Belgians, French, Irish, and other European countries who produce the highest grades of fiber. But a very serious doubt exists in our minds if we can continue to pay the cost of our labor and compete with foreign flax, unless some protection is given us by the payment of duty by this foreign flax. We think only a fair protection would be afforded our industry by a duty of 5 cents per pound on hackled flax, known as "dressed line;" and 3 cents per pound on scutched flax, known as "line" flax; and also the same upon tows', known as "hackle tows;" while other grades of tow should pay at least 2 cents per pound. Under such protection we belive that the flax and hemp industry would become a business of vast magnitude in this country, and we do not see how they can become such, until practically the above rates of duty are established. It is our opinion also that all foreign fibers including sisal and manila hemp, New Zealand flax, jute, Russian, French, Italian, Hungarian hemps, and tows made from them, should all pay duty of some sort; but as to the amount of these, the writer does not feel competent to state, because of not being as intimately acquainted with those fibers as with flax and hemp. We trust, therefore, that you will give your serious consideration and cooperation along tliese lines, as in that way we may grow at home these valuable fibers instead of sending our money abroad for them. Were there a question of our ability to grow these fibers it might be different, but our ability to grow them is abundantly established as numerous testimonials of ours testify.
We now beg to say that the following seem to us only fair and adequate:
Hackled flax, known as "dressed line," 5 cents per pound; unhackled flax, or merely "scutched flax," 3 cents per pound; hackle tows, 3 cents per pound; all other flax tows, 2 cents per pound.
In connection with this I beg to state that we follow the extremely expensive water retting process, similar to that of Belgium, which produces the finest grades of flax, and the cost of the labor alone is 75 to 85 per cent of the amount requisite to produce the fiber. While it is true that flax may be called the "raw material" of the spinners, it is our manufactured stock, and with this heavy outlay for cost of labor, amounts named above are certainly not excessive. There is another process followed for producing flax—that followed by the Canadian mills, and Messrs. James Livingston & Co., of Yale, Mich., which is called the dew retting process, and consists of spreading the flax straw upon meadows and allowing the dews and rains to ret it—a similar process to that of producing Kentucky and other American hemps. This process is considerably less expensive than the water retting process, of which we are the sole exponents in this country at this time.
I can assure you that with proper protection, a vast industry spring up in a very short time, and our own State of Minnesota is eminently fitted to stand at the head of this list.
Minnesota Flax Co.,
JUTE A DECEPTION AND FRAUD.
New York, December 20, 1890. Committee On Ways And Means:
Shoddy is wool's greatest foe and our people's worst enemy. The grinding up of old rags, ever growing weaker and nastier, drives down the price of wool and clothes us with poorer garments. It is perpetual motion. Woolgrowers keep posted on shoddy. There is no value in it, only for the selfish and greedy to deceive and swindle iis with it. Shut it out.
Jute is a shoddy fiber. In report No. 8, United States Department of Agriculture, on the culture of' hemp and jute in the United States, Mr. Charles Richard Dodge says (p. 7) that jute has destroyed our hemp industry; that thirty-seven years ago we produced 75,000 tons per year, and last year hardly 5,000 tons. On page 23 he says that during 1894-95 over 100,000 tons of jute fiber and butts were imported here. On page 28 he says that several American plants, called weeds, produce better fiber than jute; that jute, compared with other fibers, is very inferior; that it has little durability, can not stand dampness, and rapidly deteriorates. On page 2!) he says that sooner or later its use as a cheapener will be viewed as a criminal offense.
If we need and can use cheap fibers like jute we can grow them here, and our agricultural interest will give them to us. It is bad enough to have with us poor, cheap trash, but for heaven's sake do not let the rotten, fallen, 5-cents-a-day labor of India flood us with its filth. The amount of cheap foreign fiber trash sent here is beyond finding out; it is in many things woven or spun that come here. In November, Calcutta says there is 430,000 bales of jute afloat, and of this only 22,000 bales were for the United States. But in some shape most of the balance gets here. Put a heavy specific duty on it and on everything which it is a part of. It will come in in spite of any duty yon put on it, but if we must have it a heavy duty will help us to grow it here. At present it is to cotton what shoddy is to wool, and fills our houses with millions of pounds and yards of fiber trash, where good cotton should go, to be used by thrifty women for clothes and garments.
The question of a duty on jute raw material is an important one. The jute people are working to have it come in free; they say wovencloth manufactured goods will be put upon the dutiable list. The only intelligent argument in favor of jute is that it is used for bale covering. There is no argument in favor of jate, raw, on the free list. We may have twenty mills using it. We have thousands of mills injured by it. It is made the basis of oilcloth, carpets, and drapery, and is used as cordage. It is always a cheapeuer, a deception, and a fraud. Please give this careful thought.
Thomas M. Letson.