The Hawley tariff bill, as passed by the House and now pending before the Senate Finance Committee, proposes to increase 404 of the 977 rates of duty provided in Schedule 7–the schedule entitled “Agricultural Products and Provisions.” Of the 1706 rates carried in the remaining tariff schedules, upward revision of 512 proposed by the House bill. In other words, 41.3 per cent of the rates in the agricultural schedule are proposed to be increased, as compared with 30.0 per cent of the rates in all other schedules.
Considered on the basis of numbers of rate increases, the Hawley bill appears materially to strengthen the policy of tariff protection for agriculture. Nevertheless, many agricultural spokesmen are highly critical of the bill in its present form. They assert that most of the increases proposed for farm products are wholly inadequate, and that whatever benefits they may yield will be more than outweighed by the upward readjustments of rates on non-agricultural commodities. Some agricultural leaders maintain, furthermore, that no tariff legislation can satisfactorily meet the farmer's needs unless the export debenture plan is incorporated into the tariff.
The Senate will reconvene on August 19, and will begin consideration of the new tariff bill so soon as it is reported from the Senate Finance Committee. Meanwhile, many of the Senate's members are visiting their constituencies. If agricultural opposition to the House bill is found to be as strong as it has been represented, it may well decide the fate of the pending measure. A combination of members from definitely agricultural states with senators who favor a modification of the theory of protection represented by the House bill, would very probably be able, when Congress reconvenes, to block the passage of any tariff legislation of which the group did not approve. It is likely, therefore, that the attitude of the farmer toward; the protective tariff will this year assume an importance greater than ever before.