Imágenes de páginas




`HE season of greatest activity upon the farm has ended, and now the agriculturalists of this country are beginning to compute their profits for 1902. Wheat has all been harvested, corn is matured beyond the point of danger, and other cereals are safe for the season. Pasturage

was never in better shape for the grazing herds, and only the cotton crop seems to be seriously affected. Cotton is not so badly drought-bitten but that the growers can come out with a handsome profit.


A few weeks prior to the wheat harvest the usual cry of hot winds and droughty conditions in the grain belt went forth, but when the harvest came it was found that wheat was safe. In the Northwest wheat harvesting was delayed by heavy rains, and along the north Pacific coast considerable, but not serious, damage was done to grain in the shock. In the Southwest the harvest progressed without a hitch, so far as favorable weather was concerned. The principal difficulty was in securing sufficient harvest helpers. The spring wheat crop, which is the principal one of the Northwest, was considerably damaged by hail in the Dakotas. Notwithstanding this slight interference the condition of wheat, as viewed by government experts, gradually improved as the season came to an end. Nebraska, this year, claims the largest wheat yield per acre. This record was previously held by Wyoming.

During the early part of August a hot wave struck the corn fields of Kansas, and threatened to burn them before the ears had matured, but the intense heat lasted less than one week, doing less than 3 per cent. damage to growing corn. Cool weather and general rains followed, and the corn is now safely matured. As a whole, the corn made excellent and unhampered progress throughout the growing season. This record of weather conditions is unusual.

Early in August the cotton crop began to improve, and there is a possibility that the drought, shredding, and rust which threatened to wipe out the profits of cotton growers of the South will not, after all, seriously affect the result.

[ocr errors][merged small]

Wheat was blighted in portions of the country in early spring and during the past winter, while heavy rains during July damaged the corn to some extent in the Lake, upper Mississippi, and lower Missouri regions. But otherwise the crops have been attended and assisted by favorable rains and sunshine throughout the growing seasons. As always, the scare of a ruined wheat crop was started in early summer, but it was found after harvest that the crop had fallen short of last year's enormous wheat yield by 50,000,000 bushels, while corn for 1902 exceeded the crop of 1901 by 1,000,000,000 or more bushels. Other cereals will be above the ten-year average.

The Northwest is producing the largest crop of wheat, barley, oats, and flax ever recorded, while Kansas is coming forward with a " bumper" corn crop; even in excess of 1889, when corn was burned for fuel and sold at 10 cents per bushel. As a result of the bounteous harvest, a bearish feeling possessed the speculators, and grain "sold off" steadily. Once the "cor

ner" in corn and oats had been broken the market took the natural downward trend.

[blocks in formation]

Cereal crops for the year of 1902 have not all been gathered, but experts have reported upon their yield, and these approximate reports, submitted several months ahead of the Government reports, have proved very nearly exact in the past. Approximately stated, the yield is as follows: Wheat, 700,500,000 bushels; corn, 2,589,951,

000 bushels; oats, 860,000,000 bushels; barley, 120,850,000 bushels; rye, 30,350,000 bushels. Thus a total of 4,351,851,000 bushels of cereals were produced on 841,000,000 acres, to say nothing of the farming land used for other crops and for pasture land, barnyards, etc. Prices obtained by the farmers for the cereals differ every year. Last year, for instance, there was a shortage in corn, and it sold for 60 cents a bushel on the farm. The history of corn has been that during such plentiful seasons as this one the average price is 30 cents per bushel. At that rate 1902 corn will bring to the farmers $776,985, 300. Wheat prices are governed accordingly. All other things considered, wheat will bring 60 cents to the farmer during 1902,—that is, he will have realized that amount by general consideration of wheat on hand, the shortage, etc., and at this figure the wheat crop will net $580,100,000 to farmers. Oats, if sold at the present market price, will bring $350,500,000; barley, $52,750,000; rye, $15,909,000, or a total of $1,776,244,000 for cereals alone. The cotton crop is worth this year about $500,000,000, while the hay, including alfalfa, is worth the same amount to the farmer. Potatoes will sell for $100,000,000, while the buckwheat crop is valued at $8,000,000. There have been other years when cereals sold for more; last year the corn crop, though

[ocr errors]

one-half as large as in 1902, sold for $921,555,768. But the farmers did not hold much of it when it went to 65 cents, so they were not benefited. The selling price at harvest time can generally be accepted as the farm price.



Approximately the earnings of the five and two-thirds million farms of the United States were, for 1902, five and one-fifth billion dollars. This is far in excess of the total income of the farmers at any other time in their history. The products of the farms for 1899 sold for $4,739,118,752. The cereals, save corn, are about equal to the crop of 1899. This year, 500,000,000 bushels more corn and several hundred thousand head of steers in excess of three years ago were placed on the markets. And one should also remember that the number of farms is continuously increasing at a rate of from fifteen to forty thousand annually.

The corn crop of the world for 1900 was 2,882,900,000, the corn crop of the United States for 1901 was 1,522,518,000 bushels, while the corn crop of the United States for 1902 is slightly in excess of the 1900 crop of the entire world. This year 94,869,928 acres were planted in corn, principally in Illinois,

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska. Illinois exports more corn than any other State, or 35,000,000 bushels in 1901. On March 1 of the present year much of the crop of 1901 was held and sold during the spring at 60 and 70 cents per bushel, excessive prices indeed. When the first corn was being gathered in the West the market price in Chicago was 67 to 70 cents.

The average yield per acre in 1901 was 16 bushels; this year, 30. The wholesale price of corn on December 1, 1901, was 72 cents, and in May it touched the high-water mark at 80. There was a corner in corn in July, but this did the farmers little good. Their bins were sold bare before that time.


The average yield of wheat, since a report has been kept, is 15 bushels per acre. In the Southwest, Turkey red wheat has been known to run 40 bushels per acre, and certain expert wheat growers have a system of drought-proof planting which yields 25 bushels. The greatest average of wheat for one State is reported from Washington, with 29 bushels per acre for 1901. Last year 375,000,000 bushels of wheat were exported, there being an overproduction of 200,000,000 bushels above the general average. Farmers in 1901 cleared $205,000,000 on wheat alone. On July 1 of the present year the farers held in their granaries 52,000,000 bushels of old wheat. The 1901 crop sold for $467,350, 156, as against $580,100,000 for 1902. The shortage in bushels of wheat this year was more than accounted for in price. Several million acres of wheat were entirely frozen out during the winter, and this land was ploughed up and sown in corn. But the crop turned out much better at harvest than it was expected to do. Clear dry weather for three weeks prior to cutting time assisted the grains in development. The wheat crop of the world for 1900 was 2,873,000,000 bushels.


There are 10,438,922 persons engaged in agricultural pursuits, while all other industries engage 18,845,000 persons. One-third of the entire area of this country is devoted to tilling of the soil. There are to-day 5,739,657 farms in the United States, and the value of farm property, including improvements, stock and implements, is $20,514,001,838. The number of farms has quadrupled in the past fifty years, while the value of the farming land to-day is five times as great as the selling price of fifty years ago. More than 1,000,000 farms have been laid out and fenced in by settlers, principally in the West, in the past ten years. Fifteen thousand farms were

[blocks in formation]


The supply of farm products sold abroad is increasing every year. In 1900, according to the Secretary of Agriculture, the amount was $950,000,000. For years there have been objections raised in the East by farmers against the reclaiming of the arid lands of the West. A reason was offered that the supply would exceed the demand. Experts scout this idea, and say that the new foreign markets being opened, principally in Asia, will absorb the surplus of farm products of the West, no matter how excessive over previous yields. One difficulty in raising farm products with profit on the Western slope is high transportation rates to the Eastern seaboard. James J. Hill, president of the Great Northern Railway, recently said of undeveloped trade in the Orient :

There are a thousand million people off our Pacific coast, with only three million farmers on the Pacific slope to reach out for their trade. To develop this trade national irrigation is necessary, and is the one thing needed to give the United States dominant power of the Pacific Ocean commerce and supremacy of the world's trade in farm supplies. Every business interest benefits by irrigation.

Thus it will be readily seen that the possibilities of farming in the United States have not half been accomplished. But public lands have been opened at a rapid rate since 1892, 112,294,681 acres having been disposed of by the United States, principally to farmer-settlers.


While farming is yielding large profits to the owners, what of the farm workers? In 1900 there were 5,321,087 daily wage earners in the United States. Of this number 1,522, 100 were regularly employed farm hands," working by


the day or month, exclusive of farmers who own
and operate their farms. The scale of wages
paid them is from 80 cents to $1.25 per day, or
$20 to $25 per month and board.
The wages
for helpers, extra and regular, amounted to
$365,505,921, while the value of farm products
was over $4,700,000,000. The average expense
for each farm, so far as the labor is concerned,
was $64 in 1899, while the average value of the
products per acre was $4.47. White farmers
paid more for their help, on an average for each
farm, principally because their farms were larger.
Approximately each white farmer paid $71 for
his hired help throughout the year. Of course
some of these farmers did not hire any help at
all, harvesting their grain in midsummer alone.
But, on the other hand, some of the " "big"
farmers of the corn and wheat belts paid out
from $100 to $500 daily for helpers during the
garnering seasons. It costs more to run sugar
farms, $1,985 being paid for each plantation of
this kind which harvested a crop in 1899.
1889, the price paid for the running of various
cereal and produce farms is given by the Census
Bureau as follows: per farm, wheat and grain.
farms, $76; cotton, $25; tobacco, $51; nurs
eries, $1,136; vegetable, $106; dairy, $105.


Besides the regular number of farm helpers,


about 100,000 are employed in addition during
the wheat cutting season in the grain belts.
These are known as harvest hands, and are paid
from $1.50 to $3.00 per day. These harvest
hands are now forming themselves into unions
for their own protection from overwork and low
wages. Many labor unions for regular farm
hands are being organized in Indiana, Ohio,
Kansas, and the Southwest. The young man
who has made his home on the farm year after
year is paid less than any other class of workers.
He has had longer hours and no vacations.
has brought to his employer larger returns for
the work than the coal miner, the steel worker,
or the mechanic of ordinary skill. The total ex-
pense, for instance, on an acre of wheat is $6.
Of this $4.10 goes for horse hire, twine, seed,
etc., while the remainder is paid to the two men
who gather it and the one who ploughs the soil
and sows the grain seeds. The profits upon their
$1.90 worth of labor yield from $5 to $8 to their
employer. Corn is produced for $5.85 per acre,
of which $2.25 goes to the man and his team.
Generally the horses are owned by the farmer,
and the man is getting $20 per month. The
duties and wages of the farm hand of to-day, it
may be seen, are not commensurate with the
profits of his employer.






HE marked prosperity which has attended the industry of agriculture during the past few years has been the occasion of many comments respecting its industrial and social signifi In a general way, it is understood that all members of society are partakers of this prosperity. It is one thing, however, to cacede in a general way the proposition that the commercial success of one class or interest must diffuse itself throughout the community; it is quite another thing to see clearly in what manner, and under what conditions, this diffusion takes place. Indeed, it is by no means easy to appreciate fully the extent of the mutual dependence of classes and interests in a country whose industrial or ganization is like that of the United States.

There was a time when the chief significance It is doubtless true that this relation of the of agriculture lay in the fact that it provided agriculturist to the manufacturer is in a degree a

raw material and food for those engaged in manufacture and trade. This must, of course, ever remain an important service of agriculture, but it fails to suggest the chief significance of the prosperity of the farmers at the present time. Of greater relative importance is the fact that a series of successful years in the industry of farming increases the purchasing power of a vast body of intelligent men and women whose homes are scattered throughout the length and breadth of the land. It is through this increase in ability to buy goods that the prosperity of its rural districts makes itself felt, for this presents to the manufacturer a commercial motive to employ labor and capital in producing the goods which the farmers demand.

reciprocal relation. At whatever point one breaks into the circle of trade he may observe the current of exchanges to move in both directions. The manufacturer buys from the farmer as well as the farmer from the manufacturer. All permanent and healthful exchanges are at last analysis reducible to barter. But while this is true, it is also true that any series of activi ties must have a beginning, and both analysis and observation lead to the conclusion that the initial step in creating a circle of successful trade must be taken by those producers who, from the nature of their occupation, deal with the primal factors of consumption. The manufacturer will produce nothing unless he sees, or thinks he sees, a market for his goods, for neither he nor his laborers care to consume the things they make. The merchant and the transporter, also, await the appearance of a visible demand before expanding their enterprises. The farmer, on the other hand, will plant and reap whether there is a strong demand for his produce or not. The condition of the market may influence the kind of seed sown, but it will not, at least for a considerable number of years, influence the extent of the sowing. This is why, after a period of commercial depression, the manufacturers and the merchants are more anxious even than the farmers themselves for good harvests and good prices.


In what way, then, does a bountiful harvest under propitious conditions of the market diffuse itself throughout the community? To answer in a sentence, this diffusion takes place through the agency of the motive which a prosperous condi tion of agriculture presents to the manufacturer and the merchant. The prosperity of agriculture is the center of that spontaneous activity which, when extended to the entire field of human wants, results in what is known as "prosperous times." Thus, a series of bountiful harvests is the starting point of recovery from commercial depression. Other facts there are, without doubt, that should be embraced in a complete explanation, but success in agriculture is the initial factor; it is the fundamental fact. We gain the correct point of view from which to analyze industrial interdependence when we consider it from the point of view of consumption.

While it is true that the above analysis holds for all peoples and all countries, there are certain reasons why it bears a peculiar significance for

the United States. In the first place, notwithstanding the marvelous development of manufactures, this country is still an agricultural country. Success in agriculture touches the lives and interests of a large portion of the population. It means a rise in the scope and standard of demand of a very considerable number of people, and results in the strengthening of a home market of such proportions as to furnish, quite independently of foreign markets, an adequate motive for the development of manufacture and trade. From the point of view of consumption the sig nificance of an industry is measured, not by the amount of capital invested, but by the number of consumers which it supports.


The intelligence of the agricultural classes in this country, also, is a fact of equal importance, for widespread intelligence is essential to the elasticity of commercial demand. The American farmer does not hoard his cash. He does not, like the peasant of southern Germany, know the system of "blue stocking" banking. perity for him means a rise in the standard of living, or an improvement in the equipment of production, either of which constitutes an effective demand for the labor of the non-agricultural classes. And, finally, it should be observed in this connection that the American farmer is, as a rule, his own landlord. This makes an immense difference in the extent to which agricultural prosperity is diffused throughout the com. munity. Being his own landlord, he receives as a portion of his income the rent that accrues on his land. This not only puts at his disposal a larger sum of money to be expended, but it places the expenditure of this amount in the hands of a class whose demands are for a large quantity of common, ordinary goods. This of itself is a significant fact, for a moment's consideration makes it evident that an increase in the available wealth of a small aristocratic class must be followed by relatively slight industrial consequences as compared with the results of a diffusion of an equal amount among a large body of intelligent consumers. Thus, from every point of view, American agriculture is in a condition to control in large measure the industrial activity of the American people. The prosperity of the farmer, if not synonymous with the prosperity of the nation, is an essential for widespread industrial activity.

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »