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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 56

Depression in Agriculture. — Facts for Farmers. — No. 2. — Leaflet No. XXIII

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Depression in Agriculture.

Facts for Farmers.

No. 2.

Leaflet No. XXIII.

Cobden Club Motto
In Leaflet No. XVI. some of the most important proposals made for the relief of Farmers were discussed, viz.:—
1.Re-adjustment of Local Taxation.
2.Expropriation of Tithe Rent Charge.
3.Reform of Land Tenure.
4.Duties on Foreign Com.
5.Reduction of Rents.

It was pointed out that as regards Nos. I and 2, any relief would eventually benefit not the Farmers but the Landlords.

As regards No. 4, it was shown that Protection is simply an artifice for raising rents, and thereby plundering the community for the benefit of the Landlords.

It was in Nos. 3 and 5, the latter mainly, that the remedy was thought to be found.

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There are other directions, however, in which relief may be looked for, viz.:—

Variety of Cultivation.
Fair Rates of Carriage,
Middlemen's Profits.

There are thus five ways in which the Farmers' condition may be improved. Let us consider them.

First, What is Rent?

Rent is that portion of the produce of the lane which remains over after rewarding the Labourer for his toil, and the Farmer for his outlay and his work.

It is just what remains over that the Farmer cat afford to pay as Rent. If nothing remains over, land can bear no rent.

The Labourer and the Farmer should be considered first; the Landlord last.

In practice this rule has been reversed. Rent has been made the first consideration. Agriculture has become a game of chance, and Farmers the sport of Fortune.

It is heads the Landlords win, and tail: the Farmers lose.

The consequence is that Farmers have wasted the: capital, and Labourers have been forced to migrate.

What Farmers want from Landlords is: Security their Capital; Compensation for their Improvements, and no Raising of Rents thereon; more Liberty in Cultivation Stability of Tenure; and Reduced Rents, calculated more equitable basis than exists at present.

Farmers should go in for Variety of Cultivation. They should remember that we [unclear: annual] import twenty-three million pounds' [unclear: worth] of butter, eggs, cheese, poultry, game, fruit, and vegetable.

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Farmers should agitate for Fair Rates of Carriage. American meat and cheese are carried at 25s. a ton from Liverpool to London, while English meat is charged 50s., and cheese from Cheshire, 42s. 6d.

Potatoes from France are brought to London for 30s. a ton; from Penzance they are charged 45s. From Victoria Docks, London, to Peterborough foreign corn pays 6s. 8d. a ton, including barging, &c., while the ordinary charge for English corn for the same distance is 14s. 5d.

Fruit from Holland to London pays 25s. a ton. This fruit passes through Sittingbourne in Kent, from which station the charge on English fruit is also 25s.

The difference in the railway rates between foreign wheat and barley and English wheat and barley amounts to a rent of 5s. per acre.

As to Middlemen's Profits, the margin between what the Farmers get and what Consumers pay should be narrowed to the benefit of both parties.

The sheep which the Farmer sells for £3 costs the Consumer £4. 10s.

Milk which the Farmer sells for 1d. or 1½d., the Consumer pays 4d. or 5d. for, besides sometimes getting an adulterated article.

The annual value of milk sold amounts to Thirty Millions Sterling, far more than that of the wheat crop of the United Kingdom.

Last year 230,000 tons of meat were sold in Smithfield Market.

One halfpenny per pound on this, which is more than One Million Sterling, might probably by union and combination be put into Farmers' pockets from this one market.

These are the directions in which Farmers should look for relief; not to that Will o' the Wisp—a duty on foreign corn, which, as bitter experience has shown, benefits not the cultivator but the owner of the soil.

One thing is certain:—This nation will never again consent to raise artificially, by protective duties, the page break price of any product, whether of agriculture or of manufacture, above what it fetches in the general market of the world.

From all time the Agriculturist has been too apathetic.

It is of the Countryman that the fable written 2,400 years ago speaks of as praying to Hercules to drag his cart out of the rut.

The story goes that Hercules refused his aid, and told him to put his shoulder to the wheel. This is what the Farmer must do if he would succeed nowadays in his noble calling.

He must put his Shoulder to the Wheel.

Sketch of man holding onto wagon wheel

George W. Medley.

Messrs. Cassell & Company, Limited, La Belle Sauvage Yard, London, E. C., supply the Cobden Club Leaflets in packets of 100, price 1s. (or 2s. for those of 4 pp. marked).