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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 79

§ 4. Co-operative trading companies

§ 4. Co-operative trading companies.

No account of co-operation in New Zealand would be complete without some particulars showing what has been done by the farmers to obtain their supplies at a reasonable price, and to market their produce in the most economical manner. Strange to say the farmers are the only class in New Zealand who have been successful in running co-operative stores profitably. The largest organization of this kind in the dominion is the Canterbury Farmers' Co-operative Association. It was started in 1881 to improve the facilities for the co-operative marketing of the farmers' produce, and to procure for the shareholders such articles as agricultural implements, seed, corn sacks, wool packs, binder twine and other requisites, at a reasonable price and better in quality.

At first an arrangement was made with some of the business firms, by which members of the association were allowed special discounts on the goods purchased. But as soon as the country storekeepers learned that certain wholesale firms were willing to do this they threatened to boycott them, and the privilege was withdrawn. Consequently in 1882 the company opened up a retail business and erected offices and the necessary stores for wool, grain etc. near the railway. They started with a staff of a secretary page 18 and a boy, but the business grew steadily, and today the permanent staff numbers 750. In addition to the numerous retail departments, where everything can be obtained from a needle to an anchor, there are a number oi special departments, such as the Land and Estate Agency Department, for the sale of farms and pastoral properties, the Live Stock Department, which conducts periodical sales of stock at various centres throughout the province, special departments for the sale of agricultural implements and motor cars, grain and seed; manure works; a bacon factory and freezing chambers; grain and wool stores; and a binder twine factory. In 1882 the turnover was only £15,234; last year it was £3,257,795. The net profits increased from £170 in 1882 to £60,031 in 1915.

A number of similar farmers' co-operative societies are working successfully in other parts of the dominion and arrangements have been made to federate them and to establish a Farmers' Co-operative Wholesale Federation of New Zealand.

Several other forms of co-operation have also been initiated by the New Zealand Farmers. There are co-operative egg circles which collect, grade and market eggs to the best advantage for their members.

To check excessive freights, ships have been chartered to carry the producers' wool to England. To reduce the cost of selling their stock and other produce, the farmers have also organized special farmers' co-operative auctioneerig companies.

In grain growing districts co-operative threshing machines are not uncommon. The sheep farmers have started co-operative sheep dips, co-operative shearing sheds and co-operative sales of wool.

A honey producers' association has been formed to grade and market the products of the apiary to better advantge.

The co-operative movement has also extended to fruit growing, once the most unprofitable of all industries by reason of the loose methods of marketing. Large quantities of fruit were grown, which in the absence of any settled market had to be practically hawked by the fruit vendors or consigned by individual growers to agents in the towns, a few of whom were not always too careful of the interests of their clients. In Auckland some nine years ago a Fruitgrowers' Co-operative Society was formed. From small beginnings it has worked up a very profitable business, introducing improved methods of selling and distributing fruit; and so handling the fruitgrowers' business that it has become increasingly profitable. Last year the society besides paying a dividend of 5 per cent. made a rebate of 10 per cent. on all coupons issued during 1915. The fruitgrowers of the dominion have further established a federation which meets in conference annually, and under its auspices great developments are taking place in the export trade.

The co-operative movement is still in its infancy in New Zealand and seems capable of almost indefinite expansion. As stated, important developments have arisen out of the war conditions. Still more numerous and still more important movements would have been inaugurated on co-operative lines, during the last eighteen months, had it not been that the great struggle page 19 in Europe necessitated the concentration of the energies of the State upon war matters. The government had planned to introduce legislation for the establishment of agricultural banks on the mutual aid principle, in order to enable the small holders to pool their resources and their credit, as security for advances for the development of their farms, the purchase of machinery and live stock etc. It seems certain that the establishment of such banks will form a feature in the legislation that may be looked for after the war. Beyond this there is again a growing feeling amongst the agricultural community that the time is approaching when, instead of being dependent upon the existing steamship lines, the farmers should acquire their own ocean cargo carriers, and although any schemes in this direction that have been thus far mooted are still very much in the air", the fact that the farmers have begun to talk of establishing their own cargo service, is an indication that the proposals are by no means impossible of acceptance.

It is probable that New Zealand has more to learn from other countries than it can teach its trade competitors. But the things it is doing it has learnt to do thoroughly and well, and its ears and eyes are always open to receive and profit by suggestions. Mistakes have been made and the experience gained has had to be purchased, sometimes at a heavy cost. But the position of the average farmer in New Zealand today is infinitely better than it was 20 years ago. He is more independent and self-reliant than ever; but his independence and self reliance are rather those of his class than of the individual. He has learnt the great lesson that union is strength, and the necessity for working with his fellows for his and their mutual advantage. Through his agricultural and pastoral associations, his farmers' clubs, his farmers' unions, his farmers' co-operative auctioneering companies, his co-operative freezing works, his dairy factory associations and trading companies, he has become a very real power in the land, and is no longer dependent upon the tender mercies of the merchant or storekeeper, but in a position to command his own terms, and to do business on his own lines.

What limitations the future may have in store for him it would be hard to say, for he is now in the happy position of being able to command practically all the capital he requires, mainly as the result of the many successful enterprises which he has initiated.

The following comparative figures indicate the rapid growth of the agricultural industry in New Zealand, and this has naturally been reflected in the progress and great prosperity of the dominion generally.

Population. 1880 484,864. 1915 1,102,825.
Capital value of land in N.Z. 1882 £101,000,000. 1914 £365,342,237.
Area in cultivation 1881 4,768,192 acres. 1911 16,154,218 acres.
Area in occupation 1881-2 26,845,466 acres. 1911 40,238,126 acres.
No. of sheep 1881-2 12,985,085. 1915 24,901,421.
No. of sattle 1881-2 698,637. 1911 2,020,171.

The total value of the exports has more than doubled within 10 years, rising from £815,503,530 in 1905 to £31,038, 132 in 1915, or £28 48. 8. per page 20 head of population (excluding Maoris). This is the highest export trade per head in the world. The exports last year exceeded the imports by more than £10,000,000.

While this growth cannot be entirely attributed to co-operation and refrigeration, there can be no doubt that these have been amongst the most potent factors in promoting the increased prosperity of New Zealand.

Due credit must be given to the rising price level; but it is only just to point out that the main cause of the prosperity in recent years has been greater productivity, and this has been greatly stimulated by the improved methods of preparation and marketing, which were the direct results of agricultural co-operation.

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(c) Publications of the Bureau of Agricultural Intelligence and Plant Diseases

1. Le Service De Protection Contre Les Maladies Des Plantes Et Les i.nsectes nuisirles dans les Divers Pays (The Present Organization of the Servicer for the Control of Plant Diseases and Insect Pests in the Different Countries) (1914, 350 pages, 410) Frs. 2.
Production Et Consommatlon Des Engrais Chimiques Dans Le Monde (Production and ConsuMption of Chemical Manures in the World). (Second Edition, 1914, 162 pages, 5 diagrams, 2maps, 16mo) Frs. 3.50

(d) Publications of the Bureau of Economic and Social Intelligence.

1. Inactlvite De L.'Institut International D'Agriculture Dans Le Do-Maine De La Cooperation, De L'Assurance Et Du Credit Agricoles (The Work of the International institute of Agriculture in the Field of Agricultural Cooperation, insurance and Credit). (In French, German and Italian). (1912, 34 pages, 16 mo) Frs.0.50
2. Monographs on Agricultural Co-operation in Various Countries. Vol.1 (1911. 451 pages, 16mo). (In English and French) Frs. 3.50
Do. Vol. 11.(19x5, 213 pages 16mo). (In English and French) Frs. 3.50
3. An Outline of the European Co-operative Credit Systems (Second Edition, 1913, 72 pages, 16mo) Frs. 0.50
4. L'Organisation de la statistique de la cooperation aoricole dans Quelques pays (The Organization of the Statistics of Agricultural Co-operation in certain Countries) (1911, 163 pages, 8vo) Frs. 1.50
5. L'assurance-grÊle dans quelques pays et ses prohlemes (Insurance against Hail in some Countries and its Problems). (1911, 110 pages, 8vo) Frs. 1.50
6 Agricultural Credit and Cooperation in Italy: Short Guide to Rural Co-operation in Italy (in English, 35 pages and in Italian, 34 pages. 16mo) Frs. 0.25

(e) other publications.

1. L'Institut International d'Agriculture, son organisation, son ActivitÉ, ses RÉSultats (The International Institute of Agriculture, its Organiz-ation, Activity, and Results). (1914, 31 pages, in English, French and Italian; illustrated) Frs. 1
2. Louis-Dop : Le Present ET l'Avenir de l'Institut International d'Agriculture (ConfÉrence) (Present and Future of the International Institute of Agricuyure) (Address). (1912, 60 pages, 16 mo) Frs. 1—
3 Santiago Aldunate: El Instituto Internacional De Agricultura y su importancia para la america latina, en especial para chile (con-ferencia) (The International Institute of Agriculture and its Importance for Latin America, especially for Chile). (1913, 30 paces, 16mo) (Address) Frs. 1—

II. Publications not for Sale.

1.Conference Internationale de 1905 pour la creation d'un Institut International d'Agriculture (International Conference of 1905 for the Foundation of an International Institute of Agriculture), (1905, 254 pages, 4to).
2.Actes des AssemblÉes Generales des annees 1908, 1909, 1911, 1913 (Proceedings of the General Assemblies of 1908, 1909,1911 and 1913)- (Four volumes, 8vo., one 16mo).
3.ProcÉs-verbaux du ComitÉ Permanent des annÉes 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913 (Proces-verbaux of the Permanent Committee, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911. 1912, 1913, 1914 and 1915). (Five volumes, 8vo., and two 16mo).
4.Rapports et Etudes du Bureau de la Statistique GÉnÉrale (Reports and Studies of the Bureau of General Statistics). (1911, 260 pages, 8vo).
5.The Science and Practice of Farming during 1910 in Great Britain. (646 pages, 16mo).
6.Etude sur les recensements de la population aoricole, les salaires de la main-d'œuvre rurale et les courants d'emigration dans les dipperents Beats (Study on the Census Returns of the Agricultural Population, the Wages of Rural Labour, and the Currents of Emigration in the Several Countries). (1912, 150 pages, 8vo).


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