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IN THE COMMISSION MARKETS, WHERE THE PRICES OF FARM COMMODITIES BEGIN
TO SHOOT SKYWARD.
chains and wild horses and regiments of price had been knocked down so buyers rifles could not keep them off the land. could pay for the freight out of what If the farmers were putting away 80 per should have been his profits, leaving their cent. of the first cost of their land a year, own profits intact. Paying for the New there would be such a rush from factory York end of the handling—that is, back to farm as would outsprint speed knocking his prices so low it_left them laws. If farmers could earn even 50 per margin to pay that handling. Paying the cent. on capital invested, there would risk whether there was loss or not. Paynot be a banker in the United States, ing the wages of the salesman out of from Hetty Greene to Pierpont Morgan, what should have been the farmer's marwho would not turn farmer quicker than gin. Paying the New York extortionate a motor car turns turtle. And after all, ground-floor rents—the big grocery, aren't the farmers the bank of the na- where the ex-farmer made his first intion? And what per cent. do they make quiry, was on Broadway and paid a rental on their investment? This man knew of $12,000 a year. And then over and when he had to let grapes rot, or sell for beyond these preliminary charges against 2 cents, he was not making 1 per cent. the grapes, paying a clear dividend of on his investment. He was not breaking about 500 per cent. each to commission even. He had to quit.
man, wholesaler, retailer. Why, he could have afforded to pay
No wonder the wealth of the nation the freight, to pay the New York end of centered in the cities! No wonder the the handling, to pay a man to look after boys and girls broke away from the farm the sales, and still have put away 50 per to pursue that wealth! This sort of game cent. profit on his grapes. Then, he made the farmer's nine-billion-a-year wanted to knock his head against some- crop a sort of sluice box for depositing thing; for wasn't that exactly what he gold in city vaults. When the farmer, had been doing, though he did not know however, wanted a loan, he had to come it? Paying for the freight—that is, his on his knees to those bank vaults for it.
Eggs, country price 20c to 48c a dozen, or 2c to 4c an egg; cost in hotels 30c for two or 150 an egg ; advance 400 to 800 per cent.
Apples, price paid grower $2 for a 10-dozen box, best grade, or 20c a dozen ; cost to city man $1 to $1.50 a dozen; advance 500 to 700
per cent. Oats, price paid farmer lc a pound; cost of oat
meal 7c to 10c; advance ON THE TABLES OF HOTELS, STRAWBERRIES RETAILED AT TWENTY-FIVE CENTS A Dish, OR ONE DOLLAR A QUART
700 to 1,000 per cent.
C abba ge, price paid 30c to 40c; a neat little advance of 400 farmer $1 per 50 cabbages, or 2c each ; per cent.
cost to city man 10c each; advance 500 Milk, price paid the farmer 4c; cost to
per cent. the city man 8c; advance 100 per cent. Tomatoes, $2 for 24-pound crate, or
Pork, price paid the farmer 4c to 6c; 8c per pound; cost in town 25c per cost to the city man 20c to 30c; advance pound; advance 300 per cent. 500 per cent.
Beef, per steer $50 to $60 to the Wood, $3 a cord; city price $8; cost of farmer; cost to city man figured out on cutting $2; advance 100 per cent. the basis of prices paid in the Senate
Strawberries, 10c a quart or 2c for a Restaurant $2,000; advance 3,000 per quarter dish; cost in city hotels 250 a cent. dish or $1 a quart—an advance of 1,000 Wheat, $1 per 60 pounds; breakfast per cent. No wonder there were million- cereal 15c a pound, or $9 per 60 pounds. dollar eating-places and twelve-million- Bread, 8c to 10c per pound; advance dollar hotels
800 to 2,000 per cent.
Now our farmer-man had not gone Before many weeks passed, he knows far in his investigations before he became the reason why making good as a city convinced of several things. Railway man is still harder than making good as charges did not account for the differ- a country man.
It is that matter of ence between the price on the field and saving before you can get in on the game. the price on the city market. The farmer Your farmer-man does not begrudge the alone created the wealth ; but he didn't railway its freight—even for dividends create it for himself; and he didn't create on watered stock. He does not begrudge it for the consumer. He created it for the wholesaler and retailer their 20 or the man who came between the producer 40 per cent.; or the milk people their and the consumer; in a word, the mid- $8,000,000 surplus; or the pork packers dleman. A sort of colossus, or giant, their 500 per cent.; or the mill men their that middleman appeared, as you thought 1,000 per cent. He would make all that about him, with one hand picking the for himself, if he could. It is, that havfarmer's pocket and the other hand dig- ing been skinned off the land and forced ging into the city man's coat tails; with to come to town, the high cost of living one foot: out on the farmer's back and now skins him out of that margin he was the other foot solidly planted on the con- going to save. The town salary that sumer's stomach. But as our farmer- looked so big when he was out on the man was not a Sir Galahad to knock his head against stone walls or a Don Quixote to tilt wind-mill theories, he accepted the gospel of things-as-theyare, and came to a still more pertinent and personal conclusion. The town was the place to make big money. The town was the place to come to; and so the farmer comes and comes and comes in spite of the cry "back-to-the-land”; comes with Dick Whittington's hopes in 'his heart to make good, and save money, and get in on this game that skins both going and coming; or know the reason
BUT THE CITY CONSUMER PAID ONE DOLLAR FIFTY A why.
town to find the same insidious and unseen hand picking the same old stupid pocket.
If you want to know whether his figures are based on fact or fiction, just consider a few well-known cases that are on record.
A farmer in New Jersey sold two hogs on the local meat market at the current prices for live squealers. Before going home, he asked the butcher to keep a couple of hams for him. A week later, he came around for the hams and asked for the balance of the money coming to him. The meat man presented him with a bill for $2.85 over and above the credit due for the live hogs. A like case is on
record of a similar dicker in lamb. Why FOR WHEAT, THE FARMER GOT ONE DOLLAR FOR did the farmer sell at the low price of
4 to 6 cents, and buy at the high price of
25 cents? Because your middlemen are farm has a surprising way of melting to so leagued together, the prices are—one nothing at the end of the week when cannot say "fixed”—but uniform; and bills are paid. He is no longer a pro- the dealer breaking those uniform prices ducer. He is a consumer. He is the
will have to look out for independent man who is paying 75 per cent. too much means to supply himself with meat. for those grapes that ought not to have There was a great scarcity of turkeys cost more than 10 cents.
one Thanksgiving. Vermont farmers If those potatoes could have been sold supplying the Boston market could not direct from the farmer to the city man understand why in a scarce year prices for 75 cents, it would have netted the ruled uniformly 12 cents a pound lower farmer 100 per cent. profit and saved the than beef or bacon. A written agreement city man 100 per cent. cost.
in restraint of prices would, of course, If that asparagus could have gone have been unlawful; but the fact restraight from the producer to the con- mained, not a commission agent offered sumer at 15 cents, it would have netted prices above 12 cents. The Vermont the farmer 100 per cent. profit and saved farmers picked and dressed their turkeys. the city man 100 per cent. cost.
If that milk could go direct from farm to table, at the present cost of producing milk, the farmer could make 66 per cent. profit and the city man save 33 per cent.
Pork at 12 cents to the farmer would give him 200 per cent. profit and save the city man 100 per cent. cost.
And so on down the list as supply and demand determined natural values, with the undue depression of the middleman's foot removed from the farmer's back and from the consumer's stomach.
If this farmer-man were a story-book hero, he would rise from his figures fired with a great purpose to bring producer and consumer together; but he isn't a story-book hero. He is just a plain ordinary person, one of the million and million who have gone from country to AND BREAD SOLD AT EIGHT TO TEN CENTS A POUND.