Page images

matter, without blinking or side-step- or I would take it in similar circumping?

stances. If you accuse him of high prices, In one state alone, New York, 400,000 he goes into elaborate explanations of people have deserted the farm for the risk and loss on perishable products and city.' Why? In another state-Vermont the expense of big storage plants in con-rural population has gone back in gested centers, though that hardly exmany places 10 per cent. in ten years. plains why it paid the cold-storage men Last year, the Russell Sage Foundation this last year to dump millions of dozens experts investigated what it cost in New of eggs in the sea rather than break 50 York and Pittsburg at the lowest possible cent prices. While eggs were costing figure to sustain a family of five." Twist 4 and 5 cents each in New York and figures which way they might, those Chicago last winter, and were being imexperts could not force the total lower ported in shiploads from Europe and than $600 for a year. Now the average Asia, cold-storage men were talking wages of the average unskilled worker scarcity; but no sooner did half a dozen in the United States are not $600 a year. states prepare to pass laws forbidding They are under $500. What is the re- the storage of food products for longer sult? Did men sell themselves to pay than a year, than those same cold-storage their debts? Not at all! The experts men who had talked scarcity began found whenever the price of meat went dumping old eggs by millions of dozens up, these people did without it. As the into the sea. Prices dropped from 50 and prices of food mounted the ascending 60 cents a dozen to 8 cents; and the scale of the last five years, the number stored eggs could not find purchasers. of people renting dark inside windowless The storage men explained the eggs had tenements increased.

That is the way been dumped into the sea because they the game that skins at both ends works had spoiled. The public that had been when you follow it off the market into paying 60 cents a dozen wanted to know the homes of the poor.

why those eggs had been held so long There is no use shouting vaguely in they had spoiled. Butter tumbled from the air against “trust-trusts.” If

If you 40 cents to 30, the lowest in ten years, bring a bill of indictment against the though the number of cows had not in

a trusts, they are going to say “prove it.” creased; neither had the butter eaters

And there's less use telling men living decreased. And the drop in perishable is high because lots of gold is coming foods within a week reacted on canned down from Alaska. More gold has gone goods because people stopped buying to England from South Africa than has canned vegetables when they could buy come to the United States from Alaska; the fresh cheaper. In fact, for a family and prices have not gone up correspond- of three, the differences in prices from ingly in England. American meat sells the time cold-storage laws forbade longcheaper in England than in the United time keeping of food would run from 25 States; and last year eggs were being cents to $1 a day in food purchases. imported to the United States from Eng- But this sudden glut of the market land because the price was cheaper. It from sudden release of stored foods can is not convincing to tell a man hard up hardly prove other than temporary, like from high prices that his pocket book is the drop in Wall Street values when cerempty because there is a lot of gold. He tain court decisions have compelled wants to know where that lot of gold speculators to sell. Long as the middlegoes.

man plies his shuttle-like trade between And there is no use lecturing the

use lecturing the producer and consumer, he will regulate farmer about his duties to stay on the prices. And can government regulations land and feed the city. He is going to put him out of business? Would Supreme answer “show me”; and if you can show Court decisions sustain such regulations? him more profit on the farm than in the It is so easy to hoist on the shoulders of factory, chains won't keep him in town. government the duty that each man can

Nor is it logical to scold at the middle- and ought to do at first hand. The first man! He sees his chance for 500 per people in the United States to wipe out cent. profit, and he takes it, just as you the middleman have been the irrigation





farmers of the

of living almost West.

unendurable, How? By get

group of railroad ting together.

men in a PennsylWhy? Because

vania city arranged the excessive cost

to send

of of irrigation com

their number to the pelled the farmers.

country to buy dito work together

rect from the and pull in the

farmer and same direction.

the swindle that When a valley of,

cut the farmer 50 say 20,000 people, THE FARMER Sells His PORK AT FROM Four To Six


cent. and all dip into the

jacked the buyer's same well for

price up 50 per water, all draw prosperity or failure cent. The office man hired a rig and from the same ditch—there has to drove out. At the first farm where he be harmony. In the East, each man stopped he found the farmer busy in the is still dipping in his own little in- barn. dividual mud puddle. While Abram's “Good day," saluted Mr. Office Man. herders quarreled with Lot's, the bandits Mr. Farmer returned a, gruff grunt stampeded the profits—same old problem with the cordiality ordinarily accorded a as in scriptural days, isn't it? If irriga- burglar. Undaunted, , the

the city tion never accomplished anything more launched his evangel. The farmer than compelling co-operation, than point- straightened up and listened. Wheat was

ing the way to elimination of the mid- selling at 60 cents in the country, butter dleman, it would mark a new era in at 22 cents, apples at $1 a barrel, etc. national life. In teaching communities The city people purposed paying an adhow to use the same water; how to fight vance of 20 to 40 per cent. on these frosts and insects together; how to in- prices if they could induce the farmers corporate so they can borrow at lowest to guarantee definite supplies for the rates—2 per cent. instead of 6 per cent. ; year. how to buy all supplies wholesale ; how "But the prices might go higher." to keep their own agents on the big "But we are guaranteeing you 20 per world's markets; how to provide cold- cent. higher than you have ever got. storage warehouses and cars for their The farmer hummed and hawed and own perishable pro

rolled the sugduce — irrigation

gestion backward has pointed to the

and forward for an one and only effect

hour looking susive way to elimi

piciously for some nate the middle

graft. Then he man, a way that

found a loop-hole avoids costly long

of escape from the drawn-out appeals

convictions that to the Supreme

had been forced on Court.

him. “It was like You may think

this, you see. His the remedy sounds

three boys were not too easy to be true.

home—could n't Don't flatter your

induce them to stay self! Try it, if

on the farm. Queer you think it easy!

-wasn't it? One Last year, when

was getting $40 a city people on sal

month as a street aries were feeling WHEN LAID ON THE CONSUMER'S TABLE IN THE car conductor, anthe increased cost


other $30 in a facit is a safe wager he would have given different consideration to that plan of co-operation.


But all efforts to wipe out the middleman have not failed in the East. Wherever the compulsion has been acute enough to compel union, the middleman has had to go.

In Erie, Pennsylvania, in December, 1899, sixty dairy men decided that milk rates did not yield a living wage. For each dairy man to become an independent peddler would send prices still lower by competition. The sixty men signed a five years' contract to do no individual peddling but to act only as members of the Erie County Association. Ter wagons were cut down to two. A threestory cold-storage milk plant was put up at a cost of $20,000, with $13,000 equipment, the expense being met by the members buying shares, though they paid only a percentage down for the shares, paying the balance in their milk deliv

eries. All milk was certified sanitary. Two CENTS A HEAD ON THE FARM

All unsold product was utilized in ice

cream, etc. Today, that dairy association tory; and so on. Who was going to do has fifty-five employees, twenty-three the extra hauling ? He hadn't time.” drivers, twenty-two office men. The

In vain, the city man pointed out that first year, returns amounted to $100,000. when city people sold goods, they also In 1909, sales totaled $225,000. Deductdelivered them. Well, Mr. Farmer was ing wages, the net returns can be estinot going to, so there—He didn't think mated. Of course, it was not all easy. much of the idea anyway. That office Independents, big and little, fought them man went back without any supplies. If bitterly for two years, and caused diminMr. Farmer had had an annual water tax ished returns. The milk was delivered to of from $1 to $6 an acre, and would have the factory on a contract of under 4 cents had his water shut off if he didn't pay, a quart, or about the same price paid by

the big companies; but in this case, the profits went to the farmer, not to city shareholders. It is impossible to put the returns in terms of net profits to the farmer; for in cach case, the profit would depend on the quality and cost of the cow.

The point is—by co-operation, the farmers got all the returns the big buyers would have paid them, plus their share of profits, which would otherwise have gone

to the middleman. This TEN CENTS A HEAD IN THE CITY.

scheme is practicable only Exchange has realized 10 cents higher a bushel than by the former haphazard sales. Profits for two seasons amounted to $200,000-profits not for the middleman but back to the farmer.


In Monmouth, New Jersey, the farmers of a co-operative association made 29 per cent profit in one year on a milliondollar business. Truck and fruit were shipped to one-hundred-and-thirty-six cities and twenty-three states. Fertilizer

and seed were sold at wholeBossy DOESN'T KNOW How Highly Her PRODUCT IS VALUED

sale to 800 members.

In Norfolk, Virginia, is a but it is worth noting that seventeen union of 400 truckers who have made counties in the Eastern States have 100 per cent on their capital stock, and dairymen's leagues aiming at such elimi- saved ten times over the face value of nation of the middleman.

their stock in wholesale purchase of seed Over in Long Island, farming has be- and fertilizer. come trucking for city supplies; and the In Mercer County, New Jersey, owing Farmers' Exchange of Riverhead with to a slack market, farmers found they a capital of $12,460 has done in 1910 a were losing on small vegetables. Tomabusiness of almost half a million. Each toes rotted before they could be sold. In member's fee amounts to about $20 a 1892, a canning factory was organized in year. The shares to make up the original a town of a thousand. Stock was sold capital were valued at $5. If you divide at $50 a share. The plant put up cost the gross returns by the number of share- almost $6,000. Land here yields 6 tons holders—600—you can figure out that of tomatoes an acre, for which the facthe members of the Farmers' Exchange reaped ample return for the annual fee of $20. Produce is shipped by boat. The salaried manager resides in New York and handles the stuff exactly as a commission agent, only the commission goes back to the farmer; and the full city price goes to the farmer instead of a dozen city middlemen.

In Eastern Long Island, a Potato Exchange was organized by the growers. This exchange performs the functions as the fruit associations of the West. Only the best seed is bought, never culls, and it is planted by machines. By wholesale purchase, the Exchange saves its members 8 cents a pound on insecticides and $2 a ton on fertilizer. The saving on fertilizer was $20,000




THE DAIRYMAN DELIVERS His MILK AT FOUR, THE MIDDLEMAN in a single year. In prices, the



[ocr errors]

It costs two dollars to cut it.


But how is your isolated up-state farmer, living amid such non-progressives as sent the office man home unsupplied-how is he to wipe out the middleman and remedy conditions ? For him, there is only one way, by hook or crook, by some such ingenuity as the Vermont turkey

turkey raisers
tried, to get in direct touch
with the city buyer. Up in

Maine, a farmer and his

wife excelled in fancy
cheese ; but how to get a
price for it? They began
exhibiting at county and
town fairs with name, ad-
dress and price displayed.
It took just five years to
work up more orders than
they could fill.

In Denmark, 162,000 co-
operative farmers sell $78,-
000,000 of dairy produce a
year, an average of more
than $1,000 a member. In
Russia are 800 co-operative
milk factories using the


In Germany, there


19,000 similar societies. tory pays its shareholders $9 a ton. In Why does America lag at the foot of the addition, all profits from factory go to list in her farmers'co-operative societies? the farmers who are shareholders. Up But all this, you say, remedies matters in Livingstone County—the most pros- only for the country man. How about perous county in New York—the farm- the town buyer? Wouldn't the truly coers have organized weekly exchanges , operative association embrace consumer where produce can be sold as on a city as well as producer? I am not advocatgrain exchange.

ing socialism. I never read a book on Down in Berkeley County, West Vir- socialism or attended a meeting on it in ginia, the fruit growers not only have an my life. The point is to get that middleassociation similar to those in the West, man's heavy foot off the city man's but they are holding apple shows, apple stomach; to keep that unseen hand of carnivals, and festivals to promote the higher cost of living from picking your spirit of union and progress. “Pshaw," pockets and mine. says your practical man, “I'll take all this As long as the consumer does nothing sentiment in cash.” All right, here is the but grumble, he will continue to have way their sentiment cashed down. When his pockets picked; and the middleman the middlemen came buying apples in may sleep easy. For the consumer, there Berkeley County, they couldn't possibly is only one way out, and it is the way that offer higher than $2.50 a barrel. The irrigation has taught—buyers must get growers had had "a gentlemanly under together. That is what the consumers' standing.” They got $3 for 100,000 bar- co-operative leagues of England have rels inside of forty-eight hours: $50,000 done. They buy direct from the proextra cash for their spirit of union. ducer. Only 2 per cent. covers the ex



« PreviousContinue »