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N Iowa farm of something more by the original owner for thirty-four
than eighty acres passed into years, until he died. His son rented the the hands of a city man on a land to two brothers. They planted wheat mortgage. He rented it and, for seven years until the yield became
1 for the first two or three years, too small to be profitable. In the next the returns were satisfactory. Then he year another tenant planted corn and he found the dwellings and outbuildings "corned" the land for five years. No needed repairs which took back some of record was kept of the wheat yields, but the profit. He held the land nine years the corn .yields averaged only twentyand in that time had six tenants, the last eight bushels an acre, the first crop being of which harvested a crop of corn that thirty-five bushels and the last crop barely was enough to feed his team and twenty-three, an average value on the pay his own family expenses for the farm of eleven dollars an acre. His year.
ninety acres of corn netted him $445. The land was in a community where The owner got the same and his profit values ranged around $125 an acre but was approximately seven per cent. The it cost the owner only about $6,000 under first year of his tenancy the tenant's the mortgage. As near as he could esti- return was about $525, while the landmate his income from the land for the lord made about eight per cent. The nine years was about $4,000, from which latter rate has been about the average was deducted repairs, taxes, new fencing profit, not deducting for deterioration of and other incidentals aggregating about farm plant and soil. Increasing land $1,200. This left him a net income of values, however, have compensated for about $2,800. Then he tried to sell the that. land. Many buyers looked but none In an eastern Missouri county, the bought. They wanted no “corned out” Canadian fever and the Texas fever land, they said. Finally along came a struck the farmers in one section about young farmer who took it off his hands the same time. As a result pretty nearly for $4,000. That left the first man a net three whole townships were depopulated. income of $800 on his $6,000 investment The land largely passed into the hands for nine years.
of city investors and then into the hands A northeast Kansas farm was home- of tenants. Among the farms in that steaded forty-six years ago and worked section was one of 220 acres operated
by a father and two sons. The sons took spite of the three years of skinning that the Canadian fever, and with them went the land had been subjected to, a larger so many of his neighbors that the crop than had ever been raised upon it. father became discouraged and decided By hauling manure from other nearby to rent his farm and move to St. Louis. farms he got enough to cover the field It was the average type of good Mis- thoroughly with manure last fall. This souri farm with comfortable dwell- year he will begin on a crop rotation ings, good barns, modern machinery program, having pleased the owner so always kept in good repair, the crops well with his results last year that he being rotated and the soil kept up. Plant was given a five-year lease with option and land, estimating by other neighbor- of renewal. hood sales, easily were worth $30,000. In previous years this farm had paid Of the first tenants, one remained three a net profit of about 6 per cent. on years, two others remained two years $30,000. Balancing the receipts for four and one is still there. Last fall the two years against interest on the investment sons tired of Canada, sold their holdings and the estimated cost of restoring the and went back to the old farm. Most land and plant to its original condition of the machinery required extensive re- the net profit was about 1.4 per cent. on pairs, the buildings were in bad repair a valuation of $30,000. But that is not and the land had been skinned, with the all. Peopled largely now by a shifting exception of that still held by the tenant. population of tenant farmers the old This tenant was a young man, a graduate community spirit has died out, the roads of the Missouri Agricultural College, and have deteriorated, the bank deposits in he faithfully carried out his contract. He the county seat town have decreased and had taken the 63-acre tract previously land values in the whole section are estiheld by the tenant who farmed it three mated to have decreased ten per cent. in years. He planted only corn last year the last four years. but, by proper seed selection, raised, in The greatest agricultural evil of the present day is the tenant farmer. This statement is made by President Henry J. Waters of the Kansas State Agricultural College. The tenant farmer, he declares, is the highwayman of the soil ; collectively, a vandal horde that has marched from Maine to the Missouri, laying waste an agricultural empire with the fire of its greed and the sword of its ignorance. His advance guard already is thrown beyond the Big Muddy. Give him time and he will overwhelm the West as he has the East.
The tenant farmer, President Waters says, is the ruination of the country and the menace of the city. He has left in his wake impoverished land, abandoned farms and a train of economic evils that must soon be remedied or grave consequences will follow. The tenant farmer is the man who is chiefly responsible for the increased cost of living, he is the man who has caused American exports to fall off 200 million dollars in three years. He is the man who has reduced our farming area, forced the price of productive land ORCHARDS GO UNTRIMMED AND WEEDS SPRING UP. to an abnormal height, and sent droves of sturdy young farmers beyond our and short on cash, who rent only until borders to the north.
they have saved enough to buy a farm President Waters has been investigat- of their own. He speaks of the other ing the tenant farmer for a long time and ninety per cent., the migratory agriculhe knows his subject but nothing good tural vagabonds who follow in the wake of him. He speaks now of the tenant of the homeseeker and the homemaker, who doesn't farm but merely skins the leaving blight and desolation wherever soil, not the real tenant farmer—the they tarry. small ten per cent or so of hustling, The nation's greatest source of wealth ambitious young men, long on industry is in its land, and its farms should be
able for many years to supply you and worth of grain that he grows he me with all we need and leave enough takes from the soil a measure of ferover to sell to the fellow across the water tility that would cost $12 to replace in who produces things that we do not. The the form of commercial fertilizer. Averextent of land area now under cultivation age land will stand such treatment about in the United States is easily capable of ten years. Ten years and the tenant producing twice the quantity of food- farmer has made a portion of the nastuffs that is now gathered. In Germany, tion's agriculture area a barren waste ! where conditions are more nearly similar One doesn't need to go into the field to that of the United States than any of higher mathematics or perform any other European country, the yield per extraordinary feats of mental gymnastics acre of wheat is more than twice that to trace the increased cost of living to of the United States, the yield of rye such conditions. The farm no longer nearly twice as large, and barley and oats contributes its share to the nation's one-third larger. Germany's lands have supply of beef, pork, mutton, butter, been farmed for a thousand years, most milk, cream and breadstuffs. Every acre of ours less than a hundred and millions of land laid waste adds an artificial value of acres less than fifty years. There is to land that is still productive, lessens the no reason why our yield per acre should productive area and consequently comnot exceed Germany's, but
pels—both by the law of it is not likely to until we
supply and demand and the rid the farms of shiftless,
necessity for an adequate land-skinning tenants.
return from the land that The welfare of the nation
still produces — a higher requires the scientific and
price for food products. effective usage of the soil,
The law of supply is as imthe rotation of crops and
mutable as the law of gravifertilization. It is only by
tation. When supply does such methods that its en
not meet demand prices during productivity can be
rise. maintained. But the tenant
Farming as an occupafarmer neither fertilizes
tion is steadily growing nor rotates. He is an ex
more profitable, because the ploiter. He sows the same
number of consumers of crops year after year, tak
foodstuffs and the rate of ing always but giving noth
consumption per capita are ing in return. He squeezes
increasing more rapidly the fertility from the soil
than production. Right here and robs it of its power to
let it be understood that produce. For every $25
this does not mean that
there is a call to the city man to go land, the land skinner must be put out back to the farm. There are enough of business. farmers already. The call is for better As a nation we are still the greatest farmers and better farming. For sev meat eaters in the world, but year by eral years past the yield per acre year our per capita consumption of meat of agricultural products in this country lessens while the per capita consumption has remained practically stationary, of grain and vegetables grows. The per whereas with the revolutionary improve- capita of wheat consumption in the ments in farming machinery and farming United States in 1885 was four and twomethods and the wider dissemination of thirds bushels, while in 1909 it had risen agricultural knowledge, our yield per to five and one-half bushels. The exports acre should have increased at least fifteen of breadstuffs, meats, live stock and per cent. That the average yield per dairy products fell from 413 million acre has not shown an actual decline, is dollars in 1907 to 213 million dollars in due to the fact that much worn out land 1910. The average farm price of wheat has been abandoned while vast areas of from 1896 to 1900 was 66.4 cents a virgin land have been opened in the West bushel and from 1906 to 1909 it was 86.5 and Northwest, and great areas and cents. Corn showed a similar advance. swamp and timber lands in the East have When exports fall off and prices rise at been drained or cleared off and planted. home in the face of a total production of
But we are approaching closely now farm crops never exceeded in our histhe limit of our cultivable land. When tory, there can be only one conclusionwe reach that limit—and the day is not that the demand is growing at home many years away—either farming meth- faster than the supply. The natural result ods must undergo a radical change or is that the cost of living goes up. our yield per acre gradually will decline. "It was," as Prof. W. J. Spillman of If we are to preserve the fertility of the the Department of Agriculture stated in