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slow adjustment to new conditions, as has been the case in older countries, depends, he says, on how soon we supplant the landskinning tenant and the ignorant, shiftless owner with efficient farmers.
It is a grave economic problem with which the
tenant farmer has brought TENANT FARM IN NEW YORK THAT IS PROPERLY LOOKED AFTER.
us face to face through his robbery of the soil, and it was tersely stated in a recent speech of Senator Elihu Root of New York, discussing the ship subsidy bill in the Senate. He said: “We have reached
reached a point in our development where we can see the time when we cannot maintain
our balance of trade by exABANDONED FARM BUILDINGS IN NEW YORK,
porting food products. We will soon consume all the food products we produce. Where then shall we turn to pay for our purchases abroad? By exporting our own manufactured articles ? But where shall we sell them?"
or may not agree with Senator Root's stand on the ship subsidy bill but we cannot ignore
the fact that unless the land THE AVERAGE FARM TENANT MAKES NO REPAIRS,
is made to produce as it
should produce and is capa bulletin on soil conservation, "the abun- able of producing, we must become dance and cheapness of food that made a manufacturing nation in order to possible the marvelous progress in this keep our balance of trade. Our manucountry in the last century. The produc- facturers must compete with the tion of abundant crops was accomplished manufacturers of the world, our workat little expense and with a little knowl- men must compete with the cheap labor edge of the principles of the conservation of the world. Can we maintain against of soil fertility. This period of exploit- that cheap labor our present standard of ive farming is past. Whether the era of wages and living? Or must we come comparatively cheap and abundant food down to the level of our competitors ? is past depends upon our ability as a If our population goes on increasing, as people to develop cheaper and better it undoubtedly will, while our food promeans of production than now prevail. duction remains stationary, it will not be Future increase in production must come many years until, of necessity, we must from better methods of farming. begin to import foodstuffs to meet the Whether we, as a nation shall attain increasing demand. To pay for our these improved methods after a long foodstuffs imported we must then export period of depression, accompanied by manufactures. Is there any reason to
believe that when we arrive at the neces- and in both the percentage is growing. sity for importing food that the cost of In the more eastern states the percentage living will not further increase while to jumps from thirty per cent. in Missouri meet the competition of cheap labor and forty-one per cent. in Illinois, to fifty abroad there must be a decrease in manu- and, in some sections as high as seventyfacturing cost-wages, in other words? five per cent. in Indiana, Ohio, and the Not any. It is up to us to rid our agri- states south of the Ohio River. cultural system of the tenant farming In a recent bulletin of the Department evil, the tenant farmer if we can, and of Agriculture it was stated that the list along with him the shiftless, ignorant of tenants in one county in Ohio who farm owner.
were moving in the spring from one It has been ascertained by exhaustive farm to another filled a newspaper page inquiry that more than four of every ten in small type. The paper said it was the farms in the United States are occupied custom in that county for renters to by tenant farmers. As a rule tenant remain only one year on a farm. Just farms are smaller than farms tilled by recently a daily paper, recording the fact the owner, but it probably is safe to say that nearly every voter in Adams County, that one-third the cultivated area is occu- Ohio, had been disfranchised for selling pied by tenants. The greater part of votes in elections said: this tenant cultivated area is east of the "It is a county of tenant farmers Mississippi River, but the corn belt of a county of rutty, unkempt roads, the Middle West is feeling him as a ramshackle farm buildings and corrupt growing affliction and he is beginning to people.” obtain a foothold in the wheat country. In the Eastern and New England states Oklahoma, the Ozark regions of Mis- the tenant population drops as low as souri and Arkansas, Northern and West- ten per cent. in some sections, where the ern Texas and the more western states tenant has long since skimmed the cream are a little too new for him yet, but of the soil and moved to greener fields, ultimately he will invade them. West of leaving behind him a worn-out, cropthe Mississippi he is most numerous in weary earth which must lie fallow for Iowa, where he numbers about forty per many years until Nature's laboratory recent. of the farmers and in Missouri stores again some measure of its ferwhere he numbers thirty per cent. In tility. Between 1880 and 1890 the imIllinois he numbers forty-one per cent. proved farm area of the New England In Kansas and Nebraska the tenants state decreased 38.1 per cent. As he has make up from ten to forty-six per cent. done in New England, the tenant farmer of the farmers, a general average of is doing in Ohio, in Michigan, in Indiana thirty-six per cent. in the former state and in Illinois, so will he do in Minne
sota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, tenant evil. One is the purchase by city and the Dakotas. He farms for today, men of farm land as an investment. Antomorrow is the landlord's risk. It is, as other is the death of the farmer and the in law, caveat emptor,—let the owner descent of property to heirs who live in look out for himself. That's what the town or to widows who cannot or will tenant farmer is doing.
not carry on the business. A third cause Every spring the devastating army of is the desire of farmers who have made tenants prepares to descend upon new comfortable fortunes at farming and who fields. The great moving day in the wish to retire and yet hold their land as country is March 1, the day on which an investment. The city offers him ease the tenant
and amusefarmer in
ment or less vades the
a r d uous farm he is
business to ravish for
cares or the season.
duties for Nine times
his old age! out of ten
He considhe finds the
ers increasland just as
ing land it was when
values the previous NOTHING MUCH TO LOOK AT THE KIND OF TENANT HOME THEY
much money tenant harShow YOU IN MISSOURI.
earned and vested his
he fancies crops—the ground unbroken, not an that the value will go on increasing with ounce of fertilizer applied, the dwelling the years so he doesn't worry if the and outhouses in need of repairs, the old place runs down a little and his fences falling to pieces. In a word the share of the crops is not as large as it whole plant is run down. Sometimes the might be. tenant pays a cash rent, so much per A large number of the farms in the, acre. If he works on shares he pays Middle West that are passing into the from one-third to one-half the crop, ac- hands of tenants have been stock farms cording to what goes with the land. or dairy farms or both—farms where Either system is an evil and between the practically all of the crops were fed at two there doesn't appear to be much home and in due course returned to the choice. Some owners prefer the cash soil in the form of manure. The tenant rent system as the surest in the long run. farmer is not going to raise stock. First Other landowners prefer the crop-shar- of all he has not the capital and secondly ing plan as bringing the largest returns. he isn't temperamentally equipped for Either way the landlord usually gets a the work—in other words he is too shiftbetter return on his investment than the less. The third reason is that, properly tenant gets for his labor and investment. to raise stock he must be assured of a At least ninety per cent of the tenant longer lease than one year. Therefore he leases are for a year, and from that very produces only the crops easiest of cultifact the tenant system has grown to be vation and surest of ready sale—which the evil it is. The tenant has no assur- always happen to be the crops that take ance that he will be permitted to occupy most fertility from the soil. He tries no the place the next year and, naturally, he experiments. He adds nothing to the has no interest in the farm other than sum of agricultural knowledge except the to get all he can out of it. Why should lesson to beware of him. He burns his he spend any time maintaining the fer- straw and his soil—renewing manure tility of the soil or making repairs for rots against the side of his barn. The the benefit of the landlord and the next fruit trees and the hedge go untrimmed, tenant? Ile does just as his predecessor the weeds run riot and the farm impledid. He gets all he can while the getting ments rust in the spot where the last is good.
job was finished. He is too busy skinThree causes contribute largely to the ning the soil to repair the house, the barn AGRICULTURAL HIGHWAYMEN
or the fences. His live stock is nonde- of community spirit, the smaller part, of script stuff out of which he gets the course. The larger percentage of differmaximum of work at the minimum of ence in value is due to the fact that the cost.
tenant is robbing the soil that he works He has no community interests. He while the owning farmer is continually is here today and there tomorrow. He doctoring his land to keep it at the highhas nothing in common with his neigh- est stage of fertility. bors. Home is where he hangs his hat. Now the question is: What's to be The farm is both a factory and a home done about it? and it has a value peculiar to each. When, The prices of all farm products are as the temporary abiding place of the going up, exports are falling off and tenant farmer it ceases to be a home it home consumption is approaching perilhas lost part of its value and it lowers ously close to our production. It is a the value of its particular neighborhood situation that will give economists plenty at the same time. Mississippi, Georgia, to think about in the next few years. Alabama and Louisiana lands, far richer One-third of our agricultural area is than lands in Kansas, Nebraska, Mis- being cropped into barrenness by tenants. souri or Iowa, sell for $25 an acre. From “In most parts of the country," a De58 to 62 per cent. of the farmers in these partment of Agriculture report says, “the states are tenants, a large proportion land has been farmed so long without negroes. Farmed by white owners these attention to fertility that it will no longer lands would be worth $100 to $200 an produce crops by the slipshod methods acre. That is the value of community formerly in vogue.' interest.
But the tenant alone is not to blame. Conditions in the South, are, of course, He shares the responsibility with two extreme, but look about you in the north- other classes—the landlord and the shiftern states and you will find that land in less land-owning farmer. The same the districts largely farmed by tenants department bulletin says: is disproportionately lower in the value "Many experienced farmers today are than in districts where the owners till not making a good living for the simple their land. The lesser value is not wholly reason that they do not possess the traceable to the difference in the usage knowledge of the principles involved in of the soil. Part of it is due to the lack their business, and unfortunately only
too often the farmer is not aware of his willingly will learn how he may do better lack of knowledge."
than he has done. It is doubtful whether tenant farming
But the real foundation of any remedy can be done away with entirely. Prac- for the tenant problem, says President tically all of the arable government land Waters, is education. Governor Eberis taken up and the tendency now is to- hardt of Minnesota, who also has been ward the enlargement of individual studying the question, says the same holdings rather than toward the division thing. of holdings into smaller bodies, which "In Minnesota," Governor Eberhardt would be far the most desirable condition said, “many farmers have been mining from an
economic standpoint. Land the soil instead of tilling it. The presence values continually are rising so that the or the prospect of the abandoned farm tenant's chances for becoming a land- is a subject of interest in almost every owner are growing more remote. Take state. We must get the soil back to Illinois and Missouri as typical states. where it was, for it should yield from The last census gives the average value fifty to 100 per cent. more than it does. of farm land in 1910 in Illinois as $94.90 We must educate the farmers and we an acre against $46.17 in 1900; in Mis- must begin at the beginning—the chilsouri as $49.56 an acre in 1910 as against dren. In Minnesota we are doing this by $24.82 in 1900, an increase in each state building up consolidated schools where of more than 100 per cent. The average the vocational and industrial training so farm area in Illinois is 129 acres as freely offered in the cities is brought against 124 acres in 1900, and in Mis- within the reach of the farm child. We souri it is 125 acres against 119 in 1900. teach in the consolidated schools practical It is an unwritten law in most farming agriculture, manual training and home communities in the Middle West that economics, and we bring to them the when a farmer desires to sell out he must elders of the community for their cofirst offer to his neighbors, the result operative meetings, lectures on agriculbeing to keep out strangers, and enlarge tural topics and social purposes. Ultithe average farm area, as well as to cut mately we shall accomplish much in down the rural population. An exhaust- stopping the reckless waste of our ferive investigation showed that this "un- tility and in increasing our production." written law” was largely responsible for "Educate both the tenant and the landMissouri's loss in population outside of lord,” President Waters says. “The its large cities.
landlord is, unconsciously, the tenant's Getting down to the solving of the accomplice. We must educate him to the tenant problem, the ideal solution of evils of the short lease system and we course, would be to turn the tenant into must educate him to give closer attention
Possession stimulates pride. both to his tenant and to his land. So Make the tenant an owner and, where he long as the system of short leases preis not entirely shiftless he begins to take vails and the tenant is allowed to skin pride in his ownership and starts off on the land the faults of tenant farming will the road to regeneration. No man with not decrease. a modicum of sense is going to rob him- “Next we must take the tenant by the · self if he knows it, or rob the land that neck, if necessary, and force into him a he owns.
little knowledge of real farming. First But the chances for the tenant becom- we must assure him long tenancy, coning a landlord are growing more remote. ditioned, of course, upon good behavior. Next to ownership, undoubtedly the best We must teach him soil conservation to solution of the tenant problem would be maintain the productivity of his land, we the indeterminate lease system, assuring must teach him seed selection to increase the tenant possession so long as his his yield, we must teach him diversified behavior and usage of the land warrants farming to lessen the chance of loss, we it. The tenant, under such conditions, must teach him the value of good roads has an interest in keeping up the fertility and we must pump into him a sense of of the soil—in fact, that should be one pride in appearance and achievement and of the conditions of his lease—and he top it off by inculcating a little public