FARMERS’ UNIONS AND FARMERS’ BANKS. The following is from a paper, read in November by Mr. A. E. Moore, of Melbourne, to the Avon Plains Farmers’ Club :—Referring to the proposed farmers’ banks, which, he said, would partake of the nature of a trust and loan agency rather than of an ordinary bank, Mr. Moore pointed out that at present the farmer was driven to obtain accommodation from the local moneyed man, usually the storekeeper : Of course he cannot be blamed for making a profit, if opportunity offers, but this institution would break this monopoly, and so far as the storekeepers are concerned, it would greatly facilitate their financial operations and extend their business if they had no farmers’ bills to discount. It would greatly increase their profits, because, with money in their hands, they could buy to greater advantage from the wholesale merchants than on three and four months’ bills, and these advantageous wholesale purchases would be retailed to the farmer at such reasonable profit (he being a cash buyer) as would greatly conduce to the prosperity of all concerned, and leave no bad book debts to the storekeepers, so far as their business relations with farmers are concerned. The establishment of a bank devoted entirely to the farming interests, and in direct communication with the various farmers’ unions, would lead to prosperity similar to that known in America as resulting from the “National Grain Movement and we all know with what energy and success our American cousins push any movement which they take in hand. This successful co-operative body is known as the “ National Grangers, or Patrons of Husbandry.” They are devoted to the interests of and kindred industries. The grange was started at Washington in December, 1867, by two farmers, the object being mutual instruction and security from loss or injury. During the first year 10 branch granges were established, but so rapidly did they increase, and so popular did they become, that five years afterwards,. at the close of 1872, there were 1,100. The principle put forth by the National Grange was union, by the strong and faithful tie of agriculture, with a mutual resolve to labour for the good of the order, the country, and mankind. The following is its motto, exemplifying the sound basis upon which it is founded : “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty ; in all things, charity.” The special aims of the order by which its prosperity is ensued are set out by an American writer thus : —“ To develops a better and a higher manhood and womanhood among those constituting the order ; to enhance the comforts and attractions of home and strengthen the attachment to their pursuits, to foster mutual undrstauding and co-operation, to maintain inviolate the laws, and emulate each other in hastening the good time coming; to reduce expenses both individually and co-opera-tively ; to buy less and produce more, in order to make their farms self-sustaining ; to diversify crops, and crop no more than can be cultivated ; to condense the weight of exports, selling less in the bushel, and more on hoof and in fleece ; to systematise work, and calculate intelligently on probabilities ; to discontinue the credit system, the mortgage system, the fashion system, and every other system tending to prodigality and bankruptcy ; to meet together, talk together, work together, buy and sell together, and in general act together for mutual preservation and advancement as association may require ; to avoid litigation as much as possible, by arbitration in the grange; to constantly strive to secure entire harmony, goodwill, and vital brotherhood, and to make the order perpetual ; to endeavor to suppress personal, local, sectional, and national prejudices, all unhealthy rivalry, and all selfish ambition.” These are high aims and tangible objects, worthy of our most serious attention, and we could not do better than try and emulate them. It aims to bring producers and consumers, farmers and manufacturers, together in a plain and social manner, and rid them of the middle-men, whose charges and commissions so seriously interfere with the growers’ profits, remembering that harmonious action is mutually advantageous, and that the happiness of each individual rests upon the prosperity of the community as a whole. The order believes in the utmost facilities for carriage being provided between the seaboard and the interior, “that the life-blood of commerce may flow freely,” and “ while not enemies to capita), they oppose the tyranny of monopolies, and urge that the antagonism between capital and labour be removed by common consent and by enlightened statesmanship worthy of the present century.” That while “seeking the greatest good to the greatest number, it considers it the right and duty of every member to use all influence, legitimately, for good, to put down bribery, corruption, and trickery, and see that none but competent, faithful, and honest men are nominated to any office of trust.” Further that while protection is afl',rded the weak, restraint is put upon the strong. The Ear] of Rosebery, as president of the Social Science Congress of Great Britain, in 1875, drew attention in his address to the gigantic association in the Jilted States of America, known as the “PSlrons of Husbandry,” commonly called “ Grange,” and characterised it as a great agricultural co-operative independent union with its 20,500 lodges and its over 1,250,000 members, and that their “enterprise and importance was first made manifest by the fact that the Californian grangers have their own fleet and ship their corn direct to Liverpoool, by which they saved 2,000,000d01. in a single year, their vessels bringing as return cargoes tea, sugar, coffee, silks, and other com-
modities, which are retailed to members at cost price.” The great advantage the fanner has in being a member of the Grange is that when he wishes to realise on his crops he can ensure cash for it, whereas if ho sells in his own homo market he must part with his produce to the speculator or middleman, who buys simply to re-sell at a profit. “If they can by their astuteness realise a profit upon their investment they' should not be condemned as tradesmen.” The middleman bny's separately, but puts all his purchases and ships them in one lot, and, bSung his own disbursing agent, solely derives the profit of his labor. It is just in this manner that the Grange acts for the farmer, with the difference that the profit which goes into the middleman’s pocket goes into the pocket of the farmer instead. Another similar prosperous union has been started with success, and is known as the “Sovereigns of Industry.’’ “ Its members maintain that the true desideratum is to raise the quality and quantity of every sort of nscfnl production to the maximum, and to reduce the cost both of creation and distribution to the minimum ; they also urge that the master principal of a true civilisation must be the direct application cl labor to the production of the goods of life, and that an end must be put to the enormous profits exacted by the distributors of goods, who create no value, but get rich of the earnings of productive labor. ” It is somewhat upon these principles, and with a view to the accomplishments of these ends, that we see the establishment of mutual or co-operative stores. Mark the success which they have attained, and also the secret of that success, viz., by simply buying for cash and selling for cash. No expensive account books to keep, and no bad debts. The principles upon which a farmers’ bank should be established may be thus tersely described. No one would deny the very great want that is felt of a banking institution devoted to the agricultural interest ; no argument is required to demonstrate the pressing necessity for its immediate establishment. There was last year 40,000 holdings in the colony of Victoria alone, cultivating over 1,250,000 acres, the produce of which, excluding live stock, was valued at L 5,574,239. In the whole of Australia there are 4,511,745 acres under tillage, so that the bank would have a large field to work upon. The Scotch cash credit should be adopted, so that instead of discounting a farmer’s bill for three or six months, leaving him at the mercy of the bank when it falls due, should the money market bapen to be tight, every advance should be granted by a cash credit on the management being satis fied, not only by the borrower as to the alleged value of his freehold or leasehold security, but also by a report, after personal examination of it, by one of the bank’s inspectors ; such cash credit not to be withdrawn until after that year’s harvest had been garnered, say the month of February in each year, when all advances made .during the past season would be subject to an adjustment, and fresh arrangements entered into with any borrower who wished a renewal of his advance, or any portion thereof, until after the following harvest. This arrangement to be more or less continuous so long as the security amply covers the advance. Selectors who have nearly completed their term of probation should also be aisisted to a moderate extent, provided their improvements were of a substantial and permanent nature. Every farmer, and those connected with the farming interest, should be specially appealed to for their cordial assistance, as the success of the hrALmeans success to agriculture. They sho», therefore, particularly at this j unmire, put their shoulders to the wheel as one man, and by subscribing, one and all liberally, for shares, give indubitable evidence of their thorough confidence in the bank; and there will be but little difficulty in attracting, not only in these colonies, but from England, all the capital needed to relieve the strain now felt so sorely by the agriculturists in consequence of the tightness of money here, while it is so plentiful at home. Were the bank to be started before the close of the year the deposit should only be 10s. per share, and no calls made until after harvest. In order to keep clown the expenses of the bank at the outset, and at the same time afford the utmost facilities for accommodating the bank’s customers without unnecessary delay, which might cause serious inconvenience or lead to disastrous results, there should at present only be established the head office in Melbourne, but there should be an officer resident in the centre of each agricultural settlement, who would inspect and report (without delay) upon the security offered, and thus enable the management to give a prompt reply to every application for an advance. Kerang, Horsham, Benalla, East Charlton, Taralgon, Coleraine, Shepparton, Donald, and other similar centres, should be chosen as the head-quarters of these offices. Arrangements should be made to obtain money on fixed deposits in London, and the capital thus produced, it may be anticipated, could be let out here at an advance of from 2 to 3 per cent, on the rate given for it. In the present plethoric state of the London money market, there would be no obstacle to securing sufficient capital to meet the requirements of the farmers here. To demonstrate how profitable are the investments in shares in similar institutions, it is only necessary to peruse the sworn returns of the banks doing business in Victoria, to learn that on an aggregate paid-up capital of L 9,094,335, the dividends average 10 1726tbs per cent. If a bank were established upon these principles, and the farmers ceuld only he got to be unanimous on the question of subscribing for shares, and would put down at least LlO each, there would from the 40,000 farmers of Victoria be raised at least half a million of money. This, with the money which would be subscribed by the capitalists of Victoria, would be amply sufficient to admit of arrangements being made for the importation of some of that capital which is offered on the London Stock Exchange at from Ito U per cent. It is aggravating to read (viewing the depressed state of financial affairs in this, country) that there is air unprecedented abundance of money in London just now waiting for investments, and that there is far more offering than anybody wants. How gladly would be welcomed this superfluity of cash, for which we are languishing so terribly. , . And now, gentlemen, if I have been somewhat lengthy in my address. I hope you will attribute it to the very deep interest I take in this movement. And now one word in closing. Let these farmers unions he living realities, and not mere bundles of dry sticks —a mere assemblage of men bound hand and foot by rules and red tape to nonentity. If you mean to succeed, you must let the lifeblood of thought and action have full scope, and must not be trammelled by carping objectors at every step, that you must not tread on cither this subject or that matter. As for politics, they must come in for a large share of Ayour consideration and attentive discus- ■ sion, or at every step you take for improvement you will be stopped by this barrier. To prosper you must farm extensively, as they do in South Australia and America. To farm extensively import the latest scientific means of saving labor, and utilise the hundreds of laborers in England ; and to do this successfully, you must grasp the broad tree of politics and make it subservient to your welfare. Remember that “ Heaven helps those who help themselves,” and that “ those who would be free must thepiselves strike the first blow.”
ASHBURTON RACING CLUB. The annual meeting of the Ashburton Racing Club was held at Quill’s Hotel on Siturday evening. There was a very small attendance. Mr. Fooks was voted to the chair. committee’s report. “Gentlemen, —I am instructed by the Committee to report to you as follows • At the last general meeting, held on Aug. 7tli, 1879, you will recollect that considerable doubts existed in the minds of the Club as to the wisdom of holding a meeting this season, inconsequence of the financial depression existing, and after much deliberation you finally resolved to risk it, leaving all details in the hands of the Committee. They, after considering the question carefully, resolved upon giving the same amount of money for prizes as at the meeting field tfie previous year, but made some slight alterations in the division of the prizes. Tfie result has been, as the Hon. Treasurer will iufoim you in his report, a financial success, and two days of very fair sport was provided for the public. Several protests were entered at the meeting, but all have been settled to the satisfaction of the stewards and Committee, the principal one having boon referred to the 0. J. Club for decision. The expenses for improvements on the ground this year have been light. The Club arc to be congratulated on having, after many efforts on tbs part of the Committee, succeeded in obtaining a ten years’ lease of the racecourse, on very liberal terms, from the County Council, being LlO per annum, such rent to be expended in plantations on the course. One subject for the Club to consider at this meeting is the best method of leasing the ground.— I have, &c., James Wilkie, Hon. Sec. The Chairman, addressingthe Secretary, stated that he had great pleasure in handing him a cheque for LlO 10s. He was sorry that the Club were not in a position to give a larger amount, but trusted that Mr. Wilkie would accept the amount not so much on account of its value, but as a mark of the very high es'cem in which he is held by the Club. He also stated that he had much pleas ire in testifying to the ability displayed by Mr. Wilkie in his arduous duties. treasurer's statement. Mr. S. Saunders, Hon. Treasurer, read the audited financial statement as follows, which was adopted ; RECEIPTS. £ s. a. By Balance brought forward 5 3 9 ~ Due from F. H. Digby, Esq 2G 8 0 Annual subscriptions, 50 at £2 2s 105 0 0 ~ Nominations, acceptances, ’ &c. 125 4 5 ~ Subscript ion from C. P. Cox, Esq., 1 1 0 ~ Sale of privileges — £ s. d. Sports 12 0 0 Gate ... ••• 55 0 0 Booths 92 0 0 Messrs Acland Campbell and Co’s, account 13 10 0 ~ Collected at Grand Stand, &c 5 8 0 410 15 2 By Balance— Due from F. H. Digby, Esq. 20 8 0 Cash ... ... 13 10 0 Bank of New Zealand ... 14 13 10 To collect — Confectioner’s booth ... 8 0 0 Do ... 5 0 0 Sale of cards ... 0 0 0 EXPENDITURE. To Secretary’s potty cash ... Gl3 0 ~ Treasurer’s do 10 0 ” _ 7 13 0 ~ Printing and advertising—- “ Guardian ” & “Herald” ... 31 G 4 " Lyttelton Times” ... 617 4 “Press” ... 3 G 0 ~ Friedlauder Bros., grass seed, &c— ... G 18 9 ~ Collector’s commission ... 40 11 ~ Labor on course 6 1G 0 ~ Stakes paid 300 5 0 ~ Loan from S. Saunders refunded 20 0 0 ~ Balance 54 11 10 440 15 2 Mr. Saunders stated that his business engagements would not permit of his holding the position of Treasurer after the present meeting, and he begged to resign. ' The meeting was unanimous in requesting Mr. Saunders to continue in the position he had so long satisfactorily filled, but being firm in his intention his resignation was accepted with regret, and a vote of thanks passed for the efficient manner in which the accounts had been kept. Mr. Saunders then proposed, and Mr. Wilkie seconded, that Mr. Fooks bo elected Treasurer. Carried. Mr. Wilkie then tendered his resignation as Secretary, and after some discussion he undertook the duties till a succesor could be elected. It was resolved to call for tenders for leasing the racecourse for a term of years. One tenth of the first 3’ear’s rent to be paid on signing the lease. A vote of thanks to the retiring officers and the Chairman concluded the meeting.
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