The Ashburton Guardian. COUNTY AGRICULTURAL & SPORTING RECORDER THURSDAY, APRIL 29, 1880.
Jusl at a time when farmers’ attention is directed to the export of frozen meat to Europe we find that a- dangerous disease is gaining ground am mgs Seattle in the North Island, and that the steps taken to confine “the scourge within such limits as will prevent its spreading over the Island, and possibly threatening the whole colony, are very unsatisfactory indeed. We find the Auckland Cattle Boards discussing what they should do in the matter : we find owners of stock disputing the symptoms their ailing beasts exhibit: and little or nothing at all done to stay the progress of pleuro-pnenmonia. And while these discussions go on, and the people interested stand idly by, the disease itself keeps on its course, and another, and another, and another herd are added to the list of infected ones! There can be no doubt about how pleuro arose in the Auckland province—that it w r as imported from New South Wales ; neither can there be any doubt that, had prompt and proper steps been taken to stamp it out when it was first discovered, it would never have reached the cattle in the surrounding bush, and we would not now be hearing of its ravages amongst the herds of the North Island. There are people who fancy that Cook’s Straits are a sufficient safeguard to the Middle Island against any possible infection. Were every infected beast in the infected district known to the authorities, and the latter had power to stamp out the disease by the death of the animal and the deep burial of its carcase, we would have no hesitation in saying that the safety of cattle lay in the isolation that the Straits give us. But while wo see a cargo of cattle infected with pleuropneumonia able to find their way to Auckland auction marts, sold to the settlers in open market, and spread amongst many herds before a single word is said of the existence of disease ; and while wc have reason to fear that there are many cattle in the Northern bush affected by the disease, and roaming about perhaps unknown to the owners, as well as to the Cattle Boards ; and while ignorance of the symptoms of the disease is displayed, both by the settlers themselves and. the inspectors to whom they look for protection---there is some cause for alarm lest the scourge should find its way to this province. It came from New South Wales to Auckland, and penetrated from the sea-board to the interior. Who can say that, when it has attained strength enough, it will not work its insidious way South, and ultimately find a lodgment amongst the cattle of the Middle Island ? As yet, no sign of pleuropneumonia has made its appearance in the Middle Island, and the whole colony lias been remarkably free from disease, but while it has secured a hold on the Northern herds, there is no assurance that immunity from infection is secured to the Southern. We remember during the ravages of tiro rinderpest at Home, that the greatest difficulty the inspectors experienced in their work was with farmers themselves, who did their very best to conceal, as long as they could, the existence of any disease amongst their cattle and sheep. Tiie fanners knew that a heavy loss would be entailed upon them by the slaughter of their beasts, and they preferred to treat them themselves with a view to saving them if they could, and have them sound and well if possible against the visit of the inspector. With rinderpest this was a hopeless task, and in the end the beasts had to be sacrificed. But the attempt to save them only helped to spread the evil, and while the farmer was pottering away with such remedies as lay to his hand, and pretending ignorance of the nature of the disease he was treating, his conduct was only endangering the unaffected beasts of his neighbors, and the whole district ultimately suffered. It is just possible, when we find the manager of the Waikato Company’s estate parleying with the Cattle Board, and trying to make them believe that the symptoms of disease exhibited by his cattle are not those of pleuro—it is just possible that he is not alone in the course he is following, but that there are many stock-owners who are following the same course, and nursing a viper that may eventually use its sting in every part of the colony. The Auckland people arc now beginning to use the only effective remedy—the axe. This is the cure that should have been adopted from the first, and had it been so, the infection would not have spread beyond the saleyard. But the measures used to bring the infected cattle to the slaughterman should bo prompt and unwavering. No infected beast should be spared, and no consideration of individual loss should be allowed to weigh, for it is better that the cattle of a small district should be sacrificed than that those of the colony should bo jeopardised, nor should the compensation offered be insufficient. A fanner should be placed in a position as regards compensation that would induce him to report his cattle affected at once, if they are so. He ought to receive for eaclx beast a fair price—not, to be sure, the price of a sound and healthy beast, but a fair price all things considered, and then doubtless lie would prefer to bring them to the slaughter for the colony’s safety and bis own. Wc hope the disease will bo prevented from travelling south ; as yet it is only in the northern districts of the North Island ; but we have no guarantee that it will remain there, and should it do so, wo hope steps will be taken to arrest its further progress. We do not know if any provision lias been made by legislation for giving compensation to owners of stock slaughtered in the interests of the common good. Circumstances have not until now arisen calling for procedure of this kind, but doubtless the House of Representatives will this session have the matter brought before it, and will probably frame a measure whereby funds for this purpose will be provided in the future, should such an exigency arise. The Gazette of April 17, just to hand contains the notice of the Canterbury Cattle Board appointment, and also the appointment of Cattle Inspectors and Deputy-Inspectors.
The year 1879 was the most disastrous one to commercial and farming interests within living memory. Disastrous ones we have had before, but none in which every branch of trade and agriculture was so generally and deeply depressed. This depression has been attributed to a variety of causes, commercial, political, meteorological, and even astronomical, but whichever is the correct one, there is no doubt that in our own neighborhood the difficulties of the position wore much aggravated by the complete absence of preparation for such a period. From this unreadiness we must not hastily assume that our farmers and, commercial men were less provident than their contemporaries in other districts ; but as pioneers to an unsubdued country, a largo expenditure was demanded from them, and this expenditure was undertaken with every reasonable hope of a profitable return in due course. But the anticipated return was denied, and as a consequence many estimable men found themselves in embarrased circumstances. To review the commercial casualties of the past twelve months would indeed be a painful task, and one which would serve no useful purpose, but it is of the most vital importance that any lessons taught by these sad experiences should be carefully noted, and studied as a safeguard against their repetition. We think many
of our readers will be with us when we say that one of the necessities recently made apparent in our midst, is the re-adjust-ment of the relations existing between landlord and tenant in this country. Led away by the prosperity which buoyed up the whole colony sonic time ago, tenants have entered upon land and assumed obligations which completely cripple them, and in the interest of the community at large and themselves in particular, it is absolutely imperative that landlordsshould promptly and liberally remodel their leases. We know of a number of instances where men have undertaken to pay a yearly rental of five, six, seven, and more shillings per acre for very light land, and in addition to this, to pay one pound each year off the purchase money. To discharge the conditions of such a lease, a farmer requires five or six years of uninterrupted good fortune, and it is well known that none of those in our midst have experienced this. As a consequence main' excellent hardworking men just now find themselves crushed by the demands of those who have induced them to occupy the land. In this predicament it behoves every landlord to exercise the utmost leniency, as any other course must compel many holders to abandon their farms, and lose to the district a number of very desirable settlers. To avoid such a catastrophe we must all unite, and as landlords are chiefly interested in the adoption of the course wo advocate, and they have everything to gain by a liberal policy, we shall leave the question to their good sense, calling to their recollection the fact that Princes and lords may flourish, or may fade ; A breatli can make them, as a breath hath made. But a bold peasantry, their country’s pride,
When once destioyed can never be supplied,