GREAT FARMS IN THE UNITED STATES.
The tendency in the United States towards the concentration of agricultural lands in large tracts in the hands of a few considerable capitalists, upon whom the people are dependent for employment as laborers, is very graphically indicated in an article on the “ Bonanza Farms of the West,” published in this month’s Atlantic Monthly. The writer gives accounts of visits paid to Minnesota, Dakato, and Kansas. An idea of the extent of some of the farms is conveyed fcy the statement that the area of three farms near Castleton, in Minnesota, adjoining each other and under one management, is equal to about three-fourths of that of the city of New York. The Grandin farm of 40,000 acres in the Red River valley has space enough for three cities like New York, and the whole farm property of the Grandin family would furnish sites for five such cities. A large portion of the residents of the towns are adventurers in agriculture holding and cultivating by contract, shares, or otherwise. On the large farms there is an entire absence of women and children, and in no case was the permanent residence of a family to be found upon them. They are simply business ventures, and the idea of home does not pertain to them. A great abundance of unemployed labor was noticeable.
The large capitalists are making colossal fortunes, as they can gaow wheat at a cost less than 40e. per bushel., and make good profit if they sell it even as low as 70c. per bush. But the small farmers are not making a comfortable subsistence, and must succumb. While the small farmer is compelled to feed, clothe, and shelter a whole family for the year through, the large capitalist feeds, clothes, and shelters only one-fourth the number in proportion to the work done, and that for less than onefourth of the year. The facts gleaned show that on the Grandin farm, for instance, during the four weeks of seed time, 150 men are employed, and tor the six weeks of harvest 250 men, at wages that barely support them during the time they work; while during the five months from November to April 1, only ten men are employed. The capitalist also brings to his assistance the most improved machinery, which the small farmer can utilise only to a very limited extent.
Then, again, the large farmers obtain special facilities for transportation and storage, the railway rates paid by them being in some instances 50 per cent, below those charged to the small farmers. Their farming implements and machinery are also obtained at a discount of 33 per cent, from published prices. The development of the large-farm interest is not confined to Kansas, Minnesota, and Dakato; in Texas, also, “ there has been a movement in the same direction of perhaps unparalleled magnitude,” and California is noted for its great farms of tens of thousands of acres. These farms being held on the tenant system, the direct result is the impoverishment of the land. Not one dollar ot the amount received from the products of the soil is spent upon the land, except in the construction of the fewest buildings necessary t o shelter the laborers in the working season, and for the care of the working stock and tools. The writer concludes by saying that the effects of the system are infinitely worse than in Europe. “ The tenants in England hold lea ses and occupations that practically run for life, and often are kept in families for generations, which give encouragement for great improvements,” but in America “ the leases are usually for short terms, with no encouragement for improvements,” while the rent is commonly one half the gross product. We may add that it is worth while to note that this continued impoverishment of the land by large capitalists making hasty fortunes, and without the development of permanent settlements, is not only a serious problem affecting the general economic future of the United States, , but has also a direct bearing upon the immediate future prosperity of the great railroads now employed in the carriage of grain.—Manchester Guardian.
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