AGRICULTURAL AND PASTORAL ASSOCIATION.
“WILL FARMING PAY?” The usual monthly, meeting of the Ashburton Agricultural and Pastoral Association was held on Tuesday in the upper room of the Town Hall, at which a very marked increase on the attendance of farmers was apparent, between forty and fifty being present. Previous to the meeting the members dined together in Shearman s Hotel. At the meeting in the upper room, Mr. John Carter, Tinwald, presided, in the absence of the President of the Society, Mr. W. C. Walker, and introduced the essayist of the evening—Mr. John Grigg, Longbeach, who read the following paper, which we reprint from his manuscript : Can Farming be make to pay, at present pricks, in this Provincial District of New Zealand ? To this, I boldly answer that it can. You will naturally say. —tell us how ; in what manner ; bj what system ? This I will try to do ; but first let me put another question. Can farming, as now generally practised, be made to pay ? To this I answer emphatically, No ; it is impossible. Before treating of the other question, let us sweep away all cobwebs and veils before pur eyes that are now over the subject. We have the large fact before our eyes that farming does not pay ; that a very large number of farmers are nearly ruined, You will say that it is hard to remove this veil from before our eyes. My reply is that they are not fanners at all. They are simply camp followers who have followed Sir Julius Vogel’s army of railway makers, and they are simply stripping all and every acre of what they can lay their hands on. I ask you not to be angry, but to be cool, and to ask yourselves if it is not literally true. I ask you if, taking np a farm of say 500 acres, putting 400 acres the first year into wheat, 100 in oats, and in the following year ringing the changes—loo wheat and 400 oats—-after that, where are you ? I should say, “ after that the deluge” as the best thing that could happen to your farming ; and if you really don’t know better, go to school and learn your business before you practise it. Now, have I overdrawn the picture, or over-stated the case. 1 submit that I have not done so by one hair’s-broadth. I admit that there are exceptions amongst us, and I say, “ all hail ! ’.’ to them—they are the saviours of their country. One instance occurs to me in this neighborhood. I refer to the farm of Mr. Cochrane, who is a farmer, and proves by the result that he understands his business. You, no doubt, remember a notice of Mr. Cochrane’s crops in the papers, as follows : Serve Him Right. —Mr. John Cochrane, known among his neighbors on the Wakanui Creek to be a farmer who treats his land with a view to making it a home for himself, and to crop it in such a way that the stamina of the land will not be exhausted in a couple of seasons—has met with his due reward. His record from the thrashing machine shows that ' by working his land properly, and keeping it in good heart, he excels any other return yet rec axled. Mis wheat has turned out 52 and 60 busheL per acre respectively for two paddocks. His barley, which by the way, showed the largest return in the agricultural statistics last ye ir, is on this occasion 70 bushels per acre and his oats on the average about 70. We hoye that our readers, who wish to work their farms in a practical manner will take a few lessons from Mr. John Cochrane, and next year we may have to record a large number of instances in which work done will “serve them right.” —Askbmton Guardian, of April 8. This is an admirable instance of the exception proving the rule, or rather, two rules in this case—that bad farming will not pay. and that skilful and liberal farming will pay. Now, what is to be done ? “ What is the remedy ? ” —I fancy I hear you say, for so many of us are in the position of the man you have alluded to as having his 400 acres of oats. My first reply is, don’t grow oats, at least, in such quantities as to produce the present state of the market. Happily necessity is the mother of invention, and the mother is now amongst us without doubt. You must strike out a new course altogether in the management of your farms. In considering the subject this evening, let us divide the land now being farmed into three classes. (1.) I would dispose of that class that every practical farmer knows it will not pay to cultivate. My answer in this case is, abandon them at once—they are only fit for sheep-walks, and must again be used as such only as long as the present price of labor continues. This you will say is a very “ straight tip.” It is, and those who take my advice will live to thank me for it. (2.) There is a class of land better than the former, but such as will not bear more than two grain crops on the same land (profitably) within six or seven years. The first remedy in this case is large farms—to have enough of it, and .to make wool the principal item of income. These farms are altogether unfitted for the poor and struggling settler, and in no case should there be less than 1,000 acres in one holding. By the growth of green crops, with the aid of artificial manure, this kind of farm may be made to pay a fair interest on the intrinsic value of such land, together with a fair return for the farmer’s skill and industry. (3.) The remaining is that class of land which may be farmed in various ways, according to the skill and school of farming of the occupant. There are several schools of farming, and it cannot be determined which is the best for such land ; so much depends on the farmer himself and his circumstances: whether he has a working family or not; whether the farm is large or small; well watered, or otherwise ; and near or at a distance from the market ; whether near the sea, with a good mild temperature, or at a considerable elevation, making grasses very scarce in the winter months It is quite beyond the time at our disposal this evening to go into all these cases. I will, therefore, take instances of this class of land having a mild climate and a plentiful supply of water. First comes the question as to which is the most profitable, a large or a small farm. This is a much-vexed question, and one on which there will, no doubt, be ever a difference of opinion. My own opinion is that it can be proved to a demonstration that large farms are more profitable than small ones, not only to the individual occupier, but also to the nation, i.e., that the amount remaining for export, in exchange for other luxuries, or comforts, after all demands are paid, must be greater from a given area of land when held in large farms, all other things being equal. This last proviso, I admit, upsets the calculation in so many ways by the almost impossibility of obtaining the position, “ all things being equal,” and hence I take it the difference of opinion. For the purposes of the case I will, however, take a farm of 200 acres as being one that is large enough not to make waste or loss of powgr evident and unavoidable I do not propose to take the case of an unreclaimed farm, but of a farm thoroughly appointed in every respect, judiciously subdivided into good and sufficient buildings, and within twelve miles of a railway station or market. This farm given, the question is “Can it be made to pay at present prices ?” I fancy you will say that I have my work cut out to prove that it can, perhaps i have, and I must confess I am now approaching it for the first time, not, however, without having a clear conviction. I have written thus far without having thought it out in the way that I now propose to do. If it cannot be made clear that my position can be maintained, I am sure that the time will not bo lost in considering the subject, and that we may help each other to come to some near conclusion each in his own mind. The only absolute proof can be obtained
against all comers —in fact,; to fight them inch by inch. Further, lam sure/ that the position is impregnable.,. If these things be so, when are we, or can we.hope,-. to realise such results generally through-' out this provincial district? Not, until there shall have been a thorough reformation of our forces—a re-adjustment of the positions of the capitalist and the producer. First of all, the position of the capitalist must be rendered almost absolutely safe, and then very advantageous terms will bo made with him. The producers must become practical, skilled men, well educated in their profession, never making the attempt to scale any by .trying the experiments, working it out, not on paper, but on the land itself. Such land as I now refer to should bo worth from 16s. to 255. per acre per annum, according to the situation, and if rented only, without the tenant having a right of purchase or any reversionary interest whatever. In case of a right of purchase being given, I would estimate the annual value to be greater by from 4s. to 6s. per acre per annum for a term of ten years. We may confidently expect that within that period land which is now worth from Ll2 to Ll 5 per acre, will be readily saleable at from Ll 6to L 22 per acre. I believe, however, that excepting where a farmer has ample capital, or some prospect of obtaining money from some other source than from the profits of his farm, he would be much more comfortably situated to be a tenant only. Amongst Englishmen, to be the owner of land is a ruling passion, the result being in older countries than this that the capitalist alone can afford to hold land. And I venture to say that the day is not far distant when the capitalists will, in this country, be content to receive five per cent, on his investments in land. Just how, I believe, every one expects to get from seven to eight per cent., at least. I will now refer to my estimate of what a tenant farmer can really do on a 200-acre farm, and also to an estimate of the capital he will require on such a holding. Plan of 200-Acre Farm.
These paddocks to be kept almost always under crop—potatoes, vetches, mangolds, carrots, with an occasional crop of spring wheat or barley. Rotation of Crops. Ist year 2nd 3 d 4th sth 6th 7111 25 Acres 1 ... W P W GC 11 C W 25 Acres 2 ... P W GC B C W P 25 Acres 3 ... W GC B C W P W 25. Acres 4 ... GC B C W P W GC 25 Ades 5 ... B C W P W GC B 25 Acres 6 ... C W P W GC B C 150 Acres The letters used above mean as follows : W wheat, B barley, P peas, C clover, GC green crop. Capital. £ s. d. 3 hoises 90 o o 1 horse ... ... ... ... 20 o o 2 young horses, I yearling, I two-year ... ... ... 25 o o Harness ... ... 20 o O Ploughs—l double-furrow, £l% ; 1 single-furrow, £4, £22 ; Harrows, £10; scarifier and horse hoe, .£l3; roller, £2O; dray, £2O; chaff cu:ter, £7 ; pea rake, £2 10s ; drill, ; small tools, &c., ,£5 ... ... 129 10 o 10 cows at £7 each ... ... 70 o o 5 two-year-olds at ... ... 25 o O $ yearlings at £2 ... ... 10 o o 1 bull 10 o o 25 sheep ... ... ... ... 7 10 o 2 sows at ... ... ... 800 Dairy utensils ... ... ... 5 0 0 Seed—Wheat, 50 bushels at 3s. 6d., say £g ; barley, £7 I os.; potatoes, £7 103. ; peas, mangolds, turnips, carrots, and vetches 34 o o Poultry ... ... ... ... 200 Horse feed, 300 bushels oats ... 15 o o Annual Return, Wheat—so acres at 40 bushels per acie, 2000 bushels at 35.... 300 o O Peas—2s acres at 25 bushels petacre, 625 bushels at 2s. ... 62 o o Turnips—2s acres (any profit to be spent in manure)... Barley— 25 acres at 40 bushels per acre—looo bushels, at 2s. 6d 125 o o Clover—s head of cattle fed each year ... ... ... 40 o o From Homestead, and small paddocks 50 acres—--10 cows’ butter ... ... ... 40 o o 5 calves to be sold at 10s. ... 2 10 o 1 three-year old cok ... ... 25 o o Pigs—Produce of two sows, 28 farrows '.. 56 O o Potatoes, carrots, vetches, seed 75 0 0 Poultry and eggs ... ... 10 O 6 50 sheepskins, 3s. ... ... 7 16 0 £745 S j\nnua Expenses. ' ' J f Ploughman ... ... ... £6O g o Food (or c}o ... ... ... 20 Q o Ejftra labor at harvest 300 Threshing, 3625 bushels, 46. per bushel .., ... ... 60 8 4 All seed as in capital account ... 34 o o Oats, horse-feed, 300 bushels ... 15 o o Blacksmith and wear and tear of harness... ... ... ... 20 o O Loan of reaper and binder and wire, Ss. peracre, 75 acres ... 18 15 O Road rates ... ... ... 500. Clover and grass seed, 25 acres... 12 10 o ,£2s° IS 4 Gross annual return 743 10 o Less outlay 250 13 Showing more than cent, per cent, on capital in slock, out of which deduct rent of land, say 20s. peracre ... ... 200 o O Net profit to farmer, including his Qwn and his wife’s labor ... 296 16 4
I can only say that I am most agreeably surprisedj I may say astonished, at the result of my own figures. lam delighted. I can see that there is hope for us yet. 1 am quite prepared to defend these figures position with a ladder several rungs shorter than the height of the wall. The majority of farmers at present are, I fear a forlorn hope ; but one great quality of an English army is that they do not know when they are beaten. Napoleon is said to have asked the question at Waterloo— Why didn’t the English run? And the reply was that they didn’t know when they were beaten. Such pluck deserves, and often obtains, the victory in spite of all appearances. Let us hope that such fortune will favor the brave; for if ever there were brave and stout hearts fighting the battle of life, such are the farmers in this district. (Applause.) The Chairman said the Association ought to be exceedingly thankful for the paper just read by Mr. Grigg, and he hoped what had been put forth in the ; paper would be made the subject of thorough discussion. He invited any gentleman present to speak. Mr. Thomas pointed out that Mr. Grigg had said there would be cattle to sell from the model 200-acre farm he had sketched, but he .had said nothing of where they were to come from. Mr. Grigg pointed out that the young stock had been provided for by purchase at the same time as the cows. Mr. Thomas took exception to the smallness of the number of sheep allowed for, as he himself belived that without extensive grazing farming in New Zealand would not pay. He feared the time for 3s. a bushel would not often come again, - and grazing must be attended to to make up for what the produce of cultivation . Would not supply. He also took .exception to the price allowed for pigs. ’ Mr. Grigg said he had no difficulty in obtaining far higher prices for his pigs than he estimated in his paper, and he perfectly agreed with Mr Thomas’ theoiy that on most of the land cultivation alone would not pay. It was not too much, however, to expect the yields he had given, as he himself from second class land had obtained fifty-five bushels of barley to the acre, —and land adjoining this was now in the market at L 8 per acre. No one, he was sure, would ever think of giving LI an acre rental for the land that produced this crop. In reply to Mr. Thomas also, Mr. Grigg.said that school fees, etc., could easily be provided for out of the sixty per cent, profit that accrued on the farm’s work for the year. He would like to add, that beans ought to alternate with peas where that was at all possible. In reply to Mr. G. M. Robinson, Mr. Grigg said he made no provision for any foolish purchase of land—where the price paid had been exorbitant. A man may struggle with a dead-weight of interest round his neck, if he liked, but it was only of a farm of fairly arable land, fairly rented or bought at a fair value, that he had treated. Still, he knew instances in which farmers paying a very heavy rent had obtained very large returns as the result of practical treatment of the soil and business-like management. It was also an old-fashioned theory about wheat taking the l ; me out of the land. He would advocate the use of leguminous crops, such as peas and beans, that shed a great quantity of leaves, as restorers to the land of the ammoniacal properties. Mr. Bell wanted to know if Mr. Grigg . thought it advisable for.the owner of a 200 acre farm to be a partner in the ownership of a reaping machine, and what would be the best tvay to divide its use. Mr. Grigg thought it was certainly extravagant on the part of a small farmer unless he could afford it as a luxury to own wholly an expensive machine like a reaper >•: and binder. If he owned a share of one, the best plan to follow would be to markon the calender the days he was entitled to use it, and the days his partner ought to have it, and wet or dry, let the machine go to the respective farms on these days. Mr. C«x said that instead of every farmer owning a reaping machine, it would be far better if a class of contractors made it their business to do reaping, as some now did ploughing. It would be a better division of labor. Regarding the purchase cf land, such as the instances mentioned, by Robinson, there were men who had purchased at a high figure, and an exten- L sive area, where they were not in a position to pay for it. That was a greater evil than paying too high a figure for the land. During the last few years. he had changed his views in regard to the plains land, and ho was not astonished at the results he had seen and heard of. He had been told of ten tons of clover hay per acre taken from very ordinary laud, and he had mentioned the fact to another farmer, who was quite ready to believe it, as he had obtained six tons per acre. There may have been mistakes in these estimates, but if only half”' were obtained, he was quite sure no wheat crops could pay like that. Regarding pigs, he knew of a case in which Ll 3 had been refused for 4 pigs that a twelvemonth ago had been bought for 10s. each Many farmers made the mistake of taking their farms on a purchasing clause. It was far better to buy their farms with a long lease and a purchasing clause,’ so that improvements could be made on the farm with the interest money that would otherwise be paid to the landlord. Many went off with the foolish notion that they could buy land and pay for it out of the crop of the first year. This was a gross mistake, and the result was that when a bad year came, and one bad year followed another, men who had put all their eggs in one basket went to the wall. Mr. Grigg thought contractors for reaping would not do for the sole supply of reaping to one district. It would be very unsafe, and he would not like to rely upon them. There was a great mistake in buying too much land, as Mr. Oox had said. He (Mr. Grigg) did not think - capital ought to demand more than five -■ per cent, on its land. Ten tons of hay was a result that he would expect from very superior land, and he felt inclined to doubt that result. The land must have been well watered, and heavy to do so. He did not think it would ever be possible to take continuous heavy crops off these light lands of ours; without the use of artificial manures. He hoped he would not be adjudged as throwing cold water on these light lands, he only stated what he believed to be the truth about them, and felt he was doing his duty in so doing. Still, there was a silver lining to the cloud, and if they stuck to their cross-bred stock he believed from .the prospects of the, wool market that these lands would ultimately pay in wool. ' ‘ Mr. Bell thought farmers ought to have an interest in the fafnjs they occupied,’ and it was fetter to make a step tqwafd| buying them. Mr.' Grigg pointed out that hig mgan; ing was this—Take a farm, but give no more than 5 per cent, on the capital it represented as rent—don’t give 8 per cent, put the 3 per cent, in your pocket, and at the end of ten years you will be quite able to talk to the landlord. After some further discussion on Mr. Grigg’s paper, in which some interesting but minor facts were elicited, a hearty vote of thanks was passed to Mr. Grigg. After a good deal of talk on what was the best day of the week and the best hour for holding the monthly meeting, Mr. Guinness moved that the next meeting bo held this day month, at seven o’clock. Mr. Robinson moved, as an amendment that the next meeting be held on a convenient Saturday about a month hence, at four o’clock. The motion and amendment being duly seconded, the latter was carried, and the meeting adjourned.
THtt IB S SISTER 3 BILLThe Deceased Wife’s Sister Bill made its usual annual appearance in Parliament again on Tuesday, and Lie supporters of it raised a jubilant cheer when in the Legislative Conncil the second reading was carried by 10 to 11. At the same sitting—we presume taking heart at the success'of the kindred measure the Hon. W. S. Peters gave notice, amidst laughter, that he would introduce a “ Deceased Husband’s Brother Marriage Bill.”
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