The Ashburton Guardian. THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 1880. Frozen Meat.
TOWN EDITION. [lssued at 5 )).»!.]
For some months the press has been, if not altogether silent, at least very much less talkative on the subject of the frozen meat question than it was immediately after the great success was announced of the Stralhleven experiment. But the interest taken in the question has not subsided with the assuaging of the flood of talk, and proof is being daily given that the matter has not been forgotten. The leading newspapers, both in this colony and in Australia, have been watchful of everything appertaining to the frozen meat trade, and have been careful to note every new fact as it appeared bearing upon it. Statistics have been looked up by the Australians of the most reliable character,- from which they conclude that a hopeful future is before Australia in the direction of exported meat, and that if it were possible for America to export to pay, it is certainly more so for Australia. Our neighbors are therefore becoming quite elated at the prospect that lies before them, and are infusing new energy into the enterprise which was pioneered by the Strathleven. The Bell-Coleman machinery is still the popular apparatus with the Victorians, and by-and-by it is expected that a complete system of regular meat exportation will be established, so that Australian meat will soon become as common an article of food in England, as meat fed on her own rich pastures. Victorian enterprise is about as proverbial as Colonial “blow,” and of course Victoria is in the front in this frozen meat matter, and she is doing her level best to divert the trade into channels that will lead to the meat being exported from Victorian ports. While so doing she is not neglecting the cultivation of beef on her own soil for export, nor does she fail to stir up her neighbors to attend to this cultivation on theirs. New South Wales has her eyes perfectly open to the designs of the Victorians, who are almost Yankee in their pluck and energy, and occasionally we notice the Sydney press, while it dwells upon the frozen meat idea as one that ought to make the fortune of New South Wales, dwelling also upon the audacity of the Melbourne men in trying to work the oracle for the benefit of their own ports. With the tactics of the Australian Colonies in this matter of ports New Zealand has little to do,, but with the matter of exporting meat she has a very great deal to do. We have been so accustomed in this colony to speak of the glories of our land, climate, and so forth, that the subject is beginning to nauseate upon us, when we compare the blow that has been made about the colony with the state in which she finds herself, and especially that poriton of herself which the farmers make up. The farmers, with all the boasted superiority of the colony’s soil and climate found themselves working for very small renumeration indeed, when they estimated results after the last two harvests. Especially was this the case with those who had more oats than they could find a market for this year. Hitherto, New Zealand’s resources, laying aside grain and wool, have only been on paper, so far as her actual profit from them, have been concerned, and the time has now come when the farmer ought to look to establishing for himself some other means of taking revenue from his land than that which grain l
finds for him. A bad harvest brings him _ small returns because he has nothing to take into the market; a good one finds his case not much better, because the market is glutted, and his produce is cheap. Clearly then this frozen meat question is for him to solve. If meat can be carried from Australia to England with a fair return to the grower is there any reason why it should not also be carried from New Zealand? If the plains of Australia can raise cattle and sheep sufficient to supply a continuous demand, surely our better land, with every advantage for stock raising, ought to do so also, and so provide another source of income to the agricultural settler. It has been said that there are large tracts of country in this island that ought never to have been under cultivation, but should have remained only in sheep. A reversion to sheep would be quite as profitable were a meat line to England established, and we take it that, given the sucess of the Bell-Coleman experiment and the establishment of a line to England from Australia, it is time for New Zealand, to move. We feel certain that, a company once formed here for the export of frozen meat, such an increase would be apparent in the number of cattle and sheep raised in the colony as would astonish even those who now believe the very highest of the colony’s stock raising capabilities. And while the colony’s exports ,as a whole would be largely increased, land utilised that is now comparatively idle, land made to yield a handsome return that now its owners would be only too glad to sell, the individual farmer would be able to look less anxiously to the threshing machine, and would have a second string to his bow. We take it that it is more to the establishment and nurture of such a trade as this, to which every farmer can contribute, that a county like ours must look for its future than to the establishment of factories and workshops. These are all very well in their way, and must not be forgotten, but the great maws of London and other cities of Great Britain, it appear to us, offer more profitable employment in rearing meat for their filling than any new manufacturing industry is likely to present. Let us hope that New Zealand will ere long be a competitor in the meat trade with her Australian neighbors.
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