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The cost of distribution, especially of foodstuffs, from the farm is being reduced in the United States by postal motor delivery. The "New York

Times" has gone into the matter, as it is being taken up by the United States [Postal Department. Mr J. I. Blakslee, 4th Assistant Postmaster-General, U.S.A., says there is no theory about the matter. He had proved that "increasing the country's food supply, providing quick delivery of farm produce to the consumer, and making money for the Government, are the three big things that have prov.ed every one of. them practical propositions."

The Post Office motor truck which brought more than 2900 pounds of eggs, butter, and honey, in addition to 400 newly-hatched chicks, to New York from Lancaster, Pennsylvania was an object-lesson of the possibilities in the farm-to-the-table movement the Government is endeavouring to establish in many parts of the country. The distance was 100 miles, covered in 12 hours, but the actual running time was 10 hours. The postal receipts were £6 ss. Operating costs were less than £4. The Government made, therefore, £2 5s profit.

The produce carried ,was only handled four times, lirst at the loading point; second, the unloading at the Pennsylvania Station Post Office ; third, reloading on smaller post office waggons^ fourth, delivery to the consignees. The usual number of handlings in customary freight or express transactions of this sort is fourteen. It is possible to reduce these four handlings to two operations by direct delivery to the consignee, which Mr Blakslee hopes to establish to a considerable extent as the system becomes more perfected.

"This Government postal service is no longer an experiment," said Mr Blakslee, in explaining the success of the plan. "The iirst post office motor truck in the farm-to-the-table delivery system went into service on December last, running from Washington for about 50 miles into the suburbs. It was an immediate success, and others were soon installed.

"The system adopted by .the. department in these routes is slightly different from the customary parcel post service, in that the sender is not obliged to go to the nearest post office to mail his package, but may give it to the driver of .the United States postal ' .truck, in other words, the postal truck is a United States Post Office on wheels, the driver exercising all the duties of the postal clerk. He sells stamps, cancels the package, and can make immediate deliveries along his route. ' llealise what this service means to the farmer, instead of driving to the village post office with his goods, or paying a large amount for cartage or express''rates, he bundles up his packages and loads them into the postal truck as it passes his door. He can ship 100 packages if he desires. So insistent was the demand that facilities be permitted the farmers to ship crates of eggs by parcel post that on jVJareh 15 the department raised the parcel post weight from 50 to 70 pounds. The use of motor trucks justifies the new weight limit, and it will give the farmer the chance he has always wanted, that of shipping a moderately large quantity of produce for a small price. Parcels of 70 pounds may be sent to points Within the first, second, and third postal zones." The results have shown a big profit to the Government, and that very fact demonstrates more conclusively than any other argument the demand for such service. Parcel post statistics have hitherto shown that the rural section receives about eight packages to one sent out. In other words, the farmer buys eight times as much, from the city by parcel post as he sends in. As the Government is now bringing the Post Office direct to his door, there is no reason why every farmer who raises good produce should not ship quantities of food by the Post Office trucks.

just as soon as the farmer realises the possibilities that the Government is ottering' him, he will raise bigger, and perhaps, better crops. "I firmly believe (Mr Blakslee states in the "New York Times") that the extension of the system will do as much as ajiy agency, if not more, to stimulate increased food production. Let the farmer see that he can sell all his produce at a fair price and he' will plough up more acres. Government profit in any branch of the postal service is a good thing, but at the present time that takes second place when compared to the necessity tor food production on the biggest possible scale. When the farmer is assured of a reacly market and a fair price, he will do his part and supply the goods. One motor truck can haul more than three or four farm waggons. One driver,, can replace eight farm producers, who not only cease active work or production in marketing but usually convey produce one way only whenever they suspend farm work to drive a horse and cart 12 miles or so to town and return."

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Bibliographic details

FOOD BY POST., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9584, 11 April 1919

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FOOD BY POST. Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9584, 11 April 1919

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