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THE PRODUCTION PER ACRE.
Is it not amazing that, mainly since our Declaration of Independence, 135 years ago, we have been able to so waste. our fertility that we produce less wheat per acre than any people of the Eastern Hemisphere, except Russia and India? Lands in England that have been farmed for more than a thousand years produce more than twice as much wheat per acre on the average as we do in the naturally better lands of the Mississippi Valley. That demonstrates the difference between farming and merely mining the soil fertility.
This condition has been greatly hastened by our statesmen. The gift of an empire of land to railroads to enable them to furnish speedy and cheap transportation for a vast continent, together with the enactment of the homestead law, so excessively stimulated agricultural production that the farmer was often, and in fact generally until about twelve years ago, forced to sell his products at and often under the cost of production. This gave the world cheaper food than it will ever see again, and made possible the wonderful growth of great cities the world Over.
The anxiety of the farmer to find a home market instead of having his prices fixed in a foreign market under competition led to the continuance of the system of high tariffs long after the reason for it had ceased to exist, thus wonderfully stimulating the growth of the cities of our own land, cities which with all our boasted ability we have never been able to govern decently. When this undue stimulus is removed, as it will and must be sooner or later, our manufacturers will have to take the same medicine which sickened the farmers in the 70's, 80's and early 90's.
Inasmuch as there are no more Mississippi valleys to be opened, we are now nearing the turning of the lane. We must from henceforth learn how to farm. We cannot greatly increase our acreage; will, in fact, be compelled by the return of normal climatic conditions over our western territory to reduce it. The Qnly thing left to do is to grow more grain per acre, better stock in greater numbers per quarter section. Only in this way can we reduce the cost of living.
HOW TO PRODUCE FOOD CHEAPLY.
Our great problem, as I said to this Congress a year ago, is how to produce food for our own people at prices which they can afford to pay. But how? Partly by putting more brains into our farming. There is a great deal of agricultural labor wasted simply because many farmers do not have even an elementary knowledge of the forces with which they have to work. It is hard to convince them that the fertility of the soil is not inexhaustible. Farmers of this class have been soil robbers too long, and they continue to grow the same crop year after year, trusting to luck. It is hard to get the farmers of this class to understand the philosophy of crop rotation, of the natural movement of water in the soil, or of the ideal seed bed, or the fitness of certain soils for certain crops; in short, of the requirements of plant or animal life, or to persuade them to active coöperation with each other, or to get them in actual touch and sympathy with the new agriculture. This is an educational process, and therefore slow, even when there is a disposition to acquire the knowledge. Many ra, iners have more faith in moon signs than in agricultural colleges and experimental stations; more faith in ordinary politicians than in college professors and scientists; more faith in yellow journals than in the best agricultural papers. For this reason we now grow on an average two-thirds of a pound of corn to the hill; whereas the good farmer often grows on no better land originally two pounds per hill of three stalks, and three pounds are possible. We grow fourteen bushels of wheat per acre (this year but twelve and a half), while on land no better naturally, and often not so good, England grows thirty-two and Germany twenty-eight bushels. We are now passing through a stage through which English farmers passed when they grew but twelve and a half bushels of wheat per acre. The new agriculture has lifted the English and the Danish farmer out of the rut. It will lift us when we begin to use our brains. Before this Congress adjourns we will have some illuminating discourses on this branch of the subject, addresses by men of national reputation, who have devoted their lives to some particular phase of the problem of conserving and restoring soil fertility. I would not, even if I could, anticipate what they will say and say so well. The farmer complains that he cannot employ labor necessary to grow full crops on his land, and therefore that he cannot now engage in intensive farming. There is just ground for his complaint. The factory, the store, the railroad, the trolley line outbid him for the labor, even that which is farm born and farm bred. He cannot use the cheap labor of Southern Europe, nor the hobo or tramp, nor the ne'er-do-well of the city, because the farm with its improved machinery and its live stock requires skilled labor, and a kind of skill that can be acquired Only on the farm. He can use Russian and the Japanese in the beet fields. He can use the emigrant from Southern Europe in the vegetable garden, in digging ditches or making roads; but he cannot use this labor in modern farming operations. He dare not employ an unskilled man in milking, nor in feeding his cattle, nor entrust to his care the management of either improved machinery or team.
BOYS AND GIRLS AND THE FARM.
Therefore the very root and kernel of our modern farm problem is how to retain on the farm all the boys and girls born there, who are fit to be farmers or farmers' wives. This can be done only by making farm life worth living. Making money or owning a farm is not all of farm life. We have but one life to live on this earth, and we should get out of it all that is possible. In many sections in the country, with bad roads, poor schools, poor churches and no social life, farm life is not worth living. That proof of this is seen is the fact that farm boys and girls flee from it, and the farmer himself, as soon as he thinks he is able to live in town.
The farmer himself is to blame for much of this. He has played on the roads under pretense of working them. He has hired the school teacher at the lowest wage and starved the preacher. He has accepted the town ideal of life, regarding himself as “only a farmer.” His school has not been a rural school at all, but a poor kind of city school moved out into the country; and its teacher gaining at his expense the years of experience, while teaching farm children in terms of the town instead of the farm and in the spirit of the farm, that will enable her to get a position in the city. His preacher has been hoping he would get a call to a city church. If the farmer has got on in the world, his wife, if she is very foolish indeed, is inclined to boast that her society is not in the country, but the town. He allows the politician in the city to fix up a slate and tell him how he must vote.
All that is needed to convert the farmers of the West into peasants is to continue this policy for another generation. Fortunately this policy will not continue. All over the country there is the beginning of a great social and industrial awakening. The farmer is beginning to “magnify his office,” to cut loose from partisan bias, to do his own thinking and act for himself. He is paying better salaries to his school teachers, and insisting that the teaching have some relation to the life of the farm. He is buying his own automobiles, and paying cash for them. He is beginning to realize that farm life is essentially different from the life of the town. The man who steps high because accustomed to walking over clods and has the far away look of one who studies the clouds, is a different type of man altogether from the man who glides along the pavement and to whom the weather is a matter of little or no immediate concern. The man who glances over the headlines of his daily paper while he sips his coffee is a different character from the man who reads and studies the editorial of his weekly paper. This farmer's wife is now organizing her own clubs and giving her town sisters lessons in club work. The movement to organize life clubs is spreading. The boys and girls are organizing for games. The country church is beginning to realize its mission, and in several states country preachers are taking short courses in agricultural colleges in order that they may teach morals and religion to farmers in terms of their daily life.
The conservation of the life of the farmer, using the word in its broadest sense, is essential to the conservation of the fertility of the soil; and for that reason the executive committee of this Congress has invited some of the leaders, men whose hearts are in this work, to discuss before you its various phases. You have a real treat before you.
In conclusion, permit me to say that the ultimate prosperity of the city, its ability to govern itself wisely and well, depend on the development of rural manhood. More than that, the very permanence of our republic will depend on the development of the manhood of the farm. Rome ceased to be a republic shortly after the farmers moved to town and left their lands to be tilled by mere hirelings and slaves.
We keep the best wine to the last always, and the last address of this morning will be a response by Hon. J. B. White, of Kansas City, chairman of the executive committee of the National Conservation Congress. Mr. White. (Applause)
Mr. WHITE–Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen of this Congress: It is not necessary that I should reply to the address of welcome, the ground has been so fully covered by the President of this Association. I feel like endorsing from my heart everything he has said, but as a matter of form, because it is expected that the chairman of the executive committee will have something to say, I want to join as a private citizen of Kansas City in welcoming the farmers and the conServationists of the entire country here today, and as the chairman of the executive committee I want to thank the good people of Kansas City for the admirable and perfect preparation that they have made. \ want to thank the board of local managers. I want to thank the Secretary of the Commercial Club, Secretary Clendenning, personally, and the organization of which he is the main worker. I want to thank him for the great work which they have done in making this Conservation Congress possible. The Commercial Club of Kansas City has been well Spoken of as the eye and the ear of the people of Kansas City, and it is truly so.
Now, this Conservation Congress was called here because it was thought there ought to be special attention given to conservation of farms—to the conservation of soil. And it was thought that Kansas City was in the center of the greatest agricultural district in the world. I suppose, going two hundred miles in either direction from Kansas City, another piece of ground naturally so fertile is not to be found in the world. It takes in a part of Iowa, and it takes in the State of Kansas, a large part of it, and nowhere is there a better. If it were formed into one state it would be the greatest state agriculturally in the world. I am a farmer and a lumberman, and there was a time not long ago when conservation was thought to apply only to forestry, and that the lumberman was the great and ruthless destroyer of the forest. It was a matter of sentiment that went all over the country, and they thought conservation ought to begin by saving the trees. Now, we have passed beyond that. The lumbermen of the State of Missouri paid thousands of dollars to help endow a chair of Forestry in Yale College. I see before me one gentleman here who paid $4,000 toward that cause, and my company has paid a great deal of money towards a chair of Forestry, and we have done everything that we could. We invited the students of forestry of Yale College into our forests. One season I had forty for two or three months, and thirty-five for another season in my forests. We built them cabins and furnished them men and horses, and everything we could do to help them study forest conditions was done. We began it in Missouri over twenty years ago, and later, as lumbermen, we have taken the greatest interest in practical forestry and the conservation of the forest, but we found it true that conservation of the soil must come first, because it is of the greater importance. There are substitutes for wood for the purpose of shelter, but there are no substitutes for food, and he that make two blades of grass grow where one grew before is doing his utmost for this and future generations. I notice that my friend, Mr. Wallace, touched on politics. Now, I am not certain whether it was politics, because the line drawn is so fine. It is so hard to draw a line between conservation economics and real good politics. I remember I got my foot into it one time; I used to belong to the Grange—thirty-five years ago. In order to organize a grange you have to have at least fifteen members, and four of them must be women, because it was supposed that in any like proportion, four women to eleven men, gives the women the majority, and wherever four women, or of that proportion, get into a convention they are always in the majority. I got up, under the good of the order, addressed the master of the Grange, and began to tell how I thought benefit might accrue to the members of the Grange. I stated some of the benefits that we were then enjoying; that we had 6 cents a pound protection on lumber, and 6 cents a pound protection on cheese, $4.00 a ton on hay, and $1.50 protection on straw, and 15 cents a pound protection on butter. And then I had a complaint, because just then they had taken the tariff off of lumber, and I said, “I own a saw mill and I don't think it is fair to let in lumber free.” (They did it at that time, back in 1878.) One sister got up and replied, “We can stand 6 cents a pound on butter, and 6 cents a pound on cheese, and $4.00 a ton on hay, and 15 cents a bushel on potatoes, but, Good Lord, we ought to have something free, and I think it ought to be lumber.” And they ruled I was talking politics and I could not go any farther. That was the situation. It summed up a good deal like this, that we want protection on everything we produce, and we want everything to come in free that we have to buy, and I think that is good economics. That would not be politics.
Brother Wallace sees a great deal of good in everything, and he can draw his lesson and illustration to prove conclusively any point he entertains. I found that out. Why, I did not know that Samson was a saint until I attended a church here in Kansas City four weeks ago yesterday, and I listened to one of the best sermons I ever heard. It was shown conclusively that Samson was a saint, and that it was so recorded in the Scriptures. There were good reasons for his being a saint: the chief of these reasons was that he was the best material they