« AnteriorContinuar »
too, there are vast arable plains of great fertility, a fertility of which little is known to the world on account of poor methods of farming and on account of the fact that much of the land has not been under cultivation. The cattle industry was first developed in Argentina, and for many years it completely overshadowed agriculture. Thousands and even hundreds of thousands of acres were owned by the great cattle kings who had no desire to have their land broken up, because they knew nothing of its agricultural value. Another controlling factor is the dependence of agricultural work upon immigrants and their descendants. These immigrants differ greatly in character from those found upon the new lands of the United States and Canada. The great number of illiterate peddlers, laborers, cobblers, and what-not of Italy, Spain and Russia do not become intelligent farmers. They do not endeavor to become permanent additions to the population by securing ownership of the land which they cultivate. They are chiefly Italians having a very low standard of living and little efficiency as laborers. Many of them return to Italy within a year after their coming. According to the census of 1900, not one farmer in three is a renter in the United States, but in Argentina two out of every three do not own the land which they till. Two systems of renting are in vogue in the latter country, the "medianero," or share system, and the "arrendatario," or cash system. The government encourages immigration by offering free transportation from Europe and by making easy the acquisition of land. There are Jewish, Russian, Swiss, German, Austrian, Italian, Spanish and Scandinavian settlements. The number of immigrants averages about 100,000 per annum, and the number of emigrants at least half this number. Generally speaking, the Argentine wheat farmer will submit to life conditions that would not be endured in North America, for he has been accustomed to hardships in Europe. He is slow in understanding what a republic means. Class distinctions between rich and poor are sharply drawn.
Agricultural methods and conditions are improving, however, and Argentina is certain to assume a higher rank as a producer of wheat and other cereals. Twenty-five years ago not enough wheat was produced for domestic consumption. During the last decade wheat has been the principal crop, and approximately 50,000,000 bushels have been exported annually. The total area of Argentina is over a million English square miles, an area equal to all of that portion of the United States which lies east of the Mississippi, with the Dakotas, Minnesota and Iowa added. Wheat growing began in the north and extended in that direction farther than was advantageous. It is estimated that there are at least 60,000,000 acres of land that will eventually be producing wheat. One great advantage is that
the land can be worked at almost any time of the year, for the climate is comparatively moderate. It is probable that the development of the wheat industry in Argentina will be more rapid than in Russia.*
Canadian Wheat Production.—Canada has greater possibilities of an immediate and rapid increase in wheat production than any other country. It holds this position of pre-eminence 1 U. S. Dept. Agr., Bu. of Sta., Bui. 27, 1904.
1 Bicknell, Wheat Production and Farm Life in Argentina, U. S. Dept. Agr„ Bu. of Sta., Bui. 27, 1904.
by virtue of its large area of fertile land, land so well suited to the growing of wheat that the grain produced is of a quality not generally equaled by other countries, and by virtue of the intelligent and industrious settlers who are rapidly taking up the unoccupied lands. Estimates vary greatly as to the actual wheat area available in Canada. The best lands are located in Manitoba, Assiniboia, Saskatchewan and Alberta. It is probable that there are at least 150,000,000 acres within these limits upon which wheat could be profitably grown, an area approximately three times as great as that annually sown in wheat in the United States. As yet there is not more than about 5 per cent of this land under cultivation, but over 100,000,000 bushels of wheat are annually produced. The hard wheat of the Canadian Northwest ranks with the world's best wheat, and the Toronto papers quote it at a price about 15 cents above that of Ontario wheat. In some years over half of the crop grades No. 1 hard, and it is greatly desired by the millers for mixing with lower grade wheats for the purpose of maintaining a desirable and uniform strength of flour. The yield of wheat per acre is larger in Canada than in the United States. The average yield of spring wheat in Manitoba from 1891 to 1900 was 19 bushels. During the same period of time the yield in the Dakotas was about 11 bushels, while that for the whole of the United States was 13.3 bushels. The land of Canada seems to be more productive, the climate more favorable, and the methods of farming better. About one-fourth of the country is capable of tillage.
The settlement of Canadian lands is progressing rapidly. A large proportion of the immigrants and a great amount of capital come from the United States. From March to August of 1902, about 25,000 emigrants went from the United States to Canada. 12,000,000 acres of land have been settled in one year. In effect, the homestead laws of Canada are similar to those of the United States. Transportation facilities are being rapidly developed in order to meet the demands of the increased population, and some of the largest modern grain elevators are being constructed. It appears as if Canada is destined eventually to produce the bulk of North American export wheat. The cold climate is unfavorable to the production of corn and many other crops, and it is very likely that the growing of wheat will be one of the great permanent industries of Canada, especially as the population is so largely agricultural.1
Wheat in the United Kingdom.—The imports of wheat by Great Britain are far greater than those of any other country and approximate two-fifths of those of the world. It is this fact which gives the United Kingdom its position of unusual importance in the wheat industry. About the time of Christ the Normans made England so productive of "corn" (wheat) that a large amount of grain was exported, and England was known as '' The Granary of the North." 2 At the close of the eighteenth century the average crop of Great Britain was over 60,000,000 bushels. In 1852 the wheat acreage was over 3,500,000 acres. With the development of wheat production in the United States and other countries having great natural advantages over the United Kingdom, the price of wheat declined to such a degree that it became more profitable for the latter country to grow other crops and to import the bulk of its wheat. By 1868, less than 2,500,000 acres of wheat were grown in Great Britain, and the acreage continued to decline for over a quarter of a century. Less than 2,000,000 acres of wheat are now annually grown, but the yield is over 30 bushels per acre. During the decline in wheat acreage the price fell in still greater proportion. Wheat imports to England began about 1846.
Australian Wheat Production.—Wheat growing has not always been a profitable industry in Australia. It has been claimed that there is less return there for the farmer's labor than in any other civilized country. Wheat thrives best on the cooler and drier lands of the southern part of Australia. Many farmers, however, have abandoned wheat raising for the cultivation of the grape vine, which is a more profitable crop in good seasons. Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia are the chief wheat growing states. The yield per acre is never large, and short crops often result from severe droughts. For this reason Australia is not a reliable exporter. The production of wheat has been increasing, however, and
1 Saunders, Wheat Growing in Canada, 1904.
2 Warner. Landmarks Eng. Indus. Hist., pp. 8-11.
now averages about 75,000,000 bushels annually. Wheat is one of the chief crops of New Zealand, and is exported.
Miscellaneous Countries.—The two other South American countries besides Argentina which produce a surplus of wheat are Chile and Uruguay. Wheat is the leading agricultural product of Chile, which exported grain to California and Australia in the early years. Its export wheat now goes chiefly to Peru, Ecuador and the United Kingdom. The exports of Uruguay go to Brazil and Europe. Some wheat is grown in southern Brazil. The production of wheat in Mexico is steadily increasing, but it is insufficient for domestic needs. The per capita production of wheat in France is large, and about one-seventh of the agricultural territory is devoted to this industry. By reason of the liberal encouragement given by the government, and on account of the conservatism of the French peasantry, the area and production of wheat in France has been practically uniform for over a quarter of a century. Excepting Russia, France produces more wheat than any other European country. Austria-Hungary ranks next, and then come Italy and Germany. The latter country stands next to England in wheat imports. Roumania and the Netherlands each export over 25,000,000 bushels of wheat annually, and Belgium exports about half of this amount.
In the tine of the Pharaohs and in the time of Rome's greatness, Egypt was the most important commercial wheat center of the world. It is estimated that Egypt annually furnished 20,000,000 bushels of wheat to Rome. Ancient Mauritania and Numidia, the present Algeria and Tunis, were also long the granaries of the Eternal City. Although wheat is still exported from Northern Africa, it does not form the principal crop. Most of the wheat produced is of the durum varieties, and its chief commercial use is for the manufacture of macaroni. Wheat thrives well in parts of southern Africa, and several million bushels are annually produced.
The World Production and Movement of Wheat.—Ever since the time of Malthus there have been periodical predictions of a scarcity of food supply for mankind. Less than a decade ago Sir William Crookes, President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, predicted that a serious shortage