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leged interests and of corporation control of resources that we are likely to confuse Conservation with company ownership. The essence of Conservation is to utilize our resources with the least waste consistent with good progress, and with an honest care for the children of all generations.
While we not infrequently state the problem to be the reservation of our resources for all the people, and then assume that if all the resources were in private ownership the problem would thereby be solved, yet, in fact, the Conservation question is one thing and the ownership of property quite another. A corporation may be the best as well as the worst conservator of resources; and likewise, private or individual ownership may be the very worst as well as the best conservator. The individual owner, represented by the “independent
farmer,” may be the prince of monopolists (applause), even though
his operations compass a very small scale. The very fact that he is independent, with the further fact that he is intrenched behind the most formidable of all barriers—private property rights—insures his monopoly.
In the interest of pure Conservation, it is necessary to control the single man as well as the organized men. In the end Conservation must deal with the individual man—that is, with a person. It matters not whether this person is a part of a trust, or lives alone a hundred miles beyond the frontier, or is the owner of a prosperous farm— if he wastes the heritage of the race, he is an offender. We are properly devising ways whereby the corporation holds its property or privileges in trust, returning to government (or to society) a fair rental; that is, we are regulating the corporation and making it responsible to the people. What shall we do with the unattached man, to make him also responsible? Shall we hold the corporate plunderer to strict account, and let the single separate plunderer go scot free? (Applause)
In the last analysis, as measured by the results to society, there is no essential difference between corporate ownership and individual ownership.
The philosophy of saving
The Conservation of natural resources, therefore, resolves itself into the philosophy of saving, while at the same time making the most and best advancement in our own day. We have not developed much consciousness of saving when dealing with things that come free to our hands, as the sunshine, the rain, the forests, the mines, the streams, the earth; and the American has found himself so much in the midst of plenty that saving has seemed to him to be parsimony, or at least beneath his attention. As a question of public action, however, conscientious saving represents a very high development. A high sense of saving ought to come out of the Conservation movement. This will make directly for character-efficiency, since it will develop both responsibility and regard for others. Civilization, thus far, is built on the process of waste. Materials are brought from forest and sea and mine, certain small parts are used, and the remainder is discarded or destroyed; more labor is wasted than is usefully productive; but what is far worse, the substance of the land is taken in unimaginable quantities and dumped wholesale, through endless sewerage and drainage systems, into the sea. It would seem as if the human race were bent on finding a process by which it can most quickly ravish the earth and make it incapable of maintaining its teeming millions. We are rapidly threading the country with vast conduits by which the fertility of the land can flow away unhindered into the unreachable reservoirs of the ocean. (Applause) The factories that fabricate agricultural products are likely to be midway stations in the progress of the fertility on its way to the sea. The refuse is dumped into streams; or if it is made into fertilizing materials, it seldom returns to the particular areas whence it came. A manufactory will expend any effort in improving its machinery and practice to enable it to get more material out of its products, but may do little or nothing to increase the production back on the farms. A sugarbeet or other factory may drain its country until the country can no longer raise the product; whereas, by developing a rational system of husbandry and returning the wastes, as in some European countries, it might maintain the land-balance. Any good milk-products factory should develop sound milk-making on the farms of the region, as any good canning factory should raise the standard of production in the fruits and vegetables that it uses; and this should always be done with the object of preserving and even increasing the land-power. A factory owes an obligation to the open country that supports it. For these and for other reasons, the city always tends to destroy its province. The city takes everything to itself—materials, money, men—and gives back only what it cannot use or what it discards as useless: it does not constructively build up its contributory country. City dwelling and country dwelling are the two opposite developments of human affairs. The future state of society depends directly on the finding of some real economic and social balance between the two, some species of cooperation that will build and serve them both. This is the fundamental problem of the social structure. Although city people and country people are rapidly affiliating in acquaintanceship, these poles of society are not yet effectively coming together cooperatively on economic lines. (Applause)
The Conservation of food
The fundamental problem for the human race is to feed itself. It has been a relatively easy matter to provide food and clothing thus far, because the earth yet has a small population, and because there have always been new lands to be brought into requisition. We shall eliminate the plague and the devastations of war, and the population of the earth will tremendously increase. When the new lands have all been opened to cultivation, and when thousands of millions of human beings occupy the earth, the demand for food will constitute a problem that we scarcely apprehend today. One would think, from current discussions, that the single way to provide the food for the population is to raise more products by moving more people on the land; but this is not at all nub of the question. More products will be raised as rapidly as it pays persons to raise them, and there are now sufficient people on the land to double its productiveness; and the necessary increase of population will come automatically with increasing profits in the business. Much is said about the necessity of intenser methods of farming, and we all recognize the need; but the chief reason why our people do not raise 300 bushels of potatoes to the acre is that it does not yet pay in most cases to produce the extra yield. The comparative statistics of yields in different countries are useful as appealing to the imagination, but they may be wholly fallacious as guides. What we need is a thorough inquiry into the course of trade from potato-patch to consumer, to see where the profit goes. We need a greater number of competent farmers, to be sure, whether they hail from the country or the city; the city will still attract those laborers who cannot work alone and who watch the clock, and the city provides the organization or machinery to make them of use; but the real food question and cost-of-living question is the problem of maintaining the producing-power of the earth by means of better farming. We think we have developed intensive and perfected systems of agriculture; but as a matter of fact, and speaking broadly, a scientifically permanent agriculture on national lines is yet unknown in the world. In certain regions, as in Great Britain, the productivity of the land has been increased over a long series of years, but this has been accomplished to a great extent by the transportation of fertilizing materials from the ends of the earth. The fertility of England, according to authorities, has been drawn largely from the prairies and plains of America, from which it has secured its food supplies, from the guano deposits in islands of the seas, from the bones of animals and men, from the mummies of Egypt (applause). The rotation of crops is not itself a complete means of maintaining fertility. We begin to understand how it is possible to maintain the producing-power of the surface of the earth, and there are certain regions in which our knowledge has been put effectively into operation; but we have developed no conscious plan or system in a large way for securing this result. It is the ultimate problem of the race to devise a permanent self-sustaining organized agriculture on a scientific basis. The problem is yet unsolved. We deplore the relative decrease in the exportation of agricultural produce, and seem to think that the more we export the richer we become; but, if our knowledge is correct, under present systems of farming, the more we send abroad the sooner do we deplete our soils. We properly remove phosphate lands from exploitation and monopoly, but we may remove our phosphates more rapidly by sending our produce in unhindered quantities to Europe. Of course, I am not arguing against exportation and trade, but I wish to point out a
fallacy in our common economic speech.
The best husbandry is not in the new regions
The best agriculture, considered in reference to the permanency of its results, develops in old regions, where the skinning process has passed, where the hide has been sold, and where people come back to utilize what is left. The skinning process is proceeding at this minute in the bountiful new lands of the United States; and in parts of the older States, and even also in parts of the newer ones, not only the skin but the tallow has been sold. There are “abandoned” farms from California even unto Maine.
It is persistently said that the old eastern States are worn out, and that the farming in them is wretched. There is reason enough to be ashamed of eastern agriculture, and I hope that our newer regions will not repeat the mistakes of the older States; but the eastern States have most excellent agriculture, more than we are aware. Much of it is very profitable, fully as profitable as any I have seen in the great agricultural West. The acre-efficiency, as indicated by the Twelfth Census, is greatest in the old eastern States. Considered with reference to maintaining high fertility and utilizing wastes, I have not seen better farming in this country than in many examples east of Buffalo. In the development of our agricultural wealth, the East as well as the West must be reckoned with. We cannot expect to develop widespread self-sustaining systems of farming in the East. so long as it must compete with the soil-mining of the West.
We are always seeking growing-room, and we have found it. But now the western civilization has met the eastern, and the world is circumferenced. We shall develop the tropics and push far toward the poles; but we have now fairly discovered the island that we call the earth (within a year and a half we have reached one end of it and all but reached the other), and we must begin to make the most of it.
Another philosophy of agriculture
Practically all our agriculture has been developed on a rainfall basis. There is ancient irrigation experience, to be sure, but the great agriculture has been growing away from these regions. Agri
culture is still moving on, seeking new regions; and it is rapidly invading regions of small rainfall. The greater part of the land surface of the globe must be farmed, if farmed at all, under some system of careful water-saving. Some of it is redeemable by irrigation, and the remainder, representing about one-half the earth's surface, by some system of utilization of deficient rainfall, or by what is inappropriately known as “dry farming.” The complementary practices of irrigation and dry-farming will develop a wholly new system of agriculture and a new philosophy of country life. Even in heavy rainfall countries, there is often such vast waste of water from run-off that the lands suffer severely during droughts. The hilly lands of our best farming regions are greatly reduced in their crop-producing power because people do not prepare against drought as consciously as they provide against winter. It is often said that we shall water eastern lands by irrigation, and I think that we shall; but our first obligation is to save the rainfall water by some system of farm-management or dry-farming. The irrigation and dry-farming developments have a significance beyond their value in the raising of crops; they are making the people to be conservators of water, and to have a real care for posterity. Agriculture rests on the saving of water. (Applause)
The obligation of the farmer
The farmer is rapidly beginning to realize his obligation to society. It is usual to say that the farmer feeds the world, but the larger fact is that he saves the world. The economic system depends on him. Wall Street watches the crops. As cities increase proportionately in population, the farmer assumes larger relative importance and becomes more and more a marked man. Careful and scientific husbandry is rising in this new country. We have come to a realization of the fact that our resources are not unlimited. The mining of fertilizing materials for transportation to a few spots on the earth will some day cease. We must make the farm sustain itself, at the same time that it provides the supplies for mankind. We all recognize the necessity of the other great occupations to a well developed civilization; but in the nature of the case, the farmer is the final support. On him depends the existence of the race. No method of chemical synthesis can provide us with the materials of food and clothing and shelter, and with all the good luxuries that spring from the bosom of the earth. I know of no better present conservators than our best farmers. They feel their responsibility. Quite the ideal of Conservation is illustrated by a farmer of my acquaintance who saves every product of his land and has developed a system of self-maintaining live-stock husbandry, who has harnessed his small stream to light his premises and do much of his work, who turns his drainage waters into household