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AGRICULTURE IN THE UNITED STATES
AGRICULTURE IS A SERIES OF OCCUPATIONS FOUNDED ON THE PRODUCTIVENESS OF LAND. These occupations may be only remotely related, as, for example, the growing of cut-flowers under glass and the raising of cattle on the plains. It is impossible, therefore, to describe any occupation as typical of agriculture. For this reason it is also impossible to prepare a homogeneous and consistent treatise on agriculture. The persons that engage in agriculture are even more various than the occupations that they represent. In the United States these persons represent not only all nationalities, but also all ranges of inherited ideals and all epochs of colonization. It is impossible, therefore, to speak of "the farmer" as if he represents an isolated and typical element of society. The northeastern states owe their agricultural methods and ideas largely to the individualistic and democratic conceptions of the Puritans and to the transplanting of the grass-farming systems of England. The agriculture of the southeastern states was early influenced by the aristocratic conceptions of the cavaliers, and the southern type of society has been profoundly modified by human slavery; and the climatic conditions have developed an agriculture with cotton as its center. The southwestern and far western states and territories have been modified by Spanish ideas, with large holdings in a few families and a retaining peasant class; and the products have been secured from imperfectly handled lands and of such character as demanded the least expenditure of effort. This influence is rapidly passing. The settlement of the vast mid-continental region has called for marked re-adaptation of agricultural practice, and has produced what may be regarded as the closest approach to an American agriculture, in the extent of operations, the employment of machinery, and the emphasis of tillage. In immense territories the necessity of irrigation has developed another agricultural type.
The American is still a cheap-land farmer, for the most part. He has not become fixed to land in the way that the European farmer has. He is known by his freedom in moving from one piece of land to another. The most careful and exact farming begins to develop in old and perhaps even in difficult regions. It is significant that the recent marked rise in the prosperity of the farmer is coincident with the cessation of free homesteading on the public domain on a large scale, and with the consequent establishing of agricultural peoples.
This leads naturally to the suggestion that we are likely to look to Europe more than we have in the past for methods of studying agricultural questions. This is particularly true in the great field of farm organization, in which Americans have made few adequate studies as compared with the German and other writers and for which we have little consecutive and reliable data.
The area of farm-owned land in the United States is now practically coterminous with the limits of possible cultivation,—that is, all the area exclusive of inaccessible mountains and submerged and arid regions. This is well shown in Fig. 8, which is adapted from the Statistical Atlas of the Twelfth Census. Fig. 9, adapted from the same source, shows the general geographical movements of population and crops for a series of years.
Value of farm products per acre.
The effectiveness of farming cannot be measured by any single means or sets of figures. One of the common means of indicating it is in the value of farm products per acre of improved land. Judged by this standard, the states in which small areas are in cultivation under individual management are likely to show to best advantage. This may be because the farming is actually better in general, or because it
Fig. 8. The general area of improved land, as indicated by the Twelfth Census. "Improved" land is that which is either tilled or in permanent meadows, pastures and fruit plantations. The original map is in six shades of color, to show the proportion of improved land to total land area, in percentages of the land under cultivation in each county, ranging from one per cent or less to 75 per cent or more.
is possible to choose the land with special reference to the needs of the crop when fields are small, or because there is less loss in the crop in such fields. Following are figures from the Twelfth Census of values per acre:
United States $2
North Atlantic division . 4
New Hampshire .... 5
Massachusetts 6 40
Rhode Island 5 17
Connecticut 5 80
New York 4 07
New Jersey 4 35
Pennsylvania 4 32
South Atlantic division . 1 34
Delaware 2 51
Maryland 2 49
District of Columbia . . 4 09
Virginia 1 29
West Virginia 1 48
North Carolina 1 21
South Carolina 0 99
Georgia 1 15
Florida 1 40
North Central division . 2 56
Ohio 2 92
Indiana . . 2 91
Illinois 2 96
Michigan 3 12
Wisconsin 3 70
Minnesota 1 80
Iowa 3 41
Capital invested in agriculture and manufacture.
The following table gives the number of farms and certain general statistics relating thereto as reported by the Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. The word "farm" in this census signifies all separate tracts of land, regardless of size, or of the income therefrom, which required for their management the services of at least one person during the greater part of the year:
Number of occupiers (farms) .... 5,739,657
Land occupied (acres) 841,201,546
Land improved (acres) 414,793,191
Land in field crops (improved)—in hay and grain only (acres) 146,588,747
Value of lands $13,114,492,056
Value of buildings 3,560,198,191
Value of implements and machinery 761,261,550
Value of live-stock 3,078,050,041
Total capital investment 20,514,001,838
Value of products (1899) 4,739,118,752
The population of the United States as returned by the same census was 76,303,387 persons. The figures that follow will enable the reader to make comparisons with the capital invested in manufactures, as given by the Twelfth Census of the United States:
Land $1,027,453,140 $775,586,849
Buildings 1,450,495,991 878,570,737
Machinery, tools and implements 2,543,080,244 1,584,276,390
Cash and sundries (working capital) 4,796,405,424 3,286,722,510
Materials (cost) 7,345,413,651
Materials purchased in raw state ........ $2,389,140,942
Materials purchased in partially manufactured form . 4,633,804,967
Fuel, freight, etc 322,467,742
Gross value of products 13,004,400,143 9,372,437,283
Net value of products 8,370,595,176
The leading crops.
Although agricultural occupations are so exceedingly diverse, it is nevertheless possible to throw them into a few groups. They may be classified in many ways. The following grouping may be useful for some purposes:
The grass-farming series, in which hay and pasturage are the keynotes. In the northeastern United States and eastern Canada, where this series reaches its highest development, these occupations develop an effective mixed husbandry.
The single-crop series, in which all the cropping revolves about one tilled staple as a king-pin. This series develops its own economic and social types. Characteristic examples of this are cottonfarming in the South, corn-farming in the central part, and wheat-farming on the northwestern frontiers.
The large-area grazing series, typical of new countries and cheap lands. It passes into other series, becoming part of them as the regions develop, although there are vast areas in the unirrigable West that will probably always be used for this kind of agriculture.
The forest series, which are at first the harvesting of native-grown woodlands, but which in time rest on the methodical growing of forests in the spirit in which other crops are grown. In the future, forest agriculture is likely to be a community or governmental effort. The native forest regions of the United States are shown in Fig. 10.
The intensive series, comprising small areas that are brought to very high states of productiveness. The crop-plan depends on the climate and the market. Usually it is some form of marketgardening. It is often asserted that high-class intensive farming is the final result of good agriculture; but such statements are not well considered.
The animal specialty series, in which particular groups or breeds of animals are made the center or sum of the activities. Special poultry-raising, horse-breeding, fish-culture, and the like, belong here.
High-class specialty farming, in which one product, or a series of products, is developed under the most perfect conditions of control, is likely to appeal to the novice as the first thing to do when undertaking a farming business; but it is usually the last thing to do, for such effort requires the highest degree of skill, which is developed only by well-trained and seasoned persons.
Some of these series are distinctly regional in the United States, as the grass-farming, grazing, and