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Marine Insurance of grain cargoes transported on lakes, rivers or oceans is obtainable. Losses on such transportation in American ships were so great during the winters of 1878 and 1879 that “many underwriters on either side of the Atlantic ceased to write them at any premium.” Thirty-five years ago the insurance rate on grain-carrying sailing vessels to Liverpool was 1.25 per cent from New York and 2.25 per cent from Montreal, and on steam vessels 1 per cent from New York and 1.25 per cent from Montreal.
Financiering the Movement of Wheat.-The large money centers are not as great a factor in the moving of the wheat crop as they were at an earlier date, for to a large extent the rural sections now do their own banking. The banking power has grown much faster than the increasing money requirements for moving crops./ In 1890 the banking power of the chief grain states was to the money power required to move the grain crop as 4 to 6, and a decade later the ratio was as 7 to 6. The grain growing region now has sufficient capital to move the cereals from first hands and to start them well on their way through the commercial channels. A dealer furnishing money for about 175 country elevators in Minnesota and the Dakotas sends out $500 to $1,000 to each elevator, making from $100,000 to $150,000 sent out the first day. Cars are not obtained on this day, and perhaps 50,000 to 100,000 bushels are purchased. A sort of paymaster is located in the elevator towns, and these keep the principal informed as to the amount of wheat purchased daily, and as to the amount of cash that will be required the next day. Much of this cash must usually be borrowed, but warehouse receipts for grain already in elevators are good security on which an amount of money close to the cash price of the wheat can be borrowed from the country banker. There must be a car load of the same grade of grain before shipment can be made. When the grain does begin to move it takes several days for it to get to market, and five or six days' receipts are often on hand before cash is realized. As soon as a car is loaded, the elevator man draws a sight draft on the commission house at the primary market for the amount that he borrowed from the country banker, attaches the bill of lading, and deposits the draft in the country bank as a cash item. Cables are frequently sent at night to every market of the world in order
to sell wheat. What cannot be sold must be held, and future sales upon the speculative markets can be made as an insurance against loss from price fluctuations.
The country banker sends the draft to his correspondent at the market, where collection is made. As soon as the wheat reaches the terminal warehouse, it is again available for a loan close to its market value. If the terminal factor is an exporter, he also attaches bills of lading to a draft drawn against the shipment, and his banker accepts this draft as cash at current exchange rates, which include interest on the money until the draft is paid. YOutside of the money used by the railroads, it requires about $500,000,000 to move the grain crops. If the farmers do not wish to sell their wheat at once, they can place it in the elevator and receive a receipt on which they can borrow 90 per cent of its value from the banks.
The Marketing of Wheat in Foreign countries.—The characteristic feature of the wheat movement in the United States consists in concentrating the surplus for export. Only a few of the larger exporting countries resemble the United States in this respect. In the non-exporting and in the importing countries, the main problem is the distribution of the wheat among the population. In this case the entire machinery of marketing and transportation must be modified and adapted to the conditions peculiar to each country. In exporting countries, the wheat is bought by buyers who are either established at the local centers, or who travel through the country purchasing grain from farm to farm. It is only the larger grain centers of Europe which employ the economical American system of elevators in handling grain.
RUSSIA.—In Russia, as is usual in foreign wheat producing countries, the machinery for buying, handling and transporting wheat is very imperfect. Where transportation facilities are adequate their use is expensive. On long distances railroad rates have been higher than in the United States. They have been estimated at 3 per cent of the cost of production. Russia is well supplied with rivers, and a decade ago the larger proportion of export grain was still moved by river and canal. The railways have now become a more important means of transportation than the rivers and other water routes, and they will
1 Industrial Commission, 6:135-137; 11:10-11.
doubtless be the great factor in the future development of the country. The construction of the trans-Siberian railroad has been considered as the initial step in the opening of extensive. grain fields. This railway is about 6,600 miles long in its direct line. Earth was broken for its construction in 1891. The road has been completed, but “what this country can do in the way of wheat production is yet to be demonstrated.” On account of high freights, wheat cannot be shipped to the frontier by rail, and the surplus of Western Siberia does not get beyond the rural districts. Much of the grain from the western wheat lands of Siberia is carried by boat down the Irtish and up the Tura to Tiumen, from which place it is forwarded by rail to Russia. Some is also shipped east and west on the transSiberian railroad.
In Russia, grain was formerly handled in sacks. There were no elevators at the country stations and the grain was much damaged from exposure to the elements. The same state of affairs existed at the seaports, where the grain was further damaged. Here an attempt was made to classify the grain according to its quality, but there was no machinery for cleaning it. Screenings were bought from the farmers and again mixed with the wheat. Various other extraneous matters were also introduced, such as manure, sand, and a species of grass, Kukal. The latter was in such demand at times as to bring a higher price at Odessa than rye.
In 1888 the first warehouse with elevators was erected in Russia, and it did not pay expenses. Subsequently the Russian government assisted in erecting grain elevators on the American plan. These were mainly along the lines of the southern railway, and at Odessa and other southern ports. In 1895 there were 55 warehouses with elevators, having a capacity of about 8,905,000 bushels, and 221 warehouses without elevators, having a capacity of about 9,082,000 bushels. In 1898 over 50 per cent of the Russian wheat contained 2 per cent of foreign matter, and some of it contained as high as 12 per cent. No attempt at grading and inspecting the wheat has thus far been successful. It is mostly sold on sample in Great Britain, and there are frequent complaints of fraud. Some fruitless efforts have been made to get Russian wheat sold on a 5 per cent extraneous
matter basis, a plan recently adopted in Roumania. Experience in other countries has shown that if such efforts were successful, the most important result would be the transportation of that much more rubbish from Russia to England.
INDIA.—An immense stimulus was given to wheat cultivation in India by the development of transportation facilities. The first of these was the completion of the Suez canal in 1869. This, however, reached its greatest importance only after some railroads were built into the wheat districts. In the eighties the movement of wheat was still greatly hampered, not only by high railroad rates, but by the entire lack of railroads in many of the best wheat districts. The situation had not greatly improved yet in 1898, when there were few branches to the railroads, the country roads were poor and freights were high. The traveler still saw the long lines of camels that were silently and majestically treading their way through the night across the plains to the seaports, in successful competition with the railroads as grain carriers. After threshing, the grain is left lying on the ground, or it is buried in pits. In the latter case, it suffers less from destructive insects than if placed in granaries. Cartmen haul it to market. Ninety per cent of them do not haul their own grain, but engage in a speculative business of buying and selling. In the eighties, there was much fraud practiced by these cartmen in handling wheat. Dirt was mixed freely with the grain. The ingenuity and resourcefulness of the cartmen seems almost incredible. In 1889 McDougall wrote: “There are 10 or 11 villages in which the lower classes make it a trade to supply different colored earths to suit the color and size of the different kinds of grain. The earth is worked into small grains to look like grain, and the traders say it is impossible to winnow out this description of dirt. Water, again, is put in to increase the weight. All these practices are resorted to by the conveying traders in self-protection against the tricks of traders, who rob them in various ways. A poor quality of wheat was also mixed with a good one, and then the whole was given a uniform color by mixing with clay. Firms engaged openly in selling this clay. As a result of all these manipulations, the wheat did not arrive at the foreign
1 Jour. of Soc Art., 37:644.
market in as prime condition as might have been wished. It could not be shipped to Germany, and the English buyer deducted 5 per cent “refraction.” The Indian exporter soon learned to exercise care lest any wheat containing less than 5 per cent dirt should be shipped to England. He was times forced to mix 2 to 3 per cent of foreign matter with the wheat in order not to sustain a loss. This caused an economic loss, not only in annually transporting 15,000 to 20,000 tons of trash to England, but the English miller was obliged to devise machinery to clean this wheat. These evils were partially remedied in the nineties. In 1898, 15 grades of wheat were shipped to England from India. In good years, the storage capacity of Bombay is exhausted by the wheat brought from the central provinces of India. The wheat of the Punjab is collected at Multan and shipped from Karachi. Considerable wheat flour is ground and exported at Bombay and other centers.
ARGENTINA.—The Argentine wheat grower has no granaries on his farm, and consequently his entire crop is marketed as soon after harvest as possible. Lack of improved facilities and methods are a source of great loss. The grain is handled in bags, which are very expensive and which are of such poor quality that there is quite a loss from leakage. The country roads are very poor. The wheat is hauled in immense two or four-wheeled wagons having wheels 8 feet in diameter. The two-wheelers are hauled by 12 to 15 horses 03 mules, or by 8 to 16 bullocks. One animal is fastened between the huge thills, and the others are hooked on by means of ropes tied to any portion of the cart to which a rope can be fastened. The yoke of the oxen is fastened to their horns, and the driver's seat is on the yoke between the heads of two oxen. The fourwheelers carry from 4 to 6 tons, and require more animals to draw them. The hauling is not generally done by the producers of wheat, but by men who make a business of hauling. The grain is hauled from 15 to 60 miles. Corrugated iron warehouses have been built at some of the principal wheat stations, but they are used only by the large producers and dealers. As a rule, warehouses are not available for the small farmer, nor would he store his grain if they were. He is so ignorant that he prefers to pile his wheat outdoors exposed to the weather.