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Agriculture* _..........._----.........._...,..,.._-.,..._.......-.,;..,.


Agriculture* THB HARVEST. It aJmost goes without saying that the recent harvest is still largely occupying the attention of the agricultural world, as well as those who are concerned in operations in bread stuffs and the corn trade generally. It is not, however, until it begins to touch the pockets of con- sumers that public attention is arrested as to the more immediate issue, as has been the case of late. In this respect it would seem that the recent excitement has quieted down, now that a calmer survey of the situation has been taken, and farmers who were holding out for 40s. a quarter are not likely to realise their expectations. A good supply of wheat in fair condition is finding its way into the markets, and on the whole prices were lower on the week by Is. and Is. 6d., selling at 33s. to 34s. per quarter. But badly off as we have deemed ourselves in this country, we are not the worst. From St. Petersburg the latest crop reports indicate that seventeen of the Kussian provinces win De affected by this year's bad harvest, which it is feared will make itself felt even next year, inasmuch as the drought which destroyed the standing crops this summer has prevented the sowing of winter corn over a large area, especially in the seventeen provinces mentioned. In official circles as well as among the general public some consolation is found in the enormous reserve stocks of grain which Russia has accumulated, and which, if need be, might be sent to the distressed districts to save the people from starving. Nevertheless, the peasants cannot fail to be ruined for several years, as owing to the scarcity of grain they will not be able to raise sufficient money with which to buy the other necessaries of life.— From Buenos Ayres it is stated that crop prospects in Argentina are more promising than has been previously reported. Locust are late this season and have caused little damage. The Crop and Weather Bureau of the United States Department of Agriculture, in its weekly report, says that the past week has been favourable for ripening and securing the crops, but in some sections the weather has been too dry for fallowing the land and seeding the fall grain. Exceptionally warm weather in the first half of the month has matured the maize crop rapidly, and has placed nearly the whole of the crop beyond injury from frost. Owing to drought in some of the more important States, the grain, particularly of the late crop, did not fill well, and reports indicate much of it will be chaff. Cutting is practically complete in some of the more important States. According to the Times, grain of high quality, as measured by weight per bushel, will probably be rare this season. There is a general im- pression that the crop of wheat grown this year in the United Kingdom will be more valuable than that in 1896. In the aggregate it will, un- doubtedly, sell for more money, since it has been raised upon an area upwards of 200,000 acres greater than that of last year. The 1896 crop, estimated at thirty-two million hundredweight, is valued at X13,762,000, after allowing for grain of inferior quality, and for grain retained for seed, thus giving to last year's crop a value of £7 10s. 5d. per acre. This year's crop is valued at X15,235,000, giving an average value of JE7 8s. 2d. per acre, shewing-even on so favourable an assumption as an average price of 98 per ton for the 1897 crop-a balance of 2s. 3d. per acre against this year's crop. Samples of this year's grain are already re- marked for their extreme variety in the corn markets, and for the unusual premium they put upon the selective ability of buyers. On the whole, the markets tend to confirm the opinion that wheat is not so good as that of last year, even where wet was escaped. But such samples are up to the average in weight, and previous estimates of the quantity are confirmed. THE FUTURE OF BRITISH AGRICULTURE. Sir James Blyth, of Blythwood, Essex, presi- dent of the British Dairy Farmers' Association, has written a long letter the Times on this sub- ject, and has published the same in pamphlet form. So far as we can observe, however, the writer advances nothing new. He remarks that it would appear that thoughtful men recognise that there is now only one way in which agri- culture can be made a profitable industry- namely, by the skilful application of scientific knowledge to the production of the best com- modities that can be grown and produced on British soil, especially where proximity to the consumer gives us an advantage over the foreigner. In the multiplication of agricul- tural colleges, of dairy schools, creameries, and factories, the proper marketing of perishable goods, the improvement of our live stock, and by seeing that every grain of seed of every variety, every plant of every kind, every animal of every species, is of the best possible type for propagation and reproduction, this kingdom may in reality become the nursery-ground of everything that is choicest in corn, cattle, or produce." We have heard of this for the thousandth time, and it is very true; and if Sir James Blyth or anybody else could wave a magic wand over the country, transforming all our farmers into bright, intelligent, and thoughtful beings with plenty of capital at command, it would be a consummation devoutly to be wished. There is no doubt we are moving on in the direction hinted at, but progress, from many causes, is slow, as well as while much of the advice is pretty in theory, a great deal of it is imprac- ticable, at least for the present, in many parts of the country. After dealing with the ques- tion of wheat and its price, Sir James concludes by stating that there are other directions in which British agriculturists can profitably engage, notably in the breeding of pedigree stock and in the production of milk, butter, cream and cheese, poultry, eggs, fruit, and vegetables, for which latter articles we pay the foreigner over X40,000,000 annually that by producing even 10 per cent. of these com- modities the farmer, besides being compensated for the present boom in wheat, would per- manently improve his position and that by further development of these industries, under economic conditions, both as regards the more scientific adaptation of land to the growth of everything it will most profitably yield; by improved conditions of tenure in the direction of ownership—since in many places land is already let at little more than prairie value— and by the removal of excessive rates and taxes, the future of the agriculturists of the kingdom may be materially improved, even should their former position not be altogether restored. Sir James Blyth also supports the idea of State-aid to cattle-breeding. DISEASES OF ANIMALS. The statistics compiled by the Board of Agriculture under the Diseases of Animals Act shew that during the week ended Sept. 18th three cattle were slaughtered in three counties as suspected of pleuro-pneumonia, but on post-mortem examination were found to be free from the disease. During the week 22 outbreaks of swine fever occurred, and 938 pigs were slaughtered as diseased or exposed to infection. In the corresponding weeks last year the numbers were 85 and 1,283. There were 7 outbreaks of anthrax, attacking 9 animals, these numbers being the same as last year; 28 outbreaks of glanders, attacking 43 animals, against 19 and 27 last year; 3 cases of rabies in dogs were reported, against 4 last year. THE STORM IN ESSEX. In connection with the Essex Storm Relief Fund, the Rev. F. A. Adams, of Doddinghurst Rectory, Brentwood, writes to say that a wide- spread sympathy has brought in a sum approaching £50,000: which has enabled him and other local friends to distribute as much as X4 an acre in the most necessitous cases.' He adds I need not attempt to describe the pleasure and delight of a man who regarded him- self ruined at the receipt of such a sum. It has simply saved the recipients, for without relief their homes must have been lost." It will be remembered that in less than 15 minutes the storm swept the corn harvest (besides doing other fearful damage) from over 15,000 acres of land. A new margarine law has been passed in Germany. One of its principal provisions is the prohibition of the introduction into margarine of any ingredient which will alter its colour or its properties. This applies to 'filled' cheese also.




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