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-..-----..---THE F.lRUtJtiS'…


THE F.lRUtJtiS' CIRCLE. (BY ONE WITHIN IT.) The following are the names of the Assis- tant, Commissioners appointed by the Royal Agricultural Commission, and the districts which they will visit: lJr. Fream, the Maid- stone district of KfJnt and the Andover dis- trict of Hants Mr Wilson Fox, the Gar- -itanur district of LancfhirM aud the Glen- ialt-* district of Northumberland Mr Hun- ter Pringle, the Unga.r district of Emox and the Isle of Axholme, Lincolnshire; Mr Croxden Powell, the Stratford-ou-Avon dis- trict of Warwickshire and the Frome dis tnrt of Somerset; and Mr James Hope, who will investigate selected districts cf Scot- land, possibly one in Aberdeenshire and mother in the Lothiana FARMING PROFITABLE. At the meeting of the British Association f Nottingham last week a couple of sen- ble papers bearing chiefly on the subject [ agricultural depression were read, and i-cussed. There was no fresh feature of uy note offered by either writer, but both vocated strongly the abolition of certain dif ■ xes, and the modificition of others. What e discussions were chiefly notable for was Ie view expressed by a learned (?) gentle- nn from Leeds, who gave it as his deliber H opinion that farming was the most pro- able business he knew. The iipws might iu-ws. but thn c mpnny did not BOOlfl give it the welcome the speakor expected r was, to say the least, extremely ungrate- il un their part to c\nhally lau^h outright 1 the remark But the mist soteiun decla dtions of this Leeds enlighteuer were un- ivailing. Unfortunateiy, he could neithes onvince his audience nor turn ianeies into i'acts. It is really strange to hear an utter- tncH of ihis kind at the present time. Whatever may be the scientific of the numbers of the British Associanon, it i. evident that the practical element is at « véry low ebb in some minds associated with t. Yeriiy, there is no such thing- as unan- llllity-not even regarding the existence oi agricult ural depression. el THE AGRICULTURAL COMMISSION. The composition of the Royal Commission Vgriculture has given rise to some slight tdverse criticism in certain quarters. Thit- scarcely to be wondered at. as unanimity in a case of the kind is seldom attained. N e do not think, however, that there is aur,u ground for fault-linding in the case in [joint. There, no doubt, are a few names ;h»t could have been supplanted by others' /ery much better known and probab y better i uaLfied agriculturally. But there is boanu o be more than one side to the inqu ry it it is to grasp, in a thorough nd tetittiug oanner, the great subject whic11 is to 1 e iu- .'efitig'ated. Agriculture, by repute the ddesr and greatest of all industries, exer- cises a great and powerful influence over other industries, but that does not by any means free it from entanglement with the others and place it in a position of entire in- dependence. Indeed, the agriculture of to- day is in a sense a vastly degenerated thing compared even with the clumsier and rule- >i-thui.ub fashions in which it was practised n the "good old days." The mo iern far- mer his to contend with so many outride in- fluences unknown twenty or morn venr* .hat the orthodox systems and customs ilavt frequently to be departed irom in or ;i r \II turn the balance to the right side. AU thes. mhappy changes(aro iu great measure due to the encroaching developments? of modern iuveutions and enterprises, in that they have 10 a great extent robbed British agucuntu," f it" giaud independence and reiiiiiiiei-ativ-, powers. We think, therefore, that the scope of t iM inquiry should not be restricted to agriculture pure and simple. Rather let it extend so as to secure the closest considera- tion or the great and ever-growing1 onter- prises which operate for its aid or for its in- jury. 'J he relative positions of tikis anil ith-r countries in legard to the extent t< A inch the exchange of produce, st"ck, &c e carried on is another branch which call: for investigation. iie -e are but a. few u; he ii fluencing subjects which should engage lie attention of the Commission, but they are sufficiently important and diverse in their bearing to show the nature of th. Comnrssion that should be entrusted wit! the solution of the subject. It is evidel1 that it would not be desirable that it should be composed entirely of practical agricul- turists, however well-informed and intelli- gent they may be. It is all the better foj an as-d;-tariee of statistical and other special- ists more intimately conversant with some of the most important branches of the subjects to be discussed. The Commission has al- ready held its first sitting, at which the ap. pointments of five sub-commissioners were confirmed. These latter authorities have been set to work without delay. And that th y will have to pursue their district iti- quiries with great speed is certain, since t,uo.v are given only six weeks to overtake their arduous duties. Unnecessary delay is wertninly highly undesirable, but in a matter of this kind which incurs so much travelling iind personal interviewing it is very easy to err in the other direction, and in restricting .If) time to six weeks surely the work is bing forced through with undue haste. Sn- ce the matter has been taken in hand it should be prosecuted in the most methodical an I painstaking manner. A G iilCTJLTU LI A L DEPRESSION. Au interesting paper on the rather stale subject of Agricultural Depression was read before a section of the British Association at Nottingham last week by Mr EI. H. f?c >tt, Alnham, Northumberland. Referring to the causes of the d pression, he gave the iverage prices of thG present century in eriods of twenty years. Wheat from 1800 1819 was 88: 3d per quarter, as compared Mth 3fis 8d per qr. for 1880-92, and with the present price of 26s 8d per qr. They hud not such definite information as to the pri es of sheep and cattle but, as far as he could make out from his own farm books ;(1 other sources, comparing the average prices of the thirty years preceding 1892 with those of 1892 and 1893, the prices of the last two years were 35 per cent. lower than those of the preceding thirty years. Competition had enabled the foreigner and the Colonies to send to our shores, at little cost of time or money, food supplies grown on virgin soil requiring no manure, or grown in countries where the climate was more favourable or the cost of labour less than in our own country. In the old times the B itish farmer was compensated, at least in part, for a bad crop by .getting a big price lor the smaller quantity; but now there was no balancing of money accounts in that way, for the food supplies were a world-wide pro- duction, and there was always a supply beyond the seas ready to fill up any home deficiency. In the olden times taxes and rates were thrown on land because the products from it were protected by a severe import tax at the expense of other classes the import tax was abolished, but the im- posed taxes and rates remained, or had been increased. There were curious anomalies. For instance, shipping or personal property paid no local rates. Why should owners of ships or personal property escape responsi- bility in regard to the relief of the poor or the education of the rising generation ? True, of late years the Governments had been relieving the burden of local rates by subventions but experience taught that the relief given in the form of doles or subven- ions was often lost sight of in extravagance. £ tt such matters men were onlv children 41 own old, and could be demoralised byj receiving aid without working for it. The valuable assistance was that which opened, he way and stimulated to greater effort and greater production. The most severe and cruel blow, however, which home farmers received of late years was the change in 1880 of the malt tax into a beer tax, porter or stout being included in the word beer' Farmers asked for the abolition of the malt tax they got what they asked for in name only, for, in its place, they got an increased tix, but, instead of being levied on barley whilst being malted, it was levied on the beor when brewed. The difference between the malt and beer tax was that the tax on home barley had been increased by 5s per quarter. That was surely an extreme case of receiving a stone when bread wa" asked for Five shillings per quarter might not seem a big figure, but, token .n four quarters (an average production of an acre), the increased impost was equal to 20s per acre, or about the rent of the land on which the barley was grown. The increase of the tax, however, was by no means the only injury inflicted on the home farmer by the change. Home-grown barley was much heavier than foreign. The malt tax was calculated by measure, not by weight, there- fore it paid the maltster best to use heavy barley, which would give most malt or beer to the measure. The consequence was that British barley was used in preference to foreign, and there was quite an advantage to the home grower. Further, there was :.he valuable protection that, as the malt tax was arranged, only barley couid be used for the making of beer, whereas under the beer tax any other substance could be used- maize, âc molasses, sugar—aud some of those ar icl s were used, so that, as malt nitide the be t beer, the beer manufacture i was no longer so good or so pure Some theorists had suggested Protection as a panacea; but Protection was unsuitable tv this country, and. impossible of realisation Some advocated the cutting up of the large farms into smaller holdings. This was correct in principle, and looked well in I theory, but it did not come out so well in nv/icticf as might be expected. A working tenant wai a taking phrase; but, still, he would not do if he was wanting in skill or .apital. From a social and nati< nal point of view the multiplying, if possible, of small owners was most desirable, for the many, uaving a stake in the country, would con dueto happiness, providence, and stability. I bo important haa been considered ke attain- ment of this that the Legislature passed the Small Holdings Act last year. The inten- tion of the Act was beneficent, but he feared i lie working out of it must be difficult, i here were a ready-money payment and iurther instalments to be met by thf' requiring owner. There was the seriou- disadvantage that the individual effort was lessened by outside aid, and the experienc they had had of legislating any class into n p jsition had not been encouraging The advocates of the system quoted as examples the peasants of France and other Conti- nental countries; they did not take into account, however, that these men lived in countries which had a semi-tropical summer, favourable for the production of the grape and )thqr fruits of the soil-the mainstay of small ulture. Some advocated the lowering of rents as a direct remedy. There was a prevalent misconception on this point, viz., caat if rents were reduced a percentage equal to that which had taken place in farm products the farmers would be as well placed as they were before the reduction in price of products took place. The first alleviation lie would suggeot was an import tax on inroign oariey, or, alternately, a return to the malt tax. He would also advocate an enactment compelling the labellin of foreign meat. Other alleviations would be an aboli- tion of the law of distress, a more just appor- tionment of taxation and rates, an improve- ment in the Agricultural Holdings Act, and a reduction in the rates of inland carriage. ♦