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I AGRICULTURE I l A GREEN CHRISTMAS. I I The abnormally open weather we have been experiencing is such a common topio of remark that it seems almost superfluous to mention it in this column. And the subject might well be dismissed were it not that the public memory in regard to this as well as many other matters is extremely short. While almost everyone is I asking his neighbour "Did you ever know such a season?" it may be answered that many such have occurred within the memory of the present generation, and very many more within the knowledge of older persons, though we have had sharp winters in between. Stock-breeders, farmers, butchers and others of kindred occupa- tions might be appealed to on such a matter with certainty as to an affirmative reply. As to the correctness of the connection between a green Christmas and the fat churchyard aphorism known of old, there is room for question, each side having perhaps an equal number of adherents. In respect to the severe winter prog- nosticated by some almanack makers and weather prophets, however, there can be no doubt up to the present-now we "know"—and according to appearances, these clever gentry run the risk of proving false prophets. True, there is plenty of time for a good deal of hard weather through the next three months, seeing that, as astronomers tell us, we have only just entered on that particular quarter of the year. A well- worn adage-and for the most part a very truthful one-has it that as the day lengthens the cold strengthens," and agriculturists generally are hoping to see a fulfilment of the same. Keen, clear, frosty weather would be acceptable now to sweeten the land, both arable and pasture, although in regard to the latter the mild autumn has helped matters nicely forward in the stack- yards. Summarily speaking, it may be taken that the last year of the century, notwithstanding its times of trial and anxiety—of cold and heat and wet and drought-has' not been altogether un- propitious for agriculturists, and in closing these remarks we express tne wisn, which we do most earnestly, that the first year of the new century on which we have entered may prove no worse, but as much better as a kind Providence may deem it well to bestow. As may be expected at this season, reports from the oheese oentres are of the usual quiet char- acter as to the amount of business transacted. But though trade has been quiet, prices were not disturbed, except in one or two instances; in- deed, the latest cablegram from New York was to the effect that cheese was firmly held. At Liverpool the market closed quiet, extra fanoy coloured Canadian being quoted at 53s. to 54s.; white, 52s. to 53s.; fine to finest, 50s. to 52s.; medium, 45s. to 48s. From Glasgow it is re- ported that prices for home produce shewed a downward tendency. I RAILWAY RATES GRIEVANCES. I I The anomalous condition of railway rates has I I received fresh illustration in many quarters during the Christmas holiday. One very emphatic case which may be taken as a specimen may be quoted. I A correspondent of a daily contemporary writes: "About four years ago I took a farm that had a quantity of mistletoe on the fruit trees. I had a man engaged three or four days cutting it out, and sent it to the Birmingham market. It landed me 6d. in debt for carriage, leaving nothing for cost of labour, the railways charging the same rate as for costly shrubs and fruit trees. I don't know what rate they charge from the Continent, but no doubt much lower than to the English grower. As an instance, at the present time potatoes are delivered in London from Germany at 6s. per ton. It would cost me 16s. 8d. per ton from Stroud. Foreign fruits from Dover to London Is. 8d. per ton; I pay 13s. per ton from Stroud to Birmingham. These figures speak for themselves." SMALL HOLDINGS IN LINCOLNSHIRE. I Speaking recently at Spalding, Lord Carrington bore testimony to the remarkable success of small holdings in Lincolnshire. The Small Holdings Association, he said, was flourishing and in- creasing, its only difficulty being to provide sufficient land. He had no doubt whatever that if they could procure more land in the southern part of Lincolnshire they could double, and even treble, the number of small holders. The small holders on the Carrington estate in Lincolnshire were in exactly the same position as the large farmers, namely, their holdings never could be disturbed. Owing, however, to the rapid develop- ment of this small holdings movement it was really impossible for him to get land for this class of tenant as he could wish. THE IMPLEMENT MAKERS COMBINE. I xhis subject is just now very properly occupy- ing the earnest attention of chambers of agricul- ture and farmers' clubs throughout the country, and in some instances strongly worded resolu- tions have been passed respecting it, marking in an emphatic manner the sentiments with which the movement is regarded. At a speoial meeting of the Worcestershire Chamber of Agriculture a large number of farmers assembled entered a unanimous protest against the combination of implement makers and agents which has consti- tuted itself a national federation, with a view to a uniform increase of prices to the purchaser. The movement was strongly deprecated as destroying all freedom of trade, and the views of the Chamber were set out at length in a letter which it was decided to forward to the federation and to all the agricultural associations within a considerable area, pledging the members of the Chamber so far as practicable to deal only with those makers and agents who have preserved [ their freedom of trading. I OUR AMERICAN IMPORTS. I An agricultural contemporary remarks: —The contraction in the imports of live animals to this country from America appears to have had no stimulating effect upon the shipments of frozen mutton; but those of frozen beef have expanded very considerably, and are three times as large this year as in the corresponding period of last year. Whilst, moreover, the imports of frozen beef were only about one-eighth as large as those of frozen mutton last year, they are more than one-third as large this year. It may be con- jectured, therefore, that the diminution in the shipment of cattle on the hoof is finding some compensation in the much larger imports of beef in carcase form. The jerked beef trade, which is mostly with adjacent South American countries, has for some time been dwindling, and is likely to continue to do so. The import trade in cheese has faded into insignificance, but that in butter possesses all the elements of vitality, and it is possible that the dairy herds of the valley of the Plate may in due course become very powerful competitors with those of Australasia in the British butter market. Australasia and Argentina being both south of the Equator, their butter- making seasons are practically identical; but Argentina possesses a great geographical advantage in being so much nearer to the ports of the United Kingdom. The uncertainty of the Argentine as a factor in the world's food supply is well illus- trated in the shipments of wheat, which have been about three times as large this year as in the same period of 1898. The exports of hay do not vary greatly; it is all, or nearly all lucerne or alfalfa, as it is termed throughout the American continent. I CATTLE BREEDING IN IRELAND. I Details are published by the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland of the scheme for the encouragement of cattle breeding in that country. The movement is entirely apart from, and in addition to. the Gov- ernment premium system administered by the Royal Dublin Society. The plan, which starts with the New Year, is to derive the necessary funds partly from local sources, the remainder, which will be in proportion to thle local generosity and capabilities of each district, being provided by the Department. It is specified that of the money available at least 60 per cent. shall be allocated for premiums for bulls, and the re- mainder may be given in prizes for cows, heifers and calves, special provision being included for prizes for dairy cows. The premium bulls will be selected at spring shows or, where such shows do not exist, at some suitable and central situa- tion determined by the Department. No bull which has been awarded a premium by the Royal Dublin Society will be eligible in the same year for a premium under this scheme. The breeds of bulls to be selected will be decided by the respective couny t committees, and only bulls entered in or eligible for entry in the herd books of their respective breeds must be selected. Year- ling bulls will be chosen for preference, but in the event of an insufficient number of these being available two-year-olds may be employed. The value of a premium will be L8 for Kerries and Dexters and £ 12 for other approved breeds. A STROKE OF GOOD LUCK. At the recent annual meeting in connection with Lady Warwick's Hostel for Women, her ladyship expressed the wish that some saintly millionaire" might come forward and generously help her good work, which was growing so rapidly beyond her means and capacity. Her wish, it appears, has been amply fulfilled with a prompti- tude which she herself perhaps little dreamed of, for at an educational meeting at Warwick last week, Lord Warwick was able to announce that within the week a donation of £50,000 had been offered by It wealthy man who had been im- pressed with the excellence of the college. That munificent gift should go a long way towards relieving her ladyship of anxiety regarding the future of her novel, useful, and successful venture.

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