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FARMING IN 1908.

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FARMING IN 1908. A KKVIEW OF THE PAST YLAIt. (From the "Mark Lane Express.") The year that is just closing has been, a very remarkable one for farmers who depend,to a larger extent than anybody else in tlus country upon weather conditions. It must be admitted that the weather during 1908 has been quite of u.n exceptional character. The spring was not remarkable'until the end of April, when a record snowfall was experienced throughout the Midland., and the South of England. Con- siderable damage was done to vegetation, which fortunately was not very forward, so it was not damaged to the extent that was anticipated, and as this arctic touch was succeeded by spring- like conditions, the vegetable world made rapid progress, and crops flourished accordingly. The late spring or early summei was of a- most favourable character, but only those who wore very early with their harvest were able to say that they secured their crops in good con- dition, as the second half of August, together with the month of September, which is the usual harvest period in England, was notice- able for broken weather, and as a result the corn czo-.s were much damaged. A good sample of wheat was hard to find, whilst barley was stained and weathered, and in many cases had grown out with the result that samples of malting barley were few and far between. Oats suffered the least, as in many cases they .Y were got in before the broken weather started. As for the last three months in the year it can only be said that the weather was of a remark- ably favourable character. The rainfall was not much different from the average, but the absence of frost was very noticeable. To the live stock owner it was a fortunate circumstance, as it will enable him to tide over the winter with a minimum outlay for cakes and such a favourable autumn for all kinds of farming work. WHEAT AND FLOUR PRICES. The movements in our corn markets have not been at all favourable to the grower. The long harvest doubtless has had the effect of depressing values, as much of the corn market- ed has been out of condition, and consequently not suitable for the manufacture of that white flour which is so much appreciated nowadays. Twelve months ago farmers were getting 5s. a quarter more for their wheat than at the pre- sent time. In January wheat was making an average price of 35s. 6d. per qr., but now it is worth no more than 30s. 4d., a drop of 5s. 2d. in the twelve months. This decline has been general throughout the year, and the figures, as will be seen from the following prices, have not varied to any remarkable extent. Turning to the prices obtained for flower, we find that where, as a year ago, a sack of 2801bs. was worth 37s., now it is only wbrth 34s., and this decrease, it will be noted, is pro rata with the decline in the price of wheat. There seems to be a tendency for a recovery of prices, which is to be hoped will continue, as owing to the exceptionally fine autumn experienced, wheat has been sown on a far larger area than usual. A BUMPER POTATO CROP. The crop of potatoes this year has been a remarkable one. Prices this season have not been high, but the yield per acre has in lots of cases been enormous, and, thanks to the ideal weather continuing so long, many growers have found tubers the most profitable of all farm crops this year. Whether prices are satisfactory or not, there some thousands and thousands of tons of marketable potatoes to come on the market. According to a preliminary statements issued by the Board of Agriculture, it is estimated that the total produce for potatoes in Great Britain is 3,819,798 tons, or an average yield of 697 tons per acre, as compared with 2,977,485 tons, or an averagie yield of 5.42 tons per acre last year. CROP AREAS. The Agricultural returns of Great Britain for the currcnt year contain some interesting facts. Rotation crops show large decreases, with the sole exceptions of wheat, which has increased by the small area of 1,288 acres, and potatoes, which has increased by 13,185 acres. The area under wheat this year is 1,626,733 acres, and under potatoes 13,185 acres. On the other hand, 1,667,437-aeres are devoted to barley, a decrease of 44,G57 acres; the oats acreage of 3,108,918 is a decrease from last year of 13,980 acres; rye <52,744 acres) is less by 8, 467 acres; beans (295,012 acres) is less by 14,718 acres; and the turnip area of 1,550,897 acres is less by 12,081 acres. The area devoted to clover and rotation grasses is 4,421,587 acres, which is a decrease of 69,374 acres; while, on the other hand, per- manent grass, which extends to nearly 17 mil- lion acres, has increased by 137,985 acres. NUMBERS OF FARM LIVE STOCK. The changes in the lumbers of live stock kept on the farm in Great Britain are very noticeable. Cattle number 6,905,134, which is a decrease of 6,933. There are heavy decreases in the cases of one and two-year-olds, but in the case of cattle under one year there is an increase of 30,717, showing that to some extent the breeding industry has revived. Horses show a substantial decline, as might well have been anticipated from the increasing use of motors, the number of horses has fallen by 10,6S8 to 1.545,671. Sheep are returned at 27,030.730, which is an increase on the year of 924,275, and pigs at 2,823,482, an increase of 133, 716. TUBERCULOSIS—THE WARRANTY QUESTION. A subject that has aroused more attention in agricultural circles than any for many years past has been the question as to whether rafme"s should give a warranty when selling their animals to the butcher guaranteeing their freedom from tuberculosis, and their ability to pass the medical officers of health in this res- pect. At one time the Butchers' Federation took up a most formidable position over the question, and announced that after November 2nd their members would not buy any animal which was not sold with a warranty given by the seller. Fortunately more peaceable councils prevailed, and representatives of the butchers and farmers met during the Smithfield Show week; but this conference was abortive, and the question has still to be settled. Meetings were held throughout the country deploring the unreasonable attitude taken up by the butchers over the matter, and strong resolutions were passed by the majority of farming bodies absolutely refusing to meet the butchers in what they considered their unrea- sonable demands. It yet remains for a compromise to be agreed upon, and the committee representing the two parties in the discussion will meet in the new I year, when it is to be hoped they will arrive at some working agreement, so that the good 'jelatiions whiqh 'have existed between the I farmers and the butcher in the past may be re- sumed in the future. HEALTH OF LIVE STOCK. Farm live stock have done well during the past year, and generally speaking, with the ex- ception of the minor ailments to which all flesh is heir, there have been no remarkable outbreaks of disease. The Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act ad- ministered by the Board of Agriculture is not quite in such a fortunate position. Of that dreaded pest, foot-and-mouth disease, there I have .been three outbreaks in Scotland, but forfomately stringent measures were at or.ce taken with the object of stamping out the trouble directly it was recognised. Further pre. cautions were taken by preventing the importa- tion of hay and straw from the Continent in order that the disease might not be introduced in that way. On the Continent, unfortunately, foot-and-mouth disease is extremely rife, prac- tically all over Europe it is to be found, whilst during the last month or six weeks the un- settling tidings of an outbreak in the United I' States has also come to hand, with the result that the importations of live animals from the states implicated have been prohibited. The Government Department seem fully aware of the necessity of preventing the trouble getting a hold in this country, and by this service alone merit the thanks of all stock keepas. Turning to those diseases which are always more or less with us, we find that anthrax is very similar to what it was twelve months ago. This year just over 1,000 animals have been killed from this disease. Of glanders there have been fewer outbreaks, and the number of animals attacked has grown in a somewhat ex- ceptional manner, but with sheep scab the re- verse side of the picture is to be seen, for whilst the total number of outbreaks has Increased by 271, the number of animals attacked during the same period has fallen by 285. That terrible nuisance to the pig-keeper- swine fever-has taken the usual tool of vic- tims. There has been substantial decreases of the total number of outbreaks, the swine slaugh- tered from the disease or having been exposed to infection have, unfortunately, jumped to 2,200 figures which show to what large extent this trouble interferes with the feeding and fattening of pigs. PRICE OF MEAT. The year which is just closing has found a considerable variation in the prices of meat. Fat cattle were generally higher priced than they were in 1907, while both mutton and pork have declined during the summer. There was a fear' of a temporary shortness in our meat supplies, with the result that beef ad. vanced considerably. For instance, at the end of June beef was selling at 5s. 2q. per stone dt 8 lb., as compared with 4s. 8d. during 1907. The outbreaks of foot and mouth disease in the United States, and the consequent disloca- tion of the live cattle trade, also had its effect upon the markets, and we find that at the Christmas market in London beef was mak- ing 5s. 6d., as against 5s. per stone. Turning to mutton, we find an'other aspect of the question, for while in the first three months of the year prices were equal to what they were in 1907, since then there has been a gradual and continuous decline, with the re- sult that at the big Christmas market 5s. 4d. was the top pmce for mutton, compared with r 6s. 2d. last year. Pork is likewise very cheap, and values have been most disappointing to those who go in for the fattening of pigs.

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RURAL LIFE.