National Geographic : 1905 Jan
THE FARMERS OF THE UNITED STATES " The activitiesof our age in lines of research have reached the tillers of the soil and inspiredthem with ambition to know more of the principles that govern the forces of nature with which they have to deal."-President Roosevelt in his message to Congress, December 8, 1904. The report for 1904 of Hon. James Wilson, Secretary of Agriculture, makes a small volume of zI4 pages. It is a story of remarkable development and of wondrous wealth. We recommend it for perusal by every reader of this Magazine. The following is an abstract of the report. FAVORED with continued pros perity in 1904, the farming ele ment of the people has laid broader, deeper, and more substantial the foundations of a magnificent agri culture. A period of some industrial depression during the last two years has been saved by the farmers from the severer conditions that must otherwise have befallen in consequence of the ab sorption of a large portion of the readily convertible capital of the non-agricul tural classes into great and prevalent speculations. WEALTH PRODUCED BY FARMERS As great as the financial successes of agriculture were in 1903, hitherto with out equal, those of 1904 advanced some what beyond them. While some pro ducts have fallen behind in value, others have more than filled the deficit, and the general result is that the farmers have produced in value much more wealth than they ever did before in one year. One conspicuous item that has con tributed to this is the corn crop. The farmers could from the proceeds of this single crop pay the national debt, the interest thereon for one year, and still have enough left to pay a considerable portion of the government's yearly ex penses. The cotton crop, valued for lint and seed at 600 millions, comes second, while hay and wheat contend for the third place. Combined, these two crops will about equal in value the corn crop. Notwithstanding the wheat crop shows a lower production than any year since 1900, the farm value is the highest since 1881. Potatoes and barley reached their highest production in 1904; save in 1902, the oat crop was never so large by 60 million bushels. The present crop of rice promises a yield of 900 million pounds-300 million more than ever before. Horses and mules reach the highest point this year, with an aggregate value exceeding 1,354 million dollars. On the other hand, cattle, sheep, and hogs all show a slight decline. The steady advance in poultry leads to some astonishing figures. The farmers' hens now produce z/ billions oJ dozens of eggs, and at the high averageprice of the year the hens during their busy season lay enough eggs in a single month to pay the year's intereston the nationaldebt.* After a careful estimate of the value of the products of the farm during 1904, made within the census scope, it is safe to place the amount at 4,900 million dol lars after excluding the value of farm crops fed to live stock in order to avoid duplication of values. This is 9.65 per cent above the product of 1903 and 31.28 per cent above that of the census year 1899. Some comparisons are necessary to the realization of such an unthinkable value, aggregating nearly five billions of dollars. The farmers ofthis country have in two years produced wealth exceeding the output of all the gold mines of the entire * Every American is thus eating about 245 eggs a year.