« PreviousContinue »
have to be content with standards which result from this easily contented competition, you will begin to realize the difficulty of accomplishing much by giving perfectly good advice of the above description. The true answer seems to be: Give the farmer actual demonstrations of how these things can be done. Show the beneficial effects of accomplishment.
The South needs to be lifted out of the old system, which is a direct inheritance and a natural sequence from the institution of slavery. This requires new psychology. To introduce a new point of view assistance in the way of demonstration is essential. With a sound program actually being worked out, helpful publicity will come. The right principles, when demonstrated, will spread with rapidity, because leaders in the South are awake to the necessity of finding a solution.
There is already in the South a store of valuable information, based on good farming practice of progressive men, and, if this can be put into general usage, it will have a far-reaching influence in remedying present difficulties. Under proper encouragement this localized farm knowledge would quickly spring into full vigor and develop as points of inspiration. I would say here that, if the farm methods of five of the best farmers could be spread through the South, it would double the value of the South's agricultural production. If the plans of Mr. Coker, Mr. Leach, of Florida, and two or three others could be made known to the South, our problem would be solved; but we have no effective way of getting the message to the farmers except by actual demonstration.
We have conclusive proof as to the effectiveness of demonstration by results obtained in Denmark credited primarily to the Danish folk schools. The first folk school was a working model that worked. It accomplished in a comparatively short time more than could have been accomplished through a century of advice.
We are conversant with what Doctor Mead has accomplished in Durham, Calif., in New Zealand, and in Australia. We know what the new policy of reclamation is accomplishing to-day on the projects in the Western States. The Bureau of Reclamation is making successful demonstrations which will prove of great future importance. Its policies have gained the confidence of our Representatives in Congress to such an extent that they will, undoubtedly, be carried forward until people get a true perspective of what is meant by reclamation.
Some 20 years ago I became interested in the establishment of rural communities. To succeed it was necessary that these communities develop a profitable agriculture and a satisfying rural life. These objectives have been reached. Contented families have evolved a successful agriculture in a region previously typical of the conditions throughout the Southern States. The success of these individuals and these communities has had a beneficial influence over a wide territory. This has been accomplished without adding to the “productive acreage
” included in the census, and largely by developing new markets for high quality farm products.
During the past 12 months groups of farmers, business men, bankers, and professional men, have visited these communities. In order to get their reaction they were first asked if the following items were those which they wanted demonstrated. After seeing the farm settlements they were asked if they were satisfied that these points had been proven. The answers were, without exception, in the affirmative. The points were:
1. That the plan of group settlement provides conditions which are favorable to the success of the farm family.
2. That the farm families in a typical group settlement are successful and happy.
3. That the influence of such a successful group is beneficial to the general section in which it is located—adding to the economic welfare of that section.
4. That the expert farmers forming a certain percentage of the membership of a rural community become—through their example an inspiration to others.
5. That properly planned farm communities provide social advantages not possible to the isolated farmer, and thereby supply an element which is essential to the contentment of the farm family.
I think Doctor Mead, Mr. Kreutzer, and others familiar with land settlement will say that if you can prove those five points by one demonstration colony in each State you will revolutionize the agriculture of the South.
Because they are typical of southern conditions, over great areas, I would like to refer to two projects:
The colonial plantation, Castle Haynes, now a farm settlement, had gone through the process of deterioration incidental to farm tenancy, widely practiced since the Civil War, and was producing for its owners the remnants of an income, not exceeding $1,000 per year; an income which should have been subtracted from capital because it was taking the last bit of fertility from the soil. This plantation has provided farm homes for 50 prosperous families and the gross production runs at times as high as $500,000 per year. Following the best farm practice, the fertility and productivity of this land has been restored, so that recently part of it, a farm of 30 acres, which came under sale at auction, brought a cash price of $12,000 or $400 per acre.
At Invershiel (a combination of three colonial farms which in their day had the reputation of being the best in the State) the purpose has been to restore and develop a large acreage through the introduction of animal husbandry. Here again, on originally productive and well-farmed lands, the former slaves had become tenants, the former owners had moved to the city, the tenants allowed the drainage to deteriorate, ditch banks to grow up in shrubs and trees; they abandoned from year to year the portions of the land which became unproductive through exhaustion of soil fertility and through lack of drainage, and had finally taken the plant food from the residual acreage, leaving land which was worse than valueless. It was the purpose to develop this farm without growing the usual “ staple” crops—cotton, tobacco, or peanuts. An endeavor was made to follow the advice customarily given to farmers. It was found that the task of bringing back exhausted lands to a state permitting profitable agriculture was one of magnitude and, from a financial standpoint, not practicable for the average farmer. It has required 15 years because of the experimental work necessary, to prove right methods and to solve the problems which have finally led up to a profitable dairy farm. Had it been possible to follow successful demonstrations adapted to the region, made by people skilled in animal husbandry, this same result could have been obtained and without excessive financial outlay-in from three to five years.
There has been a drift against agriculture which has caused many intelligent farmers to go into more favored lines of industry and to educate their children away from the farm. This drift has strengthened the other industries, but it has seriously hurt rural life conditions. On this subject Prof. Charles A. Beard, the distinguished historian, makes the following statement :
The coordination of agriculture and machine industry in the interests of a balanced economy, related to the task of maintaining the essential economic independence of America, is the supreme task of the contemporary statesmen. We need a new science, which we may call nation planning →
maintaining a fairly balanced system of a national economy.
The chief economist of the National Industrial Conference Board of New York, Mr. Virgil Jordan, in a recent address stated :
The time has come in the life of the American people, as it has come before in the history of all great nations, when we must deliberately and wisely formulate a national agricultural policy.
After what has been said, gentlemen, it is not necessary to say again that Doctor Mead's vision and the work that he has done représent that national policy that we should follow.
These opinions are not stronger than those expressed by Doctor Mead. They are given because they are typical of the best thought which supports his position.
The consensus of opinion of those who have visited the Castle Haynes rural community was reflected in the frequent remark, “ This is a demonstration work-one which should be carried forward through the cooperation of the State and the Government." It is certain that--with any expectation of profit-private capital can not, on an extensive scale, do pioneer work of this kind in a way that will be just to the families endeavoring to get a foothold on the land; certainly not until several of the important obstacles which can easily be removed by the State and the Government are eliminated.
Our organization has reached the conclusion that one planned rural community under the direction of the Bureau of Reclamation, if placed in each of seven Southern States, will prove an example which will set in motion important changes which in turn will revolutionize the agriculture of these States. Further, that such communities can be developed through the use of a revolving fund of $1,500,000 to $2,000,000 for each community, and without loss of a single dollar to the Government. The variation in cost would be determined by the type of agricultural development adopted in each case. Communities engaging in intensive, diversified farming would require the least capital. Those engaged in more intensive types of diversification, which include animal husbandry, would require the larger amount.
Our experience leads to the further conclusion that for intensive farmers who would be required each to provide $2,000 of capital, there would be needed as an advance, on easy terms of repayment, a sum not exceeding on the average $3,000 per family.
If we bear in mind the small total cost of seven southern projects, the sum of approximately $14,000,000, and if we measure this with the program for the West for the immediate future, an expenditure of $67,000,000 in addition to the very large expenditures heretofore made, it is apparent that, if the South is to be considered in reality a part of the Nation, it should not be allowed longer to make an unaided struggle against the conditions which now prevail in southern agriculture.
The South contributes sufficient to the revenues of the Government, to the national well-being, so that it can expect the carrying forward of this program, not as a favor but as a right.
It remains for those of us who are interested in the development of the South and who have some knowledge of the needs of the Southern States, to recognize the reclamation program as an essential constructive work, and place behind it such influence as will insure its success and will prove the claim that it is important to the well-being of the United States. [Prolonged applause.]
Mr. COKER. Gentlemen, we have a little business to transact before we leave. Before I get to the next order of business, I want to tell you gentlemen a little story. I will take only a short time.
About two years ago Mr. MacRae and your chairman made a visit to the north-central part of Florida to see some of the agricultural development up there and to interview a man that we both very much desired to meet, because of the very constructive work that he had been doing, and its effect in the development of that general section. Occasionally, in the agricultural world a man strikes a new idea. Sometimes he has to fight the whole country to get it over. This man struck a new idea there which I have some testimony to offer on.
It would astound those of you who are familiar with the agriculture of this country when I tell you that that man proved that alfalfa will grow successfully on acid soil. He proved to the satisfaction of Mr. MacRae and myself that he not only could grow it under those conditions, but that he was growing it with great success.
About a year ago I decided to grow alfalfa again. I tried several times but failed; due to what, I don't know. I have a cousin who is fairly successful in the growth of alfalfa. I consulted him about what to do. I intended to plant it in the spring. The first thing he did was to advise against it. He told me to apply manure and plant soy beans in the spring and plant the alfalfa in September, using a certain amount of fertilizer. I said, "Arthur "-his name is Arthur Rogers—“ how about lime! You haven't said anything about lime.” And he said, “Alfalfa does not need lime.”
Mr. Rogers had never heard of Mr. Charles F. Leach. These independent, open-minded investigators had both proved to their own satisfaction that alfalfa could be grown and that both were growing it without the application of lime on their particular type of soil. Now, I will be the last man to say that that is a universal rule, and neither one would claim it. Mr. Rogers made numerous tests to prove how much lime per acre the alfalfa needed, preparing a large number of plots as preliminary check plots to see the effects. The check plots made just as much as any other. I am telling that as a tribute to a man who has come a long ways to attend this conference. He claims to produce eggs the year around on a clover pasture at a lower price than I have ever heard of their being produced. I would like Mr. Charles F. Leach to stand up before we proceed with our program.
We have some committees to appoint. There is the committee that has already been appointed; we should arrange for a meeting place.
Mr. MacRae. A note on the bottom of the program takes care of that. To facilitate the actions of that committee, I would ask if the committee will take dinner with me at the Lafayette Hotel?