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f J Truths and Mysteries in Farm Figures S nirc midc bv farm economists in the I'nited tmcnt if Agriculture indicate that the nnt usually, come from the poorer instel(1 1! as poor farm communities. This doesn't irf rated a Ci,t, .mrrhasinB agricultural lands for mfan that,Vlnt purpose should buy poor land in poor cotnn prefe t mran that such a course is immunities. . (jjrcct reIit return js the prime raDie, yrz:r' By AARON HARDY ULM This is the fourth of a series of articles by Mr. Vim on farm life and farm management. consideration. 3fc do earnings in the form of rent from poor o higher return on the value of the farmrCPthan those from good farms?" one of the F2 ZJ?i chief land economists was asked. deV don't know," he replied. 'Many factors may nto the cause but we hesitate about naming any enter wm we are asking outside statisticians to uf, ,,T'find the answer." Th facts seem to be. as an illustration, somewhat (Stars' H a landlord in. say, a first-class farming ion of Iowa gets in rental as much as 3 per cent Ihe value of his farm property he does well. The " f average rental return to such a landlord is ratrAkelv to be nearer 2 than 3 per cent. In New Sand the landlord is likely to receive more than rfpr cent on his investment. Yet farm lands in New rJfknd increase in value very little, as compared with Is of the Middle West. That very fact may be t reason though the land economists are not ready r'' sofor the higher rental earnings in the poor caVainst the fine farming regions. The big land in vestment earnings coming to the landlord m Iowa have consisted heretofore very largely of increase in the selling value of his property. Investigators esti mate that farm lands sold in Iowa during the "land boom" of last year and the year before brought sales prices that represented, to the sellers, gams from in creased selling value totaling the huge sum of $193, 25C373 It is worth while noting that the largest pro wrtion of those gains went to actual farmers, rather than to urban dwellers who were non-resident owners oi farm lands. The investigators estimate that rural dwellers received a total of $102,425,348 in increased values from sales that are estimated as amounting to only 8.9 per cent of the farms in the state. How tar the American farmer as a landowner has been more of a speculator in land than a profit-maker irom what the land actually produced is a difficult question. It is probable, however, that most farm for tunes go back more to increased values in land than accumulations from mere cultivation of the soil. The questions involved are quite important, for fcy affect the city person as much as the rural dweller. k higher the value ot tarm land, tne nigner tne ayial investment on which the farmer must earn a I -return, and thus the higher the prices at which he as$t sell his product. For the farm operator can't safely measure his earnings by the difference between money or labor ex pended during the year and the cash received from the sale of his crops. In addition to earnings from h labor and that of his family and from his management oi hired labor, he must earn on the capital represented by his plant. ( )therwise capital won't go into farming, and there would be no material incentive for farmers becoming owners instead of tenants. In fact, if we omit increment on land due to in crease in its selling value; by no means a certain factor -a fair case could be made out in favor of tenancy against ownership. The figures actually show that the average tenant gets a higher return from his labor than does the average land-owning farm operator. That is one of the numerous oddities disclosed by farm economics, and shows that a good deal of moaning about the dangers from tenancy has been due to senti ent rather than sound thinking. It is an economic fact, say the economists, that a certain amount of farm tenancy in our agricultural life Knot only necessary but healthy. Where health! ulness and the contrary begins, no economist has been T to say. The line probably varies. It is significant that every decennial census shows J greatest growth of tenancy in those sections where returns show agriculture to be most progressive and perous. Increase in land values and increase in ten to be almost invariably concurrent phenomena, unwise the farm mortgage up to some unknown Pmt is a sign of agricultural progress ; beyond that 'nt is an unhealthy symptom. For the mortgage .vmean better farm implements, a larger cultivated Q and more progressive policies generally. No one l"0wi just when the mortgage ceases to be a help and ottomes an evil. But so long as it is incurred for Wructive purpose, that is, for expansion in opcra ns as against a means of living, it is nearer a good a bad sign. anri farm pinner should be afraid of the tenancy SmS bl,8aboos. If there were no lands to be ll?7e would be no chance for the farm be I ""cr .wthout capital. If there were no mortgages, no m S,0n, W()uld often be slow. Fundamentally it is than 7C dlsgraCi ful fr a farmer to mortgage his land viewed a mam,Iacturer to bond his factory. And a tena JVonic liKhts Jt is oltefl more economic to be tenam than an owner. you "!S bulletin contains ample evidence that the it to hULmcr- who has relaively little capital will find consiriLk?1 ,nterests to become a tenant on a farm of same tvn fmaRnitudc rathcr than to undcrlakc thc his canit!i .,f,ar,TlinS on a much smaller farm which SpilS WlU enab'e him own," says Dr. W. I Ariculturn docurnent issued by the Department of of many f bulletin gives figures on the earnings that the !armcr5i undr varying conditions and shows kbor thaLCnant often makes more, especially on his The h C owner- apartment has made many studies of farm . Too -F-rmiug. Hcocrdly peaking, murt be at ItMftJ family .Hair In many repect it is alto a community affair, and through thc development ot co-operative ideas it it becoming more so. Thit photograph show, (amihea of Srmers. near Wilke.barre. Pa., planting onioni co-operatively. Tenter A field of irrigated potatoes Rubber-boot (arming, as this kind is .ometimes called, is the wsy to get big production. Bottom W hat city man hasn't thought of start.ni a poultry Srm " Some get anay with it. but no kind o? specialited tELm mSSm o be recommended to beginners. nrofits and farm earnings, and many of the figures produced could be made to show that farming, as a money-earning bofinett, is a mighty poor calling. The nrofits measured in dollars, have never av eraged b g, not even for thc fat war years when prices of farm products were exceptionally high. While nrices paid tor farm products are quite uniform, that U nil farmers must sell at approximately the same nriccs ittHlies how that the cost of producing any particular product in any .single year has wide varia tion as between communities and different farmers in the same communities. In the studies of 842 records of cotton growing m several parts of the South, the department found that Se net cost of producing a pound ot cotton in 1918 varied from eight cents to $1.07 a pound. Thc av- erage was 23 cents, which wasn't far below the av erage paid for the same cotton which was about 29 cents a pound. But almost as much cost more than cost less than 23 cents a pound to produce, the bulk of it, however, being produced at a cost of 28 cents or less. In Laurens County, Georgia, the production cost varied from 10 to 40 cents a pound and then were like variations in other countries where studies were made. The hours of man labor required for pro ducing an acre of cotton varied from 91 to 131 in Marshall County. Alabama, and from 88 to 187 in Greene County, Georgia. Cost studies made on 481 wheat farms with ref erence to the winter wheat crop of 1919 showed that production costs varied from $1 to $5 a bushel. The average was $2.15, which wasn't very far from what the farmers received for wheat at that time. And about as much cost more than less that amount. But those figures don't tell the story of farm profits or losses nor, it may be said, do any figures, for it is a subject that in the last analysis defies statistics. The economists arrive at profits by deducting all expenses of the farm from the total income during a crop period. The total received by farmers for crops varies, chiefly in accordance with the extent of the farmers' operations, as do the expenses incurred in producing the crops. But after finding the net income, the balance left, if any, after all debts contracted for the production of the crop are cleared up, is divided between return on capital and labr income. For every operating farmer must have some capital investment, in live stock or implements, even though he owns no land. After the division is made, the final balance shows what thc farmer has made from his own labor. De ductions are made usually for labor contributions by members of his family. It is probable that a true balance will show that the average farmer nets for an average year's work less than $500. In tact, the De partment of Agriculture found more districts where hi net labor income averaged under than where it averaged above $500. But that doesn't tell the melancholy story that might be drawn from the figures. For, as he goes along, the average farmer gets approximately two thirds of his rent, food and fuel from the farm. These have, on the average, a farm value, tor the distr.c I that have been studied, of $500 to $H). And their city value, of course, would be much more. In addition, members of his family have been able to du earning work on the farm, which in the city they probably could not have done. And then, of course, there is the re turn, never estimated on a high percentage basis, from whatever capital investment he has in stock, imple ments or land. There is some question whether there is such a thing as bankruptcy in farming as there is in general busi ness, particularly small farming. It is certain that "bad conditions" don't overload the bankruptcy courts with the financial troubles of farmers in anything like the volume that comes, in such times, from the industrial or commercial world. You hear frequently of farmers as a class or sec tions of them being "bankrupt." But the word is used in a metaphorical rather than its business or legal sense; for if agriculture went truly bankrupt famine would probably result. The average farmer is always able to get along somehow and without being greatly deprived of the necessaries of life because he has first call on a great many of the necessaries. No studies have been made, so tar as the writer could learn, of the well-being, as measured by pos essioni that give security to life and assurance against misfortune, between the run of city and country people. While there is a greater display of some forms of wealth in cities and apparently a much larger propor tion of city than of country people who arc in posi tion to procure the finer luxuries of life, the farms very probably present a higher average of material human well-being than do the cities. I asked several agricultural investigators regarding that. Those asked agree with the statement made. While the average farmer's net earnings at thc end of the year are small, still they really are net earn ings. Usually his so-called labor income means that he is at least that much further toward a competency than he was at the beginning of the year; for the larger part of his living expenses don't have to be de ducted. The city man of course handles more real money but it is a question whether in the long run he accumulates a greater reserve against the well-known rainy day. There is a good deal of misunderstanding also about the farmers' hours of toil as compared with the city man's. Undoubtedly the successful farmer works long hours and in bad seasons works under more uncom fortable conditions than do his city brethren. The Department of Agriculture is now making some investigations that are expected to yield the truth re garding the "long hours" worked by farmers. They are having representative farmers in different sections keep daily diaries of their movements. Of course the actual time spent in working vanes with the kind of farming, but those who have given thought to the sub ject estimate hit the average American farmer puts in about 200 full working days a year. That is below the average for city people, but the days are longer and the work more arduous in the farmers' case. Be sides, there is a measure of work, such as looking after his live stock and milking the cows, which the farmer must do every day, Sundays included. "Living conditions in the country are not what they were a generation ago," says Secretary Meredith, A lot of our notions about farm drudgery and hard living and isolation are ideas carried over from an earlier period when there were no electric lights, no bathtubs, no rural free delivery, no good roads to speak of, and when an automobile on the farm was as rare as an airplane today."