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Beef Industry Must Be on the Alert
Guest Editorial By WESLEY W. STEARNS, President Montana Stockgrowers Association THE AGRICULTURAL INDUSTRY is our largest industry and is generally taken for granted by most of the people in the state. It is also our basic tax base for the support of local government. Last year our agricultural industry paid a little over $20 million of the $62 million raised from prop erty taxes for the support of education in Montana. Our tremendous payroll is invisible to most of our citizens, because we are an ex port industry. While our beef industry has a yearly payroll of $11 million, with 15,000 employees, most of our beef dollars are dis tributed into the economy through machin ery, gasoline, feed, fertilizer and insecticide dealers, teachers and many other profes sional people. Therefore these beef dollars lose their identity and are credited to the town or community that sells these prod ucts or performs these professional services. It would help if every farmer or rancher would have printed in large letters on his checks: "This is a beef dollar," or "wheat dollar" or what ever agricultural product he raises. Many segments of agriculture are con trolled and subsidized. Maybe they want it that way, but why should we, who do not feel this is good or practical for our industry, have to fight so desperately the last few sessions of Congress to keep from being controlled or subsidized under our form of self-go vernment ? It was gratifying to me when the turkey growers voted not to become wards of the government. Too few people realize the im pact of a single piece of legislation in Con gress or our Legislature that can adversely affect agriculture. A good case is the glutting of the broiler business a few years ago. What caused this glut that broke many broiler raisers and feed companies? A single piece of legisla tion expanding FHA loans to build broiler and chicken houses on farms, and then the willingness of feed companies to furnish on an integrated basis, birds and feed— else. Another thing for our industry to watch, will be the one-year trial of dual grading. Qualified men in our industry are about equally divided on the subject. I am not qualified, but after visiting many of the large packing plants on the river and on the East coast last winter, it is my opinion that we will not accomplish as much as is ex pected under this system, because a large percentage of our meat today is being re tailed through chain stores, and they have their own grading system in buying meat and they are our customers. Just to give you an idea of the growth of this outlet for our product—A & P Tea Co. and IGA, each, opened a supermarket every day last year in the United States, Another field we should give some thought to, is the field of production re search. While other industries spend con siderable time and money trying to regu late or stabilize their production, we in agri culture continue to spend more on produc Æ Wesley W. Stearns tion research, when we are already over producing in many areas. It would seem reasonable that we should be spending more on marketing research, leaner meats, marketing weights, milling wheat, orderly marketing and others, be cause the law of supply and demand is still in effect. Nearly every one in this country today who eats a sandwich with lunch meat in it is eating meat produced by a rancher in Australia or New Zealand. While in New York, I saw hundreds of tons of frozen bone less beef from these countries. Even though they were paying 3 cents tariff, they were still underselling us 5 cents a pound. This is 8 cents on the east coast, where most of the meat is eaten, so you can see what a 2-cent reduction in the tariff would do to our canner and cutter cow market. Our canners and cutters would die on the range trying to overproduce another calf. Our public relations are the world's worst. The days when nearly every one was a farm er are long gone. Today we are out-num bered and out-voted twenty-five to one. More money is spent advertising chewing gum than on beef, our basic food. These comments are not meant to be critical, but only to point up things that may improve the largest industry in our state. The livestock people are proud of, and will fight for, the competitive free enter prise system anywhere in the United States and the Cowboys of Montana are proud to be a part of THE BIG SKY COUNTRY. Starting Our 50th Year WHEN Montana Farmer-Stockman, then Montana Farmer, was established in August, 1913, methods of farming and ranching were vastly different from those practiced today. A book could be written about the many changes that have occurred during this half ' century. Here are just a few "for instances": In 1913, power for agricultural opera tions was provided almost entirely by horses and men. Tractors were just beginning to come into use. Grain binders and threshing machines used for harvesting, there being no were combines. Beef cattle that grazed the range were rather long-legged, angular critters com pared with today's well-bred, blocky, quick maturing types. There has been correspond ing improvement in crop varieties. Automatic hay balers might have been a dream in some inventor's eye but none were in practical use. Weedicides and most of the other agri cultural chemicals so widely used today were unknown. Dryland farmers tried to raise a crop on all their cultivated land every year. No one practiced summerfallow. Strip farming was not only unnecessary but was unheard of in this region. Most of the automatic equipment we know today was nonexistent 50 years ago. Farm and ranch operations required vastly more manpower than now. While livestock diseases were not as numerous then, few of the effective present day preventives were available. Use of commercial fertilizers even on irrigated land was just on an experimental basis. Only a very few farms close to the larger cities had electric lights. Farm and ranch women cooked the meals and boiled the clothes on wood or coal stoves. But even though there were no modern household conveniences, they still found time to bake those delicious loaves of homemade bread. There were few real surplus production problems and it was still 20 years before the first Federal farm adjustment program. Yes, there have been many revolutions in farm and ranch practice since the first issue of this paper was published. Montana Farmer-Stockman has tried to keep its readers abreast of these never-ending chang es. It has presented information based on scientific research and on the practical ex periences of farm and ranch operators that would be helpful in meeting new problems. It has worked for the sound and construc tive progress, and the best interests, of Montana agriculture. Still greater changes in agricultural pol icies, practices and procedures will undoubt edly occur in the next half century. And Montana Farmer-Stockman will be in there pitching—striving to merit the same high degree of reader interest and loyalty in the future that it has enjoyed from the farm and ranch families of Montana and northern Wyoming during the past 50 years. MONTANA FARMER-STOCKMAN —COVERS MONTANA AND NORTHERN WYOMING OFFICE 414 2nd Ave. North. Great Falls. Montana LESTER COLE. Publisher. DON R. BOSLEY. Associate Editor; LARRY GILL. Livestock Editor; RAY OZMON. Field Editor; CASEY ANDERSON, Livestock Field Repre sentative. Department Editors: AMY MARTIN, Rural Homes Depart ment; DR. W. W. HAWKINS JR.. Veterinary Department; ARTHUR F. SHAW. Soils and Crops; RAY REIMAN, Market Analyst; OSCAR L. MOLDENHAUER, Weather Forecast; MONT H. SAUNDERSON, Ranch. Farm Management. LARRY GILL. Advertising Director; EARL STEFFANI, Local Advertising Representative. Advertising Representatives, Western Farm Paper Unit— CHICAGO 4, Fred Tool, National Adv. Manager, 28 E. Jackson; NEW YORK 18. Walter J. Schaff, Manager. 500 Fifth Ave.; SAN FRANCISCO 5, Frank Schoenbein. Manager. 321 Sharon Building. Members of Western Farm Paper Unit, Audit Bureau of Circulation and Agricultural Publishers Association SUBSCRIPTION PRICE: 82 for one year; Canada, one year, $3. RENEWAL AND CHANGES—If the date on your label is not changed within three weeks after sending in your remittance, please write us. If you wish a change of address, give both new and old postoffices. ADVERTISING — Full information regarding advertising rates, etc., sent on application. Subscribers are requested to mention promptly to ns any advertiser who fails to live up to his advertising agreement.