An economic derangement of some kind in agricultural pursuits is apparent when there is an excessive production of certain commodities, like wheat and cotion, while simultaneously there is a dearth of other important staples, such as hog products, horned cattle and sheep, conditions which we experience in this country at the present time. This irregularity in the relations between supply and demand is attended with an abnormal depression of prices for the one class of products, corresponding wite their abundance, and high prices for the other, governed by the degree of scarcity. Both the domestic and export trade are injuriously affected by such a dislocation. On the Produce Exchange the record is made almost on the same day that wheat is selling lower than ever before and that hog products are high beyond precedent. The calculation was lately made that the average of daily quotations for wheat, actual sales in New York "was che lowest ever recorded in any month during the 67 years of which quotations have been regularly compiled." And as to provisions, it was stated in the market reports for last Saturday that not at any time since the war has the price of hogs been as at present—that the country is being ransacked for stock, and everything having the shape of a hog, no consideration being given to age or quality, is now on the market at sellers' prices. Beef and mutton likewise feel the upward tendency and sell at much higher prices than a year ago.
Cotton is another staple that is going through a crucial period, prices having touched a point where there was said to be no profit for the planter, but the market is now believed to be recovering, as the result of a co-operative movement in all the cotton States to restrict production. Cotton planters, like the Western farmers, have been compelled to precipitate their product on the lowest market ever known.
Although farmers not long ago claimed that there was no profit in growing "dollar wheat," they have since the last crop, been compelled to content themselves with receiving only from 50 to 60 cents per bushel, according to location.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press surveys the situation with reference to wheat, concluding that it is "through diversified farming" that a remedy can be found for unremunerative prices, and the same remark will apply to the whole field of agricultural enterprise. The writer says;
"The plain fact is that there is over-production of wheat. There is more wheat raised in the world than can be marketed, under ordinary conditions, at a price sufficient to give the grower a reasonable compensation for his work. This is the natural consequence of an unprecedented development of the wheat-growing area in the United States. Under the stimulus of cheap lands and low transportation rates the wheat product of this country has increased faster than the world's demand, so that there is a steady surplus."
The visible supply lately accumulated to the before unheard-of quantity of 81–million bushels as a consequence of favorable weather for sending the crop to market and because of the large quantities of old grain held over from the harvest of 1891. Although the turning point was anxiously watched when the flood of grain would begin to recede, elevators everywhere were reported to be full and all side tracks covered with cars.
Therefore farmers are exhorted to "escape from the thralldom of a single-crop idea." The great Northwest, farmers are told, must develop the dairying interest, and devote a larger share of attention to the raising of live stock, to sheep husbandry and hogs. In this last particular there is practically no limit to the field of remunerative enterprise, for, as we are reminded on the best Western authority, this business does not require the abandonment of other farm interests or any especial changes in the farmers' programme. Moreover, aside from a vast home consumption, all foreign countries are now open markets for American hog products.
Secretary Rusk in a recent report expressly points out the necessity for a diversification of crops throughout the country and for a close study of all markets abroad, so that our agricultural products shall be adapted to special demands. The inhabitable globe is now more than ever a unit, as facilities increase for cheap and rapid transportation to every part, and in the arts of agriculture means must be adapted to a specific end.
Engineer and Inventor, 1893