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Eugenics on the Farm
Condensed from The Saturday Evening Post (Jan. 27) David Friday, President Michigan Agricultural College
This article is of especial interest in connection with the one by Luther Burbank in the January Digest.
1. In ordinary flocks 30 out of 100 hens lay no eggs.
2. Will increased yields benefit farmer?
3. Half the cows in Michigan kept at a loss.
4. An essential to larger profits for the farmer.
ARM profits must be increased, if at all, through the reduction of costs. Fortunately this is quite within the bounds of possibility. It is startling to learn the wide ranges of difference in production on the farm. An ordinary flock of 100 hens normally contains 30 that lay no eggs whatever. A man trained in poultry can discover these by inspection. If these hens are segregated the 70 remaining ones will lay as many eggs as did the 100. The average production of such a flock will be about 600
dozen eggs a year. Obviously the
mere elimination of the culls has increased the average production per hen from six dozen to almost nine; and it has decreased the cost of production by almost one-third. Furthermore, your poultry expert will find ten hens out of the flock whose average egg production is around 12 dozen. If these hens are segregated and supplied with a cockerel of a highproducing strain the chicks from these eggs will not contain more than 10 to 15 per cent of culls. If this process of culling and selecting for breeding purposes is repeated during a period of three years the average
production of the flock will increase from 6 dozen to more than 10 dozen eggs, and the cost of production will be correspondingly reduced.
In addition, a hen that lays only 6 or 7 dozen eggs will produce most of them during the months from March to June inclusive. But the hen whose production amounts to 12 dozen or more a year will also produce during the months from November to February to such extent that these 12 dozen eggs will ordinarly sell for three times as much as the output of the hen that produces only six dozen.
2. At this point someone is sure to raise the objection that such a campaign of efficiency in production is self-destructive for the farmer because it will increase production to the point where the decline in price will offset the decrease in cost. Well, the methods here outlined will probably be applied quite universally within the next decade. Time is of the essence in this situation, so that those who start earliest to reduce costs will find that their profits are increased. Those who reduce costs only when they are forced to do so by competition will suffer a decline in profits.
3. The dairy industry illustrates well the possibilities of reduction in costs. Michigan cows two years old and over produce 3,600 pounds of milk, on the average. Yet there are cows that give 20,000 pounds of milk a year, and large herds that average 12,000 pounds of milk a cow. No man is considered a successful commercial dairyman unless his output averages 6,000 pounds an animal. Hence, it is obvious that at least half the cows in the state must yield less than 3,000 pounds, in order to bring the average
down to 3,600. These cows that give so low a yield are being fed and cared for at a loss. Much could be accomplished to increase production and decrease cost through better feeding; but no phenomenal decrease in the cost of milk can be attained until the 400,000 scrub cows in Michigan that are now grafting upon the farmer's time and effort are eliminated and replaced by animals of superior breeding. It is nothing more than a problem in eugenics. These scrub cows are what they are largely because they are the offspring of scrug sires. Two-thirds of the dairy bulls in Michigan are scrubs that are not fit to be the fathers of dairy cows. If they can be eliminated within the next year or two and replaced by pure-bred dairy sires of good breeding, an immense step will have been taken toward reducing production costs of dairy products. The Agricultural College, through its extension department and the county agents, has for some time been planning a state-wide series of bull-funerals for these scrub sires. The plan is to have these animals sold for sausage meat, and to leave in each community at least one purebred sire of good lineage. Such a campaign should increase the net profits of the dairy business in Michigan by $15,000,000 during the next two years, and by twice that amount in four years.
The reduction of costs is by no means confined to the animal kingdom. It holds for seed quite as truly. The necessity for selection there is just as great and the possible results are just as striking. The situation prevails even as between different crops. There are more than 1,500,000 acres on old farms in Michigan which do not produce crops worth $10 an acre, but which should produce annually thirty dollars' worth of alfalfa, at the same time restoring these old and run-down soils.
4. Another thing,-the hope for our Michigan farmer must lie in the
development of production for his home markets. This is true in many of our states that have an industrial population. Thus he will escape at once both the ruinous competition of an impoverished foreign market and the high freight rates that are necessary to cover the labor and fuel costs that have been saddled upon the railroads. The farmer who grows wheat finds the international market impoverished and has been forced to sell for a dollar or less. But the growers of early tomatoes for the local market received $2.50 a bushel. The product of Michigan's vineyards was five or six tons of grapes an acre. The price was $60 a ton. Twenty years ago the income of the total population of the cities and towns of Michigan amounted to less than $2,000 for each farm; today it is $11,000. Yet during these 20 years the acreage of a crop like strawberries has fallen by 20 per cent, when it should have doubled.
It is inevitable that a man charged with the arduous work of the field should rarely possess either the knowledge of the market or the managerial sense of necessity for adjustment and change which characterizes industries like manufacture. It is clear that the individual farmer cannot undertake any adequate analysis of the market situation which will keep him informed of the varying opportunities it affords. It is small wonder that production has not adjusted itself to changed demands. The cooperativemarketing organizations have grown largely out of this necessity for adequate market analysis. What is needed is a thorough analysis of the maret possibilities and an adaption to the local demand. To this end the Agricultural College and all the organizea forces of agriculture within the state are directing their efforts. When the program has been carried out the industrial cities and towns should be more abundantly supplied with food products, at prices that are reasonable and that will yet pay the farmer a. profit far greater than he could make by producing for the foreign market,-for no one can come into this local market unless he pays the prevailing freight rates.
Why Do Things Cost So Much?
Condensed from McClure's Magazine
The Joint Congressional Commission of Agricultural Inquiry worked many months and employed hundreds of experts to get in touch with every industry in the country, in an effort to learn why the producer receives so little and why the consumer pays so heavily. The Commission's conclusions are given in this article.
T costs nearly five times as much to sell and deliver bread as it does to make it. It takes approximately 50 cents of the consumer's dollar merely to get the loaves of bread from the bakery to the consumer. The original grower of the wheat gets 29.6 cents out of the dollar for his share. Transportation, grinding into flour, and getting it to the baker amounts to 8.43 cents. The portion of the dollar going into the making of the bread is 10 cents.
It costs 66 cents to distribute rolled oats that cost only 34 cents to produce. It requires 63 cents out of the consumer's dollar to distribute 37 cents worth of corn-flakes.
Figures collected from official sources in 1912 give the following mark-ups on perishables between the New York railroad terminal and the final consumer:
Distribution costs in New York City on all foods amounted to 46 per cent of the gross retail price. and things are worse now. Half the consumer's dollar never gets out of town!
How a $1 bushel of potatoes in Wisconsin becomes a $3 bushel in Philadelphia or Boston is shown thus:
Per Bu. . $1.00
Price received by producer..
Shipping to near-by wholesaler.
Broker's commission at Cleveland. Wholesaler's expenses and profit.. Retailer's expenses and profit... Total cost to consumer.
.05 .31 .74
The point that surprises most is the fact that it is not profits that make high costs. It seems that a good share of our barking has been up the wrong tree. How many corner grocers, druggists, and hardware men do you know who are getting rich rapidly? On the contrary, the rapid turnover of proprietorship in these lines is notorious. The commission points out that the big item is the cost of doing business. That is the heart of the whole problem. The materials and making of your $60 suit cost but $30. The other $30 went for selling expenses and profits, mostly the former. Men's retail shoe stores were found to absorb in operating expenses 24 cents out of each dollar spent by the consumer, and dry goods stores 27 cents out of each dollar taken in. The profit was 7 cents, thus making the retailer's mark-up 34 cents on an article that cost him 66 cents. These examples might be multi
plied indefinitely to prove that the huge sums we pay out for distribution do not go primarily to swell retailers' profits. The trouble lies with the system, and the individual retailer is as much a victim of this system as is the consumer. And one of the most discouraging features of the situation is that no one retailer can do a great deal toward cutting down distributive costs. If he develops an efficient staff and store and begins to make money, very shortly a competitor opens up across the street, the trade is split up between the two, each offers new and expensive services and attractions and both lose money, unless the community grows enough to support both.
The average grocery store in the United States changes hands every seven years. This indicates the frequency with which this costly and tragic contest is being enacted throughout the land. During ten years previous to 1912 the number of our retail stores increased 41 per cent, giving us one retail store for every ten urban families; their operating expenses increased 112 per cent; their delivery and a package cost 126 per cent; and the population the buyers only 21 per cent. Since 1912, distribution costs have increased even more rapidly.
The case seems clear. There are too many retailers duplicating services that could be done at much less expense by a fewer number. The same criticism applies to wholesalers, too, for that matter; and to manufacturers who are merely duplicating the products and the selling organizations of some other plant and thereby running up selling expenses for both. But what about the remedy? Certainly a man should have the right to enter any line of activity he desires. But is society being kind or cruel to a man when it permits him to invest his life's savings in a grocery store, where the chances of success are about 10 to 1 against him? And if the local shopkeeper is, in effect, the purchasing agent of the community and must be supported by the community, who has a better right than the members of the community to say how many and what kind of stores it shall have at least, to regulate the maximum number?
"The day is coming when a man will be no more permitted to set up in the profession of distributing goods without first demonstrating to society his qualifications than the druggist is now permitted to dispense drugs, the doctor to practice medicine, the lawyer to practice law, or the engineer to put M. E. after his name," says William H. Ingersoll, based on an extended study of this entire subject.
In all, here is a problem worthy of close thought, not only by economists and those engaged directly in the production and distribution of essential commodities, but by the consumer as well.
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What Will Japan Do?
Extracts from The Atlantic Monthly (Feb.)
HILE the Washington Confer
W ence has been successful in
arresting the multiplication of capital ships, yet, through causes too notorious to need repetition, it imposed no veto on the building of other combatant types, save airplane carriers. The result is that already a revival of ship-building competition seems inevitable if the balance of power as regulated by that treaty is to be maintained. For Japan, by diverting to the construction of cruisers and submarines no small part of the enegry she formerly expended on capital ships, will soon be in possession of a fleet of "auxiliary combatant" vessels superior in some respects to that of any other power. The relative importance of auxiliary craft has increased very considerably as the result of limiting the number of heavy ships. And we find that Japan during the last five years has built or ordered 23 light cruisers, as against a collective total of 16 for Great Britain and the United States. Japan justifies her formidable program chiefly on the ground that it is necessary in order to save the national shipbuilding industry from the ruin that would have overtaken it had all naval construction come to a standstill.
In time of war, no fleet dare cruise where ample facilities for refueling do not exist. If the ships of which it is. composed have an average fuel-endurance of, say, 10,000 miles, that does not mean that they would be able to advance to a point 5,000 miles from home and still be sure of getting back in safety. For the maximum cruising radius of a ship bears no relation to the distance that could be steamed if the engines were running at full po
wer. Thus, a battleship able to cover 10,000 miles at a speed of 12 knots might be unable to travel more than 3,000 miles at her full speed of 21 knots-and in war-zone operations high-speed steaming is the rule rather than the exception. To cruise under a small head of steam in waters where enemy submarines might be encountered would be to risk destruction.
Now the only insular base in the Pacific where the American battle fleet could be sure of finding adequate supplies of fuel is Hawaii, and we are therefore justified in assuming that 2,000 miles represents the utmost distance to which the fleet could venture to the west or south of Hawaii in time of war. But if America fights in the Pacific at all, she will fight for the protection, or--what is far more likely the recovery, of the Philippines, and to gain these objects she must be prepared to undertake active naval operations in the immediate zone of war, namely, the Far Western Pacific.
How this is to be done without local base facilities is a problem which apparently defies solution. It is certain that in their present defenseless condition, now to be stereotyped by the treaty, both the Philippines and Guam would become Japanese in the first weeks of the war. This is fully realized and freely admitted by American strategists. It is as if the United States, in pledging itself not to proceed with the fortification of its distant islands, had voluntarily surrendered, not merely the power to defend these possessions, but the power to defend its interests in the Far East generally. For good or ill, the doors of the Far East have been barred and bolted, and the keys placed in Japanese hands.