Vol. VII.—No. 5.
RALEIGH. N. C, JANUARY 30, 1913.
One Dollar a Year,
Gentlemen of The General Assembly, you will have aught to fear
when you make ample provision for the education of the whole peo
ple.—From Inaugural Address of Charles B. Aycock.
C. W Brooks, Sec’y Tennessee Farmers’Union
No subject pertaining to and of vital interest
to the farmers of this country is being more dis
cussed in the public print than co-operation
Farm journals of every class are giving this sub
ject a prominent place in their columns; high
class magazines are not overlooking this interest
ing topic; editors of the great dailies join in the
discussion and the President of the United States
recently sent out a letter to the Governors of the
various States in which he set forth the advan
tages that may be obtained through co-operative
To some it may appear that we are having a
surfeit of argument and explanation in favor of
co-operation among farmers. But we must not
overlook the fact that men must be educated to
the needs and benefits of co-operation before co
operative business associations can be successful.
The isolation and freedom from restraint, as re
lates to his personal actions, has produced in the
mind of the farmer a kind of individuality that re
bels at the idea of pooling his interests with that
of his neighbors and fellow farmers. For gener
ations farmers have been conducting their affairs
independently. This practice, handed down from
father to son, has become, in effect, a tradition
from which the farmer is loath to part. It is this
cherished independence that puts the farmer s
products on the markets in competition with
every other farmer. And it is through this weak
point that the “Middleman” enters the farmer’s
garner and robs him of sixty-five cents of every
dollars worth of farm products he markets.
Undoubtedly the American producers and con-
weighted down with the most extrava
gant system of distribution the world has ever
seen. With consumers paying three times as much
for an article as the man received for producing
it, the distribution of farm products becomes an
economic problem that should engage the atten
tion of every farmer and of every patriotic citizen
as well. For, where such conditions exist it must
of necessity be a land “where wealth accumulates
and men decay.”
As a result of thus robbing the agricultural
class of the just rewards of their toil, although
agriculture is the true basis of all prosperity, we
find the farmer is rapidly loosing his proportion of
the wealth of the country.
In 1860 the farmer owned one-half of the na
jin 1870 a little more than one-third.
In 1880 a little less than one-third.
In 1890 a little more than one-fourth.
In 1900 a little more than one-fifth.
CHARLES B. AYCOCK.
In 1910 one-sixth.
Capital having cornered most of the great in
dustries, the railroads and mining interests of
the country is now turning toward our agricul
tural lands with a view of controlling them.
Thoughtful Americans look on corporate control
of agriculture with more or less anxiety and on
the encroachments of foreign capitalists, who are
now investing millions in American farm lands,
with fear and forebodings. The holding of large
tracts of land by crowned heads, foreign syndi
cates and absentee landlords is un-American and
a deadly menace to the public 'Welfare. The in
evitable result of landlordism and tenancy is in
efficiency and retrogression. A nation of home
owners is the only foundation for true progress
and lasting prosperity.
It is folly to talk of checking this flow of wealth
into the hands of non-producers by individual ef
fort. Co-operation is the only remedy. Farmers
must choose between organization and co-opera
tion along various lines or a continued decrease
in their holdings and continued increase in the
number of landlords and tenants.
There is some hope in the fact that the co-oper
ative idea is growing. It is coming with a rush,
and is being tried out in many States and in many
ways. Failures are to be reported, it is true,
nevertheless, progress is being made. An awak
ening is going on. Investigations are being made.
Farmers are educating themselves along business
lines and in the future they are going to have
more to say about that seven billion dollars that is
annually-added to the cost of their products after
they leave their hands and before they reach the
consumer. Farmers are demanding to know why
they only get thirty-five cents of the consumers
dollar, and the consumer wants to know why he
only gets one-third of what the farmer parted
with for a dollar. Schemes for city markets,
where vast buying associations will buy direct
from producers and sell direct to consumers, have
backers and doubtless many such concerns will be
formed. This is a move on the part of the con
sumer to get more for his dollar, but it does not
mean that the farmers will get more than thirty-
five cents of that same dollar. If the thirty-five
cents is to be increased it must come through an
improved system of selling. There is going to be
less cost attached to marketing, but unless far
mers organize, pool their interests and sell in a
systematic way, they will reap but little benefits
from the change.
We should not expect a perfect system until
many trials and repeated changes have been
made, but we had as well understand that selfish
ness must give place to generosity to the extent
that we are willing to help others that we may
help ourselves. Co-operation means mutual re
sponsibility, united action and each working for
the interest of all. Co-operative movements will
not initiate, develop and perfect themselves.
There must be a real purpose and a conscious ef
fort on the part of all interested. Nor will an en
terprise once established run along automatically
without the constant support of all concerned and
the watchful care of men of ability. Outside help,
such as papers, pamphlets and lecturers are of
value only as educational factors, and a stimulus
to action. Permanent value depends on local
leadership. The prime necessity is that of finding
men of vision, patriotism and judgment capable of
adapting the local needs to outside conditions.
The Farmers’ Union, covering twenty-three
States, reaching from Virginia to California, is the
greatest force in this co-operative movement.
Through its educational and co-operative efforts
it has brought many millions of dollars to the peo
ple of the South and West. As the business abil
ity and vision of the farmers become greater, co
operative undertakings will become more numer
ous and more successful. It is in this field that
the Farmers’ Union is doing its best work. The
true value of the awakening and development of
a spirit of progress and rural uplift and a more
proper appreciation of the responsibilities of citi
zenship brought about by the Farmers’ Union is