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government, national, State and township, while, in all his efforts to disenthrall himself and assert his rights, he becomes only the tool of the wily politician, who lies in wait to turn all his efforts to secure his just rights, so that, work as hard as he may, he makes little advance, but comes out at the same hole which he entered, with the same leaders or a hungrier set to fatten on his hard-earned products. This feeling is encouraged by a certain class of would-be leaders of agricultural sentiment, so that, from the situation of affairs, I am reminded of the old story by Æsop (by the way, what modern books can take the pace of Æsop's fables, for the entertainment and instruction of young or old), of • Hercules and the carter.” We read: " As a clownish fellow was driving his cart along a deep, miry lane, the wheels stuck so fast in the clay that the horses could not draw them out. Upon this, he fell a-bawling and praying to Hercules to come and help him. Hercules, looking down from a cloud, bid him not lie there like an idle rascal as he was, but get up and whip his horses stoutly, and clap his shoulder to the wheel, adding that this was the only way for him to obtain his assistance."
When I was first looking for a title, I met " Legislation for the Farmer," and I said, we want none, - we want no class · legislation; we protest against legislation for other classes of men, and shall we ask it for ourselves ? and hence shall we say there is no need of legislation for agriculture ? Legislation for agriculture means such laws as will favor the highest development of all our agricultural resources, will guard agriculture and the farmer against laws that favor any other industry at the expense of agriculture, that impose upon him more than his due share of the expenses of government in proportion to the benefits he may enjoy, these expenses being executive, legislative, judicial, military, postal, educational, – for roads and care of the poor and dependent classes.
Those who follow agriculture are made up of two great classes : One that engage in it as a life work; the other made up of the broken parts of lives, men who are looking for something else to do, or men broken in mind, body or finances, who resort to farming in their extremity as a means of support. As agriculture has to take these broken parts of lives, statistics of our courts and charities show to the disadvantage of agriculture. It is not the source legitimately from which our almshouses and penitentiaries are filled. Agriculture is entitled to all the relief it can gain in this direction. Society is bound together by inextricable ties that cannot be broken or dissolved without general loss. The success of manufacturers does make a market for the farmer, who also enjoys benefits of cheaper and better goods, if real and not shoddy. Wise, honest judges, pure, faithful clergy, and skil?'al physicians are needed by the farmers as much as by any other class, and they should rejoice in the success of those institutions designed for their education. An honest merchant to buy and sell is an essential part of any community; skilled artisans, with trained arms to execute, and educated brains to plan machinery and bring under control the natural powers of mechanics, are a blessing to agriculture. And in squaring accounts with other callings, are they not still more dependent upon agriculture ?
Agriculture provides for the world not only the most necessary products but the most perishable, and the most susceptible to bad influences; requiring for their perfection, the nicest care and the most intelligent skill; a forethought not less than that of the builder who constructs a ship. All classes ask for the best products of the garden, the orchard and the dairy. The farmer is expected to pay without baggling the bills of the lawyer and the doctor, and the salary of the clergyman, and for the goods of the merchant. Why should he alone be expected to take wbat he can get? This is not a matter to be helped by legislation ; but let the present growth of cities continue for another decade, at the expense of the country, how can it be otherwise than that the farmer, holding in his hands the daily supply of food, will be acknowledged as master of the situation, as the most important factor in our national life and prosperity ? Everything that can be done by legislation for agriculture, is as much or more for the benefit of the rest of the community than that of the farmer; for “the king himself is served of the field.”
The farmer can raise better crops, provide better vegetable and animal food, when skill and cducation give him ability to use to the best advantage all those powers of nature, which by their subtle influence bring to perfection the golden corn, the rosy butter; that cause the orchards and vineyards of our thousand hills to glow with their luscious harvest.
This is fact, and not fancy. We have to go back but one hundred years in our history, to see how we have grown up and thriven together, - agriculture, manufactures, commerce and mining, - the four material departments of human industry, agriculture the only one upon which all others depend; while the learned professions, so called, and the scientists, are bringing the sheaves of their industry into the common garner.
Now, the point I would make is that we do want laws for agriculture, but we do not want laws for farmers that will in any way interfere with the rights of other classes. We demand only what properly belongs to the interests of agriculture in the great body politic of which we are members, and of which interests we should be more cognizant and better informed than other classes; yet not so narrow in our vision as to be able to see only our little hatchet, which we would like to grind, if we can find some other fellow to “ turn the grindstone."
It cannot be expected that I should discuss minutely these questions about agricultural legislation, but I would justify all means used by the national or State governments to promote education in agriculture by the way of fairs, institutes, boards of agriculture, agricultural schools and colleges, and experiment stations. These are not alone to educate the farmer and his family, — they are for the whole community. The agricultural schools and colleges draw their pupils from the city as well as the farm ; and, while some go to the farm, others go to the shop, and carry with them that knowledge, wherever held, that is to be the means of elevating and blessing the world.
The burning question is now about fraud in dairy products – oleomargarine — and in lard, where cotton-seed oil comes in to extend the product.
It becomes the farmer, knowing the facts, how this fraud interferes with legitimate industry, to publish it, and ask for
legislation in the interest of righteousness; but to ask for legislation because it interferes with the sale of his butter and cheese and lard is not strong ground upon which to stand. These are frauds upon the consumer when sold under
other than their true names; and such fraud should be dealt with the same as any other counterfeit.
So with regard to milk. It is the farmer who best knows the difference between milk from healthy cows, fed on clean pastures and sound grain and hay, drinking the water of pure streams, or fed on distillery refuse in reeking stables, till their carcasses go to the offal yard. Laws to protect the consumer may hit the farmer sometimes; yet, in the interests of a higher and better agriculture, he should sustain them.
We are just now, in my opinion, upon a question of more vital consequence to the community and to agriculture than any other that we have been called to deal with in a legislative way.
Contagious pleuro-pneumonia in cattle was bad enough, but, thanks to the decisive action of Massachusetts, it was speedily stamped out here. A different course in New York and other States allowed it to spread till it threatened to destroy our export cattle traffic; and then the United States department of agriculture, bureau of animal industry, was empowered to stamp it out. After several years of persistent effort, directed by skillful veterinarians, it has been stamped out, and notice is given that the country is free from this plague. This malady was terrific, for it had one element of danger not common to any other then known contagious disease,—that there was no certain time limit to the powers of communicating the malady, even after apparent recovery
Now we have another bovine disease, - tuberculosis or consumption, – that is more insidious in its approaches; less easily distinguished even by veterinarians, as it may affect different organs; slower in its progress, with strong suspicion, amounting almost to positive proof, that it may be both hereditary and contagious, and communicable to the human subject from the use of milk or otherwise ; that has already gained a wide foothold in our herds of cattle. How to deal with this plague is a question requiring much wisdom
It cannot be stamped out so readily as pleuro-pneumonia. The losses in the gross are much greater than in pleuro-pneumonia, as a very large but uncertain number of animals are suffering from it. It is difficult for the State to control or extirpate it. The farmer of himself never will do it. Suspected and thriftless animals will often rather be sold than submitted to veterinary examination. When we know certainly what we believe as to the dangerous character of this disease, and this knowledge becomes common in the community, not only among farmers but among all, — as consumers of beef and dairy products, then we shall have a careful inspection, oft repeated, by competent veterinarians, of all neat stock, especially of dairy herds furnishing milk for market. When the farmer knows that the animal is valueless, even dangerous to the health of his herd or family, he will welcome the visit of the inspector, though he may be required to sacrifice an animal that has cost him dear, and that he values highly. The State cannot well provide remuneration. If one State alone undertakes it, this State must establish and maintain a strict quarantine against the introduction of any suspicious animals, or it would soon become an asylum, into which anything of an unthrifty nature would be crowded, with the chance that the State would pay for it, if the case became established tuberculosis. It would also remove from the farmer the strongest incentive against breeding from tuberculous animals, or against neglect in allowing the disease to spread in his herd. Bear in mind that this time will soon come.
The more intelligent farmers are awake to the situation. We hope united action of neighboring States, or concurrent action of the States with the United States bureau of animal industry, may facilitate the work and lighten the burden.
In legislation for agriculture, the question of taxation comes in. Real estate, especially land, is the only property that cannot escape taxation. The stock of the farmer is also visible, and gets into the lists; but how is it with the stock of the manufacturer and the merchant? Personal property has rare facilities for escaping taxation. Again, inherited and accumulated wealth rarely pays its due share of the public