Page images


Let us analyze this table. As Suffolk County has no farmers to speak of who gain their living solely by farming, it is supposed to have no representation on the Board, although it should be borne in mind that it pays one-third of the State taxes. We will, however, let the delegates from the old Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Horticultural, and the Bay State societies, three in all, stand for Suffolk County. This leaves thirty-five to represent the other counties of the State. Based on the number of farmers, Dukes and Nantucket counties would not be entitled to a single delegate, whereas they now have two. Worcester County now has nine delegates, and is entitled to a little over seven. Bristol County has one where it should have three, and Norfolk County, with almost 2,000 farmers, has no representative on the Board. The only county fairly represented is Berkshire, which, with 3,000 farmers, has three delegates. I submit whether the Board as now constituted is a fairly representative body of the farmers of the State, based upon their numbers.


Let us now consider for a moment how the money given by the State is distributed among the counties through the agricultural societies; and for this purpose I present Table No. 2.


TABLE 2.Showing Amount Each County would receive if divided according to Number of Farmers, and the Amount actually received in 1890, on the Present Plan of $600 to Each Society.

[blocks in formation]


What does an analysis of this table show? Suffolk County is left out, although she contributes over $6,000 of the $19,623 given in State bounties. Four societies of the different counties did not draw their share, either because they did not care to do so, or because they were not in a position to comply with the requirements; but two of these will comply next year. Two more drew only a portion of the $600, because they complied only partially with the requirements. Next year these two will probably be wiser, and will be in a position to draw all of it.

With these exceptions, however, we find that Berkshire County, based on the number of farmers, is drawing nearly its share, while Worcester County is drawing 18 per cent more than its share, and next year will draw about 30 per cent in excess. Dukes and Nantucket counties, with a population consisting mostly of fishermen, are receiving 275 and 890 per cent, respectively, while Norfolk County is not receiving a dollar. Is not this a peculiar state of affairs? It will pay to study this table carefully, and note the inequality of distribution.

But, before leaving this matter of State bounty, I want to present it in another light:

[ocr errors]

Number of farmers in Massachusetts,
Amount appropriated in 1890 by the State for State bounty and
expenses of the Board of Agriculture, including the print-
ing of reports, in round numbers, .



This, as you will see, is equivalent to one dollar to each farmer, or $1,000 to each of the thirty-six societies now represented on the Board.


Under the present plan of disbursement, expressed in dollars and cents, the fisherman farmer of Dukes County is receiving $4.00 worth of benefit, while the Essex County hay farmer is getting only 66 cents' worth. The stockraiser in Worcester County is receiving $1.25 in benefit, while his market-garden neighbor in Middlesex County is obliged to take up with 60 cents' worth. The vegetable

grower of Plymouth County gets $1.40, while across the line in Bristol County he receives only 37 1-2 cents. The Hampshire County tobacco grower receives $1.33 worth of good, while the butter maker in Franklin County must content himself with only 62 1-2 cents. The whale farmers of Nantucket, 109 all told, are supposed to swallow up $9.00 worth each, while the milk farmers of Norfolk County, 2,000 strong, are not receiving a single cent.

Need I carry the comparison further? As one indignant Norfolk County farmer expresses it, "We are getting only a few dry husks, bound up in a black volume, called the Agriculture of Massachusetts."


It must not be inferred that any blame rests with the island counties, for it is not their fault that they are receiving more than their proportion. Neither can the secretary be criticised, for he is doing good work with the material which he has at his command.. Nor does the fault lie with this Board, but rather with the system, which may have been right forty years ago, but which to-day we have outgrown. It also may be said, in defence of the island counties, that, as they possess a poor soil, they deserve more encouragement; but I doubt whether you can encourage agriculture where the natural industry is fishing, and keeping summer boarders.

As to Norfolk County, it had at one time the most vigorous society in the State. This Board grew out of the effort of the old Norfolk society, through its great leader, Marshall P. Wilder. All honor to that society, and the man who founded it. It died, however, with its founder, but the

county is not dead. It might establish a number of societies, obliging the State to further swell its lists of bounties; but I am inclined to think the county deserves great credit for its consideration of the State in this respect.


Are there not more societies now in the State than can live? Is it not necessary for many of them to resort to horse-trots, side-shows, rents from fakirs, balloon ascensions,

public marriages in the air, and all sorts of circus attractions to keep their heads above water? "It is amusement for the people, and is legitimate," says one writer. But is it amusement for the people that the State is seeking? It may be good policy for the State to promote local holidays and to contribute money to the entertainment of the people ; but, if it is, let it be done under its right name, and not under the guise of" for the promotion of agriculture." Let the funds contributed by the State for this purpose be called "amusement funds," rather than "agricultural funds." I do not charge nor should it be inferred that the State bounty is directly used for the amusement of the people, for each society is required to pay out in premiums for agricultural purposes as much as it receives in bounty from the State; but there are societies which could not exist without the bounty, and yet while receiving it are paying more attention to the amusement features than the agricultural features, and thus the State is made indirectly to aid in the support of a class of societies where the promotion of agriculture is secondary to the amusement of the people.


At the present rate of formation of agricultural societies, ostensibly for the purpose of promoting agriculture, but practically for a local holiday, by 1900 we shall have societies within the twelve-mile limit established under the present law, all over the State, each drawing its bounty of $600. On the twelve-mile-limit plan, according to mathematical calculation, there is room in the State for fifteen or twenty more societies; and on the hexagonal plan, planting them as we would so many trees in an apple-orchard, we might squeeze in one hundred more. If the twelve-milelimit plan is feasible, it is just as feasible to begin now and plant the remaining one hundred, without reference to inhabitants or local conditions. So far as Worcester County is concerned, a portion of which I happen to represent, she will no doubt put in her work before 1900, and have the entire county dotted with flourishing cattle shows, so called, where the jockeys and fakirs will reign supreme, while the cow will be crowded into one corner of the grounds, as

« PreviousContinue »