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On the expediency and practicability of improving or creating Home Markets for the sale of Agricultural Productions and Raw Materials, by the introduction or growth of Artizans and Manufacturers.
Read before the Board of Agriculture of the State of New-York, March 8, 1825.
By GEORGE TIBBITS, of Rensselaer County.
The Board of Agriculture and Agricultural Societies were instituted for the purpose of promoting the landed, or farming interest, by such means and measures, as they respectively might deem best adapted to that end.
In general, the measures which have been adopted, have been those of eliciting and disseminating knowledge, as to the best modes of cultivating the land; the best breed of domestic animals; the most approved implements; the most useful seeds, plants and grasses; of encouraging experiments in agricultural processes; the introduction and growth of superior animals, and practice of the best modes of cultivation; with encouragements to manufactures, by the cultivators of the land, or in private families: all tending, however, to encourage the growth of an illimitable quantity of agricultural productions.
I have long been of the opinion, that the most powerful inducements which could have been held out, has been omited. I mean that of providing prompt and ready markets for these productions. Towards effecting this object, this Board, and the county societies, it is believed, may do much.
A ready demand for agricultural productions, at remunerating prices, it is presumed, is the only adequate induce. ment which can be relied upon, for insuring a careful culti vation of the land, or for increasing the quantity of its pro
duce. It appears almost certain, that no bounties or encouragements, which it is in the power of the state, or of societies to pay directly to the agriculturist, can induce him to make much improvement in his modes of cultivation, or to raise any thing beyond the immediate demands of his family; while any surplus which he may raise, beyond that amount, shall be worth nothing; or where it cannot be sold, or exchanged, upon terms of comparative equality with the profits of the capitals and labor employed in the production of all the other articles required for his support.
That capital and labor applied to land, has become less productive, than a like quantity of capital and labor applied to almost any other object, is presumed to be notorious, and conceded. That this, more than any thing else, has paralized and discouraged the efforts of the agriculturists, is believed, and which cannot be removed and overcome by any encouragements and bounties, which it is in the power of the state or societies to pay directly to those concerned in its cultivation. An efficient demand must be provided for the produce of the land, which shall leave to the capitals and persons employed upon it, compensations, which shall be equal, or nearly so, to those employed in producing the other necessaries of life, before the desired improvements in the cultivation of land can reasonably be expected; and it is believed to be of much more importance to the farming interests of this country, that this demand should be provided, than to encourage the growth of larger quantities of those articles, which cannot be sold at remunerating prices.
It is held that where particular branches of business are overdone, or do not leave to the capitals and persons employed in them, compensations equal to that of other branches, that the unproductive will be abandoned to the necessary extent, and others taken up, until the compensations to all are equal
Although this proposition, as between persons and employments within the same government, or country, may to a certain extent, be true, still it is not so in every case, and rarely, if ever so, when the articles upon which labor and capital are expended, are made in different and distant countries, and exchanged through the medium of external commerce. Articles, upon which but little capital or labor have been expended in one country, are of great price in another, where a knowledge of the art of making them is not understood, or sufficiently extended.
The rude tribes give large quantities of valuable articles, or peltries, for other articles of trifling value, in countries where the art of making them is understood. The channels
of intercourse may moreover, be interrupted by wars; or the wants and policy of different countries may alter, requiring correspondent changes in all the countries concerned in mutually exchanging their labors and products with each other; particular arts found to be of the first necessity, and difficult to learn or introduce at once, to the required extent, may have been neglected in a country, while articles, the product of those arts, were easily obtained in exchange for other products of the country. The neglect of those arts, and the frequency of those changes and interruptions, deranges the pursuits and labors of the different countries, always effecting those most severely, whose products are least diversified, and confined to the smallest number of articles.
The population of this country is essentially agricultural; or, perhaps, more properly, agricultural and commercial ; having none, or but a very small proportion, of that intermediate and manufacturing class, so indispensable in every well arranged community; and we have been led into these pursuits, by causes common to most newly settled countries, between whom, and older manufacturing countries, commercial communications are allowed.
During our colonial state, manufactures were discouraged, and some of them forbidden by the mother country under severe penalties; while labor was invited, and almost exclusively confined to the land, and to a limited commerce. The mother country, in the mean time, compelling us to take her manufactured articles, in exchange for the products of the land, under regulations, fixed by herself, in relation to that exchange.
Soon after the Revolution, the long belligerent state of Europe commenced, and continued, to within a few years. Through the whole course of these long wars, the landed produce of these states sold readily for cash, or was exchanged at fair prices, for the manufactured articles of foreign countries, which gave to our population a further propultion towards the land, to the neglect of manufactures.These causes, together with the abundance and cheapness of land, gave to this country the agricultural and commercial character which it now sustains; and has deeply fixed upon it the practice of exchanging the raw produce of the land, for the manufactured articles of foreign countries.
Our education and all our habits and efforts have been devoted almost exclusively to the increase of agricultural productions, and to the carrying and exchanging those productions for an unlimited variety of foreign manufactures. A very great majority of us have been bred to no other call