The American farmer at the turn of the twentieth century



"The importance of this subject to the people of the United States may be seen from the fact that during the past five years the average amount paid out by them for imported sugar has been $101,575,293. The refined product from imported sugar during the year 1897 was 1,760,607 tons, while the production of sugar from all sources in the United States during 1897 amounted to 335,656 long tons, as follows: 41,347 tons from sugar-beets; 289,009 tons from ribbon cane; 5,000 tons from maple trees, and 300 tons from sorghum cane. Thus the total consumption in the United States for the year was 2,096,263 tons. .

"The farmers of our country produce from the soil grains, cotton, tobacco, vegetables, fruits, horses, cattle, hogs, sheep, various animal products, and the like; and if we can add to our farm systems any crop that yields an article of common use, is not exhaustive of plant-food, and whose by-product is valuable in making meat and dairy products, it will find favor with producers. There are very few crops or manufactures of them of which this can be said so emphatically as it can be said of sugar-beets. The grains are well-known soil-robbers. They carry from the soil nitrogen, potash, phosphoric acid, lime, magnesia, and the other elements of plant-food. Tobacco is peculiarly severe in this regard because none of its by-products are fit for animal food; and what is sold from the farm carries away so much mineral plant-food that most soils are soon exhausted if not replenished by commercial fertilizers, the purchase of which is out of the question in many parts of the United States. Meats take away comparatively little plant-food from the soil compared with their money value. The cotton-plant is not exhaustive if the stalks are plowed under and the seed is returned to the soil, either directly or through the instrumentality of domestic animals. The oil of the cotton-seed may be sold without taking any plant-food from the farm, as it comes from the atmosphere through the leaves of the plant. Butter is also harmless in this respect, and does not impoverish the land on which the cow grazes. Sugar is as harmless as oil and butter; it comes from the carbonic dioxide of the atmosphere. If the sugar-beet is hauled to the factory and the pulp taken back to the farm, no plant-food is lost to the soil."

"Instead of sending our mill-feeds abroad in the shape of oil-cake, bran, cotton-seed meal, gluten meal, and similar by-products, we should ourselves convert them into live stock, meats, and other animal products, in which form they can be sold in foreign markets to greater advantage. When we make our own sugar and divide $100,000,000 among our farmers, laborers, and capitalists, we can afford to that extent to keep our raw materials at home."





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