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Agricultural Organisation 

Its Rise, Principles, and Practice 
Abroad and at Home 



•6 8 I 






author of 

'the organisation of agriculture," "the transition in agriculture, 

". A history of inland transport and communication," etc. 



p. S. KING & SON 


FiBST Edition (3*. 6i.) 
Cheap Edition (1*,) - 

PuUithed November, 1912 
„ June, 1914 

ess a. 


Agricultural Organisation ranks to-day as one of those 
world movements to which countries great and small 
throughout the civilised globe are devoting attention, while 
the fact that in 1913 the members of an American Agricul- 
tural Commission made the tour of Europe in quest of infor- 
mation on the subject is but one of many recent develop- 
ments which might be adduced as evidence of the earnest 
study now being devoted to a subject that affects so closely 
the social and economic well-being of the nations. Though, 
also, based primarily on the principle of combination for 
the three-fold purposes of production, transport and sale, 
Agricultural Organisation is concerned directly or indirectly 
with a wide range of other questions and problems of the 
day, including those relating to the rural exodus, the settle- 
ment of more people on the land, the revival of country hfe, 
wages and housing in country districts, the higher cost of 
living due to (among other causes) the world's increasing 
consumption of food suppHes, and the desirability of reducing 
so far as is practicable our dependence on foreign imports. 

The time has thus seemed to be opportune for the re-issue 
of the present work in a cheaper and somewhat more compact 
form, the detailed account of " Work Done or Projected " 
by the Agricultural Organisation Society of England, which 
occupied considerable space in the first edition,* being here 
omitted ; though all the material facts in relation to the 
" Rise, Principles, and Practice " of agricultural organisa- 
tion, both abroad and at home, as given in the original 
edition, have been retained. 

Edwin A. Pratt. 

June, 1914. 

* Copies of the ist Edition can still be procured from the publishers 
at 3s. td. net. 




I. Rise and Development . . . . 

II. Examples from Other Lands 

III. The Position at Home . . . . 

IV. The Movement in Ireland 

V. Evolution of the Agricultural Organisa- 
tion Society — 

A. Earlier Efforts 

B. Progress and Development 

C. State Aid and Public Approval 

D. Reconstitution 

E. Devolution . 

VI. Transport Questions . 

VII. Summary and Conclusions 









Agricultural Organisation 


The extent to which agricultural organisation, in some 
or other of its manifold phases, has been adopted in recent 
years in almost every civilised country on the face of 
the globe constitutes one of the most remarkable of 
economical developments, and one that has, besides, had 
considerable bearing on general social conditions. 

Of the greatest and most direct interest to those actually 
engaged in agriculture, the subject is also one that must 
appeal strongly to all who are in any way interested in the 
progress of nations ; and the story of how so remarkable a 
movement was brought about, and of the results to which 
it has already led, should appeal no less to the average 
citizen than to the working farmer. It should, further, 
lead to the conviction that, when so many countries 
throughout the world which look to the United Kingdom 
as the best market for their surplus produce are both 
increasing the volume thereof and strengthening their 
economic position, it is a matter of special importance 
that British producers should enquire what are the special 
advantages which (apart from climatic or other conditions 
not capable of reproduction here) their foreign competitors 
have secured for themselves from effective organisation, 
and to what extent the example set by the foreigner should 
be followed by the British farmer, alike in the defence and 
for the promotion of his own interests. 

Conditions naturally vary in all the countries concerned, 

A.O. B 


and no system of agricultural organisation adopted in any 
one of them might be suitable for exact reproduction in 
any other country ; but there are main principles which 
are, nevertheless, capable of general application. These 
general principles are invariably determined by what have 
been called " the urgent exigencies of economic life " ; and 
in few, if any, countries are such exigencies more urgent, 
from an agricultural point of view, than in a land like our 
own where there is so great an industrial population to be 
fed, and where, at the same time, so active a competition 
has had to be faced by home agriculture in providing the 
needed supplies. 

To the economist the subject here under consideration 
must be a matter of particular interest, since agricultural 
organisation is effecting material changes in the circum- 
stances of many different countries ; the politician will 
see the growth in those countries of an Agricultural Party 
which, in carrying on a new " Peasants' War " — not against 
rulers, but against economic conditions — represents a 
steadily-increasing force to be reckoned with by the makers 
of laws ; and the psychologist will observe how a section 
of the community hitherto distinguished in almost every 
land for inveterate suspicion and distrust of neighbours 
has itself mainly taken the initiative in a movement 
essentially democratic in its origin — whatever the degree 
to which State-aid has subsequently been rendered — and 
directly designed to lead the agricultural classes to abandon 
their said suspicion and distrust and operate on the lines 
of common action for the securing of common advantages, 
the social and individual results brought about having 
thus been no less remarkable even than the economic. 

Agricultural Combination in the Past. 

In the principle of combination for the purpose of 
fostering the interests either of agriculture as a science 
or of agriculturists as a class there is, of course, nothing 
new. Just as the cultivation of the soil is the oldest of 
callings, so do we find in the agricultural industry some of 


the earliest developments of that Spirit of Association 
which, in this age of societies, leagues, unions and federa- 
tions of every class and description, may be considered 
one of the characteristics of present-day Society. 

In France, for instance, agricultural combinations began 
in the time of the Romans and were continued through 
the mediaeval ages, leading up to the present widespread 
form of legal association regulated by special statute. These 
early combinations were brought about mainly by land- 
owners who joined together, at different periods, for the 
collective cultivation of their properties, for mutual defence 
against drought or inundation, for the drainage of bogs or 
swamps, for the organisation of mutual insurance, or for 
the furthering of their general interests by the holding of 
shows, the study of agricultural questions, and so on. 

In Portugal the institution known as the Misericordia, 
which, among other beneficent purposes — and on the basis 
of fixed subscriptions — granted loans to farmers at a 
certain interest, dates back to 1498 ; but it was the 
Celleiros, of which the first was founded in 1576, that — 
operated as benevolent institutions — more especially sought 
to afford help to small cultivators by advancing them seed 
at a fixed rate of interest, to be repaid in kind by the end 
of the year. 

In Austria associations of agriculturists, consisting 
mostly of large landowners, began to be formed in the 
second half of the eighteenth century with the object of 
contributing to the progress of agriculture by means of 
research, instruction, conferences, shows and the influencing 
of legislation. 

In the United Kingdom the Royal Dubhn Society dates 
from 1731, the Highland and Agricultural Society of 
Scotland from 1784, the Smithfield Club from 1798, and the 
Royal Agricultural Society of England from 1838 ; and 
these organisations have, in turn, been supplemented by 
many county or local agricultural societies, hve-stoclj 
societies and other bodies for the promotion or the prO' 
tection of farmers' interests in general. 

B 2 


No one would deny that very useful work has been done 
by these older types of organisation ; yet their limitations 
are no less obvious. The organisations here in question 
have sought to promote the welfare of agriculture rather 
than to meet the needs of individual agriculturists. They 
have told, or shown, the farmer what to produce ; but 
they have mostly left him to his own resources both in 
raising the ways and means by which he can act on their 
guidance and in disposing of his supphes to advantage 
when he has got them ready for the market. They have 
helped him greatly in the science of agricultifre, but very 
little in the business of agriculture. 

Hence there arose the need that the older type of 
societies, while left to continue their own valuable work, 
should be supplemented by a newer type which would 
(i) popularise the agricultural science the older societies 
were promoting ; (2) open out to the producer greater 
opportunities for raising his supplies to advantage ; and 
(3) organise his business for him on such hues that he 
would be assured a better return therefrom than if he 
were left to his own individual resources. 

Thus between the old movement and the new movement 
there should be no fear of friction. To a certain extent 
the former has prepared the way for the latter ; but the 
one is, even to-day, quite as necessary as the other, and the 
two should be able to work together in perfect harmony. 

To the bringing about of this newer movement, based, 
not alone on sound economic, but also on co-operative, 
principles, many different causes have contributed ; and 
for a clear understanding of the whole position it is neces- 
sary that these should be taken into consideration. 

Agricultural Credit. 

The beginnings of the agricultural organisation move- 
ment of to-day are to be found in the initiation, in Germany, 
of a system of agricultural credit in the special interest of 
small producers. 


In some quarters there is a tendency to discourage the 
idea of cultivators " running into debt," as it is said, for 
the carrying on of their enterprises ; yet farming is to be 
regarded, not only as a business, but as a business in which 
a facility to obtain capital readily, on reasonable terms, 
may be still more necessary than it is in the majority of 
other businesses. 

Whereas the ordinary trader, operating with borrowed 
money, may expect to start almost at once with a turn- 
over, the cultivator must prepare his fields, sow his seed, 
await the processes of Nature in the growing and the 
ripening of his crops, gather in the eventual harvest, and 
then dispose of it on the market, before he can hope to 
secure any return on his investment and his toil ; and he 
must have the means to defray cost of seed, labour and 
machinery, to cover rent, rates and taxes, and to support 
himself and his family during the time when the money is 
all going out and none is coming in. 

On the other hand, the small cultivator has always 
been in a position of special disadvantage, as compared with 
large farmers or traders in general, in obtaining the often 
indispensable loans, owing to his inability to offer what the 
ordinary banker would regard as adequate security ; and, 
in the result, he has been in all ages and in all lands the prey 
of the money-lender, who has too often practised upon him 
the most shameless usury, even if he should not have reduced 
him to a position not far removed from that of actual servi- 
tude. The money-lender may have pleaded that he ran 
greater risk in lending to the small farmer than in lending 
to the trader since the one had Uttle that could be seized 
in default of payment while the other had, at least, his 
stock of goods ; but none the less may the cultivator have 
been virtually the slave of the usurer. In a report on 
Roumania, published in Bulletin No. 2 of the Bureau of 
Economic and Social InteUigence, International Institute of 
Agriculture, one may read on this subject : — 

It may be objected that credit is still hard to get ; that 10 per 
cent, interest is too high; that here and there are small mis- 


appropriations ; that small abuses occur still ; and that the 
exploitation of the peasant has not yet disappeared everywhere. 
But, in spite of all this, we have left far behind the days when a 
peasant could not borrow money unless he paid two or three 
francs a month for every twenty francs ; when usurers swarmed 
in and out of villages, and speculated mercilessly on dire need and 
misery : when neither the law nor the administration could 
protect the worker from this slavery, or mitigate his frightful 
poverty, or prevent the abuses of speculation on labour which 
led to the revolution of 1907. 

India is an exceptional country in matters of finance, 
since a rate of interest amounting to 12 1 per cent, is there 
regarded as reasonable even by the credit societies, and any- 
thing below 9 per cent, is looked upon as a mistake ; but 
even these rates are modest compared with the 24, 36, 60 
and even 75 per cent, charged in different provinces by 
village money-lenders. 

It was the inauguration of the Raiffeisen system of rural 
credit in Germany, where, in the middle of the nineteenth 
century, the money-lender had become all-powerful in the 
poorer agricultural districts, that showed the way out of the 
difficulty by which the small cultivator was faced. His lack 
of visible security was met by the formation of village or local 
societies w^hose members became jointly and severally respon- 
sible for the repayment of loans which they themselves 
granted to men whom, from personal knowledge, they 
regarded as worthy of confidence, while the loans were to be 
applied to specified purposes of an exclusively reproductive 

Starting in this very small way, the Raiffeisen system 
underwent various developments, eventually gave rise to 
the creation of a net-work of societies, federations and state 
or provincial agricultural credit banks, spread into many 
different lands, and forms to-day the basis on which has 
been built up much of the systematic organisation of agricul- 
ture that has become so active a force throughout the world 
in general. 

Scientific Production. 

The need alike for agricultural credit and for agricultural 
organisation became greater by reason of the changes in 


the methods of production due to the teachings of Liebig 
and others, following on the discoveries made by them in 
what they showed to be the science, and not simply the 
practice, of agriculture. 

Owing to the more intensive forms of cultivation which 
thus came into vogue, there was brought about, on the one 
hand, a greatly increased demand for artificial manures and 
other requisites, and, on the other hand, the creation of an 
army of manufacturers, agents and middlemen who, in 
seeking to supply this demand, regarded agriculture from a 
purely business point of view, and were apt to look upon 
the farmer as someone whom, in the new conditions of 
production by which he was faced, they could exploit to 
their own advantage. 

The advance in agricultural science thus meant for the 
farmer that not only must he have the capital \vith which 
to purchase the requisites in question — so that here there 
came still further reasons for agricultural credit — but there 
was the further material danger that if the manufacturers 
of these requisites were none too honest and reasonable, and 
if the middlemen dealers passing them on to him were ahke 
ignorant and unscrupulous, then, left to his own resources, 
he might have to pay an excessive price for raw materials 
of inferior quality, and also eventually gain an inadequate 
return from his crops. 

These results were, in fact, experienced in Germany almost 
as soon as the system of scientific production came into 
vogue ; and the earliest measures adopted to check them 
took the form of " control," or " test " stations set up by 
certain non-trading agricultural associations for the purpose 
of analysing or otherwise testing the commodities in ques- 
tion. This arrangement answered when the buyer himself 
sent in the wares he had purchased, but was regarded with 
suspicion if the middleman claimed to have had the tests 
made before the sale. 

When, therefore, the Raiffeisen banks began to spread in 
Germany, the further expedient was resorted to by them of 
arranging for the purchase of agricultural necessaries by or 


on behalf of the associated farmers through the instru- 
mentality of the rural or agricultural bank, which was thus 
not only to provide the cultivator with credit, and so keep 
him out of the hands of the usurer, but also to enable him 
to lay out his money to the best advantage. 

These arrangements, applied in the first instance mainly 
to fertiUsers, were afterwards extended to the improved 
machinery and the concentrated feeding stuffs which 
agricultural science had hkewise introduced in the interest 
of better production. 

Co-operative Purchase. 

Meanwhile the great increase in the demand for all these 
things had led the industrial and commercial interests 
concerned in their supply to form " trusts," " rings," or 
" syndicates," with a view both to controlling the output 
and to keeping up the prices. So there came still further 
need for the farmers to combine in self-defence. 

Special societies for joint purchase now began to be 
formed, as distinct from what the rural banks had been 
doing, and in course of time the new societies joined together 
in federations which were in a better position to deal direct 
with manufacturers and to obtain lower terms for their 
affiliated societies by purchasing large quantities, and by 
saving intermediate profits, while they could also arrange 
for trustworthy analyses, and thus obtain a guarantee of 

All these things helped even the small producer both to 
face the changes that science had introduced into production 
and to put his business of agriculture on a better business 

Foreign Wheat. 

The forcing on the producer of these various measures 
became still more pronounced under the conditions leading 
to the agricultural crisis which began to affect Europe in 
general when the newer countries were able to send, at low 


charges for ocean transport, enormous supplies of wheat to 
be sold here at prices with which the European grower could 
not compete. 

Steam— Telegraphy — Refrigeration. 

By the application of steam to the propulsion of ocean- 
going vessels a complete transformation was brought about 
in our trading relations with distant countries, as compared 
with the days when dependence had to be placed on sailing 

By the invention of the telegraph and the laying of ocean 
cables there came a no less revolutionary change in the 
facilities of communication, with a consequent further 
great expansion in our foreign and commercial trade, and 
especially so when other lands, developing their own 
agricultural resources, began to have increasingly large 
surplus stocks for which they sought an outlet here. 

Still another change in the situation was effected through 
the use of refrigeration processes in the transport of perish- 
able products from over-sea countries. 

As the outcome of this further apphcation of science to 
agricultural conditions, these perishable products, sent from 
Austraha, New Zealand, and Argentina, can be put on our 
markets in perfectly sound condition, .notwithstanding the 
great length of the journey ; while under existing contracts 
frozen meat is brought from Australia to London for nine- 
sixteenths of a penny per pound, fresh fruit for seven-eighths 
of a penny per pound, and butter for one half-penny per 

Thus refrigeration has annihilated distance, while the cost 
of ocean transport has, from a marketing point of view, 
become a neghgible quantity. Producers in those far-off 
lands are, for all practical purposes, and with various 
advantages of their own, as much competitors of British 
agriculturists as if their countries immediately adjoined 
our own shores. 


The Transition in Agriculture. 
All these conditions, and others besides, led to an increased 
need here, not only for greater efficiency, but also for a 
greater variety, in agricultural production. It became 
necessary that European growers who could no longer com- 
pete, more especially, with foreign wheat should turn their 
attention to other products instead, and such necessity led 
to a period of transition in which alternatives to wheat- 
growing were widely adopted, among those alternatives 
being stock-breeding, the raising of market-garden produce, 
fruit culture, and the sale of milk, butter, cheese, eggs and 

Urban Life. 

Such transition was, in turn, greatly fostered by the 
altered conditions of urban life. 

The transformation in the industrial position owing to 
the invention of new processes of manufacture, the setting 
up of the factory system, and the migration of population 
from the rural districts to the towns had both discouraged 
the practice of the older forms of agriculture at home and 
opened out still greater possibilities to the wheat-growers 
abroad ; but the same transformation had also led to the 
grouping together of collections of humanity which could, 
indeed, no longer grow their own food supplies on their 
own holdings, yet stood in need of commodities besides 
wheat or bread, and especially of vegetables, fruit, milk, 
butter, cheese, and bacon. 

The furnishing of these other commodities offered scope 
for the enterprise and energy of cultivators unable to 
compete with the foreign wheat-grower, while the tran- 
sition in agriculture thus brought about further meant 
an increase of opportunity for the working farmer and the 
small holder — especially under conditions of intensive culti- 
vation — notwithstanding the increasing discouragement for 
the gentleman farmer whose broad acres had been devoted 
in the past to the production of corn crops. 

These newer possibilities of the situation became greater 


still in proportion as the industrial and middle classes 
regarded more and more in the light of necessaries what 
their forefathers would have considered luxuries, even if 
they had, in their day, been able to obtain them at all ; 
and, in the result, although foreign competition caused a 
shrinkage in the area devoted to wheat, the needs of urban 
populations led to an increased demand for other food 
suppUes of a type that once more widened out the scope 
for agricultural organisation. 

Example of Denmark. 

While these various conditions had been affecting 
Europe in general, Denmark was, more especially, stirred 
into action by the urgent need, following on the results of 
her conflict with Prussia, to improve her economic con- 
dition ; and this she sought to do by organising her 
agricultural industries on such a basis that she could supply 
other countries, and more particularly Great Britain, with 
the butter, bacon and eggs that are now no less needed than 
wheat, flour and bread. Opportunity for agricultural 
expansion was thus opened out to Danish producers who, 
in the circumstances, could afford to disregard the 
competition of wheat from the American continent or 

Organisation for Production. 

Denmark, too, carried the general movement still 
further. Her peasant proprietors followed up organisa- 
tion alike for credit and for collective purchase by 
organisation for production. Regarding agriculture as a 
business, they appUed to it the same principle of a 
" factory " that Manchester cotton-spinners had already 
applied to their own industry, the main difference in such 
appUcation being that the Danes worked together mainly 
on co-operative lines. 

Once more we may find precedents for the course thus 
adopted. So far back as the fourteenth and fifteenth 


centuries it was the practice of peasants in the Alpine 
valleys of Italy to bring together their supplies of milk and 
treat them in common, for the production of cheese, in the 
house of each associate in succession. Here one does, 
indeed, get the principle of combination ; but, in actual 
practice, the setting up of a factory, for dealing with the 
milk or cream produced within a certain radius, was a 
much more advanced form of combination. 

It was in the United States that the modern type of 
dairy factory originated. The first was organised in the 
State of New York in i860, and by 1866 there were nearly 
500 in operation. At the outset the factories made cheese 
only, but creameries, or butter factories, followed soon 
after, though these did not come into general vogue until 

Two years later the Danish peasant proprietors set up 
their first butter factory on strictly co-operative lines ; 
and since that time the expansion of this principle, both 
in Denmark and in other countries, has been great indeed, 
thanks to the progress alike of science and of the spirit of 

Science assisted, if it did not really establish, the move- 
ment through the invention, by Lehfeld, in 1876, of the 
centrifugal cream separator, which allowed of a greater 
yield of cream and, consequently also, of butter, from the 
milk. Every farmer could not afford to have a separator 
of his own, and it was obviously better that, instead of 
each remaining independent of his neighbour, groups of 
them should co-operate to obtain the necessary appliances 
and appoint a skilled staff to make their butter for them 
in factories established for the purpose and under such 
conditions that the cost of production would be reduced 
to a minimum, while the supply of large quantities of butter 
of uniform quality would be assured. 

In 1887 the Danes further set up their first co-operative 
bacon factory. 

Combination for production to-day forms one of the 
most important phases of the agricultural organisation 


movement. It has undergone varied and widespread 
development, and is to be found in one form or another 
in almost every country where organisation has taken root. 
Everjrwhere it is regarded as an important means of 
cheapening cost of production, and hence, also, of giving 
the associated farmers an initial advantage on the world's 

Live Stock. 

The application of the factory system here in question, 
and the resort thereto on so extensive a scale by dairy 
farmers, led to greatly increased importance being paid to 
the subject of cattle-breeding since it was, of course, most 
desirable in their own and the general interest that the 
associated farmers should show a preference for such cows 
as were likely to give the largest supplies of the richest 
quality of milk. 

So co-operation went a step further in the formation of 
new types of agricultural associations which (i) sought to 
promote a scientific system of cattle-breeding, based on 
biological laws and the results of heredity ; (2) established 
breeding syndicates ; and (3) organised a " control " 
system to keep account of the milk-giving quaHties of each 
cow and enable the farmer to know, from definite data, 
which animals gave the best results. 

In other words, science was once more adopted in place 
of rule-of-thumb, while in thus taking advantage of science, 
both in principle and in practice, the humblest peasant 
was, thanks to co-operation, placed on a footing equal to 
that of the most influential of land-owners or the largest 
of farmers. 

So much was this the case in Denmark that, although 
peasants initiated the agricultural co-operative societies, 
landowners and large farmers found it to their own 
advantage, in various ways, to join them. 

In addition to the co-operative societies in respect to 
cattle, others were established to improve the breed of pigs, 


horses, goats, and poultry. Bee-keepers' societies were 
likewise formed. 

Co-operation for Sale. 

As a natural sequel to combination for production came 
co-operation for sale. Men who had joined together in 
order to produce to the best advantage might, also, well act 
together to sell to the best advantage. 

There was, in the first place, the fact that good producers 
are not necessarily good business men — that they may be 
better employed in doing work on their farm or holding to 
which they are thoroughly suited than in looking after 
marketing details which, especially when a number of 
producers are already acting together, may much more 
suitably be left to some specially competent and trustworthy 
person selected for that purpose. 

In the second place combination for sale meant, in the 
case of foreign producers, at least, that they could make up 
complete train loads of commodities from a particular dis- 
trict, and obtain the lowest rates for transport because the 
railway people had less trouble in handhng large grouped 
consignments sent under what were, for them, the most 
favourable conditions in regard to loading, etc., than they 
would have had in dealing with a large number of growers 
each consigning his own particular lot independently of 
everyone else. Suffice it, in this connection, to speak of the 
butter and bacon trains in Denmark, the egg trains from 
Italy, and the fruit and vegetable trains from the South of 
France, all directed more or less to the English markets. 

In the third place combination for sale offered to the whole- 
sale and retail dealers a greater assurance of regular supplies 
of uniform quahty ; and in some instances these conditions 
gave to foreign produce a distinct advantage on our markets 
over EngHsh produce, of varied qualities, and consigned in 
irregular quantities by wholly independent growers or 

In some countries — and especially in Holland — combina- 
tion for sale led to the setting up of co-operative auction 


marts, where produce or live stock was disposed of under con- 
ditions which gave a better prospect of fair prices than 
when the individual farmer had been left to make the best 
terms he could with an individual dealer. 

Whether with or without these co-operative auction marts, 
it was found that combination for sale gave better returns 
to associated farmers who had already, as we have seen, had 
the advantages resulting from combination for credit and 

Supplementary Combinations. 

Once successfully estabhshed on the broad lines already 
mentioned, the spirit of co-operation in agriculture spread 
out in many other directions besides. 

Co-operative insurance of livestock, for instance, was 
very widely adopted. Agricultural accidents were also 
insured against co-operatively. In some countries insurance 
against storms or hail was resorted to, and in most of those 
where agricultural organisation has been established at aJl, 
the societies obtain for their grouped members better terms 
for fire insurance than could be got through an agent. 

In Roumania there are agricultural credit banks which 
finance rural associations constituted for the special purpose 
of enabling peasants to lease land direct from the owners 
of large estates instead of through the middlemen who had 
previously exploited them. 

Co-operative societies of viticulturists, also, are common 
to most wine-producing countries on the Continent. 

Mutual Help. 

Nor have the social advantages been less marked than the 

A new spirit is taking possession of the agricultural mind 
wherever the organisation movement has been established. 
A new rural democracy, inspired by fresh hopes and 
aspirations, and with vistas of new possibihties opened 


out, is coming into existence. Old traditions and ancient 
prejudices which had led each farmer or peasant to act for 
himself, to keep to himself, and to regard his neighbour with 
distrust are disappearing in favour of united action for 
common benefits. 

Self-dependence may promote a feehng of independence ; 
but in the agricultural industry it has its disadvantages. 
Self-help is excellent so far as it leads a man to make the most 
of his opportunities ; it is less commendable when it leads 
him to think of self only. From the latter point of view 
mutual-help is preferable ; and it is this broader and still 
more praiseworthy principle that is at the root of agricultural 

Influence on the Individual. 

Co-operative credit, which is more especially based on the 
mutual-help principle, has conferred on the individual, not 
alone material advantages which he could not have secured 
for himself, but moral advantages that may be of still greater 
value to him as a man and a citizen. 

The security on which a Raiffeisen rural credit society 
advances loans is the good character of the would-be borrower 
— his reputation for industry, honesty, sobriety, and trust- 
worthiness in general. Without these quahties he stands no 
chance of getting a loan, since his associated neighbours 
controlling the society are not Hkely, under their obhgation 
of unlimited Uability, to run any risk in lending to persons 
in whom they have no confidence. 

So to those who may be endangering their good character 
a direct incentive is offered to stop in time and mend their 
ways ; and the moral effect of such incentive on the indivi- 
dual, as the outcome of the organisation movement, is known 
to be great indeed. 

Other Advantages. 

Under the influence, again, of the new movement, men of 
diverse poHtical and religious views, or of different social 


standing, work together in the furtherance of agricultural 
co-operation as though they had but one common object 
in view. 

The popularisation of agricultural science by means of 
pamphlets, bulletins, periodicals, lectures, courses of in- 
struction, schools of farming, shows, experimental fields, 
and an active propaganda generally are not only bringing 
about a more or less complete transformation in agricultural 
production, and advancing the prosperity of those concerned, 
but are improving the type of the agricultural workers 
subjected to these beneficial conditions. 

New or revived village industries, supplementing agri- 
cultural industries proper, give more openings to rural 
populations and offer them greater inducements to remain 
in the country, while the business meetings and the social 
gatherings of the societies, together with the reading rooms, 
libraries and village halls set up, invest country life with 
greater attractions which, again, should help to check the 
migration to the towns, and must in themselves be regarded 
as preferable to the introduction into country life of urban 
amusements likely only to increase the desire for urban 

Thanks, in short, to agricultural organisation, progress 
to-day is spreading in the backward rural districts in most 
countries of the world ; and this progress means, not only 
an increase in material prosperity, but social, moral and 
intellectual development as well. 

Women and Rural Life. 

In the work of social advance and the betterment of rural 
life women are taking, or are being invited to take, an 
important part. 

Women's Institutes, supplementing the eariier Farmers' 
Institutes, have undergone great development in the United 
States and Canada, where they have become an active 
force in all matters appertaining to household and domestic 
science, to woman's work on the farm, and to the social 
conditions of the community in which they operate. 

A.o. c 


Addressing a general meeting of delegates of the Canadian 
Women's Institutes, Mr. James, Deputy-Minister of Agri- 
culture for Canada, said : — 

It is only a few years since we made the sensational discovery 
that a farmer had a wife and family. For the first time, I believe, 
since the beginning of civilisation, we have begun to occupy our- 
selves with a definite plan for farm women, from the point of view 
of science and education. I know of no movement that promises 
so well for the future and for the general well-being of the land as 
this. It is neither in the stables nor in the fields that we find the 
real centre of farm work ; it is within the four walls of the home. 

Institutions of a kindred type have, as will be shown later, 
since been organised in Belgium, where they have attained 
to a considerable degree of success. 

In France, itinerant schools have been set up with the 
object of affording instruction in various agricultural and 
domestic subjects to young women in the rural districts, 
with a view (i) to giving to those instructed a greater 
inducement to remain in the country ; and (2) to rendering 
them better quaUfied to take their part efficiently both in 
agricultural and in domestic life. The instruction given, 
either under the direction of departmental professors of 
agriculture or by skilled lady teachers, includes such sub- 
jects as dairy work, gardening, and care of animals, together 
with a wide range of household duties. Encouraged and 
subsidised by the French Ministry of Agriculture, the schools 
are also fostered by the agricultural co-operative societies, 
some of which have organised ladies' committees to help in 
the carrying on of the work. 

Influence of Clergy. 

Agncultural organisation has here been spoken of as being 
essentially of democratic origin, both the original founders 
and the prime movers in subsequent developments being 
mainly found among the class directly benefited. 

In this respect the movement bears a strong resemblance 
to those great thrift, friendly and distributive co-operative 
societies which were no less created by the people for the 


All the same, one cannot deny that in some countries the 
great advance of agricultural organisation has been materially 
due to the influence of the clergy, and in many countries to 
the sympathetic support, if not the direct action, of the 
States concerned. 

The Roman Catholic clergy in Belgium, for instance, went 
into the matter of agricultural organisation with a thorough- 
ness that in itself deserved success. The knowledge they 
acquired of the science of agriculture would have done credit 
to agricultural-college professors. They learned all about 
the use of fertihsers at a time when the peasantry regarded 
artificial manures with the greatest suspicion ; they enforced 
their arguments by cultivating experimental plots of their 
own ; they gave sacks of fertihsers to doubting farmers in 
order that the latter, in turn, should make experiments on 
their own account ; they acquired a knowledge of agricul- 
tural machinery, and in some instances, at least, were them- 
selves able to put such machinery right for farmers when it 
broke down ; they spread an active propaganda in support 
of credit banks, societies for purchase, production and sale, 
federations, insurance societies, etc. ; and, eventually, with 
the support alike of the landed gentry and of the Belgian 
Government, they succeeded so well that to-day there is not 
a single district of Belgium without its federation of agri- 
cultural societies operating under clerical guidance. 

In the Catholic districts of Holland the movement has 
hkewise received much active encouragement from the 
clergy ; in Italy the establishment of a large proportion of 
the credit banks there has been due to the Catholic clergy ; 
in Austria the priests and the elementary school teachers 
give instruction or advice to the peasants in agricultural 
science and on the advantages of co-operation ; and in 
Hungary hke action has been taken by the clergy, who find 
that one incidental result of their activities has been an 
increase of sobriety, since the Hungarian peasant now spends 
at the headquarters of his society the time he once spent 
in the public-house. 

As against these examples of clerical influence might, of 

c 2 


course, be put those of countries like France and Denmark, 
where the prevaiUng forces in the spread of agricultural 
organisation have been essentially economic ; but one sees 
nevertheless, how wide is the range of interests the move- 
ment embraces. 

State Action. 

While the attitude of Governments all the world over 
towards agricultural organisation has been essentially 
sympathetic — and naturally so, in view of the benefits it 
was certain to confer on the countries concerned — there has 
been much diversity in the particular courses of action 

In countries under Governments of a pronounced bureau- 
cratic type, such as Austria and Hungary, the tendency has 
been in the direction of the State assuming control of practi- 
cally the whole movement, not only ensuring the provision 
of ways and means but undertaking general direction and 
even small working details. 

This poHcy may be a natural one in countries where the 
people have been taught to look for almost everything to 
their Government ; but State-aid carried to these extremes 
constitutes a " spoon-feeding " which one must regard as 
an undesirable substitute for either self-help or mutual- 

Without going to the same lengths, and while still allow- 
ing full scope for independent effort and democratic action, 
the State in many other countries has rendered invaluable 
aid to the movement by means of laws giving the societies a 
legal status : by affording them increased facihties in the 
scope of their operation ; by establishing State, provincial 
or other central banks to aid in the financing of village credit 
banks ; by affording practical encouragement to scientific 
research ; by organising systematic instruction in agricul- 
tural science ; by making loans or grants to supplement 
associated effort ; or by helping both to popularise the 
movement generally and to estabHsh it on a still sounder 


footing as one of the most important forces of the day from 
the point of view of national progress. 

In the matter more especially of co-operative credit, the 
ideal conditions are that the State should avoid having 
direct dealings either with individual cultivators or with 
local societies, and should establish relations exclusively 
with central banks undertaking the work of financing lesser 
federations of bank which, in turn, pass on the State assist- 
ance to the local credit banks providing for the wants of 
their individual members. This system has been adopted in 
Germany as the outcome of over half a century's experience. 
It represents a happy combination of State-aid and co- 
operative effort which, while ensuring an application of the 
former under the best conditions, still leaves full scope for 
the activity of the latter, with less risk of the demorahsation 
that must needs result when the State itself undertakes 
duties or details which had much better be left to others. 


To give a full account of the progress made by the move- 
ment throughout the world would far exceed the limits of 
available space ; and this fact will be the more evident if 
it is mentioned that no fewer than fifty States have now given 
in their adhesion to the International Institute of Agriculture 
established at Rome in 1905, and that the historical and 
statistical data published by the Institute's Bureau of 
Economic and Social Intelhgence — data, that is, relating 
mostly to developments of agricultural organisation in one 
form or another in these different countries — already fill 
no fewer than eighteen Bulletins, each consisting of about 
250 pages. 

All that can here be attempted is to offer, mainly from 
these Bulletins, a few details concerning certain typical 
countries with a view less of satisfying the statistician than 
of convincing the reader that, where so much activity is 
being shown in lands which are often competitors of our 
own, it is not for England to lag behind in the march of 
economic development. 

The great expansion of the agricultural organisation 
movement in Germany is well shown by the following table, 
which gives the total number of agricultural co-operative 
societies existing in the German Empire in the years 
stated : — 





Co-operative Societies. 

For collective 














The 15,000 banks are associated with and partly financed 
by 36 central banks, the total turnover of which in 
1909 was £245,689,000. The figure further includes 4,399 
co-operative credit societies, affiliated to the Raiffeisen 
Organisation. In the case of 4,154 of these societies 
supplying data, we get the following details for the year 
1909 : — Total membership, 432,000 ; total amount of 
business done, ;^6o, 059,000 ; savings deposits, £8,855,000 ; 
withdrawals, £6,290,000 ; loans granted during year, 
£4,544,000 ; percentage of loans up to £50, 77"25. 

Organisations for collective purchase of agricultural 
requisites, following on the need of the German farmer to 
meet the combinations of manufacturers and dealers by 
counter-combinations, has gone even further than the 
figures in the above table would suggest, since two-thirds of 
the mutual co-operative credit societies and many of the 
co-operative dairy societies also purchase for their members. 
Then the necessity further to counteract the influence of 
powerful trusts and syndicates in Germany seeking to 
control the market in fertilisers, feeding stuffs, machinery, 
oil, coal and almost every other agricultural requisite led 
the local societies to join together into federations. At first 
the larger bodies thus formed purchased for the associated 
societies on commission ; but, following on some changes in 
the law brought about in 1889, central purchase federations, 
having power to buy on their own account, and operating 
under commercial experts, began to be formed. 

In 1895 there were in Germany 10 of these central co-opera- 
tive purchase federations ; by 1900 the number had increased 
to 20 ; by 1905 to 25 ; and by the end of 1909 to 27. The 
real increase, however, has been in the number, not of 
federations, but of " members," the latter consisting mainly 
of affiliated societies. Thus the membership of the federa- 
tions, which stood at 1,181 in 1892, rose to 2,785 in 1895, to 
7,659 in 1902 and to 10,348 in 1909. The total for 1909 
included 4,014 rural banks which bought agricultural 
requisites for their members through the central purchase 
federations in the same way as the co-operative societies 


for collective purchase, the co-operative dairies and the 
other local bodies were doing. There are also 4,399 rural 
banks of the independent Raiffeisen Organisation which 
arrange purchases through the Central Agricultural Loan 
Bank. We thus get a total of 8,413 rural banks — in addition 
to the other organisations — afhhated to central societies for 
the purchase of goods, this total representing more than half 
of the 15,000 rural banks in Germany. At the end of 1909 
only 12 per cent, of the co-operative societies for purchase 
remained unconnected with the central purchase federations. 

Included in the 10,348 members of the twenty-seven 
central federations are 3,787 " individual " members. These, 
it is explained, are mostly large farmers resident in districts 
where there are, as yet, no societies, or where, for some 
reason or other, societies cannot be formed. 

The central federations act in concert with one another in 
making their purchases from producers or importers, and in 
this way they can not only give orders for exceptionally 
large quantities, but they have a better opportunity for 
overcoming the influence of traders' syndicates and com- 
binations, and for obtaining concessions from which the 
smaller societies and their members directly gain. The 
federation of federations has, in turn, gone so far that there 
is an Imperial Federation of German Agricultural Co-opera- 
tive Societies which at the end of 1910 included : — 

Central co-operative societies . . . . 80 

Co-operative agricultural credit banks . . 12,978 

sale and purchase societies . . 2,194 

dairies . . . . . . . . 2,050 

Otlier co-operative societies .. .. .. 1,811 

Total .. .. 19. 1 13 

This was an increase of 480 societies over the number for 
the previous year. 

In 1909 the purchases made by the central societies 
connected with the Imperial Federation, which includes 
80 per cent, of the agricultural co-operative societies in the 
German Empire, amounted to £7, Adding to this 
figure the sum of £2,415,000 expended for the Raiffeisen 



Organisation banks by the Central Agricultural Loan Bank, 
we get a total of £9,812,000 as the value of the goods bought 
in a single year by the associated farmers of Germany on 
the principle of combination for purchase. 

Detailed figures in regard to other societies affiliated to 
the Imperial Federation in 1909 include the following : — 

Nature of Society. Number of 

Number of 



Sale of com 









Starch factories . , 



Fruit or fruit and vegetables 



Sale of potatoes . . 



„ eggs 



poultry . . 



vineyard produce 



animals . . 



Animal breeding 



Insurance of live stock . . 


Supply of electricity 



Co-operative ownership of 

agricultural machinery 



In the case of most of the agricultural associations in 
Germany the habihty of the members is unlimited, but the 
principle of limited Hability is, nevertheless, being more and 
more adopted in societies created otherwise than for credit. 
In 1907 the number having limited hability was only 11 per 
cent., whereas by 1910 the percentage had increased to 
21I. Figures in respect to 23,737 societies on June ist, 
1910, published in the Journal of the Board of Agriculture 
for July, 1912, are as follows : — 

Unlimited Liability. 

Limited Liability. 

Credit Societies 
Trading ,, 






per cent. 




per cent. 


Total . . 



5,085 1 21-33 



Agricultural unions in France are mainly divided into 
two groups — associations and syndicates. 

The agricultural associations comprise Societies of Agri- 
culture, Agricultural Assemblies (cornices), and Chambers 
of Agriculture. They devote their energies principally to 
science and research, improvement of livestock, agricul- 
tural legislation, etc. Of Societies of Agriculture there 
are 685, and of agricultural cornices 917. 

" Syndicate " is a term which signifies, in France, not a 
group of financiers, as in England, but, in effect, the 
equivalent of our expression " trade union " ; and it was 
under a law of March 21st, 1884, giving the representatives 
of every industry in France almost complete liberty of 
association, that the agriculturists — who, at the last 
moment, were expressly included — got a charter which 
enabled them to organise the groups of societies, or " syndi- 
cates," comprised in agricultural organisation as developed 
in their country to-day. 

While the industrial syndicates regarded the law of 1884 
as the concession to them of the right to strike, the agri- 
cultural syndicates at first estabhshed themselves almost 
solely as distributive co-operative societies to which the 
associated farmers looked as a means of obtaining at 
reduced cost the requisites for their farm work. This 
they did more especially in the case of fertilisers, with the 
further advantage, in respect thereto, that the sjmdicate 
was better able to arrange for analyses and to guarantee 
quahty ; but combination for purchase of fertilisers led to 
similar arrangements being made also in respect to imple- 
ments, machinery, seeds and breeding-stock. How the 
number of these syndicates has increased is shown by the 
following figures : — 

Year. Syndicates. Members. 

1890 648 234,234 

1900 .. .. .. 2,069 512,794 

1910 5.146 777.066 


Of federations of agricultural syndicates there were 55 
in 1910, grouping 2,392 of the local organisations. 

Co-operative societies for production and sale, and 
composed exclusively of farmers, number about 2,660, 
classified as follows : Cheese-making, 1,800 ; dairies 
(butter-making), 685 ; wine-making, 39 ; starch-making, 
34 ; collective purchase and employment of agricultural 
machinery and implements, 23 ; oil-mills, 20 ; distilling, 
17 ; milling and baking, 16 ; sugar manufacture, 8 ; fruit 
and vegetable preserving, 5 ; collective transport, i ; 
sauerkraut preparation, i ; sale of eggs and farmyard 
produce, i ; distilling flowers for perfumery, i ; flax 
preparation, i ; other co-operative societies, 8. Adding 
to these figures societies not composed exclusively of 
farmers, the total number engaged in production or sale is 
estimated at 3,260. 

Agricultural credit has undergone great expansion in 
France of late years, mainly through the influence of 
State aid. 

The law of 1884 prepared the way for co-operative 
credit banks, and the pioneer bank of this type in France 
was constituted in 1885. 

Increased facilities for the creation of rural banks on the 
Raiffeisen principle, though differing therefrom in some 
essential details, were conferred by the Meline law of 
November 5th, 1894. These further banks were to be 
based on the agricultural syndicates, and were to derive 
their members from them, but down to 1899 (when the 
number created was still only 136) they existed on their 
own resources without any credit from the State. Such 
resources were, however, found insufficient to allow of an 
expansion of the system adequate to the growing needs of 
rural life, and further action was considered necessary, in 
the special direction of State aid. 

An opportunity for rendering this aid came in 1897, 
when the renewal by the State of the privileges conceded 
to the Bank of France was arranged on conditions which 
led to the State (i) receiving from the bank a sum amount- 


ing to 2,000,000 francs (£80,000) a year, and (2) having 
placed at its disposal, without interest and up to the year 
1920, a sum of 40,000,000 francs (£1,600,000), the whole 
to be applied to the extension of agricultural credit. 

Following on these new arrangements, though not until 
after prolonged discussion, there was passed the law of 
March 31st, 1899, which created the regional banks of 
mutual co-operative credit. These regional banks were to 
group the local banks into federations, discount their bills, 
and be the means of transmitting to them loans from the 
State funds in question to constitute their working capital. 
In 1901 — that is, within two years of the passing of the 
Act — there were 16 regional banks at work, and by 1910 
there were 96. 

Meanwhile, various causes had led to the desire for a 
further extension of the credit system, among them, as 
set forth in the " Bulletin of the Bureau of Economic and 
Social Intelligence " for January, 1912, being : (i) The 
newer and constantly-increasing needs of agriculture as 
an industry ; (2) the progress made by the principle of 
co-operation for agricultural production ; and (3) the 
growing necessity for small families to develop and consoli- 
date small properties threatened by too minute a 
parcelling out or by the rural exodus. 

So the existing system of agricultural credit at short 
date was supplemented by a system of long-date credit 
granted, under a law passed in 1907, to co-operative 
societies, and, under another law passed in 1910, to 
individual farmers. 

In the former case the regional banks advance loans at 
the almost uniform rate of 2 per cent., and for periods not 
exceeding twenty-five years, to agricultural co-operative 
societies engaged in production, the purposes to which the 
loans may be applied being, however, restricted to the 
following : Production, manufacture, preservation or sale 
of agricultural commodities ; acquisition, construction, 
installation, or adaptation of buildings, workshops, store- 
houses, or transport conveyances ; and collective purchase 



or use of agricultural machinery and implements. Long- 
date loans to farmers are granted by the regional banks — 
through the intermediary of the local societies — up to the 
amount of 8,000 francs (£320), for the purpose of buying 
or improving small landed properties. The money lent is 
to be repaid, by annual instalments, in fifteen years. 

How, under these circumstances, agricultural credit 
expanded in France during the period 1900-10 is shown 
by the following figures : — 

Number of 



Affiliated Local Banks. 




Loans granted. 




151. 621 


The total sum which the regional banks had at their 
disposal in 1910, including loans from the State, was 
£2,287,000, and of this amount £2,017,000 was assigned to 
the financing of local agricultural co-operative banks under 
the law of 1899. 

Down to the end of 1910 long-date loans had been 
granted by the regional banks to productive agricultural 
co-operative societies, under the law of 1907, as follows : — 

Number of societies receiving loans 
Number of members . . 
Paid-up capital 
Loans received 





The total of 131 societies is made up thus :- 

Dairies and butter factories 
Wine societies 
Cheese-making societies 
Purchase and collective use 

machinery and implements 

Wine and oil societies 
Oil societies . . 
Starch factories 

of agricultural 



The period for which, in practice, the loans are granted 
to the societies ranges from ten to twenty-two years ; but 
mention is made of one small co-operative vine-growing 
society in the department of Var which obtained in 1909 
an advance of 16,400 francs 0^656) for a period of fifteen 
years, and made so good a profit out of the high price of 
wine in 1910 that it was then able to repay the entire loan 
at once. 

Agricultural insurance societies have greatly increased in 
number in France. In 1897 there were not more than 
1,483 in the country, and of these about one-half, of a 
rudimentary type, were in the single department of the 
Landes. In 1910 there was a total of 10,731 societies, 
divided as follows : Cattle insurance, 8,428 ; agricultural 
fire insurance, 2,187 '» insurance against hail, 25 ; insu- 
rance against agricultural accidents, 7 ; cattle re-insurance, 
58 ; fire re-insurance, 26. 

Syndicates for live-stock improvement, to which the 
Government have made a grant of £8,000, are also being 
considerably extended. 

The grand total of agricultural associations of all types, 
co-operative and non-co-operative, in France, according to 
the latest available returns, is 38,369. 


The general position in Denmark is indicated by the 
following details in regard to the leading organisations in 
1909 :— 

Co-operative Societies. Number. Members. 










i 2,000 

Total . . . . 3,610 449,480 


• 1. 157 

Bacon factories 


Purchase of requirements . 
Export of cattle . . 


Export of eggs 





. 1,260 



Sheep- breeding 


Control societies . . 



In respect to dairies it might be mentioned that, in 
addition to the 1,157 co-operative, there were 238 com- 
mercial, and 90 estate, dairies. Out of 183,313 holdings, 
with 1,282,254 cows, in Denmark, 154,568 holdings, with 
1.059.956 cows, were associated with the co-operative 

About 880 dairies, mostly of the co-operative type, have 
combined to form twenty-one unions for the development 
of the industry through lectures, exhibitions, and other 
means ; and twenty of the twenty-one unions have formed 
two federations which, in agreement with the union not 
connected with either, have appointed a committee to 
watch over common interests. The dairy unions also 
appoint " juries " of experts to test the milk supplied and 
endeavour to keep up its quality. 

Some 840 of the dairy societies were, in 1909, affiliated 
to a Collective Purchase Federation formed in 1901 to 
enable the Danish dairies to obtain their machinery and 
other requisites under the most favourable conditions. 
The business done by this federation in 1909 amounted to 

For the export of butter there are federations of dairies 
whose officers devote themselves to the sale of butter 
independently of middlemen. There were, in 1909, six of 
these federations, operating on account of 225 co-operative 
dairies, and the business done by them amounted to about 

Almost all the butter exported comes to the United 
Kingdom. The total quantity we received from Denmark 
in 191 1 was over 85,000 tons, valued at £10,500,000. 

How the co-operative bacon factories have increased in 
number and in the amount of business done by them may 
be shown thus :— 

Number of Number of Pigs 

Year. Factories. slaughtered. 

1888 .. .. ,. I 23,400 

1890 . . . . . . 10 147,500 

1900 .. .. ..26 675,200 

1909 32 1,362,500 


In addition to these co-operative bacon factories there are 
about twenty private ones working for exportation, and 
slaughtering 500,000 pigs in the year. 

Co-operative societies for purchase are of the greater 
importance in Denmark on account of the necessity for 
importing large quantities of grain and feeding stuffs for 
Hvestock, the home supphes being wholly inadequate. 
In 1909 the total purchases of the fifteen societies specially 
estabhshed for this purpose (apart from what is done in the 
same direction by other societies) amounted to ;^i, 736,000, 
of which sum about £1,500,000 was for grain and feeding 
stuffs, the remainder being for seeds and chemical manures. 

Egg-export from Denmark is in the hands mainly of two 
large federations — the Danish Co-operative Society for the 
Export of Eggs, estabhshed in 1895, and the Esbjerg Butter 
Packing Company, which began to export eggs in 1899 — 
and seven co-operative bacon-curing factories. The system 
adopted for obtaining the eggs is based on the organisation 
of collecting centres, of which the Egg-Export Society has 
550, with a membership of 43,000, the business done by 
this one society alone in 1909 amounting to £253,000. The 
Esbjerg Company has 300 collecting centres. The total 
value of the eggs exported from Denmark in 1909 was 

The Control Societies keep an account, in the case of each 
cow registered, of (i) milk yield, (2) proportion of butter-fat 
in the milk, and (3) the relation between yield and fodder, 
thus giving the farmer valuable information as to the stock 
specially suitable for breeding. They were first estabhshed 
in Denmark in 1895. The number of cows registered in 
1909 was 206,800. Various forms of agricultural insurance 
— including fire, storm, hail and live-stock insurance— have 
also been developed. 

" Marvellous " is the phrase apphed to the advance of 
agricultural organisation in Holland. 

For the actual beginnings of the movement there we have 


to look, as in the case of other European countries, to the 
agricultural crisis that began to be felt about the year 1880. 
The changes in production, the competition of foreign 
supplies, the cheapening of sea transport and the altered 
conditions of international trade first brought home to the 
minds of the Dutch peasantry the need for association, 
while later on this need was emphasised, in their case, by 
the fact that certain producers in Holland were causing a 
bad name to be given to Dutch produce by reason of the 
inferior quaUties thereof they were then sending to foreign 

It was, however, not until about 1890 that the movement 
began to be taken up in Holland in real earnest. Among the 
peasantry the idea of co-operative action in agricultural 
production and sale was, down to that time, almost unknown. 
All the same, it is mainly to the Dutch peasantry that the 
subsequent rise and expansion of the said idea in their 
country are due. The main lines of policy adopted by the 
Dutch Government were those of, first helping to propagate 
the principle of co-operation, and then leaving to the societies 
the fullest possible choice in deciding for themselves the 
form of their constitution according to one or other of four 
different methods of association sanctioned by the laws of 
Holland. The Government have also in recent years given 
small subventions in support mainly of credit and cattle- 
breeding societies. 

So well has the movement spread in this short period, 
and under these particular conditions, that to-day the 
number of co-operative agricultural societies in Holland 
is 1,341, with a membership of about 135,000. 

Co-operative credit societies of the Raiffeisen type, and 
forming dependencies of three central banks, whose head- 
quarters are at Utrecht, Eindhoven and Alkmaar, have 
more especially undergone a remarkable growth, the 46 
banks, with 2,501 members, in 1899 having increased to 
582 banks, with 40,840 members, by 1909. 

Co-operative purchase, mostly in regard to fertilisers and 
concentrated foods for cattle, is carried on by the agricultural 

A.O. D 


societies ; but, though the societies are grouped in federa- 
tions, the rule in Holland is for each branch to make its 
own purchases, independently of the federation. 

Co-operation for sale is chiefly organised in connection 
with vegetables and fruit, of which very considerable 
quantities find their way to the Enghsh market. The 
organisation is carried out by local horticultural societies, 
some 250 in number, and of these no fewer than 80 have 
estabhshed public sales of the produce of their members. 

Co-operation for butter production has been developed 
so far that there are now 686 co-operative dairies, of which 
358 are worked by steam-power and 328 by hand. The 
majority are grouped in seven federations centralising 
purchase of necessaries, and in some measure also regulating 
the butter production, while the quahty of the butter is 
guaranteed by a " Control " system which, while due to 
private initiative, receives a subvention from the State. 

Other co-operative societies in Holland deal with stock- 
breeding and agricultural insurance. 


In Belgium, as shown by the latest available figures, for 
1909, agricultural organisation would seem to have spread 
throughout the country with such thoroughness as to cover 
every possible interest. 

Of the agricultural cornices, which hold shows and exhibi- 
tions, carry on experimental farms, and answer mainly to 
our own type of agricultural societies, there were in 1909 a 
total of 160, with nearly 38,000 members, and they held 
in that year 6 district and 96 cantonal shows. 

Agricultural " leagues " in Belgium are mostly village or 
communal organisations corresponding to our agricultural 
co-operative societies. They generally start with collective 
purchase of farm requisites, and afterwards occupy them- 
selves with credit, insurance, Hve-stock improvement, eta ' 
furthering these aims by affiliation with a cantonal, regional 
or national federation. The total number of leagues in 


1909 was 1,093, and their membership was 71,395. The 
185 horticultural societies, with a membership of 29,000, 
complete their organisation with a series of regional federa- 
tions, which, in turn, select delegates to a National 
Committee for the progress of horticulture. 

Societies for the purchase of seeds, manures, foodstuffs 
and machinery (including the purchase sections of the 
cornices and leagues) number 1,123, with a membership of 
70,208. Their purchases in 1909 amounted to nearly 

Of co-operative dairies in actual working in Belgium in 
1909 there were 521. These had 56,805 members, possessing 
162,000 cows, and the total sales for the year amounted to 
£1,523,316. It was, however, reported in connection with 
a National Dairy Congress held at Brussels in 1911 that the 
general condition of the co-operative dairies in Belgium 
was not satisfactory. For four or five years the position 
had remained stationary, and in many provinces there was 
even a considerable decline. One authority at the congress, 
M. Collard Bovy, attributed such dechne to bad organisation 
and bad management, while economically, he said, " no 
attention had been paid in Belgium to the fact that butter- 
making was the least remunerative part of dairying, and that 
cheese-making and various other subsidiary industries 
which, under the guidance of technical advisers, might be 
developed in connection with the dairies, would be more 

Apart from dairy produce, several systems of co-operation 
for sale have been established, though societies which do not 
also engage in the purchase of requisites are said to be far 
from flourishing. Among the sale societies are 73 of beet- 
root-planters, described as " rather leagues of defence against 
the sugar manufacturers." 

Of cattle-breeding societies there were 447 in 1909. They 
had 18,705 members, and the number of cattle registered on 
the books of the societies was 56,727. Goat-improvement 
societies numbered 425, with 40,260 members, possessing 
48,505 goats ; pig breeders had formed 19 societies, with 

D 2 


48,505 members ; and there were also 56 rabbit-improve- 
ment societies, with 1,116 members. Poultry societies 
totalled 148, with 6,820 members ; and of bee-keepers' 
societies there were 197, with 5,032 members. 

The 1,142 voluntary cattle-insurance societies had 101,700 
members on December 31st, 1909, and the number of cattle 
insured was 294,583. There are also horse, goat, and pig 
insurance societies. 

Raiffeisen banks in Belgium numbered 614 in 1908. They 
are grouped into regional federations, forming seven central 
banks. These central banks are the intermediaries through 
which the General Savings Bank can, in accordance with the 
powers granted to it, distribute credit to the rural banks, 
the central banks in turn guaranteeing the engagements 
of the local banks with the General Savings Bank. They 
also control the local banks and receive the surplus funds of 
some in order to grant loans from this source also to 
others. The loans to members of the rural banks amounted 
in 1909 to £373,900- 

An especially important feature of the situation in Belgium 
is afforded by the great federations with which the smaller 
societies are almost invariably connected. 

To the federation known as the " Boerenbond," founded 
in 1890 by the Abbe Mallaerts, " Father of the Peasants," 
there are now affiliated 531 local associations, with 44,500 
members. It claims to have undertaken the threefold 
mission of (i) the defence of the rehgious, moral and material 
interests of the peasants ; (2) the promotion of agricultural 
legislation ; and (3) the advance of agricultural organisa- 
tion ; and in the carrying out of this programme it seeks to 
interest itself in everything that concerns agriculture and 
the agricultural community. Among other things it pub- 
lishes reviews, arranges lectures, holds conferences, conducts 
departments for collective purchase and sale, has a labora- 
tory for the analysis of agricultural commodities, equips 
and inspects dairies, supplies agricultural machines, creates 
credit societies, organises agricultural insurance, holds 
holiday courses for managers and others connected with 


agricultural concerns, gives legal assistance, watches over 
the management of affiliated societies, affords expert guid- 
ance in cattle-breeding, interests itself in farm-women's 
clubs, seeks to check the exodus from the country districts, 
and does good work in many other ways besides. 

Purchases made by the federation in 1910, on account of 
its branches, included the following : Fertilisers, ;^69,334 ; 
feeding stuffs, £352,328 ; seeds, £5,670 ; and agricultural 
machinery, £3,016. 

Of Raiffeisen banks affiUated to the Boerenbond in 1909 
there were 297, with 21,495 members. 

The Agricultural Federation of East Flanders, founded in 
1891, comprises 275 societies, with over 30,000 members. 
Constituting the head-quarters of all agricultural co-operative 
work in the province, it occupies itself with every agricul- 
tural interest, and carries on an active propaganda by means 
of pamphlets and a publication of its own, but more 
especially by frequent lectures. 

West Flanders has also an Agricultural Federation of 
72 societies, with over 7,000 members. In addition to 
collective purchase, the Federation organises about 100 
lectures annually, publishes a weekly organ, issues to members 
a weekly bulletin giving current prices of fertilisers and 
feeding stuffs, conducts a students' club for dairy managers, 
and organises credit, insurance, live-stock, dairy and other 
co-operative societies. 

Farm-women's Clubs were started in Belgium in 1905 by 
M. de Vuyst, Inspector-General of Agriculture, who, inspired 
by what he had seen of Women's Institutes in Canada, 
established at Leuze, on kindred lines, an organisation 
which was the first of its kind on the Continent of Europe. 
In 1910 there were 75 of these clubs in Belgium, with a 
membership of 7,000. 

M. de Vuyst says, in a book he has published on " Le Role 
de la Fermiere " (Brussels : Albert de Wit), that the main 
object of the clubs is to keep fresh the knowledge acquired in 
the agricultural schools, and to enable their members to 
become acquainted with the new processes introduced by 


agricultural science. In effect, however, the clubs concern 
themselves with the whole range of women's interests and 
duties both on the farm and in the home. The clubs have 
their libraries of books relating to agriculture, dairy work, 
poultry farming, domestic economy, health, etc. ; they 
hold meetings at which addresses on a wide variety of sub- 
jects are given, the aggregate attendance at these gatherings 
in 1909 being over 12,000 ; they train women lecturers ; 
they arrange visits to model farms, and they also organise 
shows, with a view to extending knowledge of the best 
methods of cultivation of stock, poultry breeding, or dairy 
management ; while their various aims and objects are 
further fostered by the publication of periodicals dealing 
with women and country life in general. 

In 1909 a regional congress, attended by representatives of 
60 clubs, was held at Namur, and in 191 1 the whole of the 
clubs established by women relatives of members of local 
societies affiliated to the Boerenbond grouped themselves 
into a federation which now constitutes one of the depart- 
ments of that great organisation. 

British India. 

Co-operative credit is the form of agricultural co-operation 
which has hitherto mainly been developed in British India, 
and even in this respect the progress made has been 
primarily due to State action. 

India, with its bureaucratic Government, and with its 
many races of people of varying types of civilisation, differs 
materially from countries possessing representative Govern- 
ments and having populations more likely to resort on their 
own account to organised effort for the obtaining of common 
economic advantages. Yet though the said bureaucratic 
Government has taken the initiative, it does not propose to 
adopt more " spoon-feeding " than may be absolutely 
necessary. According to Bulletin No. 3 of the Bureau of 
Economic and Social Intelligence, the Government has set 
itself the task of teaching the population of India the prin- 
ciples of co-operative credit, and also — while exercising no 



compulsion — of promoting the formation of credit societies, 
and guiding them in their work. But the Government, we 
are further told, " has recognised that its task is something 
more than this. It is its poUcy to create a popular move- 
ment, and gradually to convert the initiative of the State 
into active propaganda conducted by the people of India 
themselves, and even, as far as possible, to place the work 
of financing and supervising the societies in the hands of 
popular organisations." 

As for the results, Mr. Henry W. Wolff, in the third edition 
of his book on " People's Banks," declares that " the oppor- 
tunities furnished by the banks have whetted the popular 
appetite for more productive methods of husbandry " ; that 
" the seed of co-operation has in India fallen upon good 
ground " ; and that " the progress made is quite phe- 

This last-mentioned expression is fully warranted. The 
Co-operative Credit Societies Act, laying down the broad 
outlines of the system of co-operative credit to be promoted 
in the various Provinces of India, was not passed until 1904, 
and in March 1905, there were in India only 35 rural and six 
urban credit societies ; yet the position in 1910-11, as shown 
by figures pubHshed in the " Statement Exhibiting the 
Moral and Material Progress and Condition of India during 
the year 1910-11," issued from the India Office, was as 
follows : — 





Rural . . 







Total . . 




The central societies here referred to comprise (i) central 
banks, which exist primarily for the purpose of financing 


affiliated societies ; and (2) central unions, which are 
federations for the purpose of inspection, control and mutual 
guarantee. In some instances, the functions of a central 
bank and a central union are combined in a single body, 
known as a central banking union. The central and urban 
societies are based on limited liability. Rural societies 
work with unlimited liability, " a principle," we are told, 
" which has no terror for the ryot, who has long been accus- 
tomed to it in his family relations." The chief purposes for 
which loans are obtained from the rural banks are purchase 
of cattle, payment of land revenue, and repayment of loans 
from money-lenders. Smaller sums are also advanced for 
non-productive purposes, such as expenditure on marriage 
and other ceremonies. 

Of the £730,000 working capital of the rural societies, 
£466,000 represents loans from non-members and other 
societies, £96,000 share capital, £105,000 members' deposits, 
£23,000 reserve, and £40,000 loans from Government. The 
financial support of the State is, however, being gradually 
withdrawn. In several provinces State loans have been 
altogether discontinued. " The movement has almost 
everywhere passed out of the experimental stage ; many of 
the societies are self-supporting and are winning more and 
more the appreciation and confidence of the people," 

While agricultural organisation has thus far developed in 
India mainly on the lines of co-operative credit, the " state- 
ment " further says : — 

Co-operative societies for pro ductive and distributive purposes 
exist, but not as yet in any numbers. Some of the rural credit 
societies, however, have extended their activities in these direc- 
tions ; they market the produce of their members, purchase 
agricultural machinery for their use, etc. The Provincial 
Agricultural Department finds these societies admirable inter- 
mediaries for the propagation of improved methods of cultiva- 


The example of Japan is especially interesting as that of a 
nation which, having resolved to adopt " all modern 



improvements," in the way of social and economic progress, 
has naturally resorted to the main principles of agricultural 
organisation, and has also developed them at a rate and 
with a comprehensiveness hardly to be surpassed elsewhere. 
This latter fact is well brought out by the following Table, 
which gives the total number of agricultural co-operative 
associations in Japan in the years mentioned : — 

























The figures for 1909 give the position on June 31st, 
whereas the others are for December 31st in the years 
mentioned. The former thus show an increase for six 
months only. The total of 5,149 is made up thus : — 


. 1,864 



Production . . 

Sale and purchase 

Sale and production 

Purchase and production 

Sale, purchase and production . 

. '6| 
. 440 




Credit and purchase 
Credit and production 
Credit, purchase and sale 
Credit, purchase and production 
Credit, sale and production 
Credit, sale, purchase and produ( 



. 699 

• 538 



. 194 



The estimated number of members of these societies on 
June 30th, 1909, was 445,092. 

As indicating the eagerness of the Japanese to profit by 
the experience of other nations, it might be mentioned that, 
at the request of the Central Association of Japanese 
Agriculturists — a hke request subsequently being received 
from the Home Department of the Bureau of Local Affairs, 
Tokyo — the author of " The Organisation of Agriculture " 


assented to the translation of his work into Japanese, and 
he has since been officially informed that copies of the book, 
in that language, have been circulated among the local 
authorities in Japan. 

The United States. 

Agricultural organisation and agricultural co-operation 
have alike been developed in the United States under 
conditions pecuhar, to a certain extent, to that country, 
yet with such success that, although definite figures are 
lacking, competent authorities estimate that the total 
number of societies there is about 75,000, while the total 
membership is put, approximately, at 3,000,000, The dis- 
tinction between " organisation " and " co-operation " is 
not always clear, while a good deal of agricultural organisa- 
tion is to-day being developed, or projected, in the United 
States on capitalist rather than co-operative lines ; but in 
either case the fundamental principle of, at least, combination 
in agriculture is involved. 

At first there was a reproduction of the ordinary type of 
agricultural societies famihar to European states, and these, 
with their spread of scientific or technical knowledge, their 
stock improvement and their shows, etc., did much good in 
the days when agriculture in the United States was still 
comparatively undeveloped, and provided mainly for local 

Then the farmers began to combine on a much broader 
basis for the attainment of legislative and other advantages. 

They created a " Farmers' Alliance " which seemed Ukely 
to become a powerful body, and might have done so but that 
it collapsed because it was unduly political. Permanent 
success was, however, gained by what is known as the 
" Grange " movement. 

Originally founded in 1867, this further movement aimed 
at advancing the general interests of farmers in almost 
every phase of their activities, included therein being the 
popularisation of agricultural science, the formation of 
co-operative agricultural societies, the improvement of 


agricultural production, combination for sale, tariff, sanita- 
tion and other legislative questions, and problems of national 
life in general. The basis of the organisation is formed by 
local Granges. These " secret societies " (for such they are 
in effect, being somewhat akin in their working to the 
Freemasons' societies) elect representatives to County 
Granges which, in turn, send delegates to State Granges, 
and these, again, choose the members of a National Grange, 
whose annual congress is the equivalent of a Farmers' 
Parhament for the United States, and is the most influential 
body of agriculturists in that country. 

In regard to the various phases of agricultural co-operation 
in the United States, it is a noteworthy fact that while there 
has hitherto been comparatively little development of the 
principles either of agricultural credit or of collective pur- 
chase, which have been primary causes for the spread of 
agricultural co-operation in many other countries, there has 
been a remarkable expansion of that principle of combina- 
tion for sale which elsewhere has been regarded as the 
particular form of the general movement that presents 
greater difficulty than any other. 

It is in the western States, in connection with the fruit 
industry, that co-operation for marketing has undergone the 
greatest degree of expansion. A variety of causes have 
contributed to this result, among them being (i) the fact 
that the great production of fruit — more especially in 
CaUfornia — made it necessary that markets should be sought, 
not alone in other States, but in other countries ; (2) the 
need for having as full and complete a knowledge of these 
markets as possible ; (3) the necessity for consigning to 
them under such conditions as not only to secure the best 
terms for transport, but also to guarantee the sending of 
produce in large quantities of uniform quahties, and likely, 
therefore, to secure uniform prices ; and (4) the obvious 
advantage in having all these things done through powerful 
co-operative societies, each acting for a large group of 
growers, instead of leaving every individual among them to 
make the best terms he could with the middlemen who had 


previously controlled the situation, and this, too, with such 
monopolistic tendencies that a desire to escape from their 
" exaggerated claims " is said to have been one of the 
primary reasons for the eventual resort to the system of 
organisation for sale. 

Upon how big a scale some of these societies operate may 
be shown by a few facts concerning the California Fruit 
Growers' Exchange. 

This central body, the headquarters of which are at Los 
Angeles, is elected by fourteen district associations, them- 
selves representing about lOO local societies of fruit-growers. 
The local societies collect the fruit from their associated 
members and see to the packing and the forwarding of it, 
in complete truck loads, to one or other of seventy-five paid 
agents estabhshed near the chief markets of the United 
States and Canada, or in London. In the event of the 
producer not having specified (as he is at hberty to do) to 
whom his consignments are to be dehvered, the agents 
arrange the sale and get the best possible terms. At 
Chicago and Omaha there are general agents who direct the 
operations of the local agents and keep in close touch with 
the markets, advising daily by telegraph or telephone. 
Information as to markets is also regularly supplied by the 
staff of agents. 

In 1909 the number of fruit-growers connected with this 
one organisation was between 10,000 and 12,000 ; the 
consignments of fruit made by the society amounted to 
14,500,000 boxes ; the accounts showed an aggregate profit of 
£4.575.000. while in addition to the increased net returns in 
the price of their products the growers saved about 50 per 
cent, in their expenses as compared with what their expen- 
diture would have been under former conditions. 

Another society, the Peninsular Products Exchange of 
Maryland, which does an annual business of about £400,000, 
is said to spend £2,000 a year on gaining information as to 
the different markets. 

In co-operative production the chief success attained in 
the United States has been in regard to co-operative dairies. 


The total number is about 1,900, and the value of the output 
of those in the central northern region, particularly in the 
State of Minnesota, is alone put at about £6,000,000 a 

Then the American farmers, finding, as is said, that the 
struggle against the " tyranny " of the commercial interests 
controHing the grain elevators near the railway stations in 
the central and western regions was " a matter of life and 
death to them," formed co-operative societies and erected 
elevators of their own ; they have their co-operative 
societies for life insurance and sickness insurance ; they 
overcame the difficulties which arose in the insuring of farm 
property or farm produce through the ordinary companies 
by forming societies for co-operative fire insurance ; they 
have adopted a system of co-operative telephones, one 
society alone having 760 miles of telephone line ; they have 
organised co-operative live-stock associations \^dth a view 
to making a particular township or county noted for the 
production of some special breed or breeds of cattle, and they 
have also estabUshed societies for the " control " of dairy 

In addition to the furthering of these various economic 
interests, rural betterment and the revival of country life 
are aspirations which have been especially cherished in the 
United States. The agricultural societies associated with 
the Grange movement sometimes unite in district or even in 
State federations, to which the name of Leagues for Rural 
Progress is given. The object of a representative body of 
this type. The New England Conference for Rural Progress, 
is said in the rules to be " to promote the interests of agri- 
culture and of rural life in the New England States by 
securing the co-operation and federation of the various 
State and inter-state organisations and agencies which are 
working for rural betterment and agricultural advancement 
in New England." 

A more important development in this direction came, 
however, with the appointment, in 1908, by President 
Roosevelt, of a commission to study the urgent problems of 


American rural life. In his letter of instructions to the 
members of this commission Mr. Roosevelt said : — 

In the United States . . . the farmers in general are better off 
to-day than they ever were before. . . . But practically the 
whole of this effort has hitherto been directed towards the 
increasing of crops. Our attention has been concentrated almost 
exclusively on getting better farming. , . . Agriculture is not the 
whole of country life. The great rural interests are human 
interests, and good crops are of little value to farmers unless they 
open the door to a good kind of life on the farm. 

This problem of country life is in the truest sense a national 
problem. . . . The farmers have hitherto had less than their full 
share of attention along the Hnes of business and social life. 
There is too much belief among all our people that the prizes of 
life lie away from the farm. I am, therefore, anxious to bring 
before the people of the United States the question of securing 
better business and better living on the farm, whether by co- 
operation between farmers for buying, selling and borrowing, by 
promoting social advantages and opportunities in the country, 
or by other legitimate means that will help to make country life 
more gainful, more attractive, and fuller of opportunities, 
pleasures and rewards for the men, women and children on the 

Among the recommendations made in their report by the 
members of the commission was one that — " Before all 
things an efficient movement in favour of co-operation among 
the farmers is to be desired, to put them in a position to 
sustain the struggle against the other economic classes they 
have business relations with." 

On the question of co-operative agricultural credit mention 
has already been made of the fact that hitherto little advance 
has been made in the United States ; but there is gratifying 
evidence that the financial interests there are preparing to 
recognise more fully the claims of agriculture to their own 
encouragement and support, the subject of " Agricultural 
Development and Education," introduced by Mr. George 
E. Allen, educational director of the American Institute of 
Banking, having been one of the matters discussed at a con- 
vention of the New York State Bankers' Association held at 
Buffalo on June 13th and 14th, 1912. 

In anticipation of this discussion, and in view of the 


possibility of some action being taken by the Association to 
encourage agricultural development in New York State, 
several articles on the subject were published in the issue of 
Moody's Magazine for June, 1912, among them being one on 
" The Importance of Improved Agriculture : The Banker's 
Opportunity," by Mr. W. C. Brown, President of the New 
York Central Railroad. Commenting especially on the 
failure in the United States to increase the production of the 
nation's farms by increasing the number of bushels per acre — 
such failure being attributed to " careless, uninformed 
methods of seed selection, fertilisation and cultivation " — 
Mr. Brown said that the railroads, both in the east and the 
west, were co-operating with the State agricultural colleges 
and other institutions having departments of agriculture in 
running trains and arranging meetings of farmers for the 
purpose of preaching the great gospel of better methods, 
which also meant more profitable farming ; but no organi- 
sation, he declared, could wield a more potent influence in 
stimulating and directing this movement than the New York 
Bankers' Association. He especially advised them to — 

Lend money liberally, if assured that it will be used intelligently 
and economically in increasing the productivity of the farm by 
drainage and by fertilisation ; because these things will double 
the value of the farm, double the prosperity of the community, 
and in turn double the deposits and increase the dividends of 
your bank. 

While public authorities, experiment stations and agricultural 
colleges can contribute much in the way of stimulating interest 
in this agricultural awakening by disseminating accurate know- 
ledge and the results of scientific research, the most important 
feature of the work is personal counsel and advice from those who 
thoroughly understand its economic significance and in whose 
judgment the farmers are accustomed to place most confidence. 
No body of men is so favourably situated, or is better equipped 
by exp^ence and influence to further this movement than the 
bankers of this State. 

To take advantage of this opportunity is to exercise construc- 
tive statesmanship of the highest order ; and the imagination 
can conceive of no higher duty, no broader patriotism, and no 
more far-reaching philanthropy, than to take part in this vitally 
important work. 

In the further issue of Moody's Magazine for September, 


1912, there was published an article on " Banks for the 
Farmer," by Mr. Myron T. Herrick, the American Ambas- 
sador to France, preceded by an editorial Note stating that 
Mr. Herrick " has been making a special study on behalf of 
the United States Government of the farm financing systems 
of Europe with the object, we understand, of assisting in the 
preparation of legislation for the introduction of similar 
systems " in the United States. It is further mentioned in 
the Note that Mr. Edwin Chamberlain, of the American 
Bankers' Association, was returning from Paris in order to 
address the Savings Bank Section of that Association at 
Detroit, on September 12th, on " European Land and Rural 
Credit Facilities." 

Mr. Herrick says in his article : — 

The course of the industrial development of the United States 
thus far has been such as to stimulate the growth of urban 
population, partially at the expense of the rural districts, until 
the overcrowding in our cities has become a matter of serious 
concern. The pressure of population in the cities has materially 
lowered the standard of living of large numbers of people whose 
ability to participate intelligently in the industrial and political 
affairs of the community is thus lessened. On the other hand 
rural life provides the proper environment for the development 
of a high order of manhood and womanhood. The tendency of 
farm life is to produce a virile citizenship^a class of men and 
women who are actively responsive to their civic duties. It is, 
therefore, of the greatest possible importance to the social, 
political and economic welfare of the country that everything 
possible be done to promote its agricultural interests. 

Heretofore, he proceeds, the conditions of the United 
States have been so favourable to farming that agriculture 
has been regarded as an industry needing little consideration, 
the necessity for the wise development and conservation of 
agricultural resource being overlooked in the eagerness to 
attain commercial and industrial supremacy. The avail- 
ability of virgin fertile land made the farmers careless in 
their methods ; but the time has come when there must be 
adopted methods of cultivation that will yield the greatest 
amount consistent with economical production. Mr. 
Herrick gives figures from the United States census of 1910 


to show the present unsatisfactory, if not actually " alarm- 
ing," status of agriculture there, and he proceeds : — 

Much is now being done by the National Government, the 
States, various associations and individuals to diffuse and magnify 
the interest in farming, to disseminate technical knowledge of 
agriculture, to encourage higher standards of cultivation, to 
eliminate waste, and to make rural Hfe more attractive. All this 
is excellent and necessary, but it also is essential to provide some 
means by which farmers can secure at low rates the funds they 
need to increase the productivity of their land ; otherwise, much 
that is being done to educate farmers in scientific methods will 
be without practical result. 

Some of the older countries, France and Germany, for 
instance, not only taught their farmers how to make their 
land yield maximum crops but set up the financial machinery 
by which they could borrow easily and cheaply the money 
they need to put into operation the things that are taught ; 
and — 

The history of agriculture in France, Germany and other 
countries proves conclusively that one of the essential factors in 
the development and maintenance of scientific farming is the 
existence of facilities whereby landowners can obtain funds on 
favourable terms . . . Whatever else may have been done in 
France, Germany and other countries to raise the standard of 
farming, it is clear that Httle would have been accompUshed had 
the financial needs of farmers been ignored. 

Mr. Herrick comments on the disadvantages under which 
the American farmer suffers when in need of funds by the 
use of which the output of the farm can be increased ; he 
gives details as to what is being done on the Continent of 
Europe to develop agricultural credit, and concludes : — 

The details of the organisation of these societies and companies 
have been fixed by the social and economic conditions of the 
country in which they are located, but American ingenuity surely 
is equal to the task of elaborating and of adapting to conditions 
here the principles that underHe the foreign agricultural credit 
institutions. An intelligent regard for the future status of 
agriculture in this country, and, by consequence, of social and 
economic progress demands that well advised and active measures 
be taken to perfect arrangements whereby farmers, to finance 
legitimate operations, may have access to the broad, steady 
security market now open only to municipalities and to large 
industrial and railroad corporations. Fortunately, the necessity 
of having cheap money to finance scientific farming is widely 

A.o. E 


recognised. Both the RepubUcan and Democratic national 
platforms of this year very properly recommend and urge the 
investigation of foreign agricultural credit organisations as a 
basis of legislation in this country. 

An International Federation. 

Down to 1904 the agricultural co-operative societies of 
Europe in general were content to discuss questions of 
international policy through the International Co-operative 
Alliance, which deals with co-operation in all its various 
phases in the different countries of the world. At the Buda 
Pest Congress of the Alliance, however, held in the year 
mentioned, the representatives of the German and Austrian 
rural co-operative societies dissented from .the passing of a 
resolution hostile to the granting by the State of financial 
aid to co-operative undertakings, and they carried their 
dissent so far as to withdraw from the Congress altogether. 
Three years later, on the initiative of the Imperial Federation 
of German Agricultural Societies, there was formed at 
Lucerne an International Confederation of Agricultural Co- 
operative Societies which was to consist exclusively of 
national federations of co-operative agricultural societies 
and deal only with the special interests of that type of 

The new body held congresses at Vienna, in 1907, and 
Piacenza, in 1908, to discuss matters of policy, and by the 
end of 1910 it had received the adhesion of national or central 
federations in the following ten countries : — Germany, France, 
Austria, Hungary, Italy, Holland, Switzerland, Bulgaria, 
Servia and Finland. These national federations represent 
a total of no fewer than 33,000 agricultural co-operative 

At the conferences already held by the Confederation the 
subjects discussed have mainly related to co-operation for 
production, sale and credit, and the lines of both national 
and international policy that should be taken thereon. In 
regard to production attention was called to the fact that 
the manufacture of fertiUsers by agricultural co-operative 
societies had assumed large proportions in Italy, and the 


suggestion was made that co-operative factories of the same 
kind in various countries should make such mutual arrange- 
ments as would facilitate the sale of their output, and give 
to the co-operative societies in general a still greater degree 
of independence in providing for the needs of their members, 
The view adopted, however, was that, while it certainly was 
desirable that the different countries should exchange ex- 
periences, with the object of concerting measures in common 
to counteract the action of trusts or combinations likely to 
be hostile to agriculturists, it was not at present expedient 
that the societies should enter on the risks and uncertainties 
of international co-operative trading. 

It was further suggested that steps should be taken by the 
Confederation to facilitate the interchange of capital between 
rural credit societies and other agricultural co-operative 
bodies, both nationally and internationally ; and though 
difficulties in the way of international action were once more 
foreseen, the fact that the proposal was brought forward at 
all is further suggestive of the direction that is being taken 
by the minds of leaders of agricultural organisation on the 
Continent of Europe. 

International Institute of Agriculture. 

How universal are the efforts now being made to place 
the interests of agriculture on a sounder scientific and 
economic basis can best be shown, perhaps, by some further 
details respecting the International Institute of Agriculture, 
to which reference has already been made. 

The Institute was established, with headquarters at Rome, 
under an International Treaty, dated June 7th, 1905, in 
order, among other things, " to study questions concerning 
agricultural co-operation, insurance, and credit in all their 
forms, and to collect and pubhsh information which might 
be useful in the various countries for the organisation of 
agricultural co-operative insurance and credit institutions." 
The Treaty was ratified by forty Governments, and ten 
others have since given in their adhesion. Bulletins are 
pubUshed by the Institute on " Agricultural Statistics," 

E 2 


" Agricultural Intelligence and Plant Diseases," and 
" Economic and Social Intelligence," while the various other 
works issued by the Institute include the first of two series 
of " Monographs on Agricultural Co-operation in Various 
Countries." A former member of the staff of the Agricul- 
tural Organisation Society, Mr. J. K. Montgomery, B.A., 
B.Sc, is a member of the literary staff of the Institute's 
Bureau of Economic and Social Intelligence. The full list 
of States adhering to the Institute is given in the official list 
in the following order : — Germany, Argentine RepubUc, 
Austria, Hungary, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, China, 
Costa Rica, Cuba, Denmark, Ottoman Empire, Egypt, 
Ecuador, Spain, United States, Ethiopia, France, Algeria, 
Tunis, Great Britain and Ireland, Australia, Canada, British 
India, New Zealand, Mauritius, Union of South Africa, 
Greece, Italy, Eritrea and Italian Somaliland, Japan, 
Luxemburg, Mexico, Montenegro, Nicaragua, Norway, 
Paraguay, Holland, Peru, Persia, Portugal, Roumania, 
Russia, Salvador, San Marino, Servia, Sweden, Switzerland, 

The Moral for Ourselves. 

Co-operation in agriculture has hitherto been so widely 
associated mainly with Denmark that many English people 
have failed to realise the extent to which the fundamental 
principles involved have already spread throughout the world, 
however much the application thereof may vary according to 
the national circumstances or conditions of the lands 

It has here been sought to show (i) what these funda- 
mental principles are, and, (2) by a few typical examples, 
how they are being applied abroad in actual practice ; and 
the moral we are left to draw is that when so many other 
countries are seeking to re-estabhsh their agricultural, 
their economic and their rural conditions on a firmer and 
better-organised basis, it is incumbent upon ourselves not 
to fall behind in the march of the nations along these all- 
important Unes of material and social progress. 


In order to appreciate more fully the significance for our- 
selves of the agricultural organisation movement which is 
thus spreading throughout the world, it is desirable to obtain 
a clear idea of the position that agriculture still occupies 
among our national enterprises, notwithstanding all that has 
been said concerning agricultural depression, the decline 
of agricultural population, and the comparatively greater 
advance of textile and other industries. 

Agriculture as an Industry. 

As regards persons employed in the United Kingdom, 
figures given in the Board of Trade (Labour Department) 
Abstract of Labour Statistics [Cd. 6228] show that in 1901 
the premier position was still occupied by agriculture, the 
total number of persons employed therein, as compared with 
the figures for various other leading industries, being as 
follows : — 

Agriculture . . . . . . . . . . 2,262,000 

Conveyance of men, goods and messages . . 1,498,000 
Metals, machines, implements and con- 
veyances . . . . . . . . . . 1,475,000 

Textile fabrics . . . . . . . . . . 1,462,000 

Workers and dealers in dress . . . . . . 1,396,000 

Building and works of construction . . . . 1,336,000 

Food, tobacco, drink and lodging . . . . 1,301,000 

Mines and quarries . . . . . . . . 944,000 

Professional occupations . . . . . . . . 734,000 

Commercial occupations . . .. .. .. 712,000 

In the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries Report on the 
Agricultural Output of Great Britain (1912) — deaUng with 


the result of enquiries made in connection with the Census 
of Production Act, 1906 — the number of persons permanently 
employed, throughout the year, on the farms of Great 
Britain only, and excluding all holdings of one acre or less, 
is given for 1908 as 1,673,000, divided into 500,000 occupiers 
and 1,173,000 permanent labourers. In addition to this 
total, however, one must take into account the considerable 
number of persons temporarily employed at various seasons 
of the year, as pickers or otherwise. The number of 
" hoppers," for instance, is estimated at 161,000. 

Large, again, as are the figures in regard to the number of 
those " employed on agriculture," as such, one must further 
bear in mind that there is a wide range of subsidiary 
industries whose workers would not be classed under the 
head of " agriculture," though in supplying agricultural 
implements and machinery, fertilisers, feeding stuffs and 
other requisites, they are, from the industrial standpoint, 
no less concerned in agriculture, and are no less living on 
agriculture, than the farm occupiers and the permanent 
labourers themselves. If, also, we add to those who are 
thus engaged, directly or indirectly, in the production of 
agricultural necessaries the further classes concerned in the 
distribution of such necessaries when they have been pro- 
duced, we shall see that the interests involved in the agri- 
cultural industry as a whole, and in the widest sense of the 
term, are practically illimitable in their extent. 

Agricultural Production. 

In the Board of Trade Report already mentioned the total 
" output " of the agricultural land of Great Britain in 1908 
is stated to be £150,800,000. This figure, however, repre- 
sents the value at market prices of products sold off the farms 
for consumption, the actual " sales " thus dealt with not 
including crops grown for the feeding of stock or for main- 
taining the fertility of the land. The total value, for 
example, of " farm crops " actually grown in 1908 is 


estimated at £125,000,000, whereas the total value of those 
sold, and representing the " output," is given as £46,600,000. 
Nor do the figures in the Report include either the produce 
of land occupied in smaller lots than one acre or the consider- 
able but unknown amount of produce grown under glass. 

Not only is this figure of £150,800,000 admittedly incom- 
plete in itself, but there is difficulty in comparing it with the 
" output " of other industries reported on under the Census 
of Production Act, (i) because " estimated value of the 
materials used " is not deducted in the case of the agri- 
cultural output, though it is in that of the other industries, 
and (2) because the figures given for the agricultural output 
are for Great Britain only, whereas those for the other indus- 
tries are for the United Kingdom. 

Subject to these reservations, I give the following table, 
showing the gross output (in 1908) of agriculture in Great 
Britain as compared with the net output (in 1907) in Great 
Britain and Ireland of a few other typical industries : — 

Agriculture . . . . . . . . 150,800,000 

Mining and quarrying .. .. .. 118,759,000 

Textile trades . . . . . . . . 96,063,000 

Engineering, etc. .. .. .. .. 84,214,000 

Building and contracting trades . . 42,954,000 

Clothing trades . . . . . . . . 39,710,000 

Iron and steel trades . . . . . . 39,578,000 

Chemical and allied trades . . . . 20,879,000 

Metal trades other than engineering . . 20,287,000 

Shipbuilding .. .. .. .. 20,167,000 

From the point of view, therefore, both of persons 
employed and value of output, and even without including 
subsidiary or dependent enterprises and occupations, agri- 
culture must still be regarded as our leading industry. 

Foreign Imports. 

This fact is the more remarkable when we take into 
account the enormous extent of our importations of food 
supplies. These included in the year 1911 the following 
items": — 






Wheat .. 

. . Tons 



Mutton (fresh and refri- 






>f II 




i> i> 



Bacon . . 




Hams . . 




Poultry aUve or 

dead . . 


Butter .. 

. . Tons 



Cheese .. 




Eggs . . 

. Grt. Hndrds 



Lard . . 

.. Tons 







Apples (raw) . 




Grapes . . 




Pears , . 

• I 



Onions . . 





.. Tons 







The sum total of the figures in the last column is 

It will be seen that the largest item in the table is in respect 
to imports of wheat, the value of which amounted to, in 
round figures, £39,000,000, and that the next largest item is 
for butter, which was imported to the extent of £24,600,000. 
One must, however, remember that when the British farmer 
can get a good market in some urban centre for his new milk, 
it pays him better to dispose of it in that form than to 
attempt to compete with the foreigner in turning his cream 
into butter. It should further be remembered (i) that 
many of the commodities imported could not be produced 
at all in this country ; (2) that others come to us at a time 
when, owing to the difference in seasons, our own suppHes 
are not yet ready ; (3) that we could not meet the whole 
of our requirements in regard even to necessaries within the 
range of our climatic or other conditions ; and (4) that in 
the increase of our output in commodities which we could, 
and should, produce on a large scale for ourselves a great 
work can be done by agricultural organisation. 

Still more important is the fact that, although wheat 
production has greatly declined in the United Kingdom, 
increased attention is being paid in this country — under the 


" transition in agriculture " — to other commodities ; and it 
is materially owing to this cause that the agricultural 
industry has maintained the aforesaid standard, notwith- 
standing the substantial nature of the foreign imports. 

This last-mentioned fact is deserving of detailed 

Farm Crops. 

In the Board of Agriculture Report on the agricultural 

output, the gross value, at market prices, of the wheat 

produced in Great Britain in 1908 is given as £10,370,000. 

The value of wheat imported into the United Kingdom in 

the same year was ;^38, 296,000. Here, therefore, the 

foreigner had the advantage. But in regard to the two 

other chief corn crops we get the following values : — 

Barley. Oats. 

i i 

Output in Great Britain . . 9,177,000 13,264,000 

Imported into U.K. .. .. 6,114,000 4,163,000 

Excess of output over imports . . 3,063,000 9,101,000 

The British farmer, again, held his own in respect to the 
following crops, the chief among those that are used for 
fodder : — 






Turnips and swedes 






Clover and " seeds " hay 



Meadow hay- 






Market Garden Produce. 

Then we have the fact that in recent years there has been 
a great increase in the growing of market garden produce on 
both a large and a small scale. 

The growing of vegetables, partly for fodder but mainly 
for human consumption, is a development of modern 
farming of which due account must needs be taken, though 
there is a lack of exact figures as to quantities and values 


owing to the absence of information concerning small plots 
of land of less than one acre, not included in the recognised 
" farming area " of the country. The number of such plots 
was given in the Allotments Return, pubHshed in 1895, as 
579,133. Whatever the present number, it is certain that 
the vegetables grown on them, for sale as well as for con- 
sumption by the occupiers and their families, would, in the 
aggregate, greatly increase the official " output " figures. 
Taking, however, the figures as recorded for the year 1908 
we get the following items : — 















Brussels sprouts 



Broccoli and cauliflowers 



Carrots . . 












The values of a large number of other crops include — 
Mustard, £107,000 ; asparagus, £42,000 ; parsnips, £36,000 ; 
lettuce, £34,500 ; sea kale, £32,000, and beetroot, £26,000. 
Considerable areas are devoted to the growth of crops for 
seeds. The gross value, for instance, of 5,400 tons of clover, 
mangold, turnip, swede, vetches and trefoil seed produced 
on 13,700 acres in 1908 was £132,000. There is, again, a 
large number of crops not of sufficient individual importance 
for separate tabulation. Still another series consists of 
crops indefinitely described as flowers, grass, green crops, 
salad crops, root crops, herbs, bulbs, etc. The amount of 
land devoted to these two groups of crops in 1908 was 
30,000 acres, and the gross value of the produce from them 
was estimated at £352,000. 

The cultivation of flowers for sale on the market has like- 
wise undergone considerable expansion of late years. " In 
many parts of England," says the Board of Agriculture 


Report, " its importance as a means of exploiting land which 
would be less profitably devoted to ordinary farm crops is 
well recognised." The total area in Great Britain thus used 
for the cultivation of flowers and shrubs is estimated at 
4,000 acres, and the gross value of the production is put at 


From the same source we learn that the extent of land 
returned in 1908 as occupied by orchards was 250,297 acres, 
of which 27,433 acres bore smaU fruit as well as tree fruit. The 
area devoted to small fruit alone was 57,447 acres, so that 
altogether the acreage of small fruit, on holdings exceeding 
one acre, was 84,880 ; but the total would be substantially 
increased if plots of less than one acre on which small fruit 
is grown for sale were added. 

Returns for 1908, when the fruit crops were considerably 
below the average, give the following values : — 

Small Fruit : — £ £ 

Strawberries .. .. .. 1,036,000 

Raspberries . . . . . . 309,000 

Black currants . . . . . . 84,000 

Red and white currants . . 69,000 

Gooseberries . . . . . , 208,000 

Other kinds (including mixed) . . 252,000 

Total small fruit .. .. 1,958,000 

Orchard Fruit : — 

Apples .. .. .. .. 1,490,000 

Pears . . . . . . . . 90,000 

Cherries . . , . . . . . 194,000 

Plums .. .. .. .. 357,000 

Other kinds (including nuts and 

mixed) . . . . . . 406,000 

Total orchard fruit . . . . 2,537,000 

Total all fruit . . . . . . 4,495,000 

Cider and Perry. 

In the values of apples and pears, given in the foregoing 

list, are included those of fruit used for making cider, perry 

and cider-perry. The quantities of these beverages produced 

on over-one-acre farms in the chief cider-making counties in 


1908, the total values, and the values of what was sold 

(that is to say the commercial " output," the remainder 

being used for domestic consumption), may be shown 

thus : — 

Beverage. Produced. Value. Value of 

Quantity sold. 
Gallons i £ 

Cider .. .. 17,843,000 381,000 108,000 

Perry .. .. 382,000 8,000 2,000 

Cider-perry , . 1,200,000 21,000 5.000 

Total .. 19,425,000 410,000 115,000 

In addition to the production on farms, there is a consider- 
able output from cider and perry factories, estimated for 
1907 at 2,708,000 gallons, of a value of £153,000, and in- 
creasing the total sales to £268,000. 

Crops under Glass. 

While the Report states that " the great extension which 
has in recent years taken place in the cultivation of crops 
under glass has, of course, considerably increased the total 
output of the land," it confesses that complete statistics in 
respect thereto are not at present available. In regard, 
however, to the one item of tomatoes, the value of the crops 
included in 45 returns from 22 counties is put at £43,000. 
From the returns giving the extent of glass under which the 
crops are grown, it appears that on 20 acres an average of 
over 600 tons of tomatoes was cut, being an average yield of 
over 30 tons, valued at £830, per acre. 

Next to tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes and chrysanthemums 
are most largely grown under glass. Other crops include 
strawberries, peaches, lettuces, radishes, beans, rhubarb and 

The returns in which the area of the glass and the value of 
the produce of all crops grown thereunder were shown give 
a total of 155 acres, with an output of £150,000, or £968 
per acre. 

In the department of Uve stock, the number and the value 


of animals sold off the farms of Great Britain during 1908-9, 
were as follows : — 

Number. Value. 

Horses . . . . . . 53,000 1,590,000 

Cattle and calves . . .. 2,130,000 27,264,000 

Sheep and lambs .. .. 9,577,000 18,196,000 

Pigs.. .. .. .. 4,419,000 14,362,000 

Total .. .. .. 16,179,000 61,412,000 


The total value of the wool produced in Great Britain in 
1908 is estimated at, in round figures, £3,100,000. 

Dairy Produce. 

The quantities and values of dairy products sold by the 
farmers of Great Britain in 1908 are calculated as under : — 

Milk, whole 
Milk, skim 
Cream . . 
Butter . . 
Cheese . . 


850,000,000 gallons 
5,900,000 quarts 
490,000 cwts. 
500,000 ,, 








Total value . . 


Here one sees by actual figures how the British farmer 
looks to gain, in regard to dairy produce, from the sale of 
whole milk, in regard to which foreign competition is a 
negUgible quantity, rather than from butter and cheese, 
where the foreigner has a much better chance. It will be 
observed that although we imported in 191 1 butter to the 
value of £24,600,000, British farmers sold, in 1908, whole 
milk of a stiU greater value, while as against their own 
850,000,000 gallons in 1908, the total quantity of fresh milk 
imported into the United Kingdom in that year was only 
10,460 gallons, though in 1911 the imports of fresh milk from 
France and Holland amounted to 120,000 gallons. 


Poultry and Eggs. 

Inasmuch as a very large quantity indeed, in the aggre- 
gate, of poultry must be kept by cottagers and town or 
suburban residents not coming within the scope of the 
official returns, statistics relating only to the number on 
farms of over an acre in size can give no adequate idea of 
the sum total of poultry in Great Britain. It may be, as 
the Report suggests, that the greater part of the less-than- 
one-acre production thus excluded is consumed by the 
poultry-keepers themselves ; but one of the essential objects 
of the co-operative poultry societies of to-day is to enable 
" small " as well as " large " poultry-keepers to market their 
surplus stocks to advantage. 

Still, taking these inadequate official returns as they 
stand, one learns from them that the total value of the 
output of eggs and poultry from the over-one-acre holdings 
in Great Britain is estimated at about £5,000,000. To this 
figure must be added the value of the considerable suppHes 
raised in Ireland. The home production, however, is still so 
far short of the demand that, as reference to the table already 
given will show, the value of the eggs imported into the 
United Kingdom in 1911 was nearly £8,000,000. 

The Situation in Brief. 

The final outcome of a comparison between food imports 
and home production is to show that, great as are the former 
in magnitude, they are still materially less than the food 
supplies we raise for ourselves. 

This fact was well shown by Mr. R. H. Rew, C.B., one of 
the assistant secretaries of the Board of Agriculture, in a 
paper on " The Nation's Food Supply," which he read at 
the 1912 meeting of the British Association. Dividing home 
production from imports, deducting exports, and omitting 
sugar, tea, coffee and cocoa, for which there is no corre- 
sponding home production, Mr. Rew gave the following 



figures in regard to items which may fairly be regarded as 
comparable : — 


Wheat, grain and flour . . 


Poultry, eggs, rabbits and 


Dairy produce 


Home Production. Imported. 











;{i8o,ooo,ooo ;£i67,ooo,ooo 

If the total value of the imports is deducted from that of 
the home production, there will be found a balance of 
£13,000,000 in favour of the latter ; but this balance would 
be substantially increased if there could be added to it the 
value of the home production on small holdings and gardens 
not included in the official returns. 

While, therefore, the agricultural position in Great Britain 
to-day may still be discouraging for the gentleman farmer 
of the olden type, who finds it so difficult to compete with 
the wheat imports from other countries, the facts and figures 
here presented show that the situation still affords plenty of 
encouragement to working farmers, market gardeners, dairy 
farmers, live-stock breeders, and small holders producing 
other crops or other alternatives to wheat-growing. 

As against restriction of opportunities in some directions 
there has, in fact, been a widening out of opportunities in 
others ; though the later developments have applied mainly 
to " smaller " types of producers, and that, too, under 
conditions which render especially desirable and necessary 
an ever-increasing resort in Great Britain, as in other 
countries, to agricultural organisation. 

Need for Organisation. 

Most of the fundamental reasons for agricultural organisa- 
tion which apply to the countries of the world in general, 


apply equally well to this country ; but there is here this 
further consideration, — that in improving their own agri- 
cultural position, and in extending the volume of their own 
output, many of these other countries — including most of 
those on the continent of Europe, together with Canada, 
Australia, South Africa and Argentina — are looking to 
British markets as a means of disposing of their own surplus 

Thus the more that agricultural organisation spreads 
abroad, the more will foreign competition increase on our 
own markets, and the greater will be the need for the British 
farmer to defend his own interests by himself also resorting 
to the same principle. 

This is not the place in which to discuss disputed questions 
in regard to protective duties. It might, nevertheless, be 
pointed out that, even assuming such duties should be 
imposed in the interests of British farmers, they might fail 
in their purpose unless, with the help of agricultural organisa- 
tion, the British farmer secured, as far as possible, the same 
economic advantages as the foreigner had gained by that 
means, since the savings effected by the foreigner, together 
with his better system of marketing, might stiU enable him 
to compete successfully with our own growers when these 
were producing at greater cost and marketing under less 
satisfactory conditions. 

The phases of agricultural organisation more especially 
called for in Great Britain are : (i) economic production ; 
(2) combination for transport ; and (3) scientific marketing. 


Apart from that question of credit which, as I have shown, 
formed the initial stage of the movement in Germany in the 
middle of the nineteenth century, the beginnings of agricul- 
tural organisation in general are to be found in combination 
for the purchase of agricultural necessaries with a view both 
to economy in production and to a guarantee of good 



Such need has more especially been found in regard to the 
purchase of artificial fertilisers. 

The magnitude of the manufacturing industry to which 
the use of these now indispensable requisites in farming has 
led in Great Britain is suggested by the following figures 
for 1907, taken from the Board of Agriculture Report on the 
Agricultural Output : — 



Basic slag 






Sulphate of ammonia , , 



Other manures 



Total . . . . . . 1,558,000 6,671,000 

Imports of fertihsers into the United Kingdom in the same 
year amounted to a total of 296,000 tons, valued at £1,703,000. 
Deducting net exports from the home production, and 
omitting the figures for Ireland, the Board of Agriculture 
Report calculates that the value of the artificial fertilisers 
available for use on farms in Great Britain in 1907 was 
between £2,900,000 and £3,900,000. 

The world's consumption of nitrate of soda in 191 1 is 
shown by Messrs. W. Montgomery & Co., in a report on the 
fertiliser industry in that year, to have been 2,394,000 tons, 
as compared with 2,241,000 in 1910, an increase of 4*82 per 
cent. An analysis of the European consumption in 1911 
as compared with 1910 gives the following figures : — 








Per cent. 

Per cent. 

United Kingdom . . 





Germany . . 








Belgium . . 





Holland . . 





Italian and Aus- 

trian ports 





Manufactured feeding stuffs available for consumption in 
Great Britain in 1907, as given in the Board of Agriculture 
Report, are valued as follows : — 

A.O. F 


Com offals and feeding meals . . 15,500,000 

Oilcakes and other feeding stuffs . . 7,500,000 

Total . . . . . . . . 23,000,000 

These figures sufficiently confirm what has already been 
said as to the results of advanced scientific methods of 
agriculture in leading to the creation of great industrial 
and commercial interests whose main concern in the agricul- 
ture on which they have flourished has naturally been the 
particular extent to which the supply of its needs would 
tend to their own benefit. 

Taking further into account what British farmers must 
pay in the course of a year for seeds, implements, machinery 
and other necessaries, it will be found obviously to their 
advantage, as an ordinary business proposition, to resort to 
joint action in order (i) to buy wholesale instead of retail ; 

(2) to obtain effective guarantees of good quality ; and 

(3) to protect their own interests generally against powerful 
combinations on the part of manufacturers or middlemen 

All these things have a direct bearing on cost of production, 
and the same consideration is involved in the setting up of 
co-operative dairies, cheese factories, etc. 


In Great Britain, where agricultural production in general 
is on a smaller scale, and much of the home produce goes 
direct from the place of origin to the place of consumption, 
there is not the same opportunity for making up train-load 
lots as in countries which not only produce on a very large 
scale but regularly make up such lots for shipment to this 
country ; though it must be remembered that, while the 
foreign produce received here in these large quantities thus 
secures the lowest rates for transport, the material considera- 
tion is, not the amount they have paid for the journey from 
the port of arrival to (say) London (which amount forms part 
only of a through rate, and is influenced by bulk of consign- 
ment, packing, etc.), but the sum total of the charges for 


their transport from point of despatch, the said total requir- 
ing to be covered by the market receipts before there can be 
any question of profit on the sale. 

No one suggests that the rates for the transport of foreign 
produce should be raised in order, as it were, to " protect " 
the British farmer against the foreigner ; but there have been 
suggestions that the rates charged to the British farmer 
should be lowered. 

To this it has been replied (i) that the railway companies 
cannot afford to charge the same rates for small consignments 
of produce, collected from wayside stations, inadequately 
packed, and involving a proportionately higher cost for 
transport, as they charge for large consignments carried 
under the most economical conditions from the point of view 
of working expenses ; (2) that these differences in charges do 
not constitute an undue preference ; and (3) that the railway 
companies already have on their books lower rates by which 
British producers can send if only they will, where necessary, 
combine their consignments so as to make up the specified 
lots in respect to which these lower rates are available. 

Combination brought about through agricultural organi- 
sation should allow of greater advantage being taken of 
these existing opportunities, and also — when the facilities 
thus already available have been exhausted — place the 
associated producers in a better position to offer representa- 
tions to the railway companies in regard to other matters 
on which they may desire to make their views known. 

There is the more need for such combination for transport 
since in dealing with markets where competition — whether 
foreign or home — often reduces the chances of profit to a 
minimum, it may be of no less importance to secure the 
lowest possible railway rates than it is to effect all practicable 
economies in production. 

Scientific Marketing. 

Regarding agriculture in the Hght of a business enter- 
prise, much — though not everything — must needs depend 


on the prices obtained for the commodities sold on the 

In the making up of the final accounts, undue cost either 
of production or of transport may nullify the profits that 
would other\vise have been obtained from market returns in 
themselves fair and reasonable ; but assuming that, by 
means of combination, the growers have kept (i) cost of 
production and (2) cost of transport to a minimum, they may 
still have unsatisfactory returns if the market prices should 
be inadequate, or if there should be too many middlemen, 
each wanting his profit or commission. Left to their own 
resources, and acting as individuals, the producers may fail 
to grow the quaUties suited to particular markets ; they may 
err on the side of growing too many varieties of a certain 
commodity, and they may show such a deficiency of know- 
ledge in picking, grading and packing that, notwithstanding 
their greater nearness to home markets, they will fail to over- 
come the competition thereon of foreigners who, thanks to 
effective organisation, send their commodities to us in a way 
more likely to secure the favour of purchasers. 

These considerations especially apply to the fruit and 
market gardening industry, which, owing to the perishable 
nature of the commodities concerned, are in greater need of 
effective organisation than any other branch of agriculture 
or horticulture. 

Under established conditions growers throughout the 
greater part of England generally attempt to solve the 
problem of marketing by consigning to one of three markets 
— London, Manchester or Liverpool ; and, as the result of 
this practice, a glut may be brought about on any one of 
these markets, with the inevitable result of unsatisfactory 
prices, when but few suppHes are going direct from the 
growers to numerous smaller markets the wants of which 
are catered for by middlemen dealers, who thus obtain profits 
which ought, rightly, to come into the pockets of the pro- 

Scientific marketing thus means, in the first instance, 
improved methods of distribution. 


More Markets Wanted. 
Writing on the subject of markets in its issue of March 30th, 
1912, the Flower, Fruit and Vegetable Trades Journal said : — 

With the increased acreage under cultivation, the fruit industry 
demands more and better markets in London and the provinces. 
It is absurd that in London alone there should be so few wholesale 
markets. Those existing are inadequate, shut in, and over- 
crowded, the worst case being that of Covent Garden Market. 
The time has come when there should be founded open markets 
in the inner circle of the London suburbs. Markets in such places 
would prove a great boon to suburban dealers and greengrocers, 
and also to those growers who at present have to send their 
vehicles right into the crowded heart of London. .... Many more 
markets might well be estabhshed in the great industrial centres 
in the north. 

Marketing Methods. 

Whether, too, there be any glut on the leading markets 
or no, and whatever the market to which produce is con- 
signed, there is the consideration that the individual grower 
is, in any case, generally at the mercy of the commission 
agent with whom he deals. 

Our marketing methods were subjected to very severe 
criticism at a conference of fruit-growers in the Common- 
wealth of AustraHa held at Hobart, Tasmania, in October, 
1911. One speaker, Mr. W. D. Peacock, whose firm, he said, 
had exported in a year 196,000 cases of their own, apart 
from consignments on commission, gave an account of his 
experiences in England, saying, among other things : — 

The trouble in London was that there were so many people 
receiving fruit, and so many putting it on the market at the same 
time. There was no co-operation in any shape or form. With 
regard to Covent Garden itself, it was a commercial disgrace. 
There was really no system there, and it was an absolute impos- 
sibility for any man to follow his fruit through there and know 
exactly what he made. There was no system and many of the 
brokers kept no books. ... All through he had not the slightest 
doubt he was being got at, on Covent Garden, and he had no 
doubt he was being got at now. 

In discussing marketing methods in general, and in point- 
ing more especially to the want of an outlet of such a nature 


as to ensure that honest and best returns will be received for 
the produce sent to market, an organiser of the Agricultural 
Organisation Society reports : — 

I know instances of men posing as commission agents who are 
not on a level from the point of view of honesty with the ordinary 
hawker, though to judge by their beautifully-got-up letter-paper 
one would really think they were men of great importance and 
thoroughly to be rehed upon. In one case that I know of a 
grower sent £40 worth of goods to a man of this type, and has not 
yet received a single penny. Another salesman had a ton of 
fruit sent to him, and after a good deal of writing the grower 
obtained £^, though the current market price was £18. These 
are not the worst cases I know of ; I could give scores of others. 

If, instead of consigning to distant markets, the grower 
disposes of his produce to a higgler who comes to his door, to 
an agent who buys the crop as it stands, or to a dealer in the 
market of the neighbouring town, he may still receive less 
than he might obtain through an agricultural co-operative 
society specially organised for the purposes of sale, while the 
said society would save him the time he would otherwise 
have to devote either to going to market or in hawking 
round his produce in his own neighbourhood, thus enabling 
him to devote more attention to his proper work of pro- 

Utilisation of Surplus Stocks. 

In addition to more markets and improved marketing 
methods, there is a great need in England for some organised 
system under which, in times of over-production, suri lus 
stocks can be kept back from markets already over-supplied 
and on which they would only lead to a lowering of prices 
all round, and be converted, instead, into bottled fruits, 
dried vegetables or other saleable commodities on which, 
apart from the consideration just suggested, additional 
profits might be made. The same course should be adopted 
in regard to lower grades of produce which would equally 
prejudice the market prices but might well be used for these 
other useful and remunerative purposes. 


The " Back to the Land " Movement. 

Various schemes in regard to the conditions under which 
land should be held by cultivators in this country are now 
under discussion, and the problem of tenancy (whether under 
private or pubhc authorities) versus peasant proprietary is 
engaging considerable attention. 

Here, however, we are concerned only in the fact that, 
whether the producers settled, or about to settle, on the land 
are owners or only tenants of their holdings, it will be 
equally necessary that they should be enabled to raise, 
consign and market their produce under the most favourable 
conditions ; and, speaking generally, it will be impossible 
for them to do this without the help of co-operation. 

Much has been heard about settling more people on the 
land through the action of the State. If the people so settled 
propose to do no more than raise supplies for their own 
consumption they may do so with complete success. If they 
propose to raise supphes for sale, and if, in doing this, they 
remain individual units, each paying an unduly high price 
for his necessaries, consigning otherwise than at the lowest 
railway rates, and seUing under such conditions that the 
chances will be all against him, then the result of the State 
experiment may be little less than a complete failure. 

Shortcomings of State Aid. 

In addition to encouraging more people to settle on the 
land the State has at different times given much active 
support to agricultural research with a view to increasing 
and improving production ; but increased production for 
sale is not of much use without adequate opportunities for 
successful distribution of the commodities produced, and 
hefe the action of the State has stopped short. 

It may well be said that marketing is not the work of the 
State, and that there would be difficulties in the way of the 
State undertaking it. But the shortcomings of State action 
in this respect can well be made good by the efforts of an 
independent organising body, able to act without the dis- 


advantages that would needs arise when the State sought to 
deal with questions as to the business relations between 
producers, dealers and consumers. 

Agricultural organisation is thus not superseding, but 
supplementing, State action. It is simply the logical, though 
indispensable, sequel thereto. 

Rural Hqusing. 

Another subject which has attracted considerable attention 
of late is that of rural housing. 

There are not sufficient cottages in the country districts, 
and one of the principal reasons why more are not built is 
that labourers cannot afford to pay the rents which would 
have to be paid to ensure a reasonable return on construction 
— and especially on the construction of the superior type of 
cottages that may alone be built under what are declared to 
be unduly exacting rural bye-laws. 

The alternative would seem to rest between (i) an altera- 
tion in the bye-laws, so as to allow of cheaper cottages ; 
and (2) the payment of higher wages which would permit, 
in turn, of higher rents. The adoption of the former remedy 
may be hoped for in course of time ; that of the latter is 
objected to by the farmers on the ground that they cannot 
afford to pay higher wages. 

If, however, by means of agricultural co-operation, the 
farmers are enabled to effect material savings in production 
and on transport, and, at the same time, secure a better 
return from sales, they should then be well able to give the 
higher wages which would enable their labourers to pay 
reasonable rents for decent cottages. 

Many, if not most, of the arguments advanced in favour 
of the fundamental principles of agricultural credit, as 
adopted in Germany, Denmark and other foreign countries, 
apply with equal force to Great Britain, and they do so with 
this additional consideration as regards ourselves — that here 
the agriculturist's opportunity of securing credit through the 


local joint-stock bank is decreasing owing to the tendency 
for such local banks to be acquired by and amalgamated with 
great banking concerns in London which operate them more 
from the point of view of London City, or international, 
finance, and have a less intimate knowledge of, and a less 
sympathetic feeling towards, the farmer and his needs than 
the private bankers whose place they are taking. 

In Great Britain, therefore, further facihties are wanted, 
not alone for small holders, but for large sections of farmers 
as well ; and once more we find good reason why Great 
Britain, no less than the other countries of the world, should 
have an efficient scheme of agricultural organisation. 


It was in Ireland that, thanks mainly to the practical 
patriotism and untiring zeal and devotion of Sir Horace 
Plunkett, the principle of agricultural co-operation was first 
estabhshed in the United Kingdom. 

Ireland had suffered no less than other countries from the 
various conditions affecting agriculture in Europe generally 
of which I have already spoken, besides having difficulties 
and disadvantages essentially her own ; and, struck by the 
state of things he saw around him in Ireland on his return 
from a prolonged residence in the United States, Sir Horace 
(then Mr.) Plunkett conceived the idea, in 1889, of taking 
action with a view to bringing about an economic improve- 
ment in Irish conditions on the lines of combined action. 

At that time agricultural co-operation was, of course, far 
less developed in European countries than is the case to-day, 
and the only precedent which Sir Horace was then able to 
find for the New Movement he proposed to start was the one 
furnished by the Co-operative Movement in England, which, 
however, originally founded by the Rochdale Pioneers, was 
mainly concerned in the creation of consumers' societies for 
the supply of household or other requisites. So, in company 
with Lord Monteagle and Mr. R. A. Anderson, his first two 
associates in the campaign on which he started. Sir Horace 
became a regular attendant at the congresses of the Co- 
operative Union in England and a no less persistent seeker 
for information at the headquarters of the Union in Man- 
chester. From such champions of co-operation as Vansittart 
Neale, Tom Hughes and George Holyoake much sympathy 
and encouragement were received. An Irish section was 
set up by the Co-operative Union which, also, contributed to 


the initial expenses of the propaganda, and from 1889 to 
1894 the " New Movement " in Ireland was little more than 
a reproduction of what was then an old movement in 

Experience soon convinced Sir Horace that the regenera- 
tion of Ireland's economic condition was not to be brought 
about by the establishment of co-operative stores alone, 
and that advancement of the agricultural interests on which 
that country depended in so material a degree should be 
sought chiefly by an adoption of the principle of co-opera- 
tion in production, more especially in regard to those butter 
supplies to the provision of which the agricultural and 
climatic conditions of Ireland were especially adapted. In 
this way there was evolved by Sir Horace Plunkett a scheme 
for the creation of co-operative dairies in Ireland some time 
before he learned that such dairies were then already an 
established institution in Denmark. 

In 1893 the English Co-operative Wholesale Society began 
to start creameries of its own in Ireland. " In the profits 
and management of these concerns," as Sir Horace said, 
when addressing the Economic Society of Newcastle-on-Tyne 
on October 27th, 1898, " farmers had no share. This was 
so diametrically opposed to the principles of co-operation, 
as we understood them, that the two movements became 
independent of each other." 

In April, 1894, the movement for agricultural co-operation 
had so far expanded — although the number of local dairy 
societies was still comparatively small — that a new organisa- 
tion, under the title of the Irish Agricultural Organisation 
Society, and looked upon as " the analogue of the Co-opera- 
tive Union in England," was formed to carry on a work of 
promotion and supervision which had become, as Sir Horace 
told, " too onerous and costly for a few individuals to bear." 
Men of all creeds and parties joined it, and undertook to 
supply funds for what was regarded as a five years' experi- 
ment, though one which, as the result proved, was to be so 
successful that the Society became established on a 
permanent basis. 


Apart from the initial idea in regard to co-operative 
stores, agricultural co-operation in Ireland had thus resolved 
itself at the outset into an appHcation of the co-operative 
principle to the dairying industry. On this point Sir Horace 
further said, in his address to the Newcastle-on-Tyne 
Economic Society : — 

We selected for our first essay the dairying districts of the 
South for several reasons. If we had begun in the more advanced 
parts of Ireland, while failure would have been fatal, success 
would not have carried conviction as to the applicability of our 
scheme elsewhere. Moreover, the dairying industry was just 
then undergoing a complete revolution. The market was 
demanding, in butter as in other commodities, large regular 
consignments of uniform quality. The separator and other 
newly-invented machinery were required to fulfil these conditions. 
The factory system was superseding home production, and the 
only way in which farmers could avail themselves of the advan- 
tages of the new appUances which science had invented, but 
which were too costly for individual ownership, was by com- 
bining together to erect central creameries, to own and work 
their machinery themselves at their own risk and for their own 
profit. No better advice could just then be given to the Irish 
farmers than that they should follow where the Danish farmers 
had led. 

The difficulties of the task, however, were formidable in 
the extreme. It was far from sufficient to convince the 
farmers of the economic advantages of co-operative action. 
The real difficulty began with an attempt to clear their 
minds, not only of suspicions of sinister motives on the part 
of their advisers, but also of their innate distrust both of 
one another and even of themselves, and the chances of 
success appeared to be entirely against the pioneers of the 
movement. On this point Sir Horace Plunkett observed in 
his Newcastle address : — 

The superior persons who criticised our first endeavours at 
organising dairy farmers told us that the Irish can conspire 
but cannot combine ; the voluntary association for humdrum 
business purposes, devoid of some rehgious or political incentive, 
was alien to the Celtic temperament, and that we should wear 
ourselves out crying in the wilderness. Economists assured us 
that, even if we ever succeeded in getting farmers to embark 
in the enterprise, financial disaster would be the inevitable 
result of the insane attempt to substitute, in a highly technical 


manufacture, democratic management for one-man control. 
We admitted the force of these objections, but having an un- 
bounded faith in the latent capacities of our countrymen, and 
knowing that success in this first application to a great national 
industry of organised self-help would open up prospects of 
amelioration in every department of Irish agricultural life, we 
determined to persevere until practical demonstration had proved 
us right or wrong. 

Fifty meetings were attended by Sir Horace Plunkett 
before a single co-operative creamery had resulted there- 
from, and nearly two years elapsed before a second was 
formed. For a long time he found the work of organising a 
wearisome business. On one occasion his audience consisted 
of the dispensary doctor, the village schoolmaster and the 
local sergeant of police. In some reminiscences of those 
days, published in the Irish Homestead, Mr. Anderson (who 
sometimes accompanied Sir Horace and sometimes held 
meetings of his own) wrote : — 

It was hard and thankless work. There was the apathy of 
the people and the active opposition of the Press and the poli- 
ticians. It would be hard to say now whether the abuse of the 
Conservative Cork Constitution or that of the NationaUst Eagle 
of Skibbereen was the louder. We were " killing the calves," 
we were " forcing the young women to emigrate," we were 
" de.>^troying the indu=;try." Mr. (Sir Horace) Plunkett was 
described as a " monster in human shape," and was adjured to 
" cease his hellish work." I was described as his " Man Friday " 
and as " Roughrider Anderson." Once when I thought I had 
planted a creamery within the precincts of the town of Rath- 
keale, my co-operative apple-cart was upset by a local sohcitor, 
who, having elicited the fact that our movement recognised 
neither pohtical nor religious differences, that the Unionist- 
Protestant cow was as dear to us as her NationaUst-Catholic 
sister, gravely informed me that our programme would not suit 
Rathkeale. " Rathkeale," said he, pompously, " is a Nationalist 
town — Nationalist to the backbone — and every pound of butter 
made in this creamery must be made on Nationalist principles, 
or it shan't be made at all." This sentiment was applauded 
loudly, and the proceedings terminated. 

On another occasion, mentioned by Sir Horace in his book, 
" Ireland in the New Century," a project for the conversion 
of a disused mill into a creamery had to be abandoned 
because the stream of water connected with the mill passed 


through a conduit Kned with cement originally purchased 
from a person who occupied a farm from which another man 
had been evicted. 

These early difficulties were overcome in course of time, 
and the new Society not only gained greater support, but was 
enabled to broaden out its sphere of operations and take up 
other important branches of agricultural co-operative action 
besides the co-operative dairies, and notably so in regard to 
the formation of agricultural credit societies, which were to 
render an invaluable service in providing Irish cultivators 
with a ready means of obtaining small sums for reproductive 
purposes without having to submit to the merciless exactions 
of the " gombeen man " or other local moneylender or trader. 

Expansion of the Society's activities followed more 
especially on the proceedings of a committee of represen- 
tative men of all parties which Sir Horace Plunkett was the 
means of constituting in the Parliamentary recess of 1895 
(hence known as " The Recess Committee "), to consider 
what measures could best be adopted to promote the 
development of agriculture and industries in Ireland. The 
Committee caused inquiries to be made in Continental 
countries as to the methods by which Ireland's chief foreign 
rivals had been enabled to compete successfully with Irish 
producers even in their own markets, and a report on this 
subject was issued in August, 1896, accompanied by a 
recommendation that there should be created a Department 
which, adequately endowed by the Treasury, and having 
a president directly responsible to Parhament, would 
administer State aid both to agriculture and to industries in 
Ireland upon certain specified principles. This recommen- 
dation was based on what had been found to be a policy 
adopted in certain Continental countries, while the proposal 
to amalgamate agriculture and industries under one Depart- 
ment was, as Sir Horace Plunkett explains in " Ireland in 
the New Century," " adopted largely on account of the 
opinion expressed by M. Tisserand, late Director-General 
of Agriculture in France, one of the highest authorities in 
Europe upon the administration of State aid to agriculture." 



A Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction 
was duly created under the authority of an Act of Parliament 
passed in 1899, and the organisation of this Department 
included, in turn, a Council of Agriculture and two Boards 
of which one was concerned with agriculture and inland 
fisheries and the other with technical instruction. The 
Department reheved the Society of the cost of a consider- 
able amount of the technical instruction it had previously 
given as a necessary adjunct to the work of organisation, 
to which it was now enabled completely to devote itself, 
and further agreed to defray the expenses of the I. A. O. S. 
in organising and supervising agricultural credit societies and 
subsequently also certain other kinds of societies. The 
grant in respect to these expenses for the year ending 
February 28th, 1906, amounted to £2,000. There then 
came into force a new arrangement under which a grant was 
made to the general expenses of the Society on the basis of 
its income from voluntary sources, though the amount to be 
given was in no case to exceed ;^3,700. This arrangement 
lasted only until the end of 1908, when the Department 
ceased to give a grant to the Society, which, however, still 
continues to receive a small grant from the Congested 
Districts Board, fixed in that year at £350 per annum. To 
the question of grants from the Development Fund to the 
Irish Agricultural Organisation Society reference will be 
made in the chapter that follows. 

The present position of agricultural organisation in Ireland 
is shown approximately by the following table, taken from 
the report of the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society for 
the year ending June 30th, 191 1 : — 






Dairy societies 
Auxiliary societies not 
separately registered 
Agricultural societies 
Credit societies 



















Poultry societies 
Home industries socie- 







Miscellaneous (includ- 
ing bacon-curing 
societies) and bee- 






Flax societies 











These figures, however, are not complete, inasmuch as 
particulars of membership were not obtainable from 21 
creameries, 15 agricultural societies, 26 credit societies, 
I poultry society and 8 miscellaneous societies ; and parti- 
culars of turnover were not obtainable from 18 creameries, 
31 agricultural societies, 57 credit societies, 5 poultry 
societies, 13 home industries societies, 4 flax societies, and 
30 miscellaneous societies. The societies failing to furnish 
statistics include new societies, societies not carrying out 
any operations during the year, etc. 

Since the Society started, the total turnover has been 
close on ;^22,ooo,ooo, included in this figure being ;f 16,316,000 
on account of butter sales, and ;^4i2,ooo, the total amount 
of loans granted by credit societies. On its work the Society 
has spent, altogether, over £100,000 ; but it is estimated 
that on the co-operative creameries alone the additional 
gain through the organisation is now £400,000 a year. 

It will be seen that the leading position in regard to 
agricultural organisation in Ireland is still occupied by the 
co-operative creameries, the success of which, indeed, had 
led capitalists to set up proprietary creameries on their own 
account, so that already in 1907 the Irish Agricultural 
Organisation Society was able to report that the available 


ground for dairies had been almost completely covered by 
those of the one type or the other.^ 

Apart from the difficulties presented by what may be 
called the " human factor," the founders of the co-operative 
dairies had much^trouble, more especially at first, in obtaining 
efficient managers. Then it was necessary to ensure the 
provision of adequate machinery, notably so in the case 
of pasteurising plant ; much guidance was needed by some 
of the societies in regard to the keeping of the creamery 
accounts ; strict cleanliness in handling the milk had to be 
vigorously insisted upon, and then when the creameries 
had been established, were working satisfactorily, and were 
producing large quantities of butter of the right quality, 
there came the further question of marketing on such lines 
as would ensure the best returns. With a view to over- 
coming this final difficulty, there was formed in 1892 an 
Irish Co-operative Agency Society, Ltd., to assist the 
co-operative creameries in marketing their butter. 

The main feature in connection with the Irish co-operative 
agricultural societies for the supply of requirements is the 
extent to which they carry on their trade through the 
federated body known as the Irish Agricultural Wholesale 
Society, Ltd. One of the first achievements of this organisa- 
tion was the breaking up of a " ring " of artificial manure 
manufacturers, with the result that prices were reduced by 
about 20 per cent. The " ring " was afterwards re-formed, 
and the Wholesale Society had a renewal of the same diffi- 
culties for a time ; but these were eventually overcome. 
Trouble was, however, still experienced in regard to the 
implement manufacturers. In the sale of seeds of guaranteed 
purity at the lowest prices the Agricultural Wholesale 
Society has rendered good service to the Irish farmers. The 
greater part of co-operative trade in agricultural require- 
ments in Ireland is, in fact, done through the Society, which 
has depots in DubHn, Belfast, Sligo, Foynes, Thurles, 

' The position in Ireland in this respect compares strongly with that in 
England, where the principle of co-operative dairies has undergone but 
comparatively little development because of the greater advantage 
derived by the farmer from sending his milk to the towns. 

A.O. G 



Cahirciveen, Cork and Waterford, and agents in the principal 
cities in Great Britain for the marketing of eggs, honey, etc. 
It also has a Banking Department which grants loans to 
trading societies experiencing difficulty in arranging for 
financial accommodation. The progress which has been 
made by the affihated societies since 1906 is shown by the 
following table : — 

Year . . 

. Societies. 


1906 . . 



1907 . . 






1909 . . 


. . 104,326 






.. 132,929 

Credit societies play a still more important role, perhaps, 
in Irish agricultural organisation to-day than the creameries 
which preceded them in order of establishment. Ireland is 
better adapted than Great Britain for a widespread system 
of credit societies on the Raiffeisen model by reason of the 
fact that the peasantry there are on a more equal, and, 
financially, somewhat lower, footing than is the case with 
our own more diversified classes of agriculturists. Aided 
alike by advances from the Department of Agriculture and 
the Congested Districts Board and by generous treatment 
at the hands of the joint-stock banks, the credit societies 
have conferred very great advantages on the Irish peasantry, 
and not on them alone but, also, on the farmers in a higher 
social position who have, in turn, resorted to the same 

Action has also been taken in various directions to promote 
the co-operative sale of produce ; though here there is a 
good deal of scope left in Ireland for further activity ; the 
poultry and egg industry has been more successful when 
carried on by societies established for general trading 
purposes than by societies devoting themselves exclusively 
to this business, while the home industries societies have 
been an especially interesting development of organised 
effort in Ireland. 


While the table given on pp. 79 — 80 is, notwithstanding its 
incompleteness, sufficiently suggestive of important economic 
benefits gained by the Irish people as the result of agricul- 
tural organisation, the moral results have been no less 
remarkable than the material results. 

The Irish peasant has been not only saved by his credit 
societies from the merciless grip of the " gombeen man," 
but he has had instilled into his mind the principle of self- 
help through mutual help ; he has been taught by the same 
credit societies the commercial value of a good name ; he 
has learned to sink distrust and suspicion of his neighbour 
and adopt, instead, a spirit of comradeship towards him ; he 
can lay aside religious and political differences in order to 
discuss with those around him matters concerning their 
common welfare, and he is being subjected to important 
educational influences, either through the village libraries 
that are being set up, or through the instruction in improved 
methods he gets from organisers or other experts. 

Then the social gatherings — dances, concerts, lectures and 
entertainments — organised by his co-operative agricultural 
societies, whether in the village halls specially provided by 
them or otherwise, are bringing fresh life into many an out-of- 
the-way place where great need for it had hitherto existed. 

So the New Movement has not only enabled the Irish 
peasantry to conduct their farming operations on improved 
lines but it has, from the point of view of what may be called 
its " human aspect," created in them a New Spirit which is, 
at the same time, making them better men and women, and 
giving them a New Outlook on Hfe in general. 

The experiences of societies afhhated to the Irish Agri- 
cultural Organisation Society and, also, the point of view 
from which their members regard the work that is being 
carried on, may be illustrated from the following typical 
examples, taken from a pamphlet issued in 191 1 under the 
title " Agricultural Co-operation in Ireland : A Plea for 
Justice by the I.A.O.S." : — 

" It is impossible to estimate the amount of good done and the 
benefits conferred on the farmers of this district since the society 

G 2 


was established by the I.A.O.S. The fields or the farms of mem- 
bers of the society are, as it were, miraculously changed in 
appearance in root, grain, and hay crops, and particularly in the 
pasture that follows. This arises solely from the use of pure 
seeds and highly classed artificial manures, these things having 
been obtained hitherto from pubhcans and grocers, who have 
no knowledge of seeds or manures ; neither knowing how or 
where to purchase, they themselves the victims of low-classed 
artificial manure manufacturers and indiscriminate seed- vendors." 
— Jonesboro' Co-operative Agricultural Society, Co. Armagh. 

" The co-operative movement has saved at least 30 per cent, 
to the farmers of this district in the purchase of artificial manures 
and other agricultural requirements." — Cam Co-operative Agri- 
cultural Society, Co. Roscommon. 

" We made a profit on our trading during the first two years 
of £2^0, and during that time saved £400 to our neighbours in 
the price paid for cakes, coal, twine, manures and seeds, etc., 
besides giving them better quality than they were getting when 
paying higher prices." — Castledermot Co-operative Agricultural 
Society, Co. Kildare. 

" The I.A.O.S., by teaching the farmers to combine for busi- 
ness purposes, has benefited the district to the extent of, 
approximately, £700 a year, not to speak of the social advantages, 
which are incalculable." — Tisara Co-operative Agricultural 
Society, Co. Roscommon. 

" We can now purchase through our own society as much in 
the way of farm implements, seeds, manures, sprajdng material 
and general requirements, of a far superior quahty, for i6s., 
as we could hitherto buy of inferior goods for 20s. In the sale 
of eggs we now receive i6s. for the same quantity which we used 
to sell for I2S." — Inniskeel Co-operative Agricultural Society, 
Co, Donegal. 

" On the trade of ;f 20,000 which we expect to do this year the 
members will be benefited to the extent of at least ;f2,500, and 
probably much more, as compared with the results that would 
be obtained by each member selling his farm produce and buying 
his requirements without the assistance which the society affords." 
— Achonry Co-operative Agricultural and Dairy Society, Co. 

" The members have benefited to the extent of 20 per cent, 
on their turnover, which is £4,000 per annum. This has come 
about by the raising of the price of milk by id. per gallon in a 
few years, not to speak of the good done by showing the farmers 
of the district what they can achieve by co-operation in other 
industries." — Galteemore Co-operative Agricultural and Dairy 
Society, Co. Tipperary. 

" During our thirteen years working . . . our supphers 
have benefited to the extent of £19,000 by adopting the co- 
operative creamery system of butter-making in preference to 


the old disorganised system of every man for himself." — Boyle 
Co-operative Agricultural and Dairy Society, Co. Roscommon. 

" Education of various kinds has been spread, the value of 
union and fraternity has been demonstrated, the suitability of 
a good strain of milching cows and the proper method of feeding 
housing, etc., to provide a big milk supply, have been proved. 
The farmers' income has been increased by increasing his receipts 
per cow, whilst his expenses in marketing his produce have been 
diminished." — Glenmore Co-operative Dairy Society, Co. Kil- 

" The work of the I.A.O.S. in this district has been beneficial 
in so far that it has released its members from the grip of the 
auctioneer and professional moneylender who, as a rule, exact 
from their unfortunate customers from 15 to 20 per cent, 
interest, while the I.A.O.S. obliges these with ready cash at the 
modest charge of 5 per cent." — Cullamore Credit Society, Co. 

" Since the introduction, in 1907, of this form of credit by 
the I.A.O.S. into this district, it has effected a saving of at least 
£1,000 to the 200 farmers who comprise the society," — Culumb- 
kille Credit Bank, Co. Longford. 

" A farmer in the district got a loan, part of which {£1 10s.) 
he used in purchasing an old cow. To-day he owns seven or 
eight good cattle. To value at its true worth this Httle Bank 
one should interview the borrowers, who will explain, with 
natural pride, the help the I.A.O.S. has conferred upon them." — 
Derrylohane Agricultural Bank, Co. Mayo. 

" Immense benefit has resulted to the whole neighbourhood 
from the introduction of this lace industry in bringing in thou- 
sands of pounds, and enabling the people, who formerly were 
without means to do so, to improve their dwellings and the 
general conditions of Ufe." — Ballysakeery Co-operative Home 
Industries Society, Co. Mayo. 

" The I.A.O.S. has imbued the farmers with a spirit of self- 
confidence, of pushfulness and enterprise, of order and method, 
as well individually as collectively." — HoUyford Co-operative 
Agricultural and Dairy Society, Co. Tipperary. 

" Since the establishment of our society the farmers of the 
district are taking a keener and more business view of agricultural 
matters than formerly." — Devon Road Co-operative Creamery, 
Co. Limerick. 

" The work of the County Committee has been made smooth 
and effective in our district, as the County Instructor found an 
organised body of farmers prepared and anxious to receive 
instruction." — Glenlough Agricultural Society, Co. Longford. 

" In our committee we have Orangemen and the other extrem- 
ists, who have learned to trust one another and work together 
for their common good. An improved feeUng between all 
creeds and classes exists in this locality, attributable in a large 


degree to lessons they have learned by co-operation." — Whealt 
Co-operative and Dairy Society, Co. Fermanagh. 

" Our beautiful co-operative hall stands proudly as an example 
of what can be attained by organised co-operative effort." — 
Cushinstown Agricultural Bank, Co. Wexford. 

" Besides teaching how to combine for their mutual financial 
betterment, the I.A.O.S. has had much to do with the visible 
social betterment of our rural community." — Enniscorthy 
Co-operative Agricultural Society, Co. Wexford. 

" The work of the I.A.O.S. has created a new era of prosperity 
for the many farmers in this district." — Athlone Co-operative 
Poultry and Farm Produce Society, Co. Westmeath. 

" Our society, which was organised by the I.A.O.S., has been 
of far greater benefit to the poor congest of this district than 
any Government Board has been for the last fifty years, although 
some of these Boards have spent thousands of pounds of public 
money here." — Templecrone Co-operative Society, Co. Donegal. 

Still wider possibilities in the development of all this good 
work are being opened out by the establishment in Dublin 
of " The Plunkett House," in which the work is now carried 
on. It is the outcome of a movement set on foot in 1908 
for presenting to Sir Horace Plunkett a testimonial in 
recognition of his services to agricultural organisation in 
Ireland, the substantial amount raised being, at the request 
of Sir Horace, devoted to the purchase of a large house 
which would serve as a headquarters for the study of rural 
sociology in addition to providing accommodation for the 
staff of the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society. A 
scheme for "A Country Life Institute : A suggested Irish- 
American Contribution to Rural Progress," was put forward 
in 1909 by Sir Horace, in a Plunkett House pamphlet 
issued under this title. The aim of the Institute is therein 
stated to be : — 

" To advance the well-being of the large and scattered 
agricultural population by bringing together information as 
to the progress of rural communities, by encouraging the 
scientific study and investigation of the conditions which 
contribute to their social and economic advancement, and by 
spreading knowledge and stimulating public opinion on the 
vital importance of a strong farming and rural community 
to the maintenance of the National life as a whole." 


Sir Horace Plunkett's schemes include, in fact, not only 
the spread of agricultural organisation in Ireland, but a 
comprehensive reconstruction of rural life in its various 
phases with a view to retaining people on the soil, and to 
rendering existence in the country districts at once more 
pleasurable and more profitable. It was his ideas on this 
subject that inspired those views thereon of Mr. Roosevelt 
of which mention is made on pp. 45 — 46 

There has now, also, been established in Ireland an 
organisation known as " The United Irishwomen," which, 
operating in affiliation with the Irish Agricultural Organisa- 
tion Society, is to supplement the activities of the sterner 
sex, and operate on lines akin to those of the hundreds of 
Women's Institutes at work in Canada, devoting its own 
energies more especially to (i) agriculture and industries ; 
(2) domestic economy ; and (3) social and intellectual 
development. It is felt that in all three departments there 
is much that women could do for the betterment of rural 
conditions in general, and the scheme in question, first 
started by Mrs. Harold Lett, at Bree, co. Wexford, on 
June 15th, 1910, has since developed into a central union 
and branches under the control of an executive committee 
meeting in Dubhn. Details concerning this most interesting 
movement will be found in a sixpenny pamphlet on " The 
United Irishwomen : Their Place, Work and Ideals," 
published by Maunsel & Co., Dublin. 




So far as can be ascertained, the initial effort in the 
direction of bringing about a general resort in Great Britain 
to agricultural organisation, on co-operative as distinct from 
commercial lines, was made by the Council of the Central 
and Associated Chambers of Agriculture, which, on Decem- 
ber 9th, 1891, appointed a Committee " to consider and report 
by what means the organisation of the Chambers could be 
utilised so as to promote the co-operative principle for the 
benefit of all its members in the purchase of farming 
requisites." This Committee, of which Mr. W. Lipscomb 
was the chairman and Mr. R. H. Rew was secretary, 
presented, on January 31st, 1893, a report which was adopted 
by the Council and circulated among the associated Chambers. 
The " conclusions " given in the report are of some interest 
as showing the point of view from which the subject of 
agricultural co-operation was regarded at that date. They 
were as follows : — 

Your Committee, having regard to the opinions expressed by 
Mr. Greening and Mr. Martyn, and to other facts which have been 
laid before them, do not consider that any scheme taking the 
whole country for its area, and directed from one centre, could be 
usefully adopted, but that the several districts of the associated 
Chambers and Clubs throughout the kingdom would in most 
cases provide suitable areas for co-operation. 

Your Committee desire to caU attention to the fact that there 
are already existing in some localities agricultural co-operative 
associations which might be utilised, and where such do not exist 
your Committee have been given to understand that the Agricul- 
tural and Horticultural Association would be prepared to accept 
the single subscription of the secretary of an associated Chamber 


or Club to enable all the members to secure the benefits of 
membership of that Association. 

Your Committee are of opinion that the basis of " Cash with 
Order " is essential to the success of any scheme for co-operative 
purchase, and that an annual subscription per member of 5s. is 
all that is needed. The articles in regard to which co-operative 
purchase can be most advantageously adopted are manures, 
feeding stuffs, seeds and implements. 

Your Committee have been strongly impressed by the infor- 
mation laid before them, with the advantages which may accrue 
to farmers by the adoption of the principle of co-operation. It is 
evident that with careful management the risk of failure is small, 
as is proved by the fact that, so far as they have been informed, 
no agricultural co-operative association formed for the purpose 
of purchasing farming requisites has failed. Your Committee, 
therefore, very strongly urge the consideration of this subject on 
the members of the Central and Associated Chambers of Agricul- 
ture, in the behef that not only might articles of guaranteed 
quality be procured at prices less than individual purchasers can 
as a rule be charged, but that by incorporating this object among 
the primary functions of farmers' associations an incentive to 
combination will be provided, and a greater union of the agricul- 
tural community will be secured. 

Your Committee recommend that they be re-appointed, so as 
to enable them to give further consideration to the subject when 
the views of associated bodies have been more fully expressed. 
They are further of opinion that, if successful in the establishment 
of co-operative associations for the purposes of purchase, such 
organisations would almost certainly conduce to their utihsation 
for purposes of sale, especially of those products for which the 
price now paid by the consumer is so strikingly in advance of that 
received by the farmer. 

These recommendations attracted some degree of attention 
among the Associated Chambers and Farmers' Clubs, but 
the Committee was not re-appointed, and the matter re- 
mained practically in abeyance, as far as the Central Chamber 
was concerned, until March 3rd, 1896, when, as will be shown 
later on, further action was taken. Meanwhile there had 
been important developments in other directions. 

National Agricultural Union. 

On December 7th, I892, there was held in St. James' Hall, 
Piccadilly, a " National Agricultural Conference " which 
was described in The Times as the outcome of " perhaps the 


most striking movement in the world of agriculture which 
has taken place in our time." 

About two months earlier the Lancashire Federation of 
Farmers' Associations had suggested to the Central Chamber 
of Agriculture that a national conference should be held in 
London to consider the subject of the then seriously depressed 
condition of agriculture. The Central Chamber sent out a 
circular on the subject to its affiliated organisations, and 
" never did an idea catch on," The Times further declared, 
" with greater spontaneity ; never did a movement of the 
kind take such wide and general root in so short a time." 
An organising committee was formed, of which Mr. R. H. 
Rew, who was then associated with the Central Chamber, 
was appointed secretary, and the conference was held, on 
the dates mentioned, " (i) to direct pubHc attention to the 
present grave conditions of agricultural affairs, and (2) to 
ventilate the grievances under which agriculture labours, 
and to consider suggestions for their removal." No fewer 
than 240 societies, clubs or organisations interested in 
agriculture, directly or indirectly, sent representatives ; 
peers, M.P.'s and great landowners, either as delegates or 
because of their occupying distinguished positions in the 
agricultural world, attended to take part with farmers and 
agricultural labourers in considering how a national problem 
could best be solved ; and a gathering of about 2,000 persons 
would have been larger still if more could have been 

Various remedies for the " sore straits " into which, in 
the view of the conference, agriculture had fallen were 
urged, these remedies including currency reform, relief in 
regard to taxation, changes in land tenure, etc. ; but a 
resort to Protection, in order to counteract foreign compe- 
tition, was the proposal that evoked the greatest degree of 
enthusiasm. A resolution in favour of imposing on foreign 
imports " a duty not less than the rates and taxes levied 
on home production " was met by an amendment, proposed 
by Mr. Bear, and seconded by Mr. Yerburgh, M.P., declaring 
that, as it was of paramount importance that the agricultural 


classes represented at the conference should present an 
undivided front to the country, it was desirable that discus- 
sions on questions which, like Protection, were certain to 
cause strong division among those classes, should be deferred, 
and that those questions in respect of which agriculturists 
were practically unanimous should be pressed forward 
instead. The amendment was, however, defeated by a 
large majority, and the carrying of the Protection resolution 
was greeted with loud cheers. Another of the resolutions 
passed by the conference endorsed the principle of Bi- 
metalism. Still another, proposed by Lord Winchilsea, was 
as follows : — 

" That, in view of the present crisis, it is imperative forthwith 
to establish an Agricultural Union, composed of all persons of 
different classes who are interested in the land of the United 
Kingdom, in order (i) to give effect to such resolutions as may be 
passed by this conference ; (2) to frame such measures as may 
from time to time be needful in the agricultural interest ; (3) to 
organise its members into a compact body of voters in every 
constituency pledged to return without distinction of party 
those candidates agreeing to support such measures ; (4) to 
promote the co-operation of aU connected with the land, whether 
owners, occupiers or labourers, for the common good." 

If, said Lord Winchilsea, in proposing his resolution, the 
agricultural interest were organised in the way he advocated, 
he believed they would be able to return a member for every 
county constituency in the United Kingdom. 

The formation of a National Agricultural Union on the 
lines advocated by Lord Winchilsea was the one practical 
outcome of this altogether unique National Agricultural 
Conference, the story of which deserves to be now recalled 
because it shows so clearly what were the ideas then prevalent 
as to the way in which agricultural conditions could best be 
met ; though a leading article in The Times of December 8th 
warned the conference that it was " not by such means " as 
Protection and Bimetalism that the British agricultural 
classes could hope to recover any portion of their prosperity, 
saying, further : — 

They are confronted with a great economic crisis largely 


brought about by causes quite beyond their own control. They 
are in a situation not unlike that which visits the commercial 
community when some great change in the traditional course 
of business has brought loss, and, it may be, ruin to hundreds 
through no fault or error of theirs. In such cases men of intelli- 
gence and resource recognise that there is only one way by which 
they can hope to recover any part of their former welfare. They 
acknowledge that the change is due to the operation of economic 
principles , they study those principles and set to work to 
readjust their business as speedily and as completely as possible 
to the novel conditions which regulate its course. The Agri- 
cultural Conference unhappily seems to have made up its mind 
to defy the recognised laws of economic science instead of 
endeavouring to adapt their farming methods to them. 

Some years were to elapse before this alternative policy of 
action based on sound economic principles was adopted, and 
in the meantime active efforts were made by Lord Winchilsea 
and his supporters to gain wide-spread adhesion to the 
National Agricultural Union, the specific objects of which 
comprised the following items : — 

1. Reduction in local taxation of agricultural property. 

2. Abolition of preferential railway rates on foreign to the 
prejudice of British produce. 

3. Old age pensions. 

4. Amendment of the law relating to the adulteration of food 
and the Merchandise Marks Act. 

5. Amendment of the Agricultural Holdings Act. 

6. Increased facihties for the obtaining of small holdings. 

This programme was accepted by 230 members of the then 
new Parliament, in which Lord Rosebery was Premier, and 
Lord Winchilsea realised his aspirations to the extent of 
seeing formed an Agricultural Party which represented all 
shades of political opinion. 

Among the agriculturists of the country, however, there 
was developed a feeling that something more than Parlia- 
mentary action or agitation was needed to improve their 
position. Complaints were then being more especially made 
against the railway companies, whose alleged undue prefer- 
ence of foreign over British produce was a much-discussed 
grievance which, as will be seen, had found expression in the 
second item on the National Agricultural Union programme. 


Action by Great Eastern Railway. 

It was this particular phase of the controversy that lead 
to an invitation being addressed by Lord Claud Hamilton, 
chairman of the Great Eastern Railway Company, to 
Lord Winchilsea and a few leading agriculturists repre- 
senting the district served by the Great Eastern Railway to 
meet the directors and the principal officers of the company 
at Liverpool Street Station on October 20th, 1895, with a 
view to ascertaining in friendly conference whether the 
railway company could do anything to help the agricultural 
interest. Lord Claud Hamilton was accompanied at the 
conference by the deputy chairman, Colonel Makins, and 
various of the company's officers, while the agriculturists 
were represented by, among others, the Earl of Winchilsea, 
Sir Walter Gilbey, president of the Royal Agricultural 
Society, Mr. M'Calmont, M.P., Captain Pretyman, M.P., 
and Mr. T. Hare, M.P. 

On the part of the railway company it was pointed out 
that while there should, in the interests of all parties con- 
cerned, be a certain co-operation between the railways and 
the producers, it was also essential that each side should 
have its distinct organisation. The railways had organised 
a carrying service, and it was for the producers, in turn, to 
organise their consignments for delivery to the railways and 
for subsequent sale. The greater economy to a railway 
company in deaHng with large or bulked instead of an 
equivalent weight of small and separate consignments was 
pointed to, and the fundamental principle was laid down 
that, if the railways were to help agriculture, agriculture 
should, in turn, faciUtate the operations of the railways. 
To this end Lord Claud Hamilton recommended that there 
should be opened at leading stations in the agricultural 
districts served by the Great Eastern Railway Company 
depots to which the farmers of the locality could send their 
produce in order that, through combination, they could 
secure the lower rates for large collective consignments. 
On the part of the agriculturists these proposals were 


cordially approved, and a few days later it was announced 
that a co-operative association was being formed for the 
purpose, among other things, of establishing depots, as 

At a further conference, a fortnight later, Lord Claud 
Hamilton announced that, as a means both of enabhng farmers 
to send supplies direct to consumers and of solving the pro- 
blem of returned empties, his company had decided upon 
the adoption of a new system for the carriage of farm or 
market-garden produce. Provided that the senders packed 
the produce in wooden boxes to be purchased from the 
company — such boxes having so small a value that there 
would be no question of returning them — and fulfilled certain 
specified conditions, the company would carry the produce 
from close on loo of their country stations at substantially 
lower rates, to include delivery to the consignees. 

This " box system," as it came to be known, met at first 
with much favour. In March, 1896, it was announced that 
the Great Eastern Railway Company would apply the 
system to the whole of their stations in agricultural districts, 
that is to say, to 300 stations instead of 100 ; and that, with 
the help of their station masters, they had, with a view to 
putting producer and consumer into more direct communi- 
cation, compiled a " List of Producers in Cambridgeshire, 
Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk " who were 
willing to supply farm and dairy produce to householders in 
the towns. The list contained 600 names and addresses 
and stated the different kinds of produce which could be 

Other leading railway companies (as will be shown later 
on in the Chapter deahng with " Transport Questions ") 
followed the example set by the Great Eastern alike in 
endeavouring to secure combination among the farmers for 
the purposes of joint consignment, in the estabhshing of the 
" box " system, and in endeavouring in other ways to 
forward the interests of agriculturists. 

In regard, however, to combination, it was subsequently 
stated that although some of the companies went to a great 


amount of trouble, and also to considerable expense, the 
result of their efforts in this particular direction was little 
better than a complete failure. 

British Produce Supply Association. 

In the meantime. Lord Winchilsea had matured his plans 
for a British Produce Supply Association which, formed 
under the auspices of the National Agricultural Union, and 
registered in March, 1896, was looked upon by the more 
sanguine of its supporters as likely to lead to a " new era " 
for the British farmer. 

The objects of the Association were thus explained by 
Lord Winchilsea in an article entitled " Co-operation for 
Farmers," pubUshed in the " British Producers' Handbook ": — 

The object of the Association is to assist the producer in the 
disposal of his produce at every stage from the farm to the 
market. This it proposes to do in the following ways : — 

1. By estabhshing depots for the direct sale of agricultural 
produce, and by selling also, on commission, through salesmen of 
its own stationed in London and in the principal provincial 
markets. By this means the farmer, instead of being obliged to 
consign his produce to salesmen of whom he often knows little, 
and whose returns he has no means of checking, can send it to an 
Association established in his own interest, and thus have a 
satisfactory guarantee that it makes all that it is worth. 

2. By establishing from time to time depots at convenient 
centres in country districts, where produce can be collected and 
consigned to whatever market furnishes the best demand at the 
moment. This arrangement will, it is hoped, in due course 
enable the Association to obtain from railway companies the 
same rates for the carriage of home produce which are now 
granted almost exclusively to foreigners. 

3. By establishing, in connection with one or more of the depots 
according to the nature of the district, an abattoir or a butter 
factory, which will answer the double purpose of effecting a 
further and important economy in the treatment of meat or 
butter produced in the locality, and of serving as models for the 
imitation of associations of farmers in other parts of the country 
which might desire to follow in the footsteps of the parent Society, 
and, while erecting their own abattoir or butter factory, as the 
case may be, to avail themselves of its services for the ultimate 
disposal of their produce in the market. 

4. It aims at gradually organising a better system for the 
collection of produce in rural districts surrounding the depots, a 


system which may, of course, be made available as an outlet for 
many rural industries not immediately connected with agricul- 
ture, but scarcely less valuable as a means of providing occupation 
for labourers and their families during the winter. 

Registered as a limited liability company, the Association 
started with a capital of £50,000. At first the raising of 
£250,000, to allow of operations being carried out on a much 
larger scale, was contemplated ; but the original plans were 
modified for reasons thus explained in an article on " A 
British Produce Supply Association," which I was privileged 
to contribute to The Times of March i6th, 1896 : — 

The reason for this limitation is the idea that, inasmuch as the 
initial efforts will be largely experimental, it would be better not 
to attempt too much at once, and to keep in the background for 
a time a much more ambitious scheme which might be developed 
all the better later on, if the promoters had from the first gained 
experience from actual working on a smaller scale. But the 
Association will, none the less, start under favourable auspices. 
The directors are the Earl of Winchilsea (President of the National 
Agricultural Union), Lord Kesteven, Mr. R. R. B. Orlebar, Mr. 
R. H. Rew (secretary of the Central Chambers of Agriculture), 
and Mr. Cornelius Thompson (late chairman of the committee 
of the Civil Service Supply Association), while the following, 
among others, have expressed approval of the objects in view : — 
The Duke of Portland, the Marquis of Huntly, Earl Brownlow, 
the Earl of Denbigh, the Earl of Jersey, Earl Stanhope, Lord 
Herries, Lord Wantage, the Marquis of Hertford, Mr. James 
Lowther, M.P., Mr. J. K. W. Digby, M.P., Mr. M. D'Arcy Wyvill, 
M.P., Mr. Alexander Henderson, Mr. W. More Molyneux, Mr. 
R. H. Wood, Mr. James Rankin, M.P., Mr. W. H. Hall, and Mr. 
R. A. Yerburgh, M.P. The secretary is Mr. William Broomhall, 
and the offices {pro tern.) are at 30, Fleet Street. As we under- 
stand, the public is not to be asked to subscribe until experience 
has proved the practicabiHty of the scheme. 

For the collection of produce in the country, an agent of 
the Association was to be stationed at some convenient 
market town where, with funds provided weekly by the 
Association, he would purchase supplies direct from the 
farmers, who were to be guaranteed better prices than they 
would be likely otherwise to obtain locally, and be saved the 
trouble of themselves sending their produce away. The 
agent would have a depot at the local railway station, and 
he would there bulk the consignments and get the advantage 


of lower railway rates. It was expected also (to quote 
further from the article in The Times) that " the Association's 
agent would be a sort of technical educator, inasmuch as he 
would point out the faults of the produce he could not 
purchase, and would distribute leaflets and printed instruc- 
tions as to what the Association wanted, and how things 
should be done. Hitherto," it was added, "with purely 
local prices, one farmer has had no inducement to offer 
better commodities than another, but this will be altered 
when the Association's agent practically takes the London 
market into the country." Butter obtained from co- 
operative dairy factories (the Association doing all it could 
to encourage the starting of more of such factories) , and sent 
to London, would be graded and sold under a brand which 
would be a guarantee of purity and of British production. 
In addition to the abattoirs at which the Association 
would kill its own meat, bacon factories were to be estab- 

In regard to sale, the Association was to start with a depot 
of its own in London, to be followed by others in Birming- 
ham, Leeds, Manchester, and other large towns. 

In the country operations were begun at Sleaford (Lin- 
colnshire), where a local Association was formed. In London 
some commodious premises were taken in Long Acre, in 
convenient proximity to Covent Garden and other markets, 
and these were fitted up on the " stores " system, with the 
addition of a club room for the use of shareholders and of 
members of the British Produce League, which had been 
established to encourage the use of British products and the 
employment of British labour. It was hoped that the 
wholesale dealers would support the movement when they 
realised " the practical benefits that the Association aimed 
at securing in the interests of the British agriculturist " ; 
but it was intimated that, if the " trade " held aloof, the 
Association was " fully prepared to deal on a widespread 
basis direct with the consumers." 

The Long Acre depot was opened in October, 1896, and 
at the outset a good business was done ; but difficulties 

A.O, H 


began to be experienced from the start, and they increased 
almost daily in magnitude. 

Producers in the country sold their best qualities to the 
ordinary traders, and expected that an Association started 
in the interests of agriculturists would give them a good 
price for their second-rate qualities. They felt hurt when 
their supplies were rejected, and still more so when the local 
agent started on his educational work of teaching them what 
they ought to do. One or two other local Associations 
were formed, and model rules were drawn up, in the hope 
that still more would follow ; but the progress made in this 
direction was very slight. 

In London itself. Society had shown much sympathy 
towards the scheme while it was being projected ; but 
dwellers in the West End found it inconvenient to deal with 
a depot so far away as Long Acre, and when it was sought to 
overcome their objections in this respect by the opening of a 
West End branch, they would still make no allowance 
for those who could not supply exactly what they wanted, 
while the plea that it was " British grown " did not incline 
them sufficiently to accept produce that was not to their 

The wholesale traders equally failed to show their 
patriotism in studying the interests of the British agricul- 
turist when those interests seemed to conflict with their own 
business. Failing to make satisfactory arrangements with 
the salesmen in various wholesale markets, so that produce 
which could not be disposed of at the depot might be sold on 
commission, the Association obtained stalls of its own in 
Covcnt Garden Market and the Central Meat Market ; but 
once more it was faced with troubles and difficulties. 

In the result heavy losses were sustained. They amounted 
at times to as much as ;i^25o a week ; and it became evident 
that failure could not be averted. The original Association 
— which, it will have been seen, in no degree represented 
co-operative effort — was dissolved, and a new one took over 
what was left of the business ; but the idea of having direct 
dealings with farmers in the country districts was almost 


completely abandoned. Lord Winchilsea died on Sep- 
tember 7th, 1899, his health having broken down as the direct 
result of his excessive zeal in the interests of British 

Reasons for Failure. 

With the wisdom that comes after the event, the reasons 
for the failure of the well-intentioned efforts on the part 
alike of Lord Winchilsea and of the railway companies can 
easily be given. 

Inquiry into the conditions under which the organisation 
of agriculture had been successfully carried out in other 
countries showed that a beginning had invariably been 
made with the simplest forms of combination, and more 
especially with combination for the joint purchase of agri- 
cultural necessaries. In this way the advantages of co- 
operation could be brought home to cultivators, who were 
gradually educated in the theory and practice of combination 
without having their suspicions aroused and their mutual 
distrust stimulated by proposals that they should at once 
alter their old conditions of trading in accordance with that 
system of combination for transport or sale which really 
constitutes, not the beginning of agricultural organisation, 
but one of the most difficult and most complicated of all its 
many phases. 

In the circumstances it was not surprising that the earlier 
efforts here in question should have failed to secure the 
desired results. While, also, they so far influenced public 
opinion as to modify the popular view that " the railways 
were the chief stumbling-block in the way of the development 
of British agriculture," and to show that the most practical 
means of effecting this development would be found in 
agricultural organisation, these initial failures left the 
impression that it was hopeless to attempt to secure that 
remedy here because, as was said, " British farmers won't 
combine." Thus the task to be attempted later on by others 
who were convinced that British farmers would combine if 
only they were approached in the right way was rendered 


even more difficult than it would otherwise have been. 
None the less had it been made evident that the task was 
one to be accompUshed, if at all, by an independent organisa- 
tion, working on purely propagandist lines, and not only 
undertaking duties far beyond the scope of a railway com- 
pany's activities, but also avoiding the risks and complica- 
tions of actual trading. 

Before this was done, however, there was to be a renewal 
of efforts by the Central and Associated Chambers of 

Chambers of Agriculture Inquiry. 

On March 3rd, 1896 — that is to say, in the same month as 
that in which Lord Winchilsea's British Produce Supply 
Association was registered, and at a time when agricultural 
organisation was very much " in the air " — the Council of 
the Central and Associated Chambers resolved, by a majority 
of 21 to 8, " That this Council recognises the desirability of 
promoting combination for the sale and distribution of farm 
produce, and for the purchase of farm requisites " ; while in 
the following November the Council further resolved, " That 
a Committee be appointed to enquire into the extent to 
which the principle of co-operation has been applied in this 
and other countries to the sale of agricultural produce ; 
whether it is feasible and desirable to promote its further 
extension ; and, if so, what means are best adapted to that 
end." The Committee was constituted thus: — The Rt. Hon. 
J. L. Wharton, M.P., the Rt. Hon. (now Sir) Horace Plun- 
kett, M.P., Mr. D'Arcy Wyvill, M.P., Mr. R. A. Yerburgh, 
M.P., Mr. W. H. Barfoot-Saunt, Mr. J. Bowen-Jones, Mr. T. 
Latham, Mr. W. Lipscomb, Professor Long, Mr. Clare 
Sewell Read, and Mr. S. Rowlandson, with the subsequent 
addition of Lord Wenlock, Mr. F. E. Muntz and Captain 
Stuart-Wortley, R.N., while Mr. R. H. Rew, who took an 
active part throughout in this further phase of the move- 
ment, was once more appointed to the position of secretary. 
At the outset of their enquiry the Committee invited the 


assistance of various authorities on the questions within the 
terms of their reference, and the following attended the 
meetings held, and gave the Committee the benej&t of their 
experience : — Mr. M. R. Margesson, British Produce Supply 
Association ; Mr. R. A. Anderson, Irish Agricultural 
Organisation Society ; Mr. Algernon Fawkes, late agent to 
Lord Vernon ; Mr. F. E. Walker, Escrick Dairy Factory ; 
Mr. R. T. Haynes, South Shropshire Farmers' Trading 
Association ; Mr. Alec Steel, Eastern Counties Dairy 
Farmers' Society ; and Mr. H. Cecil Wright. The Committee 
further convened a conference on agricultural co-operation, 
held in the rooms of the Society of Arts on December 8th, 
1897. Representatives attended from many different 
associations, and among those who were also present were 
Mr. (now Sir) T. H. EUiott, C.B., Secretary, and Major Craigie, 
Assistant-Secretary of the Board of Agriculture. The 
main purpose of the conference was to consider " the ques- 
tion of the desirabihty and feasibiUty of extending the 
principle of co-operation for the purchase of farming re- 
quisites and the sale of agricultural produce, and the means 
best adapted to that end." It was thought that the chief 
object in view had been attained by the practical nature of 
the speeches made, while the direct outcome of the proceed- 
ings was the passing of a resolution as follows : — 

That this conference considers it is desirable to establish some 
form of communication between the various British and Irish 
co-operative agricultural organisations, and respectfully requests 
the Central Chamber of Agriculture to initiate this movement by 
calling representatives together on a future occasion. 

The report eventually issued by the Committee included 
a detailed account of agricultural co-operation (i) in 
Great Britain, (2) in Ireland, (3) on the Continent, and 
(4) in the United States, Canada and Australasia ; and it 
further gave certain conclusions at which the Committee 
had arrived. Corroboration was found for the view pre- 
viously expressed by the Central Chamber, " that co- 
operation for purchase and co-operation for sale form two 
separate problems, and that the solution of the one is easy 


while that of the other is extraordinarily difficult." The 
Committee endorsed the recommendation that local associa- 
tions for the co-operative purchase of farming requisites 
should be increased, and thought that " in many cases the 
functions of such an association would form a fitting branch 
of an existing Farmers' Club or Chamber of Agriculture." 
In regard to co-operation for sale they considered that, 
notwithstanding the admitted difficulties, associations of 
producers in particular districts for the joint disposal of 
certain classes of produce would be advantageous ; and they 
proceeded : — 

It is not to be expected, however, that such associations will 
arise spontaneously. They are only likely to be started, even 
where they may be most desirable, as the result of an organised 
and systematic mission to explain the principle of co-operation, 
the probable advantages of its adoption in each particular case, 
and tile constitution, rules, and procedure which must be accepted 
and followed if the harmonious and successful working of co- 
operative associations is to be assured. In short, work similar to 
that done in Ireland by the Irish Agricultural Organisation 
Society would need to be done in this country by a purely 
propagandist body. 

The Committee hesitate, however, to recommend an addition 
to the numerous agricultural associations already existing, the 
more so as they are of opinion that the end would be better 
attained by utilising to some extent the machinery of the Central 
Chamber of Agriculture, which already stands in some respects 
in an analogous position to the Irish Agricultural Organisation 

Finally, the Committee recommended the Council of the 
Central and Associated Chambers of Agriculture to consti- 
tute a " Co-operation Section," which should comprise all 
deputies and subscribing members of the Chamber desirous 
of joining it, and should have power to take action, within 
defined limits, and without committing the Chambers as a 
whole, for the promotion of the principle of co-operation in 

In the light of subsequent developments, one may well 
wonder what the history of agricultural co-operation would 
have been if the movement had been directed and controlled 
by the Central Chamber of Agriculture as here suggested. 


In effect, however, the great services which the Chamber had 
ah-eady rendered in helping to direct pubhc attention still 
further to the general subject were not to fructify into a 
definite carrying out of the scheme projected, and the actual 
estabUshment of agricultural co-operation as a national 
movement was to be brought about under widely different 

British Agricultural Organisation Society. 

In 1900, there was formed at Newark, Nottingham, by 
Mr. W. L. Charleton, a British Agricultural Organisation 
Society based on hues akin to those of the Irish Agricultural 
Organisation Society. 

The Agricultural Organisation Society Formed. 

Within a year of this British Agricultural Organisation 
Society being established, the decision was arrived at to 
unite it with the National Agricultural Union, and form a 
new body, to be called the Agricultural Organisation Society. 
Mr. R. A. Yerburgh, M.P., one of the earliest of Lord 
Winchilsea's supporters, a member of the Central Chamber 
of Agriculture's Committee on Co-operation for Purchase, 
and then President of the National Agricultural Union, 
accepted the position of President of this new body on the 
understanding that it adopted co-operation as its funda- 
mental principle ; ^ and it is in accordance with this under- 
standing that the operations of the Agricultural Organisation 
Society, brought into existence as the final outcome of the 
series of events here narrated, have been conducted ever 


Registered in April, 1901, under the Industrial and 
Provident Societies Act, the Agricultural Organisation 

1 Mr. Yerburgh had previously made it a condition of his acceptance of 
the presidency of the National Agricultural Union that that body should 
abandon " Protection and Politics." 


Society — otherwise the "A. O. S." — was constituted as a 
non-party and non-trading body, whose main purpose was 
to " secure the co-operation of all connected with the land, 
whether as owners, occupiers or labourers, and to promote 
the formation of agricultural co-operative societies for the 
purchase of requisites, for the sale of produce, for agricul- 
tural credit banking and insurance, and for all other forms 
of co-operation for the benefit of agriculture." The Society 
adopted, in fact, on its own account, the principle which 
had been enunciated by Sir Horace Plunkett at the in- 
auguration of the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society, 
in 1894, when he said : — " The keynote of our proposals is 
in the proposition that the farmers must work out their 
own salvation, and, further, that this can only be done by 
combination among themselves." 

While, however, public opinion was, by this time, fuUy 
prepared to endorse the soundness of the argument, it greatly 
doubted the possibility of carrying the proposals into effect. 
It sympathised with the idea of combination among British 
farmers, but assumed, from the recent experiences, that 
those who made further attempts to attain the realisation 
of that idea would simply be following up a forlorn hope. 

There did, also, appear to be a certain amount of pre- 
sumption on the part of the new Society. 

The National Agricultural Conference of December, 1892, 
had brought together the greatest authorities in the British 
agricultural world, and these had proposed their remedies 
and blessed the formation of a National Agricultural Union ; 
but the remedies were found to be of no avail and the 
National Union came to nought. 

Lord Winchilsea had organised his British Produce Supply 
Association with a capital of £50,000, had secured the support 
of leading members of London Society, had started opera- 
tions on an ambitious scale, and had then — failed. 

The railway companies, with all their powerful resources, 
had in turn sought to promote combination among the 
farmers, and they, too, had — failed. 

Notwithstanding these failures, an unpretending little 


Society which, at the outset, occupied two small rooms in a 
block of offices situate in a side street in Westminster, and 
had at first hardly enough funds with which — apart from the 
voluntary efforts of an active committee — to pay rent, a 
secretary, a typist, and the charwoman, and distribute 
leaflets in addition, had started on no less formidable a task 
than, not merely inducing British farmers to combine, but 
practically reorganising their industry, with possibilities of 
exciting the prejudices, or of arousing the opposition, of 
powerful commercial interests concerned to the extent of 
many millions in the allied industries on which agriculture 
was more or less dependent. Yet the said Society, based on 
sound principles, and increasing in strength as the years 
went on, was to attain to such success that it represents 
to-day a national movement which has not only already 
achieved important results, but, with the process of recon- 
stitution it has just undergone, should enter upon a fresh 
and greatly expanded career of practical usefulness alike to 
agriculture and to the country in general. 

The first secretary of the Society was Mr. A. T. Matthews, 
who had acted as secretary to the National Agricultural 
Union. Mr. J. Nugent Harris, the present secretary, began 
his connection with the Society in July, 1901, when he was 
appointed as dairy expert. Three months later, on Mr. 
Matthews resigning his post as secretary, Mr. Harris suc- 
ceeded him in that position. 

Early Days. 

At the outset there was naturally a great amount of spade 
work to be done in preparing the foundations of a system of 
agricultural organisation designed, at first, to cover not only 
the whole of England and Wales, but Scotland as well ; 
though, as will be told in detail in the section on " Devolu- 
tion," the work of carrying on organisation in Scotland from 
the London headquarters through a small staff, controlling 
inadequate finances, was so arduous that the A. O. S. readily 
joined in the setting up, in 1905, of a separate organisation 
for Scotland. 


In these early days even that very word " co-operation," 
which constituted the fundamental principle of the move- 
ment, was misunderstood, and is, in fact, still widely mis- 
understood even to-day. There were, in 1901, already in 
existence many Farmers' Trading Companies, Farmers' 
Auction Marts, Farmers' Insurance Companies and other 
combinations with the prefix " Farmers' " ; but although 
some of these were genuine co-operative bodies, they were 
mostly limited liability companies whose gains benefited 
shareholders not themselves necessarily agriculturists or 
interested in agriculture apart from the dividends they 
received. When such combinations failed, or did wrong 
things, they brought discredit on co-operation because they 
had quite wrongly annexed that designation ; but they were 
not really co-operative societies in the sense impUed in the 
following explanatory statement contained in a letter sent 
to the Press by the A. O. S. :— 

The best way to form an agricultural co-operative society is to 
register under the Industrial and Provident Societies' Act, and so 
to frame the rules that the amount of the nominal capital is not 
fixed ; that shares can be allotted at any time to any farmer apply- 
ing for them ; that the interest payable upon the capital is limited 
to a small percentage, usually 5 per cent., thus preventing the 
concern from becoming a mere investment for capitalists ; and 
that the bulk of the profits is divided amongst the members as a 
bonus upon the amount of their sales through, and purchases 
from, the society. 

Then, however hopeless the prospect of the Society's success 
may have appeared to many persons, considerable interest 
was attracted to it even in the first year of its existence. 
This interest was especially stimulated by the issuing of the 
following statement (subsequently modified in certain of its 
details) as to the actual lines on which it was prepared to 
carry out the fundamental principles already mentioned : — 

1. By sending down organisers to address meetings and to give 
advice as to the proper course to be pursued in the formation of 
local societies. 

2. By providing model rules which have been found by experi- 
ence to be the best working rules for all similar societies. 


3. By sending down lecturers, when desired, to affiliated and 
other societies. 

4. By acting as an information bureau to affiliated societies — 

(a) For expert advice. 

(b) For legal matters {especially as regards Industrial 

and Provident Societies). 

(c) For co-operative account keeping. 

5. By arbitration in disputes arising from the rules and adminis- 
tration of affiliated societies. 

6. By assisting in all ways possible the furtherance of combined 
action between the various affiliated societies in trading matters. 

7. By publishing leaflets and circulars from time to time 
dealing with the various forms of agricultural co-operation, and 
furnishing trade information. 

This was, in the circumstances, an ambitious programme 
for a young Society, and the work of the early days was 
naturally imperfect in many directions by reason of in- 
sufficient staff and means and the difficulties presented by 
having both to face the prejudices of generations and to 
win over the agricultural mind to entirely new ideas. All 
the same, a certain degree of success was secured from the 
start, and the progress made, however slow, was sure. 

At the end of the first year of its operations, there were 
already in affiliation 33 societies, some of which had been 
formed by the British Agricultural Organisation Society, 
previously to the registration of the A. O. S., though most of 
them had been established subsequently thereto. 

Financial Position. 

In addition to affiliated societies, the membership included 
individual subscribers to the funds ; yet even with this 
support the question of finance presented serious difficulties, 
so much so that in the report for 1903 it was said : — 

Out of the small income, a httle more than ^^700 per annum, 
which is at the disposal of the Committee, we have to provide a 
secretary, suitable offices, clerical assistance, trained organisers 
to give expert advice to local societies, and to furnish, without 
stint, information by means of printed matter, etc. This can 
only be done by the employment of men with special knowledge 
and experience, and to secure their services due remuneration 
and travelling expenses are obviously necessary. 


The insufficiency of funds was, in fact, at this time, and 
for some years afterwards, a constant nightmare to those 
concerned in the task which had been undertaken, and 
a great debt of gratitude is due to those who so loyally 
supported the Society in this anxious period by money and 
by personal service. The work had to go on, whatever the 
difficulties, and it was impossible to retrench in face of the 
ever-increasing need for further expenditure to meet new 
developments or even the natural expansion of what had 
already been taken in hand. 

Methods of Operation. 

How the A. O. S. started on its task of organising the 
agricultural industries of the country may be illustrated by 
some references to its second annual report, for 1902 ; and 
it will further be seen therefrom how materially the methods 
of the Society differed from those that had previously been 
adopted in this country. 

A very good beginning indeed had been made in the 
Midlands. Five societies had been registered there ; a 
conference on organised co-operation in agriculture had been 
held at Worcester under the auspices of the Agricultural 
Sub-Committee of the Worcestershire County Council and 
the A. O. S., and the movement was being eagerly discussed 
on all sides. In the way of accomplished results it was 
reported that certain of the societies had come into consider- 
able prominence owing to the vigorous action they had taken 
in breaking up some rings formed by dealers who had sought 
to control the green pea and cherry markets. One of these 
societies had acquired the apples and pears in a number of 
orchards, had had the fruit gathered by trained fruit- 
pickers, and, utilising a large warehouse, had made up, not 
only such consignments as the railway people preferred to 
handle, but consignments properly graded and packed, and 
likely, therefore, no less to satisfy the dealers. Plums, 
damsons, and blackberries, together with potatoes, carrots, 
and other vegetables had been graded and dealt with in the 
same way, the declared experience of the society being that 


" highly-graded produce, of which the dealer can be assured 
a continuous supply of a uniform quality, will command a 
considerably higher price in the market than mixed produce, 
however good ; and as no one man can possibly pack and 
grade the crop of his own place, unless he is a very large 
grower, co-operation offers the true means of competing with 
foreign products." 

Progress in Wales. 

The report for the same year (1902) shows that " remark- 
able progress " had been made in Wales, There were then 
in the Principality eleven co-operative agricultural societies, 
most of which had been formed mainly for the co-operative 
purchase of agricultural requirements. Four had directed 
their attention to live stock improvement, procuring pedigree 
bulls and boars, and others, which had sought to organise 
collective sale, had been successful in combating a " ring " 
among the poultry salesmen. One society, not registered 
until February, 1902, had nearly 400 members by the end 
of the year, had had a turnover of £1,600 and had made a 
profit of £200 in dealing with fertilisers, seeds, etc., though 
it had done so in face of the keenest competition ; and 
it had just taken over from a local dealer some premises 
which contained a gas engine and a mill for grinding maize, 
barley, etc. A store-keeper had been appointed, a trade 
agent was to be engaged to act as an organising secretary, 
a weekly pig market was to be started ; a comprehensive 
live stock improvement scheme was being planned ; the 
store already mentioned was to be further used as an egg- 
collecting depot ; and steps were being taken to improve the 
breed of members' poultry, a stock of the best winter-laying 
birds having already been obtained. The other societies 
were operating more or less on similar lines, and it was 
reported in regard to the general movement in Wales that, 
by the formation of these societies, a saving of from 20 to 
25 per cent, had resulted to the farmers who were members 
of them, while a further effect had been experienced in the 
bringing down of prices all round wherever the starting of 


a society was projected. On the other hand the societies 
had had to meet " a most powerful trade opposition," and 
it was thought better to estabHsh firmly and consoUdate the 
societies already existing in Wales rather than respond too 
eagerly to the requests daily coming to hand for the forma- 
tion of new societies. 

One further result of the work in Wales that might be 
mentioned was the remarkable change in the quality of the 
seeds, fertilisers, etc., supplied to the districts where the 
agricultural co-operative societies had been in operation for 
any length of time. In the days prior to organisation as an 
active force in agriculture, Wales and Ireland were alike the 
common dumping grounds for the refuse and the " cleanings" 
of seeds and for the poorest qualities of fertilisers from 
England and Scotland ; but the tests, analyses or guarantees 
instituted or insisted on by the societies, together with the 
rejection of inferior supplies, led to changes in methods from 
which farmers outside the organisation movement benefited 
— as they are doing to a still greater degree to-day — no less 
than those who had given it their support. ^ 

Advantages of the New Organisation. 

These examples may serve to illustrate the general lines 
on which the Society started its operations. There was 
already in existence a considerable range of societies which 
had been formed (as distinct from commercial undertakings) 
to promote in various ways the interests of agriculture, 
horticulture and allied industries, but none of them fulfilled 
the same purpose in enabling the British farmer to (i) pro- 
duce to the best advantage ; (2) transport to the best 
advantage ; and (3) sell to the best advantage. The Society 
took up the practical side of agriculture just where the 

1 In the gardens of the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, there 
is an experimental plot which gives a practical illustration of the result of 
using so-called " grass " seeds consisting mainly of cleanings. In one sec- 
tion, planted with cock's-foot grass, the crop produced included wild 
geraniums, thistles and several turnips. In another section the sheep"s 
fercue grass, which should alone have been seen, was almost entirely 
obscured by an abundant growth of thistles, plantain, mustard, ox-eyed 
daisy, hawk weed and medick. 


teachings of science left off, and the economies effected in 
the joint purchase of agricultural necessaries by a group of 
producers in Worcestershire or elsewhere ; the better control 
they got of the market ; the obvious superiority of properly- 
gathered and properly-graded consignments on a larger 
scale ; the realising of better prices from sales — these and 
other advantages, steadily increasing in range and extent 
as the work underwent still further development, were 
object-lessons in agricultural combination which could not 
fail to produce a good effect even where the aforesaid earlier 
efforts had failed ; while the policy followed by the founders 
of the movement was to establish small local societies, and 
allow these to form the real basis of an organisation eventu- 
ally to assume national proportions, rather than to work 
in the opposite direction by starting a national movement 
first and the local societies last. 

In 1904 the Society enlarged the scope of its operations by 
absorbing the Co-operative Banks Association, and in 1909 
came the taking over of the organisation work of the National 
Poultry Organisation Society, concerning which more will be 
said in the section dealing with " Eggs and Poultry." 

Joint Boards. 

Down to 1908 the agricultural co-operative movement 
was operated on independent lines by the central societies 
of England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland respectively ; 
but a conference held in DubUn on June 12 in that year by 
representatives of the three bodies decided, in the words of 
a pamphlet subsequently issued by Sir Horace Plunkett, 
" that some permanent machinery should be estabHshed 
whereby mutual consultation in matters relating to organisa- 
tion, and united action in matters relating to trade, could 
be resorted to whenever the work of organising the farmers 
of these islands seemed Hkely to be furthered thereby." To 
this end there were appointed two boards, the one a Joint 
Board for Agricultural Organisation, and the other a Joint 
Board for Agricultural Co-operative Trade. The former 


consisted of representatives of the three central soceities, 
and the latter of representatives of the Agricultural Co- 
operative Federation, the Eastern Counties Farmers' Co- 
operative Association, the Scottish Agricultural Organisation 
Society, the Farmers' Supply Association of Scotland, the 
North-Eastern Agricultural Co-operative Society and the 
Irish Agricultural Wholesale Society. Sir Horace Plunkett 
was appointed chairman and Mr, R. A. Anderson hon. 
secretary of each Board, with Mr. R. M. Drysdale, Mr. F. C. 
Smith and Mr. John Portnell joint secretaries on trade. 

Meetings of the Joint Board for Organisation, held in 
1908, dealt with various important subjects, including co- 
operative credit and the relation of the State to agricultural 

It was considered that the matters on which action by 
the Joint Board for Trade might most successfully be taken 
were (i) the acquisition of agricultural necessaries of the 
best qualities at the lowest prices ; (2) the marketing of 
produce in the most economical manner; and (3) the 
interchange of commodities between the different societies 
themselves. The Board held three meetings in 1908, 
appointed a sub-committee to report on the conditions in 
respect to co-operative trade in (a) fertilisers, (b) implements 
and machinery, (c) feeding stuffs, (d) seeds, and also held an 
important conference with the Fertiliser Manufacturers' 
Association. In April, 1909, the question of the manufac- 
ture and supply of feeding cakes was discussed and referred 
to the sub-committee. 

At recent meetings of the Joint Boards a number of 
important questions have been discussed. 

The Plan of Campaign. 

The system on which the business of the A. O. S. was 
conducted may be briefly indicated as follows : — 
I. Advertisement : 

(a) Holding of meetings at which addresses on agricul- 
tural co-operation were given by the President 
and members of the Committee, or by members 
of the staff. 


(b) The issue of leaflets, circulars, reports, etc. ; the 

pubhcation of the " A, O. S. Journal," and 
communications to the Press. 

(c) A system of expert correspondence on matters 

relating to agricultural co-operation. 

II. Organisation of Agricultural Co-operative Societies : 

(a) When invited so to do, the A. 0. S. sent an organiser 

to a district to explain the methods of forming and 
working an Agricultural Co-operative Society. 

(b) The A. O. S. suppHed its " Model Rules," and 

attended to the legal formalities of registration by 
acting as a medium between the Society and the 
Registrar of Friendly Societies. 

III. The assisting of co-operative societies in the following 
directions : — 

(a) Visits by organisers from time to time, or attendance 

at annual or other general meetings, opportunities 
being thus afforded for the giving of advice 
or direction by members of the central staff. 

(b) The pubhcation in leaflets, circulars, and in the 

"A. O. S. Journal " of articles on co-operative 
subjects and on matters of importance to the 
administration of societies. 

(c) The giving of expert advice by means of correspon- 


IV. Acting as a medium between co-operative societies and 
Government Departments, County Councils, Railway Companies 
and other bodies, and watching, in their progress through Parlia- 
ment, any Bills which might affect the interests of agricultural 
co-operative societies or their members. 

V. General organisation. 

In the carrying on of the work on these lines, the societies 
were also brought into contact with each other by means of 
district and other conferences, the Joint Board for Trade, etc., 
these having the effect of encouraging the exchange of 
experience and information among the societies themselves. 

In later years was to come, as will be told in due course, 
recognition by the State, the carrying out of a " devolution " 
policy, the building up of many different departments (each 
of which will here call for separate treatment), removal of 
offices, and increase of staff, all contrasting strongly with the 
conditions that prevailed in the Society's early days. 

A.o. 1 



While the Agricultural Organisation Society had started 
as a propagandist institution entirely dependent on volun- 
tary contributions, the importance of the work it was doing 
received early official recognition of a character which, in the 
circumstances, was especially gratifying and encouraging. 

The Board of Agriculture. 

At a conference on agricultural co-operation arranged by 
the agricultural students of the Aberystwith University, and 
held there on December ist, 1902, the late Mr. R. W. 
Hanbury, then President of the Board of Agriculture, said : — 

I am not only personally in favour of agricultural co-operation, 
but I think it is an object that ought to be assisted as far as the 
Government can reasonably assist it. I do not say it is a panacea 
for all the evils and troubles of agriculturists. . . . The troubles 
of agriculturists have got to be removed by applying a great 
number of remedies, and especially those remedies which are 
suitable to aU places. Although co-operation is not the cure-all, 
although it is not a panacea, upon my honour I believe it comes 
nearer to being such than a good many of the remedies we some- 
times hear of. . . . It is the best form of self-help. . . . Let 
farmers consider that theirs is a business. ... I should like to 
see the farmers of this country a great deal better organised than 
they are. . . . You should put pressure upon any Government, 
by whatever name it may be called, to do justice to this great 
industry. I therefore ask you, as farmers, to organise and bring 
pressure upon any Government to see that justice is done. 

Mr. Hanbury also attended the first public meeting of 
members and subscribers held at the Westminster Palace 
Hotel on April 29th, 1902, on which occasion he said, in the 
course of another most sympathetic speech — 

He did not know that pecuniary assistance could be given to 
the A. O. S. from the State, but he wished by his presence to show 
that his department was ready to take an interest in their im- 
portant work, and hoped that the work of both would be brought 
into closer touch. They would be pleased to render help and 
information in every way, and he himself would like to become a 


By the death of Mr. Hanbury, in 1903, the Society lost a 
good friend ; but the late Earl of Onslow, who succeeded 
him as President of the Board of Agriculture, attended the 
pubUc meeting of the A. O. S. held at Grosvenor House on 
May 26th, 1903, and declared that he most heartily endorsed 
the sentiments expressed by his predecessor, adding, " I have 
the deepest interest in this Association and I intend to do all 
I can to assist the good work it has in hand." 

Lord Onslow's successor at the Board of Agriculture, the 
Right Hon. Ailwyn Fellowes, was among the speakers at 
the annual meeting in 1905, and said he considered that 
the work which had been done by the Society deserved 
the sympathy and support of everyone. To his mind there 
was no better form of co-operative organisation than that 
which the Society advocated, and the Board over which he 
presided wished them " all luck and all success." They 
would find in that Board a body which was absolutely with 
them in almost all their wishes as regarded agriculture in 
this country, and they would certainly do all they could to 
assist them. 

When Earl Carrington, now the Marquis of Lincolnshire, 
succeeded to the office of President of the Board of Agri- 
culture, he was no less sympathetic towards the A. O. S. than 
his predecessors had been. In a speech he delivered at 
the annual meeting in 1906 he said that — 

When the taxation of the country and the income tax were 
reduced, and they had a little money in the till, then with the 
greatest pleasure he would tackle the Chancellor of the Exchequer 
and put it before him in the most forcible language that of all the 
demands which were being made upon him there was not one that 
deserved more sympathetic and more practical, hearty support 
than that of the Society of which Mr. Yerburgh was the head. 
He was glad to have had an opportunity of showing his entire 
sympathy with, and his practical support of, the co-operative 
movement, and he could assure them that every member of His 
Majesty's Cabinet hoped to see a great development of the work 
of the Society in the future. 

Mention should be made, also, of the cordiaHty shown 
towards the Society, and the practical help given in many 

I 2 


ways, by all the leading officials of the Board of Agriculture, 
and more especially by the Permanent Secretary, Sir Thomas 
Elliott, whose ever-ready assistance has been of great service 
in furthering the Society's propagandist work, and helping 
to place the Society itself on a firmer footing. Most useful, 
also, were the leaflets issued by the Board of Agriculture 
from time to time deaUng with the A. O. S. or with particular 
phases of its activities, together with the further references 
thereto in the Board's official journal. 

The Home Office. 

In 1903, also, the Home Office granted the prayer of a 
memorial from the A. O. S., asking for the removal of certain 
disadvantages under which creameries in Great Britain 
laboured as compared with creameries in Ireland, by reason 
of the special exemptions granted to the latter as regarded 
the employment of women on Sundays. 

The Treasury. 

Equal success attended the presentation, again in 1903, 
of a joint memorial to the Lords of the Treasury from the 
Co-operative Banks Association, the Agricultural Organisa- 
tion Society and the Irish Agricultural Organisation 
Society for the removal of certain restrictions regarding the 
registration of Agricultural Credit Societies designed in the 
interests of small cultivators and the rural labouring class. 

It was asked that in view of the essentially " friendly " 
character of these village societies, coupled with the fact that 
no profit or dividend is divided amongst their members, 
there should be an amendment of such regulations as pre- 
vented the societies from being registered as, and sharing in 
the privileges of, ordinary friendly societies. The amend- 
ments desired were — {a) Abolition of the £1 fee for regis- 
tration and of the los. fee for amendment of rules, these fees, 
it was pointed out, being " prohibitive to the very poor 
people it was sought to encourage in the direction of 
economic self-help " ; {b) exemption from stamp duty, as per 


clause 33 of the Friendly Societies Act, and (c) priority of 
claims against the estates of officers, as per clause 35 of the 
Friendly Societies Act. All three proposals were acceded to 
by the Treasury. 

Board of Education and County Councils. 

Indirectly, a certain degree of State-aid was obtained in 
1902 through an important concession by the Board of 

As the result of several conferences between Mr. C. G. 
Watkins, secretary to the Education Committee of the Bucks 
County Council and the A. O. S., a representation was made 
to the Board of Education, on behalf of the Agricultural 
Sub-Committee of the County Council in question, that 
instruction in the " Principles and Practice of Agricultural 
Co-operation " — which subject was not included in the 
branches of science and art with respect to which grants were 
then being made by the Board of Education under the 
Technical Instruction Act of 1889 — was required by the 
circumstances of the district. 

Mr. Yerburgh also waited specially on the then Permanent 
Secretary to the Board of Education, Sir George Kekewich, 
in respect to this application, and there was reason to believe 
that the representations he made had much to do with the 
granting of the desired concession by the Board. Following 
thereon, the Education Committee of the Bucks County 
Council employed, for three months, one of the organisers of 
the A. O. S. to give instruction in the methods of agricultural 
organisation, a society being formed as the result of his 
labours. A circular letter was issued by the Board of 
Agriculture to the County Councils of England and Wales, 
bringing the concession under their notice, and several 
councils, obtaining like sanction, utilised the services of 
the Society or took other steps to promote the teaching 
of the principles and practice of agricultural co-operation. 

In Wales, where the interest in the movement had, by this 
time, become exceptionally keen, the County Councils of 


Carmarthen, Cardigan and Pembroke sent in August, 1902, 
a deputation of 18 delegates to Ireland, where nine counties 
were visited and close enquiry was made into the working of 
agricultural co-operation there. The Secretary of the A. O. S. 
accompanied the deputation, and helped in organising the 
tour. The Irish Agricultural Organisation Society also gave 
a good deal of assistance. Much of the success of the tour 
was due to the untiring efforts of the hon. secretary, 
Mr. H. Jones-Davies. 

In a report subsequently presented for the consideration 
of their respective County Councils the delegates placed 
on record their conviction " that the principles of agricul- 
tural co-operation, as established on the model of several 
European countries, and as successfully applied in Ireland, are 
eminently adapted to further the present condition of agri- 
culture in west Wales, and that their adoption is highly 
desirable in the farming interest." The delegates thought 
the comparative failure of the butter factories hitherto 
established in that part of Wales was mainly attributable 
to the fact that the elementary principles of agricultural 
co-operation had not been applied to their formation and 
subsequent conduct, and they made a long series of recom- 
mendations to their Councils with a view to securing the 
dissemination of these principles in the general interest of 
agricultural industries in their districts. 

The example set by those of the English and Welsh County 
Councils which had taken up the teaching of the principles 
and practice of agricultural co-operation was speedily fol- 
lowed in Ireland, so that in this respect, at least, England led 
the way. County Councils were, indeed, finding that agri- 
cultural co-operation was but the logical outcome and 
practical application of such agricultural instruction as they 
were already, in many instances, so actively engaged in 
imparting. The position was put very clearly by one of the 
County Council instructors in Ireland, who said : — " When 
farmers have been taught by lecturers and experts every- 
thing they can teach them about artificial manures, farm 
seeds, and feeding stuffs, the farmers naturally want to be 


placed in a position to procure these articles of the very best 
quality and at the lowest prices." 

Among other developments of this action on the part of 
the County Councils mention might be made of the delivery 
of lectures under the combined auspices of the Worcester- 
shire County Council and of the local co-operative societies ; 
the inclusion, in 1903-4, of " Farmers' Clubs and Co-opera- 
tion " and " Co-operation in Dairy Work " among the 
subjects discussed in a series of " Informal Talks " included 
in the Notts County Council Education Committee's scheme 
of technical instruction ; the formation of a society at 
Frampton-on-Severn as the result of a lecture on agricultural 
co-operation arranged by Mr. Turner, director of agricultural 
education for the Gloucester County Council, the lecturer 
being an A. O. S. organiser ; the delivery in Buckingham- 
shire of further series of lectures on " The Benefits of Co- 
operation," by an A. O. S. organiser, in 1907 and 1908, under 
an arrangement with the Bucks County Education Com- 
mittee ; and the lectures arranged by the County Councils 
of Cambridge, Lancashire and Wilts. 

As will, however, be shown later on, the statement made 
in the second annual report, for the year 1902, to the effect 
that " County Councils have not, as a rule, realised the 
importance of thorough organisation in agricultural matters," 
remained, generally speaking, still applicable, notwith- 
standing various gratifying exceptions thereto. 


From various colleges came much support for the move- 
ment, more especially in regard to educational matters. 

At the University College, Aberystwith, some courses of 
lectures on " Agricultural Co-operation " were begun in 
1902 by Professor D. D. Williams, and in the foUo^ving year 
Mr. Augustus Brigstocke, honorary representative for South 
Wales, and also a member of the Committee, presented to 
the governors of the college two scholarships of the value 
of £10 each to enable diploma students to pursue these 
courses of lectures. 


The Agricultural Department of the University College of 
North Wales, Bangor, organised a series of " extension 
lectures " on " Agricultural Co-operation," the outcome of 
which was the formation of two new societies. 

The Council of the University College, Reading, took part 
in the holding, in that town, on March 21st, 1903, of a confer- 
ence attended by Mr. Hanbury, Sir Horace Plunkett, Mr. 
Yerburgh, and others, at which a resolution affirming the 
desirability, in the interests of agriculture, of encouraging 
" the study and adoption throughout Great Britain of those 
principles of agricultural co-operation which have been for 
many years so successfully established in foreign countries, 
and more recently in Ireland and several parts of England 
and Wales." 

The present Director for Agriculture of the Reading 
College, Mr. R. Hart-Synnot, is most sympathetic and 
recently issued a circular letter to the principal newspapers 
in the counties of Hants, Dorset, Wilts, Berks and Oxon in 
support of agricultural co-operation. 

Co-operative Union. 

To the Co-operative Union and its late secretary, Mr. J. C. 
Gray, the Committee expressed themselves, as early as 1902, 
" much indebted and very grateful for the advice and guid- 
ance given in matters of great importance" to the movement. 
These acknowledgments were renewed in 1903. At the 
1904 Congress of the Co-operative Union the following 
resolution was passed : — 

That this conference notes with satisfaction the growth of 
co-operation amongst agriculturists, as evidenced by the numerous 
co-operative societies established during recent years for the 
purpose of supplying farmers and others with the machinery, 
implements, manures, seeds, etc., required in their business, and 
also for distributing their produce on a co-operative system. 
Believing it desirable that a closer connection should be main- 
tained between all branches of the co-operative movement in 
this country, the Congress pledges itself to assist in the develop- 
ment of co-operation in this direction by encouraging the Agri- 
cultural Organisation Society in its work, and by using its 
influence towards the establishment of mutual trading relations 


between the Co-operative Wholesale Societies and the Agricul- 
tural Societies. 

The present General Secretary, Mr. Whitehead, continues 
the policy of his predecessor, Mr. Gray. 

Farmers' Associations. 

Another feature of the good progress made was the number 
of societies formed as offshoots of existing farmers' associa- 
tions, — a fact which fully confirms what has already been 
said as to the supplying of needs not met by the earlier 
agricultural organisations, however valuable the services 
they rendered in other directions. Of the 46 societies formed 
between January ist, 1905, and June 30th, 1906, seven 
originated with existing farmers' associations, and eleven 
more of these bodies were, on the latter date, considering 
proposals for the formation of co-operative societies. At a 
meeting of the Yorkshire Union of Agricultural Clubs and 
Chambers of Agriculture on June 19th, 1906, it was resolved 
that clubs affiliated to the Union should be urged to form 
co-operative agricultural societies and a committee was 
appointed to carry this resolution into effect. 

The Press. 

To the Press of the country the A. O. S. is indebted for an 
almost general support, the exceptions being very few, and 
including various trade papers which thought that the 
interests of their own particular class of readers might be 
prejudiced by the movement. The articles published from 
time to time in London and provincial papers had a powerful 
effect in making the movement better known, and securing 
for it a still greater measure of pubHc sympathy and en- 

The publication, in 1904, through Mr. John Murray, of 
" The Organisation of Agriculture," a book which repre- 
sented a substantial expansion of a series of four articles 
published in The Times at Easter in that year, giving details 
concerning the development of agricultural organisation in 


other countries and the position at home, was also con- 
sidered to have served a useful purpose. 

Small Holdings Grant. 
Notwithstanding all this wide-spread approval of its 
objects and work, the Society continued down to 1909 to be 
entirely dependent on voluntary contributions for the means 
by which that work could be carried on, and its powers of 
usefulness were severely restricted by the inadequacy of its 
finances. At the end of 1908 the A. O. S. was the central 
body of 281 affiliated societies, viz., societies for the supply 
of requirements or sale of produce, 121 ; small holdings and 
allotments societies, 11 1 ; dairy societies, 13 ; agricultural 
credit societies, 20 ; farming societies, 3 ; auction markets, 
3 ; industrial societies, 2 ; fruit-grading societies, 2 ; together 
with one motor service society, one milling society, the 
Agricultural Co-operative Federation, the Central Co- 
operative Bank, the Agricultural and General Co-operative 
Insurance Society, and the Scottish Agricultural Organisa- 
tion Society. These affiliated societies had then a member- 
ship of about 15,000, and their turnover for the year was 
estimated at £770,000, while the financial position, in 1908, 
of the parent Society, which was pioneering the whole move- 
ment and seeking to establish it on national lines, stood 
thus : — 

Receipts — £ s. d. 

Subscriptions .. ,. 1,22218 o 

Affiliation fees . . . . 78 i 7 

Donations . . . . . . 77 o i 

Guarantee fund called up . . 670 7 o 

Other receipts , . . . 478 " 


Total receipts . . 2,526 15 

Total expenditure .. .. 2,477 ^i 

Balance of receipts over 

expenditure .... 49 3 10 

Some degree of relief, however, was to come to the A. O. S. 
in the form of a grant from the Board of Agriculture, made 
under the following circumstances. 


In April, 1905, the President of the Board of Agriculture 
appointed a Departmental Committee to enquire into the 
administration and working of the Small Holdings Act, 
1892 . The members of this Committee included the President 
of the A. O. S. (Mr. R. A. Yerburgh, M.P.), and among the 
witnesses examined were the secretary (Mr. J. Nugent 
Harris), and the then chief organiser (Mr. W. M. Tod) of 
the A. O. S., and representatives of some of the affiliated 
societies. In their report, dated December loth, 1906, the 
Committee dealt with (among many other matters) the 
subject of co-operation as applied to small holdings, and 
said : — 

The Committee are of opinion that practical steps should be 
taken by the Government to promote all forms of agricultural 
co-operation, and especially to encourage the formation of 
agricultural credit societies. The Committee have carefully 
considered the question whether it is desirable that the promotion 
of co-operation should be undertaken directly by the Government 
Department, or should be entrusted to a voluntary organisation 
which should receive a grant from the public funds. The 
Committee have dome to the conclusion that the propagandist 
work can be more effectively carried out by a voluntary organisa- 
tion, more particularly if that organisation is of a representative 
character. They have considered the work which is being done 
by the Agricultural Organisation Society, and are of opinion that 
an annual grant should be made to the said society by the Board 
of Agriculture, under such limitations as the Board may think 

Following on this report. Parliament passed the Small 
Holdings Act of 1907, consolidated in the following year by 
the Act of 1908. Small Holdings Commissioners were to be 
appointed ; a special account, to be called " The Small 
Holdings' Account," was created ; and there was placed on 
County Councils the obligation to provide small holdings for 
bond fide appUcants, compulsory powers for acquiring land 
being, to this end, given to the Councils and also to the 
Board of Agriculture in the event of the Councils not per- 
forming their statutory duty. 

It was further enacted, by Section 49 (4) : — 

The Board [i.e., the Board of Agriculture], with the consent of 
the Treasury, may, out of the Small Holdings Account, make 


grants, upon such terms as the Board may determine, to any 
society having as its object or one of its objects the promotion of 
co-operation in connection with the cultivation of small holdings 
or allotments. 

As the result of this new legislation considerable demands 
began to be made upon the A. O. S. for assistance in the 
formation of co-operative small holdings and allotment 
societies, and the greater part of the time of the staff was 
engaged thereon, although the organisation of agricultural 
co-operative societies in other directions called for increased 
energy and was pushed forward with, if possible, still greater 

It was evident that, under the Small Holdings and Allot- 
ments Act, the scope, purpose and future working of the 
A. O. S. would be very materially affected, and that, unless 
the Society were enabled to control larger funds than were 
then available, it could not possibly show itself equal to 
requirements. An application for a grant was made to the 
Board of Agriculture, which eventually agreed, with the 
consent of the Treasury, to a grant of ;^i,200 per annum for 
a period of three years from April ist, 1909, provided that 
the income of the Society from subscriptions and donations 
in each year was not less than £1,200. In the event of the 
income of the Society exceeding that sum the grant to be 
made by the Board was to be increased by a corresponding 
amount, with a maximum of ;£i,6oo. Further conditions of 
the grant were that the Society should have a Committee of 
Management of twenty-four members, including six to be 
nominated by the Board of Agriculture and two by the 
National Poultry Organisation Society ; and that the 
Society should appoint at least three organisers for the 
promotion of co-operation in connection with the cultivation 
of small-holdings or allotments, one of the three to be 
conversant with the organisation of co-operative societies 
for the production and sale of poultry and eggs. 

The six members of the Committee of the A. O. S. nominated 
by the Board of Agriculture were : — Mr. E. J. Cheney and 
Mr. M. T. Baines (Small Holdings Commissioners), directly 


representing the Board ; Mr. C. Roden Buxton and Mrs. 
Wilkins, nominated to represent the Central Small Holdings 
Society ; the late Mr. J. C. Gray (general secretary of 
the Co-operative Union) ; and Mr. D. Mclnnes (secretary 
of the Midland Section of the Co-operative Union and a 
director of the Co-operative Wholesale Society), nominated 
to represent the Co-operative Union. 

The National Poultry Organisation Society nominated the 
Marchioness of SaHsbury and Col. R. WilHams, M.P., as its 

In further accordance with the conditions on which the 
grant was made three new organisers were appointed. 


The concession of State aid through the grant which had 
been made by the Board of Agriculture was followed by 
a complete reconstitution of the Society as the result of a 
subsequent grant under the Development and Road Im- 
provement Funds Act, 1909, and the amending Act of 

Designed to " Promote the Economic Development of the 
United Kingdom and the Improvement of Roads therein," 
this new legislation led to the appointment, in May, 1910, 
of a body known as the Development Commissioners, by 
whom the objects of the Act were to be carried into effect. 
This was to be done through the administration of a 
" Development Fund," created by the setting apart annually 
of ;^5oo,ooo from the ConsoUdated Fund for a period of five 
years, supplemented by such moneys as might from time to 
time be provided by Parhament for the purposes of the Act. 

Under section i (i) it was provided that " The Treasury 
may, upon the recommendation of the Development Com- 
missioners appointed under this Act, make advances to a 
Government department, or through a Government depart- 
ment to a pubHc authority, college, school or institution, or 
an association of persons or company not trading for profit, 
either by way of grant or by way of loan, or partly in one 
way and partly in the other, and upon such terms and 


conditions as they may think fit " for a variety of purposes, 
the first-mentioned of which were : — 

Aiding and developing agriculture and rural industries by 
promoting scientific research, instruction and experiments in the 
science, methods and practice of agriculture (including the 
provision of farm-institutes), the organisation of co-operation, 
instruction in marketing produce, and the extension of the 
provision of small holdings ; and by the adoption of any other 
means which appear calculated to develop agriculture and rural 

The A. O. S. being " an association of persons not trading 
for profit," and having on hand (as will be explained later 
on) a scheme of Branch Devolution which would involve a 
complete reorganisation of its work, applied for an annual 
grant to meet the cost of that scheme. 

An interim grant was made on July 25th, 1911, subject to 
certain conditions which were duly carried out. The 
Society removed from Dacre House, Westminster, to more 
commodious premises at Queen Anne's Chambers, West- 
minster ; it made the stipulated appointments, and it 
obtained extra clerical assistance in order to meet at once 
the emergency created by the substantial increase then 
proceeding in the work. 

Basis of Reconstitution. 

The conditions recommended by the Development Com- 
missioners to be attached to a permanent grant to the 
Society, so far as they referred to its reconstitution on 
representative and national fines, were indicated in a letter 
received from the secretary of the Development Commission, 
dated May 30th, 1911, following on an interview between 
representatives of the Development Commission and the 
Society, at which the matter was discussed. Briefly stated, 
the conditions were as follows : — 

1. The reconstitution and registration of the A. 0. S. as a 
non-profit-earning Association under Section 20 of the Companies 
(Consolidation) Act of 1908. 

2. The governing body to be partly elective and partly 


appointed, the appointed members being representatives of the 
Board of Agriculture, the County Councils Association, the Co- 
operative Union and other representative bodies. 

3. On the District Committees, or Boards, to which would be 
entrusted the local administration of the Society's business, 
County Councils within the district should be strongly 

The letter further stated that the Commissioners were 
prepared to recommend the Treasury to make annually to 
the Board of Agriculture such grants as they may be satisfied 
are necessary for the energetic promotion of co-operation 
among agriculturists in England and Wales, and that these 
grants should be paid by the Board to the Society thus re- 

The necessary resolutions for the voluntary winding up of 
the old Society, under the conditions of the Development 
Fund grant, were passed at meetings held in April and May, 
1912, and a new Society, with the same title, was registered 
under section 20 of the Companies (ConsoHdation) Act, 1908. 
The first Governors have been appointed jointly by the 
Board of Agriculture and the Development Commissioners, 
and are to remain in office until the first annual general 
meeting, to be held after April ist, 1914. Their present 
number is not fixed. Those now holding office are as 
follows : — 

Mr. R. A. Yerburgh, M.P., President. 

The Earl of Shaftesbury, K.P., K.C.V.O., Chairman of the 


Mr. F. D. Acland, M.P. Mr. Duncan Mclnnes. 

Mr. Charles Bathurst, M.P. Mr. George L. Pain. 

Mr. S. Bostock. Mr. Abel H. Smith. 

Mr. W. Fitzherbert-Brock- Mr. Clement Smith, 

holes, D.L. 

Mr. Philip Burtt. Lord Strachie. 

Mr. E. J. Cheney. The Hon. Edward Strutt. 

Mr. H. C. Fairfax-Cholmeley. Mr. A. Whitehead. 

Mr. J. S. Corbett. Mrs. Roland WUkins. 

Mr. Rupert EHis. Colonel Robert Williams, M.P. 

Mr. H. Jones-Davies. Sir James Wilson, K.C.S.L 
Mr. Cyprian-Knollys. 

Subsequently to the holding of the first annual general 


meeting of the Society, after April ist, 1914, the Board is 
to consist of 36 Governors, chosen as follows : — 

Elective (including the President) 
Appointed by the Board of Agriculture 

County Councils Association 2 

Co-operative Union 
Co-opted by the Governors 

Total . 




Power is taken either to increase or to reduce the number 
of Governors, provided that the same proportion as in the 
above list is maintained between the elective Governors (that 
is to say those who have been elected by the affiliated 
societies) and those appointed by the Board of Agri- 
culture, though the total number is at no time to 
exceed 60. 

It will be seen that, in the first instance, a guarantee of 
proper expenditure of grants from the Development Fund 
is assured by the appointment of the first Board of Governors 
by the two bodies by or through whom the grants are made, 
while the fact that a number of the Governors so appointed 
have been chosen from the Executive Committee of the old 
Society will no less assure a continuity of experience and 

By the end of this first period the Society, as re-consti- 
tuted, will have settled its poHcy, and have brought about, 
through its organising efforts, the formation of a much larger 
number of affiliated societies, and these will naturally expect 
to have a share in the work of administration. Hence the 
introduction of the elective element. 

The reconstitution of the Agricultural Organisation 
Society on this greatly expanded scale of usefulness will have 
the effect of placing on a permanently established basis a 
movement previously dependent to so large an extent on 
voluntary support, though aiming at the accompHshment of 
a really national work. 


Development Commissioners' Policy. 

In the second report of the Development Commissioners, 
being the report for the year ended March 31st, 1912, it 
is stated : — 

The arrangements for assisting the organisation of co-opera- 
tion in Great Britain have been settled in outline. The principle 
adopted by the Commissioners has been in substance to utiHse 
the existing voluntary societies which have done the work in the 
past, and entrust its extension to those bodies, reconstituted and 
strengthened by the admission of representative elements from 
outside. Two reasons have weighed with the Commissioners in 
adopting this poHcy. In the first place, they think that co- 
operation is particularly the kind of movement to which it is 
essential to retain the enthusiasm of voluntary workers. They 
fear that the grant of Government assistance, and the consequent 
measure of Government control, may to some extent weaken the 
spontaneous character of the movement ; but they feel that it 
has a better chance of surviving under the arrangements now 
made, than if the necessary assistance which the Commissioners 
were glad to supply had been given to official bodies. Secondly, 
the geographical and other Hmitations of the available pubhc 
authorities, at least in England and Wales, render them incon- 
venient and probably expensive agents for this particular purpose. 
The natural co-operative divisions of the country do not follow 
county boundaries, nor is the area which one organiser and his 
assistants can cover confined to one county. 

Information is given as to the course taken by the Com- 
missioners (on the lines already stated) in regard to the 
organisation of co-operation among agriculturists in England 
and Wales during the year covered by their report, and they 
say concerning the reconstitution of the Agricultural 
Organisation Society, in accordance with the terms of their 
grant : — 

Owing to legal and other difficulties, the reconstitution of the 
Society probably cannot be effected before the end of the present 
summer. Meanwhile the Commissioners propose to recommend 
such grants as may be necessary to enable the Society to carry 
on its work pending reorganisation ; when that event takes place 
they hope that the new Governing Body of the Society will be able 
to submit a scheme of extension which will command their 
approval and the Treasury's. 

The action of the Commissioners in regard to the Agri- 

A.O. K 


cultural Organisation Societies of Scotland and Ireland is 
also recorded. 

In June, 191 1, the Commissioners considered an applica- 
tion from the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (the 
story of which will be told in the section that follows) for an 
annual grant of £1,500. It was decided to recommend an 
advance for the current year equal to the amount spent by 
the Society from its own funds, but not in any case exceeding 
£1,000, and with the proviso that the Committee of the 
Society should be increased by the addition of members 
nominated by the chairmen of the County Councils and the 
Scotch Agricultural Colleges ; that the Society's operations 
should be in harmony with the scheme of work of the 
colleges ; that the Society should appoint an additional 
organiser and have its accounts audited by an approved 
professional auditor ; and that it should give particular 
attention in organising agricultural co-operation to the needs 
of small holders in that direction. 

The question of assisting the organisation of agricultural 
co-operation in Ireland was found by the Commissioners to 
have been rendered more difficult by complications with 
party poHtics. An application from the Irish Agricultural 
Organisation Society for assistance was opposed both by the 
Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for 
Ireland and by the Irish Council of Agriculture, the latter 
body passing a resolution to the effect that any money 
available for agricultural co-operation in Ireland should be 
granted to and administered by the Department. A draft 
scheme, which contemplated a grant of £9,000 and the 
organisation of co-operative associations for the growing 
of fruit, early potatoes and flax, bee-keeping and lime 
burning, was prepared by the Department, but the Com- 
missioners " were not satisfied that it amounted to a scheme 
for the organisation of agricultural co-operation in the sense 
which they felt bound to attach to those words," and " they 
could not, therefore, accept it as the Irish counterpart of the 
measures taken for that purpose in England and Wales and 
Scotland." At their meeting in March, 1912, the Commis 


sioners heard evidence in support of the Irish Agricultural 
Organisation Society's application, and subsequently, the 
report adds, " they have recommended a grant of £2,000 to 
the Society, with prospective further grants, on conditions 
designed to secure that the Society's work is confined to 
purely agricultural co-operation, and that it is carried on 
without the possibility of any suspicion of political partisan- 

In explaining the " Finance of the Development Fund " 
the Commissioners say concerning agricultural co-op- 
eration : — 

This expenditure under this head takes the form of grants to 
the three existing agricultural societies. ;^5o,ooo might be 
sufficient, but it is possible that this sum may be exceeded as 
co-operation is a subject to which the Commissioners attach 
great importance. 

Finally, in their " Conclusion " the Commissioners say : — 

The scheme for agricultural instruction and research, when in 
full operation, should at least go some way towards organising 
into a coherent system the more scientific side of agriculture in 
this country, as the schemes for promoting co-operation should 
help in organising its more commercial side. 


Reference has already been made, on page 126, to the 
fact that when the Society approached the Development 
Commissioners, in 1910, with a view to obtaining a .sub- 
stantial grant from the Development Fund, it had on hand 
" a scheme of Branch Devolution which would involve a 
complete reorganisation of its work." 

Devolution was then by no means a new idea. There had 
been an initial development of this principle in 1904, or 
within three years of the Society being originally constituted. 
That particular development took place in regard to the 
work in Scotland. 

Agricultural Organisation in Scotland. 

Under the original plan of campaign, the A. O. S. was to 
take up the work of agricultural organisation throughout 

K 2 


Great Britain in general, doing alike for England, Wales and 
Scotland what the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society 
was doing for Ireland. In this way some early attempts 
were made to foster propagandist efforts and promote the 
establishment of societies in Scotland. Owing, however, 
both to the labour and expense involved in carrying on such 
efforts from London and to the limited extent of the funds 
then controlled by the central body, the actual progress was 
so shght that down to the end of 1904 only a single co- 
operative Agricultural Society — one, namely, at Tarff Valley, 
Kirkcudbrightshire — had been formed. 

By this time, however, there had been brought about 
in Scotland a great awakening of interest in agricultural 
organisation. Captain John Sinclair, M.P. for Forfarshire, had 
visited Denmark and been so impressed by what he saw and 
heard that on his return he sought to induce some of his 
constituents to make up a party to go to Denmark in order 
to study the position there for themselves and apply, as far 
as practicable, to their own farming any lessons they might 
learn from Danish methods. 

The reception given to his proposal can best be described 
in the words of an official report subsequently issued : — 

The idea grew. What was a Forfarshire project developed 
into a project based upon a larger area of interest. The Secretary 
for Scotland was good enough to agree that a member of the 
Congested Districts Board and Crofters' Commission should be 
invited to join the party. Members of Parliament of both 
political connexions contributed suggestion and aid in the 
composition of the Commission. Landlords of extensive acres 
in some cases became members ; in others nominated their 
estate agents ; in others, gave the names of tenants. The 
Highland and Agricultural Society and the Scottish Chamber 
of Agriculture appointed representatives. From the Agricul- 
tural Colleges, east and west, were drawn several members of the 
teaching staffs. Apart from these, the larger number of the 
Commission were well-known farmers hailing from all parts of 
Scotland, many of them with specialised interests, such as 
dairying, poultry-keeping and cattle-breeding. 

Following on the attention which had already been so 
widely attracted in Scotland, 'asln other parts of the United 


Kingdom, to the general subject, the report made on its 
return from Denmark by this Scottish Agricultural Com- 
mission of 1904 had a powerful effect on public opinion in 

In praising the Popular High School system in Denmark, 
the Commissioners thought they could not too strongly 
impress upon the sons of farmers, and all others contem- 
plating a farmer's life, the necessity for taking a regular course 
of tuition at one of the Scottish Agricultural Colleges, On 
the subject of land tenure they thought a sound case was 
made out for creating a class of small holdings in the hands 
of cultivating owners. Concerning egg-collecting, they 
pointed out that the great and profitable egg export trade 
of Denmark rested upon numerous groups of peasant pro- 
prietors and cottagers who kept from 10 to 100 fowls each, 
and joined in co-operative societies for collecting, testing 
and marketing the eggs, and they thought that, although in 
Scotland the keeping of poultry for profit was less general, 
the practice would rapidly grow were similar organisations 
formed. Bacon-curing factories they considered to be clearly 
a phase of co-operation in which farmers might take the 
initiative to their common advantage, and they recom- 
mended the formation of district committees to consider the 
subject. By the Danish system of improvement of dairy 
cattle and keeping of milk records they had been greatly 
impressed, and they hoped there would be a more extensive 
adoption of the system in Scotland. In respect to State aid, 
they had found that in Denmark not only the various 
educational institutions, but all other organisations formed 
for the promotion of agriculture in its various branches were 
assisted and encouraged by grants in aid contributed from 
the National Exchequer, and they were of opinion that 
lasting benefit would accrue to British agriculture were the 
present small grants to colleges, dairy schools and experiment 
stations largely increased, and were the formation of associa- 
tions for the promotion of rural industries in any practical 
and efficient manner also stimulated by assistance from the 


Finally, on the subject of " Co-operation," the Commis- 
sioners said : — 

Although one great principle runs through all co-operative 
societies, the operations of that principle vary with the particular 
objects. There is much information to be gathered from Den- 
mark, as well as from other European countries, which will be 
found profitable for guidance in the construction of a union, 
whether for the purchase of farmers' requisites or for collecting 
and marketing the products of farm, field and dairy. The 
tendency to greater co-operation is well set, even large farmers 
confessing its utility, and the tendency must strengthen with 
time. Of all origins of a co-operative society, the most natural 
and the best is the local origin — the unpretentious coming 
together of the few who are persuaded of the suitabiUty of united 
action to the local conditions. But as an easily accessible source 
of information, and as an agency for helping the desires of 
beginners to take shape, an Agricultural Organisation Society 
would, it appears to the Commission, have a useful place in 

On January i8th, 1905, a meeting convened by the 
Scottish Chamber of Agriculture was held in Edinburgh to 
consider what action should be taken. The meeting was 
attended by, among others, Mr. Yerburgh, President, and 
Mr. Harris, Secretary of the A. O. S. Mr. Yerburgh delivered 
an address on agricultural co-operation, and an influential 
committee was appointed to decide upon the best means 
of promoting the movement in Scotland. The committee 
met in April and, in turn, referred the question to a small 
sub-committee. Invited to attend a meeting of this sub- 
committee, Mr. Harris did so, and presented a memorandum 
strongly urging that Scotland should have an independent 
propagandist society of her own. 

As the result of all these deliberations it was decided to 
form a Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society. An 
appeal for a guarantee fund of £1,000 a year for three years 
met with a liberal response ; the Scottish Agricultural 
Organisation Society was inaugurated at a meeting held in 
Edinburgh on October 25th, 1905, and registered on Novem- 
ber i6th ; active propagandist work was begun early in 
1906 ; the services of the then chief organiser of the A. 0. S. 


were placed at the disposal of the society during the 
month of March, and the new organisation became an 
established success. 

For the A. O. S. this formation of a sister society in Scotland 
was of great advantage, not only in relieving it of responsi- 
bility in regard to that country, but also in building up 
there an organisation which, though separate and distinct so 
far as regards all Scottish affairs, was afhhated to, and has 
joined cordially with, the A. O. S. for all purposes of mutual 
interest and support. 

Growth of the Movement. 

Thus far, therefore, devolution had been adopted with 
excellent results ; but there came a time when it was found 
desirable to carry the principle still further. 

So great had been the growth of the movement by 1910 
that the Society even though it had been relieved of responsi- 
bility in regard to Scotland, was beginning to find the work 
in England and Wales beyond the powers of direction and 
control of a headquarters' staff in London, Even if a 
sufficiently large number of organisers could have been kept 
there to deal with an unwieldy mass of details, the expendi- 
ture of much time and money would have been involved 
in constantly sending those organisers to all parts of the 
country, while even then they would not have been able to 
keep in such close touch with new developments as could be 
maintained by organisers resident in the district. 

This position will be more clearly understood from the 
following table, showing progressive growth, with number of 
societies, membership and annual trade turnover, since 
1901 : — 






• 25 




.. 41 




. 72 




. 98 




. 123 




• 137 




, Members. 
















Branch Devolution. 

So, at the end of 1910, this substantial expansion of the 
Society's activities led to a beginning being made with a 
fresh devolution policy. 

The fundamental principle of the scheme then drawn up 
was the division of England and Wales into suitable areas, 
each of which would eventually have a Branch or Advisory 
Committee (or, as it was called in the first instance, a 
" Section ") designed to Hnk up the local societies and 
various local interests, and to deal, through its own adminis- 
tration, with all matters of detail in the general organising 
work within its own area, affording, to this extent, a 
material relief to the headquarters' staff, though still looking 
to the central organisation for control, guidance or direction 
in regard to questions of principle or matters on which expert 
advice might be desired. Each Branch was to be centrally 
situated, and was to have its own committee, its own offices, 
its own secretary, and its own staff of organisers, these 
officials being members of the headquarters' staff though 
working under the supervision of the Branch Committee. 

While retaining the independence secured to them under 
their rules, and having their representation on the Branch 
Committee, the affiliated societies within each area were to 
be encouraged to look to the Branch office for such advice or 
assistance as they might need, as there would be obvious 
advantages in obtaining this advice and assistance in the 
aforesaid matters of detail from competent officials on the 
spot, and familiar with local conditions, in preference to 
having always to apply direct to London. 

Apart from these practical benefits alike to the head- 
quarters' staff and to members of the aifihated societies, the 
scheme would, it was expected, have a powerful effect in 


stimulating local interest and the spread of the movement. 
A closer intimacy with the farmers would be established ; 
there would be increased facilities for arranging, holding and 
attending meetings and following up their results ; and it 
would be possible, not only to watch closer over the welfare 
of societies already formed, but also to ascertain the exact 
conditions prevailing in every part of the country, which 
information would enable the A. O. S. to formulate and carry 
into effect a propagandist policy on scientific lines, and suited 
to the needs of each particular district. Then, also, it was 
thought that a Branch organisation would be able to adjust 
any difference that might arise between the various societies 
in its group in regard to overlapping. When societies are 
engaged in trade and their business is extending there is the 
risk that they may seek to push that business still further 
by invading what another society may regard as its own 
particular territory ; or, alternatively, new societies may be 
started in areas which existing societies might consider are 
sufficiently covered by their own activities. Matters of this 
kind could all be taken in hand by the local branch, with a 
consequent avoidance of friction and to the advantage of the 
operations in general. 

Finally it was hoped that a further effect of this Branch 
Devolution scheme would be the securing of a larger amount 
of voluntary support. 

Constitution of Branches. 

The precise details to be followed in the formation of the 
Branch Committees were to depend on circumstances ; but, 
generally speaking, it was proposed that they should include 
representatives of the County Councils, the Agricultural 
Colleges, local sections of the Co-operative Union, the railway 
companies, the A. O. S., and the affiliated societies in the 
counties included in the Committee's area. 

Three Branches have been formed, namely a North 
Eastern Counties Branch, with Mr. Phihp Burtt, Assistant 
General Manager of the North Eastern Railway Company, 
as chairman, to deal with the whole of Yorkshire, Durham 



and Northumberland, which three counties constitute in 
themselves a recognised area for agricultural produce ; a 
North Wales Branch, with Lord Boston as chairman, for 
the counties of Anglesey, Carnarvon, Denbigh, Flint, 
Merioneth and Montgomery ; and a Southern Branch, with 
the Earl of Shaftesbury as chairman, for Dorsetshire, Wilt- 
shire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. The total number 
of Branches projected, to cover the whole of England and 
Wales, is fourteen or fifteen ; though this number might be 
increased, should the continued growth of the movement 
render still further decentrahsation desirable. 

Present Position of the A. 0. S. 

The following statistics of co-operative societies affiliated 
to the Agricultural Organisation in September, 1912, show 
the position of the A. O. S. at the time when it is passing 
under the control of the new Board of Governors : — 

Societies for the Supply of Requirements of Sale of Produce . . 164 

Dairy, Bottled Milk, and Cheese-making Societies . . . . 23 

Small Holdings and Allotments Societies . . . . . . . . 180 

Agricultural Credit Societies . . . . . . . . . . 45 

Eggs and Poultry Societies . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 

Miscellaneous Societies . . . . . . . . . , . . 14 

Central Co-operative Agricultural Bank . . . . . . . . i 

Agricultural and General Co-operative Insurance Society . . I 

Scottish A. O.S I 


The increases in (i) total membership of the affihated 
societies and (2) the estimated aggregate money value of the 
transactions of the various societies in 191 1 over 1910, may 
be shown thus : — 




Membersliip . 






Among the larger trading societies the Eastern Counties 
Farmers' Association still takes the lead with a turnover of 
£258,378. The business done by some of the other large 
societies in 191 1 as compared with 1910 is shown by the 
following figures : — 

Southern Counties Agricultural Trading Society . 
Carmarthen Farmers' Co-operative Society . 
Newport (Salop) and District Agricultural Trading 

Society ........ 

Midland Farmers' Co-operative Association 
Clynderwen and District Fanners' Association . 
West Midland Farmers' Association . 
Framlingham and District Farmers' Co-operative 

Association ....... 

Guildford and Mid-Surrey Farmers' Agricultural 

Co-operative Association 


It will have been seen, from what has already been nar- 
rated on pp. 93-4, that the real beginning in England of the 
agricultural co-operation movement, as known to us to-day, 
was the invitation extended in 1895 to Lord Winchilsea and 
other representatives of the agricultural interests to meet 
Lord Claud Hamilton, the chairman of the Great Eastern 
Railway Company, and various officers of that company, and 
confer with them on the general relations of the railways and 
agriculture. Prior to this conference, it would seem. Lord 
Winchilsea's efforts were mainly directed to the idea of 
securing Parliamentary action ; and it may be assumed that 
it was Lord Claud Hamilton's strong argument in favour of 
co-operation among the agriculturists themselves, in order 
to supplement thereby what the railways could or would do 
in their interests, that led to the movement taking a more 
practical direction, and one that, notwithstanding initial 
disappointments, was eventually to result in the widespread 
acceptance to-day of the co-operative principle. 

Railway Policy. 

The action taken by the Great Eastern was followed by a 
general movement on the part of the leading railway com- 
panies in the direction of affording greater facihties to the 
agriculturists of the country for the transport of their 

It led, in the first instance, to the President of the Board 
of Trade, Mr. Ritchie, inviting the chairmen of railway 
companies having their termini in London to confer with 
him, on January 30th, 1896, concerning the question of 
facilities for the distribution of agricultural produce. The 


conference was duly held, and subsequently Lord Stalbridge, 
chairman of the London and North Western Railway 
Company, wrote on behalf of the Railway Companies' Asso- 
ciation to Mr. Ritchie, explaining the railway position, 
stating what the companies were doing or were prepared to 
do, denying the existence of the alleged preferential railway 
rates for foreign produce (" equal rates under like conditions 
and circumstances are required by law and are in general 
operation ") and saying, also : — 

As to reductions for large consignments, these are now given 
by all companies, and are provided for in many cases by the 
General Railway Classification of Goods Tariff. To obtain 
advantage of the lower scale under these regulations it is not 
necessary that all the goods in the larger consignments should 
be of the same description so long as they are in the same class. 

Where the general railway regulations do not apply, lower 
rates for large consignments are frequently conceded by the 
companies, who desire to make known their wiUingness to receive 
and favourably consider such applications. 

Combination amongst agriculturalists to increase the weight 
of consignments is a matter over which railway companies have 
little control, but they will gladly aid and co-operate in any 
effective movements in this direction. 

On February 14th, 1896, the chairman. Sir George Russell, 
several of the directors, and the leading officers of the South 
Eastern Railway Company met, at the Cannon Street Hotel, 
representatives of the leading agricultural societies and 
farmers' clubs in the district served by their line who had 
been invited to come to London and inform the company, in 
friendly conference, what they would like the railway to do 
for them. The chairman announced that the company 
would be prepared to meet the requirements of the agricul- 
turists " frankly, fairly and generously," and he invited 
suggestions. These were freely made, and resolved them- 
selves mainly into requests for reduced rates, the delegates 
having previously agreed to ask the company for a reduction, 
by 25 per cent., of the rates for agricultural produce in 
general. At the close of the conference the delegates were 
invited by the chairman to form a committee of twelve to 
consult'further with the company, and, as the final outcome 


of the deliberations thus entered upon, the members of the 
committee were informed, at a further meeting held on 
March 30th, that the company had resolved to make a 
number of material reductions in their rates for agricultural 
commodities, besides putting on a special fruit train to run 
from Maidstone to London and connect with trains to the 
north. Mr. Cosmo Bonsor, then deputy-chairman, remarked 
in regard to these concessions that " a big instalment had 
been made in the right direction, and what had been done 
might be regarded as an earnest of what might be done 
in the future, the company being thoroughly disposed, 
in the interests alike of themselves and of the country, 
to encourage by every practicable means the prosperity 
of the district they served." 

On April 21st, 1896, the Great Western Railway Company 
had a conference at Paddington with leading landowners and 
agriculturists in the western and midland counties in order 
to ascertain their views and requirements, among those 
present being the Earl of Jersey, Sir W, Cameron Gull, 
M.P., Sir R. H. Paget, Sir A. F. Acland Hood, M.P., and 
Mr. Rew, secretary of the Central Chamber of Agriculture. 
Viscount Emlyn, chairman of the Great Western, who pre- 
sided, said the question of railway rates had been brought 
to the front by the large amount of foreign competition, 
and a good deal had been said about advantages given to 
the foreigner. The Great Western had no desire to give 
any advantage to the foreigner ; but it must be remembered 
that the foreigner seemed to have gained his footing by 
sending his supphes in such a form that they could be 
handled with the smallest possible amount of trouble and 
cost to the railways. This was found, for example, in the 
carriage of meat. From Birkenhead to London train load^ 
of meat, representing a minimum of 30 tons, were sent at 
a 25s. rate, and the farmers living between Birkenhead and 
London had wanted to know why they could not have the 
same rate. To this the Company had replied that if only 
the farmers would send consignments, not in 30-ton, but in 
3-ton, lots, the company would quote them a lower rate. 


The consideration thus arose whether the farmers could not 
do something more to aggregate their suppHes, and so secure 
these advantages. There were the further questions of 
markets and middlemen. A railway company could not 
take on its own account a course that might interfere with 
these interests, and thereby prejudice its own ; but if any 
outside persons or agency would only take action with regard 
to these matters, the Great Western Company, with its 
large staff of servants, would be able to afford very valuable 
assistance ; and he could assure them that the directors 
of the company would willingly discuss at any time any 
proposals put forward for dealing with these problems. 
Lord Jersey, who was among those taking part in the dis- 
cussion, remarked that " a railway company might offer 
the greatest advantages, but these would not be of much 
use unless the producer did something to help himself." 

The company followed up this gathering by sending 
officers into the principal agricultural districts served by the 
Great Western system in order both to enquire closely into 
the particular directions in which the agriculturists thought 
that further co-operation would be of value and to bring 
prominently to their notice the fact that, by adopting 
combination instead of acting independently, they might 
frequently obtain the advantage of rates for grouped 
consignments lower than those they were actually paying. 

The London and North Western Railway Company did 
not hold a formal conference in London, as the companies 
already mentioned had done, but it sent, in this same year 
(1896), representatives to interview personally something 
like 1,000 farmers having farms contiguous to their railway 
and to explain to them how, by combining and sending 
their commodities in bulk, they could already obtain the 
lower rates they desired. Commenting on this fact at a 
meeting of the Newport (Salop) and District Agricultural 
Trading Society on February 9th, 1905 — presided over by 
the Duke of Sutherland, and attended, also, by the Secretary 
of the A. O. S. — Mr. Frank Ree, then the chief goods 
manager and now general manager of the London and North 


Western, added : — " In spite of the efforts thus made, barely 
half-a-dozen farmers showed a wilUngness even to consider 
the matter, and the renewal of these efforts in 1903 led to no 
better results than before." As further indicative of the 
policy of the London and North Western, mention might 
also be made of the fact that on the publication of " The 
Organisation of Agriculture," in May, 1904, the chief goods 
manager sent a copy to each of the company's district 
officers in agricultural districts ; and in January, 1905, a 
number of copies were forwarded to them with a letter from 
Mr. Ree, which stated : — 

I am sending you to-day copies of Mr. Edwin A. Pratt's 

book, entitled "The Organisation of Agriculture." Please make 
use of the books to the best advantage, going so far as to hand 
a copy to any large farmer or other person concerned in agricul- 
ture whom it will be well to educate on the lines advanced by 
Mr. Pratt. 

It will be seen from these examples— without reproducing 
others which might be given— that, whereas the attitude of 
the agriculturists on the South Eastern system, when invited 
to state their requirements, had been simply to ask for a 
general reduction of rates on agricultural produce, even to 
the extent of 25 per cent., without any action being taken 
by themselves, the attitude of the companies in general was 
to point (i) to the need for co-operation on the part of the 
producers, and (2) to the possibility of their obtaining, 
through co-operation, lower rates on the basis of those 
already existing. These two points— together with the need 
for more being done to effect co-operation than the railway 
companies themselves could do— were brought out very 
clearly in a letter, dated March 25th, 1903, addressed by 
Sir Joseph Wilkinson, then general manager of the Great 
Western Railway Company, to Mr. Hanbury, President of 
the Board of Trade, in reply to a communication sent to the 
company on the subject of the railways and agriculture. In 
this letter it was said : — 

It is a matter of general knowledge that in the past the farmers 
have frequently had just reason for being a s rpicious body of 


men as regards trusting the sale of their produce beyond their 
own observation ; and a practical and practicable method of 
overcoming this difficulty would be hailed with satisfaction. It 
seems to me that an important duty might be performed if the 
Department could organise groups of agriculturists in various 
districts who would be willing to join together in forwarding 
butter, cream, eggs, honey, fruit and vegetables, mushrooms, 
game, dead rabbits, dead poultry and such- like products to selected 
markets and manufacturing towns ; the Department, or some 
subsidiary authority, undertaking the selection of the persons to 
whom the consignments were to be sent and guaranteeing fair 
treatment and due payment to the farmer. 

It has always been my opinion that any wide and compre- 
hensive movement to be of a useful and lastingly beneficial 
character to agriculturists ought to emanate from and be 
conducted by themselves. There have in the last few years been 
great, stimulating and educational influences at work, and these, 
combined with certain elements of prosperity that have appeared, 
are making the farmer more regardful of outside influences than 
was formerly the case. If he is assisted with a due share of 
guidance and protection, and (from my point of view) if he is 
encouraged to believe that the railways would be his best friends 
if he would co-operate with them and regard them as such, there 
are great hopes of better times, in any case for the smaller forms 
of agriculture. 

Sir Joseph Wilkinson expressed the view that these senti- 
ments were universally felt by those responsible for the 
working of railways, always having regard to the varying 
requirements of the different portions of the country ; and 
he continued : — 

I would add that my company will be glad to meet in friendly 
conference any agriculturist who may have practical suggestions 
to make upon any point of mutual interest, and we are prepared 
to respond to all invitations and to send experienced officers 
to attend and give information at any and every meeting of 
farmers which may be summoned or brought about in our districts 
in connection with the renewed interest that is happily being 
awakened in agricultural matters. 

As will have been gathered from what has already been 
told in the section on " Earlier Efforts," the railway com- 
panies were attempting at this time an almost hopeless task 
in endeavouring to secure combination for transport and sale 
without that preliminary education of the producers in 

A.O. L 


co-operative effort which an independent propagandist body 
like the Agricultural Organisation Society could alone supply. 
None the less does the sincerity of the efforts made deserve 

Lower Rates : Increased Facilities. 

The fact must be further recognised that the railway 
companies which were thus urging the importance of co- 
operation, and pointing to the advantages in transport to 
be secured thereb}', did, also, concede lower rates in certain 
directions, and offer increased facilities to the producers in 
others, with a view to rendering to them such assistance as 
they then considered practicable. 

To meet, for example, a desire which had been expressed 
for lower rates for fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry, rabbits, 
butter, eggs and other produce sent by fast merchandise 
train, new tables conceding such rates were prepared and 
issued, authority being given to the senders to lump together 
or aggregate the various kinds of produce under conditions 
that would allow of such loads being made up as would 
justify the running of through trucks direct to the towns to 
be served ; yet one company at least, the Great Western, 
found that the response of the farmers approached on 
this subject was not always encouraging, many of them 
being distinctly averse to any departure from established 

The companies were more successful with the special 
trains which (in addition to ordinary services) they ran to 
meet the requirements of seasonal traffic, such as broccoli, 
new potatoes, fruit, etc. Arrangements were also made by 
various companies for the supply, in return for moderate 
charges, of hampers, baskets, and cloths for meat and 
poultry traffic. 

It might here be mentioned that, long before Lord Win- 
chilsea came on the scene at all as the self-sacrificing cham- 
pion of farmers' interests, the London and North Western 
Company had made special efforts to expand the Aylesbury 
duck industry, not only supplying cloths and hampers, but 


sending a man to collect the produce, carrying it by rail, 
delivering it to the London salesmen, and even obtaining 
from them the amount due to the sender, and remitting it 
to that person. This arrangement was a most convenient 
one for the senders, who were mostly producers of the 
" small " type, and in 1880, when the business was in an 
especially prosperous condition, the accounts thus collected 
by the railway company for the senders amounted to over 
£3,000. On the Post Office granting increased facihties to 
the public for the remittance of small sums, the company 
found it no longer necessary to act as financial intermediaries 
for the Aylesbury duck-raisers, who, however, can still 
obtain from the railway company the hampers in which to 
send their ducks to market. 

Several companies followed the example set by the Great 
Eastern in establishing the system of consignment, direct 
from farmer to consumer, of produce packed in non-returnable 
wooden boxes, of various sizes, supplied at a low charge 
by the railway company. Thus under the arrangements 
adopted by the Great Western Railway Company, in 1904, 
any farmer who wished to send consignments of produce, 
up to 24 lbs., from a station on the Great Western system to 
a householder in London, could obtain from the company, at 
prices ranging from twopence to fivepence halfpenny each, 
wooden boxes holding just such supply of poultry, eggs, 
butter, cream, fruit, etc., as might be desired ; while the 
railway company would carry such a box a distance of fifty 
miles by passenger train, and deliver it, within a certain 
radius, at the house of the consignee, for an inclusive charge 
of sixpence. 

Some of the companies — including the Great Eastern and 
the Great Western — also incurred considerable expense in 
compiling and publishing pamphlets giving the names and 
addresses of farmers and others on their respective systems 
who were prepared to supply urban householders with regular 
or occasional boxes of produce ; but the actual results, 
from a traffic point of view, were disappointing, while the 
box system itself was adversely criticised by leaders of the 


agricultural organisation movement, who held that it 
tended to encourage individualism on the part of the farmer 
in place of that principle of co-operation in which the greatest 
hopes of effecting an improvement in his position were 

The policy adopted by the railway companies in regard to 
the milk traffic is dealt with in the section on " The Dairy 
Industry," and references to the egg and poultry demonstra- 
tion car in South Wales in April, 1910, will be found in that 
on " Eggs and Poultry." 

The a. O. S. and the Railways. 

Much attention had naturally been paid throughout by 
the A. O. S. to these questions of cost of transport, which it 
regarded as often being no less important to the grower than 
the two other items that influence so materially his final 
balance sheet — namely, cost of production and market prices. 
Where there is but a comparatively small margin between 
these two, an undue cost of transport may, of course, convert 
an otherwise possible profit into a loss. 

While, however, there may have been, at first, a certain 
degree of prejudice entertained towards the railway com- 
panies in respect to their transport of English farm, market 
garden, or dairy produce, further experience showed that, 
although the action of the railways in regard, more especially, 
to various matters of detail, might still afford scope for 
criticism, the great need of the situation was, not to abuse 
the companies for their unwillingness to carry produce at 
unremunerative rates, but to induce the agriculturists 
themselves to adapt their business to the transport con- 
ditions which would enable them to secure the lower rates 
already often available, provided these conditions were 

The complaint as to preferential rates, which had formed 
a leading item in Lord Winchilsea's original programme, 
appeared less substantial to the Society when it was looked 
at from the points of view here suggested ; but there came 


a time when it was thought producers still had a grievance 
against the railway companies, inasmuch as, even when the 
societies were able to give very large orders for fertilisers, 
the companies would not quote lower rates than those that 
applied to much smaller quantities. 

To this it was replied by the companies that when they 
fixed their minima for specially low rates at ten, four, or even 
at only two tons, they did so with the idea of enabling the 
small as well as the large producer to take advantage of 
them, and with the full expectation that large consignments, 
to which the rates would equally apply, would still be sent. 
It was further declared that the British farmers who could 
consign in 2-ton or 4-ton lots were being granted special 
rates which on Continental railways might be conceded only 
in respect to 5-ton or lo-ton lots, such concessions being 
made by the EngHsh companies to meet the agricultural 
and trading conditions of this country ; but there was no 
idea on the part of the companies that, as soon as consign- 
ments of 10, 20 or 40 tons or more could be made up, fresh 
series of minimum rates should be fixed to apply to these 
greater quantities. One company, in fact, protested that 
its rates for 4-ton lots of fertilisers or other agricultural 
commodities had been fixed at "a very low basis which 
left no room for further reductions for lots of more than 
4 tons." 

As for any occasional huge consignment of fertilisers 
or other commodities which required the running of a special 
train, traffic of this sort was affiirmed to be less acceptable 
to a railway company than the consignment of a few 
additional truck loads at a time, over a series of days, 
inasmuch as the special train would involve a certain 
amount of dislocation of the regular service, whereas the 
extra truck loads day by day, added to the ordinary goods 
trains, would not interfere with the regular service at all, 
and would, also, cost less, in proportion, in the way of 
working expenses. 

The policy of the A. O. S. in regard to these questions of 
rail transport thus resolved itself mainly into one of showing 


how, by means of combination for the sending of large, in 
place of a series of small, consignments, material savings 
might be effected on the basis of existing railway rates, apart 
from any question of appealing to the railway companies 
for further concessions. 

Savings on Rail Transport. 

Many examples of the economies possible in these 
directions came under notice. 

Reference has already been made, on pp. 143-4, to the 
meeting of the Newport (Salop) and District Agricultural 
Co-operative Trading Society on February 9th, 1905, at 
which the present general manager of the London and North 
Western Railway was one of the speakers. In addition to 
the matters mentioned as having been touched by him on 
this occasion, Mr. Ree further stated, on the subject of 
railway rates for agricultural produce, that a table which 
had been prepared by his company, giving details as to the 
traffic in the Newport district and the actual rates paid 
per consignment by the farmers, showed that, under the 
conditions then existing, over 80 per cent, of the consign- 
ments were carried at the higher rates on the company's 
rate books, and only 20 per cent, at the lower. By means of 
combination, in order that consignments could be sent in 
large quantities coming within the range of these lower 
rates, the small farmers who were members of that society 
could save something like 19 per cent, on their payments 
for rail transport. 

In the issue of Co-operation for October, 1910, reference 
was made to the fact that the 90 members of an agricultural 
co-operative society had been found to be sending each 
his own particular lot of produce to one and the same 
market. Such individual consignments generally averaged 
about half a ton, the charge for which, at the rate of 9s. 2d. 
per ton, was 4s. yd. There was, however, a special rate of 
6s. -^d. per ton for consignments of not less than 4 tons, and 
it was shown that if eight growers each put his half-ton lot 


to make up this minimum the saving effected would work 
out thus : — 

Total Cost. Cost Per Sender. 
i s. d. s. d. 

8 consignments in separate ^-ton 

lots I 16 8 47 

8 consignments in one 4 -ton lot . . 150 3 li 

Saving 11 8 15* 

The average weekly payments per grower for rail transport 
came to £l, and the average annual saving per grower made 
possible by the figures just given would have been £17. 
Multiplying this by 90, the number of members in the society, 
it will be seen that the total saving per annum that might 
have been effected by them in railway rates, by means of 
combination, and without their asking for any further con- 
cessions, was no less than £1,530. 

The following further example of possible savings in the 
same direction has been thus recorded by one of the 
organisers of the Agricultural Organisation Society : — 

As the result of an arrangement between the Cambridgeshire 
County Council and the A. O. S., I paid a series of visits to that 
county in the spring of 1911. The first place I visited was 
Cottenham, where I found that the small holders were at a great 
disadvantage in matters of transport. They were consigning — 
mostly vegetables — at a rate of 15s. per ton to London, for small 
quantities, and at one of 26s. 6d. per ton to Manchester. I 
pointed out to them that there were special rates of 7s. id. per 
ton to London and 15s. $d. per ton to Manchester, which would 
enable them to effect a material saving if only they adopted the' 
principle of co-operation and grouped their consignments into 
the stipulated quantities. They acted on my suggestion, a whole 
season's produce has since been despatched from Cottenham at 
the lower rates, and the small holders have expressed the warmest 
thanks for having the matter brought to their notice. 

Thus the Agricultural Organisation Society has often 
succeeded where the railway companies themselves had 
previously failed in bringing about the combination needed 
for taking advantage of lower rates already on the companies' 
books ; and this result may be attributed mainly to (i) the 
distrust with which the naturally suspicious mind of the 


British agriculturist had regarded the earlier advances made 
by the railway companies — a distrust inspiring the idea that 
the companies were merely seeking some advantage for 
themselves ; and (2) the absolute need for independent 
educational and propagandist efforts as a means of converting 
the producers from their old prejudices, of bringing home to 
them the practical advantages of combination, and, still 
more, of providing the machinery by which such com- 
bination can be carried into effect. 

Motor Services. 

One interesting development in the application of com- 
bination to transport is represented by the motor wagon 
service established in 1904 by the North Eastern Railway 
Company as a means of communication between their 
railway system and the depot — now a commodious building 
— of the Brandsby (Yorkshire) Agricultural Trading Asso- 
ciation, Limited. The service has been of great advantage 
in many ways to growers in the district, but the inauguration 
of it would have been wholly impracticable had there been 
no local society to group consignments, to bulk orders for 
requirements, and otherwise to organise the traffic generally, 
supplementing efficiently, in these respects, the means which 
the railway company themselves were prepared to adopt in 
the joint interests of the agriculturists and of their own 

A like service was also established by the Great Western 
Railway Company in the Teme Valley ; but in this instance 
the results were not considered sufficiently encouraging to 
warrant the continuance of the arrangement. There would, 
in fact, seem to be a tendency on the part of agriculturists 
to assume that, when a railway company provides the motor 
wagon, they need only send by it when their own horses, 
vehicles and drivers are otherwise engaged, the consequence 
being that there is a risk of a regular service not paying 
expenses. Whatever the reason, it is a matter for regret 
that these motor services have not been established far more 


Railway Station Depots. 

Another outcome of organised effort is to be found in the 
setting up at country railway stations of depots to constitute 
the headquarters of the local agricultural co-operative 
society in the collection, storing or distribution of members' 
produce or necessaries consigned or received by rail. 

In the first instance the railway companies themselves 
constructed these depots, and charjged the societies a rental 
sufficient to cover interest on capital expenditure. There 
arose, however, the risk that a want of success on the part of 
a local society might leave the depot on the hands of the 
railway company. The societies, in turn, say that in certain 
instances the railway companies, in their desire to assist the 
movement, incurred greater expenditure in connection with 
the depots than was really necessary. More recently the 
railway companies have been reluctant to provide the 
depots at their own cost, though they have offered facilities 
to the local societies to build depots for themselves by letting 
them have the necessary land in return for a nominal rental ; 
and this, probably, will be found the better arrangement. 

In one or two instances the difficulty has been solved by 
the railway company partitioning ol^ part of an existing 
goods shed at a country station, and letting such portion to 
the local society. In still other places, where only a limited 
amount of accommodation has been required for such 
purposes as egg collecting and grading, the railway company 
have provided for the society — and again at a nominal rental 
— an old goods van which had been retired from active 
service on the line. 

At Holsworthy (Devonshire) the London and South 
Western Railway Company constructed some years ago, on 
their station premises, a slaughter-house for the convenience 
of dealers purchasing fat cattle in the district, the cattle 
being taken to the station, killed in the slaughter-house, and 
consigned by train in such quantities to the London markets 
that at certain times of the year six or eight truck loads of 
meat are dispatched. The members of the local agricultural 


co-operative society, being under the impression that the 
slaughter-house could be used by the dealers only, requested 
the Society to approach the London and South Western 
Railway Company with a view to the provision of similar 
accommodation at Holsworthy station for its own members. 
A deputation accordingly waited on the chief goods manager 
of the railway company, who replied that the members of the 
society were entitled to use the slaughter-house equally with 
the traders on their making the payments fixed by a scale 
of moderate charges, and the officer in question added that 
if the society could make any suggestion as regarded addi- 
tional accommodation on other parts of the line, and could 
show that the provision of it would not involve a loss, he 
would gladly support any such application that might be 
made to his company. 

Classification of Cucumbers. 

Then an important concession has recently been obtained 
from the railway companies in an altered classification of 
cucumbers which, though of special benefit to the Worthing 
and District Market Growers' Association, applies to the 
lines of all the companies connected with the English 
Clearing House system, and is thus of far greater value than 
a concession in the interests of Worthing only would be. 
The Worthing Association, it might be added, was originally 
formed mainly to enable the growers to secure the lower 
rates offered by the London Brighton and South Coast 
Railway on bulk consignments of grapes, tomatoes and 

Fruit Transport. 

In another direction the Swanwick (Hampshire) Fruit 
Growers' Association adds to its other useful fimctions by 
making known to the railway companies the needs of the 
district with reference to the fruit traffic and by seeking to 
bring about the general use of baskets of uniform size and 
holding standard weights of fruit. 


Railway Co-operation with the A. O. S. 

Mention has already been made of the fact that Mr. Philip 
Burtt, Assistant General Manager of the North Eastern 
Railway Company, is chairman of the North Eastern Branch 
of the A. O. S. and a member of the new Board of Governors. 

To show still further the practical assistance which the 
railways are giving to the movement, it might be added that 
Mr. G. T. Phizackerley, District Traffic Superintendent of the 
London and North Western Railway at Chester, has been 
appointed on the executive committee of the North Wales 
Branch of the A. O. S., and is showing great activity in 
promoting the movement in that part of the country. It is, 
in fact, understood that the London and North Western 
Railway Company are taking considerable interest in the 
work of the Agricultural Organisation Society, that the whole 
tendency of their policy is to encourage the formation of 
agricultural co-operative societies, and that they have, from 
time to time, given to their officers definite instructions — 
recently renewed — to offer ever}' encouragement to, and 
every facility for, the setting up and successful operation of 
such societies, this line of action to be taken throughout 
the company's system. 

With direct representation of the railway companies, not 
alone on the Board of Governors of the A. O. S. but, also, 
on all the Branch committees which, it is suggested, should 
eventually be formed to cover the whole of England and 
Wales, the possibility of ensuring harmony and co-operation 
in the mutual relations of agriculturists and the railways, to 
the advantage of both, should be still further very materially 

Road Transport. 

Cost of transport by rail is, in many instances, only one of 
two important items of expenditure in getting produce from 
farm or small holding to market, the other being cost of 
transport by road, either as between farm and railway 
station or as between farm and market, the latter provided 
that the commodities can be sent the entire distance by road. 


When the individual farmers or small holders are left to 
their own resources in getting their produce to the railway, 
it may happen that the cost, even although the station is 
only a few miles away, will work out at a higher rate per ton 
than the charges for consignment by rail to destination. 
For instance, the sums per package paid by a group of small 
holders at Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, for the transport of 
their individual consignments of potatoes and vegetables to 
Oakington station, on the Great Eastern Railway, situate 
only two miles away, were found to represent a road trans- 
port rate equal to about 24s. or 25s. per ton ; whereas the 
same produce was being carried by rail from Oakington to 
London, a distance of 62 miles, at a rate, for small consign- 
ments, of 15s. per ton, which would have been reduced to 
one of ys. id. per ton if the senders had made up consign- 
ments of 4 tons. 

Should a district be situated at any distance from a 
railway station with which frequent communication is 
maintained, great advantage is to be derived from the 
setting up of a motor wagon service, in combination with 
a local co-operative society, for the collection and transport 
of the produce of farmers and small holders within a 
certain area, thus relieving them of any need for making 
individual arrangements ; and the advantage is greater still 
when the same service can be used for bringing from the 
railway, on the return journey, commodities necessary for 
use on the farm or holding. 

Light Railways. 

Light railways constitute another phase of the transport 
problem, and one which, as an alternative either to 
motor wagons or to the much more expensive type of 
ordinary railways, is certain to attract increased attention 
in the near future. 

Road motors, operated in conjunction with an agricultural 
co-operative society, may, indeed, to a certain extent be 
regarded as the precursors of light railways inasmuch as 


their tendency, under an efficient system of operation, is 
to expand the traffic to such an extent that a motor service 
may become no longer adequate in the course of a few years, 
and the need will then have been created for still further 
facilities which a light railway would be best adapted 
to supply. 

These conditions are well brought out by the Light Railway 
Commissioners in their fifth annual report to the Board of 
Trade on their proceedings to December 31st, 1911, wherein 
they make the following references to motor traction, 
light railways and co-operation in agriculture : — 

With regard to the great development in recent years of motor 
traction upon public roads, it is of interest to note that, in our 
experience, confirmed by the two cases of proposed light railways 
which we have most recently had under consideration, the 
establishment of a service of motors (in each case combined with 
the organised co-operation of the agricultural and other local 
industries) has tended to stimulate the desire, and to emphasise 
the need, for better railway facilities, rather than (as it is some- 
times supposed would be the case) to supersede them, or to take 
their place. In these cases evidence was brought to show the 
considerable extent of saving to the road authorities in the 
annual cost of maintenance which would follow from a trans- 
ference to a railway of the traffic otherwise carried on the pubUc 
roads ; this point was also in accord with our previous experience 
as bearing on the economy of transport by railway. 

In making these observations, we appreciate that in districts 
where it is not practicable to construct a railway, and where the 
traffic is not sufficient to support one, a motor service (especially 
when combined with some " co-operative " system) may be of 
much use, and in many cases would develop the traffic to a point 
at which railway facilities would become requisite and feasible for 
the further progress of the district. 

One especially significant example of the tendencies in 
question is afforded by the aforesaid Yorkshire village 
of Brandsby, where the success of the motor service con- 
necting with the North Eastern Railway system has led to 
an application being made to the Light Railway Commis- 
sioners for an order sanctioning the construction of a light 
railway. An enquiry into the matter was held by the Light 
Railway Commissioners at York on February 20th, 1912. 

It was shown at this enquiry that the motor wagon service 


is now carrying about 2,000 tons of goods a year for the 
Agricultural Association established at Brandsby, the popu- 
lation of which place is 325. Not only has the service 
been of great practical advantage, but it has become wholly 
unequal to present requirements. In certain parts of the 
district which cannot take advantage of the service at all 
the cost of haulage to or from the railway is prohibitive. 
Farmers there are oWiged to be content with making butter, 
though they would gain more — if only adequate facilities 
were available — by sending their milk to York, which is 
the natural market for the district. In some localities, 
through which the proposed Ught railway would pass, the 
only direct communication with York is by a carrier's 
cart, occupying three or four hours on the journey. Farmers 
at a distance of five or six miles from the railway are unable 
to obtain, at a sufficiently low cost for transport, the manures 
which would increase the production of their crops. Even 
at Brandsby itself the farmers may be deprived of the use 
of the motor wagon when, in wintry weather, the roads 
are impassable. 

Hence the proposal for a light railway. Starting from 
Brandsby it would have a total length of nine miles, and 
connect with the North Eastern system at Haxby, four miles 
north of York. The district it would serve comprises 
20,000 acres, and has a population of about 3,000. In this 
district there are eleven villages, the present average 
distance of which from a railway is five miles. The line 
is to be a full gauge one ; it will have three stations and two 
halts, and it will be operated with a single engine, (steam), 
and practically without signals. The estimated cost is 
£34,000, including £1,500 for land and £2,500 for contin- 
gencies. It is proposed to raise £36,000 by ordinary 
shares and £12,000 by debentures. 

In regard to prospective traffic, the Brandsby Agricultural 
Trading Association itself expects to provide at least 
3,200 tons a year. A good milk traffic is anticipated ; the 
greater use of manure should ensure more traffic in itself 
and further increase the output of produce available for 


transport ; improved facilities for travel should develop 
the residential possibilities of the district, while a still further 
argument put before the Light Railway Commissioners in 
favour of the proposed line was that a light railway would 
save the local rates by lessening the wear and tear of the roads. 

So conclusive was the case thus made out in favour of 
the scheme that the Commissioners had no hesitation in 
deciding in favour of granting an order authorising the 
construction of the Hne. This order they have since made 
and submitted to the Board of Trade for confirmation. 

The position at Brandsby is deserving of this detailed 
reference because it is, in many ways, typical of the position 
of many agricultural districts throughout the country, 
and, also, because it foreshadows what may be expected 
to happen in other places where an improvement in existing 
transport facilities is begun with an organised motor wagon 
service under some mutually satisfactory arrangement 
between a railway company and an agricultural co-operative 
society, itself receiving the loyal support, in this particular 
matter, of members seeking, if only in their own interests, 
to make the scheme a success. 

The main-line railway system of the country may be 
regarded as practically complete ; but there is still great 
need for the building of more light railways which would link 
up undeveloped or inadequately developed districts where 
railways of the ordinary type would not pay, while the choice 
for such light railways of the standard gauge of main 
line railways would allow of a ready transfer of rolling stock 
from the one system to the other. 

The whole subject is so intimately connected with the 
welfare of agriculture, with the possible success of colonies 
of small holders, and with the further development of our 
national resources, that it may well claim the special study 
and attention of the Agricultural Organisation Society. 

From Farm to Market. 

With the improvements brought about in motor construc- 
tion and in the roads of the country there is certain to be a 


considerable development in the transport of farm and 
market garden produce by road in place of transport by 
rail. The new conditions allow of a steady expansion of 
the suburban area within which such road transport is 
practicable, while the railway companies, with their heavy 
outlay on Unes, stations and goods depots, and the increase 
in their wages bills, taxation, and other items falling under 
the head of working expenses, are heavily handicapped in 
meeting the competition of a road transport that, among 
other advantages, has fewer expenses to cover and can 
convey produce direct from farm or local depot to market. 
On the other hand it has to be remembered that the possi- 
bilities of road transport are still Umited by distance ; that 
where agricultural produce is carried in large quantities the 
locomotive, counting as a single unit, may still be a more 
economical form of transport than an equivalent number 
of motor lorries, each counting as a separate unit ; that 
in proportion as the increasing road traffic takes business 
from the railways, the latter may seek compensation by 
encouraging still further their long-distance traffic, with a 
corresponding effect on the markets, and leading to still 
greater risks of gluts thereon, unless precautions are taken 
along the lines of a scientific marketing of agricultural 
produce operated through the agricultural co-operative 
societies which the A. O. S. has sought to estabhsh, and that, 
as the example of Brandsby shows, the setting up of an 
organised motor service may, for a variety of reasons, be 
only the precursor of demands for increased rail facilities. 


The facts here narrated will, it may be hoped, have 
sufficed to prove the following fundamental propositions : — 

The need for agricultural organisation was originally 
brought about by a combination of causes, including (i) the 
greater application of science to production ; (2) the con- 
sequent growth of commercial industries for the provision 
of fertilisers, concentrated feeding stuffs, machinery, etc., 
which, if the farmer is to produce his crops economically, 
he should be able to obtain, at the lowest price and of the 
best quality, without having to pay too much for inter- 
mediate profits ; (3) the greater influx of food supphes 
from abroad following on {a) the development of virgin 
soils in new countries, [h) the increased facilities for ocean 
transport, and (c) the application of refrigeration to the 
carriage of perishable commodities ; (4) the effect of the 
telegraph on commercial relations with distant lands ; and 
(5) the whole tendency of to-day for business matters of 
every kind, including therein the business of agriculture, 
to get more and more into the hands of powerful combina- 
tions against which the isolated producer, and more especially 
the isolated farmer, cannot hope to protect adequately his 
own particular interests. 

The chief aim of the agricultural organisation now being 
resorted to by civilised countries large and small throughout 
the world is to meet these conditions by the formation of 
societies operating mainly on the co-operative principle 
for (i) purchase of agricultural requisites ; (2) provision 
of greater credit facilities for the cultivator ; (3) the applica- 
tion to various forms of agricultural production of that 
" factory " principle which has done so much to expand 

An. M 


urban industries ; (4) the ensuring of an effective distribu- 
tion of agricultural produce on the basis of scientific market- 
ing ; (5) utilisation of surplus supplies in times of over- 
production, thus avoiding either waste or an undue fall in 
prices through gluts on the market ; (6) reduction of the cost 
of rail or road transport by means of combination ; (7) 
improvement of live stock ; (8) co-operative tenancy of 
land ; (9) insurance, and, in fact, for every purpose connected 
with agriculture in regard to which combined action may be 
of advantage. 

The right of the agriculturist to resort to organisation 
on these lines cannot reasonably be disputed since, although 
his doing so may, to a certain extent, appear to prejudice 
the interests of middlemen now thriving on his past neglect 
of his own interests, it has to be remembered (i) that the 
farmer, as a manufacturer of agricultural produce (for such 
he may claim to be), is, under the recognised customs of 
the commercial world, entitled to have direct dealings with 
manufacturers of the raw materials, the implements, and 
the machinery of his industry without being compelled to 
purchase through agents, dealers or local shopkeepers in 
the same way as a suburban resident growing vegetables 
in his own garden for domestic consumption might be 
expected to do ; (2) that by the formation of agricultural 
co-operative societies, which group the requirements of their 
members, orders can be given on a scale well justifying 
direct dealings ; (3) that if agriculture, still the greatest 
of our national industries, is really to flourish, there must, 
whatever other remedies are adopted, be a reduction in 
those intermediate commercial profits which, on the one 
hand, increase unduly the cost of production, and, on the 
other hand, make too great a difference between what the 
producer receives and what the consumer pays ; and (4) 
that in close alliance with this question of the farmer's 
profits are many other matters including those of no less 
material concern than the wages and the housing of the 
agricultural labourer (who also stands to benefit if the 
business of agriculture can be made a more remunerative 


one), and the offering of greater inducements for settling 
more people on the land under the scheme for the extension 
of small holdings. 

The wisdom of the principles and practice of agricultural 
organisation, as adopted and now being actively promoted 
by the central propagandist societies of England and Wales, 
of Scotland and of Ireland respectively, is no less beyond 
all reasonable doubt since we have abundant evidence of 
the fact that the movement in each country is proceeding 
along thoroughly practical lines, has already accomplished 
good results, and has laid solid foundations for still greater 
efforts in the future. 

Thus the subject of Agricultural Organisation, in its many 
different phases, may be commended to the attention of the 
British Public as a National Question well deserving of 
their serious and most sympathetic attention, while they 
will see that, although Great Britain has hitherto been behind 
certain of the other countries in taking this all-important 
work in hand, the right lines have now been adopted, the 
difficulties of the pioneering stage have been surmounted, 
and a happy combination of voluntary effort and State 
aid, each supplementing the policy and the possibilities of 
the other, should ensure in the immediate future a greatly 
accelerated rate of progress, to the advantage alike of 
agriculture, of agriculturists and of the national well-being 
as a whole. 


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