Chapter 11n, Digression: Produce that can be multiplied according to demand
The second kind is the rude produce which human industry can multiply in proportion to the demand.
- It consists of useful plants and animals which are naturally plentiful.
- Subsequently, they are of little use in uncultivated countries.
- But they gain value as cultivation advances.
- During a long period of improvement, their amount diminishes while their demand increases.
- Their real value gradually rises until it reaches maximum profitability.
For example, cattle prices can rise so high that it becomes profitable to cultivate food for them.
- At this point, its price cannot go higher unless more land were turned into pasture.
- The extension of tillage reduces the amount of wild pasture.
- It reduces the amount of wild cattle meat.
- It increases the demand for that meat by increasing the number of people who have corn to exchange for such meat.
- Meat and cattle prices must then rise until it gets so high.
- It then becomes profitable to raise food for them as corn is raised as food for man.
- But this can only happen late in the progress of improvement.
- There are some parts of Europe where cattle prices have not yet reached this height.
- Before the union, it did not reach this height in Scotland.
- Scotland has huge lands more natural for cattle.
- Had the Scotch cattle been always confined to Scotland, it is impossible that their price could have risen so high
- Near London, cattle prices reached this height at the start of the 17th century.
- The remoter counties reached this height much later.
- In some counties, it still has not reached this height.
- Cattle is first of the second kind of rude produce to rise to this height.
Until cattle prices has reached this height, it is impossible that most lands can be completely cultivated.
- In all distant farms, the amount of well-cultivated land must be proportional to the amount of manure the farm itself produces.
- This land must be proportional to the stock of cattle maintained on it.
- The land is manured by feeding them in the stable.
- But unless cattle prices are sufficient to pay the rent and profit of cultivated land, the farmer cannot afford to do this.
- In cultivated lands, cattle are only fed in a stable.
- It will take too much labour to collect their waste on unimproved lands.
- If cattle prices are insufficient to pay for their food in pastures, it will be less sufficient to pay for their food in the stable, as their food must be collected with more labour.
- No more cattle can be fed profitably in the stable than what are needed for tillage.
- But these can never afford the manure needed to keep the lands in good condition.
- The little manure that they have will be reserved for the most fertile lands.
- Most of the rest will lie waste.
- It will produce only some miserable pasture for a few half-starved cattle.
- The farm, though much understocked, will be very frequently overstocked in proportion to its actual produce.
- Part of this waste land pastured in this wretched manner for six or seven years may be ploughed up afterwards.
- It can yield a poor crop or two of bad oats or coarse grain.
- It will then be entirely exhausted.
- It must be rested and pastured again with another part ploughed up to be exhausted and rested as before.
- Such was the general system in the low country of Scotland before the union.
- Up to 1/3 or 1/4 of the lands were kept constantly well-manured and in good condition.
- The rest were never manured.
- A certain portion was regularly cultivated and exhausted.
- Under this system, lands could produce less than its maximum potential.
- The low price of cattle before the union rendered it almost unavoidable.
- Despite the great rise in price of cattle, this practice continues due to ignorance and attachment to old customs.
- In most places, it is caused by the following unavoidable obstructions in changing the old system:
- The poverty of the tenants
- It prevented them from acquiring the cattle needed to cultivate their lands better.
- If they could acquire the cattle, they did not have the time to cultivate their lands
- The increase of stock and the improvement of land must go hand in hand.
- One can never much outrun the other.
- Without some increase of stock, there can be no improvement of land.
- There can be no considerable increase of stock unless there is a considerable improvement of land.
- Otherwise the land could not maintain it.
- These natural obstructions to the establishment of a better system, can only be removed by a long course of frugality and industry.
- The old system is wearing out gradually.
- It can be completely abolished in Scotland after 50-100 years.
- This rise in cattle prices is perhaps the greatest of all the commercial advantages Scotland derived from the union with England.
- It perhaps was the principal cause of the improvement of the low country.
- It raised the value of all highland estates.
In all new colonies, the great amount of waste land used for the feeding of cattle soon renders cattle extremely abundant and cheap.
- All the cattle of the American colonies were originally carried from Europe.
- They soon multiplied so much and became so cheap that even horses were allowed to run wild.
- It takes a long time after the establishment of such colonies before feeding cattle on cultivated land can become profitable.
- A bad system of husbandry, similar to that of Scotland, was likely introduced there from:
- the lack of manure
- the disproportion between the stock employed in cultivation and the land which it is supposed to cultivate.
- The Swedish traveller Mr. Kalm, wrote about the system of husbandry of some English colonies in North America in 1749.
- He could not find English agricultural skills there.
- They did not take any manure for their corn fields.
- When a piece of land has been exhausted by continual cropping, they clear and cultivate another piece of fresh land.
- Their cattle are allowed to wander through uncultivated grounds where they are half-starved.
- They have long ago destroyed the annual grasses by cropping them too early in the spring before they had time to form their flowers or shed their seeds.
- The annual grasses were the best natural grasses in that part of North America.
- When the Europeans first settled there, they used to grow very thick and rose three or four feet high.
- A piece of ground which could not maintain one cow presently, could formerly maintain four.
- Each cow could give four times the milk it could give at present.
- In Mr. Kalm's opinion, the poorness of the pasture degraded their cattle from one generation to another.
- They were probably like that stunted breed which was common all over Scotland 30-40 years ago.
- That breed is now so much mended by a more plentiful method of feeding.
Cattle can command a high price late in the progress of improvement to make it profitable to cultivate land for feeding them.
- Until cattle raises this price, it is impossible that improvement can be perfected as it is in Europe.
Venison is among the last parts of this kind of rude produce which can bring this high price.
- Venison prices in Great Britain is extravagant, but still insufficient to compensate the cost of a deer park.
- If it compensated the cost, deer-feeding would soon become common in farming, the same way as the feeding small birds called Turdi was common among the ancient Romans.
- Varro and Columella assure us that it was very profitable.
- The fattening of ortolan birds is profitable in France.
- Venison prices may rise still higher if:
- it continues to be in fashion
- the wealth of Great Britain continues to increase
There is a very long interval in the progress of improvement for other kinds of rude produce to gradually arrive at their highest price according to different circumstances.
- This interval is between the rising of cattle prices, a necessary produce, and venison prices, a superfluous produce.
In every farm, the offals of the barn and stables will maintain poultry.
- These are fed with what would otherwise be lost and are a mere save-all.
- The farmer can sell his poultry for very little because they did not cost him anything.
- Almost all that he gets is pure gain.
- Poultry prices can be so low that it discourages him from feeding any more.
- But in countries ill-cultivated and thinly inhabited, the poultry raised without cost are often sufficient to supply the whole demand.
- In this state, they are often as cheap as meat or any other animal food.
- But the whole quantity of poultry must always be much smaller than the whole quantity of meat reared on the farm.
- In times of wealth, what is rare is always preferred to what is common.
- As wealth increases, the price of poultry gradually rises more than meat, until it gets so high that it becomes profitable to cultivate land for feeding poultry.
- This price cannot go any higher unless more land is used for poultry.
- In the rural French economy, poultry-feeding is very important.
- It can encourage the farmer to raise a much corn and buckwheat for poultry.
- A middle-class farmer there will sometimes have 400 fowls in his yard.
- The feeding of poultry is not so much important in England.
- It is certainly dearer in England than in France, as England receives big supplies from France.
- The period at which animal food is dearest is the period which immediately precedes the practice of cultivating land for raising animals.
- For some time before this practice becomes general, the scarcity must necessarily raise the price.
- After it has become general, new methods of feeding are commonly developed.
- These enable the farmer to raise more animal food on the same quantity of land.
- The plenty obliges him to sell cheaper.
- The introduction of clover, turnips, carrots, cabbages, etc. contributed to sink the common price of meat in London below what it was at the start of the 17th century.
The hog eats food among dung and greedily devours many things rejected by other animals.
- It is originally kept as a save-all like poultry.
- As long as the supply of hogs meets the demand, it has a much lower price.
- But when the demand rises beyond the supply, the price rises relative to other meat according to:
- The nature of the country
- Its state of agriculture.
- In France, according to Mr. Buffon, the pork prices are nearly equal to beef prices.
- In most of Great Britain, it is currently higher.
Count de Buffon
The great rise in the price of hogs and poultry in Great Britain was frequently imputed to the reduction of the number of cottagers and small occupiers of land.
- In all of Europe, this event was the forerunner of improvement and better cultivation
- It may have raised the price of hogs and poultry sooner and faster than natural.
- As the poorest family can often maintain a cat or a dog without any cost, so the poorest occupiers of land can maintain a few poultry and pigs.
- Their leftover food and milk supply those animals with food.
- The animals find the rest in the neighbouring fields without doing any damage to anybody.
- By reducing the number of those small occupiers, the number of hogs and poultry must have reduced much.
- Their price must have risen faster than natural.
- Sooner or later, it must rise to the highest price or the price for the expense of growing food for them.
The dairy business, like the feeding of hogs and poultry, is originally carried on as a save-all.
- The cattle kept on the farm produce more milk than needed for the rearing of their own young or the consumption of the farmer's family.
- They produce most at a particular season.
- Milk is perhaps the most perishable of all rude produce.
- In the warm season when it is most abundant, it will scarce keep 24 hours.
- By making it into fresh butter, the farmer can store a small part of it for a week
- By making it into salt butter, for a year
- By making it into cheese, he stores a much greater part of it for several years.
- Part of all these is reserved for the use of his own family.
- The rest goes to market to find the best price possible to keep the farmer encouraged to bring it to market.
- If the price is very low, he will likely produce very few of it.
- This was the case of almost all dairy farmers in Scotland 30-40 years ago until today.
- The same causes which gradually raise meat prices raise dairy prices.
- Dairy prices are connected to the cost of feeding cattle
- The increase of price pays for more labour, care, and cleanliness.
- This increase gets the dairy farmer's attention and its quality gradually improves until it gets so high that land is converted to dairy.
- If it gets any higher, more land will be converted.
- It seems to have reached this height through most of England, where much good land is employed in dairy.
- Except for few towns, dairy prices have not seemed to reach this height anywhere in Scotland
- Farmers seldom employ land in raising food for cattle for dairy.
- The price of dairy is probably still too low for it.
- The inferiority of Scottish dairy compared to English dairies is equal to its inferiority in price.
- The cheapness of Scottish dairy is perhaps the cause of the inferiority of its quality.
- Most of the Scottish dairy cannot be sold at a higher price, which prevents its quality from improving.
- Through most of England, the dairy, despite its high price, is not more profitable than corn or cattle.
- Through most of Scotland, it cannot even be profitable.
Importance of Commercial Viability
All lands can only be completely cultivated and improved if the price of every produce is high enough to pay for the cost of complete improvement and cultivation.
- To do this, the price of each produce must be sufficient:
- To pay the rent of good corn land, since it regulates the rent of most other cultivated lands
- To pay the labour and expence of the farmer with the amount commonly paid on good corn-land, or to replace it with ordinary profits
- This rise in the price of each particular produce, must be previous to the improvement and cultivation of the land.
- Gain, not loss, is the end of all improvement.
- But loss is the consequence of improving land to produce something which could never pay the cost.
- The complete improvement and cultivation of the countryside is the greatest of all public advantages.
- This rise in the price of all those rude produce should be seen as its necessary forerunner, instead of being a public calamity,
This rise in the nominal or money-price of all those rude produce has been the effect of a rise in their real price.
- They have become worth more silver and more labour and subsistence than before.
- It costs more labour and subsistence to bring them to market.
- This is then represented in its higher price.
Next: Chapter 11p, Digression: 3rd Sort