Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/157

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APPLETONS'

 

POPULAR SCIENCE

 

MONTHLY.



DECEMBER, 1898.



THE WHEAT-GROWING CAPACITY OF THE UNITED STATES.
By EDWARD ATKINSON.

IN 1880 it happened to fall to me to make a forecast of the very great reduction in the price of wheat in Great Britain, which could then be predicated on the lessening cost of transportation from Chicago to the seaboard, thence to British ports, which was then sure to be soon followed by a large reduction in the railway charges for bringing the wheat to Chicago from the other Western centers of distribution. I then alleged that the time was not far off when, even if the price of wheat in Mark Lane were reduced from the then existing rate of fifty-two shillings per quarter to thirty-four shillings, it would still yield as full a return to the Western farmer as it had yielded in previous years at fifty shillings and upward. This forecast attracted great attention, and has since been made the subject of very much bitter controversy, especially since the fall in prices was much more rapid than I then thought it could be, and was carried to a much lower point than any one could have then anticipated. It will be remarked that thirty-four shillings in Mark Lane is at the rate of one dollar and three cents per bushel of sixty pounds.

From time to time I have almost been forced to defend the position then taken, notably when asked to appear before the Royal Commission on Depression in Agriculture at one of their sessions, where I was kept upon the stand for two full days in the effort of the excellent English farmers and landowners to prove that the American farmer had been ruined by the reduction in the price of wheat, which the majority of that commission attributed to the