Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 84.djvu/260
256 THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY
income it must be inferred that productional methods on the farm are much in arrears of those employed in city occupations. There remains, of course, the speculation as to the extent to which urban interests " farm the farmer." Feeble selling methods on the part of the farmer result in low prices for his goods and affect the total and per capita agricultural production as given in census reports. But even with allowance made for the superior profit-taking facilities of city occupa- tions, it would seem beyond question that per capita production in the country is relatively low.
Evidently if more people enter farming, other things equal, the prices received by the farmer will fall due to overproduction and a still lower standard of living result. If more scientific methods of farming are employed, thus increasing agricultural production, prices will tend to fall unless there is an exodus of farmers or selling organizations among farmers to hold prices up. With a higher percentage of popula- tion going into farming and with more scientific methods the glut of farm products would be severe, unless relief were found in regulating the quantity of farm products raised for purposes of maintaining prices. The limited physical capacity of society to consume farm products is a fact to be taken into account.
Even if the prices of city commodities were greatly decreased and the prices of agricultural products increased, while the income to agri- culture would warrant a higher percentage of population in the coun- try, the absolute amount of agricultural products consumed by society would remain about the same for a given national population, assuming that no scarcity of agricultural products already existed. In the event of larger income to agriculture a larger relative population is con- ceivable only on the assumption that agricultural production remains about the same, possibly through the shortening of hours of labor by which overproduction would be avoided.
In response to economic laws the drift to cities may be expected to continue indefinitely. "We must accept the fact that agriculture is not by any means the dominant occupation, but is relatively decreasing in importance, its logical precedence in the creation of values of course being conceded. But it would be unreasonable to urge a larger relative agricultural population without simultaneously urging organization among farmers to regulate production or to hold prices to a level which would enable them to approximate the standard of living characteristic of cities, unless cheap farmers are desired as well as cheap food. The arguments for a relatively larger agricultural production should not be ex parte, for such would prove the farmer's undoing if not refuted by protective efforts among farmers themselves.