The fair promise thus held out was not maintained, as the country suffered heavily from the bad season of 1897.
The agriculture of France presents an interesting study because of a steady and continuous effort on the part of the Government to make it sufficiently profitable to assure adequate home supply. As the only means of giving profit to one industry is through a restriction on foreign competition, it is the Government that has intervened to ward off this competition; and as the cost of foreign wheat has tended steadily downward, the interference of the Government has become more frequent and extreme. In this policy it has been supported and encouraged by two very large elements of the agricultural interest—the grain and the wine growers. At first glance the interests of these elements might seem to be opposed to one another, as the one exports and the other is facing an importation. The vineyards of France long possessed a position which fashion and prejudice almost made a monopoly. French wines constituted one of the leading items in the export trade. In 1873 more than 398,000,000 litres of wine were sent to foreign countries, representing a value of 281,300,000 francs. This was the highest return ever made, before or since that year. The visitation of the phylloxera, which impaired the wine industry of entire provinces, and the introduction of Spanish and Italian wines under commercial arrangements believed to be more favorable to the foreign than to the domestic producer, brought the wine growers to the aid of the farmer in demanding higher protection against the encroachments of foreign grain, meat, and wine