Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 76.djvu/468

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PSM V76 D468 Usa agricultural production between 1866 and 1908.png

This almost inconceivable increase in agricultural production has been accompanied by changes in agricultural conditions that make a reorganization of American farming methods absolutely necessary.

Foremost among these changes has been the growth of cities from an urban population of 2,897,000, or 12.5 per cent, of the population total, in 1850, to a population of 24,992,000 or 33.1 per cent, of the total population in 1900. This concentration of the population has brought about new problems of food supply in furnishing the more perishable products such as milk, vegetables, fruits and such products as need to be consumed soon after production.

Another condition that has arisen is the tendency of the soil fertility of the farms of the older agricultural sections to become exhausted. To remedy this, the use of commercial fertilizers has become general in eastern United States and the statistics of 1900 show that $55,000,000 worth of goods were used by the farmers of the United States, which was an increase of 42 per cent, over the amount used in 1890, so that it is probable that not less than $75,000,000 per year is spent for this purpose.

The opening up of the middle west took from the farmer of the eastern states his market for wheat and other grain. He was thrown in competition on the open market with the farmer who had secured his land for practically nothing and land that was much more fertile and productive. The farmer of the middle west, in turn, has been thrown in competition in the live-stock markets with the live-stock products of the western and southwestern states and territories. Stock that was raised under range conditions and often on government land free of charge competed with stock raised on high-priced farms of the middle west,

While these conditions are not so emphatically true as they were a few years ago, yet the problem is far from being solved and the American farmer is now passing through a transitional stage and the most