Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/170

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

"A careful study of farm methods among Minnesota farmers discloses this fact: Some wheat growers, with the best farm machinery, and employing the best methods of agriculture, make a profit in wheat raising of from ten to fifteen cents a bushel more than do their less intelligent and less progressive neighbors. Now, the tendency in the State and throughout the Northwest is to bring, by education and a general exchange of methods, the poorer farmers up to the level of the best. This change is rapidly taking place. It will not require fifteen years to realize its consummation. When the methods and facilities of the average farmer are brought up to the level of the best of the present time, this change, with the change above noted in transportation charges, will add to the average profit of Minnesota farmers in growing wheat a total of not less than fifteen and possibly of over twenty cents a bushel. Such a change would more than double the existing net profit of the wheat grower in the Northwest. Could it be maintained for a series of years, as is presupposed under Mr. Atkinson's supposition of London prices, it would furnish such an incentive to wheat growing in Minnesota and the surrounding territory as has as yet never been experienced. A million families of immigrants would pour into the great Northwest within the next twenty to twenty-five years. They would take up all the existing vacant lands of Minnesota and the Dakotas. The lands suitable for irrigation in these States and in Montana would beset to growing wheat. The wave of humanity anxious to raise wheat for a dollar a bushel in London would sweep past the boundaries of the four States mentioned, and carry the cultivation of that cereal all over Manitoba, Assiniboia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. In these four British provinces and in the four American States, dollar wheat in London would in twenty years open more acres of good land to wheat than are now subject to the plow within their borders. Even then the beginning only would have been made to the possibilities of wheat culture in the British Northwest. Settlements would not have extended as far north as St. Petersburg in Russia; neither would settlers have trenched upon the lands with a climate as severe as that of the Russian metropolis.

"The foregoing is a brief statement of what dollar wheat in London would do for one section of North America in stimulating wheat cultivation. If that statement is based upon a true conception, as the writer believes it is, of the possibilities of the American Northwest, it demonstrates how impossible it will be to maintain dollar wheat in London for any great length of time in the future. It also shows that Mr. Atkinson is wrong in not asserting a sure continuation of that decline in wheat prices which he so fully predicted in 1880."