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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/172

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172
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

the fact that the United States census investigation for which a million dollars was appropriated, for the purpose of recording farm mortgages in 1890, disclosed the fact that in the ten great grain-growing States of the middle West two thirds of the farms were then free of any mortgage of any kind, and were well stocked; the incumbrance on the remaining third being less than forty per cent of the computed value of the mortgaged farms. Since that date several State investigations have been made, leading to the conclusion that not exceeding twenty per cent of the farms in these States are now under any incumbrance of any kind. In the more prosperous parts of Minnesota and other wheat sections since the substitution of intelligent and varied agriculture for the single wheat crop, foreclosures have almost ceased, such as do occur being attributed to special causes; while such is the abundance of capital accumulated in this section that the rates of interest on safe investments, which but a few years since were nearly double those prevailing in the seaboard commercial cities, are now about even. When certain causes lately produced a short stringency in the money markets of the East, remittances were made from these Western cities for investment in Eastern commercial paper.

In regard to wheat production at a fixed price in London, the Commissioner of Agriculture and Labor of North Dakota remarks: "Wheat at one dollar per bushel in London would net the North Dakota farmer on the average about seventy-five cents per bushel on the railroad track. At that price as a standard, every farmer in the State would utilize all the land he has, and buy up more of the land now lying idle and in the hands of speculators. It would increase immigration so that nearly all the vacant Government land would be taken up. We also have over one million acres of school and State land, of which at least eighty per cent is suitable for raising wheat. Such a price would give North Dakota a boom that never had its equal."

A few words may be given to the report from Texas. The Secretary of the Board of Agriculture states that "the area of arable land of fair quality, including pasture that might be put under the plow in this State, is two hundred thousand square miles; about one hundred thousand square miles suitable for wheat and other grains lying north of parallel 31°; about one hundred thousand square miles lying south of that line adapted to cotton, sugar, fruits, and vegetables of all kinds."

An unexpected reply comes from Idaho, as yet insignificant in wheat production, stating that the potential of that State under the conditions named might reach 400,000,000 bushels.

Again, from Arkansas, to which State we have looked more for excellent cotton than for grain, "there are fifteen million acres of