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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/48

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44
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

tenants is low, and the value of the farm lands is low. The lands are poor investments for capital, and farms inherited by parties no longer living in the section are turned into money as quickly as possible. Loose capital will not go into such territory and buy such farms just as an investment. The same principle holds true in a comparison of the states as of the counties. In the North Central states the average tenancy of farms was in 1900, 27.9 per cent. By states it was as follows:

Per Cent.
Illinois 39.3
Nebraska 36.9
Kansas 35.2
Iowa 34.9
Missouri 30.5
Indiana 28.6
Ohio 27.5
South Dakota 21.8
Minnesota 17.3
Michigan 15.9
Wisconsin 13.5
North Dakota 8.5

Illinois and Iowa are acknowledged the best agricultural states in the union, as well as in the North Central division, and hold first and fourth place, respectively, in this group of states—the great agricultural states of the union. Our most fertile lands are gradually drifting into the hands of tenants, and unless the movement is stayed the agriculture of these farms will decline.

Tenancy, as it now exists on American farms, is detrimental to the agricultural welfare of the country, from both an economic and a social standpoint. Farm leases, as a rule, are of short duration; this is an incentive to the farmer to only have regard for the present productiveness of the land and to disregard any methods of maintaining the fertility of the land. Short leases result in a transient population that is demoralizing to the farmer himself and to the community. The old proverb, "A rolling stone gathers no moss," is no more aptly illustrated than in the case of the tenant farmer who moves from farm to farm, never remaining more than a few years in a place. Such a tenant is not interested in improving the farm unless immediate results can be realized; he is not a permanent citizen of the neighborhood and can not be regarded as a reliable constituent of the school or church. Absent owners of such farms are not interested in the improvement of the buildings and equipment of the farms, the building of better roads, the maintaining of better schools or any public improvement that will add to the expenses of the farm unless it will give a proportionate return at an early date.