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The sugar-beet crop, which for several years remained close to $20,000,000 in value, has risen to more than $24,000,000 this year, an increase of 231 per cent above the five-year average and much above the previous highest value. The production also is the largest and is 23.7 per cent above the five-year average. To the establishment and growth of this crop this department has directed some of its best efforts.
No other crop exhibits such a high increase of value over the fiveyear average as the hop crop does. It is 140 per cent. This is because the price of hops, which has usually been 10 to 20 cents a pound, has risen to about 38 cents. Consequently the total crop value has become $15,500,000. The production, on the other hand, has fallen off by 15 per cent in comparison with the five-year average and has been exceeded many times.
Nearly one-fourth of the world's exports of hops go from this country, and a little over one-fourth of the world's crop is produced here.
Rice is one of the five crops that have a production above the five-year average, the percentage being 6.6. The amount, although a little over 1,000,000,000 pounds, has been exceeded twice. The price per barrel has been down until within a very few weeks, and it is probable that the value of the crop, as finally determined, will be larger than was expected.
Buckwheat continues to show a disposition to reach its old-time production after many years of decline. The crop of this year is 7.3 per cent above the five-year average and has been exceeded by only two crops since the sixties. The total value is the largest since the sixties and is above the five-year average by 13 per cent. The farm price is about 72 cents a bushel, and in only one year since 1883, namely, in 1908, has the price been higher.
TOTAL OF ALL CEREALS.
Notwithstanding the considerable differences among the cereals, a comparison of the total of all of them this year with the five-year average will be some sort of a measure of the year's performance in agriculture. The bushels of cereals produced this year number 4,522,000,000. This is 3.4 per cent below the five-year average and, while it indicates that the agricultural year of 1911 was below par, it is far from indicating any degree of calamity. If the great cotton crop be taken into account, the total crop production is below the average in a less degree than the cereals suggest.
Sugar making belongs to manufacturing and not to agriculture, yet cane and beet production can best be treated through the sugar made from them. The refined beet sugar made this year nearly equals 600,000 short tons, the largest amount ever made by about 80,000 tons. This is about 24 per cent more than the five-year average. The value has, of course, soared and amounts to about $90,000,000, including value of pulp, the highest previous value being about $60,000,000 for 1909. It is 81 per cent above the five-year average.
The cane-sugar production of 1911 is estimated to be about 380,000 short tons of raw sugar, or about 51 per cent above the five-year average production, but yet an amount that has been exceeded several years. The value is about $45,000,000, which is far above the highest figure ever before reached and is 58 per cent over the five-year average.
Both kinds of sugar combined, the production equals about 975,000 short tons, or about 85,000 tons more than the record production of 1909. The factory value of this sugar and the beet pulp, which is used for feeding purposes, is about $135,000,000, or about $41,000,000 more than the value of the two kinds of sugar for 1909, the year next to 1911 in order of value.
SUMMARY OF COMPARISONS.
The year 1911 was a poor one for record-breaking crops, since the list includes only cotton and sugar beets. In these cases, however, the achievements are memorable, because of the great increases over the production that was previously highest.
Apart from these two crops, not a crop reaches a place that is next to the highest production of former years; corn and rice win third place, and buckwheat third place since the sixties; the total of all cereals occupies fifth place, and the other crops are farther down the scale.
The tale is reversed when the values of the crops are considered. The crops that have won first place make a formidable list in spite of the fact that they had previous very high values to exceed. The list is corn, barley, rye, buckwheat (since the sixties), potatoes, hops, flaxseed, sugar beets (or beet sugar), and cane sugar. No other crop reached second place in order of value in comparison with other years, but the total value of all cereals and of all crops did. The crops that reach third place are hay, cotton, and tobacco. Wheat is fourth in value, and has been exceeded in this respect in three years.
The crops of this year compare with the average of the previous five years more favorably than they do with single years when results were highest. In the list of crops that had a production above the five-year average are cotton, rice, buckwheat, beet sugar, and cane sugar.
In value of crops, the five-year average was overtopped by corn, cotton, hay, oats, barley, potatoes, buckwheat, rye, flaxseed, hops, and beet and cane sugar.
FOREIGN TRADE IN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS.
BALANCE IN FAVOR OF EXPORTS.
CAUSED BY THE COTTON SURPLUS.
The large surplus of value of exports of domestic agricultural products over the value of imports of agricultural products, which has been the result of this country's foreign trade for many years, seemed to be threatened by the declining surpluses of 1909 and 1910; and by the same cause the balance of trade in favor of exports of all commodities, agricultural and otherwise, was threatened with extinction unless manufactures were exported in values large enough to prevent. In the fiscal year 1908 the balance in favor of this country was $488,000,000 in agricultural products; the next year it was $274,000,000; in 1910 the balance fell to $198,000,000. During the same years the balance in the trade of commodities other than agricultural in favor of exports fell from $178,000,000 to $77,000,000 the next year, and turned to a balance in favor of imports in 1910.
This tendency was sharply arrested in 1911, when the farmers' balance of foreign trade rose to somewhere near its former proportions. It was $366,000,000. In the same year the balance in favor of exports in the trade of commodities other than agricultural reached $156,000,000.
As the matter has stood for many years, the balance of trade in favor of exports, both of agricultural products and of all products, is mostly, if not entirely, due to raw cotton. That is to say, the value of the cotton exports are more or less approximate to the balance.
OVER A BILLION DOLLARS.
Three times has the total value of exports of domestic farm products been greater than a billion dollars—in 1907, 1908, and in 1911. The total for the last year—$1,031,000,000—is exceeded only by that of 1907, and then by only $23,000,000. More than half of the total export value is contributed by raw cotton, the value of which is $585,000,000.
Packing-house products gain $21,000,000 in value over their exports in 1910, and reach the figure of $157,000,000. But grain and grain products continue the decline which began in 1909 and have fallen to a value of $124,000,000, a loss of $91,000,000 in three years.
Tobacco continues to show exporting strength, and its value in 1911, $39,000,000, is $1,000,000 above the previous year. The same is true of fruits, with their value of $24,000,000, or $5,000,000 over 1910.
The exports of live animals have dwindled to $19,000,000, which, however, is a gain of $2,000,000 over 1910. Oil cake and oil-cake meal exports remain as the year before at $20,000,000, but vegetable oils have risen $3,000,000 to a value of $20,000,000.
RECORD ALMOST BROKEN. By falling short only $8,000,000 the imports of agricultural products in 1911 failed to go above the highest record, in 1910. The value for 1911 is $679,000,000.
The imported silk fiber was valued at $75,000,000; coffee, $91,000,000; vegetable fibers, $56,000,000; seeds, $30,000,000; fruits, $27,000,000—all with increases over the values of 1910.
Declining from the previous year, the imports of wool in 1911 were valued at $23,000,000; packing-house products, largely hides and skins, $84,000,000; sugar and molasses, $98,000,000.
HIGH VALUES. The value of exports of domestic forest products continues to advance and the amount for 1911, $103,000,000, is the highest yet reached. The exported lumber was valued at $60,000,000; timber and logs, $17,000,000; the naval stores, $25,000,000.
The imports of forest products in 1911 were valued at $164,000,000, and came within $15,000,000 of equaling the total of 1910, which holds the highest place. India rubber was imported to the value of $76,000,000; other gums, $26,000,000; lumber, $21,000,000; wood pulp, $14,000,000, an import that has doubled in value in four years.
THE AGRICULTURAL SURPLUS.
TREND OF EXPORTS. Coincident with the geographic expansion of agriculture on the new land of this country the exports of farm products grew in quantity. That was a period when immigrants became farmers, and farmers' sons established farms on what had been the public domain.
After a long time the new land that was fit for agriculture and could be acquired diminished, agricultural land values increased, the immigrants changed in description and were not inclined to agriculture, and the farmers' sons went to town and city. So National consumption increased in the later time in a greater degree than agricultural production did.
This is the broad, general view of the matter, although there have been many variations and readjustments in particular instances; and, in consequence of the new order of affairs, the exports of agricultural products have diminished in quantity because the National surplus has become less. They have increased in value because prices have risen.
Not all products have diminished in exports. Improved agriculture and the ability and disposition of farmers to produce for the foreign market have increased the National surplus of some products and indicate potentialities that will be beyond the requirements of National sustenance for an indefinite time.
EXAMINATION OF PRODUCTS.
A detailed examination of the export statistics of the Department of Commerce and Labor discovers what the trend has been in the quantities of the National surplus of agricultural products. Let the exports of the 10 years 1900–1909 stand for 100, and the exports of each year or group of years can be related to 100 for a simple and easily understood comparison.
The cattle exports of the 10 years 1900–1909 being 100, those of 1870-1879 were 12.4. The index number rose to 85.3 in 1890–1899 and to 102.6 in the five years 1900–1904, from which time the decline was to 34.3 in the single year 1911.
The exports of horses, mules, and sheep reached their highest figure in 1900–1904. Swine eventually met adverse legislation on the continent of Europe, and their exports declined from 236.5 in 1870– 1879 to 31.7 in 1911.
Butter exports were highest in 1880–1889, for which period they are represented by 141.7, and fell to 35 in 1911. Cheese exports declined enormously from the highest figure, 494.8, in 1880-1889, to 47.8 in 1911. On the contrary, eggs have displayed a climbing tendency and have risen from 0.8 in 1870-1879 to 127 in the five years 1905–1909, and to 199.9 in 1911.
All beef and its products have been combined as far as they are ascertainable in pounds, and then it appears that the period of highest exports was the five years 1900–1904, the index number being 103. It was 43 in 1911. Canned beef was highest at 135.8 in 1890–1899 and fell to 21.9 in 1911; fresh beef dropped from 116.1 in 1900–1904