« PreviousContinue »
in the first place to the tendency to fill up the gap caused by the cessation or limitation of sheep rearing.
With the object of raising cattle breeding to its present level and to further it still more, great efforts have been made both by public bodies and by private persons. The activity of the Imperial Government is principally directed, besides to political and economical measures, to the control of plagues and diseases, in which a suitable protection of the frontiers is no mean part. The immediate measures for promoting cattle breeding are left to the individual States and to the special representative bodies. For the whole of Germany the figures are lacking, but Prussia has set apart, in the year 1910, a sum of a million marks, in round numbers (about £50 000), for the benefit of cattle breeding alone. Some of the other States of the Federation have in proportion to their area allotted still higher sums. On the means employed the following information will be of interest.
The choosing of bulls for breeding purposes by officials has been introduced with but few exceptions into the whole of Germany. For providing bulls for breeding purposes the South German States have followed the example of Baden and possess communal bull stations (Gemeindestierhaltungen) which, especially for small holdings, have been most beneficial. In North Germany there are the bull stations (Bullenstationen), which by means of the Chambers of Agriculture provide good bulls from funds loaned by the State without interest. These stations may be considered as the forerunners of the breeding associations, also inasmuch as they prepare the way for a certain unity in the trend of breeding. For the supply of male animals for breeding purposes there exist in several localities rearing stations, breeding-cattle farms and pedigree herds, which in part prepare bulls by suitably rearing young males bought for the purpose and in part they breed them themselves. Pedigree females are also sometimes bred, but not so frequently. Recently a far-reaching influence in promoting breeding has been exerted by the breeding societies or breeding cooperative associations, often called herd book associations. They depend upon private initiative and extend over areas of very different extent, in some cases over a whole province, in others over only a district. Often several small cooperative associations are united into a federation. The breeding associations deal only with the improvement of one breed, for which purity of breed is always the object aimed at, notwithstanding that sometimes recourse is had to crossing. One of the most essential tasks of the breeding associations is the collection of pedigrees, which are entered in the herdbook and published. On principle every animal, male or female, must be approved by specially appointed officials before being entered.
Recent researches have shown, in all branches of breeding, that there are always some few animals that stamp their characters upon a breed in which their blood flows. The use of the best blood, with a definite object in view, holds out to the breeding industry the most promising prospect, and will greatly facilitate bringing about uniformity in the animals of the various races. The activity of the breeding associations extends to every measure that tends to improve breeding. Thus, bull stations are established;
the use of valuable breeding animals is ensured for a length of time by means of maintenance prizes; exhibitions and distribution of prizes are held; performance records are kept; pastures for young animals are prepared; plagues and diseases are controlled; the sale of breeding animals is organized by means of markets and auctions. One or more of these measures is adopted according to local conditions. The breeding associations have attained at present a highly flourishing condition under the influence of the German Agricultural Society (Deutsche Landwirtschafts Gesellschaft) which supervises their activity and “recognizes " them when they satisfy certain conditions, thus entitling them to exhibit at the great shows held every year in another place. In 1911 there were in Germany, for cattle alone, 1051 breeding associations. Under their influence systematic breeding of certain races has arisen; in several parts of Germany its further development has been much assisted by the inspectors of breeding who have been charged with the professional oversight of the work.
Every year numbers of shows are held and prizes given, both local and district shows as well as provincial and national. The most important is the great German exhibition of the Deutsche Landwirtschafts Gesellschaft, which is held every year in turn in the various provinces, and which has powerfully stimulated all branches of German agriculture, including cattle breeding. Most of the shows are reserved to animals kept for breeding purposes; occasionally fat cattle shows are also held.
Besides the above mentioned aids to breeding, there are also the performance records, which, especially for milk, have been established chiefly in the North of Germany on the lines of the Danish control associations. Their number to-day is about 500. They record, with the assistance of a special employé (control assistant), the yield of milk according to quantity and to fat content and ascertain at the same time the consumption of food for each cow. They have given a firmer basis to selection for breeding and have improved the feeding. The best cows have been recognized and their offspring, both male and female, has been reared. Further the proper use of concentrated foods according to the milk yield has been learned. Thanks to these control associations, the keeping of cattle has become more profitable.
From the above it will be seen that in Germany much importance is attached to the improvement of cattle breeding, for the attainment of which object ample means are provided and great efforts are made. Much still doubtless remains to be done, but it cannot be denied that a wholesome progress has been achieved and great hopes may be entertained for the future.
Measures adopted in Switzerland for the Introduction of Agricultural Book-keeping into the Peasants' Farms.
Professor Dr. ERNEST LAUR, of Zürich - Brugg.
During the last fifty years agriculture has made enormous progress. It has not only developed its technique in a high degree, but it has also adapted itself to the new economical conditions. While for many years farming measured its production only by the standards of its own wants, it has been forced by the general evolution of the world to wake up from its apathy, to introduce radical modifications in its systems and thenceforward to dispose of its produce on the great markets. It is thus that in a certain sense farming has come to resemble commercial and industrial enterprises. But whilst in these the principles of book-keeping have been adopted as the basis of their activity, and carelessly kept accounts are considered as a proof of a want of sense, and may in some cases fall under the rigours of the law, the great majority of farmers, even to this day, think that they can farm profitably without availing themselves of the guidance afforded by book-keeping.
This opinion is decidedly harmful to farming. Not only does it cause losses by the absence of the means of control, or by the introduction of measures that do not answer to the objects aimed at, but it is responsible on the one hand for the exaggerated prices paid for land and farms, and on the other for the low prices taken for the produce, which often do not cover the cost of production.
It is not rare to find that farmers do not know the rate of interest that the capital engaged in their farm is bearing; moreover, through lack of bookkeeping, they are not in a position to say what prices their produce should command so as to cover the cost of production.
In order to remedy this state of things, far-sighted men have for a long time past been endeavouring to popularise the principles of book-keeping among the farming classes, but without however having succeeded in introducing them into general practice. It is therefore a matter for rejoicing that in Switzerland a number of peasant farmers have been gained over to the idea and now keep their accounts under the control of a central Bureau.
The work done in this connection by the Swiss Peasants' Secretariat has attracted the attention of numerous agricultural circles, and other countries have been stimulated to convert their farmers to these ideas. In Germany, especially, where the introduction of the income tax has caused the want of properly kept accounts to be keenly felt, the endeavours made with the object of introducing book-keeping into the practice of farming have been greatly facilitated.
In Switzerland the success which has attended the researches on the profitableness of farming is mainly due to the adoption of the following principles:
I. Selection of a system of book-keeping which spares the farmer unnecessary writing, but which enables him to balance his accounts correctly. 2. Uniform instruction for the accountants, who must engage them
selves by an agreement to keep their books.
3. The balancing of the books to be done by a Central Office.
4. Comparative examination of the figures and use of the results in the study of questions connected with political economy and with the science of farming.
We shall endeavour to give a brief account of the way in which these researches have been organized in Switzerland.
1. The system of book-keeping: The various systems of book-keeping used by farmers may be divided into two distinct groups, on the one hand those which only determine the net returns of the property as a whole, on the other those which determine the profitableness of each of the different branches of the farm. The former of these methods is the one that has been adopted in Switzerland. It does not entail upon the farmer the work of following the exchange of values in the interior of the farm. It simply sets forth what the farm disposes of to third parties and what it gets from them, and shows at the end of the year in what manner the amount of its capital has changed from what it was at the beginning of the same period. Nevertheless, under the term "third parties "the farmer and his family are included, in connection both with eventual accessory undertakings and with consumption. As this latter is often connected with that of the salaried hands, the common household is also considered as a third party. This system of book-keeping is therefore based on four accounts: Farm, Household, Accessory Undertakings, Consumption. The household account only plays the part of intermediary, and the expenses which it bears at the end of the year are distributed among the other three accounts in proportion to the number of persons maintained.
These four accounts must embrace the totality of the components of the farmers' capital, as well as all the income and outlay of money. The exchange in kind taking place between these accounts must also be determined, but not particularly within each account. In order to attain this object the farmer must draw up an inventory at the begining and end of each year and must also keep a cash account and enter in a housekeeping book the exchange in kind between the several accounts. A personal account current will complete this system of book-keeping, which allows
the gross returns and expenses, the net income, the value of the farmer's labour, the interest his capital has produced, his household expenses and consumption, and the changes that his capital has undergone, to be known.
2. Organization of the investigations. In order to induce farmers to take part in them, the courses of book-keeping are announced by the agricultural press and by some of the political papers. The candidates are not admitted to the course unless they engage themselves by agreement to keep the accounts of their farm for at least one year, and to submit their books to be audited by the Secretariat, which examines them also as to the profitableness of the farm. The candidates then take part in a three days' course for which all their travelling and living expenses are reimbursed and the necessary material, such as forms, etc., supplied free of charge. Be sides this, when they give up their accounts they get an artistically designed diploma and a prize of 30 francs (about 24 shillings). Those farmers who, after having taken part in the course fail to keep their engagement, have to reimburse the Secretariat all expenses incurred on their behalf. It is to a great extent due to these measures that the majority of accountants submit their books to the Secretariat. With the object of encouraging farmers to continue keeping their books in the following years, the Secretariat supplies them with the requisite material and undertakes to balance their accounts for them. Those who for ten years have submitted their accounts to the control of the Secretariat are rewarded with a wine-cup with an inscription engraved on its silver mounting, and their names are published. During the course of the first year each book-keeper is visited by an employé of the Secretariat who checks the books, especially the inventory, draws up, on a uniform plan, a brief description of the farm, discusses and settles all questions likely to present difficulties, such as deciding on the amount of retribution to be assigned to the farmer and to his family, or distributing the rent of the buildings, etc. The expenses of these researches, including the work done by the Secretariat, amount on average to 100 frs, (about £4) per annum per farm.
3. Closing the accounts. The accurate closing of the accounts of a farm is a more complicated affair than the same operation in a commercial business. The causes of this are, besides the difficulties encountered in questions concerning valuations, the intimate connection existing between production and consumption. The consequence is that if the use of book-keeping is to spread among peasant farmers, it can only be possible on condition that the closing of accounts be entrusted to a Central Office and not to the farmers themselves. This principle has been adopted in Switzerland, and the Peasants' Secretariat closes all the accounts. Two methods are followed : one, the simple closing, shows only the net returns and the income of the farms and of the accessory enterprises; the other, the amplified closing of accounts, also examines separately the various items of the gross revenue and of the expenses, without however doing the same for the net returns. The farmer receives only the simple closing of accounts. The two methods are a control on each other.