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dishonest, and to be unwilling to pay for agricultural
produce even the minimum required to give the
producer a reasonable living. While this mutual
recrimination has been going on the middleman,



whose business it has been to provide the link between
the parties to the quarrel, has enriched himself
impartially at the expense of both.

It would seem, then, that here is a Heaven-sent
opportunity to put the principles of co-operation
to a practical test. Unfortunately we find that a
co-operative society of farmers and a similar associa-
tion of artisans appear to regard one another with
at least as much distrust, if not more, than do the
individual members in their unorganized condition.
It is to the solution of this problem that the best
brains of the co-operative movement must devote
themselves in future if their co-operative common-
wealth is ever to become a reality. The distributive
co-operators are providing themselves with a remedy
to what they consider an unsatisfactory state of
affairs. It is a remedy which from a practical point
of view seems to be effective, but it leaves out of
account the position of the producing co-operators.
The latter, if they ask them to hold their hand, must
be able to convince them that they in their turn will
take steps to see that efficiency is not impaired.

We come eventually to this position : co-operators
should trade with other co-operators as nations trade
with one another on a most-favoured-nation clause
and should treat the outside world as being beyond
their tariff union. The co-operative creamery should
be co-operative in its choice of a market as well as
in its collection of milk and production of butter,
and conversely the distributive society should seek
out the co-operative source for its supplies.

Two obstacles stand in the way of carrying out
this policy a lack of sufficient information and of



connecting links, and a difficulty in adjusting prices
and qualities. To some extent the rapid material
growth of the co-operative movement in both its
aspects has accentuated these difficulties. It has
become necessary to employ managers and agents of
high technical qualifications, but often without any
particular training in or aptitude for co-operative
ideals. These employees are only concerned in
serving the best interests of their own society, whether
it is engaged in production or distribution, and they
cannot be blamed if they do not go out of their way
to seek relationships with other co-operators merely
for the sake of the movement. Unfortunately their
committees too often fail to give them any guidance
in this matter, and even the leaders of the movement
are not always as well informed or as zealous as they
might be in seeking to keep its two branches in touch
with one another.

The immediate practical remedy seems to lie in
the direction of combination of the two interests
in joint trading federations. We have already seen
that both in Denmark and in Ireland the co-operative
wholesale societies include in their membership both
townsmen and farmers, societies for production and
societies for distribution. They are in a position
to buy from one side and to sell to the other, and thus
to bring about an exchange of goods within the
sphere of the co-operative movement. A federation
which works in this way can get over both the obstacles
we have mentioned. It can keep fully in touch
both with the sources of supply and the channels
of distribution and make them known to one another,
and at the same time it can hold the scales equitably



between the two in the matter of prices. An extension
of this method is badly needed. If we take the
United Kingdom as an example we find that in spite
of the success of agricultural co-operation in Ireland
vast quantities of agricultural produce are exported
from that country (even where their producers are
co-operative) without passing through co-operative
channels. Furthermore, even the co-operative
creameries and other agencies of collective sale in
Ireland consign at least 90 per cent, of their produce
to non-co-operative purchasers in England. When
we turn to England and Scotland and review the
even more successful movement among the con-
sumers there, we find that their federations are
very little concerned with producers' co-operative
societies when seeking sources of supply. Obviously
there is something wrong here. We have co-operators
on the one hand needing an outlet for agricultural
produce and seeking to obtain domestic requirements
on the other hand we have other co-operators
requiring agricultural produce and having domestic
requirements to dispose of. At present all the
machinery of the private trade intervenes between
the co-operative demand and the co-operative supply.
Yet in the three wholesale societies the co-operative
machinery is available which if properly used can
bring about the exchange without relying upon any
help from outside the movement.

What seems to be badly wanted is a joint council,
representative of the best brains of all the interests
concerned which will promote both a better knowledge
and harmony between all branches, and also a definite
policy of intertrading on a large scale (which must

225 Q


include the use of co-operative capital for co-operative
development). And as soon as this principle has
been established in the case of the movement in
the United Kingdom, there is no reason why it should
not be extended to the creation of an international
co-operative trade. Already the Russian co-operators
have established themselves firmly in London, and
they are formulating proposals, in concert with their
English and Irish colleagues, for the collective pur-
chase of agricultural requirements (such as basic
slag, binder twine, etc.), on a hitherto unheard-of
scale. This opens the door to intertrading between
Russian co-operators who have flax-seed to offer
and British co-operators who can supply machinery
in exchange. Such developments are, of course,
nothing unusual in the general field of commerce
they are, in fact, the commonplaces of the merchant
but if they can be carried on entirely through
co-operative channels, co-operators will be able to
claim at last that they have advanced some way
along the road which leads to the control of industry.
In addition to the economic advantages which may
be gained we shall be justified in expecting that just
as co-operative reconciliation of interests such as
we have outlined will help to give townsman and
countryman a better knowledge of one another
and promote national harmony, so the extension
of the system to other countries will go far to break
down the barriers between them, and through the
introduction of a co-operative spirit to lessen friction
and perhaps even war.

It may be that these ambitions will seem fantastic
to readers who compare them with the existing



position of the movement. But the signs are not
wanting that co-operation may be called upon to
play an important part in the reconstruction not
only of industry but of society after the war. One
of the leaders of the English movement, Professor
Hall, of the Co-operative Union, has laid down that
those who seek the welfare of the group must be
richly endowed with "faith, foresight, and intelli-
gence." If these qualities are vigorously exercised,
nothing which is here suggested is beyond the reach
of co-operators. They must be exercised within
the next few years or not at all, for this is a movement
which, if it does not progress rapidly and constantly
will inevitably stagnate and decay in unattractive

Meanwhile there are lesser aspirations which
agricultural co-operators may keep immediately
before their eyes. The co-operative society has
to be made a social centre for the district in which it
is situated ; its members have to be brought to feel
that they have a part to play as associates in a
movement with an ethical code of its own. As a
first step in this direction a community consciousness
must be evoked among the farmers who make up the
membership of the societies. We cannot expect
such a development where the work of the society
is confined to the purchase of a certain amount of
requirements, or even the sale of a certain amount of
butter in the year. As a preliminary to the awakening
of a social spirit of comradeship we must have per-
petual economic development which will give the
members a continuous interest and pride in their
society. We have already sketched in another



chapter the normal development of a society of the
" manure agency " type into a general store with
buildings of its own, supplying its members with
all their domestic requirements, and we have given
an outline of what has been achieved in this direction
at Templecrone. The Enniscorthy Co-operative
Society in Co. Wexford, started for the collective
purchase of agricultural requirements, has achieved
in fifteen years a position which makes its members
practically independent of other sources of supply.
It has a general grocery store, a hardware depart-
ment, a drapery, a boot and shoe shop, an agricultural
machinery store and repair shop, a garage, a saddlery
(manufacturing) department, a restaurant, a cinema,
a life insurance scheme, and a saw-mill. It is selling
agricultural produce for its members and is con-
templating the manufacture of boots and shoes and
the establishment of granaries. Where such a society
has been built up by farmers we may justifiably
claim that a new control of industry has come into
operation ; the people of the district have realized
the desirability of making the district self-supporting
by their own co-operative efforts. It is towards
this economic ideal that we want all agricultural
co-operators to work. In its simplest form it is
well exhibited by the co-operative societies of Italian
agricultural labourers, which were formed, not
primarily for the purpose of farming collectively in
order to do it better than other people, but in order
to provide work for those of their members who
happened to be unemployed. This was the purpose
of the pioneers of all co-operation to provide a
means of doing away with local distress by the



collective application of local effort and such a
society as Templecrone or Enniscorthy is realizing
that purpose while holding its own in the world of
modern business.

For the achievement of any large success a plentiful
supply of capital is required, and herein lies one of
the great difficulties of the agricultural movement.
Farmers are notoriously hard to persuade in the
matter of investment in business enterprises and
the fact that these particular enterprises are owned
and controlled by themselves does not seem to con-
vince them. Hence the fact that in most countries
agricultural societies suffer from being restricted
by lack of capital, or from having to pay interest
on borrowed capital, which is secured by the unlimited
guarantee of a few individual members. If the
movement is to develop the farmers must have
sufficient confidence in it to supply it with funds
either, as in Austria and Germany, through credit
societies, or by direct shareholdings. Only when
they reach this point can they be said to understand
the co-operative use of money for the purpose of
helping the district in which it is earned.

Other problems suggest themselves an improve-
ment of marketing methods, a greater attention to
standardization and uniform production, the abolition
of drudgery by the introduction of power and labour-
saving machinery, the building-up of rural industries
such as tanneries and sugar-beet factories, and a
hundred other developments of the kind.

Into these matters we have no intention of entering
in detail. But they all hinge ultimately upon the
possibility of awakening in the farmer the same



enlightened professional consciousness and feeling
of solidarity as already exists to so great an extent
in other branches of industry. The power of organ-
ization has made an irresistible appeal to all classes
of the community in recent years, and the lesson
has been driven home by our experience of war
conditions. The part which any section may be
allowed to play in the coming reconstruction will
directly depend on the strength of its organization.
Farmers have to be brought to realize this fact in
its full value. They certainly will not take a fore-
most place in the struggle unless they put more
work and more faith into the business of organization
than they have done up to the present. The existence
even of a number of successful co-operative societies
is not sufficient for the purpose, unless these societies
and their members are part of a movement conscious
of its objects and of its power to attain them, and
independent of all outside assistance and paternalism.
That farmers should do a little of their business
collectively with the sanction of a careful Government
Department or a number of well-intentioned philan-
thropists, is a very small step. Indeed, it may prove
to be a retrograde step, for it may persuade them
into voluntarily putting upon themselves shackles
which they will afterwards try in vain to loosen.

What must rather be aimed at is the establishment,
through the co-operative movement, of a farmers'
Trade Union, or, as some will prefer to say, a
farmers' National Guild, which will make itself
responsible for the welfare of the farmer under all
its aspects. If such a guild comes into existence,
it will find that under all the three heads of our



formula, " Better Farming, Better Business, Better
Living," there is' still much to be done but under
none more so than the last. Better living has as
yet hardly begun to develop in the case of small
farmers of most countries. In America, where
organizing work has been energetically carried out
among the women, we find a standard of comfort
on the farm which leaves Europe half a century
behind. Such a standard must be the aim of co-
operators in every country, and it is only through
the women following in the paths of Better Farming
and Better Business that it can be achieved.

The solution of all these problems which have
been so briefly indicated can be arrived at only by
means of an educational campaign more far-reaching
and more intensive than anything that has so far
been attempted among agriculturists. It must be
remembered that only in comparatively recent times
has the farmer been regarded with any interest by
the Government or by the remainder of the population.
His position has been an isolated one, without means
of self-education or even of recreation, and often
without neighbours within easy reach. His life,
moreover, has been one of the most exacting ; the
management of a farm is not like the business of an
office where exact hours can be set and the remainder
of the day devoted to rest and recreation. The farmer
must be constantly at hand to give attention to
details which arise without any regard to fixed hours.
He must devote personal attention one might
almost say affection to everything on his farm
if it is to succeed ; the ignoring of this fact has led
to many a disaster in the case of attempts to introduce



large-scale " scientific management " into farming.
Finally, we must remember that the farmer is taking
all the risks and responsibilities of his farm on his
own shoulders, and using therein his own capital
and frequently his own labour and that of members
of his family. For this risk and labour his remunera-
tion is not greater than that of many a clerk in an
office who takes no risks and has no responsibilities
beyond that of doing correctly the work allotted to
him for a certain number of hours each day.

It is surely not surprising that when, in addition
to these disadvantages, the farmer finds himself
neglected in normal times and abused in times of
high prices as the originator of all profiteering, he
grows resentful and suspicious towards the outer
world and is unwilling to respond to any advances
which may be made to him. It is no exaggeration
io claim for the co-operative movement that it has
provided the only good method of breaking down
these barriers and bringing the farmer more closely
in touch with his neighbours, to their mutual advan-
tage. Our task now is to see that the machinery
so set up is made the vehicle for a great educa-
tional campaign which will help the farmer to
help himself to a position where he can be as
efficient and happy in his own industry as he is
entitled to be.

The details of such a campaign lie far beyond the
scope of this book. To those who wish to study
them we recommend a careful consideration of the
agricultural economy of Denmark, and particularly
of those celebrated folk-schools where girls of sixteen
and men of sixty, labourers and ex-Cabinet Ministers



can and do study side by side the elements of a true
practical patriotism.

All that remains to be said here is that in the
United Kingdom we have vast arrears to make up
before we attain to such a position as that of Denmark.
It is generally believed that the war has brought
about a great awakening in this respect and that
a true and lasting agricultural policy is being formu-
lated. Let us hope that it is so, but let us not be
too ready to assume it. Even in the midst of the
greatest crises of the war it has been only too apparent
that England continues to be governed, as since
the dawn of " democracy " she has been governed,
by the thinly disguised power of the vested interests.
Unfortunately or perhaps it would be wiser to say
fortunately there are no vested interests concerned
with -the welfare of the farmer ; there are certainly
none which wish well to their sworn enemy the
co-operative movement. Hence, while we have seen
vigorous efforts made to persuade the farmer to
produce more food than ever before, and while a
certain encouragement has been extended in official
quarters to co-operative societies in so far as they
might help to achieve this end there is no particular
evidence of a constructive policy. So long as the
farmer produces food no one seems to mind whether
his standard of life or his standard of education
improve ; and if he will produce up to the maximum
without being a member of a co-operative society
why, so much the better !

If this is to be the attitude of the future, the people
of the United Kingdom may rest assured that when
the next war comes it will find them no more self-



supporting than did the present one. In the period
of reconstruction they will have to make their choice
between relying upon perilous seas for their food,
while they keep at home a dwindling and dissatisfied
agricultural population, or setting up once more
on a sounder basis than of old a contented and
industrious yeomanry to form the backbone of the
nation. If there -are here and there in this book
some hints which may assist in the choice, that is
all that is intended.



THE following brief list of books and pamphlets,
while in no way intended as exhaustive, may
be of use to readers. In addition to the publications
mentioned, reports and statistics, as well as periodi-
cals, are freely issued by the leading federations
in various countries. Readers desiring further in-
formation as to these sources are recommended to
make application to the Librarian, Co-operative
Reference Library, 84 Merrion Square, Dublin, who
will furnish all details and put correspondents in
touch with the appropriate bodies.


FAY, C. R. Co-operation at Home and Abroad. 1908.

CLAYTON, J. Co-operation. The People's Books.

AVES, E. Co-operative Industry. 1907.

CAHILL, J. R. Agricultural Credit and Co-operation in Ger-
many. (Report to Board of Agriculture and Fisheries.)

GEBHARD, H. Co-operation in Finland. London, 1916.

HUBERT- VALLEROUX. La Cooperation. Paris, 1904.

LB Mouvement Coop6ratif en Danemark. Copenhague, 1901.

tudes Monographiques sur la Cooperation dans quelques
Pays. (International Institute of Agriculture. Rome,
2 vols.) 1911-1914.



Report of American Commission on Agricultural Co-operation
and Co-operative Credit in Europe. 1913. With Biblio-
graphy published separately. U.S. Senate, 1913.


WOLFF, H. W. Co-operation in Agriculture. London, 1912.
WOLFF, H. W. The Future of our Agriculture. London,


RADFORD, G. Agricultural Co-operation. London, 1909.
FABER, H. Co-operation in Danish Agriculture. London,

SMITH-GORDON and STAPLES. Rural Reconstruction m Ireland.

London, 1917.

*TODD, S. E. Agricultural Co-operation. Ontario Depart-
ment of Agriculture, Bulletin 192, 1911.
POWELL, G. H. Co-operation in Agriculture. New York,

SINCLAIR, J. F. Report on Co-operation and Marketing.

Part I. Agricultural Co-operation. Wisconsin State Board

of Public Affairs, 1912.
BJERKNES, I. Om Land-okonomisk Samvirke i Danmark og

Tyskland. (Agricultural Co-operation in Denmark and

Germany.) Kristiania, 1903.
POE, CLARENCE. How Farmers Co-operate and Double Prices.

New York, 1915.
Enquete sur I'etat de I' Association dans I' Agriculture Suisse

au i Janvier, 1910. Secretariat Suisse des Paysans,

Berne, 1912.
* Certain Aspects of Co-operative Agriculture in Austria.

(Official.) Vienna, 1913.
Rural Credit and Co-operation in Hungary. Ministry of

Agriculture. Budapest, 1913.

Report on Agriculture (Co-operative] in Denmark. Depart-
ment of Agriculture, Ireland. Dublin, 1903.



COULTER, J. L. Co-operation among Farmers. New York,


*ANDERSON, R. A. Our Creameries. Dublin, 1910.
ADAMS, J., and FANT, J. Notes on Agricultural Co-operation

in the Netherlands. Dublin, n.d. (Mainly on Creameries.)
CRAIG, E. T. The History of Ralahine and Co-operative

Farming. Manchester, 1882.
PARE, W. Co-operative Agriculture in Ireland (Ralahine}.


*BULSTRODE, W. Co-operative Farming. 1908.
* The Co-operative Bacon-curing Industry of Denmark . Report

of Deputation sent by Department of Agriculture,

Ireland, 1903.


*PLUNKETT, Sir H., and others. The United Irishwomen.
Dublin, 1911.

DE VUYST, P. Le Role de la Fermiere. Bruxelles, 1911.
(Bibliography.) Also English Translation.

DE VUYST, P. Woman's Place in Rural Economy. Transla-
tion, by N. Hunter, 1913.

III e Congres International des Cercles de Fermieres de Gand.
1913. 4 vols.


PRATT, E. A. Agricultural Organization. 1912.

PRATT, E. A. Agricultural Organization. (Abridged edition.)

PRATT, E. A. The Organization of Agriculture. 1904.

*PRATT, E. A. Traders, Farmers, and Agricultural Organiza-
tion. 1912.

GIDE, CHARLES. La Cooperation, Conferences de Propagande.
Paris, 1910.



Report of Recess Committee on the Establishment of a Depart-
ment of Agriculture for Ireland. 1896.

SMITH, H. G. The Best Methods of Organization for Agri-
cultural Co-operation and Credit. Dublin, Department of
Agriculture, 1903.

RUSSELL, GEORGE (A.E.). Co-operation and Nationality.
Dublin, 1912.

MONTGOMERY, H. Notes on Agricultural Co-operation and
Co-operative Agricultural Credit in Germany. Dublin,
Department of Agriculture, 1906.

CLAYTON, H. Rural Development in Burma. 1911.

^Report of Superintendent of Agricultural Co-operation. Cape
of Good Hope, 1906.

CARVER, T. N. The Work of Rural Organization. " Journal
of Political Economy," Nov. 1914, pp. 822-44. (Har-
vard University, U.S.A.)

PLUNKETT, Sir H. The Rural Life Problem of the United
States. 1910.

AUSTIN, C., and WEHRWEIN, G. Co-operation in Agriculture,
Marketing and Rural Credit. University of Texas, 1914.

VIRGILII, F. Cooperazione. Milano, 1900.

ANGELESCU, I. N. Cooperatia si Socialismul in Europa.
Bucaresti, 1913.

SCHULZE OF DELITZSCH. Die Entwickelung des Genossenschafts-
wesen in Deutschland. Berlin, 1870.

KLIMMER, W. Die Entwickelung des Genossenschaftswesen im
Grossherzogtum Baden. Diisseldorf, 1906.

Das landwirtschaftliche Genossenschaftswesen in einigen Oster-
. reichischen Ldndern. Wien, 1909.

BRINKMANN, T. Die Ddnische Landwirtschaft. Jena, 1908.

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Online LibraryLionel Eldred Pottinger Smith-GordonCo-operation for farmers → online text (page 16 of 17)