United States. Dept. of Agriculture.

Annual reports of the Department of Agriculture for the fiscal year ended ... : report of the Secretary of Agriculture, miscellaneous reports online

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separately his own estimate of each crop by States. These reports are
then compared and discussed by the board under the supervision of
the chairman, and the final figures by States are decided upon. It is
interesting to remark how often the reports from the different corps
of correspondents are very nearly identical and how often the final
figures arrived at by the individual members of the board agree with
each other. These State estimates, which are in percentages, are then
multiplied into the acreages for their respective States. The sum of
these products is divided by the sum of the acreages giving the per-
centage for the entire crop for the United States.

METHOD OF ISSUING REPORTS.

Reports in relation to cotton thus prepared by the crop- reporting
board are issued on the 3d of each month during the growing season,
and reports relating to the principal farm crops and live stock are pre-
pared and made public on the 10th day of each month. In order that
the information contained in these reports may be made available
simultaneously throughout the entire United States, and that one part of
the country may not have the advantage over another, they are simul-
taneously handed, at a given hour — as at 12 o'clock noon or 4 o'clock
p. m. — on report days, to all applicants and to the Western Union Tele-
graph Company and the Postal Telegraph Cable Company for trans-
mission to the exchanges and to the press. A mimeograph statement
also containing such estimates of condition or actual production,
together with the corresponding estimates of former years, for com-
parative purposes, is prepared and sent to a mailing list of exchanges,
newspaper publications, and individuals. The same afternoon printed
cards containing the essential facts concerning the most important
crops of the report are mailed to the 77,000 post-offices throughout
the United States for public display, thus placing the most available
information within the farmers' immediate reach.

Promptly after the issuing of the report it, together with other
statistical information of value to the farmer and the country at large,
is published in the "Crop Reporter," an eight-page publication of the
Bureau of Statistics, under the authority of the Secretary of Agricul-
ture. An edition of over 100,000 of this Reporter is distributed to
the correspondents and other interested parties throughout the United
States each month.



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REPORT OF THE 8EOBBTABY OF AGRICULTURE. CXI

, CHANGE IN METHODS.

A very great improvement has been made in the special field service
by districting the United States and assigning each of the field agents
to a definite group of States, which they thoroughly travel over and
report on each month. The cotton-producing States have thus been
redistricted and the service augmented and perfected there by the
appointment of two new agents, men widely recognized as having a
thorough knowledge of conditions and of the highest ability and integ-
rity. A special agent has also been appointed for the collection of
statistics of tobacco and has entered upon his duties of supplementing
the reports from the Bureau correspondents by actual observation in the
field. The work of the State statistical agents also is being improved.

Working in harmony and cooperation with the Census Bureau of
the Department of Commerce and Labor, the compilation of statistics
of the commercial cotton crop has been transferred to the Census
Office.

The resignation of Mr. John Hyde as Statistician was accepted,
and pending the permanent appointment of a successor to that impor-
tant office Assistant Secretary Hays was directed to take charge of the
Bureau.

FOREIGN MARKETS.

Required by law to collect and disseminate information concerning
the exporting of the surplus of farm and forest above the require-
ments of domestic consumption, and concerning the preparation of
such products to meet the special requirements of the various foreign
markets, the Division of Foreign Markets of this Bureau has been of
much service to the producers and the handlers of the agricultural
surplus of this country.

DETAILS OF EXPORTS AND IMPORTS.

The base of the work done is necessarily the assembling and suita-
ble treatment of the statistics of the foreign trade of this country in the
products of farm and forest, and this work has been done in the most
comprehensive way and with all available detail.

During the past eight years special examination has been given to
certain classes of exports. The increasing restrictions of importing
countries against the admittance of packing-house products and live
meat animals have impelled cattle growing and slaughtering interests
to request the aid of this Division; and in partial compliance with this
request a complete statement has been prepared to show the extent
and directions of this export trade during the last fifteen years.

So many inquiries have been received concerning various features
of the exports of agricultural products during a long period of years



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CXII BEPOfiT OF THE SEOBBTABY OF AGRICULTURE.

that a report has been prepared and published covering- the exports
as far back as 1851.

Closely related to the disposal of the agricultural surplus is the
subject of agricultural imports, and all necessary consideration has
been given to this subject, besides utilizing current information. A
compilation has been completed covering the last half century of these
imports.

Within the last three years more particular attention has been given
to the trade of the United States proper with its noncontiguous
possessions, in the products of farm and forest.

BALANCE OF TRADE.

A new feature of the examination of statistics of exports and
imports of agricultural products is the presentation of the foreign
balance of trade in these products for a long series of years. This
had not been done by any public office or private individual, and the
importance of the matter at once appeared when it was. discovered
that the great balances of trade in favor of this country have been
mostly, if not entirely, because of the products of the farm, which
have often been called upon to offset adverse balances in manufactures.

FOREST PRODUCTS.

Particular attention was devoted three years ago to the foreign
trade of this country in forest products, and this subject has been one
in which current information has since been especially utilized. Sta-
tistics in detail of the entire foreign trade in forest products, including
both exports and imports, have been compiled for a period of half a
century.

EXAMINATION OF COMPETING COUNTRIES.

One of the most useful lines of investigation in behalf of exporters
has been an examination of the conditions' found in countries which
have a surplus in certain agricultural products which meet those of
this country in common markets.

General agricultural and industrial conditions have been the subjects
of inquiry with regard to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Spain, Scandi-
navia, Porto Rico, and the Philippine Islands during the past eight
years.

A somewhat allied and more useful and important work has been
undertaken with the object of ascertaining in detail the quantities
and values of all the agricultural imports of the countries which receive
a large share of such imports from the United States, as, for instance,
the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands.



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REPORT OP THE SECRETARY OP AGRICULTURE. CXIII



WHEAT A8 A WORLD PROBLEM.



Besides such investigations as the foregoing of general trade com-
petition in certain markets, special investigations have been con-
ducted concerning particular products. Wheat is one of these. A
special agent of the Department spent over a year in Argentina col-
lecting information concerning the production and marketing of wheat,
among other subjects of inquiry.

Wheat again has afforded a special study of its production and pros-
pects in Russia; and, as an important part of the cereal problem of
the world, compendious facts concerning the production of cereals in
principal European countries have undergone suitable assimilation for
public uses.

Sugar is another product of international concern, and information
covering the more important economic features of both beet and cane
sugar production has received a clear and ample, although compact,
presentation in a bulletin prepared in this Division.



PROBLEMS OF COTTON COMPETITION.



Within very recent years no agricultural product has given to the
world as great a problem as cotton, and on this account cotton produc-
tion, actual and potential, in all of the countries where such produc-
tion is possible, has received a searching examination. The inquiries
made with regard to prospective cotton-growing competition have
not so far discovered that it has any reasonable immediate prospects,
but rather indicates that if such competition is to arise it will be in
consequence of years of effort and development. Besides this, it
appears that nearly all regions where new production is attempted
for commercial purposes produce a cotton like the Egyptian.



DAIRY PRODUCTS.



The low position occupied by the dairy products of this country m
principal European markets has excited comment, and the weakness
of their representation in foreign trade statistics has led to a special
examination of this subject by an agent who has spent several years in
England.

PACKING-HOUSE EXPORTS.

In connection with other work done in the interests of cattle grow-
ers and meat packers, particular attention has recently been given to
all of the principal countries of the world which have a surplus of
these products of the farm or ranch for export.

The principal countries of Europe that import packing-house prod-
ucts have afforded a field for a full investigation concerning the kinds,
quantities, and values of such products as enter these countries,
H. Doc. 6, 59-1 8



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OXIV EBPORT OP THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE.

together with sources of such imports among the various exporting
countries of the world.

TARIFF LIMITATIONS.

In every consideration of an export problem it may be and often is
essential that the foreign tariff shall be ascertained and made under-
standable to the public. Work of this sort has been carried on during
the past few years upon a large scale and has embraced the translation
and elucidation of all the tariffs of the world governing the importation
of packing-house products, of grain and grain products, and of fruits
and nuts. A more particular study has been given to packing-house
products than to anv other.

TRANSPORTATION OF EXPORTS.

Transportation is a prominent subject with which the attention of
this Division has been occupied within half a dozen j^ears. The object
is to provide the public with useful information concerning the routes
over which the surplus products of the farm go to ports for trans-
portation by water to foreign markets; to explain the methods by
which shipments are made; to make known the equipment of the
various ports for handling export business; to ascertain and make
known the rates charged by railroads for moving freight of this sort;
and also to ascertain for the service of exporters what lines of steam-
ships are in regular operation, to what ports they carry freight, and
what the charges are for various descriptions of farm products.

RESIDENT LONDON AGENT.

This Department maintains a special agent in London for the purpose
of being in closer touch with Old World markets and information, and
has done so for the past four years. Besides reporting the crop news of
other countries he is engaged from time to time upon special inquiries
which are of practical concern to producers and exporters in this
country.

GROWING SPECIAL SERVICES.

Along with numerous special lines of work carried on and devel-
oped within the Bureau has grown a correspondence with persons in
all parts of this country who are in pursuit of special information,
and in this way a public service has developed which has assumed
proportions of considerable size and of increasing utility.

THE LIBRARY.

For the advancement of work in the Department all important pub-
lications relating to agriculture and to the sciences upon which it is
based are necessary. General treatises, technical monographs, and
new scientific periodicals must be available as laboratory tools for the



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BEPOBT OP THE SECRETABY OF AGRICULTURE. CXV

up-to-date investigators in agricultural science. Over 4,000 such
books and pamphlets, including publications of scientific societies,
have been added to the Department library during the past year.
This growth has been steadily maintained for the past ten years,
resulting in a collection of works relative to agriculture, agricultural
education and research, as well as the kindred sciences not elsewhere
to be found in the country. The collections of works relating to
special sciences such as economic entomology, zoology, veterinary
science, and botany are of exceptional excellence, both as to size and
the number of valuable books of early and late dates.

To facilitate the use of this valuable material, card catalogues, ref-
erence lists, and bulletins are maintained and kept as nearly up-to-
date as possible.

The present quarters are inadequate for housing this collection of
87,000 books and pamphlets and insufficient in the accommodations for
readers and the staff in charge of these books. In addition to space
for this valuable possession of the Department, the protection of a
fireproof building is most urgent. Such protection, however, will
soon be provided by the new Department building.

The resources of the Library are not only made available to scien-
tists at a distance through the system of interlibrary loans, whenever
it is possible to do so without interference with the work of the
Department, but information is also constantly forwarded in response
to letters from all parts of the country. The reference work of the
Library has more than doubled in this direction during the past two
years as the facilities for meeting the demands have increased.

The publication of a quarterly bulletin of accessions, which is a
representative list of current agricultural literature, and of the index
cards to the Department publications has been continued. The latter
publication, numbering upward of five thousand cards, is of especial
value to agricultural colleges, experiment stations, public libraries,
and libraries of institutions receiving the Department publications.
These cards furnish a permanent index which can be incorporated
with the public card catalogue of any library.

The wide distribution of our publications, especially to institutions
and scientific societies in this country and abroad and to foreign gov-
ernments, has resulted in the receipt of a very large number of
transactions, periodicals, and foreign documents, which have added
much valuable material to the files of periodicals and other serials in
the Library. India, Japan, Australia, and Africa, together with
other less remote countries, have generously contributed reports of
their work in agriculture in exchange for the printed results of work
done by the Department. The foreign mailing lists of the Depart-
ment being in charge of the Librarian, a system of exchanges is thus
maintained which is of great benefit to the Library.



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CXVI REPORT OF THE SECRETARY OP AGRICULTURE.

OFFICE OF PUBLIC ROADS.

Probably no field of work is of greater interest to the public at large
than the improvement of our highways. The Office of Public Roads,
as now constituted, represents a distinct stage in the development of
the work undertaken by the Federal Government in 1893 by the estab-
lishment of the Office of Road Inquiry. At the time of the establish-
ment of the Office, the lack of a knowledge of existing conditions
was a serious hindrance to an intelligent application of any plan for
road improvement. The name originally chosen for the Office was
suggestive of the purpose of Congress, which was to inquire into
systems of road management throughout the United States, and into
methods of road making, and to disseminate information as to the
results of such inquiries.

The most important result which has been attained up to this time,
whether produced by influence in or outside of the Office of Public
Road Inquiries, is that the people in all parts of the country are now
interested in the subject of road improvement, and are seeking such
information as will enable them to carry on the work along intelligent
lines. It was found, therefore, that the collection of information
must of necessity become only one feature of the work of the Office,
and that facilities must be provided for answering as well as awaken-
ing inquiries. At the same time the necessity for demonstrating
scientific and economical methods of road construction instead of mere
agitation has been clearly established.

EXPERT ADVICE AND OBJECT-LESSON ROAD WORK.

The work of the Office is primarily educational in character. Its
province is to detail engineers and experts to give information and
advice. Whenever there is any question as to what road material is
best suited for the local conditions, samples of all the available mate-
rials may be sent to the laboratory of the Office, where tests will be
made to determine the selection of the best material. In the majority
of cases the detail of an engineer or expert to make a preliminary
investigation and give advice is all that is required. There are, how-
ever, communities where it has been found advisable to supplement
advice by a practical demonstration of effective road building.

OBJECT-LESSON ROADS.

To meet this need the object-lesson method was adopted on the fol-
lowing plan: A section of road is selected for improvement, and after
the proper surveys and estimates have been made by an engineer of
the Office, expert foremen and machinery operators are sent out in
charge of modern road-building machinery, and the local officials are
taught by actual demonstration every step in the proper construction



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REPORT OP THE SECRETARY OF AGEIOULTUHB. CXVII

of- a road. Absolutely no expense is incurred by the Federal Govern-
ment in this work except for the salaries and expenses of the Govern-
ment employees, the local communities being required to furnish the
right of way, all common labor, teams, materials, etc., used in the
work.

The total number of experimental and object-lesson roads built under
"the direction of the Office since its organization is 96, with a total
length of about 39 miles. The roads were built in 28 States, the
materials used in construction being shells, gravel, brick, oil, tar, sand-
clay, marl, stone, burned clay, slag, and steel track.

Four complete road-building outfits were placed in the field at the
beginning of the past fiscal year, and their work has continued without
interruption. Twenty -one sections of road have been built during the
year in nine States, the total length being a little over 9 miles. In
the construction of these roads a variety of materials was used, such
as stone, shale, burnt clay, sand-clay, shells, gravel, and marl. The
detailed reports submitted by the engineers in charge of work show a
maximum cost of 98 cents and an average cost of 55 cents per square
yard for macadam roads, while the average cost of sand-clay roads is
shown to be 9i cents. The only burnt clay road constructed was built
at a cost of 20 cents per square yard.

In the work done under Government direction there was of neces-
sity a great variation in cost on account of the difference in cost of
labor and teaming, amount of grading required, length of haul, and
general efficiency of labor.

Since the passage of the act. of Congress approved March 3, 1905,
creating the Office of Public Roads, steps have been taken to place the
field work on a more systematic and businesslike basis than hereto-
fore. This has been to some extent accomplished by increasing the
force of engineers and experts and decreasing the number of men
detailed as public speakers and lecturers.

A circular of instruction defining object-lesson road work and expert
advice within the meaning of the act of Congress, and setting forth
the terms under which this Office is prepared to grant assistance is
sent out in answer to inquiries on the subject. A blank form of
application for expert advice and assistance has been prepared, which
is required in every instance to be filled out and signed by the local
authorities.

The construction work is at present under the management of
trained engineers, who are assisted by experts qualified to operate all
road-building machinery. When an object-lesson or experimental
road is to be built, complete surveys, plans, specifications, and esti-
mates are prepared and the fullest preliminary information is obtained.

As far as practicable itineraries are made up for each party in the
field, covering a considerable period of time, in order that the greatest



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CXVIII BEPORT OF THE SEOEETABT OF AGRICULTURE.

amount of work may be accomplished with the least expenditure of
time and money. The work is planned so that it may be carried on
in the North in summer and in the South in winter, thus avoiding
interruption as much as possible.

There appears to be a growing need for the construction and main-
tenance of roads in the forest reserves. In view of the fact that the
Office is maintaining a gradually increasing corps of competent high-
way engineers and experts, it would seem to be a wise arrangement to
utilize the services of these men, wherever practicable, in the construc-
tion and maintenance of roads in the forest reserves and other areas
which are now or which may hereafter come under Government
control.

Heretofore machinery has been borrowed from the manufacturers
who have been willing to lend it for the construction of the object-
lesson roads. Transportation for men and machinery has usually
been secured free of charge from the railroad companies, who have
generally shown themselves ready to cooperate on the ground that
improved highways directly benefit them. The practice of borrowing
machinery and of depending upon free transportation is not, however,
the best policy. Gratuitous assistance inevitably tends to hamper
that freedom of action on the part of the beneficiary which is essential
to the proper performance of the work intrusted to public officials.
A plan for leasing machinery at a certain per cent per annum of the
list price is being favorably considered, and, if the request for an
additional appropriation to make this arrangement possible is granted,
it is probable that ten outfits of machinery will be secured and placed
in the field. It has been ascertained that this plan is perfectly feasi-
ble, and that the machinery can be secured at a fair and reasonable
rental. Should the recommendation in regard to an appropriation to
cover freight charges meet with approval the old practice of free
transportation will be abolished.

EXPERIMENTAL FIELD WORK.

There are vast areas in the country in which stone is not available
for road making, and in only a few localities has it been found prac-
ticable to overcome the difficulty, on account of the cost of transpor-
tation. In such cases the problem is how to obtain a suitable substitute.
In some sections of the South roads have been built of mixtures of
sand and clay. These roads have generally proved satisfactory, and
the efforts of the Office have been directed toward originating special
methods for putting such materials to use.

In the great Mississippi Delta the use of burned clay or gumbo has
been introduced, under the direction of the Office, with what would
seem to be marked success. This is shown by the results obtained on



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REPORT OF THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE. OXIX

an experimental burned-clay road constructed at Clarksdale, Miss.
Previous to the construction of this road experiments had been made
in the laboratory of the Office to determine the best method of burn-
ing the clay. This experiment may possibly prove of value to other
parts of the country, for instance, in many of the prairie States, in
which no other form of road-building material is available. The
report from the South on this special form of construction has been
most encouraging, one county alone having appropriated $25,000 to be



Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of AgricultureAnnual reports of the Department of Agriculture for the fiscal year ended ... : report of the Secretary of Agriculture, miscellaneous reports → online text (page 12 of 86)