No corrections yet
THE SUCCESS OF CO-OPERATION.
(From the London'"Spectator.'-)
Denmark has a population about half that of London, and an area less than half that of Scotland. ' Moro than half her people are engaged on the land, and agriculture is» her chief source of wealth. The soil is, on the whole, leys good than England, and the climate is no better than ours. Yet in Denmark farming pnys well! and the dwellers on tho land are growing in numbers. Mr. Rider riaggard's Danish journey (described in his book, "Rural Denmark, and its Lessons") had the object of finding out the. loason tor this success. There wa«, no easy explanation at hand like high i Protection, for Denmark is a frcetrade
country, with no duty on ortlintiry food stitils, except a .small one on cheese mid fruits. Denmark has nothing to invest in except her land, hut the question is how she has managed to make her in- vestment so profitable. Obviously the matter is of great importa nee to us at the present juncture. Denmark is the country of small holdings, of co-opera- tion, of credit societies, of lill the do vices which nre suggested as remedies for our depressed countryside. Danish experience must cast a valuablo light upon our own current problem .
Mr. Haggard follows the same plan as in his "Km al England" ; that is, ho describes faithfully what ho saw, so that the leader may judge for himself whether tim evidence bears out the author's conclusions. He takes us over a variety of farms, from the "house- man's' twelve acies to the great land- owner's seven thousand, ivhich briug in a. clear profit of ¿20,000 a year. He conducts us to egg-warphoiibcs, and model dairies and sugar-beet factories, and establishments where the pig suiTors every change of which his being is cap- able.' Thrso matters, however, are a little outside the. main line of inquiry. Mv. Haggard's'real object was to dis- cover the condition and prospects of the small-holder, and the part played iu his I work bv co-operation and specialised
There aro some ô,000 State small Holders, who have bought their land in the opon market; there is no compul- sory purchase in Denmark. 1 he maxi- mum State advance is nine-tenths ot the purcha&o price, The rate of, in- terest is 3 per cent., apart from a. sink- ing fund of 1 per cent., which liqui- dates the advance in a period of ninety eight yems. No payments to the sink- ing fund ara made during the first five years of occupation. Mi. mggards evidence goes to show that compara- tively few of the small holders fail, and that.' acre tor acre, they produce more ihan the largo farmers, besides tim work for wages they may do outside their holdings. His chief criticism is that the small holder should possess more thnn one-tenth of tho total capi- tal. As it is, he succeeds only by the help of three outside agencies which help him along-a system of agricul- tural education, credit banks, and es- pecially various co-operative agencies. There is no moro interesting chapter in the book than the account of a visit lo the small holders school at Ttingsted. In seven years it has nassed five thou rand pupils through its courses, and though the feeä for board and tuition are only £2 5s. per month, it pays its way. The minimum age is eighteen, but thcie have been pupils of seventy. Tfc pivps the most practical instruction in all branches of farming mid garden- ing, ¡is well as in domestic economy. Tho existenee of such schools is a' proof of n radical diffnionce bet«con -Den- mark and Britain, for it is difficult to imagine our prospective small holder thus laboriously and scientifically equip- ping himself. Having no other asset than the land, Denmark has to talco il beriously. The Hausen Credit Unions are specially designed to advance funds tn small holders. The members me jointly and severally lesponsible for the obligations of their union. An intend- ing mortgagor gives the union u bond mid receives the loan (up to half the assessed value of his land) in union bonds, on which 4 per cent, interest is gunrmileod by the State. Thc-o he sells in the open market. Tile interest charged to the mortgagor varies from 8 to 4-1, per cent., with 1 per cent, ns sinking fund. These credit unions ara oxtrtmely successful, and their looses
are few and'inconsidprnblo.
But "were it not for the eluborute Danish systema of co-operation he would fail miserably." In Denmark there aro l,lfi7 co-operative dairies, 34 bnoon .curing factories, 1,1180 societies for cat- tle breeding, besides societies for breed- ing-sheep, horses, and pigs, and for exportinor cattle and eggs. The farmer, large and small, bus nn interest in these concerns, and shares in the pro- fits, over and above the services tliey render him. The small man know'-* that he ha? not to foot ,the competi- tion of the hie; wholesale producer. He knows that lie .is busing at the lowest "to alä. «Mníí -it the.best market price. The best expert advice in the country is at his disposal : -
The farmer who, standing'alone, can bo broken across, the knee of, tyranny, extortion, or competition if bound i-» with a hundred others bv the bond of conim'on interest is able lo umteh them nil. This advantage, too. leinmns to him: ns cn-eiperntfve societies guarantee the quulity of
then produce the maiket is ulways suie lu short co-opeiation is the leal solution of the difficulty so often experienced of miking properly firm ed but unpiotccted land piv a living piont ind something ovpr for rent or interest on loans invested in the pur chase of the freehold with i inaigiii for smiting fund 01 savings T repeat houevei my belief that this most beneficial system will only take real loot in an agricultural commumtv which owns and docs not hire the land it vvoils and even then will onjy nttam to complete success -ind piosperitv if the people of the com munit} lie very hardworking edti cated in the true sense 1 mdlv toler int-natmcd ind intelligent
Co-operation it would appen which is the clue to success in small holdings de ninnds ownoiship foi this amone; other i casons Cooperative accounts aro open to inspection ind teni nts if thev chanced to bo doing well might natur ally fciu tint u i iso in prospentv would mean a rise in i eut
Theie ni o ninny critics of the b}/>tein of course fiom whom Mi Haggard very onndidlv quotes but no cnticism i,ets lid of the fact that on the wliole Dmish farming: is astonishing!} success ful One Danish critic objects to the fieehold system in small holdings and would prefer leases of two lives In up phmg the moral to Engand Mr Hag gard seems a little affected bv tins view ind bv the few applications for the purchase of oui County Council hold mgs and m one-passage seems to favour tenancy nthei than ownership Tor ourselves wo do not see v h} there should not be room for both but ne would prefei the second as the nornnl tvpe Co-oporntion which is the truo bocret of success is on Air Haggard s cwn argument much easioi to work nniong owners thin among temnts The Dinish lesson is applied with gientgood sense ind fun ness Mr Haggard be- gins w lth the proposition tint the re tention of the people on the land shoiill ho tin gi eat and cien the mini en deivoui of the Western nit ions No thing can make up foi the loss of them -no weilth no splendour no foreign investments ' no témpora» success or glonos of my kind He wants to seo the soil of Tligland ni many moie hands thim at present for it would mean that the pioduction -would ba doubled No circumstances in our i» liculture isfconishes ind indeed horn he« the Dinish firmer so much is docs our huge nciongo of wasteful and mdif ferent pistuie Ho thinks that half of Englind Ins been foi sale for vear« if purchasers ciultl have been found to piv a price in anv wn\ proportionate to what had been snent on the lind He his no belief m Piotectton -is a re- medy the cure must como is in Den muk from the firm°i himself and from the land jtself^ A better distru tion of Innd scientific training scien- tific methods and above all co onera tion-these have made of Denmark in obieet lesson to the woild On them alone cm my true English land polier be founded______^