No corrections yet
(From tho Adelaide Observer, January 20.)
THEBE ia a mystery about tho moat market which wo confess wo cannot understand. All
kinds of animal food are enormously dear, and : it is not easy to ascertain why it should bo so. Wo cannot agroowith a spoakor at tho Norwood meeting, that it arises from tho enlargement of tho squatting intoi;est and tho increase of Hooks.
There is no moro connection botween the two
things than there is between tho Goodwin Sands and tho Tontordon Steoplo. They exist simul- taneously, and that is au. Everybody is com plaining of tho exorbitant price of butchers' moat, but fow agreo as to why it is so, and fewor still can suggest a remody. Tho halycon days
to which Mr. Mouldon roforrod with so muoh regret, whon tho breakfast-table of tho working man groaned under dishes of mutton chops and the evening air was porfumod with the delicious odor of beefsteaks and onions, havo passed away ; mid with beef and mutton at 9d. or lOd. per lb., tho working man and bia family havo to
bo satisfied with a tasto of butohora' moat once a day. TIHB is tho fact, but why the fact exists is tho practical question at the present timo.
Boforo tho mont roaches tho cousumor it passes through threo hands. Thoro is first tho breeder, thon tho salesman, and then tho butcher. Eaoh
of thoBO porsons, of courso rauBt moko his profit;
and before it roaches the consumer threo distinct classes of profits have to bo realised. Whothor any one of thoso olassos of profits is iu excess of tho others wocaniiotsoy.SomoBiiythattliolion's share falls to tho producers ; orlhors say it is inter- cepted by tho doalora or middlemen ; and oHiors say it is priuoipolly grasped by tho butohora.
Wo confess from all wo havo heard wo
havo nob much faith in tho alleged combination amongst the squattors to keep up the prioo of moat. Wo bohovo thal thoy who havo fal slook aro only too glad to find a market for it, and thus lo turn it into inonoy. Wo do not know what profits aro obtained by tho dealers, but as wo boliovo stock is sold to tho butchors al auction it would soom vory clear thal tho pricos which theso Iradosmon aro willing lo givo will dofcrmino the amount of tho profita which tho middlemen realize It is strongly sus poctod, therefore, that tho butohora obtain largor profits al tlio prosont high ratoB of moat than either tho producors or the dcalora obtain. Thoro aro many persons who refer to the prices at which hoof and mutton aro boing Bold at tho East-end Market at tho present timo whon com- pared with tho prices usked in tho shops, ns proving Ibis fact. At tho market tho prioos aro -mutton, 4id. to 5\d. por Ib., against 5d. to 8d. in tho shops ; and bool', 'lid, to 6^d.,ugahiBl 5d. lo lOd, in tho BhopB. Tho inference ÍB that
if thoso who uso the markot can nfford to Boll
with a profit at tho ratos wo havo quotod, thou tho butchors must bo making cnormoUB profits at tho pricoB which thoy ask.
It ought to bo homo in mind, however, that the trado oxponsos of butchors having shopB in the oity and tho suburbs aro vory considerable compared with thoso who sond thoir moat to tho market. Tho rents uro high, and tho praotico which prevails of sonding mon out ovory morn- ing for ordors, and thon a second time for ddivory, necessitates tho omploymont of a largo number of horses and much labor whioh havo to bo paid for out of tho profits of tho business. But making all duo ullowanco for theso oxponaoB wo still boliovo tho prico of moat is muoh too high. The publio aro in tho
hands of tho butchors, who can do with thom ? vory muoh OB thoy Uko. To obtain chcop moat at tho markot a person must riso botimoB, and bo on tho grouud not lalor than 4i or 5 o'clock in the morning, which is not very convenient to those who havo no great passion for oarly rising. Tho butchers know this vory well, and it may bo thoy presumo on tho fact. At tho prcsont timo thoy havo practically a monopoly of tho trado, and thoro Booma to bo a sort of undorsf muling amongst thom to koop up tho prioos.
Now (ho first remedy which suggests itsolf for this stato of things is tho erection of a suitablo niarkof, whioh would bo accessible to Hie publio al rooBOimblo hours, and whoro butchers might exhibit (heir carcassos for salo. Snob a markot has long boon talked about, and lins boon moro than onco discussed in tho City Council. Tho present Mayor of Adelaide, Mr. Townsond, hnj) taken considerable troublo in tho matter, and has moro than onco urged it upon tho nltontion of his colleaguos. Wo aun poso il would bo impossiblo to find in tho wholo of England a town of tho tsuo of Adolnido in whioh thoro was not a publie market ; ond it is no1 vory creditable to us lo bo without ono. Wc boliovo a publio market would call out u hcnlthy competition, whioh would havo tho ofi'eol of reducing tho prices of many of tho
nocossaries of life.
But another thing is noodod. If any ono class combino against tho community, as a wholo, then tho community ought to combino for thoir own protection. Wo havo an instanoo of the good thal may bo oflbotod in this «ay in tho success whioh lins attended tho opera- tions of tho Aerated Bread Company, II lins not only bonefited tho publio by soiling ita own bread at a cheaper rato than the bakers woro soiling, but it has led thom to roduco thoir prices. Bakors who a fortnight ago woro charg- ing Gd. for tho two-pound loaf, aro now adver- tising it al 5d. or 5fcd. Suppose, thou, a mool company woro established on the co-operative principio, wo h?,vo no hesitation in saying that prudently and onorgetically conducted, it would instantly bring doiyn tho prosonl exorbitant pricos within rcaBpnablc bounds. _ Wo havo no wish to depri»o tho butchors of fair and reason- able profits. Thoy aro a class of tho community who aro usoful in thoir way. But the interest of the wholo ought to bo lookod nfc in prol'erenco to tho inlorcsts of a olass ; and in a pastoral land, suoh, as South Australia is, it seems hardly righi that moat should bo so dear. But, porhaps, ' the ono thing whioh would tond to ehenpon meat abovo all others would bo for the farmers to ongago in stock-kooping in connection with agricultural operations. Wo have urged this upon the at-
tention of our reader». It would bo a bonoflt
in two ways ; it would pay directly by tho salo ' of the cattlo and sheep, and it would pay in- directly by tho improvement it would offocl in the land. Thoro aro a fow gentlemen who have'tried, and wo believo thoy have boon sue cosrful. Surely wo havo a suffioiont number of publio spirited yeomen within a reasonable dis-
tance of Adolaido who would be willing to test , the feasibility of combining pastoral pursuits with farming onerationa. If this could bo dono, then, wo havo littlo fear of the result. The prieo of stock would oomo down, and beef and mutton would bo obtainable at'reason- able prioos. Wo hove no wish to sea mutton at ltd- a, lb., as ii once was, whon a log of mutton could bo bought for a shilling. It is bolter for all olasees that higher prices than these should rulo. But there ought to be, a happy modium betweon lid. and 8d. or 9d. Tho one is ns much too high as tho othor is too low. If tho blame lies with tho squattors, tho farmors entering into competition with them would soon break up their alleged combinations ; if the middlemen intercept tho profits, then the farmers could deal immediately with tho butchors ; or if tho butchers ave to blomo, a meat company would quiokly stir them up aud make thom moro amcnablo to reason. At any rate something ought to bo done if meat is not to become in this land as it is in so many places in England-the lnxury of the fow instead of being tho necessity of the many.
As tho mid-day Worcester train was abont loaving the depot, aman of the Johnsonian tjpe of manners entered ono of the cars, and gruffly requoBtcd that two young ladies occupying separate seats should sit together, that he and his friond might enjoy a Ute-a-Ute on the other Beat. But, said one of tho damsels, blushing, this seat ÍB engaged. Engaged is it ? brusquely responded tho lunn: who engaged it ? A young man, said the conscious maiden.'' A young mau, ohP Where's his baggage? persisted Ursa Major. I'm his baggage, Old Hateful, replied tho demure dam Bel, putting her rosy Ups into the prettiest pout. Old Hateful subsided : the youngman carno in, extending his arm,pro tcctingly, almost caressingly, around his,bag gago, und Mr. Conductor Capron Btarted the