« ForrigeFortsett »
On the Remainder of a Tenant's Eapenses, including Tavation, and on the Profits of his Farm.
THE cultivators profits are evidently what remains to him after payment of his rent, of the wages of labour, of the wear and tear of stock and machinery, of other expenses of cultivation, of common interest on his capital, of taxes to the government, and of tithes where they are due. Of the two first items we have treated in the chapters immediately preceding. The wear and tear of stock and machinery, including the use of the team, on a mixed arable and pasture farm in England should amount to about two thirds of the rent; the seed and manure, which constitute the other expenses of cultivation, to about as much; tithe and rates to something more than half the rent; common interest upon capital to about one third of the rent; taxes to the government to about one tenth of the rent. From eight to ten per cent. should afterwards be left on the farmer's capital as his clear profit, to compensate the risk incurred and the labour bestowed, to accumulate for further investment, and to provide for his family.
On a farm worth 30s. an acre, we will suppose the necessary capital to be 121. an acre, or 1200l. upon 100 acres. The gross produce of the 100 acres should then be worth about 750l., and the sum would be thus apportioned according to the preceding estimate.
Although I am now arguing upon general principles, I have given the calculation according to the average out-goings of an English farm; because it is capable of being more easily referred to the test of fact and experience.
sé 1. Landlord’s rent ......... - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 150 2. Wages of labour. . . . . . . . . . . . .................. 140 3. Wear and tear, including team.................. 100 4. Seed and manure............................. 100 5. Tithes and rates.................... - - - - - - - - - - 80 6. Common interest on capital..................... 60 7. Direct taxes paid by tenant, exclusive of property tax . . . . . - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 15 8. Farmer's clear profits on 1200l. capital, not nine per cent . . . . . . . . . - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 145 sé 750
I do not conceive that the application of capital and industry to lands of moderate or inferior staple could be successfully made, or would in fact be persevered in in a commercial and manufacturing country even of extensive territory, at a permanent remuneration much lower than that which I have here stated. The competition for capital from other employments would prevent its diversion to the soil, until the price of produce should be sufficiently enhanced by the increased demand from the commercial and manufacturing population to afford that remuneration to the landlord for clearing, enclosing, draining, and improving, the land; and next, to the farmer, for capital, skill, and labour, employed in the regular cultivation. Should produce, therefore, be permitted to come from other countries at a cheaper rate, such land would never be cultivated or improved at all:—
at least it would be carried no further than to a state of coarse pasture. Of the two first of these items I have already treated at large, and shall only add here that, including about 30l. from the item intitled rates, which according to the reasoning in the last chapter should be added to that entitled wages of labour, the two first items make up considerably more than two-fifths of the whole out-goings. If, however, there be any truth in the reasoning of the two last chapters, they are payments indispensably necessary to the welfare of the community. But in case of any defalcation in the due returns for the produce of the farm, they are the first that would cease to be paid; because an inferior state of cultivation could still be carried on upon the land by a considerable reduction in them. Of the next item, viz. wear and tear of horses, stock, machinery, and implements, it may be observed that a portion of this expense involves indirect taxes to the government; and the remainder is devoted to setting industry in motion in other profitable departments. Any diminution therefore in the power of making this payment would be doubly injurious to the commonwealth; first by affecting the revenue, and next by depressing the general industry of the community. But such diminution would certainly ensue upon a depression in the price of produce, because like the two former items, this also could be trenched upon without absolute ruin to the farmer; he might still raise an inferior description of produce, and continue to live. The next item, including seed and manure, is also indicative of a farm managed in a thriving manner; and, in case of an alteration of system by converting a large portion of arable into rough pasture, the expense would be saved. But it would be a most fatal saving in a commercial and manufacturing country; for, by checking the productive power of all the inferior lands, and by throwing them into such a state of waste as would require many years to reclaim, the community must be necessarily forced to have recourse to a permanent supply of foreign corn; and the capital and industry hitherto flourishing at home, would be transferred to foreign countries: to say nothing of the other inconveniences which have been stated as the consequence of such a calamity. In the next item, tithes are the only article left for consideration; and in the view we are now taking they do not call for many remarks. Being a tenth of the produce, they will of course increase or decrease with the amount of that produce. But they constitute an out-going the relative amount of which cannot be diminished, as may be the case with all the other items. So long as the tithe owner is paid in that manner, the payment is very properly secured to him by law, in such a manner as to prevent the possibility of evasion or diminution. It has the preference over all other payments, and must therefore be deducted from the gross amount of the produce, before any calculation can be entered into of what the remainder may be capable of performing. I cannot let this subject cross my l oth without one observation. However desirable it may be, both to the tithe owner in his professional capacity, and to the country with a view to the investment of capital in agricultural improvements, that a general commutation should, if possible, be made for this proproperty; yet, as far as it affects the farmer or mere occupier of the land, it is I think in ordinary times clearly advantageous to him. If no such out-going existed, a third would probably be added to his rent; that being, I should conceive, not an unfair valuation of the tenth of the gross produce of a farm, upon the average of farms. But from the difficulty in the mode of collection, from the liberal feeling of many of the clergy towards their parishioners, and from the general custom which the prevalence of this feeling has established, I will venture to affirm that the utmost value is not taken in one parish in a hundred in any country where tithes constitute the payment of the clergy. The occupier therefore, if a tenant, is the last man who ought to complain of that out-going. : The next item, viz. common interest on capital, is of course an absolutely necessary condition of its investment, and ruin must inevitably follow if it should continue permanently not to accrue; ruin to the individual by the loss of his fortune, ruin to the state by the destruction of its capital and industry. Yet be it observed, this interest can only accrue upon the supposition that the price of the products of the farm is sufficient previously to discharge all its necessary out-goings, and to leave at least this surplus; which, it may be well to repeat, is not the profit that is to induce the capitalist to enter into further agricultural speculations, but merely the return which is to prevent his capital from being annihilated. Of the direct taxes to government, which form the subject of the following item, it is scarcely possible for the tenant to pay less; and, property-tax excepted, the article is too trifling to deserve further