Q. Does not our tariff protect farmers as well as manufacturers?
A. It does not -- and it was not intended to.
Q. That's a strange statement. Its not Mr. McKinley, of Ohio, the author of the new tariff?
A. He is one of the authors, and it is called by his name.
Q. Well, I have read a speech by him, in which he says farmers are protected as well as manufacturers, and that while it increases the duties on foreign manufacturers imported into this country, it increases the duties on foreign agricultural produce imported, also, and thereby protects American farmers from competition with foreign farmers.
A. Do American farmers need protection against foreign farmers?
Q. I don't know that they do; but if other classes have protection they might as well have a share of it too.
A. But they do not get it. They raise more farm produce than our people can consume, and the surplus has to go to foreign countries to be sold. We do not need to buy farm produce -- we have to sell it. We do not need to import it -- we have it to export. A tariff duty is levied on imports and is intended to increase the price of what we buy, not what we sell.
Q. Does not a protective duty on foreign manufactures increase the price of our manufactures?
A. It does.
Q. Then does not a protective duty on farm products increase the price of our own farm products?
A. It does not.
Q. Why is that?
A. Because a protective duty is levied on imports, and cannot, therefore, affect the price of what we export. We import foreign manufactures, and the duty on them increases the price of them. But we do not import farm products, and a duty on them is, therefore, ineffective.
Q. Is there not a duty on wheat?
A. Yes -- 25 cents a bushel.
Q. Doesn't this benefit the Western wheat grower?
Q. What is the duty on English blankets?
A. About 100 per cent.
Q. Then if an English blanket is worth $1 in England and the duty on $1 more, it will cost a Western farmer $2.
Q. So the duty increases the price 100 per cent.
Q. And does the duty increase the price of an American blanket 100 per cent.?
A. It does.
Q. Well now, if the duty increases the price of blankets, why shouldn't it increase the price of wheat too?
A. Because, as I said before, duties are levied on what we need to buy, not on what we have to sell -- on imports, not exports.
Q. Are there duties on other staple Western farm crops -- corn, oats and hay?
A. Yes, 15 cents a bushel on corn; 15 cents a bushel on oats; and $4 a ton on hay.
Q. And are these duties ineffective also? Do they not increase the prices of corn, oats and hay?
A. How can they? The surplus wheat of the West has to go to the Eastern states, or to Europe for its
3ultimate market -- and it costs it 25 cents a bushel, or more, to get there. A Western farmer's surplus corn, oats and hay must be turned into meats, and they also shipped to the East, or to Europe for a market -- and here again the freight and other charges outweigh the duties, even if those duties could be effective.
Besides, the market record for the last twenty-five years shows that the pretended protective duties on farm products have not increased the price of them.
In 1867 the price of wheat was $2 a bushel; in 1877, it was $1 a bushel; in 1890, it was only 83 cents a bushel.
In 1867, the price of corn was 79 cents a bushel; in 1877, it was 35 cents; and in 1889, it was 28 cents.
In 1885, the average price of dressed carcasses of beef in the New York market was 7 to 10 cents a pound; in 1890, it was 6 to 7Ë cents.
The report of the Illinois State Board of Agriculture shows that in seven of the ten years, from 1882 to 1891 inclusive, the corn crop of that state was raised at an actual loss to the farmers.
Under the influence of a protective tariff which forces the people to pay for manufactures 70 per cent. more than they are worth, the manufacturing product increased in value from $6,500,000,000 in 1889 -- an increase of over $1,100,000,000.
But how is it with the agricultural product? It very largely increased in size but not in value. Corn increased from 1,600,000,000 bushels in 1879, to 2,125,000,000 in 1889; oats from 417, 885,000 bushels to 751,000,000 bushels; barley from 45,000,000 bushels, to 56,800,000 bushels; and there was an increase in the entire cereal crop from 2,437,000,000 bushels, to 3,450,000,000, bushels. The hay crop grew from 30,000,000 tons to 42,000,000 tons; the cotton crop from 5,500,
4600 bales to 7,500,000 bales; and the potato crop from 160,000,000 bushels to 200,000,000 bushels. The gross amount of farm products of all kinds increased at least one third. But there was not a corresponding increase in the value of these products. On the contrary, the prices of all crops declined to such an extent that the large crop of 1889 did not bring the raisers of it as much money as the small crop of 1880.
The Department of Agriculture report gives the total product of all cereals for 1881 at 2,066,000,000 bushels, valued at $1,470,000,000; and the total product of all cereals in 1887, at 2,660,000,000 bushels, valued at $1,204,000,000 -- or 594,000,000 more bushels, and $2,666,000,000 less value.
It is pretty clear, therefore, that while a protective tariff on manufactures does benefit the manufacturer, a protective tariff on farm products does not benefit our farmers. It increases the price of manufactured goods, but not the price of farm crops.
Q. Then the protective duties on our farm crops are a pretence and nothing more?
A. They are.
Q. If they have no effect and bring the farmer no benefit, why are they put into the tariff law at all?
A. Only to deceive the farmer and make him patient under a policy which taxes him for the benefit of the favored manufacturer.