Schafer, Joseph, 1867-1941 / A history of agriculture in Wisconsin
Chapter V. Wheat farming, pp. -96 PDF (4.2 MB)
CHAPTER V WHEAT FARMING "In the rapidity of the rise and decline of the wheat indus- try, and in the extent f that decline, Wisconsin is unique among the states of the United States that have been impor- tant in wheat culture. I" This statement epitomizes the story we have to tell, more in detail, in the present chapter. When the new prairie settler of Wisconsin, in 1836, cracked his ox-whip and struck the breaking plow into the sod, prepar- atory to raising a crop of wheat, there was not being produced in the United States an amount of that great food cereal much in excess of the reasonable requirements f our own people. The population of the country in 1840 was in round numbers, 17,000,000. The total production of wheat the preceding year was 85,000,000 bushels, or an average of 5 bushels per capita. That is only a half-bushel per capita more than the average, for food and seed wheat, of the entire wheat eating population of the world in recent years, while it is considerably below the present average of consumption in both America and Great Britain.2 With an abundance of corn, which was the staple food of the slaves and made an important item also in that of a good proportion of the white population, a part of this wheat could be spared for export. However, practically the problem of the foreign market for wheat had not yet arisen in an acute form. Moreover, that problem was not destined to arise until after the new territory of Wisconsin had entered definitely and fully upon its career as a wheat producing area, for in the te yearBloliwjng 1840 the increase in the home market outran the increase in the wheat supply. That is to say, the popula- ' John Giffin Thompson, The Bise and Decline of the Wheat Growing Industry in Wisconsin. University of Wisconsin Bulletins, Economies and Political Science Beries, vol. v, no. 3, p. 13, 295-544. ' Sir William Crookes, The Wheat Problem (New York, 1900), 9, 13.
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