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Duffus, William M. / Report on agricultural settlement and farm ownership. Part I: state loans to farmers

Chapter VII. Farm tenancy in Wisconsin and the need of a system of long-time loans for the tenant farmer,   pp. 130-143 PDF (3.8 MB)

Page 138

  138     AZ'ISCONTSIN STATE BOARD OF lu wic  AI:>S.
  maining 4,441 rented farms 3,463 were owned by persons resid-
  ing in the state of Wisconsin, although outside of the counties
  in which the farms were located, leaving only 978 farms owned
  by persons residing outside of the state. The statistics of the
  1910 census on the ownership of rented farms are not yet avail-
  able but it is not probable that they will show any great change
  in the situation described.
  There is little doubt, however, that if land values continue to
  rise and farm tenancy in consequence continues to increase,
  there will develop rigid classes of landlords and tenants and
  absentee landlordism will become a distinct and serious evil in
  Wisconsin. At the present time the great proportion of the
  owners of tenant-operated farms appear to be themselves farm-
  ers who have retired from active work to live during the latter
years of life on the rental from their farms and income from
other property.  But just so soon as tenant-operated farms
begin to be passed on in large numbers to a generation of farm-
ers' children who are bent on living in the city, just so soon
will the evils of absentee landlordism begin to appear. This
will hold true whether the n-iv owners retain possession of the
farms or whether they sell the farms to business andl professional
men looking for opportunities to invest money for a profit or for
the pleasure of owning land in the country.
  The state of Wisconsin cannot afford to permit the growth
of a landed aristocracy or the creation of a permanent class
of tenant-farmers. World-wide experience warns against the
social and economic dangers in allowing such conditions to arise
and it is unnecessary here to discuss in detail the evils due to
these conditions. The question is what preventive measures shall
the state adopt?
  There are at least four ways of attacking the farm tenant
problem. First, it may be assumed that farm tenancy is in-
evitable and all efforts may be concentrated on improving the
conditions of tenancy. Provision may be made for long leases
and the rights and duties of tenants and landlords with respect
to each other may be definitely fixed in statute law. Second, it
may also be assumed that farm tenancy is inevitable but the
efforts of the state instead of being concentrated on the im-
provement of the contract relations between tenants and pri-
vate landlords may be directed to making the sta.e itself th3

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