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Duffus, William M. / Report on agricultural settlement and farm ownership. Part I: state loans to farmers
(1912)

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 142


142     WISCONSIN STATE BOARD OF PUBLIC AFFA.rT71.
   If country life in Wisconsin is to be made more wholesome
 and more attractive to people who ought to stay on the farm or
 come to the farm, and if our agricultural resources are to be
 used to the greatest advantage in checking the increasing cost
 of food products, the people of Wisconsin must face the prob-
 lem of farm tenancy squarely and attack it courageously. It
 is not enough to devise systems of tenant farming or enact leg-
 islation designed merely to fix the rights and duties of landlord,
 and tenant with respect to each other, and thus aid in the per-
 petuation of the system of tenancy. Great Britain tried this
 plan in Ireland but it proved to be valuable only as a tempo-
 rarv makeshift. It was not until the parliament of Great Brit-
 ain decided to do away altogether with landlordism in Ireland
 and enacted the boldest land purchase legislation ever enacted
 in any country that the real beginning of a solution was found.
 World-wide experience has demonstrated conclusively that the
 only way to solve the great social and economic problem of farm
 tenancy is to give the tenant a chance to become a farm owner.
   The probability that a few years more will disclose the exist-
ence in the Middle West of a large class of tenant-farmers who
have no opportunity as a class to become farm owners at any
period in life, is a prospect which cannot be viewed with com-
placency. The permanent operation of half or three-fourths of
our farms by tenant-farmers would not only result in tremen-
dous economic waste and serious degeneration in country life,
but it would also, as has been said above, create social conditions
absolutely intolerable in a democratic country. If democracy
means anything it means equality of opportunity, but there can
be no equality of opportunity when the majority of our farm-
ing population is shut off from farm ownership by the high
value of land and doomed to pay rent for a lifetime to those
w~lhom fortune has placed in the position of landowners.
If we are to prevent the further growth of a rigid system of
landlordism and tenancy in the Middle West we must take steps
at once to give all possible help to the renter in his struggle to
become a farm owner.
  To become the owner of a farm in the regions of high priced
land in Southern Wisconsin and other parts of the Middle West,
the renter of small means needs to borrow a considerable sum
of money for a comparatively long term of years. If he is to


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