The Rural Economy of New England: A Regional Study

By John Donald Black | Go to book overview
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Marketing of Farm Products

Most of our discussion of the marketing of New England farm products belongs in the chapters following dealing with the various lines of production. Something by way of a general preview of the characteristics of New England markets and how they came to obtain their present form will, however, be helpful at this point. We may well conclude, after exploring the marketing problems of the different products that the present land use in New England, and the ability of New England farms to compete with those in other areas, is as much dependent upon conditions of marketing as upon the conditions of production. The spreads between the producer and consumer prices may prove to be as large an element in the present restricted production of most New England products as are the rigors of its climate, its soil and topography, the expenses of commercial fertilizers and purchased feed, or the high wages of labor.

As general evidence on this point may be cited certain figures for the country as a whole. In 1939, the farm producers of 58 food products consumed by a typical American workingman's family were receiving only 39 cents out of the dollar paid for these at retail. For the products important on New England farms, producers of the United States in general were receiving something like the following percentages of the consumer's dollars: All dairy products combined, 43; eggs, 59; hens, 50; potatoes, 43; apples, 33; green beans, 30; carrots, bunched, 16; celery, 21; onions, 26; canned corn or peas, 15.

Nor are these proportions growing any larger. On the contrary, Chart 62 shows that the course has been generally downward since 1913, and particularly since the First World War. The average percentage in 1913 was around 47. In one depression year, 1932, this percentage fell to 33. Drought, production control, and a few other things brought it to 43 in 1937; but it slumped to 39 in 1938 and 1939. This decline from 47 to 39 per cent is a decline of one


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