Domestic Production and Trade in Agricultural Products
after the Outbreak of the War
The rise in price of food products incident to a state of war gave an immediate and effective stimulus to agricultural production. Besides the natural stimulus of expected high profits, the dependence of the United Kingdom upon importations of food became a matter of concern growing into alarm with the increasing inroads of the submarines into shipping. To such an extent was this true that the government felt that it was necessary to add to the economic appeal of war prices an appeal to the patriotism of the people backed by all its legislative and administrative powers.
On account of the important place in the diet of the people held by bread, concern as to the wheat supply was uppermost in the minds of all. With wheat, oats, barley and potatoes are very closely associated, and to some extent interchangeable, as recent developments have indicated.
The sharp increase in the price of wheat in the fall of 1914 and the following winter induced the sowing of a much larger acreage than usual. In fact, it is necessary to go back to 1891 to find an acreage greater than that of 1915. The increase was mainly at the expense of the barley area, the price of barley not having kept pace with wheat prices. For a five year period just before the war the average acreage of wheat was 1,896,000. In 1915 it rose to 2,335,000 acres, an increase of 23 per cent. The unprecedented world crop of 1915 allayed the apprehensions as to a