ENCOURAGING SMALL FARMER.
Beginning January 5, The Advertiser will publish a weekly list of wholesale prices for Island produce in Honolulu markets while A. T. Longley, superintendent of the home markets division of the Hawaii Experiment Station will also supply a weekly market letter for publication. The marketing division was authorized by the last legislature, an appropriation having been made for the purpose.
Dr. E. V. Wilcox has been a close student of cooperative marketing organizations for the last twenty years. He stated to The Advertiser Saturday that there are ten times as many cooperative marketing organizations in the United States as in England and Germany combined, although there is very little American literature on the subject. One Southern farmer’s organization that both sells produce and purchases machinery, fertilizers, seed and supplies for its members includes over three million farmers and planters. California, Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Utah and Colorado have their fruit marketing organizations. In the Central States the farmers have to together on their corn, wheat and oat crops as well on the scores of minor products usually associated in the Hawaiian public mind with “small farming.” There are cooperative societies in New York and New England; in Kentucky, Tennessee and the Carolinas they united in the marketing of tobacco, early truck crops, peach and berry crops; and in the Gulf States they are almost a controlling factor in cotton.
The prime objects of farmer’s cooperative unions are, continuity of supply, an honest and uniform pack, and standardization of grades. The idea is to put the growing, packing and marketing of farm produce on a business basis.
The sales of the marketing division here in Honolulu amount now to about two thousand dollars a month and the immediate cost to the taxpayers of Hawaii is $135 per month. The experiment station hopes to be able to continue this work until such time as the growers of small produce have standardized the methods of production and are ready to take it over themselves, and continue to operate it on a basis of mutual profit. These cooperative societies are not corporations. Each member bears his own produce handled and gets all the proceeds from his own stuff less only the handling charge. The cooperative market differs in that regard from a commission business. The commission merchant charges a fixed rate. The cooperative organization usually employs its managers, bookkeepers and office clerks and often does what a private corporation would do, holds out an incentive in the way of increased pay to its employees, depending on sales made at above the market price. The society does what the average commission merchant does not do. It tries to inform its members as to supply and demand, but is also endeavors to have the contributing members keep the supply uniform.
Lack of uniformity of supply has been a serious drawback in the island small farm trade. For example, for the week ending December 20, turkeys threatened to be a drug on the market. On December 27 the market had no turkeys.
What Doctor Wilcox would like to see the island turkey raisers do would be to guarantee a regular supply every week in the year—to hold their produce subject to call, just as the ranchers do with their beef cattle. So also with garden and farm produce—plant so as to be able to supply vegetables or other farm produce regularly throughout the year. There is perhaps half a million dollars’ worth of farm and orchard produce imported into Hawaii that might just as well be produced here, and not only can be, but will be, some day.
The marketing division of the experiment station is intended to help the farmers in the practical way of selling their goods for them but also intends to give the growers that trained expert scientific supervision of crop production that lies entirely outside the field now occupied by the retail merchants and commission men.
[Have we moved forward or backward from a hundred years ago, when they were saying:
There is perhaps half a million dollars’ worth of farm and orchard produce imported into Hawaii that might just as well be produced here, and not only can be, but will be, some day.]
(Hawaiian Gazette, 12/30/1913, p. 4)