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To the Senate and House of Representatives :
The winter session of the Board of Agriculture was held in Paris, commencing on Tuesday, January 23, and continuing during the three following days. The attendance of farmers and others interested, directly or indirectly, in matters pertaining to agriculture, was unusually large, and the interest manifested in the addresses, lectures and discussions was of a most gratifying character.
The forenoon of the first day was devoted to organization, admission of new members, choice of officers, (as given on the preceding page,) and the transaction of business.
The topic of most public importance related to directing the use to be made of that portion of the State bounty which is placed under the control of the Board. The deliberations resulted in the passage of two votes, which the Secretary was directed to communicate to the Societies, together with a concise statement of the doings of the Board in relation to the second vote, and suggestions relative to its being carried into effect. This he soon afterwards did in the following circular : OFFICE OF SECRETARY OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE,
February, 1872. To the Trustees of
Society. GENTLEMEN :-It has become my duty to communicate to you the following votes passed by the Maine Board of Agriculture, at its late session, January, 1872, compliance with which is necessary if you desire to secure continued aid to your society from the bounty of the State, the Board being empowered to determine for what purposes and objects one-half said bounty shall be expended :
Voted— That the several Agricultural Societies receiving State bounty be and hereby are required to expend, during the current year, for the formation, support and encouragement of FARMERS' Clubs, a sum not less than one-fourth of the bounty so received from the State.
VOTED—That the several Agricultural Societies receiving bounty from the State be and are hereby required to offer, during the
present year, premiums for Farm IMPROVEMENTS, to be awarded in the autumn of the year 1874, to an amount not less than onefourth of said bounty. • The first vote simply continues the policy which has been acted upon for several years past and which has been productive of highly satisfactory results. If a sufficient number of Clubs have already been formed, you can expend the whole amount (to wit: one-fourth of what your society receives from the State,) for books, lectures, or such other aid as you deem best adapted to promote their prosperity and efficiency.
The second vote is in place of one requiring premiums to be offered for several years past on wheat culture. That was efficacious of good, but unequally in different parts of the State. The present requirement promises more uniform good results in all sections.
It inaugurates a new policy. The principal reason (among others) for this action by the Board lies in the fact that of late years encouragement by means of premiums offered by Agricultural Societies has been almost, if not wholly, confined to such objects as contribute to the attractions of the Annual Exhibitions, to the exclusion of other improvements which may be more needed but cannot be competed for or exhibited upon the show grounds.
The desire of the Board is that the improvements to be made should be those which are most needed upon the farm of the person competing for a premium, whether they pertain to buildings, fences or tillage, whether to underdrains, manures, orchards or forests, whether to reclaiming waste land, renovating impoverished lands, re-seeding grass lands damaged by drought and grasshoppers, or whatever else is most wanted to improve the farm.
It is further the desire of the Board that the premiums be 80 offered as stimulate improvement among those of small means equally with those possessing larger means; that is to say, that they be offered not for the greatest amount of improvements irrespective of cost, but for the highest degree of skill and judgment manifested in adapting means to ends, or, in other words, for the most economical results in proportion to the time, labor or money expended in making the improvements, or for the greatest results at least cost, a reasonable amount being accomplished.
It is obvious that no one competing for premiums offered upon such terms is in danger of suffering loss by reason of devoting his energies and means to such competition. Undoubtedly every one will be well repaid in the direct results of his labors, and there will be the additional motive of a bandsome prize besides.
Let me suggest also, that you offer and publish the premiums for Farm Improvements, together with the conditions upon which they are to be awarded, at an early day, making them as widely known as possible, and fixing a suitable time for the close of entries, (say in early summer,) so that a committee, to be carefully selected by you, consisting of judicious and impartial men, may visit the farms of the several competitors during the coming summer or autumn. This committee should observe carefully and
write down accurately, before leaving the spot, the existing condition of things, taking notes of what has been done since the entry was made, together with what is proposed to be done during the remainder of this and the two following years. These memoranda should be carefully preserved for reference at the final visit in autumn of 1874, removing, so far as possible, any liability to forgetfulness or mistakes; and with carefully prepared notes in hand of what appeared in 1872, the committee can judge understandingly and decide according to comparative merit in 1874,
I may be allowed to add that when this plan was tried in Cumberland county some years ago, it was found that a spirit of improvement sprang up, not only among those competing for premiums, but also widely among their neighbors, who did not like to be left behind or, to be outdone. It is believed by those best acquainted with the facts of that case, that no other equal sum was ever expended by that Agricultural Society which effected so much good.
Although the Board saw fit to pass no binding action for more than one year, I am authorized to say that no reasonable doubt exists that a similar vote will be passed at the winter sessions of 1873 and 1874, and consequently, you would do well to state, with your offers, the probability that the premiums will embrace not only the sums named by you at this time, but may be doubled or trebled by reason of devoting a similar share of the State's bounty for two years more to the same object. Respectfully yours,
S. L. GOODALE, Secretary. The Secretary and Professor M. C. Fernald, were appointed delegates to the National Convention called by the Commissioner of Agriculture to meet at Washington, February 15th.
AFTERNOON. The public exercises commenced at 2 o'clock P. M., the newly elected President, Z. A. Gilbert, Esq., in the chair.
THE PRESIDENT. We have first upon our programme this afternoon, the name of one who has long been closely identified with the great interest which we are now assembled to promote, and one personally familiar with the details of practical agriculture. It is true that for some years his attention has been directed in other channels, and to many he is doubtless better known in connection with public affairs, than as a farmer of Oxford county. We have no reason to think that change of position has abated in the least either his interest in, or his ability to serve the cause of agriculture. I have the pleasure of introducing Governor Perham, who will now address you.
ADDRESS OF GOVERNOR Perham. Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Board of Agriculture :It is my pleasant duty to bid you welcome to the county of Oxford. I do this with very great pleasure ; at the same time, with distrust of myself, since I am compelled to come before you with very little preparation. I come, however, feeling an interest in this work. About nineteen years ago, in 1853 and '54, it was my good fortune to be a member of the Board of Agriculture of this State. It was at the earliest organization,--the incipient stages of this movement, and I was happy in the privilege of taking some part in the proceedings which have led to the establishment of the office of Secretary of this Board, and I trust to some of the results which have followed your efforts.
Although unable to say a word that will be instructive to these gentlemen present, I would refer to some general matters appertaining to the interest which you have at heart, and which you have met here to consider. We all feel very deeply the fact that the last two years have been to some extent unfortunate for the farming portion of the State of Maine. The failure of the grass crop, especially, which was reduced from about a million of tons to some seven bundred thousand tons in 1870, and reduced still further, below five hundred thousand tons,-more than half,-in 1871, is a consideration of great importance, and very damaging to the agricultural interests of the State. It has not only created a necessity to dispose of a large amount of stock, which otherwise would have been kept, but it has compelled extensive purchases of corn from abroad, paying money which many needed for other purposes. It has done more and worse than this, in that it has undoubtedly injured the prospects of the grass crop for some time to come; to what extent, it is impossible for us now to tell. We all know that the two years past have been such that not only has our crop of hay been reduced upon old grass fields, but the growth of new grass has been prevented. Many lands which were laid down and expected to produce a new crop of grass, must be plowed again and cultivated, before it will be possible to get the crop of grass that we obtained before. And when we consider the fact that the grass crop of the State of Maine is the most important we have, it becomes a matter of very serious consideration whether this Board may be able to devise some means or make some recommendations that shall aid the farmers of this State in