--A letter addressed to the President
of the Confederate States
, by address of Tidewater Virginia
, on the subject of the prices paid by Government for farm product, and published in yesterday's Whig,
and forth in strong virtue the wide spread fouling of the entire farming community of Virginia
for this subject.
The wheat, corn, and other farm product of the State
, being shut out by the war from their annual markets, and the demand for them in any quantity being than incoming of almost exclusively to one purchaser, to wit, the Government
itself, the writer appears to the President
of the Confederacy
for protection to the farmers against the undue depression of the prices of these articles below the actual cost of production, by the agents of the Government
The people are obliged to sell in order to pay their taxes, and to provide for the extraordinary expenses of living induced by the war. They can only sell to the Government
The Government has power to fix the prices of produce at its own figures; but it is in the last degree unwise and unjust to reduce these figures unremunerative price:
"The Government is not poor — its credit is unlimited in the Confederate States
It has the confidence and affection of the people.--All feel a personal interest in it, as the great engine of defence against a savage enemy who would deprive them of their rights and liberties.
Let not these feelings of respect and regard be weakened.
"It is the dictate alike of policy and true dignity that its agents should not be permitted to Jew the people, but on all occasions to give fair, reasonable, moderate prices for the product of their labor.
Forty-five or 48 cents for corn in the price now offered on the Mattaponi
; and red wheat, the kind principally used to make flour for the army, would not yield nett eighty cents. These are not reasonable prices.
Those who sell do so from compulsion.
No farmer can make either for any such sum. Is it, then, consistent with the respect the Government
owes to its itself?
Does it accord with any sentiment of propriety and justice to reduce the cultivators of the soil to the necessity of taking such inadequate returns for their labors?
The Government taxes them to such an extent as to force them to sell, and then fixes the price at least one-third less than the value.
It is not presumed that you yourself have given any attention to this subject.
No one believes that you would lower the dignity of the Government
or connive at injustice of any kind.
You would doubtless recommend economy, but not parsimony.
"It has not probably occurred to you, in the moist of your many important and absorbing engagements, that in making purchases for the army your agents were determining the price of bread, regulating the receipts for labor, and the interest on capital invested in agriculture. "
Economy is the duty of the agents of the Government
; but parsimony is officiousness of a very unpleasant sort; it is neither politic wise, nor just.
Prices which do not repay the cost of production as well as a fair profit besides, are neither just nor judicious, when the purchaser has the absolute monopoly of the market.
" writer complains justly of the low prices of grain offered in his region of the State
They are notoriously unremunerative.
For the Government
to refuse to give more, is to refuse to give the prime cost of an article; is to rob the farmer of the portion of the cost that is lost by him. It is not only to exact the tax from him that is regularly assessed; but it is to exact from him an additional tax assessed in an irregular, indirect, and unjust form.
To the complaint of the farmers of the Rappahannock
on this subject, is added that of the farmers of Culpeper
in regard to their flour.
They are obliged to sell their flour in order to get money to live on and to pay their taxes.
The Government is the only purchaser they can find, as they are cut off from market by the war.--The Government offers them only $3.85 a barrel, which does not pay cost.
They cannot send their flour to Richmond
, where they could get $5.25, because the Government
holds possession of the railroads, and no transportation can be procured.
They are therefore forced to take $3.85. They have suffered more than any other people by the war, by the presence of the army, and by its impressment of their horses, mules, wagons, and labor.
It has cost them much more trouble and a greater outlay of money than ever before to secure their harvest this year; and yet, though suffering from all these causes, they are offered only $3.85 a barrel, which is a price unprecedentedly low. The Government pays $5.25 a barrel for flour in Richmond
, and sixty-six cents a barrel for its transportation to Manassas
, making a cost at that point of $5.91. Yet the people who have flour on the spot are allowed only $3.85.
It will not do to say that Richmond
flour is worth in ordinary years one dollar more than country flour, for the flour of Richmond
manufacture is worth the additional dollar only on account of its qualities as a shipping flour for the transit across the equator.
But no flour now has a shipping value, because none can be shipped.
flour could be shipped to Rio Janeiro and San Francisco
, it would be worth $6.25 a barrel, not $5.25. To knock off the value given by its shipping quality, when it cannot be shipped, is palpably absurd.
Nine-tenths of the country superfine flour is as good for domestic consumption as Richmond
it is, therefore, unjust to knock off a dollar per barrel on the flour, or twenty cents per bushel on the wheat, on a hypothesis which supposes open ports, the usual shipments to South America
, and which totally ignores the existence of the war.
The Government ought to be liberal to the farmers; for who have been more liberal than they to the Government
The farmers generously consent to receive Treasury notes and Confederate bonds at par. Why should they not receive at least par prices — cost prices — for their grain?