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STATE ADVANCES TO FARMERS, The oldest system by which advances of money are made to farmers is probably that which was established, as early as 1770, by the German “ Landschaften Bank”; and the principle, assuming different forms according to the circumstances of the countries into which it was introduced, was gradually extended to the other great countries of Europe, with the exception of the United Kingdom, where an unwieldy system of land transfer, and the growing accumulation of large estates, form obstacles in the way of its successful application. Since 1819, mainly by the efforts of Raiffeisen, the German Land Credit Banks have taken the form of purely co-operative institutions, and in this respect they have been followed by Sweden, the Baltic provinces of Russia, and Poland, as well as, to some extent, by Austria-Hungary ; but in most of the European countries the institutions may be classed as partly State and partly co-operative. In France alone is the system exclusively administered by the State ; and it is the French Credit Foncier which has been adopted in Australasia wherever the idea of rendering financial aid to agriculturists has been carried into effect, namely, in the States of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland, and New Zealand; while in Tasmania the system has received consideration.

It was not till very recently that New South Wales adopted the principle of advances to settlers. Act No. 1, of 1899, was passed to assist settlers who were in necessitous circumstances, or who were financially embarrassed owing to the droughts. Under this Act a Board was appointed to consider applications for relief, and determine whether such relief should be granted. No advance to any settler was to exceed £200, to be repaid in ten years at 4 per cent. per annum. An Amending Act (No. 1 of 1902) was passed, giving to the Board power to advance up to £500, and providing that the advances with interest thereon should be repaid within thirty-one years. Up to 3rd October, 1900, 4,393 applications had been received for advances, the amount applied for being £377,000. Of these applications, 4,251 have been dealt with by the Board, and 1,564 have been refused. The number of applications approved is 2,687, representing advances to the amount of £193,037. Repayments of principal amount to £9,773, in addition to which £2,948 has been received in interest. The Government has in contemplation the introduction of a scheme somewhat on the lines followed in Victoria, in which the system will be carried on in connection with the Savings Bank.

In Victoria, a section of the Savings Banks Act of 1890 empowered the Commissioners to entertain applications for loans, and to lend sums of money on security by way of mortgage of any lands and hereditaments held in fee-simple free of all prior charges, quit-rents excepted, at such rate of interest as might, from time to time, be fixed by them. The conditions were not very liberal, but they endured for a number of

years. Five per cent. was the rate of interest charged, and 2 per cent. was payable annually in redemption of the principal. Opportunity was taken in the Act for the amalgamation of the Savings Banks, assented to on the 24th December, 1896, to definitely grant advances to farmers under the land-credit system. Under the new Act the Commissioners of Savings Banks are empowered to assist farmers, graziers, market-gardeners, or persons employed in agricultural, horticultural, viticultural, or pastoral pursuits, by making advances, either by instalments or otherwise, upon the security of any agricultural, horticultural, viticultural, or pastoral land held by them, either in fee simple, or under a lease from the Crown in which the rent reserved is taken in part payment of the purchase money of the land demised by such lease. The Commissioners have the option of making such advances either in cash or in mortgage bonds; and it is provided that all advances, together with interest at the rate of 4) per cent. per annum, are to be repaid in sixty-three half-yearly instalments, or such smaller number as may be agreed upon by the Commissioners and the borrower. From the commencement of the Act to the 30th June, 1901, advances to the annount of £1,163,105 had been made. The total number of loans in existence on that date was £2,323, representing the sum of £1,022,836, averaging £440 each. The actual advances made during the financial year 1900-01 amounted to £189,670, of which £172,016 was advanced to pay liabilities, £3,533 to pay Crown rents, and £14,121 to improve resources of land, and to carry

To enable them to make the necessary advances the Commissioners had sold Treasury bonds and debentures to the noniinal value of £1,183,600, of which £155,050 have been redeemed, leaving a balance of £1,028,550.

In Queensland the Agricultural Bank Act, assented to on the 31st December, 1901, empowered the Government to establish a bank for the purpose of promoting the occupation, cultivation, and improvement of the agricultural lands of the State. The amount to be raised must not exceed £250,000, and may be advanced to farmers and settlers in sums not greater than £800. Applications for advances not exceeding £200 are to be given priority over those of a greater amount, and no advance must exceed 13s, in the £ of the fair estimated value of the improvements to be made. Interest at the rate of 5 per cent. per annum is to be paid on advances for a period of five years, and thereafter the advances must be repaid within twenty years by half-yearly instalments of £4 0s. 3d. for every £100 advanced.

The South Australian Parliament, on the 20th December of that year, passed the State Advance Act of 1895, providing for the establishment of a State Bank for the purpose of making advances to farmers and producers, to local authorities, and in aid of industries, on proper security, consisting either of lands held in fee-simple or under Crown. lease; the funds for this purpose to be raised by the issue of mortgage bonds guaranteed by the State. The rate of interest was to be a matter

on.

of arrangement between the bank and the borrower, the maximum being 5 per cent. per annum. To the 31st March, 1901, the South Australian State Bank, thus established, had advanced £620,705, and received repayments to the amount of £113,296. On that date there were arrears of interest to the amount of £339 outstanding; and £6,057 interest had accrued and become due on the 1st April. In order to enable these advances to be made, mortgage bonds had been sold to the amount of £618,900, of which £114,700 had been repurchased, leaving the amount current at £504,200. The advances made during the financial year 1900–01 amounted to £90,824.

In Western Australia the Agricultural Bank Act of 1894 authorised the establishment of a bank for the purpose of assisting persons in the occupation, cultivation, and improvement of agricultural lands. Under the provisions of the Act the manager of the bank is empowered to make advances to farmers and other cultivators of the soil on the security of their holdings in fee-simple, or under special occupation lease, or under conditional purchase from the Crown, or under the Homestead Farms Act of 1893. The advances are granted either for the purpose of making improvements on unimproved holdings, or of making additional improvements on holdings already improved, and, under the original Act, could not exceed in amount one-half of the fair estimated value of the improvements proposed to be made. The maximum rate of interest chargeable was fixed at 6 per cent. per annum payable half-yearly, and it was provided that the largest sum to be advanced to any one person shall be £400. Repayment is made in half-yearly instalments of one-fiftieth of the principal sum, to commence on the 1st January or the 1st July next following the expiration of five years from the date of the advance, until the whole amount is repaid with interest. Arrangements can, however, be made for the repayment of advances at shorter intervals, and in larger instalments. For the purposes of the Act, improvements were defined as clearing, cultivating, and ringbarking; but by an Amending Act passed in 1896 the term was extended so as to include fencing, drainage works, wells of fresh water, reservoirs, buildings, or any other works enhancing the value of the holding. The same Act raised the largest sum which can be advanced to £800, reduced the maximum rate of interest to 5 per cent., made provision for the acceptance of pastoral leases as security, and allowed advances to be made up to three-fourths of the estimated value of the proposed improvements. The capital allotted to the Agricultural Bank is £200,000; and to the 31st December, 1901, loans to the amount of £145,650 from 1,458 applicants had been approved. During the financial year 1899-1900, advances to the amount of £15,330 were approved.

In New Zealand the Government Advances to Settlers Act of 1894 provided for the establishment of an Advances to Settlers Office, empowered to lend money on first mortgages of land occupied for farming, dairying, or market-gardening purposes, urban and suburban

lands used for residential or manufacturing purposes being expressly excluded from the scope of the Act. At that time one class of loans only was contemplated, viz., loans on mortgage security, which were repayable by seventy-three half-yearly instalments, subject, however, to redemption at any time; but by an Amending Act passed in 1896 authority was given for the granting of fixed loans for any term not exceeding ten years. These loans can only be granted on freehold lands, and are repayable without sinking fund at the end of the period for which they are made. The amount advanced on fixed loan is not to exceed one-half the estimated value of the security ; while under the instalment system the Board of Control has power to grant loans up to 60 per cent. of the realisable value of freehold securities, and up to 50 per cent. of the lessee's interest in leasehold securities. In both cases interest is fixed at the rate of 5 per cent. per annum, and the amount advanced cannot be less than £25 nor more than £3,000—the maximum under the 1894 Act having been £2,500. Instalment loans are repayable in 36} years, in half-yearly payments, at the rate of 5 per cent for interest and 1 per cent. in redemption of the principal sum. The first meeting of the General Board for the purpose of considering applications for loans was held on 23rd February, 1895; and up to 31st March, 1902, the Board had authorised 11,312 advances, amounting to £3,736,620. The total amount applied for in the 11,312 applications granted in full, or in part, was £4,253,000. 1,450 applicants declined the partial grants. offered to them, amounting to £662,935; so that the net advances. authorised at 31st March, 1902, numbered 9,862, and amounted to £3,073,685. The security for the advances authorised was valued at £6,737,611. The number of applications received up to 31st March, 1902, was !4,746, and the amclunt applied for, £5,204,300.

WATER CONSERVATION.

The necessity of providing water for stock in the dry portions of the interior of the Australian continent induced the Governments of the States to devote certain funds to the purpose of sinking for water, and bringing to the surface such supplies as might be obtained from the underground sources which geologists stated to exist in the tertiary drifts and the cretaceous beds which extend under an immense portion of the area of Central Australia, from the western districts of New South Wales to a yet unknown limit into Western Australia:

In New South Wales the question of the existence of underground water had long been a subject of earnest discussion, but doubts were set at rest in 1879 by the discovery on the Kallara Run, at a depth of 140 feet, of an artesian supply of water, which, when tapped, rose 26 feet above the surface. The Government then undertook the work of searching for water, and since the year 1884 the sinking of artesian wells has proceeded in a scientific and systematic manner, under the direction of specially-trained officers. Private enterprise, which had shown the way, has also followed up its first successes.

Up to 1901 the Government of New South Wales had undertaken the sinking of 103 wells ; of these, 88 have been completed, and 15 are in progress. Of the completed wells, 58 are flowing, 19 are sub-artesian, yielding pumping supplies, and 11 have been failures; these wells represent 143,391 feet of boring, while with the uncompleted wells the total depth bored has been 170,507 feet. From the completed wells about 33,000,000 gallons of water flow every day to the surface. The deepest bore completed is that at the Dolgelly, on the road from Moree to Boggabilla, where boring has been carried to a depth of 4,086 feet; this well yields a supply of approximately 745,200 gallons per diem. The largest flow obtained in the State is from the Kenmare Bore, on the road from Bourke to Hungerford ; the depth of this well is 1,539 feet, and the estimated flow about 2,050,000 gallons per diem. Another important bore is that at Pera, 8 miles from Bourke, on the Wanaaring road, where at a depth of 1,154 feet a flow of 350,000 gallons per diem is obtained. At this bore the most extensive system of irrigation by artesian water as yet undertaken in the State is being carried out. An area of 57 acres has been set apart for experimental cultivation by the Government, and certain fruits and other products indigenous to the temperate and torrid zones are being grown with success. Equally good results have been obtained at Native Dog, Barringun, Enngonia, and Belalie bores, on the road from Bourke to Barringun. Lucerne, maize, wheat, tobacco, millet, planter's friend, sugar-cane, date palms, pineapples bananas, and many other fruits and vegetables of tropical and subtropical character have been found to thrive there exceedingly well.

On the road from Wanaaring to Milparinka, once a waterless track, successful boring operations have been carried on. Seven bores have been completed. Four of these give a pumping supply, and three are flowing, yielding an aggregate supply of 3,150,000 gallons daily. Boring operations have been extended farther to the north-west, and two bores have been sunk at Paldrumata and Oarnoo, on the Tibooburra to Yalpunga road. These two bores are sub-artesian, and yield pumping supplies at depths of 780 and 1,357 feet respectively. Another bore is in progress at Warri Warri. A remarkable flow has also been obtained at the Moree bore, amounting to 1,108,000 gallons daily. This bore has been carried to a depth of 2,792 feet, through formations of the same age as the Ipswich coal measures (Trias Jura), thus demonstrating the fact that water can be obtained in other than the lower cretaceous formation. An experimental farm has been established at this site, where sub-tropical fruits and plants are grown.

Much has been done in the way of artesian boring by private enterprise. As far as can be ascertained, 128 private bores have been undertaken in New South Wales, of which 16 were failures, 2 were abandoned, and 1 is in progress. Amongst the most important are two wells on

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