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expressions of the Supreme Court have seemed to show that they had abandoned, if they ever countenanced, open supervision of legislative action in the political field, and therefore, the new pronouncement of the Ben Avon case seems to be an instance of reverting to an older tendencymore than that the court is making itself a sort of superior administrative tribunal of legislative character and is to that extent abdicating its judicial role. But so long as administrative bodies are so poorly articulated and adjusted and so long as results are reached by them rather as a result of popular pressure than from a sense of deep public obligation in so many instances, we will have occasional court interference of the sort exemplified in the case under review. For courts furnish the conservative element in the state's machinery—they can with a degree of public acquiesence assume the role of guardian of private interests against even political abuses; and perhaps it is better so, for since they are conservative and the most trustworthy body in our plan of government their overstepping of bounds is least likely to produce evil consequences. But the unscientific system which invites such results must sooner or later give way to a system that recognizes the boundaries which differentiate legislative from judicial action. This ideal can never be fully realized and can be approached only as we develop a more scientific system of legislation and one based on a comprehensive regard for all the interests likely to be affected. And with this legislative attitude must be joined a greater care in the framing of our administrative tribunals and in the selection of their members. THE POSITION OF RANCHING IN OUR NATIONAL
Texas Agricultural Experiment Station
Ranching is an enterprise in which livestock, notably cattle, sheep and goats, but also horses, mules and swine in considerable numbers, are produced primarily by grazing upon natural vegetation rather than upon cultivated crops. Feeding on the ranch is merely incidental, and is practiced only to supplement the natural vegetation or to carry the livestock through periods of drouth. Ranching is distinguished from stock-farming in that the latter is an enterprise in which one grows either crops to be fed to livestock or livestock to consume the crops.
Ranching the Beginning of Civilization
Ranching has occupied a central position in the history of civilization. Originally it is said that man lived in little groups or tribes based on kinship. In that condition one may conceive of mankind subsisting entirely upon the natural products of the earth. The first step in the direction of improving natural production was when certain chieftains or ranchmen engaged in the pastoral industry. Citizenship emerged out of the tribal society for the first time when individuals for one reason or another broke away from their family groups and affiliated themselves with the
1Paper read at the Third Annual Meeting of the Southwestern Political Science Association, Norman, Oklahoma, March 23, 1922. This paper is based upon “An Economic Study of a Typical Ranching Area on the Edwards Plateau of Texas,” by B. Youngblood, Director, and A. B. Cox, Chief of the Division of Farm and Ranch Economics, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas.
ranchmen as their chiefs. These cowboys and their chiefs, the ranchmen, constitute the first known organization for production.
As graziers became too numerous in a given section the ranchmen would move westward onto the frontier, leaving lesser ranchmen, farmers and villagers in their wake. This process was repeated until the white man crossed Europe and occupied the British Isles. Ranching was the prototype of feudalism, and the breaking down of feudalism gave rise to what we conceive of as democracy. It is interesting to note in passing that the English, Welch, Scotch and Irish came to this country to become noted as leading American ranchmen.
In the South ranching preceded the farmer and opened the way for him in passing from the Atlantic coast to Texas. In old Mexico, too, it led the way and was the first industry engaged in on the frontier. Sustenance received from ranching made possible the development of the mines, the farms and the missions, all the way from Vera Cruz to what is now California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas.
Always occupying the frontier, it came to be a matter of common experience that ranching would give way to farming and make place for the settlements, the towns and cities. In view of the fact that farmers have been able to supplant the ranchmen it is no wonder that the American people have come to believe that ranching is a fleeting industry and that in due time it will cross the continent and be no more. It has been a passing industry in the past and will continue to pass on in the future until all the profitably tillable lands of the country are put under the plow. It is the purpose of this paper, however, to show that ranching now occupies the last American frontier, and, contrary to its previous history, it will not give way a great deal more to the farmer. On the contrary, it has reached its permanent abiding place, and so far as we are able to foretell the future, it appears that it will remain about where it is, as one of our permanent industries and shall never pass away from our vast areas of lands unsuited for cultivation.
The Respective Domains of the Farmer and the Grazier
So long as our population was small and lands were superabundant for every purpose, there was no great economic question as to the respective domains of the farmer and the ranchman. It was perfectly appropriate for the farmer to push the ranchman on to the west and to put into cultivation all the arable lands of the country. The question became an important issue for the first time when the farmer began to enter the semi-arid areas of the West and Southwest, and will continue to be a question until it is more definitely decided just how far into the dry country the farmer can go with the help of dry-farming methods and drouth-resistant crops. It is perfectly safe to say that the farmer at any time should stay within the bounds of profitably tillable lands. This is his proper domain.
Likewise it should go without saying that the grazier should occupy the lands suitable for grazing, but unsuitable for forestry, mining, irrigation, dry-farming, or other more intensive uses. That serious mistakes have been made in the past as to which is the domain of the farmer and which the domain of the ranchman, there is no doubt. The promise of dry-farming has in many cases imposed grossly upon the optimism of the dry-farmer. On the borderland between farming and ranching, from the Rio Grande to Canada, many thousands of men have homesteaded grazing lands with nothing as a result except disaster to themselves and their families and the destruction of the grazing industry in that section.
The question as to which is the appropriate domain of these two industries is likely to arise periodically with favorable years of rainfall wherever the land is level and fertile. It is fortunate for the country, therefore, that in the dry country we have enormous areas of land too rough, stony and broken to be turned by the plow. The citizens of the states wherein it is possible for the farmer to go too far into the grazing country should take it upon themselves to make it a matter of state policy to see that all successfully tillable lands are put into cultivation as economically needed on the one hand, and that none of the agricultural submarginal lands are put under the plow on the other hand, for it is only possible to produce the greatest national product when the farmer and the ranchman alike are working on lands which are marginal, that is, profitable for their respective purposes.
In the past we have always allowed for a period of exploitation and destruction of natural resources. We have gone beyond the period, however, in which we can stand such losses. We have now entered upon an era in which strict economy must be practiced in order that stable conditions as between industry, commerce and agriculture on the one hand, and producer and consumer on the other, may be maintained. We are likely, however, to go on with the waste attending exploitation and destruction of natural resources until a better way is made clear to the American people. This is only possible through the instrumentality of research agencies to ferret out the facts and of constructive statesmanship to bring about appropriate State and National policies. It will prove far cheaper to society to endow these agencies with the necessary funds for research than to stand idly by looking to political relief in the absence of sufficient facts for political guidance.
Area and Extent of Grazing Lands in the United States
An idea of the importance of ranching in our national economy can be secured from the following figures as to the uses to which we put our lands. According to Baker and Strong, we had in 1910 in the United States about 745 million acres of range land and unimproved pasture, or 39.3 per cent of the whole; about 478 million acres of improved land in farms, or 25.2 per cent; about 600 million acres of forest and wood land, or 31.5 per cent; about 40 million acres in towns, cities, roads, and so forth, or two per
:20. E. Baker and H. M. Strong, "Arable Land in the United States," Separate No.771, from Yearbook of United States Department of Agriculture for 1918, Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C., 1918.