The Shortage of Labour
In Warwickshire “the prospects for the coming season are not rosy.” This is the verdict of a man (says a contemporary) who has a very large experience of the conditions of agriculture in that part of the county round Warwick. There was a very bad planting season last autumn, and this, coupled with the shortage of labour, discouraged the farmers very seriously in their efforts to carry out the wishes of the Government to increase the area under wheat. In a great many cases there is less and not more wheat under cultivation. Many cases of decrease have come under the observation of farm valuers. In one instance, instead of finding, as they expected, 132 acres under wheat on a 500 acre farm, there were only 32 acres. In one district the recruiting officer took the labourers away in the midst of the planting, and one farmer renting 1,000 acres gave up the work in despair, and did not plant his farm at all. Everywhere the complaint is raised of the shortness of labour, and one case is cited in which a farmer says he would have planted a much larger area of wheat if he could have had men, even if he had to pay high wages. Store cattle are selling up to 46s. per cwt., and grass keeping is being disposed of well, in some cases 50 per cent more than last year. A suggested explanation of this is that well-to-do farmers are taking keep and leaving as much of their own land for hay as possible. But there will be great difficulty in ensuring sufficient labour to get a large hay crop. Stock and all kinds of agricultural produce are selling remarkably well.
Banbury Guardian, May 1915