Thinking Things Through with Harry Ferguson

Our purpose in developing the entirely new system of land cultivation which is embodied in the new Ford Tractor with Ferguson System was to give effect· to four principles which we take to be fundamental:

  • To so cut the cost of farm products that farming can be made prosperous without increasing the cost to the consumer.
  • To make farming attractive to youth and largely solve the unemployment problem by stopping the drift from the land.
  • To assist all other industries through a prosperous agriculture, and to stimulate greater industrial use of farm products by cutting costs, thus increasing the total farm market.
  • To lay the foundation for a greater National Security.

To achieve these four great objects, we should not aim at producing more foodstuffs, We should aim at a lower cost of production of all farm products.

The one basic cost of all costs is that of farm production. It is the prime item in the cost of living of all the people. In the final analysis it determines the cost of all our com¬modities, services, and comforts.

That the most basic industry of all has not heretofore been able to adopt the principles of mechanization which have made other industries prosperous is a challenge to everyone, whether he thinks in terms of the single farm or the whole agricultural community, whether he be economist, humanist or statesman.

People need only three meals a day
But the expansion of industry is limited only by our buying power.
Let the farmer prosper by being able to raise foodstuffs profitably without increasing the cost of food, that is, without reducing the buying power of the consumer, and the com¬bined buying power of the farmer and consumer will make industry hum.
Thus a direct attack upon the cost of producing foodstuffs leads through industry to an actual increase in the market for farm products.

New ways in which farm products could be used in industry are being discovered faster than they can be put into general practice. Their general adoption and the large con¬sumption of farm products that must follow, await the magic word “cost”.
That is one more reason why a complete new system of farm mechanization is a basic necessity.

It is inevitable that as industry comes to depend more and more upon the products of the farm, its expansion will be in the direction of locating plants near the farm.
All the human values that are inherent in the decentralization of congested manufacturing centres will thus get the most potent encouragement …. the inescapable logic of location.
The worker will be able to combine industry and agriculture, and to gain an economic stability which is unshakeable. With the Ford Tractor with Ferguson System, the workman and his family can run a small mechanized farm without impairing his industrial efficiency.
But the real beginning of this new era is in the new mechanization of all farms.
The Ford Tractor with Ferguson System was designed to eliminate the horse. Not to supplement, but to eliminate him because he is a waster of land and time, the primary wealth of the farmer.
A generation of tractor experience has proved that the horse cannot be eliminated simply by substituting a good machine in front of the same old implements.
So we threw overboard all the old ideas about pulling and controlling an implement in the noll, and developed a new principle of applying power in which the tractor and each basic implement are one operating unit. This principle is so efficient that this light tractor, using little fuel, will not only pull tools for which a heavy tractor has heretofore been necessary, but eliminates the need for the horse.
The Ford Tractor with Ferguson System is not just another tractor. It is a new SYSTEM of land cultivation.
It is the beginning of a new era of low-cost production on the farm.

The above article dated February 1941 is reproduced from “Farming Today” the magazine of the Ferguson Sherman Manufacturing Corporation, Dearborn, Michigan, U.S.A. – The words were very far reaching at the time – and so many are true today some 45 years later.