Front Page Titles (by Subject) AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS 5 March 1822 - The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 5 Speeches and Evidence
AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS 5 March 1822 - David Ricardo, The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 5 Speeches and Evidence 
The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, ed. Piero Sraffa with the Collaboration of M.H. Dobb (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005). Vol. 5 Speeches and Evidence 1815-1823.
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First published by Cambridge University Press in 1951. Copyright 1951, 1952, 1955, 1973 by the Royal Economic Society. This edition of The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo is published by Liberty Fund, Inc., under license from the Royal Economic Society.
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5 March 1822
Mr. Scarlett, in presenting a petition from Peterborough, said that a superabundance of produce could not of itself have caused the agricultural distress. ‘Supposing the farmer were to pay all the demands made upon him—for instance, his rent, tithes, and taxes—not in money, but in kind—would it not be clear that, in such a case, an abundance of produce would be of considerable advantage to him? How, then, could it be maintained, that abundance of produce, under the existing state of things, was the chief cause of the evils by which the agriculturist was now oppressed?’
Mr. Ricardo said, it was true, that, if the produce of the land was divided into certain proportions, every party would be benefitted by an abundant crop; but his learned friend having come to that conclusion, left his argument there, instead of extending it a little farther. Now, he would ask his learned friend whether, if the quantity of commodity were excessively abundant, that was to say, the double, treble, or quadruple of an ordinary crop, it would not be a cause of poverty to the agriculturist? He maintained that it would be so; for the farmer, after having satisfied the consumption of himself and family, would find, upon going to exchange the surplus of his commodity for other commodities , such a competition in the market as would compel him to dispose of it upon very low terms; and thus abundance of produce would be to him a cause of distress. It was true that, from the alteration of the currency, the evil had been aggravated; for it was clear that it rendered it necessary to sell a greater quantity of corn to answer the demands of the government and the landlord. But he now contended, as he had at all former times contended, that, up to a certain point, for instance, 10 per cent, great loss had been derived from the change in our currency; but that the rest of the distress was to be attributed to the increased quantity of produce.