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Mail Tribune 100

Oct. 22, 1914

That Dr. James Withycombe (Republican candidate for Oregon Governor) opposes public markets and does what he can to prevent their establishment is proven by the following letter written to the Mail Tribune in January 1912, following a speech he made at a local banquet against the market. This speech was criticized by the Mail Tribune, which was conducting a newspaper campaign for the market which ended in its establishment, and the letter below is Dr. Withycombe's reply to the criticism:

OREGON EXPERIMENT STATION, James Withycombe, Director, Corvallis, Oregon, Jan. 27, 1912

To the Editor:

Through the kindness of a friend I am just in receipt of a copy of the Mail Tribune containing an editorial criticism of my position on the public market. Permit me to say in reply thereto that I stand first and at all times with the farmer, but POSITIVELY OPPOSE THE SO-CALLED PUBLIC MARKET UPON THE GROUNDS THAT I DO NOT CONSIDER IT TO BE IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE FARMER. THE PUBLIC MARKET IS AN UNORGANIZED, CHAOTIC METHOD OF DOING BUSINESS — IT NEITHER AFFORDS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR STANDARDIZING VALUES OR QUALITY OF PRODUCTS, NOR OFFERS AN IMPETUS TO IMPROVEMENT.

The allusion to the fruit growers' organization is simply begging the question, as there is no parallel whatever between the two systems. These organizations are thoroughly organized business units where the grower is not bothered with the problem of distribution, but leaves this with a board of directors who establishes standards and employ thoroughly trained business men to attend to the market end of the organization.

IF THE BEAUTIFUL AND PROGRESSIVE CITY OF MEDFORD ESTABLISHES THE ANTIQUATED PUBLIC MARKET, IT IS MY PREDICTION THAT IT WILL PROVE TO BE A LONG STEP BACKWARD.

The problem of production is entirely different from the problem of distribution, and are two distinct fields of this endeavor. THE FARMER SHOULD DEVOTE HIS TIME AND THOUGHT TO THE ART AND SCIENCE OF PRODUCTION, AND LEAVE THE SUBJECT OF DISTRIBUTION TO THOSE TRAINED FOR THAT CLASS OF WORK.

It would be far better if the farmers would effect an organization, elect a board of directors empowered to employ a thoroughly trained business man to take charge of a central market and to whom all products for sale are consigned. In the absence of this, the next best thing is to trust to the local merchant and develop if possible a closer business co-operation so as to reduce the marginal difference between what the producer receives and the consumer pays to the lowest possible limit.

Very truly yours,

(Signed) JAMES WITHYCOMBE