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21st February 1918
Page 9
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

The Latest Official Circular and its Far-reaching Instructions to Save Petrol Supplies.

IT WILL BE RECALLED that in a recent number we strongly urged that agrimotor users, despite the super-attracliveness of petrol, would be well advised to spare no effort to familiarize themselves with the use of paraffin fuel. It was obvious to anyone conversant with the true position of the liquid fuel problem that the increasing prior claims of the air service would impose more exacting demands upon our available, and be it remarked attenuated, petrol stocks.

That our advice was not superfluous or ill-timed is borne out by recent developments.. Through one of our rural correspondents, who is on the land, we have received a circular letter issued from the Food Production Department under date of 8th February, 1018, which seconds our recommendation.

'I' his circular is designed to consolidate all previous installations and to set forth the official suggestions in terse l unequivocal terms. Erorn-this we-learn that in order to f oster and develop the utilization of paraffin as the liquid fuel for power plants upon the land, "it has been arranged that users of paraffin for agricultural purposes shall be given preference over ordinary consumers by the local distributing agents of the oil companies on the certificates of the Agricultural Executive Committee in whose area the consumer requires the paraffin!' This statement virtually guarantees a constant and adequate supply of this fuel to keep the local agrimotors going, which, we might _remark, en passant, is beyond possibility of fulfilment with petrol. Another declaration will remove any suspicions which the farmer may cherish. He need entertain no apprehensions that he will be made a victim of the law of supply and demand. While no arrangement is being made for its supply to him at a special price he is being protected more effectively because "the price of paraffin will shortly be controlled."

While this circular is couched in persuasive language, the powers-that-be do not conceal their determination to bring about a more extensive use of paraffin. The authorities remark that "it appears that large quantities of petrol are being used on prival,ely owned tractors in some parts of the country, not only for starting-up but also for ploughing. This must cease wherever practicable"—the italics are ours—and the user is informed, in a few words, the reason for such action—to conserve our petrol supplies for the fighting forces. It will be useless for the grouser to argue that his tractor is ill-adapted to run on paraffin, because there is a wide variety of devices for vaporizing this heavier fuel upon the market which have conclusively proved their efficiency and reliability. As the circular remarks " tractors -can either now use paraffin for their work or else can and should be adapted to do so."

The latest instru4on'will certainly commend itself to the average farmer for one reason—it is free from all verbal camouflage. As in former communications the won't-do-it-unless-I-am-compelled element., fortunately in the minority, is confronted with Hobson's choice, because, the circular goes on, and here again we resort to italics for purpose of emphasis : "There is grave risk that there may be no petrol available fee.: tractors except for starting in the near future. Paraffin is cheaper, and the sooner the alterations to the carburetters are carried out the better for the owner of the private tractor. Agricultural Executive Committees will, therefore, only issue recommendations for the supply of petrol when they are convinced that paraffin cannot possibly be -used in its place."

Nor is the instruction open to evasion. Petrol ' cannot be acquired for one purpose, such as food distribution, and used for another. The Executive Agricultural Committees are instructed " not to take into consideration any demands for petrol for food collection or distribution purposes, as the farmer can and will obtain a separate licence for this from the Ministry of Food."

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