CORN-RENT is a money rent varying in amount according to the fluctuations of the price of corn. In some countries rent is paid in the produce of the land itself RENTS] ; but in no partKingdom does this primitive custom exist. Some landlords in Ireland, indeed, for the accommoda tion of their tenants, agree to accept corn in payment of their rent, at the price of the nearest market, and ship it to Eng land for sale ; but the rent is calculated in money. (See Appendix F to First Report of Poor Laws (Ireland) Commissioners, 1836, p. 221.) A corn-rent is founded upon the prin ciple that a farm being assumed to grow, upon an average, a certain quantity of produce, the value of such proportion of that produce as may be agreed upon, shall be paid to the landlord as rent. But as the prices of all produce are liable to considerable variation, and as the pro fits arising from the land must generally be mainly dependent upon the prices for which the produce is sold, it is supposed to be equitable to the farmer, that the money value of that portion of the pro duce which he pays as rent should be calculated so as to vary with prices, in stead of being determined by any arbi trary or unvarying standard. And it is undeniable, that with long leases a corn rent is a security against the growth of any serious disproportion between the rent originally agreed upon and the actual value of the produce of the land. if the farmer, under the security of a long lease, lay out capital upon the land and thus increase the quantity of produce, he derives the entire benefit arising from increased production, as the quantity to be paid as rent has already been agreed upon; and he is secured against loss caused by a fall in prices, as the amount of his rent is governed by prices.
For the purpose of assessing a corn rent the average price of wheat alone, or of wheat and other grain, is taken—some times for the last year, and sometimes for a certain number of years. If the price for one year only be taken, the results to the farmer may be thus stated. When prices are low from a limited demand for produce, his rent is reduced; and when they are low from increased production, his rent is still reduced, although he has more produce than usual to sell. When prices are high from an increased demand, he has more rent to pay, but the remu nerative prices enable him to pay it easily ; but when an advance of prices is caused by scarcity, his rent is raised, while the high prices may be counter balanced by the diminished quantity of produce which he has to sell. Thus in
three cases out of four a corn-rent is favourable to the farmer ; and even in the fourth case he is secured from loss by its favourable operation in other years. In some leases, also, a further advantage is given to him by fixing a maximum price: and thus if prices should happen to rise beyond that point, he derives the whole profit accruing from the difference. Under this system of annual averages, so advantageous to the fernier, there is a certain degree of unfairness to the land lord, which is sometimes corrected by assessing rent upon the average price of different kinds of produce for a certain number of years ; by which means a just proportion is maintained between the money-rent and the average annual value realized from the land. It is upon this principle that the tithe rent-charges are calculated, from the average price of grain for seven years [Tirues]; and corn-rents are sometimes regulated by the scale of average prices published annually for the purposes of the Tithe Commutation Act. In Wiltshire some farms are let in this manner, but their number is inconsi derable. The rent of grazing and dairy farms cannot be regulated by the ordi nary system of corn-averages ; but in some of the dairy-farms of Cheshire the rent is determined by the average price of wheat and of cheese. In Many parts of the south of Scotland corn-rents are paid according to the fair prices of corn, as determined in each county by a jury summoned by the sheriff for that pur pose.
The principle of a corn-rent is by no means of recent origin ; for by an act 18 Elizabeth, § 6, it was required that in all future leases granted by the colleges in the universities of Oxford and Cam bridge, and by the colleges of Winchester I and Eton, one-third part, at least, of the old rent shall be reserved and paid in goal wheat at 6s. 8d. the quarter or under, and good malt at 5s. the quarter or under: or shall be paid in ready money after the rate of the best wheat and malt sold at the nearest market. (Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society, vol. v. p. 84, 177; see also Index to deport on Agricultural Distress, 1836.)