June 16, 1904

LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

That is my opinion. The hon. gentleman may be right and I may be wrong.

Topic:   THE INSPECTION AND SALE OF SEEDS.
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CON

James Clancy

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLANCY.

In the locality where a great quantity of clover seed is grown I know that is not the case. Much of it is for export.

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

Do I understand my hon. friend to say that it is grown for export, and not to be sold in Canada ?

Topic:   THE INSPECTION AND SALE OF SEEDS.
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CON

James Clancy

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLANCY.

Not especially. It is not grown to be sold as seed.

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

I cannot accept that statement altogether. The man who raises clover seed, speaking of the large farmers, would probably at the outside require for himself a few hundred pounds, and he might very easily have a thousand pounds or more, perhaps several thousand pounds, and he certainly would not be cutting and thrashing all that and making it into seed for his own use alone. He would use as much as he wanted for himself, but a great deal of it would be sold. As a matter of fact, we know that in certain sections of the province of Ontario men raise large quantities of clover and grass seed for sale. Those men have been carrying on the business, I believe, to the best of their ability ; but old, cultivated land is frequently found to produce other seeds and weed seeds. The result is that a very large portion of the seed bought by the seed merchants has not been thoroughly cleaned before being put on the market, and is not of a quality which the purchaser would wish to take. Of the three classes chiefly interested in this business, we have first the producers, next those who buy the seeds from the farmers, the merchants, who clean the seeds and sell them again to farmers, retail merchants and jobbers. There are a number of great com-, mercial houses in Canada engaged in this business. I think the great majority of them do their business excellently well. They do the necessary cleaning of the seeds. They have special machinery and appliances for the purpose. They sell to the local dealers, and these in turn sell to the farmers. My object in drawing this Bill, and in all these investigations and discussions which have preceded it, has been to try to secure for the farmers of the country as pure and good seeds as it is possible to get for them, keeping clearly in mind the necessities of the business in all its branches-to interfere just as little as possible with the course of this business and with the people engaged in it. I wish to avoid as much as possible interference with the ordinary channels of trade or the practices followed, except when those practices are not in the interest of the community. I want to state very emphatically that I do not think there has been intentional fraud on the part of those engaged in the seed trade in Canada. The men who grow seed grain and clean it necessarily 157

obtain in that process different grades. They have the very best seed, that which is practically absolutely pure and germinal. Some merchants adopt standards, differing from others. Some divide their seeds into a greater or lesser number of grades and sell the seed according to its grade. The majority of farmers, I think, do not appreciate or understand the great difference there is in the purity and cleanliness of the different grades of seed. The result has been that a great many people, I will not say were intentionally inclined to be fraudulent, but as a matter of fact were selling to the farmers of the country grades of seeds which the producer, if he knew their quality, would not have thought of buying at the prices which he paid for them. .

This condition of affairs is what justifies the passage of such an Act. It is impossible for the ordinary purchaser to be able to know that he is getting exactly the seeds he intended buying. In some things a man can judge what he is getting. If he buys a horse he can examine it and tell in a general way what it is worth. But the ordinary farmer, when he buys seeds, cannot tell whether he is getting good value, because in order to do so he would have to examine them under a microscope or powerful magnifying glass. He would require to know also the different varieties of seeds, and this therefore seems to me a legitimate case for the passing of a law to regulate transactions of this kind. After careful consideration of the question I brought in an Act last session, but the seed merchants think that its provisions are too stringent and have found that they could not carry on their business under it. I have therefore in the present Bill considerably modified the' provisions of the Act in the direction desired by those engaged in the trade. 1 have not however gone quite as far as the seed merchants asked, for if I had, I would not be able to protect the purchasers. This subject is one of great importance to agriculturists' and I am quite willing to adopt any suggestions which may make the law more workable and effective.

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CON

James Clancy

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLANCY.

'I am afraid that the hon. gentleman will not find that support for his Bill from public opinion which is necessary in order to make any law effective. The question has not been presented to our farmers in such a way that they could have an opportunity of giving their views upon it, but has simply been presented at institute meetings by men whose object was not to have the defects of the measure discussed but to have it extolled as something which could not fail to* benefit the farmers. And the only support he has been able to secure for his Bill in its details is one which he took care to secure. All he has been able to produce is a copy of a resolution passed at an institute meeting in this province, but any one knows how easy it is

to secure an endorsation of tliat kind. I happened to be present at one of those meetings and I found that the farmers, instead of being invited to discuss the measure, were simply treated to an elaborate panegyric of it. Let me refer to the very first clause :

No person shall sell

That prohibition applies to every man, whether he grows seed for himself upon his twenty-five acre farm or whether he is a large farmer or a dealer in seed, who may be buying and selling in the ordinary way.

No person shall sell or expose or have in his possession for sale for the purpose of seeding

How is the minister going to determine whether a farmer has seed in his possession for the purpose of seeding or not? The thing is abolutely unworkable. Every one does -not grow seed to sell as seed and, though the Minister of Agriculture may say that the Bill is adapted to the conditions, yet, without presuming to contradict the hon. gentleman, I may be. allowed to humbly suggest that that does not settle the question- it is not proof. I venture so far as to tell the hon. gentleman that his Bill is based upon wrong principles, that is upon principles that cannot be reduced to practice in this everyday world. If the hon. gentleman wished to provide against seed merchants willingly, knowingly, allowing seed to leave their warehouses in utter disregard of its composition, that might be a very proper measure. My experience small as it has been, I think, is a fair guide to the actual conditions. I believe We have very few seedsmen in Canada who will knowingly send out bad seed. It is to the interest of every reputable seed merchant-I am speaking more particularly of the province of Ontario-to be most careful about the kind of seed he sends out because his house may be brought into disrepute in a single day if the seed he sells is other than he represents it to be. He can only hope to gain and keep the support of men by being careful and reliable. The hon. minister has not said that in the province of Ontario there has been any widespread complaint on that ground. I have not heard of a single case of any reputable seed house in Ontario sending out a pound of bad seed. If there is a general outcry on that ground, I confess I have not heard it ; and if there has not been a general outcry, I would ask the hon. minister from what quarter comes the demand for this Bill, this mischievous Bill so far as appears on the face of it, which is now introduced for thu second time ? The hon. minister must have had something to warrant him in introducing so drastic a measure. He must have information to show that, the farmers have been made, Intentionally or unintentionally, the victims of bad seed. If there is any complaint in the pro-Mr. CLANCY.

vince of Ontario perhaps he will givp me some evidence of it.

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

Let me deal in order witli the two points the hon. gentleman (Mr. Clancy has raised. In the first place, speaking of the resolution which I read, he seemed to think it was a resolution that had been put before a lot of farmers' institutes and passed in stereotyped form. In answer, I may tell the hon. gentleman that no such resolution was prepared by anybody that I know of. The meetings were left entirely to themselves as to the form of the resolution and as to whether they would pass resolutions or not, or give any expression of opinion. I will read one or two resolutions to show that the form was not stereotyped. Here is another which reached me from German, and was the expression of opinion from the Farmers' Institute of East Peterborough :

Resolved, that in the opinion of the Farmers' Institute of East Peterborough the Bill respecting the inspection of seeds offered for sale is a step in the right direction, and the government will have the hearty support of this institute when considering this Bill.

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CON

James Gilmour

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GILMOUR.

Does this refer to the Bill of this year or of last year ?

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

To the Bill of last year which was a more stringent Bill.

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CON

James Gilmour

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GILMOUR.

I know it was. Last year's Bill was an impossibility.

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

And yet, this farmers' institute said that we should have their hearty support in considering that Bill. I have another resolution here, but I see that it comes from Midland, New Brunswick. As my hon. friend (Mr. Clancy) speaks especially of Ontario I can hardly read this to prove to my hou. friend anything about Ontario, but the form of it will show that the resolution is not stereotyped :

Moved by F. E. Sharp, seconded by W. W. Fawcett and resolved : Having had the results of this work given to us to-day and knowing that the conditions referred to are common to the whole Dominion, this convention of the New Brunswick Farmers' and Dairymen's Association

This, it seems, was the provincial association, and not simply a local institute.

-urge upon the minister the necessity for immediate legislation which shall fix proper standards of grading with respect to the purity and vitality of seeds of grasses and clover, and shall establish a system of official control to prevent imposition upon the farmers by such regulation? and penalties as will ensure its observance.

And this is the letter accompanying the resolution. It is dated from Chatham, New Brunswick and signed A. G. Dixon :

I beg leave to submit for your consideration tile inclosed resolution, which passed unanimously at our annual convention held recently

at Sussex, N.B. This resolution seemed to express the sentiment of 300 farmers present. If such legislation should be obtained and the observance of such law carried out, it would save the farmers from being imposed upon by unreliable seedsmen and dealers from which they have suffered such a loss in the past.

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CON

James Clancy

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLANCY.

Where are the resolutions from Ontario, the seed growing province 1

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

I have one here from the south riding of Renfrew.

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CON
LIB
LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

My hon. friend (Mr. Clancy) does not need to believe anything he does not wish to. But this is a resolution from Ontario, and my hon. friend should take that for gospel. The letter accompanying the resolution is as follows :

At the several meetings held during the past winter in Brudenell, Killaloe, Stewart-ville, Loch Winnoch, White Lake, Burnstown, Grattan, Mt. St. Patrick, Shamrock and Renfrew, the inclosed resolution was presented and unanimously adopted, and consider it of the greatest importance that the farmers of this section should be able to secure seeds practically free from foul seeds.

This is signed by Gregor MacIntyre, secretary South Renfrew Farmers' Institute. And this is the resolution :

Whereas, at the various branch farmers' institute meetings held in the south riding of Renfrew during the present winter the matter of having such a Bill passed by the House of Commons as was introduced last session by the Hon. Sydney Fisher, whereby some guarantee will be given to farmers, who of necessity must buy a large amount of seed each year, that he is getting clean and fertile seeds.

And whereas, at all these branch meetings the members have either by resolution or otherwise, expressed their unqualified approval of having such an Act passed.

It is resolved by the members of this Central Farmers' Institute, that we heartily approve of the efforts now being put forth in this direction and the members of this institute desire that our secretary be and hereby is requested to notify our representative in the House of Commons of the action that has been taken by tbe various branch institutes of the riding and to request that he use every legitimate means to assist in having such a measure become the law of the land.

Now, Mr. Chairman, I will leave that subject for the resolutions in favour of this measure. They all embody the idea that the farmers have a grievance, a difficulty in tlieir business, and they want to see that difficulty removed and their situation improved.

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CON

James Clancy

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLANCY.

I sat down to give the hon. gentleman an opportunity to give some evidence of a popular demand for this Bill, some evidence of the difficulty, of the loT^

evil that induced the hon. gentleman to introduce this measure. The hon. gentleman has merely given us some advertisements of his measure. I would like him to tell us from what quarter the outcry lias come for a measure of this kind.

ilr. FISHER. I have not got that information under my hand to-day, because it was all produced last session. If the hon. gentleman will look up the debates of last session he will find the information I then gave to the committee, and which I will repeat before the Bill goes through if the hon. gentleman desires it. I think when the hon. gentleman opened his remarks this afternoon he stated that he believed in the principle of the Bill, believed. I thought (he said, that there was a necessity for some such a Bill. .

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CON

James Clancy

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLANCY.

No.

Mr. FISHER, Then I understand that he does not believe in the necessitv of such a Bill ?

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CON
LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

Does my hon. friend think there is no necessity for legislation in regard to the business of seed distribution in this country?

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June 16, 1904