January 31, 1905

LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

I do not think I have. I do not know of any information that would lead me to believe that the presence of weeds in the soil or the growth of weeds in the crop has affected the quality of the wheat.

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. W. F. MACLEAN.

But the hard wheat belt is moving. It does not remain in the same place.

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

I will accept the hon. gentleman's statement. I do not know whether it is true or not.

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IND
CON
LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

1 have no objection In view of the suggestion about the wording, but I would like to finish the discussion on the principle of the section and to adopt that allowing the section to stand only for verbal correction.

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CON

William Foster Cockshutt

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COCKSHCTT.

As one interested in the seed trade for a number of years, I would like to submit a few observations in connection with this clause. I would call attention first to the latter part of the first paragraph of clause 3.

Unless each and every receptacle, package, sack or bag containing such seeds, or a label securely atached thereto, is marked in plain and indelible manner, &e.

I would submit that packages are of different sizes, and that what might be quite

possible in regard to a 200 weight package will be quite impossible in connection with a very small package. The Bill as now framed makes no difference between packages of different size, but the small dealer buys some of his seeds in very small quantities. It would be impossible to put the names of all the noxious weeds on one of these packages as they are not large enough. *In this list there are 25 names, many of which are long and unintelligible to the average farmer. It seems to me that if we are going to have a law of this kind it should be a practical law and one that could be carried out. As a merchant who has been engaged in the handling of seeds, I would like to be in a position to assist in the carrying of legislation which is practical, but I do not think from my experience that all of these names can be put on each receptacle or bag. There is no way in the average seed warehouse of printing all of these names and they would have to be written, which would be a serious matter because sometimes a merchant will have from 100 to 200 packages of seed on hand; to label every one of these packages seems unnecessary so long as the particular package from which the merchant is selling is labelled, in order that the buyer will know what he is buying, which ought to be the principal thing required. There is no intention* on the part of the average merchant to impose on the public seeds that are not fit for sale or use, and I think the seed merchants are as much entitled to respect in this regard as other merchants. They endeavour to do what is right and expect to do business because of the confidence people have in them.

What I cannot understand in- subsection 2 of subsection 3 is why farmers are exempted from tlie legislation which is applied to merchants. Seed that may be purchased from one farmer by another may be as harmful as any seed purchased from a merchant. If the seed sold by the farmer is as noxious as that sold by the merchant, the farmer should be under the same law as the merchant, but according to this subsection, he does not seem to be ; he may sell to his neighbour seed which a merchant would be prohibited from selling. That is one law for the merchant and another for the farmer. I come from a section where seed growing is a considerable business and our farmers are anxious to have their seed placed on the market. If it cannot be so placed then so much money will be tied up in bags, because the law says that the grain cannot be sold as seed as it may contain too much of these weeds.

I submit that these criticisms ought to have the attention of the minister. I regret that the Bill is in my hands now for the first time and that I have not had the pleasure of hearing it discussed before and I would like to have some opportunity of looking into its provisions. I desire to co-

operate with the minister in any way I can, hut I submit that some of these features are impracticable, and I think that we should endeavour to have all legislation that we may pass carried out in the spirit in which it is enacted.

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

I may tell my hon. friend (Mr. Cockshutt) that I quite concur in his idea that the law should be such as can be carried out easily for the seller as well as the buyer. I have framed the provisions of this Act with that idea always in view, and I think that practically the Act does allow all of that. My hon. friend has made three criticisms of this section which I shall take up one by one. His first criticism is that it will be practically impossible for the seller to put all the names of these weeds on the packages. I may say to my hon. friend frankly that I consider that this section will practically prohibit a seller selling seed with these weeds in it. If he does undertake to sell seed with the names of these seeds on it, and says that they are all in that seed, I do not think that any farmer will buy it. If he is selling seed which contains a majority of the weeds mentioned in that list he ought not to sell it because he will be selling something which will be disgraceful to this trade ; he should be prevented from doing it. It is possible that a man might honestly and properly sell seed containing one or two of those weeds,' and in order to enable that to be done with proper protection to the trade, I have changed the original intention of the Bill as introduced two years ago, when the sale of seed containing any of these weed seeds was to be absolutely prohibited. The Bill in its present form does permit of a little safeguard for the honest seller who may know that there are some of these seeds, a very few, in the seeds they are selling, and who then honestly tell their purchasers of this fact. That provision is made distinctly and directly in the interests of the trade, allowing them to go as far in the way of selling seed containing seeds of these pernicious weeds as I think it would be proper and right to permit.

My hon. friend speaks of the size of the package. These weed seeds would not be in the garden seeds which are sold in small packages such as my hon. friend perhaps has in his mind's eye when he speaks as he has done. A great many garden seeds are sold in little paper packages on which it would be difficult to write the names of these weeds, but we do not expect to find these weeds in these seeds, and if they were in them it would be highly improper and we should do anything we can to prevent it. If a package is large enough to have a label attached to it bearing the name, surname and address of the seller and the name of the variety of the seed contained in it, it would be possible to write on the back of the label the names of the weeds whose Mr. COCKSHUTT.

seeds are contained in it, and there would be no real difficulty in that. If we allow what my hon. friend proposes we would have a condition of affairs under which the farmer would purchase his seed and have it taken perhaps by a scoop out of a large bag or box in the store of the salesman, and afterwards if he found that that seed was not good or if he took a sample of it to be tested by the seed laboratory, it would be impossible for him to prove conclusively that that seed had come out of any individual package or bag or box in the seed salesman's warehouse, and therefore there would be no possibility of proceeding against the salesman.

In regard to the second objection which the hon. gentleman made, that clause 2 of subsection 2, of section 3, seems to exempt farmers from the provisions of this Act. I may say that it only exempts farmers from the provisions of this particular section. The reason for that exemption is this : As my hon. friend says, we do not wish to interfere with the trade of anybody, and more than is absolutely necessary. The provisions of this section are very limited, because they apply only to the case of a farmer who sells seed on his own premises to somebody who is going to use the seed, not to sell again, but for seeding purposes. Practically it exempts the case of a farmer who on his own soil sells seed which he has grown himself on that very soil to a neighbouring farmer who is going to sow it. That does not offend against one principle of this Act, which is intended to prevent the spread of weed seeds in new sections. The farmer does not send it away somewhere pise to be used. In the next place, the farmer who purchases the seed probably knows the land of the farmer who raised it-knows whether it is clean land, knows pretty well what kind of weeds were growing in that farmer's fields, and he purchases the seed with his eyes open to all these things; whereas if the farmer buys seed from the seed merchant, he does net know where the seed was grown, has never seen the fields where ic was grown, does not know whether they were clean or not, does not know whether the seed came from a thousand miles away or from the next farm, and therefore does not know what evil weeds he may be introducing into his own farm and his own section. The two cases are entirely different. It is for the purpose of preventing an unnecessary interference with the sale and purchase of seeds among neighbours where seed is largely grown that this proviso and exemption is made. But the exception is very small, because if the purchaser chooses, he may require that the seed be sold under the provisions of the Act. If he does not require that, he purchases the seed with his eyes open without availing himself of the protection which this Act provides. This

clause is only put In for the purpose of facilitating trade in seeds amongst neighbours, and not unnecessarily interfering with that part of the seed trade. But the trade with seed merchants is so totally different that it requires a supervision and control which the other class of trade does not.

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CON

William Foster Cockshutt

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COCKSHUTT.

The non. gentleman meets to a certain extent the objection which I made, hut still I think not fully, with regard to the sale of seed by one farmer to another. The merchant is deprived of the sale of such seed, and at the same time is hampered with legislation, while the farmer is not. Therefore, he cannot take advantage of the facilities of the Act and do the business he could do. without it. The average profit on a bushel of clover seed is only about five per cent of its value, which constitutes a valid reason why it is not fair to hamper the merchant. It should be remembered that the merchant is not the originator of the seed; but the farmer or grower is. When the farmer takes the seed to market, the buyer may say to him, I must send the seed to the laboratory at Ottawa and ascertain whether it is saleable under the Act; if it is not, I must leave it on your hands. If the merchant practices adulteration, you can punish him; but if he buys from a farmer in good faith and offers the seed for sale in good faith, he is dealing in a fair and honourable way, even though he may not be living up to the strict terms of the Act. The secret of the whole matter is that the farmer is the grower of the seed in the first place, and therefore the Bill should begin with the land. The man who grows the seed is the best judge of what is in it. He knows whether the field is thoroughly clean or whether it is infested with wild oats or mustard, for instance. 1 would rather have two minutes to look over the field where the seed is grown than an hour to examine bag after bag of the seed. Therefore, I think the grower of the seed should be held accountable rather than the merchant or handler of the seed. The merchant should not be hampered more than the farmer is. Both should come under the one law. If the merchant is held amenable to it, so should be the farmer, who in selling to his neighbour is taking away from the merchant the business which he would otherwise have. The merchant has to pay taxes, and he, should be safeguarded in his business. I submit these points for the consideration of the minister.

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

My hon. friend has completely endorsed what I said a moment ago, that in such a sale as X referred to, the purchaser does not need the protection of this Act. The hon. gentleman said he would rather have two minutes to examine the field where the seed was grown than an hour or two to examine bag after bag of the seed. That is just what the purchaser does who

buys seed on the premises where it is grown, and therefore he does not need the protection which the farmer does who buys from the seed merchant. But my hon. friend forgets another thing. The seed sold by the farmer must be sold to another farmer for his own use. The seed merchant buys from the farmer who grows the seed, and then cleans the seed. He has appliances and facilities for cleaning it, and as a matter of fact the seedmen of Canada do clean their seed. Further on, the Bill allows the farmer to sell seed to the seed merchant for cleaning purposes. In section 7, there is a provision that if the seed is sold to the merchant to be cleaned, then the provisions of the Act do not apply. The merchant buys from the farmer the poor or dirty seed, and proceeds to clean it and sell it as clean seed. He pays the farmer a much less price for the dirty seed than he receives for the clean seed which he sells, and quite rightly, for he ought to be paid for his work of cleaning it. But it is not necessary that the provisions of the Act should apply where a farmer sells impure or dirty seed to a merchant to be cleaned. The merchant can take care of himself quite well.

'Mr. A. A. WRIGHT. I wish to say one word with reference to this Bill. It came before our farmers' institute a year ago, and there was only one objection which the farmers had to it. It was this, that it prevented the farmers from trading in seed among themselves. You know that a farmer who lives on clay land is always anxious to buy seed from his neighbour who lives on sharp or sandy soil. He thinks that the seed grown upon sharp soil, when sowed upon clay land, would produce a better crop, and that the seed grown upon clay land, when sown upon sharp soil, will produce equally good results. Frequently farmers are anxious to exchange their labour for seed and cannot go to a merchant to buy it. Farmers should have tiie privilege of buying seed from one another without getting into any difficulty under this Act. They buy with their eyes open. An examination of the field when the crop is growing gives a far better idea of the quality of the seeds than looking at the crop after it is harvested and threshed. Consequently, the farmers are anxious that the Bill should be changed so that they might be free to purchase from one another. As regards 'the marking of packages, no one would ever buy seeds which would have on the package the names of all these weeds, and no man would undertake to put up packages of seed for sale which would contain all these foul seeds.

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CON

Robert Nelson Walsh

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WALSH.

How will this section affect merchants in the country districts who buy grain from the farmers ? Suppose a merchant buys a lot of grain and the very same day sells a number of packages of the seeds which turn out to contain some foul weeds,

would the merchant be subject to the penalty provided by this Act ?

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

The exception in this clause only applies to the purchaser who buys front a farmer for the purpose of using the seed hiihself. If the seed is sold to a man who wishes to sell again, all the provisions of the Aet apply.

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CON

Robert Nelson Walsh

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WALSH.

In many cases the merchants have no way of knowing whether there are foul seeds in the grain purchased or not.

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

If they undertake to deal in seeds, they must take the necessary precautions to secure pure seeds.

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CON

Francis Ramsey Lalor

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir. LALOR.

How can a country grain dealer, who buys seeds from a farmer and probably the very same day sells some of those seeds, tell whether there are any foul seeds in the grain or not ? I do not see why you should bring him under the provisions of the Act. In allowing one farmer to sell foul seeds to another, you are placing a bonus on the spreading by farmers of foul seeds in the neighbourhood where they live.

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

If the local grain dealer buys seed from a farmer, all the provisions of the Act apply to the farmer who sells to him. It is only when a farmer sells to another farmer who intends using the seed for sowing purposes, that the exemption applies. If a farmer sells to a country store-keeper, the store-keeper has the same recourse against the farmer as the farmer would have against him. But if a farmer sells to a merchant, who has cleaning machinery, grain for the purpose of being cleaned. then the provisions of the Act do not apply to the farmer. P.ut if he sells to a purchaser, who intends selling the seed again without cleaning it, then the farmer comes under the Act.

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CON

Edward Cochrane

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COCHRANE.

In our section of the . country, the farmers often sell without knowing what the purchaser intends doing with the grain. The purchaser does not let the farmer know that he is buying the grain to sell it as seed. Suppose a farmer sells grain to a grain dealer and then the grain dealer sells some of the grain to another farmer who wants it for seed, in what position would the farmer in the first instance be ? He did not sell the grain to the purchaser in order that the purchaser might sell it again. He sold it that the purchaser might do as he likes with it.

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

That would be a matter left to the discretion of the court and the court in such case would probably find the farmer guiltless and the grain merchant guilty.

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CON

John Barr

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BARR.

It seems to me that the object of the Bill is. to a considerable extent, Mr. WALSH.

to furnish grist to the lawyers. The usual custom is for the farmer to sell his grain wherever he finds the best market. Surely there should be a guarantee given the farmer that he did or did not sell the grain for seed. Otherwise the merchant can throw the responsibility back upon the farmer and endless litigation would be the result. There should be some provision to protect the farmer or he will be in continual trouble. No doubt where a seed grower has grown grain for seed, where he has exhibited it for sale as seed, it is necessary that the law should protect the purchaser against the purchase of foul seeds. But when a farmer sells grain without understanding that it is purchased to be sold again as seed, why should he be responsible? A country merchant, purchasing grain from a farmer might ask if he could sell the grain for seed. The farmer, not understanding the law-it would take a long time to understand it-gives his consent, and sells his grain at the best price he can get for it. The merchant can afterwards plead that he purchased the grain for seed and so paid a high price, and, if proceeded against under the law, might throw the responsibility on the farmer. I submit that the farmer, selling his grain in that way must be given better protection than he is given under this Bill.

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

I sympathize with my hon. friend's (Mr. Barr's) desire to protect both sides of the bargain, and I think this Bill does protect botli sides to the utmost possible extent. My hou. friend says that a country store-keeper buying grain from a farmer can afterwards sell it for seed and pretend that he bought it for seed from the farmer. But the machinery of the Bill, which we come to later on, provides that, in order to be able to make such a plea the purchaser must within seven days take a sample and have it analyzed, and, if the seed is found to be impure or wrongly described, the purchaser must proceed against the farmer from whom he bought the seed for having sold it under false representation. I think this completely protects both sides in the case we are discussing. But I say frankly that I do not want the farmer or the country store-keeper, or the seed merchant either, to be protected so much that we never can convict him if he has done wrong. I want the Bill such that under it wrong-doing can be punished and so prevented. My hon. friend seems to fear that the farmers or country store-keepers will not be informed about the law. As soon as it becomes law I intend to take every means in my power to spread the knowledge of it, as I did with regard to tlie proposals for this Bill, concerning which the farming community are pretty well informed, as well as concerning the discussion of the subject in this House last year. I think the leading farmers, at any rate in

B11 sections of the country, as well as the country store-keepers and the seed merchants are pretty well informed as to what is proposed in this Bill. And they will he still better informed if it becomes law.

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January 31, 1905