June 3, 1921

L LIB
UNION

Simon Fraser Tolmie (Minister of Agriculture)

Unionist

Mr. TOLMIE:

Yes. In addition to

that, there was a demand from the National Dairy Council, the largest dairy organization in the Dominicn, in which all the provinces are represented.

At a recent meeting held in Toronto they passed a similar resolution asking the Government to bring in a Bill for the grading of dairy products. Other organizations have been heard from, and a number of dairymen of prominence throughout the country have demanded legislation of this kind. I have been very much encouraged in bringing down this legislation by the excellent results obtained by the measures for grading eggs and fruit, which have enabled the farmers of this country to put these two products on the market in first-class condition, and in a manner to meet competition no matter where it comes from. If this Bill passes, it is proposed to put it into force perhaps in a year from now, as it will require about that length of time to get properly ready for its enforcement. We also propose to consult the various organizations interested in the production, sale and export products, in connection with the preparation of any regulations that it may be necessary to frame to carry this Bill into effect. That is a brief outline of the foundation of this Bill.

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L LIB

Henri Sévérin Béland

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BELAND:

The minister, I think,

should realize that we are not very actively engaged in building up an export trade in dairy products, in butter especially. The export of butter during the last ten years, instead of being on the increase, has been

on the decline. And just to emphasize that point I would quote a figure given to the House the other day by the minister himself. He stated that the consumption of butter in Canada was 600,000,000 pounds. I must say that that figure appeared to me to be somewhat exaggerated. That would mean the consumption per year-

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UNION

Simon Fraser Tolmie (Minister of Agriculture)

Unionist

Mr. TOLMIE:

That figure was not the

consumption in one year, but during the period in which oleomargarine had been permitted to be imported and manufactured and sold in Canada-it would be pretty nearly three years.

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L LIB

Henri Sévérin Béland

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BELAND:

Even so, the figure is rather large, but I am not quarrelling with the minister over that. We realize that the consumption of butter in Canada is very large. I would judge that the export would be 20,000,000 pounds per year at the outside, so if the regulations that are under contemplation have for their object the grading of butter and other dairy produce destined for export, only a very small proportion of our total production of butter would be covered. I do not say that with the intention of formulating any opposition to the Bill, but to call attention to the fact that the measure is a very important departure from the conditions that have prevailed up to this date, and I am afraid that unless the different agricultural and dairy societies are made aware of what is proposed, and are thoroughly consulted before any definite step is taken, there will be a good deal of opposition in the country to Hm legislation. I would impress upon the minister the necessity of again getting into' touch with the agricultural department of each province, and I think he should leave it as much as possible for them to decide what measures should be taken in regard to the grading of these products. It might entail a good deal of expense on the part either of the Department of Agriculture or the dairy societies.

Before I resume my seat, may I ask whether there has been any complaint made to the minister from importers of butter and cheese in foreign countries? Have the importers of cheese and butter complained of the quality of the products that Canada has sent across, and is that a reason for the minister bringing down this legislation?

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UNION

Simon Fraser Tolmie (Minister of Agriculture)

Unionist

Mr. TOLMIE:

That has not been one

of the reasons for bringing down this legislation. *

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LIB

William Cameron Edwards

Liberal

Mr. EDWARDS:

Perhaps I may be permitted to say a few words in regard to this

Bill, inasmuch as last session I introduced a resolution for the standardization or grading of Canadian butter and cheese for export. That resolution, I am glad to say, was received with favour by hon, gentlemen on both sides of the House, and the Bill which is now before Parliament is the Bill which the Minister of Agriculture intimated last session he would introduce along the lines indicated in my resolution, if the dairy interests of Canada in the meantime gave any indication to the Government that they wished such legislation to be brought down. Since last session the dairy interests have given that indication to the minister. The Eastern Ontario Dairymen's Association and the Western Ontario Dairymen's Association have unanimously passed resolutions asking for this legislation, and I believe that associations in the province of Quebec have also indicated their desire for the proper grading of butter and cheese for export.

I would like to point out to the hon. gentleman (Mr. Beland) that he is wrong in stating that our exports of butter have been on the decline. Our exports of butter in 1914 were 1,228,753 pounds; 1915, 2,724,914 pounds; 1916, 3,441,183 pounds; 1917, 7,990,435 pounds; the figure dropped in 1918 to 4,926,154 pounds, but rose again in 1919 to 13,659,157 pounds, and in 1920 to 17,646,235. The hon. gentleman will see that the figures very clearly indicate that our exports of butter are not on the decline, but that they have been increasing very materially from year to year.

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L LIB

Henri Sévérin Béland

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BELAND:

Of course, I accept the

figures my hon. friend has just given. Is my hon. friend in a position to tell the committee what proportion that 17,000,000 pounds exported in 1920-taking that year, for instance-bears to the total production of butter in Canada?

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LIB

William Cameron Edwards

Liberal

Mr. EDWARDS:

As far as I can obtain the information, II think that the statement made by the hon. gentleman himself a few moments ago was pretty close to the mark.

Our production of butter in Canada totals between 200,000,000 and 220,000,000 pounds a year. Three or four years ago our production was estimated to be about 203,000,000 pounds. But I fancy there has been an increase and I would put the average at 210,000,000 pounds a year.

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L LIB
LIB

William Cameron Edwards

Liberal

Mr. EDWARDS:

Yes. It is true that the proportion of export is not large. We must look abroad more and more for markets for our surplus production of butter, and we shall be forced to do so increasingly because of the favour which is being shown to oleomargarine. There can be no question in anyone's mind that olemargarine takes the place of butter, and the introduction of that article of food into this country in ever increasing quantities means the displacement proportionately of the home production of butter, driving us into foreign markets to sell our over-production. Last year we introduced into this country, in round numbers, about 7,000,000 pounds of oleomargarine, and that forced us to look abroad for the sale of that much of our butter. We are disposing of our surplus butter to some thirty-five or forty different countries, and our product has to come in competition with that of certain countries, which have taken very careful means to establish an international reputation for their product, such as New Zealand, Austrialia-Australia not to the same extent, of course, as New Zealand- Denmark and Holland, all of which have for years developed this matter scientifically and obtained an international name in the foreign markets for their product by a careful system of standardizing for export. We have to compete with that, and it seems to me that so far as our Canadian product is concerned, the time is past due when we should do something to secure for our butter an international reputation if it is to compete successfully with the products of other countries which are carefully graded and systematically handled as is the product of New Zealand, Denmark, and other places. If there is any one province of Canada more than another which is interested in the passing of this Bill and the proper grading of dairy products, it is the province of Quebec. Ontario has won the honours so far as the quality of cheese is concerned; that is to say, Ontario produces a larger percentage of cheese of number one grade than does the province of Quebec. But while Ontario has forged to the front in that respect in regard to butter the province of Quebec leads every other province in the Dominion in the percentage of first-class production. I shall give some figures which go back to the year 1917. I have not taken the time to get figures later than that, but I do not think that I am giving ancient history in the figures I submit now, and I think they may be taken as fairly indicative of conditions as they are at present.

In 1917, of our cheese production of over 1,000,000 boxes exported from Ontario, 93.38 per cent graded as No. 1, for which we were entitled to receive the highest prices: 6.42 per cent graded as No. 2; and .20 per cent graded No. 3. In Quebec, of 755,000 boxes sold, only 70.88 per cent graded No. 1; 27.13 per cent graded No.

2 and 1.99 per cent graded No. 3. Of Prince Edward Island's output, of 17,000 boxes, 90.85 per cent graded No. 1; .9 per cent graded No. 2; and 1.5 per cent graded No. 3. For all Canada 84.22 per cent graded No. 1.

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L LIB
LIB
L LIB

John Ewen Sinclair

Laurier Liberal

Mr. SINCLAIR (Queens) :

The British Purchasing Commission did the grading during the war.

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LIB

William Cameron Edwards

Liberal

Mr. EDWARDS:

Yes. They would be responsible for the figures, which I have no doubt would be absolutely reliable. I think my hon. friend is correct. Such firms as Hodson, Alexander, Ayres, or any cf the big exporters of Montreal pay according to the grade of the cheese.

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L LIB
LIB

William Cameron Edwards

Liberal

Mr. EDWARDS:

Yes. Now, if we assume, in connection with cheese, that there would be only half a cent per pound difference in price between grade No. 2 and grade No. 1, it is easy to calculate the actual loss to Ontario producers on grade No. 2. This would amount to $40,000, and to Quebec producers, the difference between the prices obtained would total, on the figures I have given, $98,000.

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L LIB
LIB

William Cameron Edwards

Liberal

Mr. EDWARDS:

Yes, in the quantities I have mentioned. That is to say, if instead of Quebec shipping 27.13 per cent of its total export as grade No. 2, it had brought that cheese up to the standard of grade No. 1, the farmers would have been in pocket some $98,000 on a calculation of a half a cent per pound difference in price.

Now, let us consider the figures relating to butter. Our Ontario butter exported in the year I have given graded only 70.33 per cent No. 1, wihereas Quebec butter graded 94.48 per cent No. 1, a very great difference. Alberta's product graded 90.28 per cent No. 1; Saskatchewan 71.66 per cent, and Manitoba 81.10 per cent. Taking

the market reports, which are carefully prepared and may (be accepted as reliable, I think I am correct in stating that there is a difference of 2 cents per pound as between butter graded No. 1 and butter graded No. 2. Accepting that as correct, then the loss to Ontario producers in exporting No. 2 butter-to say nothing about grade No. 3 and lower grades-instead of grade No. 1, would be $169,779; to Quebec $37,831; to Alberta $17,440; to Saskatchewan $24,917; to Manitoba $20,870; or a total of some $270,000.

Now, while it is true that our export of butter is only, perhaps, 8 per cent of our total production of that article, a quarter of a million of dollars is a loss which we should try to prevent if it is preventable. This is what appeals particularly to me in regard to this matter. The province of Quebec has evidently taken a great deal of pains and given a great deal of attention to the production of first-class butter-to the production of butter which in quality competes very successfully with the best Danish, or with butter from Holland or New Zealand. Here is a shipment of butter, we will say, going out from the port of Montreal. Some of it is from the province of Ontario, and some from the province of Quebec. It goes overseas and is placed on the market in England or in some other country as Canadian butter. Now, is it fair to those people who have carefully studied the matter and are producing an article which reveals the highest percentage-viz., 94.40 of No. 1 quality- this being the showing of Quebec-to have the reputation of that article destroyed by mixing the product of a province which is not giving to the industry the attention it should give and whose export butter shows only _ 70 per cent of No. 1? The very province which produces butter of the highest quality is the province which is bound to suffer through lack of systematic grading. In the same way the province of Ontario, which produces cheese of a better quality and more uniform grade, and produces a higher percentage of No. 1 than does the province of Quebec, is going to lose because the cheese of the latter province is not graded according to its quality. That is as it appears to me-it cannot be otherwise. Our exports of butter and cheese are competing now in some thirty-five different countries. Those countries are taking very great pains, and have gone to considerable trouble to grade their products for export. In fact, New Zealand follows its cheese and butter across the ocean from the country of origin and sends a man to

Liverpool to inspect that butter and cheese after it has landed. So careful is New Zealand of its reputation that it does not take any chance of its products deteriorating in the voyage across to England, and it has a competent officer in the Old Country to give that butter and cheese a further inspection before they are finally placed on the market there. The result is that when New Zealand butter or cheese appears on any man's table in the United Kingdom, the mere mention of the country of origin is a sufficient guarantee of the quality of the product. I maintain that Canada should be in the same position and that every ]*>und of Canadian butter going into consumption in Great Britain, or any other country, it should be a number one article. If all the butter exported from Canada graded as high as does the butter from the province of Quebec, we would be in a pretty happy position. If all our butter sent from Canada graded over 94 per cent No. 1, there would not be much chance of its reputation being damaged in the foreign market. It does not grade that way, however, and I do say that the dairyman who takes the trouble to put up a factory and keep' it in a sanitary condition, who pays high wage and employs a first-class, competent man to produce butter or cheese, is entitled to be protected when he exports those articles. He is entitled to be protected from the man who is merely carrying on his business in a perfunctory manner, indifferent as to whether the factory surroundings are sanitary or not, and as to whether the man in his employ is a thoroughly competent, or a thoroughly incompetent, individual.

I do not want to take up any unnecessary time in connection with this matter. Let me say, however, that I have igiven it considerable thought, have gone into it very carefully, and have satisfied myself that this is the proper course to take. I am supported in that view by the expressed opinion of the Eastern and Western Ontario Dairymen's Associations, and I am still further supported by action on the part of some of the provinces towards grading. Of course the province's have the right to deal with that question in so far as the sale of products within their own boundaries are concerned. Let Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, or any other province make all the regulations they like in regard to the (grading of dairy products for home consumption. We are only dealing here with the over-production of these commodities which must find a market elsewhere than in Canada and which, in doing so, must compete

with the over-production of countries which have for years studied conditions very thoroughly and have adopted a system of grading and toy that means have won a first-class reputation for their products in every market in which they are sold. This is the kind of competition we must face to an ever-increasing degree as our own production grows, and that is the reason, I believe, why the minister is introducing this Bill. I see no reason why this legislation should-and in my opinion it does not

interfere with the rights of the factory men in disposing of their commodities. I cannot see in what way the Bill will cause them any inconvenience. Every possible difficulty has been guarded against in the legislation, in my opinion, and I commend the Minister of Agriculture very warmly for the attention he has given the subject. I commend him in particular for this fact-that throughout the provisions of the Bill there is an evident desire for one thing and one thing only: To induce the

producers to go to the trouble to manufacture a first-class article and then to give them the necessary protection in the sale of the commodity in markets where they have to compete with products which have been graded. Sufficient time is given so that nobody will ibe taken unawares-as I understand it, the Bill will not go into effect within a few hours after its enactment. It will take time to work out its provisions. The minister is inviting the opinions of all the men in the trade; he wants them to give him their assistance and co-operation. I firmly believe that once this legislation goes into effect it will advance the good name of our dairy products overseas, and will enure to the benefit of the producers of those products to a very substantial degree indeed.

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UNION

Donald Sutherland

Unionist

Mr. SUTHERLAND:

Might I ask the hon. gentleman if the large increase in the quantity of Canadian butter exported was not due to the fact that the British Food Ministry fixed the price of cheese at a much lower figure, with the result that the dairymen turned to the manufacturing of butter rather than the manufacturing of cheese?

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June 3, 1921