March 28, 1924

PRO
LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

There are about three or four hundred in the district. These small communities are getting smaller all the time, because, although new settlers are going in, the old ones are leaving.

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PRO

Donald MacBeth Kennedy

Progressive

Mr. KENNEDY (Edmonton):

This district is located three hundred miles down the Peace river from the town of Peace River, and about six hundred and fifty miles north of Edmonton. I understand, as the minister himself has said, that the population is between three and four hundred. An hon. member asks what can be grown in this place. For thirty-six years there has been general farming and I think it was in 1917 that some 3,000 or 4,000 bushels of wheat were shipped to Fort William from this point. If that farm serves no greater purpose than an experimental station for three . or four hundred settlers I am doubt-

4 p.m. ful whether we can afford the expenditure it entails. I am not familiar with all the circumstances in connection with the establishment of the farm, nor do I know just what work has been done there. I have never been able to get down to the district to look into conditions and so I am not in a position to speak with authority. I feel however that as we have been advocating economy generally, some of us possibly will have to begin at home. I should hate to say, however, that the farm should be discontinued, because I do not know enough about the work it does to take any emphatic stand on the question. There is in that north country, in the Grand Prairie district, another station, the Beaver Lodge farm which serves a very much larger territory, and I understand that

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the cost of that farm is about $10,000 per annum. The great difficulty which the people at Fort Vermilion have to contend against is that of transportation. I think they know pretty well what they can grow and I would very much rather see the money spent in providing them with some sort of transportation. I have been advocating some assistance to a steamboat that would run between Peace river and Fort Vermilion and also up to Fort St. John. There are a number of settlements scattered along between Peace river and Fort Vermilion, such as the Keg river settlement, which are all served by this experimental farm. Speaking generally, the experimental farm business has got far ahead of the practical possibilities of the ordinary farm. While we have a vast territory up there, as large almost as all the rest of Alberta, we have at Edmonton a great provincial government farm under the university. One hundred miles south we have the Lacombe farm, and south of that again the farm at Lethbridge. While the farm at Lethbridge does different work from that of the other two farms, in that it is in the centre of a district that required irrigation, I cannot see and never could see any reason for two farms in the territory between Lacombe and Edmonton when they do exactly the same work under practically the same conditions.

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UFA

William Thomas Lucas

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. LUCAS:

Does the minister not think

that the time has come when a different .policy should be adopted in connection with experimental farms? I believe that the different provinces throughout Canada, now that they are all properly organized, are in a better position to conduct experimental work than the Dominion, and some policy should be instituted that would obviate a great deal of the overlapping which now obtains. If this work were left to the provincial governments, aid being given by the Dominion such as was given under the Agricultural Instruction Act and the Dominion devoting its energies entirely to research work, the results would be much more beneficial to the country. We are all familiar with the great benefit that resulted to Canada from the introduction of Marquis wheat by Dr. Saunders. The research work of Canada is being starved to-day through lack of sufficient money to pay adequate salaries in order that capable men may be attracted to it. One thing we in western Canada suffer from to-day is lack of suitable grasses for that country, and if our research institutions could produce a grass that would become native to the western districts as clover is to Ontario, they would render a service of

inestimable value. The minister might well consider the matter of a new policy in connection with experimental farms.

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CON

Simon Fraser Tolmie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. TOLMIE:

In view of the very large

expenditure to be made on the experimental farm system, $1,400,000, I suggest that the minister give us an outline of the work which is the justification of that expenditure. The work being carried on is a very valuable work indeed, and we would like to know what progress is being made with those farms and what new developments have taken place within the last year or two.

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

Replying to the

hon. member (Mr. Lucas) with respect to the advisability of adopting some new and advanced policy in dealing with experimental farms, I might first recite briefly some of the steps taken during the last forty years in connection with the establishment of these farms. During the administration of Sir John A. Macdonald, the first group of farms was established, consisting of the central one here and four branch farms at Nappan, Brandon, Indian Head and Agassiz respectively. For a number of years this was the entire establishment, but under the administration led by Sir Wilfrid Laurier eight additional branch farms were established, and during the regime of the government that preceded the present one a further addition of eight or nine branch farms was made. Since we came into power we have not established any new ones, although we have discussed the possibility of establishing one in northern British Columbia on account of there having been a tacit understanding in regard to it. There is also an experimental station in western Ontario, but it is a tobacco farm, not one of the regular establishments. So that we have at least stopped the expansion of these branch farms, and we are endeavouring to carry out the policy that I enunciated the first session that this government was in power, namely, that before any new farms should be established we would endeavour to put the present ones in good shape and make them a credit to the country. To that extent at least we have met the wishes of my hon. friend, who thinks that possibly there should be a reduction rather than an expansion of these institutions. Now, that is an open question.

. Possibly we have expanded too rapidly in this respect as we have done in many other respects, and we are now considering all along the line just how we may deal with the situation. I believe it is generally thought that we have too many trunk railways throughout Canada. Some people think we have,

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in the West at least, too many agricultural colleges for present needs. But I think the country will grow up to them and that we shall ultimately be able to make use of all these facilities, though just at present the burden of so many educational institutions of this kind is being felt. Some even think that we have too many universities in the West. I would not like to say that; I think the time will come when they will all be required to meet the country's needs. The point is, what are we to do in the meantime? Are we to close these institutions now, or should we get along the best we can until we grow up to the facilities which they provide? My hon. friends will note that in nearly all cases where there is alleged overlapping it is Because provincial institutions have sprung up since the Dominion farms were established. Take the Lacombe farm, for instance; it was started many years before the provincial farm at Edmonton was established, and now you have the two farms comparatively close together- 100 miles or so, which may not be so very close after all. Coming to Saskatchewan, some time after the Rosthern farm was established, the University farm at Saskatoon was instituted, in a very suitable place about 40 miles from Rosthern. I indicated at that time that we hoped in the reasonably near future to transfer the Rosthern farm to some northern part of the province where the people had not the benefit of any such institution. I now find, however that it would cost more to establish a new farm in the north than it would to maintain the present farm where it is; therefore we have so far refrained from taking any action. Coming to the Maritime provinces, one of the first institutions of this kind was established at Nappan, and some time afterward the provincial county farm at Truro was established. We have been endeavouring to co-ordinate the work, to use a rather hackneyed expression, and we have been endeavouring to avoid overlapping. For instance, at Rosthern we would slack off on the work, leaving it to the university, and the same might be done in other cases. We have not, however, done that at Lacombe owing to the fact that there is a reasonable distance between that station and the provincial farm at Edmonton. If hon. gentlemen on any side of the House have a recommendation to make along the line of closing these farms, those in their own constituencies, for instance, I would be very glad to entertain it. I do not say that we would promise to close any but I think we could get along with less. All the farms, however, are doing good work; it has been my privilege to visit nearly all of them. I had been told that some of the farms

in the Maritime provinces were comparatively useless, but on visiting them I found that there were not any better conducted experimental farms in Canada than those in that part of the country, and that the work was under the supervision of four exceedingly good superintendents. I have no doubt that if there were twice as many farms they would all be doing good work, but the point is, have we more than the circumstances warrant and than we have money to maintain at this time? If we have, then what shall we eliminate? Now, I am open to advice.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I do not think in the present nebulous state of the minister's mind we are going to get much change of policy with respect to these sub-stations. I would like to get at the minister's general policy, what principle he is following in relation to these estimates. I notice that in this estimate there is a reduction this year over last of $125,000. Last year in the very same item there was an increase from the year before of $200,000, or taking the agricultural estimates as a whole, while the minister wanted more money last year, an increase, this year he cuts down, and wants $1,269,000 less-an increase all along the line last year and a large diminution this year in agriculture, and according to the Speech from the Throne we are getting better off all the time. How does the minister account for diminishing the agriculture vote this year against an increase last year when, according to his own words, we are in better shape this year than we were last?

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

I was coming to

that; one at a time is good fishing. I was answering the question of my hon. friend from Victoria as to what was our policy. I think I enunciated that two years ago. What new policies have we adopted? One was this: With regard to cultural methods, farm practices in the matter of experimentation with new cereals and crop rotations, which, after all is all right, we believed the time had come in the older districts where these farms have been established for at least twenty-five years when the farmers in the neighbourhood had obtained nearly all the information they were likely to get in cultural methods. In new districts that does not apply. The Indian Head farm, for instance, has done magnificent work in the matter of cultural methods for the prairies, but the farmers for miles around that station have already adopted all the modern methods of cultivation on the prairies, and therefore we think less attention should be paid, and less attention is being paid, and this is one change

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in policy, to cultural methods in the way of experimentation. But more attention is being paid to proper rotations for western Canada, the best rotation of crops including grass; that is something that has not yet been worked out.

In addition, we are paying more attention all the time to live stock. As I have already intimated on former occasions, we are endeavouring to feature live stock, practically all kinds of domestic live stock, at all of these stations. I spoke at one time of trying to establish something in the nature of breeding stations for the purpose of encouraging high-class live stock for breeding purposes. We have already shipped in from the Old Country, during the last year, forty or fifty breeding animals, and we are only deterred from getting more by the embargo against us, which prevents us from getting animals from the United Kingdom at the present time. Those are two features we are developing.

Many hon. members will also recall that the question of shipping chilled beef to the Old Country has been before the people of this country ever since I can remember; but whenever anyone who was endeavouring to improve conditions would suggest that the embargo be taken off cattle or we tried to get the embargo removed he would be met with the objection: What does it matter; we should be sending our cattle across to England in the form of chilled beef. Now we have been reading up and keeping track of experiments by packers and private individuals for a number of years, and finally last year we made a shipment of chilled beef from the Experimental Farm at Ottawa. Some fifty head were killed at Montreal and shipped to the Old Country in the form of chilled beef. We have found in actual practice that it did not pay at all. We lost a very substantial sum as compared with selling them as Stockers or killing them as fats on arrival. The shipment was divided into three equal parts, as nearly similar as we could get them. One part was killed at Montreal and shipped as chilled beef; another part was sent across as stockers, and the other part shipped as fats and killed on arrival. There was not very much difference between the stockers and the fats, but there was a tremendous difference to the disadvantage of those that were killed at Montreal and shipped as chilled. This chilled meat came into direct competition with Argentine frozen meat, and the loss on that chilled

meat, as compared with similar cattle sold as stockers, was $5.62 per one hundred pounds, or over 5| cents a pound.

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PRO

Henry Elvins Spencer

Progressive

Mr. SPENCER:

Is it not a recognized

fact in business that it takes a certain time to develop a trade? And is it fair to consider we cannot ship chilled meat from this country when we have made only one trial shipment? Is it not possible, if the trade was worked up and given a reasonable time to develop, that chilled meat could be put on the English market at a profit?

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

That is right in a general sense, but similar experiments have been conducted by the Harris abattoir for two consecutive years, and their experience has been practically identical with ours. In conversation some of their representatives took the ground that they had lost enough money already experimenting on behalf of the people of Canada. Furthermore, I have met a number of people who have not very much faith in the packers and who take the ground that the packers were trying to queer this prospective business by making shipments and pretending to lose money on them. To clear that up we made the shipment I have referred to, and we certainly lost money. We would not like to have been doing that business for private individuals, and have had to report a loss of $50 a head, as compared with selling the cattle as stockers.

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PRO

Andrew Knox

Progressive

Mr. KNOX:

Was the loss on the chilled

meat attributable to the extra cost of transportation or the low price at which it was sold on the English market?

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

There was a little advantage on transportation; the principal loss was on the beef. We also gained a little on the offal, which was worth more in the Old Country than here. The beef, however, was worth very much less, so when you struck a balance the result was as I have indicated. I have no doubt if we were prepared to stay in the business long enough and lose money enough we might in time be able to break even, but I am not prepared to come before this House and go before my colleagues and ask for an appropriation when I know I am going to lose a lot of money. I might say that on my recommendation this House voted $25,000 last year to continue that experiment.

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PRO
LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

We assembled at

Ottawa steers from the experimental farms

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at various points and shipped the steers we had on hand, and the shipment gave us such very vivid information from the standpoint of distinct loss that we did not feel like spending the $25,000 that was voted by the House in making further experiments. It would have taken years to have built up that trade, and it is a question whether we would have broken even in the end.

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PRO

George Arthur Brethen

Progressive

Mr. BRETHEN:

To get back to the experimental farm, I have listened at different times with a great deal of interest to suggestions of the minister that 'these farms be made breeding depots. In view of the fact that private individuals with Ontario Holstein breeders won the herd prize for ten animals at the International Dairy Show last year in competition with the best in America, and that the Ayrshire breeders of Quebec won a similar prize, that the breeders of Clydesdale horses, beef, Shorthorn cattle and Aberdeen-Angus can go to the Chicago National Show and win in competition with the best in America, the Aberdeen-Angus winner selling for $15,000 there this year, does not the minister think that it would be a very safe principle to leave the breeding of pure-bred cattle to the private breeders of the Dominion. I know, because I sold some cattle to the experimental farms, that these institutions do provide a home market for the breeders; but I believe that the experimental stations, as breeding depots, are very expensive luxuries for the people of this country to support.

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

That attitude is

sometimes taken, I appreciate that fact, by the breeders themselves, but I cannot recall a single instance where the breeders have come to the department and complained that the government was competing with them. Here is the way the thing usually works out -I will give an illustration with respect to forestry farms. After the forestry farms were established, the nursery companies were very much alarmed for fear their business would be interfered with. Now, instead of the business of the forestry firms being injured by a free distribution of shrubs and trees it has actually stimulated the demand for nursery stock; instead of hurting the nurserymen the forestry farms actually helped them.

With respect to this particular question I do not believe the average breeder sees any menace in the way of unfair competition with his business. Every time you put a pure bred animal to work-either through horse clubs, cattle associations, or any similar organization

the results from that animal are

fMr. Motherwell.]

so apparent that you will stimulate the demand throughout that particular territory for pure bred stock. The result is that the private breeder is actually benefited by the operation of these farms in my opinion. At any rate that is the way it works out. I know that on the surface the system may appear as competitive and possibly injurious, but because of the educational value of these pure bred stock, the actual demonstration of the value of better stock, the appetite for them is increased with a result that the breeders have larger sales instead of smaller ones. I think that is correct.

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PRO

Daniel Webster Warner

Progressive

Mr. WARNER:

The minister may have

stated but I did not catch his answer. Of what breed were the steers that he sent over, were they all of one breed?

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

I can recall that

they were pretty nearly even, the three standard breeds-shorthorn, white face and black; pretty nearly even. There were none of them I imagine - actually pure bred. They were well bred steers of these various breeds.

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PRO
LIB

March 28, 1924