April 4, 1924

PRO

Thomas Wakem Caldwell

Progressive

Mr. CALDWELL:

Has there been any

complaint in regard to the physical grading of certified seed potatoes from the Maritime provinces?

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

As regards classification, size and so forth?

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PRO

Thomas Wakem Caldwell

Progressive

Mr. CALDWELL:

I am referring to size,

shape and that sort of thing.

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

Yes. While in the Maritime provinces last summer I had a conference with the potato growers' organization and there was some criticism of the fact that potatoes that were too large and those under two inches were excluded.

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PRO

Thomas Wakem Caldwell

Progressive

Mr. CALDWELL:

That is not the complaint I am referring to. Let me give a concrete illustration of my meaning. A man in my riding, who lives quite near me, had somewhere in the neighbourhood of forty acres of potatoes, and he secured over four thousand barrels off this forty-acre field. They were inspected in the field, found practically free from disease and they were so certified. They were also certified as being all of one variety. That is told by the blossom on the potatoes while they are growing, or, at least, that is one of the indications. It is much harder to detect a difference of variety in the bin than it is in the field. There is a much better chance to check up any other varieties in a field of growing potatoes; there is not so good an opportunity in the bin. When however, this man came to market his potatoes-and it is one of the requirements in order to get a certification of the potatoes that they shall be graded under the supervision of one of the officials of the department-he was somewhat surprised, after having been grading for nearly a whole afternoon, with his own crew of four or five men and the inspector supervising the work, to find that only a few barrels of seed had been passed as certified. Although they were all of one variety and free from disease, if there was any little difference of shape, they were taken out. They had to be all of exactly one shape, and anyone who grows potatoes knows that such grading is an impossibility. This man said that he would not have had more than two or three carloads out of four thousand barrels, and he objected to having them graded under this inspection. He, therefore, had to forfeit his certificate of freedom from disease or that the potatoes were all of one variety. I do not know whether the minister has had any complaint of this kind or not, because this is only a recent occurrence.

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LIB
PRO

Thomas Wakem Caldwell

Progressive

Mr. CALDWELL:

Within the last six months there has been formed what is now known as the New Brunswick Certified Seed-Potato Growers' Association, and this man of whom I have spoken is president of that association. It is made up of men who are large growers, who have had extensive experience in growing and marketing seed. I might say further that this man marketed this crop without the certification of the official of the department, and he got a good return for it. The man to whom he sold it did not demand that it be graded according to the inspector's ruling at all. He had seen the potatoes growing in the field during the summer; he knew that they were all of one variety and also that they were free from disease because he had looked over the field himself. He has told the officials of the Seed Growers' Association that he will not require this kind of grading. He took out the bruised potatoes and any ill-shaped ones, as anyone would do, but he did not demand that the potatoes be all of one size or of exactly one shape.

The method of inspection adopted is going to hamper our seed growers, especially in view of the fact that we hope to get a reduction in the freight on certified seed potatoes. I hope and I believe that we will get that. If, however, the potato growers do not comply with this grading, they do not get the certificate and, therefore, they will not get the reduced freight rate. While I am aware that we cannot settle this matter here to-day, I should like the minister to consider it, and to have representatives of the Seed Growers' Association meet officials of the minister's department who have charge of this work, so that they may go into this matter, because I know the Department of Agriculture does not want to impose any regulations or restrictions that will do an injury to any industry of that character.

Further, I think certified seed growing, is the only future of that industry in the Mari-times. Owing to the Fordney tariff we are shut out of the United States market for table potatoes, because the price we can get for that stock will not pay the duty and transportation charges and leave the farmer anything. On certified seed, however, the c^se is different. I think the minister was well within the mark when he said that certified stock was worth half as much again as table stock. I think he would have been safe in saying that it was worth twice as much. We can get a good price for that class of potatoes. The duty is not an ad valorem duty, but so much a hundred, and we can pay the duty and ship the seed to the United States. We have a permanent market in the southern states

for all the seed we can supply; in fact, we have never been able to supply the demand. There are several reasons for that which I will not bake up the time of the committee at present to state. But I would like the minister to consider my suggestion and arrange to have officials of his department meet some of the certified seed growers of the Maritime provinces and go into this matter of final inspection and grading. We are well satisfied with all the other features of the inspection.

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

We have no record of the complaint which my hon. friend has spoken of, but I might draw his attention to the fact that there are three inspections, no two of which are in themselves sufficient. There are certain diseases determinable only when the potato is graded. My hon. friend knows a number: for instance, blackleg, rot and blight. The very fact that there is a third inspection called for when the potatoes are in the bin shows that there is a possibility of the potatoes not passing the bin inspection when they have passed the growing inspection. The scab is a variable disease. Sometimes it is very pronounced, and sometimes it is loose scab, which is really not scab, but which at the same time a buyer thinks is scab. Then there is dry rot.

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PRO

Thomas Wakem Caldwell

Progressive

Mr. CALDWELL:

Possibly the reason

why the minister has not received any of these complaints is that the regulations were put into force only last year. I have had mine inspected for a number of years until last year, and the inspection was a bin inspection. The inspector came to your bin, looked the bin over, handled the potatoes, and decided whether they were all right or not. Last year there was a physical grading. When you were bagging them to load, the inspector superintended the grading and you had to grade them according to his regulations. That is what the potato growers object to. They do not object to the bin inspection, nor to the field inspection, which they consider all right.

There is one other point which I would like to draw to the notice of the minister, and which I think I pointed out last year. We have in New Brunswick certain dealers, shippers, who are not growers of potatoes, who will buy good-looking potatoes, put them into their bins and select them. This is what they call select seeds. They grade these and they get their own certificate printed marked, "Certified Seed Potatoes", although they are not certified by anybody. This was done a good deal, and I believe it

Supply-Agriculture

is being done again this year. We would like to have this matter looked after very sharply. Our buyers who are buying high-priced certified seed, getting it inspected and certified, and who have worked up a good trade for this in the southern states, where we have a permanent market, do not want potatoes sold as seed that are not certified and that may possibly have disease. There are certain diseases, the minister says, you must find when the potato is growing, you cannot find them in the bin. You can find some diseases in the bin, but very few. Potatoes of this class are shipped to the people to whom we are selling, and the man who buys them is led to believe that the stock is government certified stock when it is not. The /certificate reads, "Canadian Certified Seed Potatoes" but it does not say who certified them. The people plant these potatoes and they may grow a diseased crop. In that case they will say that the Canadian certification is no good. This will discredit the whole thing from start to finish; it will nullify the work of the department in every particular. This is something that we who are really getting our potatoes certified want to put a stop to. It is ruining our seed trade. We have a steady market there, but this kind of thing will very readily undermine it and give us a very bad reputation.

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CON

Richard Burpee Hanson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HANSON:

The hon. gentleman (Mr. Caldwell) has made a very serious charge against the potato dealers of New Brunswick. He has said either too much or too little. I am not sure which. I never heard of any such charges or of any such modus operandi on the part of dealers-and they are practically all in his own county-during the past two seasons when certified seed potatoes have been grown in New Brunswick. I want to call attention to this fact so that it will be heard down in New Brunswick by some of the hon. gentleman's own friends in the seed potato business and in the potato business generally.

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PRO

Thomas Wakem Caldwell

Progressive

Mr. CALDWELL:

Does my hon. friend deny that this thing has been going on?

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CON
PRO
CON

Richard Burpee Hanson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HANSON:

You may be called upon to prove it by some of your own friends down in that community.

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PRO
CON

Richard Burpee Hanson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HANSON:

All right. I am making

these remarks so that the matter may be emphasized and attention called to it in the community that is interested. What I really

rose for was to ask the minister this: In view of the fact that the potato business is such an important business in New Brunswick, why is it that the position of plant pathologist at Fredericton has been vacant for a year or more, at all events ever since the resignation of Mr. Cunningham? The work is being done by a young man who is a graduate of the University of New Brunswick, and although he is qualified for the position I understand that the department has refused to accept his services.

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

My hon. friend has raised a very important question. The salaries of these technical men are much too low; in fact they are so small that when the positions are advertised desirable persons are not attracted to them. Engineers and a great many other services are classified very much higher than technical men of this description. The result is that you get applications for the higher salaried positions and you do not get them for the lower ones. That did not start recently; it started away back when these men were taking their college courses and it was a factor in inducing them to choose some more remunerative vocation. To-day we have a number of positions such as my hon. friend has described and we have practically no applications for them. The person to whom my hon. friend particularly refers was not eligible for the position.

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CON

Richard Burpee Hanson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HANSON:

I cannot agree with that, because I know the circumtances. When the position became vacant by the resignation of Mr. Cunningham and was advertised by the Civil Service Commission I received a circular in connection with it and I immediately sent it to the young man in question. He is the man who has been doing the work. He acted first as assistant to Mr. Cunningham for a number of years; he has grown up in the business, and if there is any merit in the principle of promotion in the Civil Service, here is a case where that principle should be invoked. I am informed that he applied for the position but that the department refused to accept him, although he has continued to do the work. He is a New Brunswick boy-it is not necessary to send a man in from Ontario or from the United States. A man was sent in from the United States; he looked the situation over and apparently did not like the climate or the society, because he did not stay. I do not know who brought him there. I do suggest to the minister that he give that position to the young man now doing the work, who knows the ground, who is thoroughly qualified professionally and technically and who, I believe, would make a first-class official.

Supply-Agriculture

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

This young man

naturally wants promotion, but he has not the post-graduate work, as I understand it, and the result is that he is not eligible for the higher position. We are making the best use we can of his services; I suppose it is better to have him there than to have no one. It just shows how far short these examinations are; he may be a better man than someone who would qualify by examination.

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CON

Richard Burpee Hanson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HANSON:

Is it necessary that he

should have a post-graduate standing, after taking the university degree in science and having nearly ten years' practical experience in the work? That is the fact, and I think he has every qualification except that of post-graduate work. I do not recall any reference in the circular to the requirement of post-graduate work, but I am subject to correction on that point. I may add that there is not an iota of politics in this matter; I. do not know how the young man votes, and I do not care, but I would like to see justice done to him, because the principle of promotion in the service is at stake. From what I have heard he is doing the work in a reasonably satisfactory way; beyond that I would not like to go. The matter is worthy of the minister's consideration.

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April 4, 1924