May 13, 1932

UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF

APPEAL FOR CONTINUANCE OF RELIEF MEASURES IN GLACE BAY, N.S.


On the orders of the day:


LAB

Humphrey Mitchell

Labour

Mr. HUMPHREY MITCHELL (East Hamilton):

I would like to ask the Minister of Labour (Mr. Gordon) a question through (Mr. Gott.]

you, Mr. Speaker, dealing with the matter of relief. To-day I received the following telegram from the district surrounding Glace Bay, Nova Scotia.

Whereas the relief program as it affects the citizens of the town of Glace Bay has ceased to exist, owing to the town having gone beyond their financial means, and whereas the citizens of the town had not had an opportunity to increase their earnings so that relief should not be necessary, therefore be it resolved that we petition the provincial and federal governments to meet the relief situation as it affects the citizens of this town. This resolution has been drawn up by representatives of local unions in sub-distriet one, United Mine Workers of America, in the town of Glace Bay.

The numbers of the unions represented are given, together with the towns in which they are located. The towns represented were New Aberdeen, Passchendaele, Glace Bay and Caledonia. The telegram proceeds.

We request a reply immediately as we must report your decision to a mass demonstration before the end of the following week.

This telegram is signed on behalf of the committee by Peter McNeil, Kenny McDonald, Melvin Daye, John Qdann, Silby Barrett and Dan J. McDonald. I should like to know the attitude of the federal government in this regard.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   APPEAL FOR CONTINUANCE OF RELIEF MEASURES IN GLACE BAY, N.S.
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CON

Wesley Ashton Gordon (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Labour; Minister of Mines)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. W. A. GORDON (Minister of Labour) :

I assume that representations along the line of the information contained in this telegram have been transmitted by the municipality affected to the government of Nova Scotia. I have not received any communication from that government. When I do, the matter will be immediately taken into consideration and appropriate steps will be taken in conjunction with the provincial authorities.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   APPEAL FOR CONTINUANCE OF RELIEF MEASURES IN GLACE BAY, N.S.
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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE


The house in committee of supply, Mr. LaVergne in the chair. Dairying, $231,300.


UFA

George Gibson Coote

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. COOTE:

The discussion on these estimates so far has 'been of a general character, and before we proceed to deal with dairying in particular I should like to make a few remarks with regard to agriculture in general.

The problem of the farmer to-day is not one of production; it is purely an economic problem. For years he has been told that if he would produce quality products he would not need to bother about economics, that the price he would receive would give him a sufficient return. To-day no matter what may be the quality of the product he produces in

Supply-Agriculture

any of the basic lines, that is, grain, cattle, hogs or dairy products, his product is selling at less than the cost of production.

To-day the farmers sell as unorganized individuals to a highly organized world, and they buy as unorganized individuals from a highly organized world. The aim of the Department of Agriculture should be to organize our farmers so that they may combine their buying and selling powers. One of the purposes for which our economics branch was established was to assist in organizing the farmers for cooperative effort, and in the estimates this year I find that the economics branch receives a grant of only S8.600 out of a total agricultural grant of $6,600,000, though the main problem of the farmer is essentially economic. The work of this branch, instead of being curtailed by a cut of $3,400, should be greatly increased. If there are any experts in Canada who can assist the farmers in organizing themselves in order to get a better price for their products or to buy to better advantage, certainly we should spend enough money under this vote to secure the services of those experts for the benfit of the farmers of Canada. No greater service could be rendered at this time.

The farmers are in the very difficult position to-day of paying higher interest rates and carrying higher per capita overhead charges, comparing tire net value of their product, than any other class in Canada. The farmer suffers from high taxation and a low valuation of his products, and he is under the handicap of producing crops which are dependent upon the weather. There is no limit to the competition the farmer must meet. The immigration policy of all governments in the past has been the bringing into Canada of more farmers to compete with those already here. In many cases to-day the farmer remains on his land through the grace of the mortgagee, the tax collector or the landlord. So long as he is allowed to stay on the land he can probably provide food for himself and his family, but in many cases he is not able to provide clothing, and we all know that it is not safe to travel around Canada to-day without some clothes. The farmer sells at wholesale prices and buys at retail. There has always been too much disparity between wholesale and retail price levels. But during the depression of the last three years this disparity has been greatly increased until today he finds himself in an impossible position. The price index figure of field crops, according to information which I have secured from the Bureau of Statistics, has dropped 64 points since 1928, and as compared with this, retail 41761-182J

prices, not including rents and services, have dropped 14 points; and this drop has been mostly in foodstuffs. I should like to point out, particularly to the hon. member for Wey-burn (Mr. Young), who always says that if we increase commodity price levels we shall increase the cost of living in proportion, that the drop in farm commodity prices has been 64 per cent, while the drop in retail prices,' that is to say, prices over the retail counter, when the farmer buys goods to support himself and his family, has been 14 per cent. Conversely, it would be possible to raise commodity prices by 40 per cent without increasing retail prices even 10 per cent.

The farmer's debts and his interest charges are fixed in terms of dollars, and he can pay only by means of the production and sale of commodities, so that at the present price levels the burden of his debt has been doubled or trebled. There is only one solution for the farmer's problem to-day, and that is to raise price levels. If this is not done, then his debts must be wiped out either in whole or in part. There is no use quibbling about that.

The farmer labours under another difficulty in that he sells at world prices or free trade prioes, while he buys at protected prices. The price of everything that the farmer produces to-day is on an export basis; that is to say, the price which the farmer receives is fixed by the price which our commodities will bring in England, less cost of transportation, less commission charges, less handling charges and less advertising costs. The net return which the farmer gets after all these are paid fixes his selling price. If he wishes to bring back some goods from England in exchange for his products, he must pay high tariff charges, excise tax, sales tax and dumping duty, owing to the fact that the Department of Customs at the present time values the English pound for duty purposes at $4.40. The farmer is labouring under this distinct handicap, that the prices of all his products whether consumed here or abroad are fixed by whait they will bring in England. To-day we can get for the British pound, for which our products are sold, only $4.10. Whatever other measures may be necessary to relieve the farmer of his present difficulties, the first remedy should be to bring the Canadian dollar to par with the British pound. Make the British pound worth $4.87 in Canada. Surely the old British pound is good enough for Canada to tie her currency to. Indeed, that is not a high enough rate to enable us to meet the 'competition of the Argentine and Australia in a fair manner, but it would enhance by 18 per cent the prices

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long enough. It is time that provincial governments and municipalities and corporations should pay the price for exchange which it would naturally fetch in a free market.

The financial stability of Canada is bound up with the financial stability of the farmer- his solvency. To-day our farmers as a class are insolvent. Solvency can be restored by increasing the price of farm products, and that is the only way. I think there is no question of where Canada's interest lies in this matter. I desire to say again that we can have a 40 per cent increase-perhaps I had better not urge 40 per cent; it may scare some hon. members-we can have a 30 per cent increase in the price of agricultural products without increasing the cost of living of the people of , Canada by more than 5 per cent. I noticed in a magazine last night that Mr. J. M. Keynes, the prominent economist in England, stated there has been a reduction iin the cost of living in England since September, although the British pound is about 30 per cent below par. We can have a depreciation of another 20 per cent, I believe, without increasing the cost of living one per cent in Canada. If living costs did increase 5 per cent in Canada no one would be hurt. The drop ,in the cost of living which has occurred here has been almost altogether in food, and the farmer has been left in the impossible position, to use a slang expression, of "holding the bag" for everybody else. And the result has become apparent in other walks of life. Not only are our financial institutions beginning to feel the situation very keenly, but we have one-fifth of our population unemployed and the other four-fifths have to keep them in idleness. The best way to start ourselves out of this depression is to allow our dollar to depreciate to the same extent as the British pound. We cannot carry on with any higher level.

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CON

William John Loucks

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LOUCKS:

What effect does the hon. member think it would have on our gold mines if we went off the gold standard?

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UFA

George Gibson Coote

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. COOTE:

This would stimulate the gold mining business because it would raise the price of gold. There is no question about that. Gold mining stocks perhaps might go up-I am not concerned about that. We might very well send 10,000 of our unemployed into the north country to hunt, for gold so long as we have to pay the United States in gold. But I am not concerned with the gold, mining business. I am concerned with the position of the agricultural community. I think Canada's very existence depends on taking care of her agricultural population, and I can see no other way out for Canada, nor for her agricultural

population, than by allowing our dollar to come down to a proper level. To-day our money needs to be diluted a little. The cream screw in the separator has been turned in too far; the cream that is going to the capitalists who are drawing interest on bonds, is too thick. The screw must be turned out a little so as to leave the cream the same thickness as it was in 1928 when we got into debt to the class who secured the 'bonds on *which we are so conicemed about paying the interest. We cannot go. on long paying interest on those bonds unless we can increase price levels; that is fundamentally sound. If the government could only make up their minds, they could get our currency down to par with the pound inside a month. This would be to the advantage of the government. It is true it would increase their expenditure for foreign exchange, but it would increase price levels in Canada and the amount of taxes which the government collect depends on price levels. The sales tax is a percentage on the volume of trade carried on; the income tax depends on the amount of our incomes, and rising prices will increase the receipts of the government through taxation sufficiently to take care of the increased amount they will have to pay for foreign exchange. I do not think there is the least doubt about that. Then, as I said on another occasion, we shall have this positive advantage that the unemployment relief for which the federal government, every provincial government and municipality have to pay, will be lessened. Quite a number of those at present unemployed will be put to work. If the price of farm commodities is increased, the farmers themselves will take a lot of this surplus labour off the market.

I respectfully suggest to the government that the time is long past due when we should take this action. The leader of the opposition, speaking on the budget debate a few weeks ago, in regard ito this question, suggested we should wait and see. And the Prime Minister agreed with everything he said in regard to the matter. But the people are repeating what the Good Book says: "How long, oh Lord, how long?" How long must we wait and see? We are almost the last nation now to take this action. New Zealand has depreciated her currency or it has depreciated in spite of her.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

How much better off is she?

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UFA

George Gibson Coote

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. COOTE:

The farmer in New Zealand is 25 to 30 per cent better off than is the farmer in Canada; the farmer in Australia is 30 per cent better off, and the farmer in Argentina 30 per cent better off than is the Canadian

Supply-Agriculture

farmer. If I might again quote Mr. Maynard Keynes, in a recent article he said that in his opinion Australia was definitely around the comer and headed for prosperity. He said the same thing about Argentina. The people have waited long enough; Canada has waited long enough, indeed, much too long. We should have taken this action a year ago, and I respectfully urge the government to see to it that before long our currency is allowed to come down to a more natural level, at least on a par with the British pound.

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CON

James J. Donnelly

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DONNELLY:

If we increased our exports until we had a very large unfavourable balance of trade, would this not have a tendency also to depreciate our dollar?

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UFA

George Gibson Coote

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. COOTE:

If I caught the hon. member aright, he said that if we had what is called an adverse balance of trade, it would depreciate our dollar. That would be the case if we were not attempting to hold it up. If we increase our exports, of course that will tend to bring our dollar back to par. When the United States and other countries take the proper measures to restore price levels, somewhere near where they were in 1928, naturally our dollar would come back to par. Our dollar is down to-day because of the low price our exports are getting in foreign markets. It must be remembered that it takes to-day three bushels of wheat in order to get the same amount of foreign exchange one bushel produced in 1928. That is the main reason why we are met with an unfavourable balance of trade at this time, and the quickest way to restore a proper balance is to allow our dollar to come down to where the trade balance will take it. *

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CON

George Spotton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPOTTON:

If I were to choose a text for my few remarks just on one matter alone, it would be the observations made by the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Weir) on Tuesday last when he said:

I thought I had made it clear that it is not decided yet whether it would be better to bring a marketing board into being at the present time or whether it would be better to wait, in view of the Imperial conference and the many difficulties with which we will be confronted in forming regulations and making this board effective. I am sure no person in the house appreciates better than the hon. member for Bow River the far-reaching results which will follow the setting up of a new board of this kind. Therefore it is felt, though not definitely decided, that it may be better to appoint men representative of agriculture throughout Canada to make a special study of this question and report before the next session of parliament.

Inasmuch as the Minister of Agriculture is divided between two opinions, I feel it my duty on behalf of the farmers of North Huron

to place on record their views on this matter. What I am saying is in no way a criticism of the Minister of Agriculture who comes from my own county. I was bom a few miles across country from him; that was no fault of his.

I appreciate his work very much; his native county is proud of him and I wish to commend most heartily his having reached the conclusion that a marketing board should be established in Canada. But I respectfully urge that there be no delay in creating that board. If this government has a lifeline to throw out to the farmers in my riding, I beseech that it be thrown out now. I see no reason why a committee or commission should be set up to inquire into a matter for the next few months, then disappear into thin air and a new committee come out and start to grapple anew with this question. During the last few days we have had committees of four, five or six members report to the house. The committee on the civil service, after they had gathered in all the information they could, brought in a report, and whether we agreed with them entirely or not, we adopted it. We took their word for it that they had made a study of the question and knew more about it than we did. The same thing happened in regard to the radio problem-and, for the . moment I am not endorsing the finding. We had a radio committee that studied this question long and earnestly. They brought a report to this house and it was adopted unanimously.

It is an open secret that perhaps forty or more members representing agricultural constituencies have given intensive study to this question of a marketing board and they and all farm organizations from coast to coast, after ten, fifteen and twenty years intensive study, are a unit in asking that a marketing board be established without delay. When we present our views in the matter, why should there be all this hesitation in the House of Commons as to whether the course suggested should be adopted?. I have been wont to condemn the Drury administration for government by commission; I have been accustomed to condemn the King administration for government by commission and I am not going to condone such a policy when we are in office. I just wish to say that every farm organization that I know of from coast to coast, having given this subject more intensive study than I am fitted to do, has stated that it is entirely in favour of a marketing board. I know J. J. Morrison, whom I look upon as the father almost of agriculture in my province, a man whom I have known for over thirty years, and who

Supply-Agriculture

when I was trying to be a principal of a school was farming just outside of that little town. I have known him ever since and I may say that he is the one man in Canada that I know who has been big enough to refuse the premiership of the banner province of Canada. When a man is big enough to do that he is big enough to give sitting premiers some advice on agriculture. I speak after many consultations with him. I do not wish to delay the house so I will simply say that the United Farmers, J. J. Morrison, W. A. Amos and Robert J. Scott from my county, who is the president of the United Farmers, and all the farmers' organizations I know of are heartily in favour of a marketing board. I do not like reading newspaper extracts but I shall detain the house by reading this one. The Hon. Manning Doherty, who was Minister of Agriculture for the province of Ontario, and before that professor of agriculture in the college at Guelph, is reported as follows:

Creation of a national farm marketing board, announced by Hon. Robert Weir, federal Minister of Agriculture, has the "enthusiastic" support of Manning Doherty, former Ontario Minister of Agriculture in the Drury government. In a statement to-day Mr. Doherty says:

And he knows as much about agriculture as any corporation lawyer in this house. He says:

This is one of the most important steps that has been taken towards the progress of Canadian agriculture in many years. For at least thirty years it has been my conviction that inefficient marketing methods have handicapped the development of agriculture in Canada. We must adopt a national policy governing the grading of products by the government or some impartial body insisting on standardization and uniformity of quality and regulating shipping to preserve continuity of supply in foreign markets. In addition, there must be a continuous study of the requirements of any market-domestic or foreign-being sought for Canadian products. The government is both justified and has a duty to do something of that sort.

I take it that Mr. Doherty, like the apostle Paul, can speak with assurance, knowing whereof he speaks. I am not going to labour this question. I commend the Minister of Agriculture for being perhaps the first Minister of Agriculture who has looked at the end that is clogged up and is striving to open it and provide a channel through which there can be a flow of good, rich, red blood from Canada across the main. I have farmers in my county to-day who have fine, fat steers fit for export and there is not a drover in all those counties coming around to purchase them. They must be shipped down to the [Mr. Spotton.)

Toronto stockyards. Here, sir, I must be fair. The second year I was in this house I said this about the then government:

The farmer used to be able to take down a carload of hogs to Toronto and to have five packing houses competing for his stock. But under this government the accumulation of capital in the hands of the big interests has resulted in four of these packing houses amalgamating. Now there is practically no competition on the live stock market and the farmer has to sell his hogs and cattle to this combine at their own price.

That is just what has obtained in Toronto. We had the Canadian Packers, Gunns Limited, the Harris Abattoir Company and the William Davies Company amalgamate, four into one, and they are called now the Canada Packers. The farmers throughout the province of Ontario, and I believe justly, feel that if ever there was an octopus, a devil fish with elongated arms squeezing the life out of the farmer in the province of Ontario, it is the Canada Packers of Toronto, and you can write around the head of that devil fish the name of Maclean, if you wish. I am not taking my information from Maclean of Ontario or from Pat Murphy or anybody else in the west; I am taking my information from the people whom I represent, the farmers of North Huron who have confidence enough in me to send me here to present their views on various matters to this chamber. I ask the Minister of Agriculture in all kindness to-day to bring forth this marketing board now. It is as easy to appoint a marketing board to-day as a commission. The men that are good enough to sit on the commission and go around and stay at the best hotels and smoke long cigars and eat three-dollar meals are good enough to work on a marketing board right now, to study the problem and stay around here while the Imperial conference is on, breathing the atmosphere of imperial markets and whatever else is floating in the atmosphere, and * then go to work. It will take a month to select these men if they are men acquainted with farming operations, and I hope that at least one of them will be an honest-to-God farmer, living and toiling on his farm and possessing the farm viewpoint. You know, Mr. Chairman, the other day I heard a member of this house using an argument like this: Smith on this side of the road has twenty fat steers. Jones over there has thirty fat steers. Jones happens to have ten steers that are fit for the export market, and somebody comes along and buys those ten steers from Jones. And then the question was asked, what is he going to do with the other twenty? Shoot them, I suppose. He will just do the same with the

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other twenty as the man on the other side of the road does with his twenty, butcher cattle that are not fit for export, and the fact that these ten export steers have been taken off Jones' hands and sent across the sea gives him 'just so much better a market and better a price for those that remain at home, and it shows the Canada Packers, and this is a great point with me, that there can be a little competition in this country by way of a little flow across the pond. The Canada Packers in this province have the farmer of Ontario at their mercy, and they have crushed him most unmercifully. He simply takes whatever they give him. Imagine putting hogs into Toronto at 3i cents a pound! I say that the farmer has waited patiently, wearily watching for the morning, and I believe that this marketing board will be a lamp unto his feet and a light unto his path, and I want to commend the Minister of Agriculture for his intention to establish such a board. I do not know whether he is receiving the support he should or not. I do not know what might be holding him back. I know not who or what they are, but I say to them on behalf of North Huron: Lay off, and let us have this marketing board, and let the farmers of the province of Ontario know that there is not going to be any dilly-dallying or fiddling while Rome bums.

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

Mr. Chairman, I rise to follow the remarks of the hon. member for Maoleod (Mr. Coote), rather than those of the hon. member who has just taken his seat. Before proceeding, however, may I congratulate the hon. member for North Huron (Mr. Spotton) on the character of his address and the courage he hias shown in making such a speech from a seat behind the Minister of Agriculture. I am in complete accord with him as to his idea concerning the establishment of a marketing board. When that matter was under consideration a few nights ago I expressed similar views. One of the reasons I am so completely in accord with the immediate appointment of such a marketing board is that amongst other things unquestionably it would be a very useful factor in arranging and determining the rate of exchange.

Taking into consideration world conditions of to-day there appears to be no simple and expeditious way out of the present agricultural depression other than the one proposed by the hon. member for Macleod. It has been advanced not only in this session but also in preceding sessions by the U.F.A. members. If T needed any excuse for rising at this pointand I am glad to say I do not, especially in a house so eloquently sympathetic towards agriculture and one which appears to understand its problems so well-it would be that in my riding there is a class of farmers second to none in so far as energy, courage, and pioneering capacity are concerned. Unfortunately that same class of farmers, due entirely to conditions outside their control, are to-day in a state of destitution, not second even to the unemployed. There are many farm homes in my riding as well as in many other ridings in the southern and southeastern sections of the prairies in which a pail of jam would be almost an unheard of luxury. I could quote letters from farm women and men that would wring sympathy from every hon. member in this house, even from those hon. members who have just returned from very substantial lunches which cost an amount sufficient to keep a farmer's family for a week.

As all hon. members agree, agriculture was and is a primarjr industry. Normally about two-thirds of Canada's total income arises from the export of raw materials. In normal years agricultural products alone provide about one-quarter of Canada's total income. That fact demonstrates the preponderant importance of the welfare of that industry to the whole of the nation. I have no hesitation in going farther and saying that until agriculture becomes prosperous there is little hope for the rest of the country attaining that condition.

Let us examine this important industry-the most important in Canada-and ascertain its position. For years it has supplied about 11,000,000 people with essentials. It feeds the world's flour mills, woollen mills, textile mills and other secondary industries enormous quantities of export materials. It is the largest single contributor to our financial, commercial and industrial prosperity. Yet we have what condition? Our rural population in relation to the urban population is steadily declining. Farming to-day is regarded by bankers and others as the most hazardous or one of the most hazardous occupations. Banks have lost all faith in agriculture, as signified by their reluctance to advance loans in cases in which under normal circumstances loans would be thoroughly justified. They have [DOT] signified their views by the withdrawal from the western prairies of branch banks during the past year. The value of farm lands is steeply and steadily declining. I wonder if hon. members realize that in the last four years the value of farm lands for all Canada declined to an extent of $10 an acre. In the last three

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years it declined $9 an acre. Under those circumstances one cannot altogether Blame the banks for looking upon farming as a hazardous occupation. The mortgage company indebtedness of farms has increased by twenty per cent. Speaking of conditions in the United States during the last ten years one authority said that every time the kitchen clock ticked off an hour farm lands were worth $200,000 less than they were the hour before. A similar condition exists in Canada. I quote now from the February issue of the Ontario Milk Producer:

At no time can he recall a period when the farmer's position was so serious as at present. Prices for farm products are at the lowest point they have been for a generation-

May I interpolate that some of them are at a point lower than they have been for two generations.

-while the mere necessities the farmer must purchase to keep things running show little or no decrease in prices from those of the "boom" days of a few years ago. Coupled with this, taxes have trebled, and other cash outlays have to be met that were not thought of twenty-five or thirty years ago when values for what the farmer had to sell were on a par with what they are to-day. Truly the position of agriculture to-day furnishes the most serious problem confronting governments and legislative bodies, both dominion and provincial. Expenditures for the advancement of agriculture that have proven effective and helpful should not be curtailed one iota. In fact the exigencies of the farmer's position just now may call for increased expenditure along helpful lines to meet the present situation.

The hon. member for Macleod quoted to the house some figures on index prices. Following the line of argument I have commenced I should like to amplify his remarks. The dollar value of the wheat crop in 1931 as compared with the wheat crop in 1928 shows a loss to the farmer in purchasing power from that one source alone of $202,000,000. The loss in the oat crop for the same period is $91,000,000; for barley $40,000,000; for fall rye $7,000,000; for spring rye $2,600,000; for all rye $9,000,000; for peas $3,000,000, and for beans

that product which was taken into the protected fold a couple of years ago and made one of the highly privileged commodities under the fiscal policy of the administration shows a loss in two years of $4,140,000. Probably those figures alone do not tell the full _ story. Allow me to give the exact figures. In 1929 the total value of the bean crop was $4,920,000; in 1931 the total value of the bean crop was $873,000. It is clear from those and other figures that agriculture cannot be helped by protection, so long as it is on an export basis.

Still further amplifying the grain figures I point out to the committee that in the year 1929 Canada produced 304,000,000 bushels of wheat; in 1931 exactly the same amount,

304,000,000 bushels, was produced. In 1929 we received, in round figures, $319,000,000; in 1931, we received only $117,000,000, indicating a loss of $202,635,000. The comparison between the price received by the farmer for the 1931 crop with that received for the 1928 crop shows a loss of $333,000,000. In order to be fair I must take all agriculture. The estimated gross agricultural revenue of Canada for 1927 was $1,825,000,000, and for 1931, the last year for which the figures are available, it was only $1,240,000,000, a loss to agriculture of approximately $600,000,000 in purchasing power. The loss for 1931 will mean a very large addition to that sum. You cannot take purchasing power totalling $600,000,000 out of an industry without endangering its very existence, and you cannot take that purchasing power out of the income of Canada without affecting every industry in the country.

My hon. friend from Macleod quoted some index figures, which I should like to be permitted to bring perhaps a little more to date. I have the figures for March, as published in the April Economic Annalist, and let me here congratulate the Department of Agriculture on the formation of this branch. To me, as to others, the economic branch is as important a feature of agricultural development as anything of which I can conceive. It bears the same relation to agriculture, and is just as important, as research institutions . are to industry and as the statistical aspect of the trade commission branch is to manufacturing industries throughout the country. I hope this branch will be fostered and encouraged, and more than that I urge that those who edit the Economic Annalist, those who have the duty to determine what shall go into it, will be given an absolutely free hand to tell the truth, irrespective of what radical conclusions may be drawn from their statements. If it is to be useful that must be done.

In March the index figure, taking 1926 as the standard of 100, shows a decline in wholesale prices to 69, in all commodities. The figure for farm products is 51, as compared with 100 in March of 1926; for field products, 43-7 and for animal products 65. On the other hand, the figure for retail prices and cost of services, is 84. Retail prices have not come down in anything like the same degree wholesale prices or the prices of farm products

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have dropped. As a matter of fact in the March issue of the Economic Annalist, the editor points out:

In spite of a more rapid decline in the last year, the retail price index shows only about half the recession that the wholesale index exhibits. Furthermore, it has taken about two and one-half years to register a decline equal to that disclosed by the wholesale index during the first year of depression.

One may now inquire into the factors keeping up the retail price level in the face of a general decline. That will come later. While I am quoting the Economic Annalist, my statement would be incomplete if I did not give to the committee its report regarding farm debts. I quote from page 41 of the April issue:

Summaries of data collected from Turtleford, Kindersley and Davidson, indicate that from 497 farms providing adequate financial information, 89 per cent were operated by owners or part owners and 11 per cent by tenants.

I may say that this figure is steadily increasing :

Of the 441 owners or part owners, 8 per cent were reported free from debt, the remaining 92 per cent having debts averaging $4,782 per farm.

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LIB
UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

I have no information. I presume they would be the average, a half section.

Debts against real estate secured by mortgages plus unpaid amounts on .agreements of sale were reported by 81 per cent of all the 441 owners, and amounted to $4,341 per farm for each farmer having this class of debt.

It is not surprising that this condition should have arisen, because for the last three years we have been selling practically everything we produce at a heavy loss, and we have only been able to carry on either by avoiding the payment of debts that have matured or by incurring new debts wherever they could be incurred. A few weeks ago I gave to the house a statement which had just come to me through the mail showing what had happened to a shipment of 21 pullets made by a farmer in Three Hills, a town with which I am well acquainted, located in a mixed farming area. These 21 fine pullets were shipped to the city of Calgary. Eight of them weighed thirty pounds and graded No. 2. They brought the farmer the munificent sum of $1.50, .at the rate of 5 cents a pound. The remainder of the shipment weighed 33 pounds and were marked of no value. The freight charge on the whole shipment was $1.50 while other charges amounted to 25 cents, so the adventurous shipper was out

exactly 25 cents as well as his 21 pullets; in other words, the shipping charges cost him 25 cents more than his total receipts. That is just one of those pleasant little things that illustrate the trend of affairs.

Another fact that should be placed on record at this stage is that the number of farms in Canada, according to the census returns, increased in the last ten years by 17,154. In other words, during that prosperous period of ten years the number of our farms in all Canada increased by only 17,154. It is clear that a great many more farmers would have gone on the land if it were worth while for them to do so. Let us turn now to the other side of the picture and find out the number of vacant, abandoned lands, according to the same publication of the Bureau of Statistics. We find that the increase in these abandoned lands was almost twice as great as the number of new farms established during the same period. There were 32,767 abandoned farms, as compared with 17,154 new farms. Letter after letter comes to me saying. "Conditions here may be quoted in two words, 'exceedingly desperate.' There is no feed in the country. Straw stacks are fed up and horses are dying by the score.'' This was in the late fall. I will not burden the house with these letters; hon. members must know the conditions that exist. Prices of cheese and butter dropped, in 1931, to the lowest level they have found in twenty-five years. That was the year in which we were protected against the outside world. Any farmer who pins his faith on protection as a means, of advancing or improving his position is like the man who tries to hang on to a jelly.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
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CON

Benjamin Franklin Smith

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SMITH (Victoria-Carleton):

How did prices decrease in the United States in the same period?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

I am interested at the moment, as my hon. friend's party is interested, in Canada's agricultural condition. Thousands of acres in this country have gone to governments for taxes, and under mortgage foreclosure.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
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May 13, 1932