May 6, 1938

CON

Mark Cecil Senn

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SENN:

Just in that regard I should like to ask the minister about our exports of bacon. We send three different grades of bacon to Great Britain, and within each of those three grades there are three classes. Is the minister now telling us that only the highest grade of bacon, averaging from fifty-five to sixty-five pounds, will be marked as Canadian, and that none of the other grades will bear that mark? Just what is the policy of the department in regard to bacon? That is really the most important commodity we ship to the British market, and it is a product in connection with which the grades and quality and reputation should be very carefully guarded. Perhaps I shall have something to say about bacon at a later date, but I

think it is important to know just how our bacon is being marked, whether only the highest grade will be marked as Canadian bacon, whether some latitude will be allowed, or how far down the grades are going to be marked as Canadian.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

It took some little

time to get a mark which might be considered national, and distinctive from any other, and one which at the same time has not already been employed or registered by others. For that reason we were not successful until within the last ten days in satisfying all concerned as to what the mark ought to be. That mark has now been adopted and is in course of being registered. Registration may be completed, but, if so, such completion has been effected only within the last few days. For that reason we have not worked out a definite policy with regard to the different products. If bacon is adopted as one of those products to which this particular standard should apply, then the standard mark will appear only on the best grade of bacon sent over.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

The point to which the

minister has referred is of tremendous importance, because in this class of goods bacon constitutes the largest single item for export. Under grade A are included fifty to fifty-five pounds, fifty-five to sixty pounds, sixty to sixty-five pounds and sixty-five to seventy pounds. We also have bacons made from selects, bacons, butchers, lights and heavies. There are five classes of hogs which go into the making of bacons for grade A. This should not be allowed. I would impress strongly upon the minister that if a mark is to be adopted or applied1 to bacon it should be applied only to the best Canadian bacon made from the best class of hog, and only to the most uniform type; because it has been demonstrated clearly that our best bacon will compete successfully with the Danish bacon, which is the highest class product on the British market.

I noted a few words from the report quoted by the minister a few moments ago, a report the circulation of which I believe was unfortunate. The words were to the effect that there is a market for a low grade quality. That is precisely the argument which was advanced by the leading packers; they argued in favour of the inclusion of these varieties of hogs in the processing of Canadian bacon. They said there was a market and a demand for a little lower grade of bacon.

Thanks to the policy followed by the Department of Agriculture over a number

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of years in stimulating the production of improved types, I think we are now in a position to get an abundance of selects and bacon hogs, out of which could be processed not only the quantity required for the British market, but sufficient to take care of a substantial portion of the Canadian demand. If a mark is adopted, it should be applied only to bacon which will compete with the Danish product. The other grades, if sold, should be sold as second grades, because unquestionably the price obtained on the British market for our bacon affects the price and production of hogs in Canada. It is vital to the farmer that great care be taken in connection with the marking of our bacon.

Is the mark obligatory? Is there any regulation or any law by which the department may force an exporter to use the mark, or what is the regulation? Is it just a voluntary mark which may or may not be accepted? Before I resume my seat I should like to add one further word of commendation for the action taken by the Department of Agriculture, as indicated in the second sheet read by the minister. Many things were indicated there which I believe should be done, and I must commend the minister for having adopted the suggestions. But I should like to add this further word, that in the first report a good deal of gratuitous criticism was directed against the Department of Trade and Commerce, the department which really dealt with the selection of products in Canada. Now that the minister has taken the course indicated in the list of adopted recommendations, much of that will be removed. I must say, however, that it was most unfair to lay the blame upon or to imply that the blame must be placed at the door of the Department of Trade and Commerce and its officials in London, because it should not be placed there.

I can say from experience that the Department of Trade and Commerce marketing agencies in their reports to Canada have for years drawn attention to these matters, and have sought to have improvements made in many of the recommendations included in the report. It is to my mind highly desirable that action be taken along the lines indicated by the minister. It would be unfortunate if there should develop a conflict of interest between the two departments, but certainly the main thing is to have something done. If it can be done now and in this way, then progress will have been made, and such progress should be commended and supported. But it would be unfair to allow the inference to remain that officials of the Department of Trade and Commerce, and

tMr. Stevens.]

particularly Mr. Wilson, had in the slightest degree been derelict in their duties overseas.

I say that because I consider Mr. Wilson, who was formerly an official of the Department of Agriculture and was taken into the Department of Trade and Commerce while I presided over it, discharged his duties in an exemplary manner, and did splendid work for the marketing of Canadian products.

The great difficulty was in connection with the grading before the product left Canada. The adoption of the recommendations indicated by the minister will, I believe, be a distinct step forward in that respect. May I now repeat my question: Is the use of the mark

to be made obligatory or voluntary? If it is voluntary, what steps have been taken to secure its use? I say that because if it is not generally used it is not going to be of much value, and particular care should be taken in connection with its use in relation to bacon.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

The regulations in connection with1 the use of the mark have not yet been drafted. It is just now being registered. But the regulations as drafted will make it obligatory upon any of those possessing or producing products of the types involved to apply the mark to the higher grades. Otherwise they will not appear on the market as higher grades.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

There is power under the present law for that?

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LIB
CON
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

It will be applied only

to certain products to which it may properly be applied. As we go along we may be able to apply it to others.

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CON
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

There is no decision

on any of those matters yet. I should not like to make a definite statement because they all have to be given consideration. But, as was indicated by the hon. member for Kootenay East, if it is applied to bacon, as he stated, it will apply only to top grades.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

That is one of my quarrels with that particular export. In my opinion grade A should include bacon made only from selects, but instead of that it includes bacon made from five different grades of hogs. That is absolutely wrong, and I think it is a distinct detriment to the producer through lowering the price of hogs in Canada:

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

The question raised is quite controversial. It is very difficult for a layman to determine when bacon is select and when it is one of the lower grades when the hog is still running around. Much of the grading that is done in Canada is done while the hog is still running around. I think I am right when I say that grading in Denmark is all done on the rail after the hog has been killed. It is much easier to determine whether or not a hog is select when you see it hanging up. A hog graded while still alive might be classed as select, and yet, when converted into bacon, it might be of a lower grade. It is difficult to say that the bacon from a hog which had been graded as select when it was still alive will be of that particular grade.

The figures indicate that there has been rapid progress in this country toward rail grading. The first criticism I had after coming into the department came from those who were opposed to this type of grading. They had heard a report somewhere that we were about to pass legislation enforcing rail grading. Their objection was that in a country like Denmark, where all the hogs are owned by a cooperative of the producers, where they are fed according to the regulations of the cooperative, where they are housed according to the regulations of the cooperative, where they are selected and, I believe, actually killed and marketed by the cooperative, it is easy to maintain a standard and to carry on rail grading without the producer himself suffering any disadvantage.

The first objection to enforcing rail grading in Canada at the present time is based upon the wide distribution of our people from one ocean to the other, the different conditions under which feeding is carried on, and more particularly the fact that if we are going to have this type of grading, all hogs will have to be slaughtered in a slaughter-house or abattoir. The producers maintain that they would rather take their chances on grading when the hog is running around the yard. I am not in a position to state definitely that we can adhere as closely to regulations with regard to selects as they are able to do in a country like Denmark. However, we are advancing rapidly toward the rail grading of hogs. They are all graded in that manner in the maritimes. I was looking up some statistics the other day, which I am sorry I have not with me to-night, and I was surprised at the rapid increase in the last three years in rail grading. If we continue at this rate we shall soon reach the point where we can have something of the kind suggested.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEYENS:

I should not like the committee to get the impression that I am agitating for rail grading and doing away with the present system. I was complaining that there was included in grade A these different weights to which I have referred. Whether they are rail graded or graded on the hoof makes no difference if you ensure that there will be in grade A only that weight of side which is considered to be the best for the British market. I referred to the five different grades of hogs to indicate the wide variety of sides that were included in grade A. This lack of uniformity is largely responsible for the ten to fourteen shillings difference in price in what is received for our bacon and Danish bacon. It is against that practice that I have been speaking this evening. [DOT]

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CON

Ernest Edward Perley

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PERLEY:

Has any progress been made in having the packers adopt a uniform system of processing in order to produce a uniform quality of bacon? A select hog may go into one packer and come out a certain grade, while a similar hog may go to another packer who is not using the same system of processing, and it comes out a different grade altogether. The minister stated that certain interests had agreed on this trade mark. Just who were those interests?

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

I am not in a position to state the concerns to which this trade mark was submitted. It had to be examined in relation to the trade marks of the different concerns that had already registered trade marks with the proper authorities. It was finally determined by council that this was the proper mark to indicate to people outside as well as in Canada that we considered it a quality product and one that could be depended upon.

In connection with processing, I think it will be admitted that each of the larger packing houses, as well as some of the smaller ones, maintain that they have the best process. They contend that they have been successful in producing a taste, if nothing else, for their bacon, which is preferred by a great many people. I doubt if we would succeed in attempting to have them all use exactly the same process, and I doubt very much if anything would be accomplished by doing that. The companies have a cooperative arrangement by which they exchange certain information as to the best methods of protecting themselves against deterioration of their products. I do not think there is any necessity for the government to do anything in the way of enforcing this, because it is recognized already by the companies that it is to their advantage to do so.

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SC

William Hayhurst

Social Credit

Mr. HAYHURST:

Could the minister give us the results of the investigation carried on by the Department of Agriculture to determine the grade of hog most suitable for rail grading and most likely to meet successfully the competition of Denmark?

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

All I say with regard to that is that any one travelling across Canada will realize that we have a national type of hog. The long Yorkshire type has been in this country for a number of years and it has been pretty well standardized all across Canada. The Yorkshire type is the prevailing type at our shows and it will be found in almost any farm yard. The department feels that it would be a mistake at the present time to discourage the farmers from continuing with that common type.

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CON

Mark Cecil Senn

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SENN:

I should like to say one word more about this mark. It seems to me that this is one of the most important departures we have had for some time. It is particularly important in regard to the shipment of our bacon to the old country. Perhaps we get more benefit from the Ottawa agreement in the sale of our bacon in the old country than in the sale of any other product, and as an hon. member said a moment ago, it is regrettable that our bacon at the present time sells for so much less in the British market than bacon from any other country except perhaps the Balkan states. The. report I have in my hand, which we have been discussing, gives two or three reasons why our price should be and is lower, and, among others, the fact that there are. so many different grades of bacon going from Canada overseas. But, in addition, there is another statement made on page 33 of the report which is very important. It says:

Some of the larger wholesalers have made very definite representation in regard to the large volume of box cuts being shipped from Canada.

Further down it says:

37.107,089 pounds were shipped as hams, and 24,015,918 pounds were shipped as box cuts.

And again:

Wholesalers put forth the argument that the large quantities of Canadian cuts have a depressing influence on the price of Canadian Wiltshires.

I wonder if the mark is going to be put on hams and box cuts. That particular type of meat would be classed as No. 1; it seems to have a depressing influence on the price of our bacon in Great Britain, and the price we receive there undoubtedly settles, to some extent at least, the price of hogs in Canada.

So I think every effort should be made to see that we get the very highest price possible over there because it means money in the pockets of our farmers; but if we continue to send over these box cuts and picnic hams in ever increasing quantities, I do not know just what the result is going to be.

An answer to a question that was asked here by the member for York East (Mr. McGregor) shows that in 1935, 17,000,000 pounds of box cuts went over there; in 1936,

30,000,000 pounds; and in 1937, 35,000,000 pounds, in addition to a large increase in the volume of hams sent over there. While our export of Wiltshires is increasing as well, it is not increasing so rapidly as our shipment of these other cuts which are said to have a depressing influence on the market. I think the minister would be wise to see that steps are taken to have Wiltshire sides shipped in as large a volume as possible to the mother country. After all, I believe we have nearly enough select hogs produced in Canada to supply our trade with the mother country if they were all used for that purpose, and I believe they could all be used for that purpose. It is true perhaps that some of our own people would like the very best bacon that could be produced, but on the other hand I think nine out of ten would not know the difference between bacon produced from a bacon hog and bacon produced from a select hog. I am sure I would not myself. I think we should take the same steps which are being taken by Denmark and other countries to see that only the very highest quality is sent over there, and in as large a volume as possible. I would ask the minister if any steps are being taken to see that this is being done.

I would ask the minister one other question, which he might answer at the same time. If the mark is used, it will have to be very carefully guarded to see that nobody uses it on a product that should not be graded as No. 1. Is it the intention of the department to see that all goods which are shipped to the old country are graded by government graders, because it seems to me that is the only way in which we can carefully guard the mark to see that it is not improperly used?

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Practically all the products that go to the old country now are graded by government graders, and it will be the intention to improve on any grading that is now being done.

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CON

Mark Cecil Senn

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SENN:

They are graded only by

sample, I understand, at the present time, are they not?

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May 6, 1938