August 5, 1940

LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of National War Services; Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

I should say in the

beginning that they did not desire us to go into the special areas with a pasture scheme, but in the areas south of the pasture areas they might be prepared, it was suggested, to accept a rental proposal instead of turning over to the federal government the lands on which these projects were to be constructed. An agreement was drawn up, I believe upon the basis of a twenty-one year lease on the lands to be given to the government here, and then we would fence those lands and proceed with the pasture programme on the same basis, otherwise, as we had proceeded in Saskatchewan.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of National War Services; Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

That would be from

the south end of the special areas right down to the United States boundary line and west to the mountains.

That has not been taken up further. There have been no more discussions with regard to it. In relation to the remarks that were made by my hon. friend with regard to an election, all this was, I believe, a year and a half before the election. During all that time the proposal has been open to the present government of Alberta. I am afraid that the contentions of my hon. friend with regard to

the results in Alberta are not the conclusions which some of my political opponents hold with regard to my attitude in Alberta.

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CON

Agar Rodney Adamson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ADAMSON:

Has the establishment

of these pastures been effective in stopping soil drifting?

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of National War Services; Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Of course there is no soil drifting in the pastures themselves-those that have been regrassed, in any event. On some of them it has been just a matter of encouraging the grass to grow which was there naturally; that is, if it had never been broken up.

The soil drifting experiments have been carried on upon light lands which were under cultivation for a considerable number of years, and the plan being followed there is regrassing or the sowing of rye grass or rye on those lands which are sandy, thus holding them down as against wind erosion. Of course, as long as we can produce a growth of rye on them, they do not drift. When they start to drift they destroy the lands round them for a considerable area on either side of the sandy areas.

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CON

Agar Rodney Adamson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ADAMSON:

Is that method effective in stopping sand erosion and drifting over a great part of the area?

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of National War Services; Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Those areas on which we have conducted these experiments are lands which have been abandoned because of the fact that the top soil had drifted pretty well off it. Those lands have really been taken out of cultivation and some of them fenced by us in order to prevent live stock from going in and eating the growth off that land.

That is only a limited way of controlling soil drifting in certain areas. Strip farming has been encouraged in some districts; that is, farming an area a few rods wide this year, and leaving in summer-fallow the part in between; the next year, putting crop on the summer-fallowed strip and leaving in summer-fallow the strip which was cropped the previous year. By this means the sweep of the wind does not get at the strip, particularly if it is run north and south so that the prevailing winds do not blow the length of the strip, but rather crosswise. We have been encouraging that sort of farming and it has been helpful in stopping soil drifting.

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CON

Agar Rodney Adamson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ADAMSON:

The minister thinks that by carrying out this system soil drifting will be effectively stopped? Have these experiments been completely successful? I am asking this because I motored over that country during a sand-storm. While I come from the east, I was very much depressed by the sand erosion, not having seen before its

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effects in that country, and I wondered if it could be stopped, and if these experiments have been successful.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of National War Services; Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

I think there is only one thing that will successfully stop drifting, and that is plenty of rain over that large area. But different methods have been followed which tend to prevent drifting. For example, the growth of Russian thistle in that country has assisted in stopping soil drifting in very dry years. It is a dry season plant, and grows fairly thickly even in periods of drought. The growth of Russian thistle on lands which will not bear a crop in the comparatively dry years is in itself an assistance to stopping soil drifting. I believe that the plant was first brought in as a weed from Russia by someone in Montana. It has now covered almost the whole prairie area of the west, merely by rolling along and scattering its seeds. It does not grow to any extent in wet seasons, but in dry years it covers the whole country, sometimes by an act of nature, sometimes through the act of man. But this tends to prevent soil drifting.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Just before the hon. member for Lethbridge speaks, I want to express the delight of everybody that the lion of Lethbridge has turned into a lamb. When I came in the house he was making a fierce speech; but he gradually mellowed; finally his remarks were most insinuating, and I am sure he was satisfied with the answer he got from the minister.

May I ask the minister if the reduction of three-quarters of a million dollars was recommended by the board of national economy, of political economy, of which Mr. Graham Towers, governor of the Bank of Canada, Mr. Clark, of the Department of Finance, and Mr. Barton, deputy minister of agriculture, were members?

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of National War Services; Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

No. The recommendation was made finally by myself after considerable discussion. There was no discussion with the economic committee with regard to it. The discussions took place entirely in the treasury board, in council and elsewhere.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

I have great pleasure in congratulating the minister. I have already congratulated one of his colleagues upon not paying any attention to that board, and I am very glad that the minister has not done so. I am asking each one of his colleagues if any of them ever asked the advice of that board, and, if not, why such board was constituted.

I regret the reduction. I do not believe that too much can be done for the farmers.

They must be assisted, and the farmers of Quebec should receive the same as those of the prairies. If they had half as much as is given the farmers of the prairies they would be satisfied. I regret that hon. members representing the prairie provinces do not express their appreciation of the government for making an exception of the people there and treating their constituents so lavishly.

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John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

If the hon. member for Temiscouata had been in the house he would have known that I commended the minister for the work he has been doing. Indeed, I have done so on several occasions. Let me tell him that I have never asked that any privilege be given the farmers of western Canada which is not given the farmers of the east. All the people of Canada are entitled to a square deal and only a square deal and they are entitled to a completely square deal. I would suggest that it would be a good thing for the minister to keep on in an effort to establish community pastures in Alberta. Alberta will come to an understanding with him because Alberta used to be a land of great ranches. It would be valuable to have these community pastures established. I suggested the other day that it would be a good thing to find out where the grazing regions are so as to enable people raising stock to use them. The minister is on the right track when he speaks of establishing community pastures. I understand he makes grazing surveys.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of National War Services; Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Yes.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of National War Services; Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

The surveys made in connection with grazing activities have been carried on over a period of time. The total area surveyed to March 31, 1940, was 2,243,788 acres. The number of areas surveyed was forty. These surveys have been adopted for the purpose of determining to what extent the carrying capacity of the areas could be increased by regrassing, water development and control of grazing. Members from the east will probably be a little surprised when I say that in the prairie section we have been in the habit of figuring that it would take thirty acres of natural grass land in certain areas to keep one head of stock. In an area where they are accustomed to graze one to the acre, or sometimes two or three, the number of acres I have mentioned seems comparatively large, but it was in areas like that that ranching was carried on in the early days. Studies are being made of the extent to which grazing can be increased by the

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regrassing of land and sowing grass of different kinds from those that were originally on the land.

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John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

I am thoroughly displeased that there has been this reduction. We should have an addition of $750,000 instead of a reduction, because this area is too large to be trifled with. There are 900,000 people in the area; it cannot be neglected, because virtually all of these people are in a rather precarious position from year to year. Sometimes there is a good year and many times a bad year, and if there is a series of bad years people might be ruined. If, therefore, iwe can do anything to help their lot we should do it. My annoyance arises from the fact that the minister's efforts have been curtailed just when he got his machinery set up. He says he recommended the reduction but I have an idea that he was teased into it. I do not think he did it voluntarily. Can the minister give us an idea of the success that has been achieved in reclaiming soil drifting areas? I understand he has been adopting measures such as planting trees, and so on, special kinds of tillage and matters of that sort. Is there anything in addition to what the minister has already told us that he would consider of value?

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of National War Services; Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

In reply to one of the members representing Toronto I referred to reclamation projects. There are sixteen and the total area is 11,410 acres. The soil management is making special studies under drifting conditions, and these are being carried on by five experimental farms covering 8,000 acres, fifty-two district experimental stations and sixteen reclamation projects, or a total of 11,410 acres. We have a soil research laboratory at Swift Current which performs essential analytical work as regards soil fertility, soil drifting control, and soil mixture conservation. We have district experimental sub-stations of which there are fifty-two. Fifty-two were in operation in 1939, and they have been instrumental in securing the widespread adoption of suitable cropping and cultural practices for the control of soil drifting.

We have a soil classification. In areas covered iby soil surveys in the prairies, through cooperation between the provinces and the dominion, such surveys were conducted in Manitoba over 10,900,000 acres; in Saskatchewan, 66,570,000 acres, and in Alberta, 23,786,000 acres, making a total of 101,000,000 acres. In northern Alberta land classification surveys1 have been conducted by the province covering 24,000,000 acres. The regrassing has

been instrumental in treating 95,210 acres of land subject to drifting, and tree planting operations have been carried on also, 10,000,000 free trees having been supplied. Of this number, approximately 4,500,000 have been used for experiments and demonstration and the remainder have been distributed among the farmers. There are 204 agricultural improvement associations with experimental farms in Brandon, Indian Head, Swift Current, Scott and Lethbridge, which serve as supervisory organizations to conduct these activities in connection with the Prairie Farm Assistance Act. From 1935 to 1939 inclusive, 569,000 pounds of forage crop seeds, mostly crested wheat grass, were distributed in 32,900 parcels of about ten pounds each to members of agricultural improvement associations throughout the three prairie provinces, the purpose being to promote regrassing.

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August 5, 1940