December 19, 1947

CCF

William Scottie Bryce

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. BRYCE:

May I ask the minister this question? The figures given are packers' prices, are they not, and not the farmer's price?

Topic:   AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS ACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION IN FORCE UNTIL MARCH 31, 1948
Permalink
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

These prices are on exactly the same basis as that at which the

Topic:   AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS ACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION IN FORCE UNTIL MARCH 31, 1948
Permalink
?

Mr. COLD WELL@

The thing that puzzled me was the figure of 20-3 cents. Was that the figure given?

Topic:   AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS ACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION IN FORCE UNTIL MARCH 31, 1948
Permalink
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

It was 20-35 cents.

Topic:   AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS ACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION IN FORCE UNTIL MARCH 31, 1948
Permalink
CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

There is something

wrong with either the exchange or the weights, but I am not sure which.

Topic:   AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS ACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION IN FORCE UNTIL MARCH 31, 1948
Permalink
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

I presume our 112 will be their hundredweight.

Topic:   AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS ACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION IN FORCE UNTIL MARCH 31, 1948
Permalink
CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

A shilling is about

twenty cents.

Topic:   AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS ACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION IN FORCE UNTIL MARCH 31, 1948
Permalink
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

These are the figures that are worked out by the statisticians and were given to me just before I came into the house:

The position in relation to eggs in the Aus-tralian-Britisli agreement is as follows:

The contract runs until June 30. 1949, and provides for the following annual supplies. Prices mentioned have been reckoned in Canadian currency.

Eggs in shell: One million cases of 30 dozens at an average price of about 33-5c. per doz., f.o.b. Australian ports.

Frozen eggs: Up to 30 million pounds at about 24-2c. per pound.

Agricultural Products Act

Dried sugared egg powder: (33 per cent

sugar in finished product). Up to six million pounds at about 80-4c. per pound.

Whole egg powder: Up to one million pounds at about $1.17 per pound.

The latest estimate of the quantity of eggs that will, likely, be shipped from Australia to Britain during the year ending June 30, 1948, is:

Eggs in shell: about 500,000 cases; Frozen eggs: about 25,000,000 pounds; Dried, sugared egg powder: about 2,000,000 pounds.

The freight from Sydney to London on shell eggs is about 56 Ac. for ten dozens of eggs, or about $1.69 per case of 30 dozens.

* The Canadian contract price averages 44f c. a dozen for shell eggs and 89c. a pound for dried eggs.

Those are the prices as related to the prices which we have been obtaining.

What I want to say with regard to that is this, Mr. Speaker. When we are talking about the price of wheat in the British contract, as it has been discussed in this country, we are speaking about a price which has been charged by the government of that country under a system under which they operate, and which I am not going to criticize. Under the system which they operated wheat has been delivered to the British at one price. It has been delivered to other countries at different prices. Then, as a result of those sales and paying only part of the returns back to the farmers, other policies can ibe carried out which result in a lower cost of living. They keep down their costs in their own country by that method and they may even improve their social services by that method. But what I should like to ask hon. members to consider is this. Do they not think a system of that kind is taxing the wheat farmer to a much greater extent than any system we have had in this country is taxing any section of the farmers? And it is taxing them, not only for the purpose of assisting other people in the Argentine, but also for the purpose of making conditions a little better in some respects for other farmers, in that they can obtain lower-cost feed under that system.

I say this, Mr. Speaker, in order to emphasize the fact that the British are going to sign contracts with Canada for beef at prices even higher than those which I have been giving to this house and with wider margins over prices of Australian beef. I would like to give the figures for the Argentine, but they have not been made public.

However my officials have estimated from information available that they would be approximately as follows:

Argentine

Estimated prices, f.o.b. Buenos Aires, established for provision of meat to British Ministry of Food, 1946-47

Fer

100 pounds (Canadian

Beef currency)

With bone $ 9.13

Chilled-with bone 8.26

"B" frozen-with bone 7.68

Mutton

Frozen lamb 13.19

Corned beef-per doz. 12-oz. tins.... 1.96

The same thing is true in principle, as indicated by the above table, with regard to the same products that are purchased under contract from the Argentine.

In my opinion these discussions have brought out the fact that the policies which are followed in some countries where high prices for wheat are being charged outside their own country and the policies being followed in this country are entirely different. Without being critical at all of the efforts of others, I would say that our effort has been to supply food to other countries at prices which we believe they can find the wherewithal to pay for it at the moment and which at the same time give a reasonable return to our own farmers iD Canada and make it possible for us to carry on a standard in connection with price levels in other directions which is quite different from that being followed in any of the other countries mentioned.

So I would suggest that we should not lose any considerable time in having this resolution passed. By the time we come back here we shall have had at least one month s experience under the new agreements, and by the time March 31 arrives we shali have had three months' experience. Then as I said yesterday, and as I. repeated again today, it will be necessary for us to come back to this house and to suggest to hon. members that we should be provided with authority to continue these agreements right through 1948. The British government is prepared to sign them to cover 1948. It is also prepared to give us in writing the undertaking which was given by word of mouth with regard to 1949, which will carry the food contracts in relation to these four commodities right through until close to the end of the wheat contract, with a position

Agricultural Products Act

established where the Amount which our farmers are receiving for wheat is similar to that which is being received in the other great exporting countries. By that time I think we should be in a position to show that the legislation ought to be continued even beyond March 31.

But I would hope that hon. members would do that for another reason. It has been said here over and over again during this session that we are living in a new world. I do not think any of us will deny that. Probably we have not made up our minds as to whether it is a better world, but we are at least living in a new one. I hope it is not one which will divide itself into an eastern and a western hemisphere.

When one looks at a map of the world or studies its statistics to find its population or resources, and divides them as between the two, on such lines one must conclude that there can be only one ultimate result from such a mistaken policy. When one looks at that great mass of land known as Eurasia and the other areas which are closely associated with it in the eastern hemisphere, then takes a look at this continent and the continent to the south of us, of both of which we are so proud, and compares their possibilities for the future, one must come to the conclusion that there can be only one bright future for North America and South America, and that is a future in which we are living at peace with the great masses of people who live in the eastern hemisphere; and not only living at peace with them, but in association with them on an economic level which will make it possible for us to trade with one another and to trade in peace. The future peace of the world will be established and maintained, in my opinion, only through the further development of a group of independent nations with a common purpose such as that which has been unfolding itself in the British commonwealth of nations.

Up to the present time the British commonwealth of nations has paid no attention to continental boundaries, or to oceans, or to hemispheres. The British ideal of life has found its way to the islands of the seas, and over all the continents. Because its influence has been felt over the whole world it has maintained the most hopeful contacts among the peoples of the world for the establishment of permanent .peace that have been set up by any organization ever brought forth by mankind upon the face of the earth.

That being the case, so far as I am concerned and, I think, so far as the membership of this house is concerned, anything which

would tend to strengthen the association the Dominion of Canada has with the centre of that empire, or commonwealth of nations if you like to call it that, is not only for the good of this country and for the good of Britain; it is for the good of the world. When I say that I am not thinking in terms of manpower alone. I do not think anything should divide this world into two great camps, whether it is the idea that one is stronger than the other in manpower and resources, or whether it is the idea that one can wield greater influence through a medium of exchange. This world must go forward from this point in a common effort put forth on the part of all of us to live together, to work together and to help one another, instead of thinking in terms of something which places one of us at an advantage over the others. Agreements such as we have made with Britain, bilateral or multilateral, are helping in the greatest battle ever waged by mankind to establish permanently in the world a condition of peace.

When I think of the 40,000 young men from this country who gave their lives in the last war and the 60,000 who gave their lives in the first war, and someone talks to me about exchange, or about the value of dollars, I want to say that those young men from Canada who gave their lives fighting in Europe did not go there with the idea that anybody would be wielding the big stick over anybody else through dollars. Those human lives were worth more to Canada than any balance of exchange.

We in this world must go forward, thinking in terms of things bigger than money. If we do not we are going to be back, as this house has been warned two or three times this session, where we were not so long ago. I suggest to hon. members that we put this resolution through; that we go on from here, and when we return a month hence we shall be in a much better position to determine what we ought to do and what we ought to be thinking about than we are at the present moment.

Topic:   AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS ACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION IN FORCE UNTIL MARCH 31, 1948
Permalink
PC

James Arthur Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. J. A. ROSS (Souris):

Mr. Speaker, I do not intend to delay the house very long, but I do want to say that having followed the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) very closely during the last hour and a quarter I am disappointed-

Topic:   AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS ACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION IN FORCE UNTIL MARCH 31, 1948
Permalink
LIB

Joseph-Arthur Bradette

Liberal

Mr. BRADETTE:

We would not expect anything else.

Topic:   AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS ACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION IN FORCE UNTIL MARCH 31, 1948
Permalink
PC

James Arthur Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. ROSS (Souris):

When I can get a little attention, Mr. Speaker, I shall continue.

Topic:   AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS ACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION IN FORCE UNTIL MARCH 31, 1948
Permalink
LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE:

Go on.

__________________Agricultural Products Act

Topic:   AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS ACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION IN FORCE UNTIL MARCH 31, 1948
Permalink
PC

James Arthur Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. ROSS (Souris):

I read very carefully the short statement made by the minister yesterday following the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) but I was unable to find in those statements anything which would give a lead to the agricultural producers of this country. I want to compliment the minister on the very fine and uplifting words with which he concluded his discourse this afternoon. With those remarks we will all agree; but at the same time I do not think he or the government of which he is a member can expect the producers of this country to carry out a proper plan of production without a greater lead as to what they may expect for their efforts in the approaching months.

In his remarks yesterday, at page 426 of Hansard, the minister said:

Feed grain prices have a relationship to the wheat price and the increase to the present feed grain prices have had an effect upon the cost of producing other commodities. These are facts which will have to he taken into consideration in setting a new price for food products upon which the agreement is to he made. These food products are bacon, beef, cheese and eggs. The contracts will carry throughout the year and there are certain understandings with regard to matters in the future.

I want to repeat what has been said already from all corners of this house, that there is great dissatisfaction among the producers throughout this nation, despite the letter read by the minister this afternoon and the arguments he presented. There are many angry and frustrated farmers from coast to coast. They are not going to be in a position, as a result of the statement of the minister this afternoon, to go ahead and produce as we would like to have them produce in order to fulfil these contracts. I have no idea what will be the prices for these commodities, which are to be announced some time in the future. I do know that this afternoon the hon. member for Kootenay West (Mr. Herridge) put on record a whole list of poultry feeds, showing an average increase in cost of over forty-five per cent. It is little wonder that many poultry producers are disposing of their entire flocks for whatever they can salvage from them.

I am not going to repeat the arguments in regard to the lifting of price ceilings, but I do know that oats and barley now cost the feeders of this country between 35 and 40 per cent more. Not only does it cost the feeders that much more; it is worth that much to the farmers who produce the grain and might want to feed it on their own farms to their own livestock. Therefore to encourage the production of meat, dairy products, poultry and so on the

prices for these products will have to bear some relationship to the cost of these feeds, and will have to show an increase of considerably over thirty-five per cent as compared with prices in the past.

I am very sorry the minister has not been able to tell the farmers approximately what these prices will be, because until those prices are given, or if they do not bear that relationship, this disorganization, this getting rid of herds, is going to continue despite all the arguments advanced today. I do not think you can expect the farmers to do anything else. Moreover, I want to say that what the farmer has been receiving for his produce- even wheat, about which the minister made quite a case today-bears no relationship to the rapidly rising cost of production, the cost of the things the farmer must buy in order to continue to produce, and his cost of living. There is no relationship there, and that must be taken care of to some extent.

Much has been said about what other nations are receiving, and about the cost of wheat to Great Britain from other countries. The deal was reported in the press yesterday respecting the sale of 80,000,000 bushels of wheat by Australia to Great Britain at $2.72; and when that wheat is worth approximately 56 cents a bushel less than Canadian wheat, it makes Canadian wheat worth about $3.28. These are_ matters which must be taken into consideration.

I do not wish to repeat arguments which have been placed on the record, but I should like to emphasize that if we are going to have production at all these prices will have to be increased from thirty-five to forty per cent to take care of increased feeding costs.

I should like to make mention of one other point, and to set out one other reason why, as yet, I cannot support the resolution before the house, and why the people whom I represent have not confidence in the present government, unless they can be given a more specific statement. This question is closely linked with other departments of government. Mention has been made of rye, which comes under this measure-in fact, it includes everything but wheat. We had what I described last fall-and I repeat it now-as a legalized racket conducted by the foreign exchange control board, which operates under the Minister of Finance. It operated in this way: people along the border were receiving American currency-this, Mr. Speaker, deals with rye, and it comes under this measure-and going over and purchasing rye in large quantities, trucking it to elevators in Canada and selling it to those elevators, after paying

Agricultural Products Act

a duty which averaged nine cents, thereby making a profit of about a dollar a bushel. Following that operation, much of the rye thus handled was exported to countries in Europe, some of which had received credits in the past or had borrowed money from Canada. The Minister of Finance has said it is possible that some of those nations might find difficulty in repaying the moneys they borrowed. Under those conditions, this rye was brought in and re-exported to those nations in Europe, some of it at a price of SI a bushel; and it was a complete gyp of the taxpayers of Canada.

I have had a question on the order paper for some time. The Winnipeg Free Press, which never thinks very much of the party to which I belong and never does it many favours in the west, pointed out that my charge was just a matter of peanuts. With that in mind I put my question on the order paper, in these words:

1 How many bushels of rye were imported into Canada by months during 1947, and from what countries?

2 How many bushels of rye were exported from Canada during 1947, and to what countries ?

3. What amount of United States currency or funds were issued by Canadian foreign exchange control board for the purchase of rye from the United States during 1917?

The answer is to be found in a return which was brought down yesterday and which showed in one month alone that considerably over 600,000 bushels of rye were brought into this country, and that the importation of that rye during this year meant the issuance of some millions of dollars of American currency, thus adding to the ever-increasing adverse trade balance in the United States.

True enough, many of the ministers have a million dollar complex and, as some of them have said-even the new czar, the Minister of Reconstruction and Supply (Mr. Howe) has stated it-what is a million dollars these days? I want to say that it is a lot of money to these agricultural producers who are going out of production right now in western Canada, and I believe all across Canada.

In answering the second question fourteen countries are listed to which rye was exported, and, without giving the figures, let me state that those countries were Eire, Newfoundland, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Panama, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States. One of the larger items, amounting to something more than 700,000 bushels, was to Poland, and the next largest, of something more than 400,000 bushels, was for Germany. That may not be of great importance to the taxpayers of Canada, but it is a matter of principle.

The answer to the third question, as to how much in United States funds had been issued by the foreign exchange control board, is as follows.

The foreign exchange control board's records do not show the amounts of United^ States currency issued for particular commodities.

I am sure anyone who tries to obtain currency certainly has to set out in no uncertain terms what the facts are, and what the funds are to be used for. Whether those records are carried through in the department I am not able to say.

These are the answers I received, and they constitute one of the reasons why I am not going to support this measure at the present time, because I know what the government has done with some of these contracts and what it has cost the producers of this country.

Even granting that the minister was right in his argument to-day, I am one who thinks that if the wheat agreement and these other contracts with Great Britain are to be carried out, the commodities should be sold to Great Britain at the prevailing open world market price, or a price as close as possible thereto, and that the difference should be borne by the federal treasury, by all the taxpayers of Canada. The people I represent believe that too, in no uncertain terms. No member of this' government can convince me or the people of my constituency that one class of people in Canada should make the whole contribution, as it is called upon to do at the present time. I agree with the minister that we should endeavour to help rehabilitate those who have borne the brunt of two temble wars and have thereby suffered to a great extent. But it is not Canada that is making that contribution: it is the farmers of Canada who are asked to make the entire contribution.

I disapprove of that policy as wholeheartedly as I can; and I repeat that if that contribution must be made-and I think it should be- then it should be borne by every taxpayer in Canada, and that agricultural producers should be treated on exactly the same basis as manufacturers, lumber producers or the producers of any other commodities used in the rehabilitation of Great Britain.

On the basis of what I have heard thus far I do not believe I can support the resolution.

Topic:   AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS ACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION IN FORCE UNTIL MARCH 31, 1948
Permalink
CCF

Frederick Samuel Zaplitny

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. F. S. ZAPLITNY (Dauphin):

Mr. Speaker, on this occasion, when we are considering a resolution the purpose of which is to extend the term of the Agricultural Products Act, I do not think anyone coming from western Canada, and particularly the prairie provinces, would permit the opportunity to pass without making it clear that, although

Agricultural Products Act

there are certain features in the act which we strongly support, we do not feel that its operation, as administered by the government until this time, has been satisfactory from the point of view of the farmer.

Before going farther, may I say that with the latter part of the minister's speech I think all lion, members agreed thoroughly. It was a speech in two parts because, while it was a splendid speech throughout, the last part of it really had no direct connection with the first part. And when the minister emphasized, so strongly that his voice rang through this chamber, that we should look a little beyond the profit motive in trying to serve our nation and our world, and that stabilized agriculture was more desirable in Canada than a speculative market, I wondered how the Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott) felt, the minister who, more than anyone else, is, in my opinion, responsible for the mess in which the government finds itself to-day in relation to agricultural production. If we check back we shall find that the trouble started definitely at the time when the government commenced its program of decontrol. The coarse grains controversy is not a question in itself; it is not an isolated incident; it is part of the program of decontrol which the government started some time ago and which is now beginning to show its effect upon all parts of our economy.

During the course of his speech the minister said that he had been in various provinces of Canada, I think five out of the nine, where he had addressed meetings. He went on to say that he had not found that the farmers were angry or were protesting very vigorously. I am not going to dispute his statement- perhaps he is such an influential speaker that he won over those people with his oratory- but I do not think the impression should be left in this house or should go out to the country that the farmers in the livestock business are satisfied or are even complacent about this matter.

I have before me a letter which was partly quoted by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Bracken). This is from the Manitoba Federation of Agriculture and Co-operation. I should like to repeat the part quoted by the leader of the opposition because I think it should all go in. The first part of the letter starts out by saying:

Manitoba farmers are angry about the recent removal of ceilings and subsidies on coarse grains.

Note that this is not an isolated case; it is not one farmer speaking; it is the Manitoba organization speaking for all organized farmers 5849-33

who belong to that organization. The letter goes on:

This action was taken without any apparent provision for the welfare of the livestock, dairy and poultry farmers. Irreparable harm has already been done to these industries.

That is something I want to emphasize. It is all right for the minister to say that the government has something in mind, but it is something still in a' fog because we have not been given any details. The fact remains

that- harm has already been done which cannot now be rectified and the government must assume responsibility. The letter goes on:

Farmers are continuing to liquidate young animals and breeding stock.

They then set out their recommendations or demands, which are these:

We demand that in the interest of Manitoba farmers your government correct this situation immediately by either:

1. Re-negotiating the British contract prices on a basis sufficient to cover recent increases in cost of production.

We do not know whether the government has attempted to do that, and apparently we are not going to be able to find out in time to go home and tell our people.

2. Opening of the American market for the export of livestock.

3. Subsidizing the producer of livestock, dairy and poultry products to bring them in line with current prices of coarse grains.

Here is the second part of the letter which the leader of the opposition did not read, but which I think is very important.

Manitoba farmers maintain that their coarse grains should be handled through the Canadian wheat board. They want a stable price for these grains. They most emphatically protest the opening of the coarse grains futures market in Winnipeg.

We maintain that the dominion government should accept responsibility for losses to farmers who sold their coarse grains before ceilings were removed.

You may say, sir, that that is a letter from the officials of the Manitoba Federation of Agriculture and Co-operation, that that is their own personal opinion, but the fact is that they received their information from very good sources. Attached to this letter is a memorandum covering a collection of resolutions which had been received in the office of this organization from farm locals and cooperatives throughout Manitoba. I shall not take the time to read all these resolutions because I think the sense of them has already been presented to the house. Briefly, the resolutions protest against the action of the

Agricultural Products Act

Topic:   AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS ACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION IN FORCE UNTIL MARCH 31, 1948
Permalink
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

If my hon. friend will permit me he will find, on examination of the original wheat board act, that the board could, with the approval of the governor in council, buy and sell any kind of grain. That provision has always been in the act with regard to wheat, but it was taken out with regard to oats and barley about 1936 or 1937. I think a provision was inserted last year that the board could buy and sell oats and barley. But so far as wheat is concerned they had all those powers before we did anything last session. There is one part of that act which is entirely new. It gives all the authority which the wheat board had under the wheat board act to do all the things it is doing with regard to wheat in Canada, in addition to buying and selling. But it is claimed and, I think, properly, that that authority is not given with regard to oats and barley, because that part deals only with wheat, and that it would require the same authority to deal with oats and barley as certain members believe it should. We can say to the wheat board now: Go on the exchange and buy oats and barley. But that would not do what hon. members want. That simply puts a floor under oats and barley. We can buy at one cent more than anybody else. But we have no authority to keep the price down because we cannot keep the price down by buying barley.

Topic:   AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS ACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION IN FORCE UNTIL MARCH 31, 1948
Permalink
CCF

Frederick Samuel Zaplitny

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. ZAPLITNY:

I am glad to have the minister's explanation, although I must admit that so far as settling anything is concerned we are still where we were.

51a

Agricultural Products Act

Topic:   AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS ACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION IN FORCE UNTIL MARCH 31, 1948
Permalink
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

The legal authorities have given the opinion that it requires further legislation both here and in the provinces.

Topic:   AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS ACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION IN FORCE UNTIL MARCH 31, 1948
Permalink
CCF

Frederick Samuel Zaplitny

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. ZAPLITNY:

Then there must be something wrong with the act or the amendments to the act because the section I have quoted repeals certain provisions and substitutes others. That was passed by the house this year. If that power was not there, those who drafted the amendment to the wheat board act should not have inserted that section at all.

Topic:   AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS ACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION IN FORCE UNTIL MARCH 31, 1948
Permalink
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

They inserted it and put the situation back to where it was in 1936.

Topic:   AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS ACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION IN FORCE UNTIL MARCH 31, 1948
Permalink
CCF

Frederick Samuel Zaplitny

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. ZAPLITNY:

It does not mean anything at all the way it is. It only gives rise to confusion and controversy.

I want to comment on the minister's statement on the raising of young pigs. lie said that only a very few farmers in Canada raise young pigs for the purpose of selling them as young pigs. That may be so but it is entirely beside the point. What we have been trying to impress on the minister and the government is that farmers who do raise young pigs for the purpose of selling them, not as young pigs, but as the finished product, are getting rid of them today because they do not want to face the prospect of feeding them all winter and then selling them at a price which will not pay the price of feeding them. They are consequently disposing of young pigs, not pigs which they had intended to sell to somebody else to raise, but which they intended to raise themselves. I do not think the minister's statement today had any bearing on what we have been trying to impress upon him, namely that livestock in Canada, and especially young livestock which we must have for production, are being liquidated at the present time. I am not going to go so far as some other members who have said, on good authority, that our farmers are actually slaughtering their young livestock. That might be so in isolated cases, but I do not believe that a large number of farmers in this country would destroy their livestock wilfully. But they are trying to get rid of them at ridiculously low prices by selling them to anyone who will take a chance on them. It is unfair to put the farmers in that position.

The minister has been hinting in the last two or three days that the new contracts will carry a higher price, but no amount of questioning has been able to elicit details of what that price will be. In the meantime between October 21 and the present day our 5849-33J

farmers have been going out of livestock production. It may be that someone in this country happens to know what the new price will be, and if it happens to be high enough it is a golden opportunity for someone to buy young pigs at ridiculously low prices and then cash in on the new price after the pigs have been fed. Surely the government knew what: would happen in regard to the new contracts on October 21 when the other announcement was made. I think the government by that time should have been able to bring their negotiations to a point where they could have made a definite announcement as to the contract price for hogs.

I want to comment on what the minister said about agricultural production in Australia and New Zealand. I am not going to enter into a dispute with him, but there is another side to the story. He quoted figures to show that farmers in those countries were receiving less for their livestock than the farmers in Canada; but he did not point out, although I know he wants to be fair, that the production of livestock in those countries is on an altogether different basis from Canada's. He might also have mentioned that the cost of production and the cost of living all round has a lot to do with what a person receives for his product. If the object of the authorities in those countries is to keep the cost of living at a reasonable figure, then naturally the price of all the products in that country will be kept at a reasonable level. I think, in trying to present the situation in another country, we should give all sides of the picture, and I am sure the minister would have done that had he had the time.

With reference to the latter part of the minister's remarks, it seemed to me that he came out with a slightly different policy from the one we have been hearing from government speakers in this house since the session began. One of the main reasons why we were called here, so we were told, was the Geneva trade agreements. That was supposed to be the big show in this sitting of parliament; but, as things turned out, the Geneva trade agreements fizzled out. The whole theme, the old anvil chorus, at one: time seemed to be multilateral trade. But. the minister today, with a sense of realism,, told us that we were going to make trade agreements, whether bilateral or multilateral, so long as they stabilized our economy and helped other countries. That is a sound position to take. But I think the minister would have to do some lecturing to the ministers on both sides of him before they can all agree on which way we are going. I thoroughly agree that we should play our

Agricultural Products Act

part in helping Great Britain and other countries which have been devastated by war .and which today need food in great quantities and at a reasonable price to put them back

According to recent figures-they are not the latest but are up to within a few weeks of today-the general price level in the United States has risen twenty-eight per cent since Great Britain received her loan from the United States. That means, in effect, that, whatever the regular rate of interest may be which Britain pays on her loan, she has to pay twenty-eight per cent more on top of that because all the products she buys from the United States have increased in price, on the average, twenty-eight per cent. I hope that Canada is not going to put Britain in the same position. We have also made a loan. Our price level has not risen twenty-eight per cent, but it has risen appreciably. If the people of Britain, and any other people to whom we extend a loan, are to benefit to the full extent of the loan it is our duty, and it is good business in the long run, to see to it that they can buy our products at a price which is reasonable and which they will be able to continue to pay for a period of years.

I cannot accept the anomaly which seems to exist between the Department of Agriculture, for example, and some of the other government departments. The Minister of Agriculture continually talks stabilization, long-term contracts and even bilateral contracts, if necessary, and continuously persuades the people of Canada and of the world of the necessity of stabilization in agriculture. Then we have his colleague, the Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott) rising in his place in this house and telling us that if we are to have a system of price control that will mean a totally directed economy, he for one will not stand for it. How are we to have a stabilized agricultural economy in a country under a government which does not believe in stabilization as a whole? I do not know. It puts the farmer in the position where, if he listens to the Minister of Agriculture-and he often has, sometimes to his sorrow-and does what the minister says he should do, he at the same time finds that the government, particularly through the present Minister of Finance, does not believe in stabilization but wants to get back to free enterprise as fast as possible. We find that in the end the farmer is trying to practise what he believes is best for the country, but he is being hit

from both sides, because his cost of production is continually going up. Only the other day an announcement was made that the price of gasoline was to go up two more cents. Is that included in the livestock or meat contract with Britain? What good is it to tell the farmer today or tomorrow that he will receive so much for his bacon, wheat, butter, eggs and so on, on the basis of the cost of production today, if tomorrow the price of gasoline, of binder twine and of all the other hundreds of things required for farming is to go up? It continuously upsets the balance.

It appears to me that every time the Minister of Agriculture takes one step forward to stabilize the agricultural economy, the Minister of Finance takes two steps backwards in an attempt to upset the economy and throw it back into chaos again. I am saying these things, not in a spirit of bitterness, but the farmers of western Canada-and I can speak with a certain amount of knowledge of the farm organizations of Manitoba-have definitely come to the point where they are asking the government to make up its mind whether it is to carry out a stabilized program of agriculture or whether it is to take the lid off and let it go on a basis of free enterprise, because they have found to their sorrow time and again that when they have accepted a program because of its stabilization feature, decontrol has come along and the price of production has gone up, the cost of living has gone up and they have been left holding the bag.

At six o'clock the house took recess.

After Recess

The house resumed at eight o'clock.

Topic:   AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS ACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION IN FORCE UNTIL MARCH 31, 1948
Permalink

December 19, 1947