It is a pleasure to see him doing so well. While we do not always agree with with him back in the province of Saskatchewan, we always enjoy a fight with him out there. Sometimes he wins and sometimes we win. This time he believes that with the return to this house of a number of rural members from Saskatchewan there is an indication that there is agreement generally in Saskatchewan with his agricultural policies. However, I would point out that there were other matters besides his agricultural policies which entered into it.
One of the things causing a great deal of concern, not only to farmers but to consumers, is the increased cost of living in this country. A great many people when looking at the cost of living indexes which are issued from time to time are inclined to blame the major part of the increase on the increase in the cost of food. I am sure that if they will go into the matter more deeply they will find that, while that is a major item, it is not the farmer who is getting all of the benefit of the increase in the price of foodstuffs. If you consider what the farmer was receiving in 1944 and 1947 during the war and compare it with what he is receiving today you will find that today there is a greater difference between what the farmer receives and the price the consumer pays than there was during those years. The processors and the people selling agricultural products have increased their margins. The increased cost is not all going to the farmer.
One thing which is particularly alarming to the farming population of Canada is the loss of our markets for certain products. In reading a bulletin on foreign trade issued by the Department of Trade and Commerce, I was surprised to find, in the issue of August 27, certain figures which indicate a tremendous drop as far as our markets for agricultural products in Great Britain are concerned. The Minister of Agriculture may say there are factors there over which his department has no control, such as currency, and so on.
I will admit that, but nevertheless the policies of the government have largely been the cause of the loss of those markets, either by reason of refusal to reduce tariffs in this country to allow British goods to come in and thus provide the necessary dollars with which Great Britain could purchase our foodstuffs, or by reason of other policies of the government.
The bulletin to which I have referred states:
Results of the policy of substituting soft-currency countries for dollar countries as sources of supply for imports into the United Kingdom are apparent from the trade returns for the first six months of the current calendar year. Typical Canadian products like oats, beef, poultry, apples, canned tomatoes, canned salmon, chilled and frozen fish and linseed oil have disappeared entirely from the list of imported commodities.
Then the article proceeds to give a further list of products which have been greatly reduced. It goes on to state:
For the second year in succession, there were no sales of Canadian oats to Great Britain; practically the only source of supply was Australia with
The article proceeds to point out that the market which we formerly had has gone to Russia and some of the other eastern European countries. Then the article continues:
In over-all imports of flour (6-1 m. cwts.) there was a drop of 20 per cent. Canada's contribution (41 m. cwts.) fell by 46 per cent, while Australia (1-6 m. cwts.) supplied nearly ten times the previous year's quantity.
Further on the bulletin states:
With the exception of bacon, Canada has now been practically eliminated from the United Kingdom market as a source of supply for meat.
The article states, as to poultry:
The poultry market imported a total of 237,000 hundredweights or nearly double that of the previous year. Australia, Poland, Ireland and Hungary shared this increase, but there were no purchases from Canada.
As to shell-egg imports, the article states:
The rise in shell-egg imports by 23 per cent to
116.000 dozen was principally due to substantial increases in imports from Denmark and Ireland. Canada's shipments (9,000 dozen) were only one-third of those recorded for the corresponding months of 1948. Purchases of liquid or frozen eggs totalled 364,000 hundredweights, more than double the 1948 figure. China, Poland and Australia stepped up their consignments. Canada's share fell to 2,000 hundredweights as compared with 38,000 hundredweights in the first half of the previous year.
As to dried eggs, the article states:
Canada supplied 14,000 hundredweights as compared with 50,000 hundredweights in the corresponding period of the previous year.
It is the same story with fish and timber.
Another matter in which we are particularly interested in the province of Saskatchewan is the export of various seeds,
alfalfa and grass seeds, et cetera. The bulletin states:
There was a heavy cut in purchases from Canada of agricultural seeds. The quantity recorded during the half year was 30,000 hundredweights, only one-quarter of the previous year's figure . . .
Much of the Canadian business was switched to Denmark and the Netherlands, which contributed
48,000 hundredweights and 84,000 hundredweights respectively.
This is a serious matter as far as Canadian agriculture is concerned. In western Canada we are starting to export more and more grains rather than finished products. That inevitably will result in the depletion of soil fertility. The Minister of Agriculture was one of those who advocated diversified agriculture in the province of Saskatchewan. I think he was right, but today he seems to have forgotten that policy. He has told us during his remarks that during the war his department was able to direct the production of agricultural products in Canada, was able to switch from dairy products to grain, and from grain back to other products which were needed by the markets during the war. If that is possible in wartime, if it is possible to direct agricultural production in our economy toward certain ends, then I say it is equally possible in peacetime to direct agricultural production toward the end which will produce more dairy products, meat products, and those other products which will protect the fertility of our soil.