September 20, 1949


AFTER RECESS The committee resumed at eight o'clock.


CCF

Owen Lewis Jones

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

Mr. Jones:

Before the recess I was speaking of some of the difficulties encountered by the fruit and vegetable growers of Canada in regard to the importation of certain agricultural commodities, resulting in depressed prices generally. I realize that the government is faced with certain difficulties, and particularly the Department of Agriculture, in putting a stop to this condition. I have in mind an instance last year when United States carrots were imported into Canada long before ours were ready. They were brought in in such vast quantities that naturally our carrot growers were anxious to know if the market was going to be flooded. The minister co-operated to the fullest extent by placing a stop order on the importation of United States carrots as soon as ours were ready, but unfortunately the damage was caused by allowing importation in such vast quantities that they were put in cold storage

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throughout the dominion and kept there in order that they might be released week by week. That practice went on for several weeks.

As our young carrots came on the market, United States carrots stored prior to the stop order were used to depress the market. I realize the difficulty in meeting that situation. Possibly drastic action would have to be taken by allowing the importation of quantities sufficient only for the immediate needs of the market, and not for storage purposes.

The same is true of the importation of soft fruits, particularly in the province from which I come, where apricots, peaches, and other soft fruits are brought in from California and the state of Washington. They are more or less dumped in British Columbia because the best market for United ^ States products, as for our own, is in their home country. After the home market is supplied, the residue is usually dumped in another country. That has been particularly true of peaches and apricots along the border between British Columbia and the state of Washington. We are very anxious to stop this practice, because we have an industry that is growing rapidly and is expanding far more than we thought was possible. I have figures for peaches, apricots, et cetera, but I will only mention peaches. In the year 1939 we had 503,000 packages and in the year 1947 we had close to 2,000,000. In the current year that amount will be greatly exceeded.

"Dumping" probably is not the correct word to use, but it is one that might be applied to the existing condition where fruit is allowed to enter the country at a lower price in competition with our own. Vegetables also enter in the same manner. I have a letter here from the British Columbia Pea Growers Limited. They are speaking not only on their own behalf but on behalf of the pea growers of Alberta, Ontario, and other parts of Canada where peas are grown. I will not read the whole letter, but in part they point out that:

. . . prices of peas have been arrived at in a very-logical manner. They have been scaled to give a return to the farmer on a parity with what he could get growing wheat on the same land. Therefore they have tried to keep that price in order to induce the farmer to grow peas. There is a tie-up between the price of peas and the price of wheat. This year a serious threat to the Canadian dried pea business is posed by the surplus of peas in the United States.

The letter points out that there are many bags of peas left over from last year's crop, and there is a large increase in the crop of peas for the current year. The letter goes on to say:

The impact of this situation has been felt here where samples of last year's whole dried green peas

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graded U.S. No. 1 are offered at $3.50 per cwt. f.o.b. country shipping point which is eastern Washington. Green split peas are similarly offered at $4.50 per cwt. This price is less than we must pay our growers to produce in competition with wheat offers. It is the opinion of this office that American dealers are sloughing last year's surplus at a sacrifice in preparation for a plugged market this fall.

The letter goes on to deal with the various prices quoted and also points out that the United States government has a parity price on peas of $3.50 per hundredweight. These peas have been offered f.o.b. Moscow, Idaho, at a price of $3.85 per hundredweight which is 35 cents extra for cleaning, packing and bringing the peas to market. Canadian producers of the same commodity claim that these services cannot be given for less than $1 per hundredweight. This letter is very fair, and goes on to point out:

We realize and were advised . . . that dumping is a very difficult fact to establish, even though we may be completely sure that such activity is occurring. We are advised, therefore, to plead our case on other grounds. These may be outlined as follows:

The government support price of wheat in Canada is in direct competition with our own price to growers for acreage; the government support price in the United States to peas has encouraged much speculation and overproduction in pea growing; and from what we gather in the newspapers and from the radio, the recent agreement of the American government to allow ECA funds to purchase Canadian wheat in the face of an American surplus of wheat puts us in a very difficult position, because by way of compensation for this to the Americans, surplus American fruits and vegetables are apparently to be allowed entry into Canada. You can readily see how disastrous this action is to us, who with no government supports or favours, must operate a business in what ultimately is government competition-both here and abroad. It is on the grounds of these latter-mentioned facts that we must base our plea to Ottawa to re-impose the emergency restrictions on the importation of American peas (and beans), which were removed about one year ago, and which have subsequently piled up surpluses of Canadian canning and edible peas.

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LIB

Gladstone Mansfield Ferrie

Liberal

Mr. Ferrie:

How is it that they cannot produce these peas in British Columbia as cheaply as they can produce them in the United States?

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CCF

Owen Lewis Jones

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

Mr. Jones:

I did not attempt to read the whole letter, but I tried to outline that the price in Canada is governed to a certain extent by the price the land would bring if it were producing wheat. Apparently it is good productive land, and in order to get the growers to plant peas they have to give a price equal to what would be received if the land were planted in wheat. I take it that is the reason the price is a little higher.

There is one other thing I should like to mention. I feel that we must do something about our export market. I know it is a sore subject, and a difficult one, but recently in England I noticed in all the larger towns that they have a great deal more South African canned products, not only canned

fruit and vegetables but also canned fish, than when I was last there. We are losing out in the British market on a commodity in which we excel. Incidentally, everywhere I went people said to me, "What has happened to the Canadian salmon?" It is almost unobtainable in England. If steps are not taken soon to protect that market we are going to abdicate in favour of other members of the commonwealth who are, fortunately for them, in the sterling bloc.

The object of my brief talk is to impress upon the minister the vital need for restoring the overseas market for Canadian fruit and canned vegetables. I know there are difficulties as to currency, dollars, but I have noticed that other countries have overcome those difficulties either by a straight exchange of goods or by some other means. I understand there are several methods, and I would suggest that they be investigated and possibly given a trial to see if they will work out with the commodities I have mentioned. Failing that, I would certainly urge the minister to protect our domestic market with strong and forceful anti-dumping laws. It is our only sure market, and owing to the loss of our overseas market a healthy, prosperous domestic market is a must, if we are going to keep a large body of people operating successfully in the fruit and vegetable industries, not only in British Columbia but in the whole of Canada.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Mr. Chairman, I shall not be in the chamber when some of these estimates with particular reference to agriculture will be dealt with in detail. With your leave, sir, and the leave of the committee, there are two matters that I should like to bring to the attention of the minister at this time. One has to do with a situation that has arisen in the province of Saskatchewan and to a lesser degree in Alberta.

While crops have been generally good, there are large areas in which there has been, in whole or in part, a complete failure. This afternoon the minister dealt at some length with his intention to introduce amendments in connection with the Prairie Farm Assistance Act. He set forth in detail the operation of the Prairie Farm Assistance Act and the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act, joining them together as two measures designed to relieve and assist the people of the prairie provinces against recurrent drought and its effects.

The first matter to which I wish to direct the attention of the minister is-it applies in part to my own constituency and to others in southwestern Saskatchewan where there has been a total or almost total failure of the crops-that there are two or three areas in which the farmers have gone into cattle and

hog production on a large scale. They find now that the outlook for fodder in the months ahead is extremely dismal.

Over the years since 1941 provision has been made for the granting of freight assistance on western feed grains being exported to eastern Canada. A number of farmers have communicated with me, one as late as today, asking whether or not the government intends to do something towards providing free freight on fodder for hogs and cattle brought into these areas. I have before me a letter received today in which the situation is set forth in some detail. After referring to the events of the last few years, and the shipping of fodder to eastern Canada, this man says the elevator agent at his point tells him that the price the wheat board will charge for barley will be $1.17 per bushel in the elevator. He says:

I have about sixty hogs, so I will have to have about a thousand bushels of barley between now and next fall. If I have to pay $1.17 per bushel plus freight for the feed, I will have to dispose of these hogs.

Has consideration been given to the granting of free freight or freight assistance on fodder brought into these areas? I think there is a general demand for it. Secondly, could the minister direct the attention of the wheat board to the need for keeping a supply of barley on hand in the various elevators in these areas in order to meet the local situation, where barley and oats are, in fact, being produced though not in the quantities required in those areas?

The other matter with which I wish to deal is one that has been dealt with on many occasions in the past. At this time I want to add a word of congratulation to the minister on what is being done in connection with the exploratory work on the south Saskatchewan dam and irrigation project. It is not everything the people want but, at the same time, it is a step in the right direction. When this matter was before the house last year, the minister said it would be impossible to decide on the location of that dam or to proceed with the work until such time as the consent of the three provinces had been secured. The work done on this project in the last few months has been rather extensive. When the report was filed last year it was found that the benefits that would flow from this project were as follows:

(1) Irrigation of some 500,000 acres in the province of Saskatchewan. (2) Restoration of lake levels and, in particular, restoration of the level of Last Mountain lake, to which I shall not refer in detail this evening. (3) A water supply for Regina and Moose Jaw.

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During the events of recent months one of the matters discussed in Saskatchewan, particularly in the cities of Regina and Moose Jaw, was the need of something being done about ensuring these two urban centres of the necessary supply of water throughout the years that lie ahead. The development of power was another matter, but I am not going to refer to that because it has been dealt with before.

This project has caught the imagination of the people in our province and they are looking forward to more extensive developments taking place in this connection within the next year. The increase in the amount of the vote that is being requested indicates that some further development is to take place. Would the minister let the house and the country know what he can add to what he said last April regarding this matter? Has any finality been achieved in determining the location of this dam? When the location is determined, have the necessary representations been made to the several provinces and their consent secured so that the project may be undertaken?

The committee on water has been set up. Is the minister now able to say that, as a result of the work that has been done and is to be done, the project is a feasible one and that, in so far as the supply of water is concerned for the Qu'Appelle valley, particularly the supply for human consumption in Regina and Moose Jaw, that supply may be soon achieved? Will they be proceeding with the work without unnecessary delay? This is one project toward which the people of our province are looking forward and I know they await from the minister a statement which will indicate that the project will not be long delayed. In particular, they want to be assured that the urban centres to which I have referred will be assured of a water supply and that the level of Last Mountain lake will be restored, because the preservation of this lake depends on the work being undertaken at an early date.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

I hope the hon. member's optimism will be borne out in the discussions in committee. He suggests that he will be away for three or four days. These items that are spoken of are the last items in my estimates. I hope they will all be through when he comes back three or four days from now.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

That is why I am giving the minister the opportunity now to give the information I have requested.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

Sitting where he does in the house, the hon. member probably has more justification for that optimism than I could possibly have. With that explanation, I shall

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be pleased to give what information I can with regard to the matter; but, with regard to the south Saskatchewan river project, I would suggest that the questions asked have to do with next year's estimates. The estimates we are dealing with at the present time are the estimates for the financial year 194950. As is understood by hon. members who were here in the first session of this year, we had advanced to us sufficient to carry us through the first six months. In other words, half of this vote is already spent, and any part of the other half that is going to be spent will be largely spent within the next two months because out in our country it will freeze up two months hence. We are pretty well on with our expenditures of the sum of money that is herein involved, as has been suggested for expenditure on the south Saskatchewan river project. We have placed in these estimates, and we have spent a considerable part of it already, $2 million for the purpose of determining finally whether this project is a feasible one or not. I am sure the hon. member will agree with me that until we get the report on that expenditure, which is being prepared at the present time, it will be impossible for me to give reasons for any opinion I may hold with regard to the future development of the project. It will be necessary also for me to discuss with the government the possibility of getting a vote next year to proceed farther than we have gone before I can make any statement to the committee on that matter. So I would suggest to the hon. member that when we get down to that item-I hope it will be through before he comes back, but there is some reason for thinking it may not be-I will give whatever information I can, but I doubt very much if it will be much more than I have just now given, unless it be that I am able to account to the house for the expenditures which have been made up to the present time in connection with operations this year. I agree with the hon. member that those operations have been somewhat extensive, particularly in his own constituency, but that is only because the site of the dam is located in his constituency.

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PC
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

If it were in my constituency, there would be just as much spent.

Then on the other question having to do, not with prairie farm assistance direct but with the shipment of grain into the drought areas, I should just like to remove the implication in the one suggestion that there is any relationship whatsoever between the freight rate paid on grain out of western Canada into the eastern provinces and out of western

Canada into British Columbia, and any freight which might be paid by this government or any other government on assistance given because of drought in western Canada. As a matter of fact, my understanding of the position is that we have a special rate on grain being shipped out of western Canada eastward and westward if it is going out of Canada. In other words, we have a long-standing arrangement-I am speaking now from memory and may not be exactly correct-which I think is based in part at least upon the Crows-nest pass agreement, which gives extremely low rates on the shipment of grain in Canada, both east and west, if it is on its way out of Canada.

Those low rates on that grain going out of Canada created a condition under which it was costing more for farmers in the maritime provinces and in British Columbia to get feed grain to be used on their own farms, if it was produced on the prairies, than it would cost the Chinese to get grain to feed the chickens over in China to produce eggs to sell in competition with eggs produced in British Columbia, and more than it costs the people in Denmark, Britain or elsewhere over in Europe to get feed grain with which to feed livestock to produce livestock products which would be sold in competition with those which are produced in the eastern part of Canada.

Under those circumstances, until such time as there is a consideration of the equalization of the freight rates on grain and other commodities being shipped from western Canada to other parts of Canada and vice versa, and until that matter has been determined, an appeal was made that the federal government should give some assistance toward paying the freight on the grain that is moving into those other parts of Canada. That, I repeat, is a reason and a condition that has no association whatsoever with the fact that we sometimes have drought in western Canada.

Coming back to the question of what should be done under the circumstances, since we have drought and since assistance must be given by someone in order to see to it that grain is available for the feeding of livestock in the drought areas of the west, I may say that that has always been considered to be a provincial problem. The basis upon which it has been dealt with in the past is that, when those conditions have arisen, the province has gone to the railways and has made an arrangement under which the grain has been shipped into those areas at lower rates. The basis on which the railways assisted in years gone by was this. Where the farmer paid all of the cost of the grain which was shipped to him, he paid the freight too. But where the grain was given to the farmer because of the

conditions which made it absolutely impossible for him to pay, then the governments and the railways shared the cost of shipping that grain in. In other words, as I remember it, the railway reduced their rate down to fifty per cent of the actual cost, the province took twenty-five per cent of the cost, and the iominion took twenty-five per cent. Some arrangement similar to that was made down antil the time when prairie farm assistance vas brought in. Since then the federal government has taken the position that, by taking care of relief problems in areas where there aave been crop failures, our share of the 'esponsibility has been fairly well taken care af by the payments that we make in connec-ion with prairie farm assistance. During ;hese last few years they have totalled sums -anging up to $14 million, $15 million, and 516 million; and this year, I understand, ;hey will amount to a sum about equal to the lighest of those figures I mentioned. That aeing the case, we have not considered that ;here was any problem in the west that necessitated our taking any direct action in con-lection with the matter of freight.

Last week Mr. Nollet, the minister of agriculture in Saskatchewan, was in Ottawa. Prior to that, just a few days before he came, le had written to me making representations somewhat similar to those that have just ceen made by the hon. member for Lake Centre, indicating that resolutions to that effect had been passed by some farm organ-zations in the areas where the drought had aken place, and suggesting that freight ought o be paid. No request has been made by Wr. Nollet that we should pay all the freight, le has suggested that probably we ought to Jive some assistance toward the payment of he freight.

On the other question of maintaining the ;rain in the area, that has always been taken care of by direct request of the provincial ;overnments to the wheat board, and the vheat board and the provincial governments vorking in co-operation have arranged that Tains which are necessary in order to main-ain livestock in any given area, provided that he grain is there, is retained in that area ufficiently long to permit all farmers to go o the elevators for the grain in them, or to [o to a neighbouring farmer, get the grain, end take it to their farms. As I say, a certain ength of time is given, sometimes two nonths, sometimes three months in advance, md it is indicated that no grain will be hipped out of the elevators in those areas luring that period. The farmers are notified hat they should go there within that period nd get their grain. That of course avoids, to he extent that grain is available, the neces-ity of having any freight whatsoever paid on rain that is being moved about.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

I imagine so. It is not our responsibility to do it. Every time that the provinces have asked us to have it done it has been done, and I would assume that the provincial government has undertaken its responsibility in that respect. There is no reason why it should not, and if they have there is not any doubt that it is being done. If it has not been done, then I am quite sure that the discussion which has been raised here tonight, if it is reported tomorrow, will bring about action which will see that it is done. From the discussion I had with Mr. Nollet last week I was under the impression that that kind of thing had been done-at least he did not suggest to me that there was anything further for us to do about it in order to see that it was done. Therefore I presume it has been done. The only question that he had in his mind was as to whether we did not think we had some obligation in the matter of paying freight, and he based it on the fact that we were paying freight on grain going east and west. I explained to him, as I have explained to the committee, that we did not think there was any connection between the two things, and therefore no responsibility passed on that line. I also referred to the arrangement which had always been made by the railways, and he explained to me that that seemed to be impossible at the present time. The railways do not acknowledge that there is any way in which they can deal with the situation. In addition to that, they have also denied the farmers the special rates which they had been allowing on seed grain. On the railways in years gone by there was a very special rate, a low rate, on grain which was being shipped from one place to another in order to provide seed. It was based on the idea, the better the seed the more tonnage the railways would have to ship; but this year for some reason or other-I presume it is associated with the investigations which have been made into freight rates-the railways have cut out all the special rates. They have cut out the special rates on taking livestock to fairs. Everything of that nature has been struck out. Therefore the farmers are having a little more difficulty in getting arrangements made. It is on that ground that Mr. Nollet suggested that probably the federal government ought to do something. I have asked him to write to me, giving me a detailed statement of the position that they find themselves in. I have suggested to him that after I receive that detailed statement I shall be quite prepared to place the matter before the government; and, when I do receive it, it will be placed before the government.

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LIB

Irvin William Studer

Liberal

Mr. Studer:

It is not my intention this

evening to prolong the discussion on the estimates; but since I am one of those who have come from Saskatchewan, one of the new members, as we are called, perhaps it would not be amiss to let the committee know that fourteen of us came back from Saskatchewan this year, and we think that if we kept quiet all during the session hon. members might not be aware of the fact.

Since it is customary for one who speaks for the first time to extend congratulations, perhaps it would not be out of order if I went along with the others. Most of those who have spoken so far have extended congratulations to the mover and seconder of the address in reply to the speech from the throne. I can assure them in all truthfulness, as one of the new members, that the speeches were two of the best I have ever heard in this house, and I can also say that they were two of the best speeches that I ever expect to hear.

Compliments have been paid in considerable number to prominent people, including our Prime Minister. It was suggested that this one or that one was responsible for the winning of the past election. We should like to agree with all that has been said. Remarks have also been made to the effect that agriculture is the backbone of a nation and that the economy of a nation is founded on agriculture, or we can call it food. I believe it is. I believe that the general economy of the world is founded on food. I so believe for this reason, that man can get along without anything else except food. It is the one essential of life. I believe that the economy is based on food. If that is true, and if the welfare of the people of Canada, as well as that of other countries, is based on the production of food, and if the welfare and prosperity of the farmers are based on what has been produced in the way of food, and on export and its prices, then we should compliment one man who has been outstanding in connection with the prosperity of Canada, namely, the present Minister of Agriculture. If prosperity has been in evidence as a result of agriculture, he is one of the men who have brought this about. In saying that, I do not wish to detract from what has been said in all kindness-and I agree with it-of anyone else, or of any other member of the government. These remarks apply not only to the Minister of Agriculture but also to his assistant, the deputy minister, and to his other assistants. If we continue to have prosperity in Canada it will be due to the prosperity of agriculture. When the farmer is prosperous everyone is prosperous. That has been true up to date. I do not think this government can ever originate or bring into

operation any plans which will make the farmers too prosperous. I do not believe that that has ever existed on earth. The onlj danger to this country and to every othei country arises when agriculture is not prosperous, because the whole economy of everybody in this country is built on a prosperous agriculture. We should keep that in mind There is no danger of agriculture ever becoming too prosperous. The more prosperous it becomes the more prosperous everyone else in this country becomes.

I should now like to turn to the estimates if I may. I just wish to deal with one item I hesitate to throw a discordant note intc what has been said so far this session. Much has been said about improving conditions; and this is as it should be. Even the opposition has been in general agreement that the country has not done too badly up to now that the government has not done too badly and that there is some measure of prosperity in the country. There is some evidence ol international wheat agreements which will result in security, and there is some stability in regard to prices. We are all interested ir increasing agricultural prices and making them permanent. However, in some parts ol the country, I regret to say, the people art still suffering. The hon. member for Lake Centre dealt with it just a moment ago, a: did the Minister of Agriculture this afternoon I believe he said that in some large areas ir Saskatchewan the situation is as bad as ii was in 1937. I am one of those who believt that when one member of the body suffers the entire body suffers. Not all the communities in Canada are prosperous. We wan' to endeavour to bring all of them along, a' least in some degree.

Incidentally, I believe the expression "croj failure" was coined in the constituency oi Maple Creek. I believe that was one of th< first places where people suffered such i thing, if I remember correctly. I have beer there for thirty-three years and I cannot give any good reason why I am still there, because on an average in the last five years I have not had five bushels to the acre. But : believe there is good reason for saying that I along with others, have stayed there because we are firmly convinced that over a perioc of time we will create some stability in tha country. We know that we will, and we are not prepared to throw up our hands and te leave the country, and thus follow the line of least resistance. If we were to leave the country it would be detrimental to its furthe: development.

We are not prepared to do that. We believe in that area of the west, and as time goe: on and as problems increase in this world, i one looks at the map of this country and o:

the United States and determines what areas are suitable for agriculture, he must conclude that those areas on the face of the map of Canada are pitifully small in relation to world development of the future and to the production of foodstuffs for people throughout the world, to which Canada can make so great a contribution.

Therefore those of us out in those areas feel that if you will just bear with us and continue assistance to us over a period of years-and it will not be too long-it will turn out all right. After all, it has been only ten years, and there have been many countries on the North American continent which have suffered for more years than that before they became self-sustaining. We believe that if you will bear with us we will make ourselves self-sustaining, and make as great a contribution to the future welfare of Canada as will any other area of this country.

For a few moments I shall refer to crop failure, to which reference has been made today. In that connection we would suggest that consideration be given to continued assistance for another short period of time, until we can make ourselves self-sustaining. We should have the advantage of P.F.A.A. assistance to make our conditions livable, and make it tolerable for the people in this country, who have suffered through these long years in trying to make their contribution to Canada. We should make it possible for those people to realise their ambitions, to stay in that area and build their homes.

Some of us will move, because that is a country of vast extent. The constituency of Maple Creek has, I believe, 265 polls in it. It extends about 180 miles along the Montana border, and about 80 miles along the Alberta border. People will be moving out of that area in sufficient numbers when the incentive is provided for them, or when they have better possibilities to earn a living elsewhere.

As we know, the dominion government has no land available on which they can settle. It might not be agreeable to the other provinces to move these people to irrigated land in other provinces. I think it is the intention of the government-certainly I hope it is- to make it possible for those people to obtain land the government will have in irrigated areas, and in whatever province they may be, so that when they have to move they will move to a place not under the same conditions, thus they would have a better prospect of making a living.

In the meantime those people are there. I am one who believes that to make that area productive we have to increase the methods we have been following. Farmers must have more land in arid areas than they need in 45781-7

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those parts of the country where they have an annual rainfall of from twenty to thirty inches. There may be some people willing to move to those irrigated areas which are provided. Then we will follow a system of double summer-fallowing of our land and summer fallowing of our water and summer fallowing of grass. We have to summer-fallow our water out in the west. You will build a dam through P.F.R.A. which will hold the spring runoff, and so that you may have sufficient water to irrigate. Last spring there was very little runoff, so that we have had to build other dams to hold two years' supply, so that in a dry year we will have sufficient water to irrigate the land.

If we get moisture we will make a contribution to this country-and I hope in the not distant future. We will not be standing here asking for assistance for the dried-out areas of Saskatchewan in the Maple Creek area.

Meantime, farmers have been getting along with prairie farm assistance. It was never intended from any other motive or for any other reason than to keep the people off relief, as was pointed out this afternoon by the Minister of Agriculture. However, in the minds of the people of Saskatchewan the dominion government is the senior government, and the one responsible for a greater share in the interests of those people. Some think that the payments to farmers under the Prairie Farm Assistance Act should be increased, and we are repeating that to the government. We believe that, in those townships which have suffered crop failure two years or more consecutively, a supplementary bonus should be paid for the coming year. Owing to the decreased value of the dollar below what it was in 1938, when the act was brought into force, they will be able to pay the same amount at the present time, with the increased amount of the supplementary payment, that was paid when the act was brought into force in 1938.

To illustrate what would be involved: During the ten-year period from 1938 to 1948 there were 1,810 townships in the three western provinces which yielded less than four bushels to the acre. That would be an average of 181 townships for each year for ten years. If these figures are correct, and the same happens in the next ten years, it means that not more than 181 townships in any year in that ten years would come under this program.

So I would ask for consideration by the government in giving assistance to these people during these most difficult times. They are interested in their spring operations. Sometimes people think that, when we speak of townships with five bushels or less on an

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average, the yield in that township is five bushels, or the equivalent of $10. But only too often there is no yield whatsoever in the township, and consequently no revenue.

I would suggest to the government, therefore, that they give consideration to this, so that it may give some benefit and some relief. This will not be a gift, because I know it will be repaid a hundredfold. These thoughts, Mr. Chairman, I humbly offer for your consideration.

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CCF

Hazen Robert Argue

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

Mr. Argue:

In rising to speak this evening I wish to express my pleasure in seeing the Minister of Agriculture once again restored to health. So far as we could tell this afternoon, he had never been ill at all. Apparently, however, our impression would be wrong, because I noticed in the press that shortly after the election he had gone for a ride in the Saskatchewan air ambulance plane. I am sure it speaks well for that service when a man of the standing of the Minister of Agriculture is prepared to take a chance in what many people call a C.C.F. plane.

I can agree with much of what has been said by the hon. member for Maple Creek. It is true that conditions of farming in that area are very risky. Crop failures occur frequently. However, it is still an area which can be a permanent agricultural area, and it could give a satisfactory standard of living to the people who reside in that country if certain agricultural policies were followed by the government.

I believe one of the most important problems with which we should deal at the present time is that of soil conservation and land utilization. I am glad to see that some steps are to be taken to protect our forests.

I should like also to see legislation advanced to protect land under cultivation. Dr. J. J. Booth of the Department of Agriculture, writing in a booklet called "Summary of report of special committee on land use", had this to say in respect to land in the eastern provinces:

In reviewing the past, an examination of census statistics in the use of land in the older provinces reveals that four million acres, at one time classified as improved land, have been lost. These census figures do not take into account abandoned farms, and an additional area, which might well total several million acres, has been lost through complete farm abandonment.

It is thought that of major and primary concern is that conservation policies should aim at protecting the productivity of land in active use and increasing its efficiency.

There is land which, because of topography and nearness to water, could best be used under irrigation; but irrigating two or three million acres more land in western Canada than is irrigated today is solving only

[Mr. Studer.l

one problem of land utilization. It will not stand us in very good stead if we merely increase our irrigated acreage considerably and then lose from production, by bad cultural practices, much of the land that we are now farming.

I suggest that the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act should be extended. More money should be made available for the taking of certain land out of the production of wheat and putting it back into grass. Money should be available to farmers in certain afeas who are to contour farm and regrass slopes that have been badly eroded. Money should be used to buy farms from some farmers whose unit is uneconomic. The policy in the past has been to fence in a large acreage as a community pasture and then try to obtain some suitable farm land to be exchanged for the land being put into community pasture. Sufficient money should be made available to purchase outright from farmers the land placed in community pastures. With the help of money received from the sale of submarginal or inferior land a farmer could buy better land and be able in the future to look after himself and his family more in keeping with an adequate Canadian standard of living.

At the present time the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act pays a farmer $125 for the construction of a dugout but in our particular district the farmer himself must pay the contractor $300. If the farmer has a crop failure during a dry year, and often that is the only time he can construct a dugout, he may find that he has not the additional $175 needed to pay for the dugout. I suggest to the minister that this allowance should be greatly increased, at least doubled, so that the farmers can afford to build dugouts and conserve the spring runoff.

I was interested to hear the Minister of Agriculture say this afternoon that the main reason the government had not undertaken a crop insurance scheme was that the federal government did not have sufficient constitutional power. I do agree however that an insurance scheme against crop failure, as we understand ordinary insurance schemes, is not practical for western Canada, at least for many parts, since in a high risk area premiums would be entirely too high. But I do not think the minister should use the constitutional argument as an excuse for not expanding and improving the Prairie Farm Assistance Act.

I was interested to hear the minister state that the payments under the Prairie Farm Assistance Act were probably just about enough to cover a farmer's grocery bill for the past summer. A farmer would not need to

have a very large family to find that it would not go even as far as that. I wonder how the minister thinks a farmer can obtain money with which to meet his other expenses if the payments under the act are sufficient only to meet his grocery bill.

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LIB
CCF

Hazen Robert Argue

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

Mr. Argue:

For groceries and clothing. That is in keeping with some of the advertisements put out by the Liberal party during the election campaign, which said that the amount was sufficient for the grocery bill and the clothing bill, and to some extent would pay the other farm expenses.

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LIB

Gladstone Mansfield Ferrie

Liberal

Mr. Ferrie:

Why does not the hon. member keep within the bounds of truth?

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CCF

Hazen Robert Argue

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

Mr. Argue:

I would ask the hon. member to withdraw that remark.

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LIB

Gladstone Mansfield Ferrie

Liberal

Mr. Ferrie:

I do not have to withdraw that. The hon. gentleman made a statement.

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?

Some hon. Members:

Order.

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September 20, 1949