Right Hon. J. G. Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture):
Mr. Speaker, as a matter of privilege, and in the public interest, I wish to make a statement regarding butter.
I issued a statement through the press yesterday which is a summary of what will be issued to the trade. I am sorry that the interpretation placed upon it by some reports was such as to render it misleading; therefore I wish to make the announcement to the house, where I probably should have made it in the first place.
The announcement given the press was as follows:
Ottawa, March 8, 1950.-Right Hon. James G. Gardiner announced today that it was not anticipated that there would be any change in the selling price of government-held butter before the end of March. Mr. Gardiner also announced that if the government did decide to change its selling price downward on butter, those who had purchased butter from the government would be protected against loss resulting from the change to the extent of the stocks on hand.
This is the announcement going to the trade, and it will be fully understood by those concerned. Anything added as though it came from the department could result in misunderstanding, and therefore I wish to make this statement at the moment.
For the benefit of hon. members I wish to state that the last ten-year average storage of butter, as of March 1, was, in round figures, 19 million pounds. The highest storages as of that date were 23 million pounds in 1940 and 24 million in 1947. The storage as of March 1, 1950, is 36 million. Of this amount the government had 25 million pounds.
The end of the dairy year is April 30. The last ten-year average storage as of May 1 was, in round figures, 10 million pounds. The highest during that period was, in round figures, 12,700,000 in 1945 and 13,500,000 in 1949. We bought butter last year so that we would have a carry-over sufficient to make distribution possible.
On the basis of these figures there would be about 25 million pounds of butter in addition to current production to market between 55946-38
March 1 and May 1 to leave the usual carryover at the end of the year. The government disposed of two and one-half million pounds last week.
It should be remembered that neither the producers of butter nor the government ever encourage the production of more butter than can be consumed in Canada. It is because of the adjustments which will be necessary to maintain this objective that the announcement made yesterday was thought advisable. I wanted to put these explanations on Hansard.