January 25, 1958

PC

Douglas Scott Harkness (Minister of Agriculture)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

Mr. Chairman, I might say that fowl, of course, are graded by government graders. They have no axe to grind by not grading properly. In fact their duty is to grade it properly, and if it is found that they are not grading properly they are likely to be in trouble. I am informed that the percentage of fowl which grade A generally speaking across the country runs upwards of 70 per cent.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
Permalink
LIB

Irvin William Studer

Liberal

Mr. Studer:

Mr. Chairman, I do not wish to labour the point concerning the variation in price for different grades in different commodities and how those prices affect the floor price or how the floor price establishes the basis for other grades in any commodity. However, I thought you might be interested in the last egg receipt we received at our farm.

This is a statement from the Swift Current cooperative creamery association dated January 10, just about 10 days ago. The statement lists grade A extra large at 28 cents, that is to the producers, and A large is exactly the same price, 28 cents. There is no variation there. Then grade A medium, which is the next size, is shown at 23 cents and grade B is shown at 21 cents. The statement covers a small lot of 60 dozen eggs which we brought into town at that time. It would appear that there is not sufficient distinction, or that the support price established does not guarantee that the prices for the various grades will follow proportionately. There is no variation in price on this statement between grade A extra large and grade A large, and then there is a 5 cent drop to grade A medium, which is the common size in commerce throughout the country.

I thought perhaps we should give some consideration to that and perhaps establish floor prices for the various grades of a commodity rather than for just the top grades, especially for a commodity like eggs.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
Permalink
PC

Douglas Scott Harkness (Minister of Agriculture)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

I know there has been some difficulty so far as eggs are concerned, more so than any other commodity which has been under price support. This results from the fact that there are quite a number of grades and there is quite a variation in price between these grades. I have found it a difficult matter to handle satisfactorily. I hope we will be able to do somewhat better on it and put an end to some of these complaints. It seems to me that probably the only way in

which that could be done would be by changing the system to some form of deficiency payment, and that would involve some increase in administration costs. Whether or not it would be worth while doing that I do not know as yet, but I am having the whole matter looked into.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
Permalink
CCF

William Scottie Bryce

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

Mr. Bryce:

When I spoke at the resolution stage I drew the attention of the minister to the trouble he was going to have in connection with grading because we have so many different grading systems. In so far as hogs are concerned, for example, they are graded by a government grader and we expect to get a square deal. When we send our live cattle to market the packer grades them, and what may be a No. 1 on Monday morning can be a No. 3 on Wednesday. If this stabilization bill is going to be a success and do something for the farmer, as I hope it will, something will have to be done about the grading.

I believe the minister said a few minutes ago that most of the cattle are sold by auction. I can tell you that so far as a lot of farmers are concerned today the auction ring in Canada is a joke. I recall that some time ago the hon. member for Melville was speaking at Carmen about a trip he made to Glasgow. I heard him talking about how the cattle are graded and sold there, and the farmer gets a square deal. I do not want to go into the question of grading all over again. If the minister will look up Hansard he will see what I said.

Something will have to be done about it. If I send steers to market or my neighbour sends steers to market, the only way we can get a government grade on them is to have them killed and dressed. The thinking of the average farmer today is that he wants to sell cattle on the hoof. When he sells them on the hoof the grade varies from one day to the next, and it is the packer who grades them. The farmer is not getting the square deal you are setting out to give him.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
Permalink
SC

Frederick George Hahn

Social Credit

Mr. Hahn:

Possibly I should have read from this letter to draw this matter to the attention of the minister. It reads:

Many processors as well as myself are confused concerning the objective of grade A standards. Some of the processors were stupid enough to state that the dominion government has two standards for grade A. One standard for the domestic market and another for the export market. This sounds like double talk. I have spent most of my life in the field of analytical chemistry. Explanations of this character do not make sense to me.

I wonder if the minister would comment on this assertion.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
Permalink
PC

Douglas Scott Harkness (Minister of Agriculture)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

Two grade A's do not exist;

there is only one grade A.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
Permalink
SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. Johnston (Bow River):

There is one other remark I want to make in regard to this clause. It seems to me it is possibly the most important clause in the bill. One of the things we in this group have been stressing all through this debate is that the farmer should be given a cost-price relationship. I immediately recognize the difficulties that exist in establishing the cost of producing an article. I believe I am right when I say that an advisory committee will be established under the provisions of this bill and will be able to make recommendations to the board and to the minister with reference to the cost-price relationship.

It seems to me that since this is the most important factor contained in the bill, some sort of formula should be adopted. When one communicates with the dominion bureau of statistics to find out what the cost of producing an article is, one finds they have not got that information. It seems to me that since this is so important there will have to be a system of records kept by the dominion bureau of statistics or some other competent body by means of which we can arrive at what would be considered a fair cost-price relationship. I wonder if the government would consider publishing each year a statement which would give the relevant facts in regard to the establishment of a cost price.

The advisory committee is going to make recommendations in regard to this, I suppose to the advisory board, which will make recommendations to the minister, and it will depend on his judgment what the decision will be because he has the ultimate authority. He must make his decision before anything becomes effective under this bill. Surely when the advisory committee makes its recommendations to the board and the board makes its recommendations to the minister, the minister has to draw a conclusion and make a decision, and at that time there must be some definite formula upon which the minister makes his decision. I think it would be quite inconceivable that when these three organizations meet with the minister, he is going to sit there calmly, hear what the advisory committee says, then what the board says, and then come to the conclusion, "Oh, well, the cost of raising a bushel of wheat I guess should be somewhere around about- oh-I think the minister told the house a few years ago 45 cents a bushel"-

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
Permalink
CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

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

Mr. Nicholson:

Forty cents.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
Permalink
?

Mr. Johnsion@Bow River

I think that figure was given by the hon. member for Melville years ago.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
Permalink
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

No, it was not. It was given by Mr. Hope.

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
Permalink
?

Mr. Johnsion@Bow River

Then is he going to scratch the other side of his head and say, "Oh, I guess the cost of production has risen a little bit; the farmers have to pay a little bit more for a combine and a little bit more for labour, so the cost of raising a bushel of wheat now probably is about 55 cents or 60 cents"? I do not think that would be a proper way. The minister must come to this conclusion and he must have some guide on which to base his judgment. When this fact is considered, will it not be possible that the minister will make public the facts on which he is basing his cost price so the farmers in the country and the members of this committee will know exactly what that cost was for that year?

I recognize immediately that the costs are going to vary from time to time. The minister is going to take that fact into consideration when he makes his decision year after year. But this is an important part of the operation of this bill. The whole functioning of the bill depends upon the minister's discretion. That is a tremendous responsibility to put upon the minister. I think the members of the house and the farm organizations across the country have a right to expect that when the minister makes these decisions with regard to costs, they are going to be based on factual evidence.

It seems to me that when the minister is in a position to make his final decision and does make that decision, he must have some formula in black and white upon which to base his judgment. I do not think it is asking too much that the minister at that time-not before, but when he is in a position to make his decision-make that formula available so everyone will know what it is, and the farmers themselves will know whether or not that cost has a fair relationship.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
Permalink
LIB

Irvin William Studer

Liberal

Mr. Studer:

I wonder whether it would be in order to make this suggestion in connection with the cost of producing commodities. I think the department has a ready-made organization in existence for determining such costs in connection with all commodities. I refer to the experimental farm system all across Canada. There is no province I know of in which they are not established, except perhaps Newfoundland. They have their costs established on various commodities.

Just as an illustration, in 1956 the average cost of producing wheat on summer fallow at 10 illustrative station farms amounted to $23.22 per acre. This is indicative as an illustration of their consideration of costs and could be held to be reliable; and I think they are. That pertains to all farm commodities at least to some extent, because one or other station is specializing in or producing

3812 HOUSE OF

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization almost every commodity. I think we have an established basis from which to begin and which can be used to determine what the costs are in establishing your floor price or your other costs.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
Permalink
CCF

Jacob Schulz

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

Mr. Schulz:

I should just like to point out that while last night before the house adjourned I stated that this amendment does not change the picture, this morning it looks even more the same. The minister, after being asked from every corner to set up an authority that would measure the production costs of the various products in order that we may have something by which to be guided, or that the minister might have something by which to be guided, simply says, "We don't want anything by which to be guided". What does this amendment mean now? It states that the governor in council shall be guided. By what? Have we anything by which he shall be guided?

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
Permalink
?

An hon. Member:

Read.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
Permalink
CCF

Jacob Schulz

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

Mr. Schulz:

I do not understand the situation, but I guess I will get used to it slowly. It seems that we shall have to get along in this country as in a gambling joint, without organization and planning. Every time over the last few years when I have tried to get the production costs of a commodity I have had to go to the United States, because there is in existence there such an authority which figures out the different costs. We have never had such a thing here. But now that we have an act which says the governor in council or the minister shall be guided by the cost of production, surely it is time that we set up something of this kind. If we do not do it, unfortunately it will be found that I was right and that this act does not mean anything, even if it is passed.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
Permalink
PC

Charles Edward Rea

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Chairman (Mr. Rea):

Shall the amendment carry?

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
Permalink

Amendment agreed to.


PC

Charles Edward Rea

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Chairman (Mr. Rea):

Shall the clause as amended carry?

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
Permalink
CCF

Willis Merwyn (Merv) Johnson

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

Mr. Johnson (Kindersley):

No, Mr. Chairman. May we call it one o'clock?

At one o'clock the committee took recess.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
Permalink

AFTER RECESS The committee resumed at 2.30 p.m.


January 25, 1958