January 25, 1958

LIB

Mervyn Arthur Hardie

Liberal

Mr. Hardie:

Mr. Chairman, I wish to ask the minister a question concerning clause 2, subclause (a) (i). I was wondering how he would define sheep. Would that be live sheep, the wool of sheep or mutton?

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

Douglas Scott Harkness (Minister of Agriculture)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

Of course the purpose is to support the price of live sheep, and that may be done in various ways. It could be done by deficiency payments or by purchase, as in the case of supporting the price of hogs at the present time, and so forth. It is possible to do this, we will say, by supporting the price of good lambs. That might be the particular type of sheep for which the support price would be prescribed and put into effect which would keep up the price of sheep generally.

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

Mervyn Arthur Hardie

Liberal

Mr. Hardie:

Could wool come under subclause (ii)?

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

Douglas Scott Harkness (Minister of Agriculture)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

It could come under (ii), yes.

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

Mervyn Arthur Hardie

Liberal

Mr. Hardie:

We have in Canada mink ranchers or farmers and fox ranchers or farmers and-

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

An hon. Member:

Caribou?

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

Mervyn Arthur Hardie

Liberal

Mr. Hardie:

Not just now, Rudolph; I will deal with them later. I feel, Mr. Chairman, that every trapper is a farmer. He traps in his area just as a farmer works his land and a fruit grower works his trees. He takes off a certain amount of crop each year and leaves the breeding stock to take care of his needs for the next year. If sheep and the wool of sheep are to come under this bill, then I feel that a fur-bearing animal should also come under its provisions. I would therefore move an amendment in the following words:

That after the word "sheep" in subclause (a) (i) of clause 2, the words "and fur-bearing animals" be added.

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

Douglas Scott Harkness (Minister of Agriculture)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

As I explained yesterday, Mr. Chairman, these named commodities are only nine out of a number of commodities

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Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization ranging between 150 and 200 which are produced in Canada. They are the ones which constitute the bulk of agricultural production, and are included for that reason. Ranch-bred mink and fox and so forth can be supported under the provisions of subclause (a) (ii) of clause 2, and as a matter of fact ranch-bred fox and mink have been assisted through the provisions of the Co-operative Marketing Act; but as far as adding the words "furbearing animals" to these named commodities is concerned, the proposal just does not make good sense.

In addition I would point out that the amendment is out of order, Mr. Chairman, on the same ground on which the amendment moved yesterday was out of order, in that it involves the imposition of extra taxes, and a private member cannot move an amendment to that effect.

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

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. Johnston (Bow River):

Mr. Chairman, I have two questions on this clause. In the first subclause does the support price apply only to top grades? If this is the case, it occurs to me that there will be a tendency to lower the grade in order to get away from the support price. For instance, it would be a rather easy thing in the case of hogs to grade them A or B rather than A-l to escape the support price, and the same thing could be true in the grading of eggs. The grading could become much more strict than it is today, and that would offset any advantages the bill might have. That is my first question, and I will wait for the minister to answer it before I present my other question.

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

Mervyn Arthur Hardie

Liberal

Mr. Hardie:

Mr. Chairman, I moved an amendment which the Minister of Agriculture said was out of order. I have not yet heard from the Chair as to whether or not my amendment is in order.

The Aciing Chairman (Mr. Rea): I may tell the hon. member that the Chair does not have a copy of the amendment, and there is already an amendment before us.

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

Walter Adam Tucker

Liberal

Mr. Tucker:

We could not hear what the chairman said.

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

Willis Merwyn (Merv) Johnson

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

Mr. Johnson (Kindersley):

Mr. Chairman, is there not an amendment already before the committee?

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

Charles Edward Rea

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Chairman (Mr. Rea):

I mentioned that.

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

Douglas Scott Harkness (Minister of Agriculture)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

Mr. Chairman, in answer to the question asked by the hon. member for Bow River, the method of support which has generally been used has been to designate a certain grade or quality, and to support that grade at a certain level. In the case of hogs it is grade B-l. These hogs are graded by government graders.

The hon. member expressed the fear that if one particular grade were supported the product would be graded below that grade to ensure that the farmer would not receive as much for his product as he might otherwise receive. Since there is government grading with respect to a considerable number of these products I am inclined to feel that his fear is groundless. With the dozens of different grades of cattle that exist it would be extremely expensive administratively to try to set a support price for each of those grades, and many people would be required to administer the scheme. You accomplish the same purpose by setting a support price at a certain level, we will say for good steers. The relationship that normally exists between different grades because of market conditions and other considerations would be maintained because the support price would tend to keep up the prices on other cattle.

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

Edward George McCullough

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

Mr. McCullough:

I am afraid I must disagree with what the Minister of Agriculture has just said on this point, namely that if support prices are placed on the top grades of the various farm commodities you then have some real assurance that the other grades will remain somewhere in line so far as price is concerned. I must take exception to that, because I have recently received quite a number of letters from people in my constituency who say just the opposite.

I refer particularly to the grading of eggs. Those of us who have been interested in this matter over the years on behalf of the farmers have found that when you have a support price for grade A large eggs of 38 cents, that support price is not carried through to the other grades. The argument made to me by farmers who deliver eggs is that if a reasonable number of the top grades of eggs and other farm products were supported in a relative way, then we would get away from some of our farm products being undergraded and therefore underpriced.

I think I can say with a good deal of assurance, so far as cattle going to the stockyards are concerned, that if there was a support price under good steers, if the minister wanted to take the second grade, then I am sure he would find that a large number of the steers would at times be graded either as stockers or as feeders. Therefore I think the point raised by the hon. member who just spoke is a good one, and I would ask the minister to give consideration to it; because the farmers have not been satisfied with just having a support price under the top grade.

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

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. Johnston (Bow River):

May I ask the

minister another question. Do I take it from what the minister has said that the support

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization

price will not necessarily be on the top grade? I see he is nodding his head in agreement. That would mean that rather than the support price being applied to choice steers it might be applied to a lower grade. Who decides what the spread shall be between the different grades? Is that a provincial or federal responsibility? It makes a great difference what the spread is. If the support price is set with respect to grade A large eggs, let us say, then who is going to be responsible for maintaining the spread? It might be that a greater spread would exist, and therefore there would be few grade A large eggs and more of the other grades in order to avoid the support price.

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

Douglas Scott Harkness (Minister of Agriculture)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

It is quite possible, of course, for a support price to be put into effect for more than one grade in the case of any particular commodity, but in most cases it is not necessary to do that and, as I said before, it increases the administrative cost considerably. As far as cattle are concerned, I think the base price would be determined on the level of good steers rather than choice steers because there is a larger volume of trade in good steers.

As to the question of spreads, they are set by the market in respect of most of these commodities. As I think the hon. member for Bow River knows, on the Calgary livestock exchange cattle are now sold by auction and the price any particular bunch of cattle brings depends on what the bidders are willing to pay for them, to a large extent. One bidder may think they are choice steers and another man may think they are not good enough to be choice steers. Therefore there would be some considerable difference in the bids each would make on the cattle.

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

Hédard-J. Robichaud

Liberal

Mr. Robichaud:

Mr. Chairman, it is not my intention to delay the passing of this clause, but I also have a question I should like to place before the minister in order to obtain a specific reply. First I want to join with hon. members on both sides of the house who have asked that pulpwood be named as one of the commodities to be included in the bill. In dealing with this problem yesterday the minister suggested that action could be taken much more properly by provincial governments, as they grant the various licences and leases to the companies than by the dominion government.

In most cases the companies cutting on crown land are pulp mill owners and they cut the pulp for themselves, but what most members who have spoken on the question are mainly interested in is the sale of pulp-wood cut from forest land or lots privately owned by individual farmers. In many cases this is one of their main sources of

ready cash with which to pay municipal taxes and meet other urgent obligations. In my constituency at the present time farmers are getting $8 to $9 a cord for pulpwood at the roadside, and we know that at such prices it is impossible for them even to meet their expenses.

I would appreciate it if the minister would be more specific and explain why he is opposed to the inclusion of pulpwood as one of the commodities to be covered by the bill, or can he assure us that pulpwood could be included under subparagraph (ii) of clause 2, "any other natural or processed product of agriculture designated by the governor in council."

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

Douglas Scott Harkness (Minister of Agriculture)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

Yes, Mr. Chairman. Clause 2 provides for support prices being established for any agricultural commodity which is accepted by the governor in council on the advice of the committee and of the board as one which should be supported.

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

Frederick George Hahn

Social Credit

Mr. Hahn:

Mr. Chairman, to deal further with the matter raised by the hon. member for Bow River and the hon. member for Moose Mountain, may I say that I had some representations made to me regarding the same problem, involving the effect of price support upon different grades as the system was in operation under the Agricultural Prices Support Act. In this connection I should like to refer the minister to a letter written by Ewen Gillis to A. H. Turner, chairman of the agricultural prices support board, dated September 29, 1957. Mr. Gillis is the secretary of the poultry section of the farmers' union of British Columbia, and in his letter he had this to say in part:

Incidentally I have learned that the dominion government purchased grade A fowl only. The other grades had to be sold by the processors where a market was available. In many cases the producers were paid from 5 to 10 cents for a dressed fowl. Not all the fowl were bought at this price by the packer.

The important part is as follows:

For years many producers have been receiving grade A for over 90 per cent of the fowl. Under the implemented price supports schedule reports indicate only 10 to 30 per cent of the flock qualify for grade A.

There does seem to be a tremendous .discrepancy here in that when you sell on the free market 90 per cent qualify as grade A, and the moment you come under the price support legislation it immediately drops to 10 to 30 per cent. Before I proceed further, and possibly I should have begun my remarks by saying this, I wish to compliment the minister on the attitude the government took in accepting our representations regarding the problem that west coast turkey raisers had late last year and taking

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Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization action on it. However, here is another phase into which an examination should be made. I am not completely satisfied with the answer the minister gave the hon. member for Bow River, and I should like to get his views on this particular question.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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January 25, 1958