November 25, 1966

RA

Charles-Arthur Gauthier

Ralliement Créditiste

Mr. Gauthier:

Mr. Chairman, the time has come to vote those estimates, and if we look at the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Greene), we see a man plunged in deep meditation. It is probably because looking over the work done during the year, the minister is wondering if he has done a good job, if the members of the opposition, as well as his Liberal colleagues, are happy with his work and if the people in general approve of what has been done in 1966 in the field of agriculture.

[DOT] (3:30 p.m.)

If we look back, I think we can say that something worthwhile has been done in agriculture this year. I want at this time to congratulate the minister who worked hard, I know, to reach the objective he had set for himself; if he did not reach it, it is because perfection is not of this world. We ask a man to do what he can and, in my opinion, the minister fulfilled his duty well, although it is a very difficult one, and has been so particularly in the last two or three years. We have gone through lean years what with everything that happened to our farmers, all the hardship they had, due to the weather and the market,

and in spite of all that we managed to come out of it fairly well.

I sit on the committee on agriculture, forestry and rural development and I have insisted on being a member ever since I came to the house. I think the committee does marvellous work. I see here the minister's officials who have answered the numerous questions put to them by the committee members without ever showing any embarrassment. I must congratulate all those people who work so heartily in trying to raise the farmers' standard of living.

Mr. Chairman, I should like to put one or two points to the minister. I am sure he has often been able to notice failures within an organization; failures which are only normal and human.

Milk and cream subsidies are undertakings which have occasioned much work to the hon. members and to the department. They gave rise to a very heavy correspondence with the farmers in our constituencies as we were trying to adjust the deficiency payments to arrive at a regular payment as promised by the minister. I had to go to the Farm Credit Corporation to try to settle some one hundred cases in my constituency, as soon as possible. The issue was the late payment of the premiums.

I believe the minister should rather advise the Farm Credit Corporation to keep an eye on the processors. I believe the last delays we had were mainly due to them.

They submit their reports to the board late-probably involuntarily-and, that causes corresponding delays in the payment of subsidies; sometimes there is a one-month delay and other times, two months, it all depends on the date upon which the reports are received.

I for one am not ready to put the blame on the producer, far from it; I believe, having discussed this problem with the parties concerned, that these delays occurred particularly at the processing plant. I submit that the department should issue very strict orders to all processing plants, so that they may be made to fill in and forward their forms, fill in all the lines. I personally had to settle cases where the processor had overlooked two or three items in the one form. Therefore, the board will have to issue orders to processors so that we may have their co-operation towards sound administration of the payments.

Second, we note, particularly in the province of Quebec-elsewhere in Canada too but mostly in the province of Quebec-a decrease in milk production. The explanation for that decrease is a mystery to no one; first, in my

November 25, 1966

area-since I must speak of my riding-we had those artificial rainfalls pouring over our heads for the past two or three years. Last year it, only lasted seventeen or eighteen days, and farmers harvested a crop such as they had not seen for more than four years. I think the minister must keep on checking the situation and even go so far as to forbid completely in our area those artificial rainfalls which, for two or three years, were responsible for the disastrous situation in our district. As a result, most of the farmers were forced to cut their herd by 50 per cent, if not more, because the land had yielded about 30 to 35 per cent of what it produced before the well-remembered rainfalls, and that was the main cause of the decrease in the number of cattle.

I admit that the government helped save as many of the cattle as possible, but that assistance was not sufficient in our areas. Proof of that lies in the fact that farmers reduced their herds by 50 per cent, not by pure whim, but because they were forced to do so, since they could not feed them. If the government had assessed the needs on a regional basis, I think it would have found out that our area was in much greater need of help than certain other parts of the province of Quebec.

[DOT] (3:40 p.m.)

We are faced today with a shortage of butter and a sharp decrease in milk production. That in my opinion, is due to the lack of a serious initial study designed to maintain our herds at a normal level and to enable Quebec to produce at least the milk and butter it consumes.

There is a further reason why assistance was called for in our area, and it is the famous outbreak of brucellosis which affected the district. I know farmers who had to replace twice herds of 60, 65, 70 head of cattle because brucellosis was rampant, and I believe those farmers were ruined even though they received help. It is not enough to replace cattle or pay compensation for its replacement; those farmers lost their contracts for lack of cattle, because they were deprived of the required assistance.

I spoke about it during the outbreak; I mentioned it several times last year when the government was only granting $50 for a milch-cow, the replacement value of which was $300, or $70 when the maximum amount for an ordinary cross-breed milch-cow was $70, and $140 for a purebred. In my opinion, that assistance as absolutely insufficient. Of course, it made up for the cost of the cattle but it did not enable the farmer to honour his

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contracts. By thus losing his contracts, he was losing 50 per cent of his income and finally, he was almost faced with bankruptcy, because most of those farmers were compelled to convert their herd in to a beef cattle herd.

Mr. Chairman, if the great havoc which the disease has wrought in our area had been the subject of a serious study at that time, the department would surely have increased its assistance and even amended the act because it is outdated, as it now stands. Under the act, the loss of a milch-cow is assessed at $70, which was good 15 years ago, but not today.

I believe the act should have been updated to assist those farmers and to prevent the present price drop. I hope the minister will re-examine this famous act to prevent a repetition of this situation should another outbreak occur; it could be amended to provide subsidies on the basis of the present cost of cattle or milch-cows.

Another problem I should like to point out to the minister-and I do not want to take up too much time-concerns the potato crop in my region. Two or three years ago, several farmers began growing potatoes. Their crop, especially this year, was excellent, but the sales are not as good. We realized this fall that we had no markets at all. Since the minister has established the Canadian Livestock Feed Board, I believe it is time to set up a board for Quebec products in order to guarantee the producers the sale of their production, for I believe we shall witness this winter the loss of great quantities of potatoes. This fall, the crop is sold at 50 cents for 75 lbs, which is far below production costs, and I think 50 per cent of the farmers will not be able to sell their crop for the year even at 50 cents because there is no market.

I am drawing the minister's attention to this matter because something must be done about it, and immediately. If the farmers who have invested everything they had in potato growing in the last year or two are not helped now, what will happen next year? They will not grow any, there will be another shortage and potatoes will have to be imported, whereas our area can produce them not only in sufficient quantity to satisfy the local demand but also the export market.

Our soil is particularly suited to potato growing, and I think the minister should consider this matter and assure those who, in the past year or two, have invested money in this and who have built storehouses at a cost of $10,000, $15,000 and even $20,000, that the potatoes they have grown will not rot in their capacity-filled storehouses. I know that all we

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have to do at the present is to call the minister's attention to this matter, for the wellbeing of farmers is very important to him, not only in the province of Quebec, but throughout Canada, and I am confident that he will do something this fall to try and help them.

Just a few words in passing about the Farm Credit Corporation. I would have much to say about this corporation, but I would simply ask the minister to order an investigation into activity of the Farm Credit Corporation. I do not suggest that everything is wrong. A good and I would say a marvellous job is being done in some areas, but I say errors are committed which are detrimental to agriculture. For instance, I have submitted a case on which I have finally been informed that the investigation was being resumed. In some cases, one wonders whether it is not the purpose of some inspectors and investigators to drive farmers away from their farms, instead of helping them.

Two young men who operate a marvellous farm, who have a large flock, have just built, at their own expense, a large potato cellar costing $10,000. Now, they cannot meet their commitments. They applied for assistance to this federal agancy and they were told that no help could be provided. After those people have made sacrifices for two years, they are told that nothing whatsoever can be done for them and to declare themselves bankrupt.

Mr. Chairman, it is not by bankruptcies that farmers are going to thrive. I hope that what I have referred to will be settled, because a second investigation is under way, and I ask the minister-without rushing matters, because I do not want to criticize anybody-to send over some of the competent men in his department to make sure that everything runs smoothly, that everything is done in an orderly manner for, in my opinion, there are some shortcomings that remain unexplained.

I had intended to talk about farm machinery but previous speakers covered that subject fully. I wish to say only that it is imperative that the Minister of Agriculture should exercise or set up some control over the price of farm machinery because it is on account of the price of farm implements that farmers get so deeply into debt. As a matter of fact, it is another reason for the failure of agriculture at the present time. I think that there is a way for the federal government to control those prices which are certainly too high. I sold farm machinery myself for 20 years and I cannot understand at all the prices of machinery today compared to what they were 15 years ago.

If some control must be set up, I urge the minister to avail himself of the means at his disposal; prices should be controlled or farmers helped directly to allow them to acquire the machinery they need to work their farms or their land as economically as possible.

[DOT] (3:50 p.m.)

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SC

Horace Andrew (Bud) Olson

Social Credit

Mr. Olson:

will enable the producers to receive their cheques on time.

Let me discuss for a moment or two the acute shortage of livestock railway cars which exists in western Canada in October and November each year. This subject can properly be brought to the attention of the Minister of Agriculture because the cleaning and disinfecting of cattle cars before being returned to western Canada comes under the jurisdiction of the health of animals branch of that department.

It is not my suggestion that these cars do not need cleaning and disinfecting, but it seems to me that if the Department of Agriculture is responsible in this regard it should look into this situation to see whether there is some way to speed up the disinfecting process, particularly during the period of shortage in the fall when there is an unusually heavy demand for these cars for the shipment of feeder cattle from western to central and eastern Canada. It is my understanding that there is a small cleaning and disinfecting operation in Toronto and a substantial one in Winnipeg. This year another one was reactivated at Moose Jaw. If anything can be done to put on extra staff or streamline these processing methods I hope the department will do so.

On two or three occasions last year and this year the price of livestock in southern Alberta has dropped by 2 cents to 4 cents per pound because cattle that had been purchased had to be held in feed lots as a result of a shortage of cars. Buyers were not interested in buying more cattle until they had received the cattle already purchased. This was sometimes disastrous to the farmer whose year's production was in the form of feeder cattle. This may not have had such a disastrous effect on the whole market because the shortage was eventually overcome but it was disastrous to 20, 50 or 100 individual farmers who happened to be selling to the market when there was a shortage of cars. I hope something can be done to solve this problem.

I have made recommendations to the auction markets in western Canada with the hope that they can help to correct this problem by spreading out sales a little more. In this way they could avoid selling 50 per cent to 75 per cent of the total number of feeder cattle within a three-week period. No matter how many cars are available there is a physical limitation to the number of cattle that can be moved in one week. If too such of this activity is concentrated into a short space of time

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trouble will develop. Perhaps with the cooperation of the livestock markets, the railway companies and the health of animals branch this problem can be worked out.

It is my understanding that the minister stated in Saskatoon last week that the price of wheat on the international market is going to increase. When the minister replies I hope he will tell us when this will happen and indicate the extent of the increase to western wheat producers. Perhaps he will also give us an indication whether or not he is actively considering with his colleagues in the cabinet increasing initial payments to producers of wheat on delivery. I am keenly interested in the minister's contention that the price of wheat on the world market under the international agreement is going to go up. An increase has been justified for several years. We are now moving into something of a sellers' market which will perhaps make it easier to increase the price of wheat.

The last point I wish to refer to the minister relates to the research branch of the Department of Agriculture and methods farmers can use to take advantage of the information emanating from that branch. In my own constituency the ranch station has carried out research and experimentation in respect of the development of techniques to increase substantially the carrying capacity of ranches in southern Alberta. After considering the number of farmers and ranchers who are actually taking full advantage of this information supplied as a result of research and experimentation I have come to the conclusion that it is pitifully low.

[DOT] (4:00 p.m.)

Let me commend the Department of Agriculture and the research and experimental people in that branch for the good work they have done. They have published information; I am not complaining about that. They have published reports in newspapers and have followed all the usual procedures to get this information before the farmers and encourage them to use it. But I am still of the opinion that it is not being used to the degree it should be. Therefore I wonder whether some other action could not be taken by way of setting up demonstration plots so that these techniques can be put right under the nose of the farmer. In this way we could prove to him that it is profitable to accept and follow this advice.

I am a little remiss in this connection because a few months ago I promised the minister I would send him a memorandum on how

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this could best be done with respect to the agricultural research station in my riding, and so tar I have not done so. I have discussed the matter with some of the minister's officials at that agricultural research station and they are aware of my opinions in this regard. I will send the memorandum to the minister as soon as I am able to complete it. I raise the matter now because I should like to have a favourable response from the minister in regard to including in some new program an item of expense for better ways and means of putting this research and the results of the experimentation right in front of the farmers.

I thank the committee for its attention to these remarks. I shall not say any more at this time because, as I said at the outset, we have had a very good opportunity to discuss and examine in great detail the estimates of the Department of Agriculture. I think they probably had a more thorough examination this year than at any time in the past.

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LIB

John Mercer Reid

Liberal

Mr. Reid:

Mr. Chairman, I do not want to take up too much of the time of the committee, because we have spent the grand total of 67 days, 2 hours and 39 minutes on estimates in this session of parliament. However, there are two points I should like to make to the minister which concern my constituency. The first point concerns the milk producers and cream producers in my area who are suffering considerable hardship at the present time. First of all, I think the minister should be congratulated upon the fact that the subsidy payments are now to be made on a monthly basis. This has certainly improved the situation of the milk producers.

However, there is in my area at least one cream producer who is slowly going broke and now finds himself in the peculiar position of being forced to import butter from the province of Manitoba at cost in order to supply a very good local market. He has to do this because there is not sufficient money being paid to encourage the farmers in the area to produce cream. In view of the fact, as has already been pointed out in this debate, that the country is experiencing a shortage of butter at this time, I believe this is an area to which the minister should pay considerable attention.

The other point I want to put before the minister relates very closely to what was just said by the hon. member for Medicine Hat when commenting on the fact that the estimates of the Department of Agriculture were very thoroughly examined. An interesting addendum to that comment is the fact that the

estimates of the various departments have been considered in a total of 187 meetings of house committees this year.

All the excellent information which has been provided by the department is not being distributed as well as it might. I would like to know to whom the various departmental publications on research activities and various new methods of farming are distributed.

Another fact in connection with this matter is that I believe farms are now becoming businesses more and more because of the records we force farmers to keep. These records are required for the various programs of government at all levels. The amount of failure in the farming profession seems to be increasing. We are told that last year 4,000 small businesses failed. I think farming is now becoming more and more a small business rather than a way of life. It seems to me that a great many of these failures could be avoided if there were some means of providing education or training in the modern techniques of business management.

Many small farms are run solely on the brains and ability of one or two people, the husband and/or the wife. The burdens we have imposed on them under the marketing system, particularly by reason of the necessity of their keeping the records we require, have made it almost impossible for farmers to spend as much time farming as they would like. They spend more and more of their time becoming bookkeepers.

The farms in my area are small. The farmers do not have the education that is perhaps necessary to cope with providing these records. They are trying to improve their situation by taking Program 5 courses, but they still require more training in the field of up-to-date management. Therefore I suggest that these are two areas to which the Minister of Agriculture might give further consideration.

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PC

Edward Nasserden

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nasserden:

Mr. Chairman, in rising to deal with these estimates one cannot help acknowledging the fact that when each party in the house is allowed only about two speakers during the consideration of these estimates in the house, it restricts discussion of some of the facets of our agricultural program to which the House of Commons should give attention. Much has been made of the fact that some days have been spent on these estimates by the agricultural committee. This was a worthy endeavour for those members who had come here for the first time and perhaps needed instruction about where to get the information they needed in order to acquaint themselves

November 25, 1966

with some of the problems in their areas. However, without consideration of these problems by the House of Commons, much of what took place in the agricultural committee this year was nothing but a waste of the members' time in so far as bringing forward new policies to deal with the problems which face people in agriculture is concerned.

This has been a difficult year for the agricultural industry of Canada. It has been faced with rising costs; it has been faced with an increasing labour shortage; it has been faced with the effects of the strikes we have had in industry; it has been faced with a situation whereby in large areas of our country farmers have had to resort to strike action as a protest against the indifference of the government of the day. In addition to these difficulties, the industry is faced with the rising cost of more sophisticated implements that today are becoming a normal and necessary part of any farming operation.

I have not said anything about the rising cost of land, but the demand for industrial and urban acreage today is contributing to the increasing cost of land. On more than one occasion in the past few months the question of the price of farm machinery has been discussed. The price of farm machinery has been rising almost continually. It is true that many of these machines are much different from what they were only a few years ago. But after listening to those members who condemn the implement companies left and right I want to put on record that many of the dealer organizations should not be included in that condemnation. A great many dealers across the country have gone broke because of the situation that exists at the present time. We need stronger dealer organizations in the farm implements field because of the very nature of those implements. We need the type of help which these dealer organizations can give and which the farmers require in the face of the shortage of farm labour we are now experiencing in this country.

The government has promised for many months to do something about the price of farm implements. They have set up a commission to study this matter but if it operates in the same manner as commissions set up for that purpose in the past have it will not solve the problem with which farmers are faced, namely, the rising cost of machinery.

[DOT] (4:10 p.m.)

Reference was made to the discontinuance of the implement evaluation tests which were carried out in the province of Saskatchewan.

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Not only was this an insult to the farmers in that province but it was also an insult to those manufacturers because of the research that they themselves had carried out on the machines which they put out on the market, machines which could stand up to any that were put on the market by their competitors. These tests were supposed to tell the farm people in general which of the machines were most effective to do the job they wanted done.

Another matter, which was previously dealt with by hon. members, has come to my attention recently, namely, the minister's preoccupation with what he calls "marginal farmers". I know that reference has been made to marginal farms but the minister initiated the new term "marginal farmers". I think this is an insult to the agricultural industry and to those engaged in it. There are many people who have the makings of successful farmers but because of location, lack of capital, shortgage of help, and also because of the actions taken or sometimes not taken by the government, have found themselves in an adverse situation. This brings to my mind the situation which exists at Brancepeth in the province of Saskatchewan where, because of a differential of three-quarters of a cent per bushel on wheat delivered at Brancepeth in competition with Birch Hills and Weldon, the farmers over a period of 35 years have lost more than $100,000. This is a factor over which they have no control and the government should give its attention to it. During the discussion of the estimates of the transport department I was unable to speak on his subject but I will write the Minister of Transport in that regard in the hope the something can be done about it.

One of the problems facing Canadian farmers today is the serious shortage of farm labour. On a previous occasion I asked the government whether they would try to initiate a policy of immigration whereby people could be brought to Canada to take part in this activity. I now suggest to the minister that the government consider the subsidization of housing for farm labourers. If the government wants men to stay on the farm to help with the work they should provide them with houses comparable with those which they could obtain anywhere else. The government should consider this matter seriously.

On a previous occasion I pointed out that sheep production in Canada is at an all-time low. On that occasion the Prime Minister promised to get in touch with the minister who

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would try to do something about this particular section of our agricultural program. I now wish to renew the plea to the government to initiate a sheep promotion program for the benefit of our Canadian industry. There are large areas in Canada suitable for sheep production and which are almost a wasteland as far as agricultural production is concerned.

Other hon. members have dealt with the dairy policy. All I wish to say in this regard is that the minister has destroyed the small cream producers in this country. Today we are about to import butter into Canada, which is another blow at what has been described in the past as the small family farm. However, the greatest blow struck at the agricultural industry was the imposition several years ago of an 11 per cent sales tax on production machinery. This, coupled with the encouragement of an increase in interest rates, has ensured a steady rise in the prices of commodities necessary to maintain a farm. Canada today has the highest cost of living in the world but we are in need of these commodities whose cost will spiral in the months ahead because of government policies.

The year 1966 has been a year of labour unrest in Canada. Farm people in general are in favour of some kind of an industrial court to take care of management-labour problems. On this occasion there is no time to go more fully into that matter but this is one of the subjects to which the government should give further examination.

Another matter with which I should like to deal has to do with the total food production of the nation. We should ask ourselves whether Canada is producing the maximum of which it is capable. However, before dealing with this subject I should like to speak for a minute about grain in western Canada. I was heartened to hear the minister's assertion made in western Canada that the initial price for wheat or grains will be increased. Furthermore, I welcomed his intimation that the prices under the international wheat agreement will be raised. These are long overdue decisions and I congraulate the minister for whatever effort he may have put into reaching them. I have been critical of the government for what I term their lackadaisical attitude in regard to the revision of prices under the international wheat agreement, but in view of his recent announcement I will be one of the first to congratulate him.

With regard to food production in this country, all of us know that the people of the world are facing a food shortage. We in Canada are proud of our good research team

in this field. This is a subject with which I am familiar in a limited way only but it affects the people at Saskatoon. I am referring to the work being done with regard to the irrigation program in the South Saskatchewan river valley by the National Research Council.

I should like to ask the minister to consider the possibility of a change in attitude with regard to the policy which has been in effect for many years now, and I would urge him, when the research scientists present estimates of their requirements, to encourage them to aim at the maximum effort instead of the minimum. I believe that if this is done at the station in Saskatoon, other areas across the country will follow and in this way we will fulfil our role as one of the great producers of the world at a time when food is in such short supply.

I would now like to say a word or two about freight rates as they affect rapeseed and rapeseed meal and oil in the province of Saskatchewan. There is only time to mention that this is a problem which continues to require attention. Someone told me that the final payment for the 1965 sugarbeet crop has not yet been made. If this is so I should like to ask the minister to tell us the reason. The problem of the great fluctuation in the price of eggs continues to exist in the province of Saskatchewan. This brings to my mind the fact that on more than one occasion the government has promised to consider allowing members of the stabilization board to appear as witnesses before the committee on agriculture. This has not been done and it is long overdue.

[DOT] (4:20 p.m.)

I want to say a few words about the troubles of fruit growers. It is not possible in the few minutes at my disposal to do more than touch on the problems of the growers of so many of our products across the land. One could devote the three hours allotted for the discussion of the agricultural estimates to the problems of specialized farmers, because they are faced with the encroachment of those who seek land for industrial and urban purposes. This discussion must be left to another day.

The minister has had a difficult time during the past year because difficult problems face the agricultural industry. These problems have been made even more difficult because of the actions taken by this government in creating artificial impediments to the welfare of the economy. Specifically I refer to the 11 per cent sales tax and the impact that has had on the agricultural industry. It has led to the

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highest cost of living in Canada's history. The other trend I deplore is the increase in interest rates encouraged by the government since it has come to office. The minister is trying to do a good job but I cannot say that those near him on the treasury benches are sympathetic to the problems of agriculture. Looking at what has happened one cannot help but see the indifference of this government to the problems facing those in agriculture, and one can only encourage the minister and hope that somehow he will catch the ear of the ministers with whom he sits.

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PC

Ronald David McLelland

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McLelland:

Mr. Chairman, in rising to speak at this time I do so in order to ask the Minister of Agriculture a few questions about the government's attitude regarding certain aspects of the agricultural industry. I also hope during the few minutes at my disposal to suggest a few things that I think could be done to aid agriculture, to make this segment of our economy more attractive for the people involved in it and also to attract more people into the industry.

First, I think the minister would agree with me that all people directly connected with the agricultural industry are there for one main reason, to produce food. Food is the one necessity of all mankind. It is the only thing that humans and other animals will risk their lives to attain. It is of great importance that we try to produce enough food to feed the population explosion of the world. People involved in food production should be given the proper incentives to stay in the business, to improve the quality of their produce and to develop new products as the demand increases. In order to do this the government should look very closely at problems as they arise in the agricultural industry.

In the segment of the industry in which I am engaged, the production of cereal grains, when one considers that wheat is in demand in most developed and underdeveloped countries in the world I think the minister would agree with me that production of wheat should be kept attractive to those involved. When one considers that the price per bushel of wheat has not varied a great deal in 27 years, I am sure the minister will agree that this part of the agricultural industry is lagging behind. At my home delivery point at the present time No. 2 wheat is worth $1.28J. Last year's final payment, which was approximately 37 cents for No. 2 wheat, gave a final return per bushel to the producer of approximately $1.65, minus the 1 per cent payable for the P.F.A.A. insurance allocation. Surely the minister must

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agree that an all-out effort ought to be made for an immediate increase in the price per bushel of wheat to the producer. Applying the 30 per cent increase formula, one can see that we should be receiving $2.15 per bushel. Surely the minister will try to get the other members of the cabinet to agree to this level.

The prices of farm machinery, farm trucks and all other items essential in the production of cereal grains are now at an all-time high and still they continue to rise. I know the minister has a commission investigating this problem but I am not too hopeful of great results. I suggest that the Minister of Agriculture say to the Minister of Finance that the quickest way to help the wheat farmer is by raising the price of wheat so that all may benefit, and also by raising the personal income tax deduction thus lowering total taxable income.

I remind the minister that to purchase equipment a farmer must sell his produce in large quantities. When the farmer does that he is caught in a higher tax bracket, with harmful effects. If the government cannot do anything about the price of farm machinery it can help by lowering the percentage of tax on taxable income for farmers so that when farmers have products to sell, which does not happen every year, they do not have to pay so much.

Also, Mr. Chairman, a good, close look should be taken at the cattle industry. The government will have to provide more incentive to cattlemen to encourage them to produce stock cows. As no scientific discovery has yet shown that livestock can be produced other than by using females for reproduction, I think the government ought to develop more P.F.R.A. pastures for grazing in which stock cows and their calves can be raised. Such confined areas, which should be under the supervision of a P.F.R.A. pasture manager, could feed cows and their calves. Through artificial insemination stocks could also be increased. In this way additional grazing land could be employed to help the situation.

I wish to bring to the minister's attention recent figures released by the Economic Council of Canada. On page 137 of the November, 1966 report, is shown the rapid decline in net farm income from farm production. The report shows that income has dropped from 10 percentage points for 1950-53 to 5 percentage points for 1960-65. Surely the farmers ought not to be asked to take a 50 per cent drop in net return over a period of 15 years. Good crops in the west in the past few

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years have kept farmers on the average producing as much as they have. The government has done very little to develop policies aiding the farmers in the last few years. Farmers are asked to purchase new insecticides and pesticides, new varieties of seeds, new machinery, all of which are expensive. Still the farmer's income declines under the government's policies. Surely the time has come for the government to look at the plight of the Canadian farmer whose income declines as costs rise. When the new budget is produced I hope it will include tax reductions for our farmers. I hope the minister will use his offices to get our farmers their fair share of the national income.

The Economic Council shows that when labourers or labour forces receive increased pay they do not use that increase to buy food but spend it on things such as furniture, household items, pleasure items, cars and so on. When the government helps other segments of our economy it is not directly aiding the farmers of Canada. Helping other segments has an adverse effect on the farmers because manufacturers know that our labour force has a high income and the manufacturers set policies to charge what they feel the market will stand. Farmers purchase many of the same items that members of the labour force purchase and find themselves caught in a squeeze because of declining incomes. I should like to know if the minister has new, exciting policies to encourage the future of our farms, especially those in western Canada, so that our farmers may enjoy increased benefits.

[DOT] (4:30 p.m.)

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NDP

Barry Mather

New Democratic Party

Mr. Mather:

Mr. Chairman, in four or five minutes I should like to put forward a few ideas which I am sure the minister has heard before but possibly it will do no harm to repeat them and it might even lead to more action than has been taken so far by the department.

First, I should like to compliment the new minister. I am sure many hon. members will agree with me when I say he is an improvement over the previous minister. The previous minister was often invisible in the house and when he was here he was often incomprehensible. The present minister is at least visible.

Having said that, let me say in more serious vein that the problems of agriculture which we are discussing today have to be considered against a background of involved and changing situations. One basic point which occurs to me is that we live on a continent where for

the first time we are able to produce more than we can consume. Yet we live in a world where hundreds of millions go to bed hungry every night.

Against this background I would recommend a rereading of the brief submitted earlier this year by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. The brief begins with these words:

The keynote of a discussion of farm policy at this time should be the need for sustained action based on a constructive partnership between government, parliament and farmers.

In line with this philosophy I commend the following points for consideration by the minister: There is a need for effective action to meet the farm labour problems of Canada. There is a need for a more systematic organization or agricultural product marketing through national boards or commissions. There is a need for further improvement and extension of crop insurance. There is a need for a united drive against rural poverty which places one-quarter of our population in a submerged economic condition. There is a need for improvement in farm credit services.

These are some of the issues which confront anyone who is concerned with Canadian agriculture at this time. The time I have allotted to me does not permit me to go into detail on these points. I should like to bring my remarks to a conclusion by referring to one or two issues which confront agriculturists in British Columbia, the province from which I come.

I wish to go on record as supporting the brief presented not long ago by the British Columbia Federation of Agriculture to the transport committee of the house. This urged that grain moving into British Columbia for consumption in the province should be given the same favourable freight rate as grain moved into British Columbia for export. A change in th:s d;rection would be of great benefit to British Columbia.

In addition, I would urge consideration of the brief of the British Columbia government in which the transport committee was urged to allow grain moving into British Columbia for export to the United States and Alaska to receive the same beneficial freight rate as is applied to grain brought into British Columbia for shipment to the Orient.

Having made these few remarks I wish to commend the minister sincerely on the action he has taken to date and urge him to take into consideration the many constructive suggestions raised by members on the opposition side.

November 25. 1966

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PC

Richard Elmer Forbes

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Forbes:

Mr. Chairman, I wish to make a few brief remarks while the estimates of the Department of Agriculture are before us. In view of the excellent speeches which have been made on the subject of agriculture this afternoon I will confine my observations principally to the aspect of rising costs within the industry. I am prompted to do so owing to the inequitable position in which agriculture finds itself at the present time because of the spiralling costs of production.

The average farmer is concerned about conditions under which he can receive fair recompense for his labours and for his investment in land and equipment. But when he finds his profit margin less and less each year, he becomes concerned about the profits accruing in the field of retail distribution. And as the producer of the nation's food, he has every right to expect the government to do something about it.

We hear a lot of comment about efficiency in agricultural production, but farmers have always been efficient producers. The inequitable position in which they have been placed compared with other industry has compelled them to operate economically.

Now a word about costs. Increased wages of organized labour are having an inflationary effect upon the whole Canadian economy and are the main reason why farmers' income is not keeping ahead of costs. Labour unions are very aggressive and nearly always request a 15 to 20 per cent increase in wages, and recently as high as 30 per cent; I refer to the longshoremen and dock workers.

Farmers take the brunt of inflation because over 30 per cent of the products they sell are sold at world prices-the percentage is much higher in western Canada-while everything farmers buy is based on a domestic price.

According to statistics provided by the Dominion Bureau of Statistics and the Federation of Agriculture, between 1949 and 1963 the average net income in constant dollars of farmers in Canada increased only 7.8 per cent; yet average weekly manufacturing wages increased 42.8 per cent, and if we had the figures for the past three years I am sure the disparity noted would be much greater. I do not want my remarks to be interpreted that I am faulting labour for demanding a rate of pay commensurate with a decent standard of living. But I do emphasize that we must have a policy to ensure the purchasing power of farmers and labour if we hope to have a prosperous economy.

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The time has arrived for an agricultural policy to attain this objective. The best customer of industry is the farmer because farmers are consumers as well as producers. But I ask this question: Is the government concerned about a price for agricultural products that will enable the farmers to stay on their farms and enjoy an equal standard of living? In other words, has the government an agricultural policy that is forward looking, especially with respect to prices for agricultural products?

I was particularly interested in a speech by the Minister of Finance in Toronto on November 10. He was speaking about the recent federal-provincial conference. I will just quote one paragraph.

The measure to stabilize provincial revenues will enable the provinces to harmonize their fiscal actions with those of the federal government in the event of a recession, and at the same time we have made it clear that the federal government will continue to use joint federal-provincial measures where necessary to ensure economic growth and stability, and to achieve other important national objectives.

What is the policy of the Minister of Agriculture to provide stability for agriculture at the present time and in the event of a recession? I am certain the farmers would like to know. In order to buy the necessary machinery to work their land in this technological age and, in some cases, purchase more land for what is called an efficient unit, farmers have been borrowing a tremendous amount of money. According to the chairman of the Farm Credit Corporation, demand for credit has risen sharply with 11,238 loans amounting to $208,984,900 being approved in the fiscal year ended March 31.

[DOT] (4:40 p.m.)

In my province of Manitoba 899 Farm Credit Corporation loans were advanced for a total of $14,879,500. This does not include loans made by the provincial farm loan board, which I am advised came to approximately $7 million. Farm improvement loans for the past year totalled $71,112,489, and farm machinery loans approximately $900,000. In addition there were loans made by credit unions, but I do not have any figures for them. If these figures indicate anything it is that farm income is too low to enable farmers to buy the necessary machinery and add to their holdings from revenue received from the sale of farm products.

I now wish to say a word about farm machinery. We acknowledge the prices of farm machinery are responsible for a large part of

November 25, 1966

Supply-Agriculture

farm operating costs, and we know that the minister has appointed a commission to inquire into the rapid rise in machinery prices. While I have every confidence in the personnel of the commission, I am wondering what action they could recommend in order to lower prices. It may be a year or more before the commission submits a report and in the interval farmers will be required to pay the prices asked by the machinery companies. In the event that we have two or three short crops in succession the results will be disastrous. The state would own most of the land and we would be headed for a system that is not conducive to a democracy.

Let us take a further look at costs. The minister of agriculture for Saskatchewan gave a fair illustration of the rapid rise in cash farm operational costs. He said that the increase was 20 per cent in Saskatchewan from 1961 to 1964 and if depreciation costs were added it was 24 per cent. The records of farm management clubs show that from 1960 to 1964 the operating costs per cultivated acre increased from $8.40 to $10.20. Depreciation costs increased in that period from $1.87 to $2.17, and investment costs increased from $3.14 to $4.01 on land at $39 per acre and, adding the labour costs of the operator and his family at $1 per hour, total farm costs per cultivated acre rose from $18.74 to $21.36.

To cover total costs a farmer would need to get an average grain yield of 24 bushels per acre at $1.75 per bushel, or 28.5 bushels per acre at $1.50. The yields suggested as necessary to cover the costs are considerably above the long-time average. Hon. members will note that he based his figures on land at $39 an acre. I do not know where you can buy good farm land at that price. In Manitoba it is priced at $100 and over per acre, and of course this would increase the costs of operation considerably. I would also remind the committee that these figures I have given do not include the increases in costs that have taken place during the last two years. The point I wish to make is that when you take into consideration the costs of farm operation and the price received for farm produce, farm loans are not a solution to the cost-price problem.

I now wish to put on record a resolution passed by Riding Mountain Farm Union Local 70 to indicate to the minister the thoughts of farmers on this problem. I shall not read the

full preamble to the resolution which reads as follows:

Be it resolved that an annual acreage payment of $2 per acre up to 200 acres be paid to every farmer with less than 501 acres listed in his 1965-66 Wheat Board permit book.

These farmers in this local by this resolution indicate their own thoughts and the thoughts of others in the province that the time has arrived because of the present cost-price squeeze that they need something in the form of a subsidy. I realize that the minister will be a little hesitant about recommending a subsidy to his colleagues in the cabinet. I for one would much prefer to see increased prices for agricultural products rather than any form of subsidy, but in this connection I would like to quote from a comparison report written by C. Knowlton Nash which appeared in the Canadian Farm Digest last spring, dealing with agriculture in the United States and in Canada. It reads in part as follows:

Canada has a widespread agricultural price support program, but it is a midget program compared to what Washington hands out as subsidies to farmers. Total U.S. government payments in 1964 amounted to $2,170 million, not counting extensive export subsidies on key agricultural products which amount into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

For wheat alone, the U.S. government provided domestic subsidies of one form or another last year amounting to well over $400 million and not a bushel of U.S. wheat is sold abroad without a heavy U.S. government export subsidy.

In the light of that report I can understand why a director of the Manitoba pool elevators said at their annual meeting last spring that surely the government could not expect the farmers of western Canada to compete with the treasury of the United States.

In the Liberal party farm program announced by the Prime Minister on Wednesday, October 6, 1965, the Prime Minister states:

The goal of the government's farm policy is that the family farm should be able to produce a living as good as the average industrial wage which is at present about $4,200 a year.

This ties in with my remarks about farm costs. What I would like to know is what the government proposes to do to implement that commitment in the present situation. I ask the minister, what steps has the government planned to fulfil this commitment? I suggest to the minister that his department should carry out research into production and marketing and be in a position to advise farmers on the prospect of markets for their products. I refer to Climax timothy as one example.

November 25, 1966

Over the years the government has endeavoured to induce farmers to diversify their production into such things as forage crops, chickens, etc. As part of this diversification farmers in Manitoba have gone into the production of forage crops. A few years ago there was a good market for these crops but at the present time the market is very low. I do not know if the minister is aware of this situation, and for his benefit I shall quote from an agricultural report published by his department on October 14, 1966:

Timothy: A crop of nearly 25 million pounds is forecast with the variety Climax accounting for nearly half of it. If the estimated amount is realized, the crop will exceed that of 1965 by about 8 million pounds and will top the previous record crop of 1960 by 2 million pounds. The estimated production is also 64 per cent greater than the ten-year average of 15,234,000 pounds. In addition to the 1966 production there was a carryover at June 30 of 4.6 million pounds-nearly four times that in 1965 and more than double the ten-year average carryover.

Surely, Mr. Minister, farmers are not in a position to inquire into the needs of the market. This is a service your department should give them. Had these farmers in Manitoba known last year that there was going to be such a huge surplus of Climax timothy they would have broken up their land and planted it with flax or some other remunerative crop. Last year certified Climax timothy sold in the Winnipeg area at 23.5 cents per pound. This year the dealers are offering 8 cents a pound. Surely there should be some guide lines from the department to indicate to farmers what they should produce and to indicate the needs of the market.

[DOT] (4:50 p.m.)

In concluding my remarks on this occasion I suggest to the minister that there are certain considerations which should be taken into account in an effort to keep farm costs under control. First there should be a review of the Agricultural Stabilization Act, keeping in mind that this act now is ten years old. It has not been updated and farmers are suffering in this regard. It should be reviewed in an effort to bring it more in line with present day production costs.

The next matter which should be considered is the Crowsnest freight rates. They should remain as they are. There should be no increase in the St. Lawrence Seaway tolls. The 11 per cent sales tax on building materials should be removed. Let me cite one case. I know of a young fellow who built a machine shed last year. It cost a little over $4,000. In addition to the problem in respect of the

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shortage of money and the low prices for his agricultural products he was obliged to pay $440 in sales tax on the material which went into that shed. The time has now arrived when the government should announce a policy for agriculture that will ensure to the farmer a price for his products which will bear a fair relationship to the cost of production plus a reasonable margin of profit.

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PC

Reynold Rapp

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Rapp:

Mr. Chairman, I should like to take this opportunity to deal with some of the problems with which farmers are faced. My colleagues in my party have pretty well covered all the problems but there is one with which I should like to deal. I refer to the cost of farm machinery. I should like to give credit to the Minister of Agriculture for having set up a commission to inquire into the cost of farm machinery, but the sad story in respect of this commission is that it is so terribly slow. I am sure it will take another three or four years before the commission will complete its inquiry and make its recommendations. In order to alleviate the serious problem facing the farmers I suggest to the minister that he see to it that the prices of farm machinery are frozen. In other words, during the time the investigation is under way the prices of farm machinery should remain the same as they were when the commission was first set up. Otherwise, before the report comes forward from the commission the prices of farm machinery will be so high that we will need another commission to investigate the reason prices rose so high during the time the investigation was being carried on.

I bring to the attention of the minister that unless this is done very few young farmers will be in a position to start farming on their own initiative or even to be able to take over where their fathers perhaps left off. This is the biggest problem facing the farmers today. In addition, the cost of the other items which a farmer must purchase is going up. The hon. member who just spoke mentioned the sales tax of 11 per cent. This is a big factor. Usually when a farmer reaches the point where he wishes to establish a new farm enterprise he has to build a new home, new machinery sheds and other buildings. The 11 per cent sales tax on building materials certainly is a great problem to those farmers who are starting up.

Of course, there are many other problems. For instance, with railway abandonments the farmers will be faced with difficulties in delivering their grain long distances to the elevators. The farmers very much appreciate the

November 25, 1966

S upp ly-A griculture

fact that for the time being railway abandonments will not take place, as was suggested here a few minutes ago. I also suggest that the minister pay a little more attention to the situation in respect of western agriculture. I know he has done some good work in so far as grain prices and milk prices are concerned, but there are still other problems with which we are faced, particularly in the summer when the price of eggs goes down very low.

I have had on the order paper for a long time a bill to provide that the Stabilization Board will arrange the prices by regions and seasons. For instance, in the prairie provinces the farmers are faced with low prices and when the Stabilization Board makes the calculation in respect of the final payments what happens is that when they take the average of the low prices on the prairies and the high prices in the eastern provinces the people in the eastern provinces receive the same deficiency payment that is received by the farmers in the west. I have brought this to the attention of the government on more than one occasion. I hope that the minister will take into consideration, when reading the speeches which have been made here, the matter of the Stabilization Board so that western farmers in particular will receive a fair price so far as eggs and hogs are concerned.

I suggest to the minister that the commission which is investigating the prices of farm machinery should be asked to speed up its investigation. Second, I suggest to him that there should be a freeze on the prices of farm machinery so that at this time the companies will not be able to continue increasing the prices.

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PC

Lewis Mackenzie Brand

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Brand:

Mr. Chairman, representing an urban riding as I do it may seem somewhat strange that I am rising to speak on the agricultural estimates. I think that the minister, having recently visited my riding, knows that every business and every area of the economy in my city is dependent upon prosperity in the farming area surrounding the city of Saskatoon. This is the reason I feel it is incumbent upon me to emphasize as forcefully as I can the remarks which have been made on this side of the house today concerning the manner in which farm income has decreased while we still have spiralling costs all across the country. When the price of farm land is going up every day and when nothing is being done about the high cost of farm machinery it is evident that the farmer does not have in his pocket the kind of money which those in many other segments of our economy have. I

should like to see the minister initiate a policy which would do something to improve this situation. In this regard I emphasize what has already been said today.

[DOT] (5:00 p.m.)

I recall a private member's bill which was brought in by the hon. member for Hum-boldt-Melfort-Tisdale with regard to unemployment insurance for farm workers. I have heard it stated that the government intends to do something about it, but what has happened to this intention we have heard so much about? This is very important in view of the great shortage of farm labour that exists across Canada and particularly in the province of Saskatchewan.

At this time the great South Saskatchewan dam project is under way. I hope that irrigation will come into effect in this area in the near future. While this is largely a provincial matter some direction from the Minister of Agriculture would go a long way toward encouraging the efficient use of agricultural land in this area. The minister well knows that cereal grain can be produced on one acre of land but that beef cattle cannot. Through encouragement the province of Saskatchewan could, in co-operation with the Department of Agriculture, make it known to the people in the area that by means of irrigation cereal and fodder crops could be grown, as a result of which more beef cattle could be produced in Saskatchewan. I urge the minister to do everything in his power to see that measures along these lines are adopted as soon as possible.

It is amazing to me, with the tremendous resources we have in this country, that we still have to import into Canada the broilers used by roadside chicken stands. We cannot produce enough broilers in our own province to meet this demand. Surely some of the provisions of ARDA could be used to encourage greater production of this kind in Saskatchewan in order to assist in meeting the food requirements of Canada as well as the rest of the world.

Many of our pork products could be exported as a result of a tremendous trade drive.

I am sure these products would be welcomed in Asian countries. Perhaps the minister can do something along this line.

It is disappointing that while we have plants for the production of edible vegetable oils, such as rapeseed oil, there are no special freight rates in existence to permit cheaper transportation of this product across this country. Something should be done about this.

November 25, 1966

Preferential freight rate treatment should be given to the producers of edible vegetable oil in Saskatchewan and other parts of the country.

It was strange and disappointing that as soon as national housing mortgage money was made available to small towns the interest rate was increased. This adds once again to the cost which must be borne by the rural areas of this country. Surely the minister could meet with his colleague the Minister of Finance and point out the inequity of this situation at this time.

Again I suppose I am treading on the toes of the Minister of Finance when I refer to the estate tax charged in rural areas as well as in the rest of the country. If we intend to encourage farmers to stay on the land, and certainly the trend of movement has been toward urban centres, we should ameliorate the estate tax provisions so that widows do not have to sell their farms. What is happening now is that widows must sell their assets to pay the taxes, as a result of which the farmland is lost to the family and becomes part of a larger farm unit. This is happening in spite of the efforts of this party when it was in power to try to preserve family farms through crop payments and so forth. There are many ways of looking after the estate tax problem. Either the exemption could be tripled or a widow could be given several years to pay the tax, relieving her of the obligation to sell her assets to meet this tax burden.

I do not have much more to say but I did want to make those few points and emphasize what other members have said. I encourage the minister to look once again at the port of Churchill which is only a few hundred miles from the province of Saskatchewan. Greater and better use of that port is essential in order to cut down the world price of products produced in Saskatchewan.

I am always amazed when I walk into a grocery store here-I know the minister has made similar sojourns himself, though more publicized than mine-to find that I can buy Danish bacon at 82 cents a pound compared with Canadian bacon which ranges in price from $1.19 per pound for side bacon to $1.85 or $1.95 for back bacon. Surely something can be done for these producers in respect of this very serious problem.

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LIB

John James Greene (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Greene:

Mr. Chairman, I should like at this time to try to answer some of the queries posed by hon. members opposite. First of all I should like to commend the committee on agriculture, forestry and rural development

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for the serious and exhaustive study it made of the estimates and the department's operations. This was the first occasion on which the estimates of the Department of Agriculture were dealt with by a standing committee. That committee considered these estimates on 26 different days over a period from February 17 to July 12. I am sure that is the longest period of time ever spent on the department's estimates and it indicates the seriousness of the approach taken by the committee. I and my officials appreciated the opportunity of appearing before the committee to discuss departmental affairs, and I trust that the committee members found the witnesses forthcoming and co-operative. In my opinion the reference of the estimates to the standing committee was a most useful procedure.

The standing committee in its report, which was published in Votes and Proceedings on July 13, 1966, reported that it had considered a number of the main estimates of the Department of Agriculture for 1966-67 and commended them to the house for approval. In this report the standing committee made recommendations in respect of several aspects of the department's operations. Let me assure hon. members that these are all being looked into very carefully, and progress has already made been on some of them.

The committee report referred to the principle of crop insurance and urged that its application be extended. As hon. members know, an amendment to the Crop Insurance Act was passed by the house on July 11. Since then Ontario and British Columbia have adopted insurance programs. All provinces except Quebec and Newfoundland now have crop insurance legislation and the Quebec government has given notice of its intention to introduce such legislation during the forthcoming session.

The committee recommended also that the department take more initiative in the recruitment of professional personnel. We have now strengthened our personnel organization and will, as the committee proposed, take a more initiative part in professional recruitment.

In view of the extensive evidence given to the committee by myself and my officials, as published in the minutes of that committee, I do not think it necessary at this juncture to take up the time of the committee of supply to go over those matters reported on by the committee. In the short time left to me I may go over one or two questions posed to me by hon. members.

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The hon. member lor Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot was concerned in respect of the importation of Italian tomatoes to his constituency and in the Montreal area. It is my understanding that the question of dumping of products of any kind is under the authority of the Department of National Revenue. That department watches very carefully any situations where dumping or unfair competition contrary to our law might be in effect. If such be the case, then prompt action is taken by the department. In this particular case the matter will be looked into. I shall draw it to the attention of the officials of the Department of National Revenue in case the provisions of the act are being breached in that area.

[DOT] (5:10 p.m.)

The hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot also referred to the question of the income of farmers generally. The difficult part about statistics and estimates is that at times the statistics and estimates that one person gets do not seem to conform with those another person gets. I have before me the Dominion Bureau of Statistics estimates for the year 1966. They indicate that the total net income of farm operators from farming operations in Canada for 1966 is estimated at $1,995 million compared with a $1,243 million average in the years 1959-63. This might indicate that the statistics of the hon. member in this regard were certainly not the same as those available to me from the Dominion Bureau of Statistics.

With respect to the question of the importation of butter, the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot had statistics which I am sure inadvertently were not correct. If I understood his address correctly, he was troubled by the fact that since this government took office more butter had been imported than had previously been the case. The average importation of butter between the years 1955 and 1958 was in the amount of 14,000 pounds per year, in the years 1959 to 1963 it was 2,000 pounds per year, and in the years 1964, 1965 and 1966 to date no butter whatsoever has been imported. There again I would submit that the hon. member has obtained his statistics from the wrong place-maybe the other place; I do not know.

The hon. member was also concerned about the decrease in butter consumption and the increase in margarine consumption. In order to allay his fears in this regard I might put the statistics on the record. The per capita consumption of butter was as follows: 1957, 19.4 pounds; 1958, 18.4 pounds; 1959, 17.3 pounds; 1960, 16.2 pounds; 1961, 15.8 pounds;

1962, 17.3 pounds; 1963, 18.6 pounds; 1964, 18.5 pounds; and 1965, 18.2 pounds. The per capita consumption of margarine in 1957 was 7.8 pounds; 1958, 8.5 pounds; 1959, 8.7 pounds; 1960, 9.4 pounds; 1961, 9.8 pounds; 1962, 9.9 pounds; 1963, 9.3 pounds; 1964, 8.9 pounds; and 1965, 8.7 pounds. So I think the hon. member's fears in this regard were unfounded in that butter seems to be holding its own and margarine increasing but slightly, with the exception of the years 1960, 1961 and 1962, when possibly because of the economic recession in those years butter consumption went down and margarine consumption went up.

The hon. member was also concerned about the effect of the 11 per cent sales tax on farmers' costs. I think other hon. members also expressed some concern in this regard. I can only say that there is no question but that this does raise farmers' costs. Farmers, if I have understood them correctly, are men who like to pay their own way, who appreciate that there is nothing for nothing in this world. I find it a little difficult to understand how it is that the very same members, who not only are in favour of expenditures made but press the government to make even higher expenditures for social welfare and other measures, want the government to cut taxes such as the sales tax.

I do not think this is responsible and that you fool neither the farmer nor anybody else in this way. If you want more social welfare measures such as old age pensions and things of this nature, which hon. members opposite have quite properly been concerned about, I fail to see how it is responsible at the same time to believe you can cut taxes and do these things. We on this side of the house believe that it is responsible to tax for expenditures. This sales tax, while it certainly has increased in some measure the cost of the farmer's purchases as well as everyone else's, is a responsible tax if the government is to fulfil its fiscal responsibilities as well as its social responsibilities.

I shoud like to refer briefly to the questions posed by the hon. member for Timiskaming. I believe he was concerned largely with the question of national marketing boards. I would point out to the hon. member a fact with which I am sure he is familiar, namely, that the decisions of the privy council, rendered I believe in 1934 or 1935, found that the federal marketing of commodities, except those concerned in intraprovincial or interprovincial trade, with ultra vires of the federal powers and that this was a provincial power.

November 25, 1966

Accordingly, any question of national marketing must be carried out in conjunction or in co-operation with the provinces. This involves the question of 11 jurisdictions working together. I do not need to tell hon. members that this is not always the easiest thing to do, although I agree with the hon. member's conclusion that the national marketing of many of our commodities would be the only effective way of achieving price stability and the reasonable certainty of a fair return to the farmer for his production.

I can assure hon. members that wherever possible we try to work in conjunction with the provincial ministers in these regards. I think we have had very fine co-operation from the provincial ministers. I believe that the advent of the National Dairy Commission, which is a national marketing agency of just the type envisaged by the hon. member, is witness to the government's efforts in this regard.

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PC

Richard Albert Bell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bell (Carleton):

When is the commission going to be appointed?

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LIB

John James Greene (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Greene:

I believe the commission will be appointed very shortly. The act is now proclaimed, as hon. members know. I think this is the first time in Canadian history that a national marketing board or federal agency of this kind, working in conjunction and cooperation with the provincial agencies, has been attempted. I trust it will be the vehicle for future commodity marketing on a national basis in the manner suggested by the hon. member.

[DOT] (5:20 p.m.)

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

Mr. Chairman, I wonder if I could ask the minister to allow me the liberty of making a brief comment at this time. I was engaged at another meeting earlier. If I can be permitted a few minutes to make some comments the minister might refer to them in the course of his reply.

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LIB
PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I

appreciate the minister's acquiescence in letting me speak now.

I wish to refer to a matter referred to earlier by the hon. member for Medicine Hat, namely, the problem regarding the shortage of cattle cars on the railways. This is an acute problem at the present time and, as the hon. member also pointed out, it affects the prices received by buyers at the cattle sales. In the bi-monthly sales at Kamloops large quantities of beef cattle go through that point at this

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time of the year, and I have been told of acute shortages of cars and the effect of this on prices. I have taken up this matter directly with the railway companies and I am glad to say that they have made strenuous and at least partially successful efforts to improve the situation. The delivery of cars has been increased but the problem is by no means solved.

The railways explained to me that the problem is that there is a tendency at present for normal shipments of cattle to be made by trucks so that the railways do not need as many cattle cars in steady operation as they used to in the past. In the fall, during the heavy marketing season, there is a very concentrated demand and they are faced with the problem of a physical shortage of cars owing to the necessity for rapid movement and rapid turnover. This is the reason for the shortage.

I mention this in brief outline because I should like to advance the idea that the minister discuss this problem with the railway companies. Apparently it recurs every year and I think it would be helpful indeed if it could be discussed between the department and the railway companies to see what longterm solution could be worked out.

I advance this suggestion not only with respect to the normal sales which take place every year but because of the prospect of very substantial commercial exports of cattle such as took place last year. There may well be a repetition and an increase in volume of cattle exported, so that the provision of cattle cars may be a matter of national and growing concern in the years to come. For these reasons I would like the minister to accept the suggestion that this problem be discussed with the railways as a matter of great concern to his department and to the whole nation.

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LIB

John James Greene (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Greene:

I would be very pleased to take the suggestion of the hon. member and consider the proposal he made. As hon. members know I have had occasion in the past to have charming and delightful interviews with the railway officials. I will be very glad to meet those delightful gentlemen again to see what can be done in this particular area.

I will also be pleased to consider the suggestion of the hon. member for Medicine Hat with respect to the cleaning of these cars, which is a problem with which I was not familiar until he drew it to our attention. I will also be pleased to take that into consideration.

November 25, 1966

Supply-Agriculture

In view of the shortage of time I will not go over in detail the points drawn to my attention by hon. members but I will undertake to consider very carefully the problems pointed out by the hon. members for Medicine Hat, New Westminster, Rosetown-Biggar, Rosth-ern, Humboldt-Melfort-Tisdale, and Dauphin, who I believe brought some very salient and important points to my attention, as well as the hon. member for Kenora-Rainy River on this side of the house.

I would like to point out something with respect to one or two points which were brought forth by many hon. members and in particular the question of the present wheat price. It is my understanding that by early October, 1966, earlier this year, the Canadian Wheat Board asking price was $2.11 per bushel on the basis of No. 1 Northern at Fort William-Port Arthur. This is only seven cents below the international world agreement maximum price, while the Vancouver price was within three cents of the maximum price. I think at this time there has certainly been a very considerable improvement in wheat prices, at which I am sure we can all rejoice.

With respect to the question of the initial payments referred to by the hon. member for Rosthern, I know he was anxious to give me all the credit he could in his native province but I am afraid I cannot fully accept the accolade which he has given me because I have not announced any increase in the initial payment. Of course this is not my responsibility but that of the Department of Trade and Commerce. I said that the question of the increase in the initial payment is under active consideration and that if any such announcement is to be made it will be made in due course by the Minister of Trade and Commerce.

With regard to the position of world wheat prices, much as I would like to have the authority which was imputed to me by the hon. member for Rosthern, I do not yet have the authority to set world wheat prices. However, I believe this is under active negotiation at GATT between the buyer and seller groups, and again it is my hope that an improved position in the I.W.A. prices will be possible in the not too distant future.

Some concern was expressed with respect to the effectiveness of the dairy payments. In this regard I must thank all hon. members for their patience and understanding. I know that in a program as a large as this one, where some 265,000 farmers are receiving payments either monthly or every three months, there

have been individual difficulties. Any of them which have been drawn to my attention by hon. members were immediately looked after to the best of my ability and that of my officials. I know that hon. members have received considerable correspondence from their constituents and this has added to their burden. I am happy to instruct them that as of today 80,000 more cheques went out to the farmers and that the total now paid to our Canadian farmers under this government's dairy support program in the current year since May 1 totals some $50 million. I believe that with the improvements we have announced-

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
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LIB

Herman Maxwell Batten (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

Order. I apologize for interrupting the minister but it being 5.30 p.m. it is my duty, pursuant to the provisions of the special order made on November 22, 1966 to interrupt these proceedings and forthwith put, without amendment or debate, every question necessary to dispose of the main and supplementary estimates now before the committee of supply. Accordingly, the Chair proposes to continue with the department now being considered and proceed in alphabetical order through those departments which remain before the committee of supply. Shall Item 1 carry?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
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?

Some hon. Members:

On division.

Item agreed to on division.

la. Departmental administration, $35,800.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
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LIB

Herman Maxwell Batten (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

Shall Item la carry?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
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?

Some hon. Members:

On division.

Item agreed to on division.

Research-

5. Administration, operation and maintenance including Canada's fee for membership in the international society for horticultural science, an amount of $450,000 for grants in aid of agricultural research in universities and other scientific organizations in Canada and the costs of publishing departmental research papers as supplements to the "Canadian Entomologist", $27,973,500.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
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November 25, 1966