Hon. Robert Winters (Minister of Trade and Commerce):
Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a statement regarding the final payment on wheat for the crop year ending July 31, 1967.
Producers delivered a record total of 626,533,860 bushels of wheat to the Canadian Wheat Board in the 1966-67 crop year, including 23,599,710 bushels of Durum wheat. The pool account for wheat was closed on February 29.
The amount of the final payment to be distributed to producers is an unprecedented $314,958,251, including $14,943,967 to be distributed to producers who delivered Durum wheat. Thus the previous record payment of $272 million, which was made on the 1963-64 pool account, has been surpassed by $43 million.
The average final payment for wheat other than Durum is a record 49.759
cents per bushel. The average final payment for Durum wheat is 63.323 cents per bushel. The over-all average of 50.270 cents per bushel is the largest average final payment in the history of the Canadian Wheat Board. The wheat board will begin mailing the final payment cheques tomorrow.
I wish to inform the house of the total prices realized by producers prior to the deduction of the 1 per cent Prairie Farm Assistance Act levy, on their deliveries of some of the more important grades of wheat. The farmers will receive a total per bushel, basis in store at the lakehead or Vancouver, as follows:
$1.98709 for No. 1 northern,
1.96117 for No. 2 northern,
1.91666 for No. 3 northern,
1.87758 for No. 4 northern, and
1.82677 for No. 5 wheat.
The prices realized on Durum grades total as follows:
$2.13402 for No. 1 C.W. Amber Durum,
2.10509 for No. 2, and
2.04954 for No. 3.
Congratulations are due to all concerned in the growing, handling, grading, transporting and selling of wheat for their contribution to a most successful marketing year. I would like to pay particular tribute to the Canadian Wheat Board, which so fully justified the faith placed in it by parliament last year when the powers of the board were made permanent.
Mr. Speaker, the farmers of western Canada will be pleased to receive at last the final payments for the crop which was delivered to the board during the 1966-67 crop year. I think, however, they will be somewhat disappointed because that price has not kept pace with the increased cost of production.
March 27, 1968
small thing in view of the legitimate expectation of improved world demand, and the farmers of this country will hold the government responsible for negligence when it comes to selling their wheat.
The statement just made by the Minister of Trade and Commerce will be welcomed. It is obvious there is much to be happy about, inasmuch as the final payment this year constitutes a record high in the history of the Canadian Wheat Board.
It is obvious that next year and in succeeding years the amount of the final payment will be smaller; first, because we have increased the amount of the initial payment; and second, because it is obvious, having passed more than half way through the current crop year, that the price the wheat board has been able to obtain on world markets is less than the price obtained in previous crop years.
The hon. member for Provencher (Mr. Jorgenson) referred to market and price prospects in the grain trade, and I certainly agree with what he said. I have referred in this house on previous occasions to the cost-price relationship as it exists today and as it has existed over the years, and I do not intend to take the time of the house to repeat my references to this subject. But in closing I would like to say that when the premier of Saskatchewan said yesterday that the Liberal candidates who wish to gather support in the western provinces will have to give a clear undertaking as to where they stand on the issue of wheat prices and costs of production, he was expressing an attitude which is prevalent across all the Canadian west. Over the past four years inflation has devalued the Canadian dollar and has caused an upward surge in the costs of agricultural production. This requires countervailing action by the government to increase the amount received by farmers for their production, in this case grain.
It is incumbent upon the minister and his colleagues to think seriously about the necessity for bringing in a policy, a two price system, whatever you wish to call it, that will bring the price more in line with what has transpired in terms of production cost increases over the past three or four years. Four years ago there was talk about having a $2 price for wheat. The equivalent today would be about $2.20, or very close to that.
March 27, 1968
The $1.98 which has been realized this year, including the final payment, is quite welcome, but on the other hand it falls far short of that level of price which government spokesmen only a few years ago said was necessary and justified.