May 3, 1972

NDP

Alfred Pullen Gleave

New Democratic Party

Mr. Gleave:

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The bill deals with the subjects I have mentioned. The bill indicates that provision shall be made, after land has been sold, for an individual to remain on that land if he does not want to move away. The bill looks at that situation. May I point out, with all respect, that it looks at the situation in which

May 3, 1972

the farm operator is of advanced age and chooses to remain on the farm. In that case, he may retain some buildings and a small plot of land, and let somebody else work the farm.

If I understand the bill correctly, it also provides that the farmer may operate another enterprise on the farm in addition to what is regarded as a legitimate farm enterprise. I think I am right in saying that, and all these matters are part and parcel of the bill. The minister or the department, as the case may be, were quite right in producing the document I hold in my hand. I fully expect that it will be discussed in the House and in committee. If I am wrong, I hope the minister will tell me. May I go on record as saying that I believe it will be discussed. The matters mentioned in this document are well within the scope of this bill. There is a nice chart on page 10 which shows the direction one can go if one chooses either the course of farm development or the course of non-farm employment. This document suggests the amounts of money that will become available from the Farm Credit Corporation to help to make this sort of program possible. For instance, it will help to make farm counselling possible; the corporation will help to make farm management programs possible. That, I understand, will be part of the program.

It is envisaged that programs will be developed in cooperation with the provinces if possible or, if that is not possible, at the federal level entirely; these are to be farm management or farm advisory programs and their purpose is to assist the borrower obtain a better income pattern than he achieved in previous times. That sort of thing happened immediately after the second world war under the Veterans' Land Act or the veterans land credit program. I cannot remember the right name of the act. In those cases, management and advisory programs were tied in with the lending function so that assistance could be given to the borrower. At that time, the plan worked reasonably well.

Anyone aware of what happened in economics immediately after the war knows that between 1946 and 1956, roughly, a combination of circumstances arose such as the farmers of this country have rarely enjoyed. Prices for farm products rose steadily. The price of the farmer's produce was going up, while the price of those things the farmer had to buy was stable or increasing very gradually. Those conditions, combined with a good credit program, enabled farmers to make progress. Those who returned from overseas and decided to take up farming as an occupation were able to make real progress.

This afternoon I am trying to emphasize this: if this credit program is to be effective, the circumstances which existed in the postwar years must be recreated. Prices must increase enough to enable the farmer to keep up with the cost of production. Also, the government must act with regard to the cost of production and control within reasonable or practical limits, or even workable limits, the increases in the cost of the farmer's operation. Unless that is done, I suggest that the result in X number of years will be unfortunate. That is what I have tried to emphasize this afternoon, and it is most important for us to remember that. Conditions such as I have described are more important than mere quantities of money. The effect of those conditions may or may not be more impor-

Farm Credit Act

tant than the effect of the document in my hand. I agree that this document will have very, very important effects. I am sure that the minister and others who worked on it within the department also regard it as an important step forward in policy. I am sure they knew what they were doing and what they were proposing. I therefore hope that we give this measure and the policies involved the thorough examination and thought which they require.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM CREDIT ACT
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS AND POWERS AND CAPITAL OF CORPORATION
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SC

Joseph Adrien Henri Lambert

Social Credit

Mr. Adrien Lambert (Bellechasse):

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Olson) made a very clever presentation of Bill C-5.

This legislation purports to bring major amendments to the Farm Credit Act and I would like to thank the minister for his very appropriate explanations on the principles which have led to the drafting of this measure. If we consider but one of the provisions of this bill, I can say that although we are going backwards, we are, at the same time, "progressing". I say "progressing" because we seem to realize that the family farm should be encouraged and preserved if Canadian agriculture is to improve.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is the duty of every government to take all necessary steps to ensure that the most important industry of the country, namely agriculture, enjoys excellent health. All classes of society are interested in the well-being of agriculture and in farmers earning enough to live, not necessarily like millionaires, but at least decently in a country where this objective is attainable.

Now, Mr. Speaker, one of the clauses of Bill C-5 proposes to increase the Corporation's capital from $56 million to $66 million. I think that this is an unquestionable necessity. The questionable point on which I would like to draw the attention of the Minister of Agriculture is that if we recognize that farmers need credit to develop their operations and modernize their machinery, we should also recognize that they are entitled to an income such as would enable them to repay both principal and interests.

If we refer to the brief presented in April to the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) and to the cabinet by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture-it should not be lies, as those people come from all parts of Canada and have met with party representatives to read this brief to them after presenting it to the cabinet-we can read, at the first paragraph-I quote:

The present meeting comes after a year during which farmers have seen their profits go down to a disastrously low level-lower, in terms of dollars, than during any comparable year, and, in real terms, 73 per cent lower than it was 10 years ago. The forecast for 1972-let us hope that it will not come true-is for an even worse situation. The pressure due to the cost-price squeeze is becoming alarming and overwhelming to a degree never experienced before.

Authorized representatives of the farm industry throughout Canada are keeping a close check on markets and on the economic situation of agriculture, and take the trouble to come to Ottawa in order to make the government aware of a situation which could become worse unless steps are taken to correct it.

Hon. members will remember-as the minister referred to it in his comments yesterday-a highly disastrous situa-

May 3, 1972

Farm Credit Act

tion which occurred in the dairy industry a few years ago. I remember being part of the group of industrial milk producers which came to Ottawa on May 15, 1967, to protest excessively low prices and to ask the government to improve its dairy policy. At that time, we had made representations, and the government had promised to introduce a long-term policy designed to improve the situation. To be quite honest, I must recognize that improvements did take place and that the situation of industrial dairy producers was much better in 1971 than in 1970. But it should not stop there.

When, in a field like the dairy industry, there is a trend toward improvement it should continue. Even yesterday I received a representation from a producer. It is all very well for the government to do its utmost to maintain prices, but the co-operation of the industry is also a requisite.

On March 29, I believe, the minister announced the new dairy policy for the year 1972-73 and, quoting from memory, I believe he mentioned that industrial milk would increase by 20 cents or more. I have here a notice sent to a producer, who forwarded it to me, which reads as follows:

On March 30 last, the federal government announced its dairy policy for the year 1972-73. The only change is an increase in the support price of powdered skim milk by 0.03 cents a pound.

In keeping with this policy and pending completion of negotiations for a new agreement now taking place with the Federalism of Industrial Milk Producers, we are increasing our basic price for BULK MILK, Grade A from $4.25 to $4.40 and Grade B from $4.12 to $4.27 per cwt.

The increase is of 15 cents only. I will be told that this is just pending completion of negotiations between producers and the Federation. However, knowing the facts I remember only too well-unfortunately-that in the past increases granted by the federal government did not always fully benefit the producers of industrial milk.

So, if you take the basic price of $4.25 and add the subsidy, you only get $5.50. This is what we were asking for when we made representations to the government in 1967. We got it, but production costs have gone up since then. The producers now get a better price but production costs have also increased to such an extent that the situation tends to deteriorate. I commend the members of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture for bringing this matter to the attention of the government.

In another agricultural field, we witnessed the disastrous situation faced by hog producers. I have called the attention of the Minister of Agriculture on this matter on many occasions and I admit that something has been done. But the fact remains that the Canadian Federation of Agriculture is asking the government to improve the lot of hog producers. Their resolution reads as follows:

(a) That the federal government in 1971 raise the level of support prices for hogs by 80 to 90 per cent of the five-year average and that payments be made twice a year and for all graded hogs; and

(b) That the Canadian Federation of Agriculture urge the Agricultural Stabilization Board to implement a stabilization program with holdbacks.

(c) In order to maintain a balanced supply and some stability in the hog industry, that the federal government make an extra

payment of $20 per sow up to a maximum of 50 sows per producer to cover the period from July to December 1971.

Having received many briefs and letters concerning this matter from producers in my constituency, I have promised them that I would avail myself of the first opportunity and bring their just claims to the attention of the government. I have here a petition requesting all their representatives to convey the mesasage to the government.

All of this to say that some sectors of agriculture were hit by a recession in 1971, and that a worse situation may be in the making for 1972. It is very nice indeed to consider increasing the borrowing ability of farmers up to $100,000, which, in some cases, may prove useful. But I think that we must take right now the necessary steps-and, if at all possible, imagine new ones-to ensure that the borrowers of today are the owners of tomorrow, and to provide them with the income which will permit them to reimburse their debt, both principal and interests.

To achieve this, half of their income should not be used to reimburse the interests on their loan. In its brief, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture has included a relevant proposal. As a member of this House, I have promised them to serve as their spokesman and, with the gist of their brief in mind, to invite the government to improve the situation in this area as well as in all the others.

In fact, the resolution reads as follows:

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture recommends the implementation of a comprehensive credit program at the federal and provincial levels in order to make available to farm operators short, middle and long term credit. This aim could be reached through a national credit co-operative system with two services: (a) a farm co-operative credit organization to help viable farm operations; (b) a credit service for rural development to help farmers who are trying to make a success of their business.

With regard to the interest rate, the Federation recommends the following, and I quote:

IT IS THEREFORE STIPULATED that the Canadian Federation of Agriculture is trying to obtain an interest rate, in respect of all loans granted by the Farm Credit Corporation or under the Veteran's Land Act, that will be established on a more stable principle and should not exceed 5 per cent.

Mr. Speaker, those are worthwhile recommendation that should be acted upon with a view to achieving the desired result, which is to enable farmers as well as egg, hog, poultry and beef producers, to meet their obligations, so as to maintain a constant balance between income possibilities and what is required of producers and distributors.

Mr. Speaker, the speech delivered last night by the Minister of Agriculture, there was something that pleased me and which will please, I think, a great number of people, because this problem is a recurring one. We had stressed it, I believe, when the Farm Credit Act was amended in 1968 or 1969. At any rate, I remember that we had drawn the attention of the Minister of Agriculture to this inadequacy in the act.

The minister said yesterday as reported on page 1843 of Hansard, and I quote:

-The amendment in this bill provides for a maximum of $100,000 to any farmer alone or jointly with others or in respect of a single farming enterprise. The size of individual farm units is increasing steadily-

May 3, 1972

I have some doubts about this, according to statistics. However, I would not give too much importance to this statement because, to be fair, one has to look fully into the situation and check whether such a statement is true or not or whether it is an actual fact.

I quote further:

-labour is being replaced in many cases by capital and the purchasing power of the dollar has decreased a little during recent years-

That merely confirms what I said a while ago, that the cost of production has increased alarmingly and that even though prices may have increased in the dairy industry, they have not done so at the same rate as production costs; this explains why many farmers cannot expand normally to achieve the level of production that would correspond to the equipment they must acquire to make up for the lack of farm labour.

We noticed that in many parts of the country when we visited it. We asked the farmers this "Why do you have so much equipment on your farm"? The answer was always the same "We cannot get enough help and must therefore use the most modern equipment to do the work at the right time of the season.

That is how farmers all across Canada ran into debt and why many of them had to give up farming because they were not getting the income needed to meet their commitments.

In another part of his speech, the hon. Minister of Agriculture said, and I quote:

The principle of relating loan ceilings to the number of farm operators rather than to the size of the business has proven in practice to be inequitable for individual farmers employing hired labour or people other than those with an equity in the farm unit. The principle has also proved inequitable, I suggest, in situations where the farmer operating his farm is assisted by sons or daughters of minor age, compared to two or more owner operators in a farming operation or a form of partnership. We want to correct that situation.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased with this statement and if we can really reach the goal mentioned in the statement I just read, I believe we really will have been most helpful to many farmers throughout Canada.

At any rate, I should like to say in concluding that as recently as this afternoon the Minister of Agriculture in his answer to a question stated that a small farm policy had been established for buying back and ensuring the maintenance of small farms.

Since we are often asked questions on this matter, I should like to know the full particulars of such a policy. I support the member who asked the question because it is very important for a member representing a rural constituency to be able to provide the required information that will help people find a solution to their problems as quickly as possible.

Thus the need to preserve the family farm, or the small enterprise is being recognized and even if it is not always possible to come to an agreement with departments of other governments, something will indeed have to be done. I do not like idleness. Give me action and give me progress.

Farm Credit Act

Today, Wednesday, May 3, there is a news item in the newspaper Le Devoir which somehow amazes me and I quote:

Farming in Quebec is ill mainly on account of conflicts between Ottawa and Quebec

Indeed, there have been quite a number of those conflicts between Ottawa and Quebec!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM CREDIT ACT
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS AND POWERS AND CAPITAL OF CORPORATION
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?

An hon. Member:

-those damned conflicts-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM CREDIT ACT
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS AND POWERS AND CAPITAL OF CORPORATION
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SC

Joseph Adrien Henri Lambert

Social Credit

Mr. Lambert (Bellechasse):

I nearly said it myself- those conflicts have always been fought at the expense of the taxpayers, of the small farmers, of the small businesses.

I wish we would meet the challenge and stop creating fake conflicts. Instead, we should earnestly try and sit around a table and ask ourselves whether it is possible to initiate projects that could strengthen our agricultural industry in Quebec, in Ontario and indeed, in all the provinces and thereby bring happiness and prosperity to the farming community.

There is an excerpt from the article I started quoting and which cannot fail to disturb me:

The authors of this white paper, on the other hand, point out that almost 25,008 of the 70,000 Quebec farmers, that is 36 per cent, get permanent or temporary assistance from the Department of Social Affairs.

That is not very encouraging, and is evidence of a situation of which we cannot be proud.

I think that if we want to act positively, we must adopt legislation allowing those small enterprises to be self-sufficient. We must stop, at last, taxing citizens who are working day and night to accommodate some of our people who would rather remain idle and unproductive.

Those citizens will not accept it. They are proud people who rightfully expect their work to bring them the income they need to live decently, without having to rely on others.

Mr. Speaker, I think that the time has come for the government to establish a workable policy likely to assure the farming population of that which everybody wishes them for that matter, specifically, the possibility of living decently in Canada.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM CREDIT ACT
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS AND POWERS AND CAPITAL OF CORPORATION
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LIB

Marcel Lessard (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Marcel Lessard (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Agriculture):

Mr. Speaker, as the House continues to study Bill C-5, to amend the Farm Credit Act, I am pleased to rise to take part in the debate with the hon. members who have already stated their views.

First of all, I wish to congratulate the hon. member for Bellechasse (Mr. Lambert) for a fine speech. Actually, I find myself in agreement with many of the views he expressed during the few minutes his speech lasted.

Since he referred to a matter of very great concern to me, specifically, the statement made by the Minister of Agriculture for the province of Quebec, Mr. Toupin, I should like to say to this hon. minister that a lot remains for him to do in his province and that, for instance, he should see to it that his credits-some $84 million-are

May 3, 1972

Farm Credit Act

wisely spent, instead of minding the business of other levels of government.

I for one believe that when a minister is making such out of place and preposterous statements-as said my neighbor-as did the Quebec minister of Agriculture yesterday, those statements are quite offending. This simply reveals a certain weakness and the fact that he is using excuses to justify it.

I would like now to compare-although any comparison is unsatisfactory-the Quebec and Ontario agriculture budget. The Ontario agriculture budget is $20 million lower with twice as many farmers and a production twice as high as that of Quebec and yet the Ontario Department of Agriculture employs 6,000 fewer people than the Quebec Department of Agriculture.

So if we Quebeckers want to find the reason for the difficulties faced by Quebec farmers, we should not blame only Ottawa or the farmers of other provinces. We should begin by looking around us in Quebec, find out our weaknesses and correct them.

The hon. Mr. Toupin should first improve the laws of his province instead of commenting on what is done elsewhere. He is wondering whether the overlapping jurisdictions of both governments, provided for in the constitution, is wrong. If he says it is wrong, maybe it is. Perhaps the solution would be to have only one jurisdiction. If we should have only one jurisdiction it should be at the federal level as requested by many farmers I have met.

Having said this, I should like to refer to another comment the hon. member for Bellechasse made about the dairy policy. I know I am straging somewhat from the subject but since farm credit affects the production of various farm products I believe farm loan policy can certainly be related to production, and particularly to dairy production in the province of Quebec and throughout Canada.

The hon. member referred to the increase in income of Quebec dairy producers. In fact, they were much higher than in previous years. I quite agree that there should be further improvement.

However, the hon. member, when he indicated 1971 and 1972 incomes for the dairy industry a few minutes ago, omitted to mention a factor which I consider to be quite important: the extra bonus dairy producers receive over and above the set base price. Besides the $4.25, plus the $1.25 grant, the bonus received by producers should also be taken into account.

I personally read the report and the hon. member for Roberval (Mr. Gauthier) will be able to bear me out, since the Normandin Co-operative in his district paid out a bonus of $1.50 per hundredweight for the last three months of the year, over and above the base price. That is a fantastic achievement, for which full credit must be given to the Normandin Co-operative in the riding of Roberval and in the Saguenay area.

The present situation has also prevailed in other regions of Quebec where producers have actually received from their plants much more than the basic price, not taking into account the year-end refunds and the value increases also distributed by their firms.

(Mr. Lessard (Lac-Saint-Jean).]

I come back, Mr. Speaker, to Bill C-5 in order to determine more or less the objectives we are trying to pursue. This is a new step on the road of general improvement of our agricultural policy.

Mr. Speaker, the comprehensive aim of the amendments is to increase the Farm Credit Corporation's ability to meet the need for long-term credits towards the establishment of profitable agricultural enterprises and to give the corporation the necessary powers to perform such tasks or functions it might be entrusted with for the implementation of other programs.

The powers now vested in the corporation enable it to reach its aims and objectives, that is to make agricultural loans, to see to it that the law is implemented and to control agricultural credit transactions. The corporation employs a staff specializing in farm appraisal and evaluation of business transactions related to farm lands in any agricultural region of Canada.

The present amendment will enable the minister to draw upon such expert staff for the administration of whole or part of other programs such as the program of land transfers which is part of the small farms development and improvement program.

In accordance with the legislation now in force, the Minister of Finance (Mr. Turner) is authorized to pay to the corporation an amount of $56 million which when multiplied 25 times as provided in the legislation, will enable it to obtain enough capital to make loans to farmers.

But it so happens that at the end of 1972, the funds available under this act will be reduced to $245 million, so that the present proposal to increase the operating fund of the Corporation by $10 million, that is from $56 to $66 million, will allow, through the multiplication factor of 25, for an additional amount of $250 million. We believe that through this change, there will be sufficient funds available to cover demand for the next few years.

Anyway, this House sits regularly, and if additional funds came to be required I do not think we would hesitate to increase available funds then, for the farm industry has to pursue its objectives.

The amendment to section 16, Mr. Speaker, limits the granting of loans to Canadians or landed immigrants under the Immigration Act who own farm land, and the purpose of the proposed amendment is to allow the granting of loans only to assist people who are Canadian citizens or who intend to settle permanently in Canada.

The important point, Mr. Speaker, is that of the total amounts which can be loaned to farmers.

Under the existing act, there are, in fact, three classes of farmers, to whom different maximum amounts can be loaned. Those three classes are now going to be eliminated, as far as maximum amounts are concerned, and from now on all farmers will be able to borrow up to $100,000, depending on the security they can put and on the assessment which will be made of their property and of its potential productivity.

There is also another interesting point to consider, Mr. Speaker. Although the Corporation is allowed under the

May 3, 1972

Act to grant credits for the development of mortgaged lands owned by a secondary non-farming enterprise, the Corporation is not authorized to take into consideration any possible non-farming income derived from the farm in assessing the value of the land for the purpose of calculating the amount of the loans.

Therefore, an amendment will make it possible to take such factors into consideration in future, which means that we shall be able to increase the basis for the calculation of the amount of a loan, which is assessed at 75 per cent of the land yield. But in restricting the items which could be included in the cost benefit analysis, you obviously reduce loan possibilities and limit the maximum loans to be granted to farmers. By including other forms of income under this amendment, we shall enable farmers to qualify for larger amounts even on the basis of as restricted a unit.

There is another very important point, Mr. Speaker. In my opinion, it may be the most important of all. It is the removal of the age limit. Under the present act, one must be 21 years of age to apply to the Farm Credit Corporation for a loan. From now on, this age limit will be eliminated, and the age of majority prevailing in each province will apply. In some provinces, majority is at the age of 18, in others you reach majority at 19. In those provinces where the coming of age has not changed yet, the age limit will necessarily remain the same as is now prevailing in those provinces, that is, 21 years.

This will enable young farmers to obtain loans and to go into farming with their fathers or other people, or to invest and start in that field. This of course will not solve the problem which the young people are facing at the present time when they want to start farming. If they have no capital, it remains difficult, but through that amendment, we will surely make it easier for them and the number of young farmers who will definitely choose that calling and who will become owners will certainly increase. I am convinced of that, having met young farmers. Incidentally I would like to say to those who take a gloomy view of agriculture that after having heard all those criticisms, it is not surprising that they take such gloomy views. Recently, I attended a meeting where a group of farmers of my constituency were discussing farming problems. Unfortunately, I must admit it, the 50 or 60-year olds were rather pessimistic. However, four young men had remained silent throughout the evening. At the end of the evening, I asked them if they had no views to express, which they did. To my great surprise and satisfaction, of the four young men, aged 22 to 26, three were owners of their farms, and the fourth one worked on his father's farm. They all told me that they were very hopeful and happy to be engaged in agriculture, and that they would not change for another trade. They said "We see our relatives, our friends, who went to school and who today are stuck in the industrial society. We much prefer our trade of farmer, and we entertain great hopes for the future because we have a future to build, whereas our parents, who lived through difficult periods, recall the past and their difficulties instead, and have not, of course, many years ahead of them to build. They are rather pessimistic."

That pleased me and I can assure hon. members that they are not the only ones to see farming as a promising

Farm Credit Act

career in the future. Agriculture does have a future, and more and more young people will join the ranks of farmers and follow those who now live off the farm.

Here, I should warn those who take as sole basis the average age of active farmers. It is said that the average age of farm workers and farm owners in Canada is around 55 years. Obviously, such a situation is alarming, and justly so, but one forgets that, in this very special industry, often the son succeeds to the father or is presently employed by the father. The latter is the owner and he is the one who is considered when establishing the average age of the active farmer. But if we consider that his son, aged 22, 23 or 27 years, works with him in most cases and if we figure out the average age of the two persons occupied in agriculture, we soon realize that the average age is, in fact, much closer to 35 than to 55. That gives us greater confidence and allows us to consider the situation in a much more objective way.

Mr. Speaker, we hear criticisms of all kinds. Opposition members were saying earlier that the agricultural situation was disastrous. When considering statistics and various reports we can no doubt draw many conclusions. I can come to one, for instance, in reading the 1970-71 report of the Canadian Wheat Board. In Table No. 3, on page 3, dealing with the volume of grain products in the Prairies over the years, it is sure that I can come to a strange conclusion, for what it is worth, but one may that conclusion. Our colleagues opposite are drawing the very same kind of conclusion. According to a table, at the time the Conservatives were in power from 1957 to 1961 here is what happened. In 1956, the total grain production reached 1,202 million bushels. But, unfortunately, it happened that the Conservatives were in office during the seven lean years and here is what happened between 1957 and 1962: the production dropped from 1,202 million bushels to 784 million in 1957, then it went up to 824 million bushels in 1958, to 854 million bushels in 1959, to 970 million bushels in 1960, and dropped to 524 million bushels in 1961. A real record! This includes all grains. It is to be noted that there were only 260 million bushels of wheat. That happened at the time when the "Prairie experts", those who are in the opposition, who criticize the government, were in office for some time. If we consider their record, Mr. Speaker, we find it far from good!

In 1971, we have the highest figures ever reached in the last 25 years: 1,563 million bushels of grain were produced. Those are official figures.

Are conditions so bad in the Prairie provinces? Not as bad as that, but, of course, not as good as we would like them to be. I am sure the Minister of Agriculture is the first to wish the situation would be much better, and I am sure all members of the Liberal party as well as those of the opposition agree with him. Let us be realistic. To paint the situation in black as is now being done does not serve the profession in which they are engaged. Mr. Speaker, I blame them because their attitude, their constant criticisms about the agricultural situation tends to downgrade the profession in which they are engaged, as well as the people they claim to represent. As for me, I say the opposite: The situation is not perfect, but it is definitely better than the one depicted by members of the opposition.

Mr. Speaker, through the bill that we shall pass in a few days with the co-operation of all members, we shall cer-

1880

May 3, 1972

Farm Credit Act

tainly succeed in further improving the situation somewhat. It will gradually improve. We cannot expect drastic changes because too many production units are involved in farming. Various attempts were made to further help agriculture, for instance, through the Farm Products Marketing Council, and we know how difficult it was to have this legislation passed and put into our statute books. We are slowly building something and within a few years, our agriculture will be greatly improved, and we shall certainly be in a position to say that the Canadian government has introduced a long term agricultural policy, and that our farmers are considered as full-fledged citizens.

Several problems may give rise to some criticisms voiced by our friends of the opposition.

Last week Farm Credit Corporation chairman Owen appeared before the agriculture committee. Our friends opposite questioned him at length and one of our colleagues tried to emphasize the fact that farming conditions in Quebec were much better than elsewhere in Canada, quoting the fact that only 6 per cent of loans granted by the Farm Credit Corporation were in arrears, that is only 6 per cent of Quebec borrowers were behind with their reimbursement in comparison with 21, 24 and 25 per cent in the three Prairie provinces. They then drew the following conclusion: farming conditions in Quebec are clearly better than in the Prairies.

Mr. Speaker, it is a rather hasty analysis of the statistics, since in Quebec the circumstances are different; there is a Farm Credit Bureau which enables farmers to obtain credit at better terms. That is why very few Quebec farmers borrow under the terms of that federal act. Only big farmers do so in Quebec because they can then get additional amounts, greater than those granted by the province.

Quebec farmers do not have to borrow large amounts at the provincial level. Those who have large farms-and they are growing in number-borrow at the federal level. According to the statistics, $18 million were loaned last year to Quebec farmers, because there too farms are being regrouped. People need larger amounts of money and therefore turn in increasing numbers to federal sources of credit. That, in spite of our good friend, the hon. Mr. Toupin of Quebec, who would have us hand over all those amounts of money, that he might manage it and be sole judge in the matter.

Is the situation of the western farmer as critical as some would claim? I should like to quote a table published on page 37 of the report of the Farm Credit Corporation which gives the index of Canadian farm land values per acre, by province, during the last 20 years.

I shall not read the whole table, Mr. Speaker, but I shall give an idea of the increase in the value of agricultural properties.

In British Columbia, for instance, in 1951, one acre of land was worth an average of $110. In 1970, or 20 years later, it was worth $286.

In Alberta, for the same years, the figures were $112 then and $288 now.

In Saskatchewan, $117 in 1951 and $292 now.

[Mr. Lessard (Lac-Saint-Jean) .1

In Manitoba, $117 also, and $233 now.

In Ontario, where a truly specific problem exists, land was worth $127 an acre in 1951 and after a fantastic leap it was worth $435 an acre in 1970.

In Quebec, from $125 there has been an increase to $249.

In New Brunswick, from $116 to $222.

In Nova Scotia, from $112 to $214.

In Prince Edward Island, from $115 to $196.

So, one can see that there is an increase in the value of the acre of land. One can see that Western farmers of course are sitting on a larger fortune than farmers in Ontario, the Maritime provinces and Quebec because their lands are much smaller which brings from our honorable colleague for Crowfoot (Mr. Horner) the comment that Western farmers live in poverty and die rich. It may be true that they live in poverty,-I am not in a position to judge-but I doubt if all of them live like the poor. When considering reports and the standard of living of Westerners, one realizes that some of them are drawing very good incomes.

So I am not prepared to say that they all live in poverty. But, Mr. Speaker, one thing is certain: they die a lot richer than farmers in the Maritimes and Quebec because of a considerably higher appreciation.

Only yesterday, I read in a newspaper that Americans are presently buying land in southern Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta for twice the price normally asked on the local market. Therefore, the reason why land out West is worth that much, is because it can be put into production. Besides, it is said that it has value as an investment. If such is the case, the land situation in the Prairies is not as bad as we are led to believe.

Farmers are doing a disservice to agriculture in painting everything in such dark colours, in Canada, agriculture is rather healthy and it will become healthier in as much as we work together toward its improvement. I think this is the purpose of this bill and we will certainly achieve it with the co-operation of all members.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM CREDIT ACT
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS AND POWERS AND CAPITAL OF CORPORATION
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PC

John (Jack) Henry Horner

Progressive Conservative

Mr. J. H. Horner (Crowfoot):

Mr. Speaker, one finds oneself a little bit amused by the two tables which the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean (M. Lessard) used in defence of his argument. One of them had a great deal to do with production. He stressed that in such and such a period of time production was so much, but that under the Liberals in recent years production was so much more. He fails to take into consideration that weather has a lot to do with production. Further, in recent years farmers have been quick to use all the advanced technology to increase production, such as more efficient use of fertilizer, better seeding methods, and better farming methods in general. This all would tend to show that in latter years production has increased.

The hon. member then quoted from another table taken from the document on farm credit and related statistics put out by the DBS. It is to be found at page 37 of that document, and deals with the value of land. But he fails to realize that inflation plays a great part in the value of

May 3, 1972

land. He never took that into consideration. He suggested that land values had increased over 20 years. Shouldn't the value of land increase? Mr. Speaker, that was the only table in that book that he could have used to accurately illustrate conditions today. The hon. member was quite right when he said that all members of parliament should do what they can to aid agriculture, to help the farmers, and not just paint a black picture. I am attempting to do just that. I think that the amendment moved by the hon. member for Mackenzie (Mr. Korchinski) is a direct aid.

The hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean also suggested that the average age of farmers today is over 53 years. I think I read somewhere that it is 58 years. It is high, Mr. Speaker. We must encourage more young farmers to enter the business. The hon. member went to a meeting and, in his own words, he said he was surprised to find that three or four young people at that meeting were in farming. I contend that this bill should be designed to encourage young people to go into farming, and the amendment moved by the hon. member for Mackenzie would do that.

The young farmer has a great deal to contribute. He has youth, energy, and the willingness to accept new ideas and changes that can help agriculture. We should make an all-out effort to encourage young farmers to stay on the land. The amendment proposes that where a young farmer under a certain age meets certain performance standards with regard to the repayment of a loan, a certain percentage of the interest would be forgiven. I think this would encourage young people to get back to the land. Under the terms of the bill a young farmer can borrow up to $100,000, but in the first year he would have to pay $8,000 interest. The amendment suggests that in certain cases payment of the interest could be deferred.

For a long time the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Olson) was a Social Crediter. Since becoming a minister, he has forgotten about the evils of high interest rates. That is one of the things you have to forget. I point out that, under his jurisdiction, for two years the Farm Credit Corporation charged an interest rate of 8 per cent, or above that. The minister used to oppose high interest rates when he was a Social Crediter.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM CREDIT ACT
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS AND POWERS AND CAPITAL OF CORPORATION
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PC

Robert Elgin McKinley

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McKinley:

But anything for power.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM CREDIT ACT
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS AND POWERS AND CAPITAL OF CORPORATION
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PC

John (Jack) Henry Horner

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Horner:

Yes, anything for power, as my hon. friend from Huron suggests. It is amazing what men will do for power. They forget all the concepts and ideas that they believed in for years.

This bill will do two things. It will allow the Farm Credit Corporation to make larger loans to individuals, in fact

Farm Credit Act

loans up to $100,000, and it will allow it to make loans to non-farmers and to farmers whose principal occupation is not farming. The minister shakes his head to indicate disagreement. I do not know who else is going to carry out this small farms program. Certainly, that is one of the criteria in the small farms program. I read that in the fancy document which was put out by the minister on March 8, 1971. Mr. Speaker, a full year has gone by since then, and he has not sold this idea to any province. But he says that even if no province accepts it, he is going to proceed with it.

I wonder what is wrong with this idea. Apparently he has permission to implement it. His estimates are passed. He has already spent money under this program. We are told that it will cost $150 million in five years.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM CREDIT ACT
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS AND POWERS AND CAPITAL OF CORPORATION
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LIB

Marcel Lessard (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Lessard (Lac-Saint-Jean):

Seven years.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM CREDIT ACT
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS AND POWERS AND CAPITAL OF CORPORATION
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PC

John (Jack) Henry Horner

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Horner:

In seven years, then. The minister cannot blame the hon. member for Crowfoot for holding up this legislation.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM CREDIT ACT
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS AND POWERS AND CAPITAL OF CORPORATION
Permalink
LIB

Horace Andrew (Bud) Olson (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Olson:

I never tried to.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM CREDIT ACT
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS AND POWERS AND CAPITAL OF CORPORATION
Permalink
PC

John (Jack) Henry Horner

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Horner:

The program has been established for over a year, and no province has accepted it. What is wrong with it? I see that it is nearly six o'clock, Mr. Speaker, so perhaps on another occasion when this legislation is before us he will be able to explain why he has not been able to sell it to the provinces.

There are many things that could be changed in the Farm Credit Corporation management that would alleviate a lot of the difficulties affecting farmers across Canada. The hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean suggests that there are too many production units in agriculture, and he says that is why there has not been any success. He agrees with the Minister of Agriculture. The minister makes a bold statement that small farmers have got to go. I have a newspaper clipping here somewhere.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM CREDIT ACT
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS AND POWERS AND CAPITAL OF CORPORATION
Permalink
LIB

Horace Andrew (Bud) Olson (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Olson:

I never said that.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM CREDIT ACT
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS AND POWERS AND CAPITAL OF CORPORATION
Permalink
PC

John (Jack) Henry Horner

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Horner:

This is the Calgary Herald of Saturday, May 8, 1971. It says, "Olson seeks to reduce number of small farms."

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM CREDIT ACT
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS AND POWERS AND CAPITAL OF CORPORATION
Permalink
LIB

Horace Andrew (Bud) Olson (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Olson:

I never wrote the headline.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM CREDIT ACT
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS AND POWERS AND CAPITAL OF CORPORATION
Permalink
PC

John (Jack) Henry Horner

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Horner:

I see it is six o'clock, Mr. Speaker.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM CREDIT ACT
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS AND POWERS AND CAPITAL OF CORPORATION
Permalink
LIB

Prosper Boulanger (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Boulanger):

Order. It being six o'clock, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at two o'clock.

At six o'clock the House adjourned, without question put, pursuant to Standing Order.

25104-so;

Thursday. May 4, 1972

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM CREDIT ACT
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS AND POWERS AND CAPITAL OF CORPORATION
Permalink

May 3, 1972