October 27, 1976

PC

John (Jack) Henry Horner

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Horner:

It was last session.

October 27, 1976

government brought in advances for farm stored grain, there was concern that it might be abused. I am sure both ministers will hasten to agree that the application of that program has been exemplary, to say the least.

I am glad to see the hon. member for Winnipeg South (Mr. Richardson) in the House. I know he is very interested in the problems of the west. I hope he will be vocal and tell this House what can be done for the west, what cabinet failed to do in the past, and about the many petitions which he made on behalf of western Canada which were turned down. I am sure the hon. member will perform a very useful function in the remaining days of this parliament.

I did not intend to speak very long. However, I did want to express in the strongest possible terms the concern of my colleagues and of people in western Canada with regard to the paucity of agricultural legislation, the absolute disregard the government has shown with respect to the agricultural industry. We are not led to believe the government has any interest in bringing forward legislation to improve the position of Canadian farmers.

It is not good enough for the Minister of Agriculture to continue to use the hackneyed phrase "things were never better for the farmer". The minister knows in his heart that is not the case. He knows the problems of the farmer are more serious than ever before. The farmer looks to the years ahead with apprehension. He does not have a sense of security with regard to government policies. He cannot look to the future with any degree of certainty.

The government must look seriously at farm input costs and assistance to farmers. Farming is a very substantial business. As I pointed out previously, for someone to get into any sort of farming operation in western Canada, he requires something in the vicinity of $150,000 to acquire a reasonable amount of land and equipment. It is difficult for someone earning a salary in the city to conceive of the amount of capital investment required to get into farming. The farmer looks ahead with apprehension because he knows the substantial amount of money that is required to get into farming.

There are many aspects of the law with regard to taxation and capital gains that this House must study. The government should bring in legislation to minimize the impact of death in a family and the turning over of the family farm to children or families of farmers who are no longer capable of, or interested in, carrying on the business of farming.

These are some of the concerns people talk to me about in my constituency and have discussed with my colleagues. I hope that the Minister of Agriculture, who I see is making notes, will reply to us about some of these concerns and that we will be able to get some very detailed consideration of our suggestions in committee. This may improve the effectiveness of the legislation which in principle I think we all heartily endorse, and for which we commend the minister on bringing forward at this time.

Advance Payments for Crops

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LIB

Ralph Goodale (Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. Ralph E. Goodale (Parliamentary Secretary to President of the Privy Council):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to spend a few moments in this debate this afternoon discussing the general principles of Bill C-2, the cash advance legislation. 1 am interested in the tenor and tone of the debate up to this point since it has been, to this stage at least, dominated by westerners. I think it is all very well and good that those of us from that great part of the country should have the opportunity, as we do frequently, to put our particular concerns and points of view on the record on matters affecting agriculture, an industry very much germane to our way of life and to the economy of western Canada.

I think we should also consider the very important point that the legislation before us this afternoon is legislation that applies to farmers generally all across Canada, the expansion of something that has been available in western Canada with respect to grains for some considerable length of time, and has been very well received and approved by the farmers of western Canada.

The argument has been made, with some merit, that a principle that is so effective and well received should in fact be expanded and become available to producers in all parts of the country, so far as that is possible. In presenting this bill to the House the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Whelan) is attempting to respond to that particular desire.

I was interested in the remarks of my hon. friend, the hon. member for Saskatoon-Biggar (Mr. Hnatyshyn), and the concerns he had about agriculture which he outlined in his concluding remarks. He particularly referred to the farmers in the western context, and that is a valid expression of concern. I think some of the same points apply to farmers in all parts of Canada. However, I think the tone he struck in the last few moments of his remarks might have been a little misleading in that they implied that very little had been done or was now being done to respond to the concerns of farmers.

It is probably useful to bear in mind some very recent history in this regard that might clear the waters that unfortunately, and perhaps inadvertently, the hon. member for Saskatoon-Biggar tended to muddy. In trying to bring about that clarification I will deal specifically with the areas he was discussing, namely, the concerns of farmers in the prairie region which he and I both have the honour to represent in this House. I should then like to direct some specific remarks to some of the points which were raised earlier in the House having to do with agriculture on a broader scale, that is, within the national context with which this legislation deals.

It is important to remember some of the rather significant changes that have been brought about, particularly having to do with the grains industry in western Canada in the last four or five years as this government has attempted to respond to the concerns of grains producers. You do not have to think back very many years, Mr. Speaker, to the period between 1968 and 1971 when the grains industry of western Canada was facing nothing short of a crisis situation as far as the incomes of the grain producers were concerned. The government was faced with a challenge in assisting producers in a

October 27, 1976

Advance Payments for Crops

take place within the area designated. That, at any rate, is my interpretation. I ask, how will this bill affect a product which is traditionally traded across provincial borders, that is, traded interprovincially? Perhaps the minister will answer such questions during the committee stage. Will this bill apply to those products which customarily are traded interprovincially?

No doubt the government has in mind the best interests of farmers; unfortunately the government's intentions are by no means contained in the language of the bill. The two are entirely different. Mr. Speaker, a bill which empowers the minister to regulate, to choose the agencies to which money is to be paid and to lay down all the regulations which may be necessary for the administrator, is not satisfactory. It is contrary to the principles we espouse.

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PC

Ramon John Hnatyshyn (Deputy House Leader of the Official Opposition; Progressive Conservative Party Deputy House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ray Hnatyshyn (Saskatoon-Biggar):

Mr. Speaker, I feel obliged to speak briefly on Bill C-2 which provides for advance payments with respect to crops other than those administered by the Canadian Wheat Board in its designated area. As my colleague said, it is nice to see the two ministers opposite who share responsibility for the agricultural industry sitting next to one another, conferring and doing their best to pilot this bill through the House. That, of course, immediately brings to mind something we have often discussed in the agricultural committee, the division of responsibility in certain fields of agriculture between the minister responsible for the Wheat Board and the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Whelan). We all know of the difficulties connected with the administration of agricultural policy. However, the division of responsibility leads to duplication and overlapping, evident especially in legislation and programs relating to all agriculture in Canada.

I remind the minister that he was not able to listen to part of my speech in the throne speech debate. 1 had hoped, when he introduced the legislation, that he would refute the implication in the Speech from the Throne that this is the only legislation we shall see during the present session of parliament relating to agriculture. He did not deal with that matter when he spoke in the throne speech debate.

As I said previously, the Speech from the Throne is little but a philosophical exposition of what the government intends to place before parliament for dealing with various aspects of the economy and other matters. The particular bill we are now debating is, I submit, the only agricultural bill to which the Speech from the Throne makes reference. This bill attempts, inadequately, to continue a principle advanced originally by the Conservative government, the principle relating to advances on farm stored crops. If this is the total extent of the agricultural policy of the government, I am apprehensive about the importance it attaches to the Canadian agricultural industry.

I am glad the minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board is here. I know he is aware of the circumstances. I hope he is planning action to meet some of the problems being faced in western Canada.

There is a possibility that net farm income in Saskatchewan will drop by some $200 million this year, notwithstanding the fact that we have had an exceptional yield of high quality. Farmers in Saskatchewan face increased costs that are phenomenal. Machinery costs are increasing far in excess of the guidelines laid down by the Anti-Inflation Board.

I appreciate that an attempt is being made here to extend the application of advance payments for farm stored crops. I hope that the government does not believe that, because it has made this gesture, this completes its responsibility to the farmer.

Problems also arise with good crops. Grain is stored in rather unsatisfactory circumstances on farms. We hope the system will be able to sell this grain. I hope there is an aggressive sales plan and that the government will be able to obtain a good price. A record grain yield has led to some grain being piled on the ground, in machinery sheds or other temporary storage. What steps is the government taking to ensure proper and safe storage of grain in western Canada needed because of the substantial crop yield we have this year? We are extremely grateful, if not to the government certainly to the deity, for the blessings we have had bestowed upon us this year.

I hope the minister will accept some of the constructive suggestions being made on this side with respect to this legislation. I ask him to tell us why there is a limitation on the application of this bill, as pointed out by the hon. member for Carleton-Charlotte (Mr. McCain), with regard to organizations which are apparently the only entity qualified to receive assistance under the provisions of the act. This will be somewhat of a restriction on the effectiveness of it.

I hope that in committee we will gain an understanding of the application of the bill. I trust the minister will be receptive to a full discussion and suggestions from interested farm groups, producer groups, and members on this side.

I am concerned about the fact that early in this session we are dealing with this particular piece of legislation. It is certainly an important bill. However, it is the only suggestion from the government side with regard to a policy providing for a viable agricultural industry in this country. It causes many of us on this side to be concerned about the priorities of this government at a time when the agricultural industry is and will be facing increased input costs.

In order for someone to get into farming today, he must have substantial backing. The minister should look very closely into this. I hope the minister will discuss this with the members of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and be open to suggestions regarding amendments to the Farm Credit Corporation Act in order that improvements can be made in that legislation.

In terms of the application, granting, and repayment of credit, I am sure that everyone will agree that farmers are superior'to almost every other segment of society. They are the most trustworthy and have the best record with regard to repayment of their obligations. At the time a Conservative

October 27, 1976

It is somewhat difficult to understand where this bill would begin, where the price stabilization legislation would begin, or where either would leave off. There are some crops that you cannot store so it would be difficult to apply the bill to them. The marketing of potatoes, pears, and other fruit for processing, and indeed the marketing of most of the vegetables that grow in the early part of the season, would be outside the limits of the bill. Yet the intention of the bill is to relieve the farmer of his bank loan. Unless a price stabilization board is established immediately no relief will be available to the farmer under this bill.

Under what circumstances will payments be made to the farmer? This is not set out. There may be a regulation to cover this, of course. I think the minister should be ready to answer questions like this when the bill comes before committee, and if he has the information it could shorten the proceedings. Apparently the bill will not cover processing crops, but is there a special reason for this?

Let us assume the farmer is in arrears or default under the terms of the bill. What supplementary aid will be available to him? As I understand it, such default is defined as a legal obligation under this legislation and would impair any credit he might seek in succeeding years when it is time to plant. Is it the government's intention that he may receive the aid necessary to avoid default, or is he to be left in that position? Is there a relationship between this bill and any assistance he might receive under some other bill? I do not think the principle should be applied in such a way that the farmer does not get the help he needs. Will the market price be a factor in triggering this, or is this to be left to regulation?

It is interesting to watch the minister responsible for the Wheat Board standing guard over the Minister of Agriculture. Frankly I do not know which minister is infringing on the other. I thought the Minister of Agriculture was not his usual, bombastic self when introducing this bill on second reading. Perhaps he needs someone in the House to hold his hand. The minister's demeanour may be significant. Perhaps it has something to do with the policies he has espoused. I am glad to note both ministers sitting together. Perhaps the Minister of Agriculture needs help.

I wonder if this bill is part of the minister's policy to coerce farmers not presently organized into joining organizations which meet with his approval. If that is his intent it is deplorable, and such policy is deplorable. As was mentioned, in Prince Edward Island there are multitudes of farm organizations which do not qualify as marketing agents and which, by virtue of the language of the bill as printed, will put their farmer members at a disadvantage.

The minister's intentions in this regard should be made clear. As well, how will the program be administered? Will it be administered perhaps with the help of provincial governments, as well as that of banks and the staff of the Department of Agriculture? How will this be done? Certainly it would not be proper to allow only card-carrying members of organiza-

Advance Payments for Crops

tions of which the minister approves to benefit from the legislation. That would not be in the best interests of democracy.

The government's incomplete program has forced provinces to establish their own programs for helping farmers. I was interested to note that when this bill was brought forward for second reading today, the headlines of one newspaper alluded to the expense the province of Ontario would be put to in providing support for its agricultural sector.

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?

An hon. Member:

Have you seen the bill?

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PC

Fred Alward McCain

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McCain:

We are told that the province is to spend some $70 million. Apparently the Liberal leader of Ontario says he will support the bill. I have not seen it. The leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party also approves the bill, so please do not be so critical. After all, if hon. members opposite are at one with their party colleagues in Quebec, they must also be at one with their party colleagues in Ontario. They are sending reinforcements to Quebec; perhaps they ought to send some to Ontario. Try that little twist.

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PC

Ramon John Hnatyshyn (Deputy House Leader of the Official Opposition; Progressive Conservative Party Deputy House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hnatyshyn:

Send the Minister of Agriculture.

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PC

Fred Alward McCain

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McCain:

I deplore the government's defaulting on its responsibilities in agriculture. Perhaps that course should be described as disgraceful. During the last ten years pretty well every minister in the Trudeau government has tried, on behalf of the government, to evade financial responsibilities connected with agriculture. If the government had not evaded them, British Columbia and Alberta would not have found it necessary to embark on a subsidy program. Other provinces of Canada would not have found such subsidy programs necessary. Pork producers, cow-calf operators, and others producing in the field of agriculture would not have found it necessary to approach their respective provincial governments for subsidies. Therefore it is clear that provincial governments are shouldering the responsibilities of the federal government. The provinces are staggering under the burden of subsidies, a burden which it is the ultimate responsibility of the federal government to shoulder.

I submit that if the benefits of this legislation are to be available only to card-carrying members of organizations acceptable to the minister, it represents a further default on the part of the federal government and is contrary to principles of Canadian democracy.

The regulatory provisions are an important part of the bill. The language is not clear. What is the precise meaning of clause 14 (a) which reads:

for determining, in relation to any crop, what is a significant portion of the crop in any area represented by an organization:

Other parts of clause 14 are equally vague.

We are debating a short bill, Mr. Speaker, an incomplete bill which purports to deal with a principle. I can only say that the drafting has been faulty. It is not clear.

Let me deal with another vague point. The bill says, in so many words, that the marketing of the product concerned shall

October 27, 1976

Advance Payments for Crops

where interest is referred to here. If there is a payment in cash rather than delivery of the goods, the interest comes into being, and the hon. member may recall-and I ask him to confirm this-that there were actual demands in the west for this kind of provision because it was felt that it was an abuse for someone with no intention of delivering a product to take the advance and then later repay in cash and try to have an interest free loan, which is not an advance against delivery. I am sure the hon. member will recall that in the western case.

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PC

Douglas Charles Neil

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Neil:

If that is the explanation, I accept it. I would have hoped that the Minister of Agriculture would have made this explanation initially. I can see the reason for it, but on the other hand if an individual farmer is in a position to pay in cash for a loan he has received, either by a cash advance from the Canadian Wheat Board or under this particular bill, I do not think he should be penalized for it. However, I think this is a clause we will discuss in more detail when we get into the committee stage of the bill.

As I said, it appears after reading the bill in some detail that we will have to spend considerable time in committee listening to representations from members of various organizations and producers to determine what their feelings are with respect to this bill. Quite frankly, as mentioned a few minutes ago, if the organization is to be the lender and has to do all the administrative work with respect to the loan, it seems to me that it would have been much simpler if the bill had contained provisions for the producer to borrow directly from the bank and to have the loan guaranteed by the federal government, because a bank is set up to lend money. Banks have the facilities and the staff to process loans; organizations do not, and the cost an organization would be put to as a result of handling the administration of these loans would have to be passed on to the producer.

It seems to me that in the long run if we consider the interest which is paid by an organization to a bank, and if we add to that the cost to the organization of administering the loan, the total cost of the program will be in excess of what it would cost if the producer borrowed directly from the bank. I would suspect as well that members of organizations will be reluctant to disclose the yield of their crop to the organizations because those organizations are usually made up of fellow producers. Certainly the producer organization would have to satisfy itself that the borrower will not default, and it would be necessary therefore that the borrower disclose the extent of his production to the organization.

In summary, Mr. Speaker, while I am in agreement with the basic principle of the bill I think we must take a good hard look at it in committee. I think we will have to request producer organizations and others for their input. I would suspect that after the committee meetings a number of amendments will be advanced to make this bill more satisfactory to the producers.

[Mr. Lang.)

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PC

Fred Alward McCain

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fred McCain (Carleton-Charlotte):

Mr. Speaker, I think the greatest favour we could have done the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Whelan) today would have been to allow this thing to slide through immediately after his remarks. However, I think he needs the comments of the members of the House.

Aid to marketing has been pretty well neglected, with few exceptions, during the past ten years, and the principle of intended support to the agricultural industry is certainly espoused by every member of the opposition, regardless of party. The method by which the principle is to be adopted is of great concern, however. I wonder what percentage of the agricultural industry is organized. There has been a great deal of publicity about labour organization, and if my memory serves me correctly statistics show that 30 per cent of the labour force is organized and 70 per cent is not. But what percentage of farmers belong to an organization that will qualify them as producers entitled to the benefits of this bill?

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LIB

Eugene Whelan (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Whelan:

Over 80 per cent.

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PC

Fred Alward McCain

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McCain:

Certainly commodities have been named which are not eligible, and there are large numbers of other items which are not eligible. A small percentage of potato farmers are organized and could take advantage of this legislation, but unless potato farmers, corn farmers, and other agricultural producers can exploit their membership in the Federation of Agriculture or some such organization as a means of using this bill, its benefits are not available to them.

In the case of the Price Stabilization Board, historically if there were not an organization per se which had the marketing, managing, and financing capability, there was provision in the legislation to allow the provincial minister to become the administrator of such a program in co-operation with the Government of Canada and perhaps the banks. Under this bill, however, there seems to be no opportunity for agriculture to organize to take advantage of advance payments. If this deficiency is not corrected before third reading I am afraid the minister will come in for a great deal of criticism.

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LIB

Eugene Whelan (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Whelan:

Prince Edward Island has a marketing board.

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PC

Fred Alward McCain

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McCain:

I do not argue that, but let us carry it one step further. Let us take the point that was made earlier that if the farmer pays the organization in cash then he is subject to interest charges. That was my understanding of the explanation. The Marketing Board of Prince Edward Island is not marketing potatoes. If that organization were used, the farmer would sell to the licensed dealer, who in turn would pass over the cash to the organization. He would not be operating within the literal limits of this bill, however, He might be operating within limits which the minister could call acceptable, but he would not be operating legally as the bill is written.

There are potato organizations in New Brunswick to which potato farmers belong. They are not agents through whom the farmer can market his crop and pay his bill in kind rather than cash to avoid interest payments, however. 1 think the minister should give this matter serious consideration.

will have to establish a granary system. We will either have to can commodities which cannot be stored for long periods of time, or freeze dry them or process them in some other way. Even potatoes can be freeze dried and can be processed into other forms, and in this way stored for long periods of time. This can only be done with proper storage facilities such as granaries. I suggest that Canadian farmers have not been sufficiently well off in the last ten years to be capable of developing a granary system which would provide long-term storage on their farms, with or without cash advances. If such a system is to be established, the government will have to provide some assistance such as has been provided for the storage of grains through terminal elevators and the country elevator system with the capacity to store a whole year's crop.

I do not see any mention in the bill of an effort being made to provide an orderly marketing arrangement either in this country or on a world basis. Therefore unless the provisions of this bill relate to grains which are not now covered by the Canadian Wheat Board cash advances, such as rapeseed, farm organizations as well as other agencies and even marketing agencies in Ontario will have to take some action with regard to some of the commodities that are named. They will have to make an input into those commodities before this legislation proves useful.

The sum of $200 million has been mentioned. I assume that this would cover cash advances on rapeseed. If that is so, then this should have been stated in the bill. I suggest to the minister that when he speaks about paying back cash advances within a year from September, some farmers might find difficulty with it. What do you do with a tomato crop, with potatoes, cherries, apples, or any other commodities which cannot be stored for longer periods of time? I think there are provinces like British Columbia which have some fruit storage facilities which could handle the situation for that period, but in most cases we are talking about two or three weeks.

When we are talking about perishable fruit and vegetable crops, we are talking about getting them on to the market. How long can you keep pumpkins, squash and so forth on the farm? They may be kept in a cellar for a little while, but they cannot be kept in a field or in a barn for very long. On the farm there is not a 12 month storage facility. We are talking about a couple of weeks. Many of the advantages in the cash advance programs which come under the Canadian Wheat Board cannot, as I understand it, be applied to root crop commodities and other commodities with which we in eastern Canada may be involved.

I look forward to the discussion in the committee. I certainly do not see anything which warrants a long debate in the committee, and I am not particularly interested in delaying the Minister of Agriculture. We may get on to something much more important if we allow this to pass. However, I would be very surprised if farm organizations are not interested in appearing and finding out just what they will be able to do if they are to participate in this $200 million. If nothing else

Advance Payments for Crops

interests them, it will be the sum of money we are going to put into this, and I hope that if the Minister of Agriculture has a brotherly love relationship with the Minister of Transport, and if he will turn this amount of money over to rapeseed producers in western Canada, then he should say so, and if not, I think some farm organizations will be very hard pressed to find out how they can take advantage of it.

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PC

Douglas Charles Neil

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Doug Neil (Moose Jaw):

Mr. Speaker, my remarks in connection with this bill will be relatively brief. I have had an opportunity to examine the bill in some detail, and it is obvious to me that the bill was not presented to or discussed with various farm organizations before it was prepared and submitted to this House. It is an unusual bill. As the hon. member for Timiskaming (Mr. Peters) said, it is either a simple bill or a complicated bill. It is typical of other bills we have been dealing with over the past several years. It is filled with inconsistencies, and it is difficult to interpret.

Looking at the bill it appears that an "organization" is the lending agency, as far as the bank is concerned, and there is a general description of an organization. It means an organization of producers. I look forward to getting a more detailed explanation of what organizations are entitled to participate, because it seems to me that there are very few organizations which have the staff, the administrative capacity or the bookkeeping facilities to handle loans under this legislation.

Certainly if widespread use is made by producers of the provisions of the bill, there will be many loans to process, there will be considerable bookwork and people will be required to make certain that the loans do not go into arrears, and when an administrative structure has to be set up to do this kind of thing, it will be costly.

The hon. member for Elgin (Mr. Wise) spoke about the question of interest. There were also some comments made by the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Whelan) and by the minister in charge of the Canadian Wheat Board, I gather, suggesting that the producer would not be called upon to pay any interest. I was hoping that, when the hon. member for Elgin completed his remarks, the Minister of Agriculture or the minister in charge of the Canadian Wheat Board would have stood up and given an explanation.

However, if we examine clause 7 on page 6 of the bill, it

says, and I quote:

Where a producer repays all or part of an advance made to him by an organization by direct payment to the organization under clause 5 (b)(i)(B) or (C), no interest is payable on the first

(a) $500, or

(b) 10 per cent of the advance,

whichever is the lesser, so paid by him, if the advance is fully repaid without default.

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LIB

Otto Emil Lang (Minister of Transport; Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board)

Liberal

Mr. Lang:

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member a question. I wonder if the hon. member will agree that a few years ago in the House we inserted exactly this kind of provision into the western bill on cash advances, and that in effect if the product is delivered as originally agreed upon, no interest is paid, as is apparent in the first part of the clause

October 27, 1976

Advance Payments for Crops

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NDP

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Arnold Peters (Timiskaming):

Mr. Speaker, I was sorry to see the Minister of Transport (Mr. Lang) leave because I had the notion, when one of my colleagues was making a few comments, that he would explain this bill, if that is possible. I am surprised that none of the western members have indicated that this bill may be a bill to provide cash payments for rapeseed because it was not possible to do it in any other way. That might be what this bill is all about. If it is, then the Minister of Transport could probably tell us that better than the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Whelan).

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LIB

Eugene Whelan (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Whelan:

Why?

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
Sub-subtopic:   SUGGESTED CHANGE IN POLICY TO PERMIT BROADCAST OF CONSUMER ANNOUNCEMENTS-MOTION UNDER S.O. 43
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NDP

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

The minister asks why. I am sure there has been some monkey business in the past about rapeseed. Perhaps there is a wish to provide for cash payments and this is really in the jurisdiction of the Canadian Wheat Board rather than the Department of Agriculture. Possibly it could be explained in that way.

I am sorry that the Minister of Agriculture has not referred this to the farm organizations so that there would be some feed-back.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
Sub-subtopic:   SUGGESTED CHANGE IN POLICY TO PERMIT BROADCAST OF CONSUMER ANNOUNCEMENTS-MOTION UNDER S.O. 43
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LIB

Eugene Whelan (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Whelan:

It is a false statement to say that they did not know anything about it.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
Sub-subtopic:   SUGGESTED CHANGE IN POLICY TO PERMIT BROADCAST OF CONSUMER ANNOUNCEMENTS-MOTION UNDER S.O. 43
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NDP

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the minister's comments. I have been a little worried about the Canadian Press representative in the gallery because, after seeing the bill and having listened to the minister and the remarks made by members of the opposition, I am sure he would have one hell of a time writing about the bill. This is either the most complicated or the most simple legislation we have had. It either does not say anything or it says everything.

If we are talking about grain crops we are talking about growing crops, we are talking about much of agriculture in this country in which over-production is easy. Perhaps we are talking about a food bank in which to hold the crops produced in the current year so that the producer will be able to continue in business in the coming year. This may be the beginning of such a program. If so, it is over-simplified and is not the kind of legislation that would allow the kind of impetus that would make this possible.

I think the minister will agree, because of the remarks he made at the World Food Conference in Rome, that we are prepared to over-produce in this country if markets are provided on a long-term basis, or if we produce for an export market in commodities where there is a world need. But we will not accomplish that through a cash advance program. We will have to establish a granary operated by the government in which the farmers would be able to place their crops, and then the nation as a whole would be in a position to carry out the kind of commitment Canada would be making toward a world food bank.

I find that one section of the bill eliminates cash advances for those crops under the Canadian Wheat Board which would

have been excluded in any case and which are covered under other legislation. It is indicated that the crops concerned are grains, oil seeds, root crops and other field grown crops that are prescribed. I have not heard any farm organization, apart from rapeseed producers, asking for cash advances. I have not even heard producers of potatoes, who have been in trouble for many years in the Maritimes and in parts of Ontario, asking for a cash advance.

There is a season when potatoes are sold and the producers want a reasonable return on their product. They must either be sold in the crop year or disposed of for uses other than table use, or else a cash advance would be of no great advantage. Where it would be of advantage is on those commodities that can be stored beyond the normal sales period. Many of them can be held for considerably less than 12 months. For those crops that can be held longer than that, cash advances would make sense because they would permit the farmer to prepare for the next year's crop without having received the full return for the previous crop. That was the reason for cash advances being paid in western Canada in the years when wheat sales were almost nonexistent. The cash advance was paid so as to provide the farmer with enough money to produce the second crop. In all cases we wrote in protection which allowed the Wheat Board to collect the advance when the sales were made, and if the sales were not made in the second year, then the cash advance could be paid out again on the second crop. This could go on for several years, as has been the case on a number of occasions.

I can see the advantages of this bill with respect to rapeseed and other oil seeds in western Canada which come under the Wheat Board. I do not know why efforts have been made to put these commodities in the same position as grain under the Canadian Wheat Board. It may be that Ontario has specific problems in the same field which would warrant cash advances. But it seems to me that cash advances are being offered to farmers who are not in a position to take advantage of them. It is mentioned that these farmers must form an organization, but the word organization is so undefined that one does not know whether it involves a marketing agency. Is a marketing agency going to take possession of the stock, and is the minister really thinking of bringing in another bill? I certainly hope he is thinking of bringing in a bill which would enable farmers to store crops against future deliveries.

It seems to me that whether we make an advance to a farm unit or to an organization, we are really talking about crops that can be stored from one year to another, crops which in times of abundance can be stored in a granary for future consumption not only by Canadian consumers but also for world consumption. This would even out the ups and downs which take place in various countries because of unpredictable weather conditions. There may well come a day when many of our crops will have to be stored, not so as to gain a higher price but so as to provide for the hungry people of the world. Canada can play a role in such a situation.

If we reach a degree of sophistication which will allow us to provide a guaranteed supply for international consumption, we

October 27, 1976

was that the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Whelan) saw fit to pay an indirect tribute to my right hon. friend from Prince Albert by saying that the advance payments policy went back to the year 1958 when my right hon. friend was Prime Minister of Canada. Now, 18 years later, the Minister of Agriculture is still hanging on to the coat-tails of the Prime Minister of that day, the right hon. member for Prince Albert (Mr. Diefenbaker), proving the worth of a policy which has stood the industry in good stead over the years.

The problem is that the Minister of Agriculture does not seem able to perceive the depth of the policy which the then Prime Minister, the right hon. member for Prince Albert, was seeking to implement. The government of that day brought in this policy in an effort to alleviate the plight of farmers in those years because of the indiscretions of the previous Liberal administration. Advance payments, however good the scheme may be, do not take the place of good, sound policies of administration involving trade, etc.

I was somewhat concerned this afternoon to hear the Minister of Agriculture, in reply to a question by the hon. member for Medicine Hat (Mr. Hargrave), say he was referring to supply-management as implemented by the President of the United States. I was wondering whether this devious Minister of Agriculture was trying to implement further control over agriculture in Canada through the presentation of this legislation.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
Sub-subtopic:   SUGGESTED CHANGE IN POLICY TO PERMIT BROADCAST OF CONSUMER ANNOUNCEMENTS-MOTION UNDER S.O. 43
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October 27, 1976