February 12, 1937 (18th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)


We will assume he is familiar with his own locality. Now I take the minister's own statement-these are the words in the report:
Detailed organization and supervision of work under the act is largely performed by the dominion experimental farms.
What is more, this report contains details of what apparently the dominion experimental farm people were doing. I put this to the committee: is it fair to the people of Canada who are to spend millions of dollars in rehabilitation that a very strong partisan should be placed in charge of this work? Remember this: the preceding government had to deal with it, and whom did they put in charge? They took the manager of the experimental farm at Swift Current, so that those who had to provide the money would feel at least that there was no political flavour to the administration.
I confess to having a great liking for Mr. Vallance personally, as many others have; but as to his fitness for this position it is quite inconceivable that anybody would seriously consider it. He could not go into any community without talking politics. He is so constituted that he cannot help it. I am not saying that to his detriment at all, because it shows a lively interest in public concerns; but it does not indicate any fitness for this job, and that is the reason that the preceding government placed the administration in the hands of the experimental farm manager at Swift Current. I do submit that to appoint Mr. Vallance to this position at $4,000 a year is to give a blow to the efficiency of the administration of this act right at the start. It is now under suspicion; it was the minute Mr. Vallance was appointed, and will continue to be, and that is unfair to the people who have to find the money. The press this morning suggests that the minister expects to get $3,000,000 for next year. When the $3,000,000 is provided, the gentleman who is to be at the head of its administration is one whose offensive political observations in this house have been of such a character that certainly he is not entitled to great confidence on the part of many people. The people in the area affected are not all of one political faith; they are people with differing political views. I put that to the government.

Farm Rehabilitation Act
After a statement of the general drought conditions, the report continues at page 2:
Under the rehabilitation program which has been inaugurated in accordance with the terms of this act, efforts are being made to effect improvements in farming practices and land utilization. An essential feature of this work is the encouragement given to farmers to solve their own drought and soil drifting problems by community cooperative action, with a minimum of material and financial assistance from governmental sources. For this reason the rehabilitation program is largely demr.nstra-tional and fact finding, with the object of supplying leadership and guidance for permanent readjustment of agriculture in the affected area rather than to provide temporary assistance during the continuance of the existing conditions.
With the foregoing general aims in view, measures are being introduced throughout the drought and soil drifting areas to secure the most economical utilization of soil moisture for crops, to prevent soil drifting and to reclaim abandoned farm land for its most suitable use in either crop production or grazing. Drought resistant grasses, with soil binding properties, are being used for the production of hay or pasture on areas of land which are unsuitable for grain production. Regrassing work of this nature is especially timely in the semi-arid areas of Saskatchewan and Alberta in view of the present trend towards grazing on these areas. Tree planting as a measure of soil drifting control is being conducted on a large scale, both for demonstrational and experimental purposes. Throughtout this work considerable attention is being given io the economic aspects.
That is a record, not a prospectus. The minister indicates his prospectus, but this is the record which the minister places before the house of what has been done, not of what is to be done. On that state of facts it is shown by the record that we have been able to do this with the aid of this advisory committee.
I would ask the committee to look at the closing paragraph on that page:
An important part of the rehabilitation program is the development of surface water resources for stock watering purposes, and for the production of reserve supplies of feed under irrigation.
In connection with all phases of this program a considerable amount of investigational work is in progress, while the demonstrational projects have valuable fact-finding qualities.
The various rehabilitation measures in use, and the agencies through which they are being introduced, are described below, together with some reference to the progress made during the fiscal year 1935-36.
Then follows the record of all these proceedings. Here are the words:
During 1935 thirty-nine district experiment substations were established at strategic points in the affected area of the prairie provinces. The location by general districts of the various substations is shown in the following list.
Then follows the list: southwestern Manitoba, three Goodlands, Lyleton, and Pipestone; southeastern Saskatchewan, Alameda, Avonlea, Radville, Strasbourg, Weyburn; southwestern Saskatchewan, Canuck, Carmichael, Fox Valley, Limerick, Lisieux, Parkbeg, Tompkins, Tugaske, Valjean, Gravelbourg, Herbert, Kincaid, Piapot, Riverhurst, Shaunavon, Willow Bunch; central Saskatchewan, Dunblane, Guernsey, Juniata, ICindersley, Lovema, Rose-town; southern Alberta, Bindloss, Castor, Cessford, Consort, Foremost, Lomond, Whitla, Youngstown, and Pincher Creek.
Inasmuch as the district experiment substations serve as the principal means of introducing the best measures of drought and soil drifting control, and of determining the relative value of different measures in various districts, the work of these stations is described below in some detail.
After which follows several pages giving in detail the work that has been accomplished.
Then follows reclamation projects and these projects are referred to at great length- at Mehta, at Mortlach, and at Kerrobert; and as to the agricultural improvement associations, what has been done is set out in some detail.
There follows what I conceive to be most important, in view of what the minister said yesterday-this is his report, not mine-on page 10: "Agricultural improvement associations under the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act as of March 31, 1936." That was nearly a year ago, and here is the statement of the improvement associations that existed then. Presumably there are many more now. There was no amendment of the act at that time. In Manitoba there are associations at Good-lands, Lyleton, Medora, Pierson, and Reston. In Saskatchewan there are associations at Aneroid, Beechy, Ceylon, Chaplin, Estevan, Gull Lake, Hazenmore, Herbert, Kincaid, Lafleche, Limerick, Lucky Lake, Macrorie, Maple Creek, Meyronne, Minton, Moose Jaw, Mortlach, Orkney, Shamrock, Shaunavon, Sidewood, Tugaske, Valor, and Weyburn. In Alberta there is the Argyle-Clear Lake agricultural improvement association.
We then come to grass seed production. The question was asked yesterday what was intended to be done. Here is the record, not of what was intended to be done, but what was done, in respect to grass seed production:
Farm Rehabilitation Act

During the fiscal year the following quantities of seed were supplied for various rehabilitation projects:
Crested wheat grass
Brome grass
Western rye grass..
Sweet clover
Alsike clover
Reed canary grass..
Here is a record of achievement under this act that I consider to have been a fulfilment of the purposes for which it was enacted.
Then there is a reference to seed and clover, where it came from, and the conditions under which it was produced:
In order to determine the best methods of seeding perennial grasses and legumes seeding experiments are being conducted by the dominion forage crops laboratory at Saskatoon, in cooperation with a number of farmers in that district. In these experiments grasses and legumes were seeded at different dates on light soils both broadcast and drilled, with and without cultural treatments. While the results secured during 1935 were not sufficiently conclusive to enable recommendations to be made, they provide some valuable guidance for future investigations.
Tree planting is then dealt with, and one is amazed at the very large effort-much greater than one would have expected-that has been put forward in that regard, in the distribution of seedlings. Reference is then made to the field crop shelter belt association,-all these under this act; all in actual operation:
These associations have been formed by farmers in selected districts where it is desired to establish demonstration field shelters in order to determine their effect in checking soil drifting and conserving soil moisture. Bach member of an association undertakes to plant field shelter belts on his farm with the assistance and under the supervision of the tree planting division.
Then there is a reference to the Conquest field crop shelter belt association:
It was organized in January, 1935, and subsequently brought under the operation of the Rehabilitation Act. By March 31, 1936, this association comprised twenty-seven members representing a farming area of 51,840 acres. During 1935 over 80,009 trees were planted in shelter belts in this area, and preparations were made to plant 372,200 trees in the spring of 1936.
A statement follows of what has been done with regard to soil research and soil survey. I consider the matter of soil survey to be so important as to warrant a few observations with respect to it. One of the very richest of the station owners in Australia left his large fortune, or a substantial part of it, to establish

a laboratory for the purpose of providing a survey of the soils of western Australia,-the Waite institute. It is presided over at the present time by Doctor Richardson, who has visited this country and with whom our research department is in close consultation. A complete soil survey map of Australia is being prepared to determine what parts are capable of being used for the production of crops of grain and what parts are fit only for grazing and for the raising of cattle and sheep. Observe now what we are doing here, and I think this is one of the most important observations in this report:
The object of soil survey work is to determine the nature, extent, and location of various types of soil, with special reference to their crop producing capacities. This work, in addition to being of fundamental value in soil research work, is particularly useful in the formulation of land utilization policies and for the guidance of farmers and prospective settlers.
For a number of years soil surveys have been conducted in each of the prairie provinces under the direction of the provincial universities. Under the rehabilitation program soil survey work throughout the drought area is being accelerated by the provincial universities and the dominion experimental farms.
During 1935 the department of soils of the University of Manitoba conducted a soil survey of 1,774,080 acres of land in the southwestern part of the province. The area surveyed consisted of townships one to seven inclusive in ranges 19 to 29 west of the prime meridian. This survey covers the principal drought and soil drifting area in Manitoba.
Then follows a reference to what has been done in Saskatchewan through the soils department of the university of Saskatchewan; and these words, on page 17, are important:
This map is the result of wrork done during several years prior to and including 1935.

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