March 25, 1938 (18th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weybum):

The minister mentioned the difficulty of getting seed together. After all this is not a measure to provide seed; it is merely to guarantee amounts of money. The question of the seed hardly impinges upon the computing of the amount of money the government would have to guarantee. However, there is no use labouring the point. I do not say that any harm has been done anyone, but I do say that the lateness of the date makes necessary haste in passing this resolution, which makes it impossible, perhaps, to secure information one would like to have if one had more time in which to ask questions and to deliberate as one ought upon this legislation. I do not feel satisfied as yet in regard to the statement the minister has made, but I have no doubt he will want to enlarge upon it when the bill itself comes down. I should like to know what acreage will be affected and whether the Minister of Finance thinks this amount will be sufficient to meet the situation. For instance, I notice that the number of farmers in Saskatchewan who applied last year was 25,000, while this year the number is 81,000. Assuming that they will need the same amount of seed, that means that more than three times what was supplied last year will have to be supplied this year, whereas the bill provides for only a little over twice as much. On the suggested basis of 250 acres for 81,000 farmers, the total

Seed Grain
would be 20,125,000 acres. At the price suggested, this would mean a figure between $28,000,000 and $30,000,000. I should like the minister to give us some idea as to whether the amounts we are guaranteeing will be sufficient to enable the farmers to put in a reasonable crop.
I think we are all agreed that moisture conditions in western Canada are better to-day than they have been for the past seven or eight years. Prices have improved, and with conditions in Europe what they are, they may be even better in the near future. It would be a tragedy if at this time the crops in Saskatchewan and Alberta were seriously curtailed because sufficient seed was not available to the farmers. I think we should have some information in connection with the suggestion of the minister of agriculture of Saskatchewan as to the maximum acreage for each farmer being 250. We ought to know whether that suggestion is acceptable to the federal government. Personally I think some other basis should be used. In and around the Regina plains, down through Yellow Grass, Riceton and Rouleau, you will find many farmers farming anywhere from one to five sections of land. If such a farmer has no seed available it may mean that he can put in only 250 acres. The result would be that a large part of his farm would be left to go into weeds. The farmer might not have the necessary fuel to operate his tractors-these farmers are all tractor farmers-in order to keep the weeds down and a serious situation might develop.
I suggest some other basis be used. I do not mean that these people should be given all the seed they want, but it could be worked out on a pro rata basis. A man with 200 acres would receive a certain amount, a man with from 200 to 500 acres would receive a certain percentage, and a man having over 500 acres would receive a percentage. Before the bill is brought down we ought to have some information as to the price to !be charged. It has been suggested in Saskatchewan that the farmer will be charged between $1.40 and $1.45 per bushel. That is an exorbitant price and we ought to know just what will be charged. In view of the fact that this government is being asked to guarantee the money, we should have a clear statement as to how a man should go about applying for this seed and upon what basis his application will be accepted or rejected. We should know whether exceptions are to be made to the general regulations. When a man has 'been given a certain amount of seed by the municipal council
we should know whether he can go to the inspector or to someone else and get that amount increased.
We should have particulars of the machinery that is being set up for the distribution of this seed. I think it would be well if the Minister of Agriculture had a copy of the regulations before him when the bill is brought down. Anyone reading the Regina and Saskatoon papers cannot help but be confused by the various suggestions and reports in connection with the regulations to govern the distribution of seed. A clear statement along these lines would help to clarify the whole situation, and I hope the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Agriculture will see fit to give us this information when the 'bill is in committee.

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