Mr. W. F. RICKARD (Durham):
I had not intended to speak on this motion, nor do I now intend to take up very much time, but, as a farmer who uses farm implements, first hand, I feel that I should make a few observations.
I was much interested in listening to and reading the speeches of some hon. members.. I listened to the hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Massey), and noticed that he made, a definite point of the services which imple-. ment companies render to the farmer. Well,, as a farmer I always thought that I had; to pay for the services I received from agents of implement companies. Every time that the agent of the Massey-Harris or any other company comes to my place to repair a,-machine I pay for that service out of my own pocket and, I think, very dearly. It is true, that services are rendered in connection with new machinery, such as delivering it and setting it up and keeping it in shape for a short period, but all that is charged up to the cost of the implement. Services and repairs,, particularly the latter, are altogether too. expensive. If a farmer has to buy repairs to-day for a binder, or for that matter any other machine, he might far better buy a new one.
We realize to-day that to farm successfully and to compete in the markets of the world we must have good implements. But I agree' with the hon. member for Brant (Mr. Wood) that it is very doubtful whether all these latest improvements, such as alemite greasing, oil bath mowers and pole trucks, which add to the cost of the implement, are worth the extra expense. Of course if we demand these things we have to pay for them. But certainly there is too much difference between' what the farmer has to pay for his equipment and what he receives for his products. Some will say, let the government do something to increase the price of what the farmer has' to sell. But I believe I am speaking for the' farmers of my constituency when I say that the prices of farm produce during the past two or three years-that is for the farmer who has anything to sell-have been fairly good, much better than they were in the period from 1930 to 1935. True, the price of cattle has been lower this year than last, but 6 or 6| cents a pound is not a bad price, unless the speculator paid too much when he ; bought his cattle and put them in the stable in the fall. Hogs have fetched a good price ; and grain a fair price. But the operating expenses of the farm to-day are too great. Taxes and all overhead expenses are too high.
Farm Implements Committee Report
As in the case of improved farm implements, we have demanded these improvements and we have set a standard of living which seems altogether too high. It is all very fine if we can keep up with it and pay our way, but I do not believe we can.
I am not a free trader, and certainly I am not a high protectionist. I believe that the middle course is the proper road to take. However I do not think that the implement companies, in the face of the reduction of the tariff on farm implements, had any justification for raising their price, notwithstanding what has been said about the increased cost of raw material. Had these companies shown any tendency to meet the needs and requirements of the farmer I would have favoured giving them the benefit of the doubt, but as it is I should like to see the duty taken completely off the importation of repairs for farm implements and, unless we get better cooperation from these companies, taken altogether off farm implements. It seems to me that implement companies are creating a monopoly in order to get more for their machines. If on the other hand they would try to reduce the price, and thus sell more implements-for to-day there is scarcely a farmer who does not need new implements- they would increase employment for thousands of men who are dependent on industry for a living anti enable them to buy more farm produce.
In my riding we have no farm implement company, but there are several other very important industries. We have a fertilizer plant which makes fertilizer for the farmers' use, and to-day it is doing a bigger business than it has done in years.
There must be a common understanding between capital and labour and between industry and agriculture if we are to retain our democracy. Farmers should do what they can to cooperate with the manufacturing companies, and the men working in those industries should strive to cooperate with the farmers. I say again that if these companies persist in maintaining high prices for their .mplements we shall have to go as far as we can to stop that sort of thing. It has always happened that when prices of farm produce are in close relationship to the prices of manufactured goods we have the greatest measure of prosperity, and that is invariably under a Liberal government. I believe that, under the leadership of the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) and the Minister of Finance (Mr. Dunning) we shall go a very long way in that direction. I am not in
favour of appointing any more commissions to investigate these things. As a government let us take action ourselves.
Before I sit down let me congratulate the mover of this report, the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Johnston) upon having brought it before the house.
Subtopic: MOTION FOB CONCURRENCE IN SECOND REPORT PRESENTED APRIL 8, 1937