May 17, 1939 (18th Parliament, 4th Session)


James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)



The hon. member for Haldimand has put his finger on the most important part of this particular section:
. . . prescribing from time to time the quantity, quality, grade or class that may be exported.
In that provision we are taking the power to do by regulation exactly what many people have been advocating. We are trying to exercise some control over the shipment of bacon of certain types to the British market. There is one feature of the problem which has been very little spoken of and not emphasized at all, and that is the fact that we are building up a market in Great Britain. Denmark had a market there and they were selling much more bacon in Great Britain than the British authorities wished them to sell. The British authorities thought that their own people should supply a greater percentage of that market than they had previously done, and under the arrangements entered into in 1932 there was not only a desire to assist Canada as one of the dominions in selling more bacon in the British market but a very definite desire on the part of the British government to encourage their own people to supply more of their own market, and they brought this about by means of quotas to some other countries, including Denmark. This rather reduced the sales of those countries in Great Britain. We on the other hand have more than double the quota we have been able to supply in Great Britain in recent years. The year before last was our highest; we were up to 190,000,000 out of a possible 2S0,000,000. We have been attempting to
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work up to that quota. Anyone who is trying to work up to a quota will take a lower price for the time being than others who are in. the market and who already have their quota and are supplying that market. They have established themselves over a term of years and are working in a market where they have control of all that they can supply, whereas we are only now working in that direction.
To indicate some of the difficulties in that connection I would point out that in March of this year Holland increased her supplies in the British market by 47 per cent. Poland increased her supply by 38 per cent. Denmark did not increase her supply but remained about the same, and our supplies went down by 13 per cent. There was only one reason why our supplies went down in that period, and that was the fact that we did not have the bacon to send to Great Britain; and there is one explanation, the fact that the people who were raising hogs last year did not have the feed and they went out of hog production. It takes a year to get back into production after you have gone out. Again, the cost of feed was high last year. Wheat was selling at $1.32 a bushel and all other grains proportionately. People are not inclined to carry feed to hogs when they can sell the feed for more than they can get out of the hogs, and naturally they drift out of hog production during such a period, unless you have them persuaded to the point where they are convinced that hog-raising over the long-time period is the important thing to do. If they believe that, then they will keep on producing and supplying the market which they hope to hold. Our people have not been persuaded up to that point, and many of those who were producing hogs two or three years ago were producing them as a substitute for something else which they desired to do. As soon as they had an opportunity of doing what they wanted to do, they got out of hog production. This is something we have to overcome, as suggested by the hon. member for Lethbridge.
We are producing hogs in a country where, over a considerable area, it is from 10 to 30 degrees below zero for five or six months of the year, and any farmer who has hogs born in that period knows the difficulties he has to face. He may start with a litter of ten or fifteen little pigs and inside a week he has five left; indeed, he is lucky if he has five. Where hogs are produced under these conditions only one thing can be expected; the farmer eventually comes to the conclusion that the time to have his hogs coming in is in April [DOT]or May or some time when the weather is good and he can keep his litters and raise
(Mr Gardiner.]
them. To overcome that difficulty there is much to be done in the way of education. As I stated on a previous occasion, there are a few men across Canada who are meeting the difficulty by having heated piggeries in which to have young litters produced in the winter months. These men tell me that under present conditions, when very few farmers are doing this, it pays them to do it because they can have pigs to sell in July when the price is two or three cents higher than at any other time of the year. They feed them up to that month and then sell them to advantage. But the trouble is that if everyone did that, probably the farmers could not stand the additional expense of maintaining heated piggeries for the production of hogs at the time when the price is at a favourable level, because the price would not remain at that level.
There is only one way of overcoming that difficulty and it is the method suggested a few minutes ago. The difficulty can be overcome in part by the formation of cooperatives under Bill 89 which we have put through this session. Instead of levelling up production of hogs we can level up the price. As it is to-day the producer of hogs has his hogs all coming in the spring and he has them ready for market in November. Every packing house knows that, and apart altogether from the question whether the packing houses are fair or unfair, the fact remains that if every farmer wants to sell his hogs in the same week, no matter how fair the packing houses wish to be they cannot take these hogs at the price which the farmer would receive if his hogs were sold throughout the year. That is one of the difficulties that we have to meet in a country in which there are such great variations in climate as we have in Canada, but we are doing everything we can.
We are putting out an advertisement in the newspapers, showing a graph, a copy of which I have here. It gives the price. In the middle of the summer the price runs away up. This graph applies to last year when the complaint was made that the price went up to 10 and 12 cents in July and down to 7 cents in November and December. The farmer said that when he had no hogs to sell the price was up and when he had hogs the price was down. Of course the price is away up to 10 or 12 cents in July when only the occasional hog can be purchased, and it is down when everyone wishes to sell. Production runs in the opposite direction. It starts in January and runs on down until it almost reaches the vanishing point in July, and then it runs up in November and the price takes the opposite curve. We can overcome this

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difficulty by producing the commodity more consistently throughout the year and supplying it to the market accordingly.

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