November 14, 1940 (19th Parliament, 2nd Session)

LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of National War Services; Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Well, my hon. friend will find, if he reads this carefully, that the selling of anything to Spain is very well covered by what I have stated.
My observation would lead me to the conclusion that Britain will require to use every legitimate means at her disposal to defeat Hitlerism, and the blockade is the strongest weapon she has until munitions, planes, tanks, trucks, arms and men are pouring into the field of battle.
Britain is enforcing the blockade, and she alone must be in a position to determine where the food products can be placed to do the greatest good. In short, I think it is our duty to place the food supplies available for European consumption at the disposal of the empire through the food and shipping ministries of Britain, to be directed to any market they think advisable. I think we should receive in return from the British government for these supplies sufficient to make it possible for our farmers to carry on producing food supplies which are greatly needed and may be even more essential to ultimate victory.
The second finding we wish to report is that the British food ministry has established a list of essential food products in order of preference. We were not supplied with that list and I presume it is subject to change from time to time, but our discussion would lead us to believe it is at present arranged in about the following order:
1. Wheat and other cereals.
The reason for this is obvious. There is no food product produced anywhere in the world which in its natural state will keep longer than wheat and which at the same time will retain its full value longer than wheat.
2. Dairy products.
3. Fresh meats.
4. Bacon and other cured meats.
5. Fish, canned and frozen.
6. Poultry and eggs.
7. Canned fruits.
8. Canned vegetables.
9. Fresh fruits.
Britain does not want fresh fruits at all.
The only one of these farm products which we are not at present interested in sending to Britain so far as our own economy is concerned is fresh meats. We have a much better market in Canada and the United States for all our fresh meat, including live cattle, than we can secure in Britain or any part of Europe. I should like, Mr. Speaker, to ask this house to whom is due the credit for that? The fact that we have no problem in connection with the marketing of our cattle is due entirely to the agreement which we have with the United States, and which was made by this government. The only farm product which we did not need to discuss in Britain was that of beef and other fresh meats associated in similar trade. I think we should keep that in mind when we are talking about our relationships with some other parts of the world in connection with food products.
We did not, therefore, discuss the sending of fresh meat to Britain other than to make known to them the fact that we have certain surpluses which are being marketed in the United States. We made it very plain to them that if these surpluses were ever required to feed the people of Britain we would be prepared immediately to discuss their problem with them and try to cooperate with them in assisting them to a solution.
We discussed all the other products with them, and bearing in mind the two findings reported above, namely, that the blockade is necessary to victory and that Britain has an essential list of food products set up in order of preference, I wish to report to the house the result of our discussions with the British government.
First, with regard to fish: It was not my duty as Minister of Agriculture to put forward the claims of the fishing industry, but I was pleased to have the officials of the departments of Trade and Commerce and of Fisheries suggest that we include fish in our negotiations. I shall only state in this report, before proceeding with the discussion of agricultural products, that Britain agreed to accept from Canada canned salmon to a value of $5,538,000, other canned fish to a value of $3,145,000 and frozen cod to a value of $3,367,000, or a total in fish of $12,050,000.

The Address-Mr. Gardiner

Fruit. Britain does not desire to take apples and other fresh fruits at present. She does not say she will not take any but she does not desire to take them. This is due to the fact that she places them at the bottom of the list of essential foods, and even on the basis of empire policy considers that while they are fighting the effort of Hitler to break the blockade, shipping space should not be used for fresh apples and other fruits. We have accepted her representations for this year and intend to encourage our own people to use Canadian fresh fruits in greater quantities than formerly as a means of assisting our fruit
growers.
Britain is prepared to
Canned tomatoes to a Dried apples Canned apples Fruit pulp Fruit pectin Honey
take: value of

Or a total in fruit and honey of $4,541,000
In regard to poultry and eggs, we were unable to enter into an agreement because the British food ministry were not prepared to bind themselves to take poultry; it is looked upon more or less as a luxury. The food ministry felt that the eggs which we could provide would not be sufficient in volume to affect their ration lists; therefore they prefer to have these products marketed without agreements, and we agreed to assist in every way possible in the marketing of them without agreement.
With fresh meats eliminated there are three products left which we can supply in quantity. They are wheat, dairy products, and bacon. These are on the British list in that order of preference. I wish to discuss them in the reverse order.
First, bacon and other pork products. Last year we had an agreement with Britain to take 291 million pounds of Wiltshire sides at a price which for that quantity would have netted us 52-4 million dollars. Britain actually did take 321 million pounds which netted us 57-6 million dollars.
Bacon is placed fourth on her list of essential products. There is a strong sentiment in government circles and elsewhere- and this is important to the people of Canada -to the effect that bacon is not an essential product, and could be placed much lower in the list. This is supported by two contentions; first, that bacon costs too much for its food value, and second, that the sources of supply have been so reduced that it would be impossible to maintain a ration which would be worth while.

We presented our position to them, answering the last contention. We estimate that our entire surplus of Wiltshires this year will be 425-6 million pounds, or very close to the amount that Britain used to import from Denmark. We also estimated that we will have a million dollars' worth of offals and a million dollars' worth of bladders and casings which can be sold. We have therefore entered into an agreement under which we will deliver to Britain our entire surplus of Wiltshires, offals, bladders and casings for a total net to Canada of $69,300,000, or almost 17 million dollars more than the agreement of last year provided for, and more than 10 million dollars in excess of what we sold last year. This should clear our own market of all surplus, and maintain the ration in Great Britain at four ounces for this year. This should result in our own market being in a healthy condition, and encourage Britain to maintain either the present or a higher ration of bacon in future years.
May I throw out this warning: that this does not mean that we would be safe in Canada at the present time to go on greatly increasing hog production. We should establish hog production in Canada at the present time, put ourselves in a position to supply this amount throughout the year, and if we are successful in doing so, of good quality and in the quantity required, then next year I think we shall be able to persuade Britain at least to continue the present ration, and probably to increase it.
The terms of the agreement have been so drawn as to permit of the contract being operated this year on a lower cost basis than last year, and the quantity should make it possible to avoid the periodical gluts of last year. These two factors should result in the price level to the producers holding a favourable relationship to last year's average price.
The total number of hogs required to fill last year's agreement would have been 2-5 million. The total number required to fill this year's agreement will be 3-6 million. The total minimum earnings under last year's agreement would have been 52*4 million dollars. If we deliver only the minimum under this year's agreement, the total on Wiltshires will be 67-3 million dollars, and for all pork products, $69,300,000.
With regard to cheese and other dairy products, Britain did not wish to enter into an agreement to purchase butter from us if it would interfere with the quantity of cheese to be delivered.

The Address-Mr. Gardiner

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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