March 6, 1950 (21st Parliament, 2nd Session)


William Scottie Bryce

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

Mr. Bryce:

To start from where I left off, Mr. Speaker, there is in the marketing situation another important factor that- has developed only recently, namely mass unemployment. Dairy farmers, poultry keepers and livestock farmers in general should be particularly concerned about unemployment. Just as soon as a man loses his job and in fact as soon as he sees that unemployment is increasing, he begins to cut down on his expenses. He buys margarine instead of butter. At the present time in Canada there is more butter in stock than there ever was before, 46 million pounds of it. This is about 20 million pounds more than there was last year at this time. The more unemployment there is, the more margarine will be consumed, and the less butter. The unemployed man cuts down on his milk. Milk consumption per capita has decreased steadily since the end of the war, and it will go down still further. Not only will this lessen the market for milk, but it will increase the possibility of sickness. All hon. members know that milk is one of the finest all-round foods we have, particularly for children. But just as surely as unemployment increases, so will milk sales go down and so will sickness increase.
The unemployed man will cut his purchase of eggs. While he was working he could have bacon and eggs or ham and eggs for breakfast. But once he loses his job, it becomes a case of "bread and jam", or even bread without either jam or margarine, both for himself and his family. The same thing applies to meat; such as beef, pork and chicken. His meat will be confined to hamburger, bacon ends or something of that kind. When the worker becomes unemployed, he does not fill a lunch box every day, or a lunch pail as

The Address-Mr. Bryce some people call it. He does not use bread or meat or fruit. This situation in turn destroys the market for the farmer and the fruit grower.
Unemployment in the cities is the worst thing that can happen to the farmers, particularly at a time when overseas markets are in danger. I am sure that every thinking man must be greatly concerned about this marketing situation. I know that the farmers who are looking ahead are greatly worried. The folk who live in the cities should be worried too; for if the farmer cannot sell his crops, his livestock and his milk, he certainly cannot buy the machinery, the equipment, clothing and house furnishings that the city folk have to sell.
Farmers and city workers are interdependent. If one is prosperous the other is prosperous too. If one is in distress, it is not long before the other is in distress also. The sooner this hard fact is recognized, the better it will be for everyone concerned. There is a definite relationship between the income of those engaged in agriculture and those engaged in industry. When the income of the one group is depressed, the other group is directly affected. Canada's net national income is about $8 billion more than it was before the war. Wages, taxes, rent, lumber, steel and farm products have all gone up in price. In my travels up and down the country and elsewhere I meet people who claim that farm prices are far too high, and that cheaper food is the answer to the problem. But if anyone cares' to check with the dominion bureau of statistics he will find that in these post-war years, and years of high prices, the per capita consumption of eggs, bacon, beef and pork and dairy products was much higher than it was in the pre-war years when we were in an era of low prices. For instance, the per capita consumption figures are as follows:
1939 1947
20 1 doz. 24 0 doz.Poultry
19.5 lbs. 24-8 lbs.Pork
43-6 lbs. 52-7 lbs.Beef
56 0 lbs. 67-7 lbs.
In every case the wholesale prices of these items was at least 100 per cent or more higher than it was in 1939. Consequently, cheap bacon and eggs is not the solution. Unless food is purchased and consumed, low prices do not work. The real answer is to have enough purchasing power in the hands of the people to consume all that is produced.
I am also told that the farmer is making unreasonable profits at the expense of the consumer, and that farm prices are away out of line. Perhaps the individuals who make such claims might be able to tell us tMr. Bryce.]
how it is that the production of eggs has dropped in 1949 by 50 million dozen, and hog production has dropped by 338,000 hogs. The reason egg production dropped is that the cost of production is too high. A farmer can buy eggs at the store cheaper than he can produce them by keeping chickens. And so I say-and I think every reasonable man will agree with me-that our farmers are facing a serious marketing crisis. They are facing riot only the loss of overseas markets but the loss of the domestic market too. We are losing out because the powers that be on this North American continent, which prospered during the war while the rest of the world suffered huge losses, have failed to live up to their obligations. They are thinking only in terms of capitalistic profits instead of in terms of production for use. There are in the world millions of people still needing food, capital equipment, houses, clothing, roads, schools and factories. But because of the artificial restrictions imposed by the Canadian and United States governments, these millions of people cannot trade with this continent. They cannot buy our goods unless they have Canadian or United States dollars. For overseas trade, Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that we reduce tariff barriers, accept part payment in sterling, and invest funds in European countries. These are only temporary solutions. The only permanent solution is the adoption of the principles of international co-operation. Produce goods in those parts of the world where they can be most efficiently produced, and use them in any part of the world where they are needed, without any trade restrictions whatever.
For the domestic trade, adopt policies that will provide full employment at the highest possible wage rates and the lowest possible profit rates. It is only by adopting some such policy that the volume of goods which is produced each year can be consumed.
Remember, a high standard of living is measured by the volume of goods produced and consumed. If high rates of profit are made, there is not enough money left in the hands of people to purchase the goods, surpluses pile up, and unemployment begins again.
I would like to ask the government to consider the advisability of having a government inquiry into the price fluctuations of livestock as paid by the packing houses in Canada. Why there are fluctuations from day to day has always puzzled the livestock raisers, as it did the grain farmer before we had a wheat board. Why should steers be worth so much on Monday and so much less on Tuesday, or vice versa? It seems competition has been eliminated from the packing business altogether. Since they all pay

the same price it does seem to the farmer that prices are set and agreed to. The meat is all going to sell at the same price as the consumer's price is steady and does not change from day to day. Take hogs. Last September hogs at Winnipeg were $30 per 100 pounds. The government began negotiations with Britain for a new bacon contract. Articles in the papers suggested the price would be lower. The first thing the farmer knew was that the packer had depressed prices down to $24 per 100 pounds. There was no need for this, as the bacon was going into the domestic market and the consumer was paying the same price for what he had to buy.

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