March 9, 1953 (21st Parliament, 7th Session)


Douglas Scott Harkness

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

If I had a cow-bell I would know what to do with it. I would not have to hang it around my neck the way some of you people do. I do not think even the Minister of Agriculture will argue that we could not have kept our agricultural production at the high level it was at in 1943-45. I do not think even he will argue that. As a matter of fact we could have greatly increased it during that period. The reason we did not increase production in the period 1949-51 was to a large extent because we lost our markets for our production. The farmers realized we had lost our markets, and of course they cut down production accordingly. They knew they would not be able to sell a lot of the stuff they had been producing, so they deliberately cut down their production.
The Budget-Mr. Harkness
My own case is a good example of that. For several years my farm was producing a large number of pigs, and we had litters between two and three times a year from some 40 to 70 sows. A year ago last November I still had 67 sows producing pigs, but today I have not one. That is a fairly typical example of what a large number of farmers in this country have done. They could see that there were going to be no markets for these products, and in order to avoid taking great losses they cut down production.
In addition to the loss of our markets, another reason for the reduced production- a reason which the minister glossed over very quickly in his speech-is the fact that farm costs have been rising faster than prices for farm products. The minister admitted that implement costs had increased from being 3 per cent to 6 per cent of the cost of operation in 1936 to 8 to 9 per cent of the cost today. What he did not mention was that all other costs had increased. The cost of labour, the cost of fuel, taxes, fuel oil, gasoline, everything the farmer uses, has skyrocketed to great heights. The general picture we get is that a large number of production costs have risen so much more than the prices of farm products that it has become unprofitable to produce these products.
The minister, as he has done every year since I have been here, and generally several times a year, tried to draw a comparison of conditions now with those in the period 1930-35, and to place the responsibility for the low prices of that period and the hard times which prevailed upon the Conservative government of R. B. Bennett. What he did not say, what he never says and what I am sure he never will say is that Mr. Bennett succeeded to a mess which had been created by the Liberal party in the five years preceding.

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