March 14, 1905 (10th Parliament, 1st Session)

LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

These are matters which have been discussed, not only in the department, but in the meetings of the Fruit Growers' Associations over and over again. I appreciate the endorsement of the principle of the Bill which my hon. friend from Jacques Cartier has just given. He thinks however that it would be better to let the result aimed at come about without any Bill. Well, what he proposes has been going on for at least three or four years. The people have been informed on these points and have been working in this direction ; but at the same time these same people have been asking for the passage of a Bill such as the one before the House, because they have found that the law has worked very successfully with regard to barrels, and that law is exactly the same with regard to barrels as the one we are now proposing with regard to boxes. The law with regard to barrels has prevented the making of barrels of a great variety of shapes and sizes, and we propose to do the same with regard to boxes. A variety in shapes and sizes works very unsatisfactorily in the loading and handling. The size we should adopt has been thoroughly discussed by those who make the boxes and those who pack them. Of course there are some who have different views, but the consensus of opinion of the fruit-growers endorses the dimensions indicated in the Bill. Those organizations which hold exhibitions and give prizes for apples packed in boxes, specify that the boxes shall be of the dimensions provided in this measure. My hon. friend has suggested that we should provide for a measure of capacity rather than size in inches. That however would allow differences in shape, which would be objectionable. If a measure of weight were provided, that would not serve the purpose because apples vary considerably in weight, according to the variety. Some weigh as low as 3S pounds to the bushel and others go as high as 43 pounds. Each of these boxes is supposed to contain one bushel weighing 40 pounds. Where the apples are a heavier weight, the boxes would weigh more, and in the reverse case would weigh less. To those who want a measure by capacity, I would say that each of these boxes is one-third the present minimum standard barrel. The trade in boxes is increasing somewhat but it is still very small. I believe that this last season it was not over 2 per cent of the whole export, but a number of people prefer to ship in boxes because they can make more profit that way than by shipping barrels. For many years, however, the bulk of the shipping trade will be in barrels, because the ordinary shipper will not undertake to put apples into boxes as that involves greater trouble and care. My hon. friend from Jacques Cartier instanced one gentleman who ships in boxes. I know the gentleman very well and I know that he gets a very large profit from his boxes, but I question whether most people would be equally successful. Mr. Shepherd has a particular clientele in England, reaching from the King downwards, to whom he sends regularly a special and fixed number of boxes every year, and these are boxes which do not come under this Act, but contain pasteboard divisions, each of which contains an apple of particularly careful selection. And of course, very rightly and justly, Mr. Shepherd gets a very high price for that fruit. He sends an extraordinary good article, and he has advertised it well and got it into the hands of the people who are willing to give the highest price for the best article. Consequently he enjoys a great profit from that trade. Other people are aiming in the same direction, but, perhaps, not doing quite so well as Mr. Shepherd-at least, I do not know anybody who is. And these people connected with the trade have advised us that to help on that trade, to bring about an increased box trade, a standard minimum box ought to be fixed; and it is in answer to that appeal that this proposition has been made. I ask the committee to pass it and make it into law.

Topic:   R. W. SHEPHERD.
Full View