February 21, 1957 (22nd Parliament, 5th Session)


William Marvin Howe

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Howe (Wellington-Huron):

Mr. Chairman, I should like to say a few words on this resolution which indicates that the government is going to make additional dollars available to the farmers of Canada so that they may receive loans to help in their farming operations.
This would indicate that the government is beginning to realize farming is in a critical condition. We have heard many figures quoted both inside and outside this house which reveal the squeeze in which the
Canadian Farm Loan Act farmers find themselves. When we realize that today only about 15 per cent of the total population is engaged in farming it is made apparent that something is wrong which is causing very many people to leave the farms. We know of many instances where young farmers have sought to establish themselves. I am thinking particularly of veterans who gave the best years of their lives for our protection and who returned eager to take up the vocation in which they were brought up and trained. They used their gratuities to start up farming and found that the income was not sufficient to enable them to meet the interest payments on their loans and their tax payments. Many of these young farmers remained on the farm and as the hon. member for Dufferin-Simcoe pointed out the other evening many of them have had to go out and take other employment in order to increase their income and assist in meeting their interest and tax payments.
We hear a great deal about marginal and submarginal farm land. Much of the land that is considered marginal and submarginal was good fertile land at one time but in the last few years farmers have not been able to earn enough income from their farming operations to enable them to buy machinery and put in the necessary fertilizers that would permit them to work the land properly. This serves to point out the need for credit being made readily available to farmers.
During the last few days briefs have been presented by two leading Canadian farm organizations both of which indicate that more credit should be made available to farmers and that it should be made easier for farmers to obtain credit. I should like to quote first from the brief presented by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture:
Agriculture in Canada has not contributed to inflationary tendencies but rather the low prices it has been experiencing in recent years have been one of the few anti-inflationary forces tending to hold down the cost of living. We are therefore asking the government, through the Bank of Canada and chartered banks, to remove the recently imposed credit restrictions as they may affect the farm industry and to reduce interest rates to the level in effect in 1955-until such time as agricultural prosperity reaches a level comparable to that of industry generally in Canada.
A similar request is contained in the submission of the interprovincial farm union council in these words:
Fifty per cent of the farms in Canada are undercapitalized and as a result receive low or subsistence incomes. The solution of the problem facing these units lies in increasing either their actual size or their total production. Either course will require increased capital. This capital will have to be provided in the form of long-term and intermediate credit at low interest rates. The credit advanced should be directed to the farmers

Canadian Farm Loan Act who need it. That is, particularly to those in the low-income group or to younger farmers who are commencing farm operations. It should be available for expansion in land or buildings and for purchase of livestock and equipment necessary to put the unit on an economic basis. Repayment rates must take into consideration the type of farm operation, and also natural hazards such as the weather, which may at times make it necessary to extend times or terms of repayment.
In view of the displacement that has been and still is taking place on our farms, we cannot emphasize too strongly the need for implementation of this credit policy, so that the present crop of potential farmers may not be lost to the industry.
In the same connection there is a recommendation in the 1956-57 submission of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce which reads:
. . . that the federal government review the
question of agricultural credit and debt legislation and institute uniform provision on a national basis.
All these submissions serve to indicate how important it is that sufficient credit be made available to farmers in order that they may continue their farming operations. I sincerely hope that through the medium of this bill the government is going to speed up the machinery through which loans are made. It was rather interesting to hear the statement made by the parliamentary assistant that the processing of the loans is being speeded up and that some of them are going through faster than was the case previously. However, the farmer like everybody else does not like to have to ask for credit and usually it is done as a last resort and if it is going to take too long a time in order to get the loans through it will often be the case that the loari will come through too late to relieve the farmer of his pressing financial difficulties. I am of the opinion that the regulations under which the loans are made could be eased considerably. In several cases that have been brought to my attention the farmer was told that if he paid off his liabilities to the bank or to the machinery company he would be granted a loan. How could he possibly do this without depleting his stock and thus decreasing the source of his income?
I feel there are many ways and means by which legislation could be enacted in order to make loans available to an increased number of farmers. Although many farmers will welcome this present legislation its effectiveness will be lost unless this government takes more effective steps to make it possible for Canadian farmers to make a profit on thefr operations. Of what value are loans if it is impossible for the recipients of the loans to make enough profit on their operations with which to repay the loan? I maintain that the farmer of Canada whose income has dropped below 8 per cent of the national average and who receives only approximately

46 per cent of the consumer dollar is entitled to more consideration than that which is accorded him in this resolution. I believe there should be an entirely new assessment of the agricultural picture in Canada in order that the Canadian farmer's position may be equalized with that of other segments of our economy and in order that he may share to a greater extent in the great boom we are enjoying.

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