On March 22, 1967, the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Greene) announced to the Canadian people the dairy policy for 1967-68.
I am referring to page 2 of his press release.
While total returns to producers from subsidy and the market will depend upon the action of provincial boards and agencies in establishing minimum paying prices, I am informed by the commission that the combination of subsidy and price supports will provide for a total milk price in the order of $4.75 f.o.b. the factory for manufacturing milk testing 3.5 per cent.
We know, Mr. Chairman, that the associations representing the dairy producers in the province of Quebec and in Canada asked in several briefs that the price support be set at $5.10 per hundredweight of milk testing 3.5 per cent butterfat, either by increasing the subsidy or the retail price.
[DOT] (10:50 p.m.)
Recently a representative of the Ontario dairy producers association expressed some concern, Mr. Chairman, about price increases. He feared that if the retail prices were too high, consumption would decline.
We had a striking example of that, Mr. Chairman, in 1961-62. The hon. member for Kent (Mr. Danforth) mentioned that in 1961-62 we had surpluses-yes, I remember that in January 1962, we had more than 200
million pounds of butter or butter oil in storage and he was amazed that the present government had disposed of the surpluses and that we now had to import butter.
Everyone knows, Mr. Chairman, that the government, or the Canadian Dairy Commission thought advisable to import butter in February or March 1967 in order to have a reserve. According to members of the opposition, an unusual amount was imported.
The imported quantity, Mr. Chairman, was only 2,250,000 pounds and this was especially meant to protect our reserves in British Columbia.
However, Mr. Chairman, in 1962, we had reserves. Why? Because consumption had decreased from 18.5 to 15.5 per capita. This is why in 1960, 1962, a reserve had accumulated. Some people say among other things: perhaps the price was not the only reason why people could not afford to buy butter? However, you know, Mr. Chairman, that in 1962, we had around 1 million unemployed in Canada. And who ruled the country in 1961, if it was not the right hon. Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Diefenbaker)?
Mr. Chairman, I also wish the dairy farmers to get the amount they are asking, that is $5.10 per hundredweight of milk and the Liberals had promised $4 per hundredweight in their program during the 1965 election.
Last year, dairy farmers obtained the price of $4. I admit that, in some areas, dairy farmers could not get 4 per hundredweight and that, in 1967-68, in some areas of the province of Quebec, for instance, they will fail to obtain the amount of $4.75 per hundredweight, less 11 cents for export. However, Mr. Chairman, according to an agreement entered into last fall, the province of Quebec, as of April 1, 1967, withdrew from the dairy products assistance plan. Since the contribution, I believe, was on an average 25 cents per hundredweight, this will have the Quebec treasury some $8 million. And why is it that the province of Quebec does not use this amount of $8 million to assist the areas which will not be in a position to benefit from the price of $4.75?
Mr. Chairman, I am also worried about quotas in the new policy. In an announcement made on March 22, 1967, by the Department of Agriculture, and in another announcement made by the Canadian Dairy Commission on April 14, 1967, the regulations under the new dairy products policy were made known.
April 26, 1967
And among other things, starting in 196869, I believe, any producer who has not delivered a minimum of 50,000 pounds of milk in 1967-68, will no longer be eligible for subsidies in the future. And I think reference is made also to certain limits.
I hope, Mr. Chairman, that the commission will consider special cases, such as that of the young farmers wanting to set up an agricultural establishment, who have no cattle on their farm and who cannot get a quota so as to benefit by this subsidy.
But I have confidence in that dairy commission. That is another promise to the agricultural class which the Liberal party has fulfilled. In the 1965 program of the Liberal party, we had promised to set up a dairy commission and the Canadian parliament, in this session has established a three-member Canadian Dairy Commission. I am pleased tonight, Mr. Chairman, to mention that one member, the one acting as vice-chairman, is one of my fellow citizens from Thurso who represents the producers.
I was surprised when the hon. member for Kent (Mr. Danforth) with whom I sat on the committee on agriculture and colonization used the kind of language he used about a possible general strike by dairy farmers.
May I refer him to the article written by P. E. Grandpre as published in "La Terre de Chez Nous", on April 19, 1967, and I quote:
Until now, we have read many statements, but no one has kicked up a shindy. Only veiled allusions from the minorities, and nothing for the immediate future. Apparently, serious people will continue to exert pressure, to negotiate in an orderly fashion, which seems preferable. In similar cases, there is always the danger of spoiling things by going too fast.
The present situation-
Mr. Chairman, here is a very important passage-
-has grown difficult and touchy because of what might be called a sin of omission: the increase in the price of industrial milk started two or three years ago-
It is not the Liberal party, nor the Minister of Agriculture, nor the member for Labelle who mentioned that, Mr. Chairman, but Mr. Grandpre in an article published in La Terre de Chez-Nous of April 19. And here is something about the strike in the United States mentioned by the member for Kent. What were its results, according to Mr. Grandpre? It entailed for dairy producers a substantial loss of money. The member for Kent mentioned some other figures, certain subsidies and support prices on farm products in
Canada. He mentioned some but he did not say that in 1961-62 the support prices for the dairy industry only amounted to $16,481,000. Then we see that $100 million will be allotted in 1966-67. I too, Mr. Chairman, share the ideas expressed by the hon. member for Medicine Hat (Mr. Olson) when he says that our friends are not serious when they claim that nothing has been done to help the farmers, the Canadian dairy industry.
If the government grants subsidies of over $120 million to help our dairy producers, in the final analysis, neither you nor I, Mr. Chairman, are getting those $120 million.
Every month, the Department of Agriculture-from here on it will be the Canadian Dairy Commission for the stabilization board -sends cheques to the manufacturing milk and cream producers. I do not know whether the new or the 1966 policy applies to the cream producers.
And, every month or every three months, the cheques are sent out directly to the producers, and they are the ones who benefit from those subsidies.
The hon. member for Roberval (Mr. Gauthier) said that the Minister of Agriculture should be ashamed to look at us or to look at the farmers. Personally, I say to the minister that he should not be ashamed to meet the farmers because the Liberal party has kept most of the promises it made them in 1965-
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