I do not think this is going to turn the picture upside down. What assistance is the ordinary farmer getting who is trying to improve his efficiency and productivity in order to survive? This question cannot be ignored, because this is the man who pays the taxes and keeps the whole rural infrastructure going as do the people in the small towns. The only reason for the existence of these communities is to see that the farmer is well served and able to operate. What are we doing to help them? To say that the answer is to bring in a manpower program to get these people out of these communities begs the question. With the rate of unemployment we have, where do they go? This is the relevant question, and the Farm Credit Corporation recognizes it in a statement on the first page of its report to the effect that the lack of opportunity for employment off the farm is one of the important factors keeping people on the farm. Of course it is; they have no place else to go.
When this bill goes to committee let us not ignore this fact. Lest us not go to the farmer weeks from now and say that we have solved his problem, that we have a program. Let us not say that to the farmer unless we really have a program to which he can look forward with some hope
and confidence for the future. That is the nub of the question.
You know, I could go on talking about the policies which have been mentioned, policies involving agricultural adjustment or development programs for Canadian agriculture. These policies are something like the grain stabilization bill which was conceived by and first saw the light of day in the Task Force on Agriculture. That is the source of these ideas. I will not spend time berating the Task Force on Agriculture. I only regret that it was not made up of men of imagination who could chart new frontiers for agriculture, instead of gathering up the old shibboleths and putting them in a bag. Now, one by one, they are emerging, and we are looking at them. As Canadians, we can do better than that. In examining this bill, let us try to do better.
One cannot quarrel too much with the criteria used for this program. The availability of non-farm employment is a criterion. According to the document in my hand, Agricultural Adjustment or Development Policy, that is to be one criterion. In other words, when the department talks about the rate of adjustment from agriculture, it means that the criterion under which farmers will get another kind of job is the availability of non-farm employment. That is elementary, my dear Watson, elementary. The key phrase should not be the availability of non-farm employment, but the availability of opportunity. Other criteria listed are, the availability of training, the difference in skills required, the age and education of the operator, the availability of capital to finance relocation, the ability to liquidate farm assets, and so on. All the same, the most important criterion is the very first listed, the availability of non-farm employment. That is the first one listed and the most important.
Let me go on for a moment. Somebody slipped, I see, and on page 6 of this document we find the statement that the policies depend for their operational efficiency on the effectiveness of the first set of programs-those designed to increase the mobility of resources and to grease the wheels of the adjustment process. As I said, someone slipped and used basic English. May I refer to other aspects mentioned in this document. On page 9, I see reference to a rural counselling service required to assist the farmer and his family make the basic decision to continue in agriculture, and so on. The document also mentions farm management services-
Subtopic: FARM CREDIT ACT