Mr. A. P. Gleave (Saskatoon-Biggar):
Mr. Speaker, I asked the responsible minister on June 14 whether he would consider adjustments to the initial price of wheat and barley, and whether he would give some consideration to adjusting the prevailing price for rapeseed sown by western farmers, the minister replied, at least as I understood it, in the negative.
In the very brief time at my disposal may I outline how the price of these grains has declined. The minister can check these figures either from the Wheat Board report or from the current edition of the Western Producer. No. 2 northern wheat is selling at Thunder Bay this year for $1.65-1' whereas a year ago it was $1.81. If the minister checks the Wheat Board report he will see the general trend from 1949 and 1950 to the present day and the very small interim or final payment that has been made in recent years. In view of the cost of production today, I think it is quite unreasonable to expect farmers to conduct their operations on the basis of the initial prices that are now set.
I would seriously suggest to the minister that this initial price should be increased and so put a floor under the earning power of the farmer. In reference to barley, I would say that the situation is much more grave since the decline in price of barley has been greater. About a year ago the minister added 10 cents and since then took half back. Let me point out that the prairie provinces are trying to do something to maintain feed prices within the provinces. They are very much concerned about the purchasing power left to the farmer through the sale of feed grains. The minister could do nothing more effective to assist these provinces and bolster the internal level of prices than to increase the initial prices under the Canada Wheat Board.
Finally, in respect of rapeseed I should point out to the minister that currently in the Western Producer, Thunder
July 4, 1972
Bay prices are quoted one day slightly under $2 and now $2.02, whereas a year ago it was $2,501. When replying the other day, the minister said this was temporary. That is not really so. I would call the minister's attention to the fact that this decline has been constant since the beginning of the crop year. Some peaks have been hit but this price has gone down.
I do not see how the government can divest itself of the responsibility of maintaining the earning power of rape-seed. This is the same government that established a support price for soyabeans and sunflower seeds, yet lefuses to move at all on rapeseed. A week ago when I moved to ask that this grain be given the protection of the Canadian Wheat Board, the minister announced before the vote that he would not support this and, indeed, his party voted against giving the farmers that protection. I fail to see how the government can justify leaving the rapeseed grower without a floor price and without any protection in view of the protection given other producers of oilseed crops. The government has given this support to other crops but the price of rapeseed is chaotic.
I have done some research and obtained Vancouver and Thunder Bay prices. There is one price at the crushing plants and there is a premium at some local elevator points. But the total quota system of the Canada Wheat Board is being used to force the farmer to deliver grain at his own cost to those areas where it is wanted.
I have looked up the closing in-store cash prices at Vancouver. The minister may say he would prefer another point and I do not blame him for that. If he can sort out the maze, God bless him. We find that the prices were $2.26, $2.21 and $2.77 for the crop years 1966-67, 1967-68 and 1969-70. As I pointed out to the minister, we are now looking at a price of $2.02 basis Thunder Bay-and it could be higher in Vancouver. Undoubtedly it is higher, and I know that because I use that market when I can. I would point out to the minister that the average farmer cannot get the Vancouver price because usually he has to settle for the prices quoted at Thunder Bay.
In respect of these three grains, regardless of volume, it is unrealistic to expect the western farmer to stay effectively in the grain business with these kinds of prices, and I suggest the minister take some action to correct the situation.