October 27, 1976
Advance Payments for Crops
across the way can come up with valid, constructive and well reasoned suggestions for modifications to the legislation, the Minister of Agriculture for Canada will be the first to accept those ideas and try to incorporate them in the legislation so that this bill can be, in fact, the very best bill possible for Canadian farmers all across the country.
One other point hon. gentlemen across the way made had to do with the matter of interest charges. I shall not deal with that extensively because the answer is already on the record in the intervention made earlier today by the minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board. 1 suppose the point opposition members are trying to make is that somehow this legislation treats farmers in eastern Canada, and farmers who are not grain producers in the Wheat Board area, differently from the cash payment legislation relating to specific grain, which legislation has been on the statute books for some time.
The point is that there has been an effort in both pieces of legislation dealing with grain and other crops to treat producers in exactly the same way, especially in relation to interest. If the advance is repaid in the normal fashion as contemplated by the legislation and as has been demonstrated by our experience with the grain legislation, then of course interest is not payable. But in a case where the advance is in default, or where the producer chooses to repay it in terms of cash instead of the delivery of crop, then of course the advance does begin to attract interest.
It is probably important once again that members know the history of that particular provision which really results from the experience with the grain legislation. Originally the cash advance legislation dealing with grain did not contain a provision calling for the payment of interest. It was upon the recommendation of farmers and farm organizations that that provision was put in, in order to avoid what otherwise would be an abuse of legislation if an advance were taken with no intention of delivering the grain but rather in order to have the advance as an interest-free loan to be used for other purposes.
Farmers and farm organizations in western Canada perceived that as an abuse of the legislation, and recommended that the cash advance legislation relating to grain should be changed to recognize that problem. The amendments were made to the legislation a considerable time ago. Obviously they have been very well received and very widely approved. The legislation the Minister of Agriculture is now presenting is of course legislation which follows upon exactly the same principle. It does not specifically relate to grain, but of course expands the principle so that it will relate to a number of other crops across Canada whether they be produced in western Canada or in any other part of the country.
I think the principle the Minister of Agriculture has put before the House in the form of this particular legislation is very good; it is sound. This is a principle which I think farmers in parts of Canada who are not used to the grains industry on the prairies will welcome when they see this kind of provision, and I know producers across the country are very anxious to see this legislation proceed through the House of Commons and the Standing Committee on Agriculture so that the advantages of cash advances for crops, other than grains, will become available to farmers across the country.
Subtopic: CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION