May 29, 1931 (17th Parliament, 2nd Session)


John Howard Myers

Conservative (1867-1942)


I am coming to you next, and I may as well check you up right now. When this debate opened the hon. member for-Pouliot, is it, or the hon. member for Temiseouata, which sounds about the same- was the one man who seemed to have more to say about the dairy industry, and with regard to butter, cream and agriculture, than anyone else. At once I came to the conclusion that the hon. member was an honest-to-goodness farmer; he looked like one, anyway. Imagine my surprise, Mr. Chairman, when yesterday I turned up the Parliamentary Guide and found that the hon. member for Temiseouata was nothing more or less than a lawyer. Not only that, but he writes books on law, according to the Parliamentary Guide. I tried my best and racked my brain to find out where I would place 'him on a farm, especially a dairy farm, and after a good deal of thought and study I found a place for him; I found something on a dairy farm which the hon. gentleman resembles very much in one respect at least. I refer to the horn flies on the cows. Any farmer as well
acquainted with cows and agriculture as I am, knows that about six o'clock in the evening, when you bring the cows into the barn to milk them, they are infested with swarms of horn flies. The hon. member for Temiseouata resembles them in this respect, in that the more you try to shoo them off the thicker they seem to get. The more you try to shoo him off from making a speech on something about which he knows nothing, the more speeches he makes. During this debate he has given us figures by the mile and speeches .by the acre, but they have led us nowhere.
Now let me say, Mr. Chairman, that some years ago Canada enjoyed a very enviable position indeed as far as dairying was concerned. There was a time in the history of Canada when every year we were supplying the British market with creamery butter, of wonderful quality, in immense quantities. We were going along very nicely indeed, and there was nothing to interrupt our progress except the former Minister of Agriculture, the hon. member for Melville. He interrupted it very violently indeed. The government of which he was a member brought in the Australian treaty, the terms of which were extended to New Zealand, and thereby hangs a tale. That was the beginning of all our trouble. The farmers of Canada saw that a neighbouring country was getting the benefit of the Canadian market, and dairying in Canada declined to such an extent that we lost out on our export trade. We lost the footing we had already gained on the British market, and let me tell the hon. member that it is very much easier to lose trade of this kind than to build it up.-
We are endeavouring to build up that export trade again. When this government came into power we saw to it that the farmers of Canada were given a fair deal as far as dairying was concerned. We shut out, to a great extent at least, the products of our -competitors, and if nothing unforeseen had occurred to-day we would be getting back on our feet by degrees, building up our export trade together with our production in Canada, but what has happened? Production has come along faster than either consumption or the export trade. That was very well pointed out last evening by the hon. member for Red Deer, and let me say that I always like to hear the hon. member for Red Deer speak, because he has something sane and sensible to tell us when he does speak. Now we have turned our attention to dairying more quickly than we should have done under normal conditions by reason of the fact that

wheat prices in western Canada were extremely low. And the farmers of western Canada turned their attention to this industry too quickly. There is another thing which is to a great extent responsible for the increased production of the present time and that is the mild winter we have had throughout Canada and the exceptionally cheap feed which we have had to feed to the dairy cow.
Let me say this-and this is in connection with the dairy council, because it is a part of their work; I might as well point out right here that you cannot build up an export trade in butter, you cannot build up an export trade in any other farm commodity, unless you have the very best that you can possibly produce along these lines. We in eastern Canada have, I believe, done very well in this direction through the action and the encouragement, the knowledge and information which we have had on the part of the National Dairy Council. Through these means we have been attending to the quality and grade of our dairy products. But I find that this has not been the case in western Canada. The hon. member for Willow Bunch (Mr. Donnelly), whether we realized it or not, whether the hon. gentleman himself was aware of the fact or not, really gave us more information along this line last night than anyone else whom I, at least, have heard speak. I wish to quote just a word or two from Hansard of yesterday reporting what the hon. member for Willow Bunch said:
111 western Canada to-day it is not the creamery butter, but the dairy butter that counts. Many of our farmers are so far away from the market they are not in a position to have their cream shipped to the creamery. As a result they are concerned only with dairy butter.
Do hon. members stop to think just what that means to the section of country concerned? Let us imagine now a township or a country district. The people have round about them a number of farms,-fifty, seventy-five or a hundred. In the village they have a store or perhaps two. Heretofore these farmers have been wheat growers. They despised the look of a cow, let alone the trouble of milking it. But when their wheat business was shot to pieces, as it has been, unfortunately, during the last year-though I believe it will come back again-they immediately turned their attention to milking cows. They thought they were engaging in dairying, but. they were not. For let me tell you that milking cows and making butter at home and then taking it to the village grocer is about as far removed from intelligent dairying as the sun is from the earth; and never in
any way can you build up an export trade with such a line of farming as that-nor will anything destroy the domestic market more readily. What would you expect the storekeeper to say when a hundred different people, who heretofore have not been making butter at all, flock in with a hundred different samples of butter of various makes, different in grade, different in flavour and different in every other respect? What would you expect a country grocer to say to those people? What would he do with the butter? He could not eat it nor could he ship it to the towns, because it is not of uniform grade. And so far as export is concerned, it is worse than useless.
Our Minister of Agriculture has been asked for an agricultural policy. Let me say to some agricultural sections of Canada that the first thing they need to get is intelligent agriculture. Then the Minister of Agriculture will give them a policy. But a system of agriculture that puts you into wheat to-day, into butter to-morrow and into hogs the next day is a pretty hard line of agriculture for any Minister of Agriculture to keep pace with. It is pretty hard to evolve any policy that will be of any assistance to people engaged in such work.
I would say, with respect to the Minister of Agriculture, that he occupies possibly the most important portfolio after that of Finance, and at the same time one which it is hardest to administer. I have heard an old fanner down homo say that he was durned if he would keep a hired man around the place except to blame things on if things went wrong. That is about the position the Minister of Agriculture occupies in relation to hon. gentlemen opposite. If it does not rain, it is his fault; if it rains too much, he is to blame. If you are short of butter, that is his fault, and if you have too much, he did not regulate things properly. That is the whole story. In eastern Canada, I believe, we are giving the Minister of Agriculture very little trouble indeed, and if he were to tell his experience I believe he would say the same; because for generations we have been following one steady policy, one line of agriculture. We are easy to deal with. When the price of butter is low, we pocket our loss, and when it is high we take our profits and say nothing about it. It is easy to handle such a situation.

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