I should like to make
a few general remarks while we are on item 1. First of all, I should like to congratulate the farmers of this great dominion upon a most difficult job well done. During the past two years I believe that most farmers have been fairly well satisfied with prices of farm products, thanks to the subsidies paid through the minister, the officials of his department, and the Commodity Prices Stabilization corporation.
At the beginning of the war farmers, remembering what had happened during world war I, had their hopes built high that they might have an opportunity to get back a few of the dollars they had lost during the nineteen-thirties. But what happened? In the fall of 1941 all prices were frozen at a very great disadvantage to the primary producer, because the commodities and services used by farmers had already risen considerably. I should like to quote a few figures from the Economic Annalist to verify those remarks. The wholesale prices are taken as of 1926 at 100. In 1937 the wholesale price of all commodities was at 84-6; in 1941, 89-9; and as of the last available figure including everything, 103-0. It will be noticed that there is a great variation in all these figures with the exception of one. In 1937, farm products were only 87-1. In 1941 they had dropped to 71-2, at the very time when these prices were frozen. The relation of farm produce prices as of the 1926 figures, taking 100 as the base, was 87-1 in 1937 and 71-2 in 1941. The last available figure for May, 1945, showed that it had risen to 104-6. .
Let me take field products. In 1937, they stood at 88-3; in 1941 they were 56-5. There is a great reduction there; yet that price was the basic price when prices were frozen in the fall of 1941. What about animal products? This is the one exception. In 1937 the price was 85; in 1941 it had risen to 95-8, while in May, 1945, it had reached the figure of 121-1.
We now come to the cost of living. These figures are based on the average from 1935 to 1939 and the base is 100. The urban living costs in 1937 were 101-2; in 1941, they were 111-8; and in May, 1945, they had risen to 119. Farm living costs based on the same figures show that in 1937 the average was 102-9. In 1941 it had risen to 114-2. The last available figure for May, 1945, shows that it stood at 125-5.
We now come to the commodities and services used by farmers, and comparing the two figures, again the average of 1935 to 1939, we find that in 1937 it stood at 105-4; 1941, 114-1; and in May of this year it had risen to 142.
In view of these figures, I believe every hon. member will agree when I say that the farmers of Canada had a legitimate complaint. But even then it was only by repeated efforts on the part of the federation of agriculture, which embodies practically every farm organization across Canada, and because of the obvious demand for greater production that these various subsidies were paid. I might say here that I was surprised and disappointed that apparently the minister did not know the correct name of that great organization which has done so much for the farmers of Canada, because at pages 529 and 918 of Hansard he referred to it as the farm federation.
With regard to subsidies, as I see it, these were a means of adjusting our economy in order that the producer might receive a reasonable remuneration for his labour without causing an appreciable increase in the cost of living. The government is to be congratulated upon its price control measures. Whether they have been worth the terrific cost will become apparent only in the future. Many of these subsidies are paid directly to the producers, and because of this fact are termed producer subsidies. This is causing considerable misunderstanding on the part of the public, who do not realize that they are also benefiting directly by a like amount. The two cents a quart subsidy on milk, for instance, commonly called a consumer subsidy, is paid to the distributor but is a direct benefit to the consumer, in that he pays two cents less for milk than otherwise would be the case. I therefore maintain that while the producer receives quite a large proportion of the moneys expended in this way, the processor, the distributor and the consumer also indirectly receive a benefit, in that the cost to the consumer is not increased to any appreciable extent.
The situation, however, is quite different in regard to producers of hogs and beef cattle. Here a ceiling price is set over which a packer or butcher may not charge. There is no floor price for the producer, however, and consequently when there is a heavy run of cattle or hogs there is invariably a drop in price. There is no protection for the producer and the result is apparent. That, result is not seen in connection with beef cattle as yet, because cattle coming to the market now are the product of a breeding programme commenced probably two or three years ago. Many cattle must be marketed at this time every year because of a shortage of stabling accommodation. Hog marketings in 1945, however, will be one-third less than in 1944. Why? Partly because the income tax department considers the money received from the sale
of all breeding stock as income, not capital; but mainly because the farmers are tired and fearful of what the future may hold for them. Most certainly they cannot keep on working twelve and fourteen hours every day simply to give more dollars to the dominion treasury.
There is something I know very well most farmers cannot understand; that is, the wide variation between the selling price to the packer, for instance, or the price which the producer receives for a sow and the price he pays in the retail butcher shop for the bacon from the same sow. I should like the minister to explain that. In January, 1944, the premium on hogs was raised ^to $3 on grade A and $2 on grade B-l, and it is interesting to note the increase in quality since that date. The percentage of A-l carcasses as of 1944 was 41*1 per cent in the 55 to 65-pound class, which is by far the largest class, and the total percentage was 70-6 for all grade A-l carcasses. In the first nine months of 1945 the percentage of grade A-l carcasses in the 55 to 65-pound side weight class jumped from 41-1 to 49-8, and the percentage total was 77-8 as against 70-6 in 1944. This may not be entirely due to the increase in the premium, but certainly that had some effect.
I think every one in this country realizes; at least I am sure all farmers do, that for the hog producers to live we must procure at least a certain. portion of the British bacon market. It is interesting to note in a digest taken from "Agriculture Abroad" published by the economics division of the Department of Agriculture, which deals with the production goals of the present government in Great Britain, that they hope to increase their hog production by 870,000 over the 1944 level. Just what that might mean to our market there is hard to figure, but undoubtedly it will mean something. In order to retain even a part of that British bacon market we must do two things. Undoubtedly we must produce the quality of Wiltshire sides the British market demands, and in the second place we must be able to guarantee that market continuity of supply. That has been one of our greatest handicaps in connection with that market; we could not guarantee a Steady supply. Some time ago we listened to quite a lengthy debate on bill No. 14, to carry into effect the agreement for a food and agriculture organization of the united nations, between Canada and certain other nations and authorities. I should like to quote from the preamble to the constitution of the organization:
The nations accepting this constitution, being determined to promote the common welfare by furthering separate and collective action on their part for the purposes of:
Prime Minister Attlee
raising levels of nutrition and standards of living of the peoples under their respective jurisdictions,
securing improvements in the efficiency of the production and distribution of all food and agricultural products,
bettering the condition of rural populations,
and thus contributing toward an expanding world economy, hereby establish the food and agriculture organization of the united nations, hereinafter referred to as the "organization", through which the members will report to one another on the measures taken and the progress achieved in the fields of action set forth above.
The government of Canada has pledged itself to this organization.
A campaign speech delivered by the Minister of Agriculture in May, 1945, carried this headline, in the Toronto Daily Slur: "Farm prices up to end of 1946." This would lead us to believe that subsidies were to remain until that time. During this session a floor price has been set on wheat at one dollar a bushel f.o.b. Fort William. Port Arthur or Vancouver. That is only sixty-two per cent of parity.
Topic: DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE