I was interested this
afternoon to hear the Minister of Agriculture talking about butter and cheese. I have been in that business for about forty years and, although I am not an expert, I believe I know something about the industry. It would seem that the minister and his advisers are a little worried that we may run short of butter this year. The fiscal year, if I may so describe it, for cheese and butter, is from the first of May to the last of April in the following year. Last year we received 85,000 boxes of butter as compared with 50,000 boxes received this year. On the other hand, we received this year 150,000 boxes of cheese as compared with 50,000 boxes last year. There is no necessity for an expert to see at once that we are going to run short of butter before the year is over. Unless we can import some butter I would urge the minister to give serious consideration to the situation and not to wait until the first of October before he revises 'his plans. I know that after the first of October very little milk is produced, and unless a very high price is paid for butter, he wiU not get it at all.
I do not make this suggestion to embarrass the minister, because I always pity ministers when they are being grilled with respect to their estimates-although I know that the passage of estimates is almost a holiday for the present Minister of Agriculture. I do not believe any more milk will be produced this year than last because there is a scarcity of labour. Farmers' sons have been enlisting, and others have been drafted. Many farmers are reducing their herds. They cannot hire help; that is out of the question. The result is that for many reasons we shall be short of butter, because at this time there is a better market for whole milk, condensed milk and cheese. Consequently, if the production of milk is the same as it was last year we cannot expect any increased production. Last fall we had about 8,000,000 pounds of butter that we did not know what to do with, but the purchasing power of our people increased to such an extent that that butter disappeared diuring the winter and was practically all gone on May 1. This year we should have a greater production because we have the market for it.
I do not know that the minister can do much about this matter because we have the wartime prices and trade board. I wonder if that board knows anything about cattle. I wonder if it knows which end of a cow should be milked. I think the government whenever possible should take the advice of those who know something about this business. The other night the hon. member for Renfrew South (Mr. McCann) complained about not being appointed to committees where his advice on medical matters might be of value. I urge the minister to consider these suggestions carefully. I know he is a good listener. About a week ago I wrote him to urge that the butter fat content of ice cream be cut down in order to conserve butter fat. Before I received an answer an order in council was passed reducing the butter fat content to where I wanted it. I compliment the minister upon that action.