A little bit. As to the cost of feed for hogs in Ontario, Quebec or the maritimes, the feed that is brought from the west costs about 25 per cent more or something like that. I think in this part we can, if we are not too unlucky, bring the pig to 200 pounds at a cost of about $35 or $38 or $40 for a 200-pound pig. I think the price in Alberta is exaggerated by $2. But what I find is this. If the minister wants to be honest as he likes to be I think these people who make out these reports had better get together. We should get more honest reports than that. There is something wrong with
these reports. I do not blame the minister but I do not need to tell the committee that they leave something to be desired and it is too bad tor these people that 1958 was not a better year than it was. Pork was cheaper than in 1957. The price of pork was 34 cents, 9 cents higher. Beef was lower. The minister dropped the price of dry milk by three cents therefore that is not an increase.
The year is not so bad in 1958. As I said not very long ago in the house, we had a good crop. The Americans are buying our cattle. They bought more in 1958. They bought about eight times more than they bought in 1957. We had that revenue which helped to give more money to the farmer. But what should be done for the farmer? There is a change in farming just as there is in the rest of industrial Canada. Therefore the minister and the government should change year after year the means adopted to help the farmers. But they do not do that. They just pay a little bit on something. It is a small thing.
The main thing in this country is the danger for the farmer of these big organizations. They call them farmers. Some people say they are farmers, others say they are not, that they are poultry raisers, egg farmers, grain growers or beef cattle raisers. The person who is a farmer is one who is a mixed farmer. They have more to put up with than anybody thinks. To be a good farmer he has to work 365 days a year and like it. Next, you have to be equally skilled in agriculture as well as in mechanics and carpentry. You have to have the knowledge of a veterinary surgeon; and after that you have to have a good wife. You need to be a good worker and in good health. That is what I call a farmer.
To keep those good farmers this country needs to help them. I am not talking about 600-acre or 1,000-acre farms, as I had myself. I was just a gentleman farmer. What we need are the good family farmers. To keep these farmers we need a special organization, call it the name you like. We need the same sort of thing like the Department of Veterans Affairs. Some farmers have not enough money to buy sufficient grain or cattle. A farmer who has to do work half the time outside his farm will never be a good farmer; he will ruin himself, his health, and his wife, and that is all he is able to do. Therefore you need an organization which will guarantee a certain price. You must find a way to stop these big companies which give the farmer so much a chicken so that he will go into debt. That farmer may have to assume a $40,000 or $50,000 debt. The same applies to hogs and small cattle farms, as it does to the big ranges of
beef cattle and dairy cattle. But the little farmer cannot stand it. Those people must have help from the government because they need it so much. I would like to see an organization which guarantees a return of so much per pound for butter, cheese, pork, eggs or chickens to those farmers who are the ordinary farmers. I mean the little farms of not more than 100-odd head. We must stop those big concerns ruining the little man. The way things are going now the farmer will be ruined, and so will the government through the subsidization of them.
I do not agree with my hon. friend who talked a minute ago that there should be a higher price for wheat in Canada. If something has to be done to help those farmers, it is not by raising the consumer price, because that is high enough. The taxpayers should only be called upon to pay a reasonable price for their goods. The more the price goes up, the more the need for higher wages, which leads very often to strikes; and so it goes round in a vicious circle. During the war butter was selling for about 50 cents a pound and in addition to this price the farmer also received a bonus of 10 cents per pound from the cheese factory, this being paid by the federal government. So we should have so much per head up to a certain limit. If we do not, I do not know what will happen to our small farmers. They cannot compete with these big outfits with their new mechanical machinery. The larger the farm the larger the machine, and they are very expensive. Lots of farmers bought tractors and machines for $10,000 or $20,000 each. They have borrowed some $120 million.
In my own district they have borrowed so much for machines that most of the farmers are in debt, and if we do not give the farmer a chance to make a living by their own honest labour, he and his family will quit. Most of the farmers' wives work all hours of the day to help their husbands on the farms, and they get their sons of seven or eight years to help with the tractor when they come home from school. If they did not do that about 25 per cent of the farmers at the present moment would have to leave and come to the city. They are still on the farms. Therefore it is up to the government to help them. I cannot believe there are no honest Tories; there are some honest people in the Tory party.
It is evident that the minister has made promises which he is not able to keep, but that is not his fault, it is the fault of the irresponsible undertakings that were made by his leader. Now the Minister of Agriculture finds himself in the position where he cannot fulfil even a quarter of those
promises. What does he say now about parity prices? Oh, when the minister was on this side of the house he was a very good speaker and the phrase "parity price" was always on his lips. But now parity prices have disappeared like a sputnik. But let us not talk politics for too long. The farmers of this country are more important than politics, and it is in the best interest of the whole country that something should be done to help certain parts of this industry.
In some ways conditions are improving. I can remember that five or six years ago in my own riding a man might raise 100 or 125 chickens in a year. He would work, helped by his sons, for every day of the week except Sunday when he would go to Mass. Hon. members know, of course, that they are good people in my riding. They did this work for peanut money. It is the big people who control the grain and grind it to make feed who run the market and are able to fix the prices, and when the time comes to renew the contract, they dropped the price.
As I said a moment ago, there is no lawyer who is bright enough to be a good farmer without experience. Farming cannot be carried out successfully without experience, and in order that young people may have a chance we should try to help them out, while at the same time exercising some control in advancing money. We have a lot of good men in the provincial departments of agriculture, and a lot of good men in the federal department, too, who can take part in this work. We might try to get some more and use them to help supervise the small farms not these big companies or big concerns who farm 3,000 acres of wheat and whose cheque has to be sent to Miami because they spend six months down there. The same applies to the people who raise cattle for beef, and the same is coming to apply to the dairy industry.
These people should have only a certain amount, and that is all. The same applies to business. The way things are going now, in a few years time all retail business will be in the hands of a few big companies. I spoke about this last session. It is the same with labour. I can imagine a situation in this country where we would have the big labour organizations fighting with the big farm companies. There could be a strike and we should all starve. With things like this happening we should not, as I said, make politics out of the farm industry.
But 1 believe we have too many big fellows at the present time. I am not against the farmers of the west, but I am not in favour of boosting the incomes of those 66968-9-108
millionaries who work for only three months of the year and spend the rest on vacation; these people who get a couple of men to run the tractors, sow a thousand acres a week and when the crop is gathered, say "Good-bye my friends". That is all right, but we should not take taxes from the people in general in order to make these operators still bigger. I am against the taxpayers of this country putting more money into the hands of these people.
I do not think I will take more time now, except to say a word about loans to farmers. I hope the minister will see that farmers who need loans and are in a position to apply will get them without any unnecessary delay. Perhaps it is because there are so many lawyers mixed up in the administration that it takes so much time to grant these loans. Of course, I know that lots of care is needed in order to see that title is clear, and so on. All I am asking is that the procedure be as quick as possible.
I believe the minister should see that producers are covered and that he should find a way by which they can get back any deficiency; that he should refund a certain amount up to a certain level, but not too far. For chickens, 3,000 would be good enough; eggs, 2,000, would be reasonable. Never mind the speculators; they will look after themselves. I do not want the taxpayers' money spent to help them. The same applies to wheat, and the same applies to hogs. I do not think we should protect them by going beyond 200 hogs. That is enough. This should be protection enough.
That is all I wish to say today. I will return to this question later on. I know that the minister has to introduce a certain amount of politics into his speech, because the boss is the boss, but I think that his leader should at least have given him more assistance. In my opinion the Minister of Agriculture should certainly have the help of a parliamentary assistant. As soon as a parliamentary assistant is named it will relieve the anxieties of some of those funny figures over there who would have to live for 200 years before they could become parliamentary assistants. There will be less nervousness among a lot of those Tory members than there is now, and, finally, they would feel more free to vote with the opposition when the time comes.
Topic: LABOUR CONDITIONS