They were not listening to him then. I ask the house this question: What would happen to our wheat if the government were to withdraw its support? In guaranteeing, as it has, the initial payment to the farmer of western Canada, the government has been doing useful and helpful work. It has cost a large amount of money. The minister told us the other day that the maintenance of the prices for the crops of 1938, 1939 and 1940 had cost $79,900,000. I suppose by this time, with the added interest, it will have reached $80,000,000. That was the cost for those three years.
In dealing with the wheat problem there are three questions we should ask ourselves, ques-
tions which are of grave importance. First of all it is essential that the man who has wheat should receive a price which will assure him a respectable living. The man who has a crop of wheat should have a price from the government or from someone which will assure him a reasonably decent living. There is no doubt about that.
The second point is this. The man who cultivates land and then through an act of Providence receives no return from it should be protected. Providence may step in, and it may develop that either through climatic conditions such as drought or hail, or through a plague of insects such as grasshoppers, saw-flies or cut-worm, through no fault of his own the farmer may lose his crop. Those farmers should be looked after by the government, and in some way a living should be provided for them. It is not the farmer's fault that he has no crop. In my opinion he is more deserving of the sympathy of the government and the people generally than the man who has a crop who at least has something to show for his labour.
The third point to consider is this: What is the government going to do with the wheat when it is delivered? Where are they going to sell it? Where are they going to store it? How much will they pay for storage? These are matters which must be borne in mind when we are dealing with wheat.
Having in mind the three points I have enumerated, I should like to refer to what the government is doing for wheat growers in the present year and' what it proposes to do in the year to come. First of all let us consider the year 1941-42. What has the government's legislation been? First the government has guaranteed an initial payment of 70 cents a bushel, with an additional participating certificate. This is the same provision as was made last year. I am not satisfied with that price; I was not satisfied with it last year. I said at that time that because the cost of living had increased between 10 and 15 per cent the price should be raised to the same extent, up to 78 cents, 80 cents, or somewhere in that neighbourhood. I said that we are entitled1 to that increase in price. I say it again. Labour is getting the increase; why should not the wheat grower receive the same consideration? If 70 cents was a right and proper price two years ago, then 70 cents is not a right and proper price to-day. That is one of the reasons for discontent in western Canada. The price is not quite high enough.
But there are other reasons for discontent, and they are far more important. One hardly ever hears it mentioned, but let me tell the house that in western Canada we have had
Wheat Board Act
one of the worst crop failures in years. So far this year we have marketed only 165,000,000 bushels of wheat, and we expect our total marketings will not go beyondl 200,000,000 bushels. Last year we marketed 455 million bushels. There is quite a difference. The reason for the discontent is the crop failure we had this year in western Canada.
There is another reason-the low grades. These are the things we should look into. In my district, for example, practically all the wheat is combined. A farmer will go out and start his combine to-day and haul his wheat into the elevator and get No. 1 northern for it. During the night rain falls and washes the wheat and when he next goes out he finds this Thatcher wheat has bleached. This is a rust-resistant high grade wheat, but it is apt to bleach. He finds that he can get only No. 2 northern, for that. If there is another rainfall, when he goes out again he finds he will get only No. 3 northern or No. 4. I have received only No. 4 for wheat grown in the same field from which I took wheat that graded No. 1. Nothing had happened to the wheat except washing by rain. I have asked some technical men about this bleached wheat and they assure me that as far as milling or baking qualities are concerned, it is just as good as any other wheat. This man is a member of the grades standard board and he tells me that whenever it meets he has asked that this matter be considered, that this wheat should not be given such low grades. Because of the low grades of wheat this year the average price received by the farmers has been 49 cents Fort William, whereas a year ago it was 52 to 54 cents. The lower grades of wheat caused the lower average price.
That is one thing the government has done. In addition, the government has asked the farmers to market on a quota basis. This is one of the most helpful pieces of legislation we have, ana there has been very little criticism of it from the farmer. They say it is too bad that they did not have it during the good years. They contend that it has taught them how to finance. Previously they hauled their wheat in the fall of the year, received their money, spent it, and then when the spring came around and it was necessary to seed they had to borrow money. They say they do not want to see this quota system done away with; they hope it will be continued.
The next thing the government did was to institute a system of bonuses. The first of these is the Prairie Farm Assistance Act which has been in operation for three years. This is one of the most popular pieces of legislation for the farmers of western Canada that this or any other government has placed on the 44561-76
statute book. Outside of the Liberal members, however, it has received scanty support. It has received nothing but adverse criticism from the majority of members of this house, apart from members of the Liberal party. The fact of the matter is that many members went home to the west when this legislation was put through and said that the government would never pay, that it was done only to fool the public, to get their votes. Then when the payment was made, they contended it was done just to fool the people, that no more payments would be made. When the last payment was made they contended that the farmers would never have got it if they had not come down here and raised such a storm and so forced the government to pay. I heard statements like that. I have received hundreds of letters praising this Prairie Farm Assistance Act and asking that it be kept on the statute book, that it be enlarged or extended. The farmers ask that it should not be done away with because it is the only thing they have to help them. Have hon. members ever stopped to think that even with the small crop last year and the low grades, there is no relief in western Canada? Why? It is because these bonuses have been paid and have been evenly distributed among our farmers so that they are able to get by.
There are two schools of thought in western Canada with regard to this wheat question, and I shall deal with them in a moment.
I come now to the wheat acreage reduction plan. The Prairie Farm Assistance Act will cost the government something in the neighbourhood of $15,000,000. Under the wheat acreage reduction plan the government pays S4 per acre for each acre taken out of wheat and put into summer-fallow, and $2 per acre for every acre put into coarse grains. That will cost the government between $25,000,000 and $35,000,000. I understand that $25,000,000 has been paid out.
Topic: CANADIAN WHEAT BOARD ACT
Subtopic: PROVISION FOR INCREASED RATE PER BUSHEL ON WHEAT DELIVERED BY PRODUCERS