No more pressure than was brought to bear by the United States in respect to many preferences.
Now that was the point, Mr. Speaker. At the time we were discussing this question in 1948, the two points I made were, first, that I was quite certain there were future possibilities for the sale of Canadian apples in the British market; and second, that pressure had been brought by the United States upon our delegation to relinquish these preferences, although at the same time they were trying to tell us that there was nothing worth-while being relinquished. I think any sensible person would realize that no competent United States businessman uses his pressure for the removal of a preference unless it means some advantage to him.
Agricultural Prices Support Act
I think that the government made a big mistake in overlooking the future possibilities for the sale of Canadian apples in the British market. British Columbia must find a market for between two and a half million and three million boxes a year, in the export market, if the producer is going to experience any sense of stability. What are the facts? In 1948 our officials said this market had disappeared, that it had no future. The facts are these. Approximately within the last thirty days the Australians made a deal with Great Britain to supply three and a half million boxes of apples. At the present time the shops in England are full of United States apples. Large importations are coming from Italy; hundreds of thousands of pounds of apples, not boxes, are going to Great Britain. Going to Britain are also apples from Belgium and the Netherlands. The demand is there in Great Britain for Canadian apples. The correspondence I receive from relatives and friends in England indicates that they miss Canadian apples in the British market. Our government has relinquished these preferences, has done nothing, and these countries are taking advantage of the situation.
I have here a quotation I wish to give. It is from Country Life, the August 1949 issue. Country Life is an agricultural paper published in British Columbia. The article is headed: "British Lament Miserable Quality of Import Apples: Italian Disgrace Cull Pile", and reads in part as follows:
"Everyone in (Great Britain) was lamenting the miserable quality of apples-not only domestic, but imported supplies. The greatest criticism was directed at Italian imports which were said to have arrived in shocking condition and were a disgrace to a cull pile."
These are sentences taken from the introductory paragraph of a report, prepared by Fred A Motz agricultural economist, of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, following an examination of fruit marketing conditions in the United Kingdom, as part of the "study of foreign market outlets and competition with United States fruits, conducted under the provisions of the U.S. research and marketing act."
From my knowledge of what the situation is in Great Britain at the present time and from what I read in articles such as this, of the actions of the United States government, I think they are, shall I say, much keener than our government has been in finding markets for these commodities. I think there is no question about it, Mr. Speaker, that we made a big mistake in giving up the British preference, and when we took for granted what we were told, namely, that there was no future for Canadian apples in the British market.
I ask our government to give further consideration to the matter. I realize the sterling difficulties but I think these can be overcome if $4 million or $5 million of the $400
Agricultural Prices Support Act million used for wheat were diverted for the purchase of apples. Somehow or other I find this fault not only on the part of the government but on the part of officials and trade commissioners. Our trade commissioners are bright boys when it comes to selling industrial products; but it is my opinion that our trade commissioners are not as active and are not as keen, when it comes to selling agricultural products, and they do not understand the selling of agricultural products to the same extent that they understand the selling of industrial' products. I ask the government to give consideration to the possibility of marketing Canadian apples next year by the use of some of these funds that are provided for wheat or by the acceptance of sterling, and the possibility of re-investment of that sterling in undeveloped areas.
I support the request of the British Columbia fruit growers' association for financial assistance from this government under this legislation. The resolution was read this afternoon by the hon. member for Yale (Mr. Tones) and I am not going to repeat it. But without question-and I am quite sure the minister would agree with this-the fruit growers of British Columbia have been a patient group throughout the years in presenting their problems to this government. The minister knows that even during the war when we could have obtained from $1 to $3 more for cherries our organization-that is, the fruit growers' organization-voluntarily said "No, this is too high a price". There was a terrific demand. They willingly accepted a lower price on cherries and other fruits in order to keep customer good will and to serve the Canadian people at a reasonable price because they considered that the grower was getting a satisfactory price, and that is all they want. I think that the fruit industry's record in that respect is excellent. It has always taken a constructive approach. It has never pressed the government for assistance unless it was in a serious position. The fruit industry in British Columbia is in a serious condition at this time and I urge the government to give consideration to their requests and to their resolution.
I have on my desk a statement of a grower that I know in my own district, at Deer Park on the Arrow lakes. He is a small fruit grower who has made a reasonable living for the last few years. He sends me this statement which shows his returns for some of the fruit produced on his five-acre orchard this year. His return for this year shows that he is in the red on that production to the extent of $241.49. That is going to be the experience [DOT]of a good number of growers in our district, and in British Columbia generally, unless some assistance is given by this government.
Spraying costs, farm machinery costs, and box costs are going up. For instance, in 1939 we were paying 12 cents per box for apple boxes from the factory. Today we are paying 33-2 cents per box. Freight, machinery, sprays, fertilizers, boxes, all commodities, are going up while prices have dropped rather rapidly.
In conclusion, therefore, I urge the minister and the government to give consideration to this large industry which requires some support at this time in order to get through the present difficulty; and also to give consideration to plans such as those I have suggested in my few remarks, with a view to stabilizing the industry in the years to come. Immediate assistance in the present difficulty, long-term policies on the basis of commodity agreements, and the other arrangements I have mentioned, will I think do a great deal to bring a sense of security to the agriculturists and to the fruit growers now and in the days to come.
Topic: PROCEDURE IN ASKING QUESTIONS ON THE ORDERS OP THE DAY
Subtopic: AGRICULTURAL PRICES SUPPORT ACT