Like the other members who have spoken on this resolution, I welcome it. I think it will do a great deal to assist the farmers who come under the Prairie Farm Assistance Act. But like the hon. member for Red Deer my constituency is in the position that nearly all the crop failures come about as a result of hail. I have brought this to the minister's attention on several other occasions, and I am not going to dwell on it to any great extent. However, the eligibility clause under the act certainly leaves the way open for discrimination. Many of the farmers in my area are being hailed out, some of them for several years in a row, and they have been unable to get any payment for these losses.
The information I have been able to gather from the farmers is that they do not mind paying the one cent. They have no objection to it at all, and as the hon. member for Red Deer has indicated many of them would be agreeable to paying even more if they could derive some benefit from the fund. However hail does not, under any circumstances, flatten crops in any six-section area. It runs in streaks, and in very uneven paths through the area. As a result many of these farmers have been paying into the fund for years but have been unable to get a cent from it.
I have one other point about which I should like to ask the minister. A year ago I mentioned to him that there was an area within
Prairie Farm Assistance Act my riding that had been excluded from the original act because it was considered to be submarginal. I pointed out also that due to the growing of different crops and improved farming methods, the area in question had increased in productivity to a very great extent. I asked him at that time if it would be possible to have this area investigated to see whether or not it would be possible to reclassify it and bring it under the act. A year ago the minister assured me it would be possible to check into the matter, and if he found things were different from what they were when the act was originally drafted he would certainly take steps to see that something was done in conjunction with the provincial government.
I ask the minister now if he has made any inquiry into that area, and if so what has been decided. I may say that at that time the minister was under the impression that it was in a special area of the province farther north, and I assured him that it was not. It is in a grey wooded soil area and they are raising good crops of clover, alfalfa and other feed grains and are doing very well.
However, their big complaint is this. In spite of the fact that it is now a productive area they are unable to get under the Prairie Farm Assistance Act and cannot derive any benefit from it although their neighbours very near to them in an eligible area are able to derive some benefit from prairie farm assistance.
Topic: PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE ACT
Subtopic: AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE AUTHORIZED AWARDS AND LEVY