Mr. R. E. Forbes (Dauphin):
I wish to say a few words on this resolution sponsored by the hon. member for Assiniboia (Mr. Argue). I am in agreement with the intention of the hon. member to provide farmers with sufficient income with which to pay operating expenses in years of crop failure due to drought, or other cases over which the farmer
has no control. However, the P.F.A.A. was implemented in the thirties as a measure of relief to enable the farmer and his family to live. The provincial government and municipalities assisted the farmer with the purchase of feed and seed grains on a loan basis until the farmer could get a crop which would enable him to repay his loan. This legislation has been amended from time to time to enable more farmers to qualify, by reducing the area and increasing the compensation.
In 1958, the act was amended to remove many of the inequities in the making of payments and to broaden the coverage. The result has been from 10 to 15 per cent more farmers benefit from this legislation than previously benefited from it. This whole matter of income for farmers has been of great concern to this government. In order to stabilize the income of farmers, particularly in years of crop loss, this government in July, 1959, passed the Crop Insurance Act. It was hoped this would enable farmers to help themselves and would meet conditions such as were experienced during this past season.
If I may, Mr. Speaker, I should like to put on the record the regulations which are necessary to enable farmers to benefit from this worth-while legislation, as many hon. members may not be familiar with it. This legislation has been of great benefit to the farmers in Manitoba who have carried crop insurance. I quote:
The act provides that Canada will pay 50 per cent of the administrative costs of any insurance scheme plus 20 per cent of the premiums paid in any year. The contribution of 20 per cent of the premiums is similar to that paid by Canada to the unemployment insurance fund.
In addition, Canada may in any year loan to a province up to 75 per cent of the amount by which indemnities exceed premium income plus reserves plus $200,000.
There is no compulsory feature in crop insurance but the agreements now in force provide that at least 25 per cent of the farmers in any area covered by the insurance scheme must participate before the scheme can operate.
The coverage provided under any agreement with a province shall not exceed the established value of 60 per cent of the long term average yield. The established value of each crop is determined by any method agreed on by Canada and the provinces. The long term average yield of an insured crop in any area is calculated and determined in a manner approved by the federal Department of Agriculture. In the Manitoba agreement the long term average yield is calculated over a 35 year period. However, different periods of time may be used depending largely on yield records which are available.
It is generally accepted that the 60 per cent coverage provided is approximately equal to the cash cost of production.
Just what are the costs of production in Manitoba? The hon. member for Assiniboia has said that under his plan of amending the P.F.A.A., the farmer could collect $1,600.
Prairie Farm Assistance Act I have been advised that in Manitoba some of those farmers who carried crop insurance collected over $5,000. Surely, this is a scheme that would be approved by any farmer who wanted coverage which would enable him to pay the expenses connected with farming. Now, the rates which applied in Manitoba are simply these, as it states here:
The premium rates between townships in the northwestern area from 61 to 10 per cent (or 98 cents to $1.51 per acre) for a coverage of-
Now, the hon. member for Assiniboia should listen to this.
-$15.15 an acre for wheat, $12.71 for oats, $14.84 for barley and $16.50 for flax.
Hon. members should note that these are the premiums the farmer himself would pay. The full premium to handle the coverage includes another 20 per cent from the federal government. I feel that this crop insurance measure is one of which the farmers should avail themselves.
Some hon. members opposite have complained-
Topic: EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic: PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE ACT