I have been following the minister's estimates through from the beginning and I think they are all justified. Particularly do I approve the estimates for the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act and the Prairie Farm Assistance Act administration. If I were to offer any comments on those expenditures I would suggest that they be increased rather than reduced. For some years I have been advocating the extension of the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act so that its provisions would render some assistance in solving the problems which the eastern farmers are trying to deal with. I refer particularly to the flooding of the dyke lands and to the damage and destruction wrought on our meadows and intervale lands along our rivers and streams.
I notice that the hon. member for Fraser Valley referred to a specific case, and I imagine I may be pardoned if I do likewise and refer to one which has been brought to my attention for several years. It is the damage and destruction that is done to our meadow lands along the Margaree river. Every year acres of that most fertile land in
the maritime provinces have been rendered unproductive and acres of it have been washed away by flood waters, by ice floes and by uncontrolled waters which the farmers have been trying to control. They have now reached their limit. Knowing the situation as I do,
I will say for these farmers that they have done their very best to deal with the ravages of these destructive agencies, but a point has now been reached where this damage and destruction cannot be controlled by individual efforts. I do not know through what means or through what department some assistance can be rendered, but I honestly believe that, unless some government assistance is given, the most fertile lands of the Margaree valley will be washed out into the Atlantic ocean.
I believe that the assistance which could be rendered to combat those agencies would not mean a great contribution from the government. If the government were to assist the farmers, those who have vested holdings there, to build at strategic points breakwaters, small protecting walls, sheer dams and to do a little bit of dredging in order to keep the river in its natural channel, I believe that a great deal of the damage could be prevented. I honestly believe that if some such assistance is not rendered to our farmers in that particular section of the country, that fertile land in the Margaree valley, which is one of the most productive in the whole of the maritime provinces, will be washed away into the Atlantic ocean.
I would urge upon the Minister of Agriculture, although possibly this remedial measure does not come under the authority of his department, to collaborate with some other department of the government and point out to them the emergent need of conserving this fertile land. It is all right to be undertaking to rehabilitate lands which are today unproductive. But when we have productive land which has been destroyed by these damaging agencies, it is just as important to preserve land that is in productivity now a3 it is to spend money to rehabilitate land that is out of production. I would urge the minister to collaborate with the department which has to do with this matter, to impress upon them its emergency nature, and the necessity of something being done to assist our honest farmers who are trying their best and have exceeded their means in endeavouring to preserve these holdings.
Topic: DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE