Hugh Alexander BRYSON

BRYSON, Hugh Alexander

Personal Data

Party
Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)
Constituency
Humboldt--Melfort (Saskatchewan)
Birth Date
August 21, 1912
Deceased Date
October 13, 1987
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_Alexander_Bryson
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=dacb79fc-5609-46bd-a523-86429c6243c2&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
farmer, insurance agent

Parliamentary Career

August 10, 1953 - April 12, 1957
CCF
  Humboldt--Melfort (Saskatchewan)
June 10, 1957 - February 1, 1958
CCF
  Humboldt--Melfort (Saskatchewan)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 2 of 80)


January 25, 1958

Mr. Bryson:

I would like to ask a question of the minister, but before doing so would say that I am personally disappointed and I feel sure that most farmers, especially those in western Canada, will also be disappointed at the outcome of this legislation. I am sure

it will, as far as western grain producers are concerned, mean a continuance of rural poverty in Canada.

The farmer is still going to be put through the wringer, so to speak, and I am sure that the introduction and passage of this kind of legislation will make farmers much less responsive when they come to Ottawa to request from this government certain considerations.

A short while ago the minister suggested that we had taken three weeks in which to debate this bill, and I regret that we should need to spend that amount of time in debating an agricultural bill. I believe there was a solution to remedy the situation and to obviate the necessity for this long and tedious debate. Might I suggest that we are going to have to change our thinking when devising farm programs. A much more realistic approach to this question, in my opinion, would be to ask the representatives of all the farm organizations of Canada to evolve a farm program. I think it would be advisable for any government to recognize the fact. I do not think there is a section of society more responsible or cautious than are the farmers. They have never come down here to ask for the moon; they have been very, very responsible people, and I think it would have been wise had the government said to these people, "You come to Ottawa and we will provide you with the railway committee room and all the necessary staff, all the brains and technicians at our disposal, and you can sit there until you hammer out a farm program. Then you will go back to the country and you will defend it."

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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January 25, 1958

Mr. Bryson:

Mr. Chairman, the point the minister made a moment ago in criticizing the amendment moved by the hon. member for Kindersley is precisely the point we are trying to make. There should be some clear definition of what the minister means and of what is involved in the expression "cost of production". The definition given is certainly a logical one, and it could not be interpreted in any other way. The point I should like to make is that when the minister makes a statement that he is prepared to consider or take into account cost of production he is, in effect, doing something which seems to me almost impossible to carry out. I say that as one who has some knowledge of the United States program with regard to cost of production. That is why we in this group have been very critical of any kind of program directed toward helping the agricultural industry which is based on the theory of supply and demand. We have advocated parity prices for the very reason that under such a system you can take cost of production into consideration.

Does the minister mean he is going to say to every producer of wheat, for instance- when wheat is taken under this scheme; and this example applies to other products too- that we are going to consider that every

[Mr. Johnson (Kindersley) .1

farmer who grows wheat should receive his cost of production? If he does he will never sell that idea to the consumers of this country, because it is completely unrealistic.

I should like to give the committee a concrete example. I grow wheat in what is called the Carrot valley of northern Saskatchewan. From an economic view the operation is completely inefficient. My hon. friend from Kindersley can and does produce the highest quality of wheat grown anywhere in the world, and he carries on that operation more efficiently than, possibly, could be done in any other part of Canada. My costs of production are way out of line compared with his, and if you are going to say to me; we are going to subsidize you; we are going to penalize the consumers of this country and the taxpayers of this country to the extent that we are going to give you your cost of production, then I say that the whole proposition is completely unrealistic.

What has been done in the United States to overcome this problem? They have approached it in this way. There are certain designated areas; a wheat belt, a corn belt, a cotton belt, a soya bean belt, a tobacco belt and so forth, and within these narrow areas they set the price so that an economical producer can receive a payment which will give him his cost of production. Anyone outside these areas is free to grow any product he likes, but he must take his chance, because his cost of production is likely to be higher and, therefore, he must make up his own mind as to the economic feasibility of growing the crop.

I say to the minister that he is going out on a limb if he is going to make it clear to the farmers of Canada that regardless of where they live they are going to get their cost of production. I do not think it is reasonable, and I do not think it is realistic. In the area of the United States that is designated as a wheat belt there is set up a great catalogue of items which are considered as being part of the farmers' cost of production, that is, the things he buys which go into his operation. Every three months these items are reviewed, and if the cost of them has changed, the changes are included in the calculation of the cost of production and are related to the price the farmer gets. That is one of the reasons we have advocated parity prices rather than a price based on the theory of supply and demand.

A little later on I may have the opportunity of saying something further in this regard, but at the moment I think the amendment which has been moved is a logical amendment. We should certainly like to have the minister clarify his views on this matter and state

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization

more clearly what the terms of reference to the committee will be in setting up this formula embodying cost of production.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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January 25, 1958

Mr. Bryson:

Mr. Chairman, clause 9, subclause 1 contains a very interesting feature, namely the security feature which it embodies, or the forward pricing feature. Both

the Prime Minister and the hon. member for Halton speaking yesterday characterized this one-year forward price as the vehicle by which a long-term planning on the part of agriculturists could be carried out. In agricultural circles both in this country and in many other parts of the world two concepts are used in arriving at a pricing formula for agricultural products. The first is the concept of parity. I do not want to be called out of order, Mr. Chairman, because I am going to refer to this only very briefly in order to lay the foundation for the case I am going to make. One concept is parity which, I am the first to agree, involves certain production restrictions. I do not think anybody will deny that this would be the logical outcome of such a policy. Not a curtailment of production-I want to make that clear

but a curtailment of certain aspects of production. And it envisages possible subsidies.

The other concept is an agricultural price formula based on the concept of supply and demand. That, of course, is the principle embodied in the bill which is before the committee this afternoon. One of the strange things is that in recognizing and attempting to introduce a pricing formula, a program involving the theory and the concept of supply and demand, the minister and his government have not accepted the principle of forward pricing which is the key to this concept and principle which has been advocated by all those who have implemented or brought into existence an agricultural policy based on the concept of supply and demand. In effect this one-year forward price is not a forward price at all, and an agricultural program based on a forward price of one year is doomed to failure. It is with this aspect of clause 9 that I wish to deal, rather briefly.

What does a forward price propose to do? Its purpose is to iron out the fluctuations in price over a production cycle. That is the purpose, and that is the anchor which might make for successful operation, even though the present formula is based on supply and demand which is the market price. Why is it advisable that these fluctuations in price should be eliminated?

The losses and the hardship to prairie farmers due to price instability are impossible to calculate, but they are great. Long term production planning is practically impossible in view of the lack of long term price assurance. Consequently, farmers, in an attempt to guess the market, are in-and-outers and this increases the wide fluctuations in price. Let us take the case of cattle as an example.

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization

When prices are low and breeding stock is becoming scarce the market prospects look attractive. Farmers begin to purchase and breed livestock. By so doing they absorb stock which would otherwise have gone to market. Packers, in closer touch with the market and employing the staff skilled in analysing trends, increase their purchases of storable meats. The supply of available stock is further decreased. Prices rise rapidly, but the farmer has little available for sale. He is himself a buyer. By the time he has completed his breeding program and his stock is ready for market many others have done the same thing and have reached approximately the same point. The packers, by drawing on supplies built up during the period of low prices, purchase to a minimum. Farmers are not purchasing breeding stock because their needs in this line are filled.

The result is an immediate supply far exceeding immediate demand and prices take a drastic drop. The farmer is caught. He cannot hold off the market because his product deteriorates. Production is not economical in many instances and the breeding stock goes to swell the supply of killing animals. Many farmers who should never have been in the livestock business, for economic reasons, have been attracted by the later very high prices. For them, retention of a livestock production program at low prices would be business suicide. Their herd goes, lock, stock and barrel. Prices are depressed far below a level which will even show a net return to the most efficient producers, and they remain low for a much longer period than they remained at the peak. Not only have many farmers bred stock just before the slump but many continue to breed for some time after in the hope that the recession is an abnormality which will be short lived.

However, the forward price carefully administered can closely reach a certain objective and may lead to results far superior to so-called competition as presently practiced. Provision must be made for a lower price if the supply cannot be absorbed. That is the point the minister stressed the other day. When he is about to set the prescribed price he is going to have to take into consideration the demand on the market, and if the demand is great, it is logical to suggest he will raise the prescribed price above the preceding 10-year average to encourage production; but if the demand is less than the supply, conversely, he would lower the prescribed or guaranteed price below the last 10-year average in order to discourage production. That is, in essence,

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization a true forward price. But you cannot do it on a 12-month period. You must do it on the basis of a production cycle.

It is well established what is involved in a production cycle. You cannot say you will make an investment in livestock just because you know that 12 months hence the price is going to be what it is today. You have to know five years ahead, and the production cycle is accepted in agricultural colleges throughout the country as being five years for livestock. It simply means that you must know what the price will be of the progeny of an animal five years hence. Thus a realistic forward price for cattle must be over the entire production cycle for five years. That does not mean the minister will have to wait five years to set the price. The price will be set each and every year, but when a man invests in livestock in 1958 he is going to know that in 1963 he will receive the price that prevailed at the time he went into the business. We will say for argument's sake it is 20 cents a pound. Now, if in 1959 the minister believes that demand has outstripped supply he could raise the price to 21 cents a pound in that year. In 1960 if the minister thinks that supply is greater than demand he could drop it to 19 cents.

The point I am trying to make is that the man who invests in livestock must know at the end of one production cycle, namely five years, that he is going to get a guaranteed or prescribed price equal to the price that prevailed when he first went into the business. I suggest in all seriousness that this program based on supply and demand which completely ignores the key to this proposition, which is a forward price base of one production cycle, is doomed to failure and because of that, Mr. Chairman, I would move seconded by the hon. member for Kindersley the following amendment:

That subclause (1) of clause 9 of Bill No. 237 be amended by deleting all the words after the word "board," in line 18 to the end of the subclause, and by substituting therefor the following words:

"and shall continue thereafter for a period of one production cycle in the case of all named and designated commodities, or for such other additional period as the governor in council prescribes."

One further word, Mr. Chairman. The argument I have made is not simply that I do not believe a farm program can realistically accomplish what of necessity has to be accomplished by using the pricing principle of supply and demand. I believe that never in history has demand ever exceeded supply. It is simply a question of distribution. That is the problem we should be trying to solve rather than worrying about demand. We have land, labour and

capital almost continuously producing grain which should be producing livestock. At certain periods we have land, labour and capital producing livestock which should be otherwise engaged. And always we have labour and capital producing agricultural products which would be much more effectively employed in the production of secondary products for consumption by society. It is our duty as custodians of the agricultural industry to institute the necessary steps to adjust these allocations to as high a standard as we can reach and I honestly believe that we cannot do this with this measure which we will pass in a few minutes. I also believe that only by the application of the principle of a parity price properly administered can we hope to reach that very desirable goal.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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January 25, 1958

Mr. Bryson:

I do not think this bill is much different from the old Agricultural Prices Support Act on two counts; first of all, the producers are not being supported-

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
Full View Permalink

January 25, 1958

Mr. Bryson:

Mr. Chairman, may I say just a few words. What the minister has said about production cycles is absolutely correct, there are variations. But may I point out to him that there is a production cycle for all the commodities he has named. Certainly the minister does not expect me or any hon. member in this house including himself to attempt to figure out what is the production cycle for these various commodities. There are any number of people in this country who are fully qualified to do this. It has been well known for many years that there are production cycles. This principle has been laid down and we do not have to tax our ingenuity at this time in any effort to define a production cycle for

each of these commodities. I suggest to the minister that his argument does not carry-very much weight with me.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
Full View Permalink