Certainly he is confused when he said that the governor in council is going to be guided by the estimated cost of production of any specific commodity if the minister is not prepared to accept this amendment moved by the hon. member for Kindersley. The amendment seeks to amend the bill so we will know what the government considers the average cost of production to be.
Rather than repeat what I said this morning I want to make some further arguments as to why that should be written into the bill. I would point out to hon. members of the committee that we have no assurance that the prescribed price will meet the general average cost of production of farmers throughout Canada as the bill now stands.
I have in my hand a copy of a report issued by the Searle Grain Company Limited which contains an article entitled "Farmers' Costs of Production". The article says in part:
The latest dominion bureau of statistics index number of commodities and services used by prairie farmers (the farmers' cost of living and production) stands at 240.5 (1935-39 equals 100). In other words it now costs prairie farmers $2.40 to buy what one dollar would buy in 1935-39. This means, therefore, that the $1.40 initial wheat payment is worth only 58.2 cents in 1935-39 value of money, basis 1 Northern Fort William, or at the average country elevator point it is worth approximately 50.5 cents a bushel.
The same thing could be said about livestock products; the same thing could be said about eggs. What we are trying to find out is how the government is going to be able to establish the average cost of production. I
want to make some suggestions to the minister. I think we probably have the facilities in this country to establish what we would consider the average cost of production. The hon. member for Humboldt-Melfort has indicated that in the United States they have formulas and that they have arrived at those formulas by going into designated areas where it is feasible and scientific to produce various agricultural commodities. I think the same thing could be done in Canada.
The minister said on an earlier occasion that there is authority in the bill to prevent anyone from participating excessively under price supports. I am sure all members in this group agree with that. What we want to do is to protect the family unit farm. We do not want to protect uneconomic farms. But today, Mr. Chairman-we had the same situation for a number of years under the former Liberal government-we have not got the average cost of production. The former minister of agriculture is sitting in his seat and I say that he and his government were completely dis-:redited in the minds of the farmers of western Canada so far as price supports under the Agricultural Prices Support Act were concerned. The objective of that legislation was stated to be to endeavour to ensure adequate and stable returns for agriculture and to endeavour to secure a fair relationship between the returns from agriculture and those from other occupations.
We are fighting today to try to get the bill amended for the very reason that the western farmer has not had a fair relationship and the Agricultural Prices Support Act has not functioned to provide supports for the farmer. We want to know what we are talking about. We want to have some assurance that the farmers will not have to rely upon political moves on the part of the government involv-ng price supports at certain times in order :o obtain some degree of justice.
I may say that we in this group do not want >ur farmers to be mollycoddled because we io not believe in it, but the farmer has to jo out and buy certain things in order to be able to produce. He has to buy them from nollycoddled industries in this country operat-ng under high tariff, protectionist policies and ;he farmer has to pay for the protection they [DOT]eceive. Along with other people in this lountry the farmers are probably paying ipproximately $400 million in order to pro-;ect many of these industries. In earlier days t used to be said by other governments that hese infant industries had to be protected in >rder that they might be able to survive but oday some of these industries have become luge monopolies.
Subtopic: MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.