Mr. Chairman, each year in the town in which I reside a poultry fair is held. A large amount of dressed poultry is brought in; as a matter of fact in two days last December the producers brought in ninety tons of fresh poultry. There was practically an army of wartime prices and trade board inspectors there at the same time. To my knowledge there were nine of them, and how many more I do not know. The point I am raising this afternoon has not so much to do with the inspectors as it has with the controls placed upon the poultry producers of that community. On those particular days wartime prices and trade board inspectors placed blackboards in the market square advising the buyers what the ceiling prices were at which they could buy poultry. In my estimation they were working exactly backward. A farmer would come in with a load of poultry that might grade A or B, and he was told definitely by the inspectors that he could not accept more than 30i cents for chickens and 351 cents for turkeys, the idea being that the poultry must be sold ungraded. Another farmer might drive in alongside the first man with a load of poultry that would not grade more than C or D. If the buyers saw fit they could pay him the same price because his poultry was also ungraded. From talking to the buyers I know that they were anxious to pay the producer considerably more than they were allowed to pay. A lot of the dressed poultry taken out of that town in those two or three days was shipped to Montreal or Toronto by truck and sold in the stores in those cities at a price of 43 cents for grade A and 42 cents for grade B. My contention is that the farmers were robbed of from 7 to 8 cents per pound due to the way in which the wartime prices and trade board handled the situation. I am protesting against that kind of thing. The men who purchased these fowl were willing to pay more than they were allowed to pay, and the result was that they were able to make an exorbitant profit of from 10 to 13 cents per pound, a profit entirely out of line with what the producer received.
I have no axe to grind about the price ceiling to the consumer. I think that is perfectly all right, but I protest against a price ceiling to the producer which is 13 cents below what the consumer has to pay. That is out of all proportion. My contention is that the ceiling to the consumer should be enforced, but
instead of the wartime prices and trade board saying to the producers of these fowl, "You cannot receive more than 30J cents for your chickens or more than 35| cents for your turkeys," they should say to the buyers, "You cannot pay less than those prices." If the large concerns that are buying this poultry are satisfied to take a smaller profit than 10 to 15 cents a pound, then I say they should be allowed to do so.
In my estimation this practice is doing much to discourage agriculture in this country. On the one side we have the government urging the farmer to produce more and, on the other, we have the wartime prices and trade board doing much to discourage that which is being requested by other branches of government. I felt it my duty to bring this matter to the attention of the department and to urge that this thing be not repeated. The order should be amended so that the farmer who is doing the work, who is producing at the request of certain branches of government, will receive a fair price. There should not be the spread between what is paid to the farmer and what the consumer pays as exists in this case.
I think what the hon. member has just said should be considered. Fowl should be properly graded. At the present *time we are carrying on an extensive business in bootlegging and it ought to be controlled.
I should like to deal with the points raised by the hon. member for Prince Edward-Lennox. There are three ceilings on poultry, as I have no doubt my hon. friend knows. There is a ceiling on the wholesale price, there is a ceiling on the producer and there is a ceiling to the retail trade. The producer of poultry is entitled to sell at the ceiling price according to who is his customer. If he sells to a wholesaler, he gets the producer price; if he sells to a retailer, he gets the wholesale price, and if he sells to you or to me as consumers, he gets the retail consumer price. That is the price ceiling policy with respect to dressed poultry.
As to what these inspectors were doing in my hon. friend's town, I must confess that I have no personal information. I am not an
expert in the grading of poultry. The wartime prices and trade board has nothing to do with establishing the grades of dressed poultry; that is done either by the provincial agricultural authorities or by those of the federal government. In any case the grades are fixed and the prices board establishes ceilings for the different grades.
Possibly I did not make myself clear. I am not finding any fault with the grading of the poultry, but the poultry which was brought into the market square on these particular days, unless it comes through the pool, is not graded. Last year the pool did not function and none of the poultry brought into the market was graded. The farmer is not allowed to grade the poultry himself, and there were no inspectors from the Department of Agriculture there to grade it. The result was that every farmer was forced to sell the poultry at the ungraded price, no matter how good or how poor it was. That is what I am complaining of.
I have no knowledge of the particular facts my hon. friend is bringing forward. I take it that this poultry, turkeys, fowl or whatever it was, for some reason or other had to be sold as ungraded poultry and was therefore subject to the ceiling for ungraded poultry.
The hon. member for York-Sunbury asked, as to the authority for the inspectors doing what they were doing. I am not clear as to what orders they were enforcing, but I am advised that just prior to Christmas of last year there was a considerable tendency on the part of certain buyers in cities and elsewhere to push up the prices without too much regard for the ceiling, and that the enforcement division were instructed to keep their eyes open for that sort of thing.
That just illustrates once more the fact that when you set up regulations to interfere with the laws of supply and demand, as is being done by the wartime prices and trade board, great irregularities and injustices are bound to occur. Here is a man with grade A poultry, and he is told by the so-called gestapo that he cannot get the price for grade A poultry, that he must take the ungraded poultry price. I am satisfied that the regulations were made with good intent; I want to make that clear; but it is the operation of these regulations that brings about injustices and great discontent in this country. Make no mistake about it-the hand of every man who produces is against these regulations.