September 26, 1945


The Address-Mr. Townley-Smith the most hazardous of occupations, and as a result has unpredictable ups and downs not found in most other industries. Anyone who ' flirts with the vagaries of the weather, with the possibilities of too much heat or even frost, drought or too much moisture, of insect pests or plant diseases, is taking enormous risks with circumstances entirely beyond his control. Added to this is the questionable condition of the markets at selling time and the great chance that the whole season's operations may prove to have been conducted at a loss. Then the riskiness of farming becomes apparent. The growing of food supplies and the1 feeding of the peoples of the world are of vital importance; and I feel that the farmers are among the most important people im our country. It is most unfortunate that they have not received more consideration from those whom they serve. The vital need for food is ever present. Whatever else may be in short supply, the peoples of the world must have food or they will die, so that those who till the earth, plant the seeds, feed the live stock and gather the' edible seeds from plants and trees must rank as the most important of our people. I do not say that, Mr. Speaker, to belittle the efforts of those who are engaged in other industries and professions. Their labours should all fit into the general1 scheme of things, so that all should receive those amenities of life that make for contentment and1 happiness. The most important thing so far as agriculture is concerned is to secure and maintain the proper relation or ratio between the things that the farmers produce and the things that they buy. This has been referred to several times as a parity price. I do not know whether parity price is the right term, but certainly this relation has to be secured, and as far as I know, nobody has ever made any effort to do it. We have been told this afternoon about the requirements of parity price; it has been suggested that parity price is absolutely necessary in agriculture, and that legislation has already been put upon the books to achieve that end. But my forty-two years experience on a farm have shown me that we have never had a proper relation between these prices, that no government has ever tried to bring it about. They may have put it on the books, but there is quite a difference between having legislation on the statute books and doing something about it. So far as I am aware nothing has been done about it.


LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

The sum of $200 millions has been provided under this legislation.

Mr. TOWNLEY-SMITH: Our prices are

still all cockeyed. We also have beeni talking about floor prices, and it has been said these are a means of bringing about parity. I do not see that. I think you can have a floor price under a product and still not be anywhere near parity, still not. have a fair relation to other prices. It does not matter very much whether you give me. 50 cents or $3 a bushel for my wheat, just as long as I can buy other things in the same ratio. The price can go up or down, it does not matter as long as other prices go up or down to the same extent. That is what I have in mind when I talk about this fair relation between prices.

Canadian farmers have been asked to raise a tremendous number of hogs, principally for export to Great Britain. Many people do not know, and many farmers did not know for quite a while, that there is no guaranteed price for hogs. There still is not. We have a guaranteed price for bacon, yes; the packer is protected in that way. The price of hogs, however, may be and is whatever the packer likes to pay; there is no fixed price. Fortunately the prices of hogs have been kept reasonably high, but even at that a great number of our farmers have not considered that the price level has been maintained in relation to the hog, the price of feed and the cost of labour, and many farmers have gone out of hog production. I very much fear that this year our hog production in the western provinces will be down fifty per cent.

Some years ago I was up in the High Prairie region of the Peace river district, when a farmer came and gave me some figures as to his cost of production. I have his name and address, but I need not give those details now. That was in 1932, one of the bad years; that is a long time ago now. This man had shipped 23 hogs, averaging 218 pounds. Those of us who are in the farming business appreciate that this is just about the weight we endeavour to bring our hogs to when we are feeding them for the best market. His net return for the 23 hogs was $73.15. That is not so bad when you say it quickly, but it works out to about $3.15 each or less than two cents per pound. At the same time he shipped 24 turkeys, totalling 244 pounds, which netted him $3.17, not each, but for the lot, or a little less than li cents per pound. They were sent to a packing plant in Edmonton; I also have the name of that company. Well, men who have gone through experiences of that kind take quite a long time to recover. They do not readily jump into something else and take a chance on such treatment again. I understand the price of wheat recently advanced by some nine cents a bushel, but from questions which

Railway Act

were asked the other day I gather that the farmer is not to get that increase for some time, if ever. I hope the purchaser of bread will not be asked to pay it.

Just as long as the proper relationship between the prices of products and commodities is not arranged we shall be in difficulties. We shall have the very rich and the very poor; we shall have shortages and surpluses; we shall have wars and rumours of wars. You see, it does not matter what price we get for our wheat as long as we pay parallel prices,' but this mad scramble on the part of every individual to bolster up the price of his product or his goods or his services in order to get enough money to buy what he needs is sending everybody slightly crazy, and will only result in trouble and distress. I would appeal to the government to do something about this bolstering up and levelling off system.

Now may I say a word about the western wheat grower, arising out of the statement made by the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. MacKinnon) on September 19. The lack of understanding and the complete disregard of the conditions under which Canada's export wheat is produced are again apparent in this decision to put a low floor under this product. As already demonstrated, $1 per bushel is not sufficient; it will not cover the cost of production. In support of that statement I would remind the government that not so long ago the largest delegation of farmers ever to move out of their home districts came to Ottawa and interviewed the government in this connection. The minister told us that because his government are so sorry for the nations of the world who at present are short of money, they have decided to let the western wheat growers give these people their wheat at a price which must not go higher than that of September 19. He did not say anything about the price of clothing or, indeed, any manufactured article. I take it that the prices of these commodities are to be, as usual, what the traffic will bear. His government is not sorry enough as yet to help these importing nations clothe their people, or provide them with the goods war has destroyed, at moderate prices. Well, let me say for the western farmer that when it comes to helping anyone he is second to none, and he does not have to be told to do it. But when he is singled out and made to do it; when he realizes that he is to be made to sell his products at less than the cost of production in order that the purchaser may have sufficient funds to pay exorbitant prices for manufac-47696-32

lured imports, then he is going to have something to say. Treat us all alike, farmer and manufacturer, and we will give until it hurts; but I protest with all my being at the astounding unfairness of the government's proposal.

Mr. Speaker, I move the adjournment of the debate.

Motion agreed to and debate adjourned.

Topic:   *COMMONS
Permalink

At six o'clock the house adjourned without question put, pursuant to standing order. Thursday, September 27, 1945.


September 26, 1945