June 1, 1951

CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Wright:

I have in my hand a copy of the Country Guide for May, 1951, in which

I find this statement:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture discloses that the cost of bringing a pound of beef from the farm to the retail counter is now nearly four times as high as it was in 1945, the margin having increased-from 6 to 22-5 cents per pound in five years . . .

Secretary Brannan released some figures which may help city people to understand what is happening to price relationships. Milk doubles in price within a few hours after it leaves the farm. For the com inside a 19-cent can the farmer gets 21 cents. His share of a can of 16-cent tomatoes is:

3 cents. Onions which cost the consumer 6 cents a pound left the farm at a cent a pound. The same thing applies to clothing. The cotton in a shirt costing from $3.50 to $4 brought the farmer 30' cents. The wheat in a 15-eent loaf has enriched the man who produced it by 2| cents.

Armed with this information American farm leaders are making some very caustic comments. Statistical analyses of this nature are not available in Canada . . .

That is the point I want to bring to the minister's attention.

. . . but The Guide would recommend it as a good exercise for the large numbers of technical people, capable of doing this kind of work, now on the payroll at Ottawa.

I imagine that type of work would be done under this vote, and I am wondering how much has been done or is being done at present.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

As I understand what has been stated by the hon. member, it is to the effect that in the United States they have worked out certain relationships between costs and prices.

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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Wright:

The spread between what the producer gets and what the consumer pays, and th.e relationship of that spread as it changes from year to year. This indicates that in the United States is has increased, and apparently we have no comparable statistics in Canada.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

Well, I do not know that we have no statistics. Any statistics we have would be prepared by the bureau of statistics. We utilize their statistics in our prices support board in working out relationships between costs and prices. The price of milk is referred to in detail in the article just read. The control of milk prices is with the' provinces and always has been, with the exception of a short period during the war.. While the war was on we did take control of milk prices, but that was the first product to be decontrolled and turned back to the

Supply-Agriculture

provinces at the end of the war. The reason for that was that the provinces had boards to handle it.

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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Wright:

That is not the point of the question at all. The point is, does the department keep any records or try to obtain any ^records as to the spread between what the producer gets for his product and what the *consumer pays for it from year to year, so the department would know the trend, -whether or not there is a greater spread from ?year to year? That is the kind of economics *on which the department would be well ^advised to have some information, and I think such information would be valuable.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

There are some eight or nine products on which we are carrying out investigations, but I repeat that the facts on which we base our investigations are obtained from the bureau of statistics. Those facts are utilized in surveys being made by our economics branch. We have figures in that connection.

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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Wright:

Apparently in the United States they consider these figures important. For a number of years now they have kept track of the relationship between what the producer receives and what the consumer pays. That has always been a matter of controversy in this country, and I am sure such information would be valuable.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

A report on the nine commodities I mentioned has been published and distributed, along the line of what has been suggested. Some people may think it is not as well done as in the United States; some may think it is better done. I am not prepared to say one way or the other. During the war period we did make very careful studies of those questions in connection with price controls. It may be that in the United States their studies are a little more careful at the present time because they have price controls there, and these things are important in that connection.

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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Wright:

I think this information is important not only when you are enforcing price control, but to indicate to the people who is getting the gravy, to use the language *of this article, through the increased prices which consumers are having to pay for many farm products. I am sure farm organizations would find such information very useful in arguing the case for the farmer. Certainly 1 would compliment the department on having made a start last year on this type of work, and I think it should be extended to more products than are under investigation at the present time.

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PC

William Joseph Browne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Browne (St. John's West):

I notice in the details at page 100 that 38 economists are employed under this heading, and I am wondering what functions they perform. I am wondering that because in Newfoundland we have a marketing problem that probably does not exist in any other part of Canada. On the west coast we have three of the principal fertile agricultural areas, with one on the east coast. On the west coast we have the Codroy valley, Stephenville and the Humber area; and when the minister visits Newfoundland I hope he will find it convenient to visit those districts. There he will see land equal to any in Ontario or Quebec, where the possibility of increasing production is very great.

I know from experience that the producers are handicapped by the lack of storage facilities, and also by the lack of refrigerator cars to bring their potatoes to St. John's during the winter season. At present when the potatoes are brought during the winter they are frozen in transit, and of course deteriorate in value. Then on the east coast near St. John's we have another area where agriculture is practised intensively. It is an extraordinary thing, however, that produce from the St. John's area will be sent to Grand Falls, Comer Brook or the lumber camps, while produce from the west coast will be brought all the way to St. John's. I believe the economists could usefully investigate the conditions under which agriculture is being practised in Newfoundland. I have spoken on this subject each time the estimates have been before the committee, and on other occasions when I have had the opportunity.

I want to say that agriculture has been neglected in Newfoundland and is still being neglected. It is capable of improving the conditions of Newfoundlanders more than anything else. The minister, the government and members of this house are familiar with the difficulties under which the fishing industry has been Labouring for these past two years. In fact the fishing industry has been, labouring for a good many years, but agriculture is capable of redressing some of the balance and giving a better balanced economy to Newfoundland.

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LIB

Joseph-Alfred Dion (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

We are not dealing with

fishing.

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PC

William Joseph Browne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Browne (St. John's West):

I am dealing with the question of agricultural economics. That is the heading here, and if what I am saying is not agricultural economics I should like to know what it is.

I am only making a comparison. I noticed the parliamentary assistant smiling when I referred to fishing, but after all when we are

talking about economics we can afford to make some comparisons. Agriculture was, as I pointed out before, practised to a greater extent thirty or forty years ago than it is today. There were more farms around the city of St. John's, which has a population of 60,000 and is therefore a big market, forty years ago than there are today. We are bringing into Newfoundland from the other provinces far greater quantities of agricultural produce than are necessary.

The provincial government is not in a position to embark upon a policy because it has not got the direction. It has not got the men, the economists, the trained agriculturists. I hope the minister will see that during his visit, and I trust he will come back with the idea of helping Newfoundland. I do not believe there is a minister in the government who can give more assistance to the improvement of the economy of Newfoundland than the Minister of Agriculture. I have urged him now for two years to visit Newfoundland, and I can say there is no member in this house more pleased than I am to know that he is going there. If he will apply his perspicacity and experience to a study of the conditions in Newfoundland I believe it will be for the benefit of Newfoundlanders generally.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

We had three or four

economists in Newfoundland, as no doubt my friend knows, during the greater part of last summer, and we are still carrying on investigations there. We did delay some of the work in connection with production until the census is completed this year because much of the information required on which to base studies will be obtained through the census. The economists have been down there carrying on investigations with regard to the food supplies of the island, the sources from which they come and the extent to which they can be produced on the island. All of that has a bearing of course upon agriculture in the province. While I am down there for three or four days at the beginning of next week I shall look into the matter as far as it is possible to do so in that limited period of time. I am quite sure that I shall benefit from the journey there, and I hope the island will benefit by it as well.

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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

I do not know whether or

not the question I am going to ask has been brought up before. I am sorry to say that I was not here today, but I was at Chalk River looking over that institution and as a result was not able to be here this afternoon. However, I want to bring up a matter under this item. Looking at the details on page

Supply-Agriculture

100, there is an item for printing of departmental reports and other publications. Referring to the summary of standard objects of expenditure and special categories, which was furnished with the estimates, I see that under this item the Department of Agriculture has an expenditure for this year of $485,175, which is the largest amount by a considerable extent for any department with the exception of national defence.

I know of course that the Department of Agriculture publishes a considerable number of pamphlets of various sorts, and of those that have come into my hands the majority are useful publications. I should like the minister to tell the committee what the item of $485,175 covers, and without going into too much detail what publications are involved, in addition of course to the general report of the Department of Agriculture.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

I do not know whether I misunderstand the statement that has been made. I understood that the hon. member for Calgary East was discussing the item of printing of departmental reports and other publications on page 100. That item amounts to $21,550. What is the explanation of the $485,000? I did not get the connection.

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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

This same item, printing of departmental reports and other publications, occurs under a very large number of other items in the Department of Agriculture. The total shown in this summary to which I have referred is $485,175.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

Of course there are items similar to this one, and they have been covered in all of the votes that we have passed. I assume the total will be somewhere in the neighbourhood of the figure that has been mentioned. I have no reason for saying that is not the correct figure. It will be a considerable amount, and that is natural, as the hon. member has already suggested, in the Department of Agriculture. We have between 700,000 and 800,000 farmers in Canada, and it is our duty to distribute the knowledge we obtain through our experimental farms and otherwise which is going to be helpful to as many of those farmers as are interested. Therefore our printing bill will be considerably higher than that of most other departments. The hon. member has said it is higher than any other department except national defence. That is probably correct, and these are very good reasons why it is correct. There is the matter of distribution to farmers throughout a country as large as ours, and the fact that they are all intimately concerned with what is going on at our experimental farms and elsewhere

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makes it necessary for our publications to be in very considerable number and to be put out in considerable quantity.

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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

If this information has already been put on the record I do not want it to be put on, again, but if it has not I should like to have the minister bring forward, so that it can be put on Hansard as an appendix, the details of the amount of $485,175.

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LIB

Joseph-Alfred Dion (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

Shall the item carry?

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PC

June 1, 1951