June 2, 1942 (19th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Mark Cecil Senn

Conservative (1867-1942)


I say that looking over the
figures given in the Sirois report for many years past, when a farmer on 100 acres of land gets only $400 to $600 actual annual income from his farm he is not getting sufficient to keep him and his family. It is not a fair balance between agriculture and other sections of the community.
I have no wish to carry on the debate, but I think the minister should not have taken quite so much credit for the higher prices which exist, because they would have existed in any event. I am certain that if there had been no price ceiling on farm products, there would be closer parity to-day between prices of farm products and prices of other commodities that the farmer has to buy.
There is no doubt that the labour situation on the farms to-day is serious. Recently a survey was made in my own county by the federation of agriculture assisted by officials of the provincial government. I have just received a second report which shows that out of 1,207 farms in the county, averaging 130 acres each, there was only an average of 1-2 male adults on each. That is a mixed farming community, and I say without fear of

War Appropriation-Agriculture
contradiction that with practically one man to a farm it cannot be operated successfully to get the largest production that we should be getting in war time.
Moreover, the average age of those males was fifty-three years, showing, as the minister mentioned, that there is a large number of farms where the sole operator is between sixty and seventy years of age. In times of peace it may be that we have kept up production through having implements and mechanized farming and have been able to increase production along certain lines; yet that cannot continue indefinitely. The harvest is coming, and it is going to be very hard indeed under conditions as they are to-day. The minister and the government will be well advised to give careful consideration to means to remedy the labour situation at least during the period of harvest. After all, we are all anxious to see that production is carried on. We do not want to have it fall down, particularly in war time. I am afraid, however, there will be a good deal of waste on the farms in Canada this summer, and particularly in harvest time, unless the labour situation is remedied in some way or another.

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