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.