January 23, 1958 (23rd Parliament, 1st Session)

CCF

George Hugh Castleden

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

Mr. Castleden:

I am referring to the bill now before us, Bill No. 237, with the amendments. The minister says the bill will do this. Why did he not put some guarantees in it; why did he not put the security in it that he says is here? That is all the farmer is asking for. All the farmer is asking for is exactly what the minister said, but he will not put them in the bill. They are not in the bill. It is exactly a sense of security that is required. That is just exactly what the farmer wants, a price for his product which will cover his cost of production and leave him with enough to live on; that sense of security.
Then the minister said, as recorded at page 2189 of Hansard:
I think this legislation will do everything we promised we would do so far as our campaign pledges are concerned.
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Here is the bill. It was brought in on December 14. I think it should be called a pill rather than a bill. Certainly the minister was so ashamed of it that he made three amendments shortly after, but those amendments do absolutely nothing basic with regard to the guarantees which are necessary, and it is the guarantees that we are talking about. It is all right to talk about stabilization boards which may do this and that, and about advisory committees which may do this and that under certain regulations by order in council; but there is nothing in the bill which says this is where prices must stay; below this range prices will not be allowed to fall and those prices will be, as the minister states in his own words, such as "will cover his cost of production and leave him enough to live on". When the minister puts this in his bill we will be glad to accept it.
We have asked him to send this bill to the agriculture committee of the house. Let the agriculture committee deal with it. Since December 12 this bill could have gone to that committee. It could have been passed earlier in the session, the committee could have been dealing with it and the minister could have received some of those recommendations from farmers and farm organizations across the country. But he came down with a bill which is a mere will o' the wisp, and nothing substantial has been done.
The bill has aroused opposition from every quarter of organized agriculture, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the provincial farm unions, the western wheat pools and others. This is what the Canadian Federation of Agriculture had to say about it after they received a copy of the bill in the amended form:
The formula in the new bill provides for a moving average of recent prices, with no necessary relation to costs.
That is what we need; that is what we are asking for. I continue:
The government says the use of a parity formula would lead to rigid price supports. The C.F.A. does not accept this: it grants that flexibility must be allowed in actually setting supports but claims that without a parity formula as a guide the economic position of the farmer becomes a constant matter of controversy.
We are going to have recommendations by stabilization boards, recommendations to cabinet, with no instructions to carry them out. There is no assurance that they will be carried out, and we are constantly going to have confusion. There will be requests for something to be done, but the farmer will be left in uncertainty and he cannot help but be left in confusion. Why not place something in the bill which relates the price of his commodity to his costs of production? If that was placed

in the bill we might have something. The federation's statement goes on to say:
This makes much more difficult constructive negotiation of price supports and useful discussion of measures needed to meet the farmers' problem.
The formula which is mentioned in this amended bill is based on the average wholesale market price for the past 10 years, and bears absolutely no relationship to the farmer's parity position.
It should be pointed out to everyone that if you follow the basic prices established by this formula they automatically continue to decline. Just so long as there is a trend toward lower farm prices, prices of farm commodities are going to decline. As long as there is a trend toward lower prices those lower guaranteed prices will persist, even though farm costs may continue to increase to higher and still higher levels, because in the bill as it stands at the present time there is no proper meshing of these two things together so the farmer himself can arrive at a stable price which would allow him to plan his production in advance and put himself in a position where he can possibly meet the serious situation which he is now facing.
This bill lacks definite assurances and guarantees which the government said in its program the farmers would have; definite assurances and guarantees which the farm organizations have asked for; definite assurances that the farm organizations have asked for in their representations to the government on this bill. Under this bill the economic position of the farmer could even deteriorate; it all depends on the whim of the government and their own regulations. The bill lacks guarantees; it lacks assurances.
It is because the bill provides no stability that we are protesting it so vigorously at this time. Those who sent us here sent us to ask for a square deal for agriculture, to ask that the family farm might be saved as the cornerstone of our economy. Under this legislation there is no assurance whatsoever that the family farm will not disappear, to be replaced by the large factory farm or the contract farm, as has happened in many countries and is happening in some parts even here in Canada.
The large packing house operators, the rich processing industries, will hire the farmer and his family to produce commodities for them at contract rates. The farmers will take all the risks and the processors will reap the profits because of a system of support prices guaranteeing floor prices in the storage plant, with rider clauses to guarantee the processor floor prices in storage and the costs of storage.
Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization
What this bill will have to do before we will support it is provide guarantees as to the prices the farmer receives, the prices in the hands of the producer, in the hands of the man who does the work and takes the risks. We believe this is a last ditch fight for hundreds of thousands of family farms across Canada. It is a fight to obtain some anchor of security for one of the most important industries in our economy. Instead of an anchor of security the minister has given us a balloon which he launched into the air to see how the wind was blowing.
This bill has no guarantees and it leaves the farmer without any assurance, even though he is engaged in the hazardous occupation of growing food for a hungry world. In that fine occupation, because of circumstances completely beyond his control, he has reached the verge of bankruptcy. Just as surely as the wage earner needs a minimum wage in these days of high costs of living, so the farmer must have support prices based on his production costs. The disposal of surplus products is surely the duty of the government. With the situation existing in the world today the farmer should not be compelled to carry an extra load on his already breaking back. The family farm must not be allowed to be sacrificed by a government which promised to save it. The only policy which can save it is a policy having as its foundation the principle of parity.
The bill ignores the principle of parity completely, and for that reason it must be condemned completely. We intend to continue to condemn it and to do our utmost to change it in order to make it into a piece of legislation that will at last place some foundation under this important industry. Yesterday the Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources had the unmitigated gall to imply that the bill brought security and peace of mind to the long-harassed farmers of Canada, and those of western Canada particularly. What a farce. What complete misrepresentation of a bill which has within it no guarantees of security. How can a producer possibly have peace of mind if he has to operate under legislation which has no guarantees in it at all?
We shall continue to fight the battle with every means at our disposal until we are able to establish a sound foundation for security in the bill. There must be recognition of the right of the farmer to his costs of production and enough money on which to live. That is all he is asking. The bill as it stands today can be termed nothing but a callous betrayal of people who on June 10 last were given some glimmer of hope that if the Conservatives were elected to office they would

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization place a proper foundation under agriculture. The bill is a complete denial of the promise and betrayal of that hope. The people of Canada should and will reject the bill in its present form, and they will reject everyone who supports it.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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