February 17, 1932 (17th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Archibald M. Carmichael


Mr. A. M. CARMICHAEL (Kindersley):

Mr. Speaker, the resolution now before the house says that the act passed last year has worked out most unfairly and unjustly. I rather agree with that statement. In fact I heard the opinion expressed in different parts of my own constituency that the act was a very good fulfilment of the Scripture: "Whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have." It did seem to work most unfairly in the case of those farmers who had very little crop. So far as my own immediate district goes, we did have a fair crop of wheat and the five cents per bushel bonus worked fairly satisfactorily; but when I got into the southern part of my

Farm Relief-Mr. Carmichael
constituency, not over fifty or sixty miles away, the farmers there and within a distance of one hundred and fifty or one hundred and sixty miles had practically nothing; in one large area down towards the Empress district they had an average of about two bushels an acre. Well, at five cents per bushel it will be seen that the bonus would amount to about ten cents an acre relief, which did not help them to any great extent.
As a result there has been a strong demand among the farmers for some different form of relief. That is expressed in the last part of this resolution, which asks for a more equitable and less discriminatory solution of this problem. I agree with that principle also. I have received a number of resolutions from farmers' organizations, and this one is typical of the many:
Whereas the farmers in the dried out areas are not receiving any of the five cent bonus, and _
Whereas the seed wheat provided by the government will cost the said farmers five cents above market price,
Be it resolved that we petition the government to grant one dollar per acre on all acreage seeded in 1931, less the bonus already paid.
The secretary adds:
There was a large attendance at this meeting and the resolution was carried unanimously.
Now, this is not the first time that the proposal of $1 per acre bonus has been mooted in my own section of the province. I do not know whether my particular district can take credit for originating this thought or not, but I do know that back in December, 1930, a large representative meeting in the town of Ivindersley, attended by between four and five hundred farmers and business men, discussed a resolution put forward by a farmers' local from north of Kindersley, asking for this very thing, namely, a bonus on the seeded acreage of crop, not only on wheat, but on flax, oats and barley as well. This meeting endorsed the idea as being fairer and more equitable than the five cent per bushel bonus. At the request of this same farmers' local I journeyed to Regina and interviewed our premier when he was there on December 30, 1930, in the hope that the government would see fit to adopt it. Well, the proposal was not adopted, and, as we know, the legislation that is now in effect was brought down and finally passed this house on August 3, 1931.
There are many advantages in that legislation. It placed between nine and ten million dollars in the hands of the farmers of the three prairie provinces. That is quite a help to the people of the west. The principle of giving a bonus may not be sound,
but as the hon. member for Weyburn (Mr. Young) has stated, if special considerations are to be given to other industries, if they are to be kept from getting into the valley of humiliation because of government legislation, well, why should not the farming industry be similarly treated? So going on that basis, I would not raise any objection to the five cents per bushel being paid as it was paid. Many individual farmers were helped considerably through the payment of that five cent bonus. 1 know farmers in my own immediate district who on the average had 20, 25 and 30 bushels of wheat to the acre, and of course the bonus helped them. It helped, as was stated when the legislation was being considered, to give some relief for high freight rates and tariff adjustments; it also partly made up for loss on the production of crops. But the disadvantages have been named by those who preceded me in this debate. The chief disadvantage is that those farmers who have nothing are compelled to make up, in part, by way of taxation upon them, the ten million dollars or thereabouts which goes to the farmers through the five cent per bushel bonus. That is most unfair and it seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that no person can justify that inequitable application of the legislation of last year. In addition, there are many farmers who do not grow wheat; there are sections of the country not suited to the growing of wheat. Oats can be grown quite satisfactorily; other sections grow barley very well, while still others grow flax. Indeed, there are some types of soil where some of these other grains must be grown before wheat can be put in. In my own district the land first must be seeded with flax, or the likely result is no crop, because of a wire worm which works in the new land.
Looking at those different viewpoints the inequality of this legislation of last year will be seen, and I may add that considerable dissatisfaction was brought to my attention because of the way the legislation affected tenant farmers. There were cases in my own district where the owner of the land put up the seed, the feed, the necessary power either by way of horses or tractor and the implements necessary to till the soil. He owned the land, yet if the tenant happened to get a small share of the crop for his wages the tenant collected the five cent bonus on all the grain grown on that property. This led to a great deal of dissatisfaction; several cases were brought to my attention in this connection.
Farm Relief-Mr. Campbell

I can see considerable difficulty, Mr. Speaker, in applying the bonus of a dollar per acre to the crop of 1931, although of course if the government do not see any difficulties and are willing to apply it I will not object. But I do not see that there would be any insuperable difficulty to it being worked out for the crop of 1932. The legislation passed last year expires on July 31 of this year. Either that legislation will be dropped and nothing further will be done, or some other scheme will be worked out by the government. Personally I feel that in view of present conditions on the prairies it would be very helpful to agriculture if some scheme could be worked out by the government that would be fair and equitable, and for that reason I give my hearty support to this resolution.

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