I never made enough to go
I have tried many times to become better acquainted with the Minister of Agriculture, and in fact on one occasion I drove 200 miles to make his acquaintance and to ask him some questions, but I had to be satisfied with a shake of his hand. He expressed his sorrow that he could not spend any more time with me. In the house a few days ago the Minister of Agriculture talked about how well off we were in Canada-in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and other provinces engaged in mixed farming. I should like to call the attention of the Minister of Agriculture to a few facts. I could take steers I sold in Winnipeg for Ilf cents a pound and send them to St. Paul and make $35 dollars more on each of them. I could run steers to St. Paul for seventy cents a hundred and the exchange in my money would pay the duty.
Talking about cattle, I want to ask the minister why he always argues that I do not need a spread in feeding my steers. When I buy a steer I want a spread on it. I want a two cent spread to enable me to break even. To take simple figures, we will say that the feeder market is ten cents. If I buy a steer of 700 lbs. at ten cents, that is $70. I have to put 300 pounds on his back before I can put him back on the market, and that will take me 180 days. I do not know whether other farmers can do better than that, but that is the best I can do. That steer will eat two tons of hay which, at $7.50
a ton, means $15 added to the $70. When I take that animal home he will eat five pounds of chop a day, and when I put him away he will have increased that to fifteen pounds a day. However, suppose we strike a happy medium and say ten pounds a day; that means he will eat 1,800 pounds of chop. I can get $1.25 per 100 pounds for my grain at the elevator and another twenty-five cents to crush it and handle it. That comes to $1.50, so that you have to add another $27. To keep him in good shape and put a good shine on his coat I have to give him oil cake meal, and he will use fifty pounds in those 180 days. He will need bone-meal and salt. Put on $1 for that and the steer has cost me $114.25. If I sell him on a twelve cent market at Winnipeg I will get $120. I have only $5.75 left for transportation, commission, insurance, labour and depreciation on my buildings. I want to ask the minister how that can be done without a spread. I can buy cattle in the spring at ten cents and sell at ten cents - and make more money feeding them grass, because I do not feed them inside. I want the minister to answer these questions.
I want to say something about hogs too. In the new regulations we are to get $27.45 for select hogs, $3 premium paid by the government. On a "B-l" hog we will get $26.45, a $2 premium. We are to get S23.45 for a "B-2" hog, which is a dollar reduction. I should like to know why there should be this dollar reduction. A "B-l" hog is a light hog, a hog that the packer is willing to pay more money for because when you go into a restaurant and ask for pork chops you do not get them off a 200-pound hog, you get them off a hog dressing around 120 to 135 pounds. If this is a penalty or a fine to the farmer for selling a light hog, why put it into the pocket of the packer? Why not give it to the Red Cross? A "B-2" hog will bring $23.45; a "C-l", $22.95; a "D-l", $22.45. These five grades can go into the export trade, or at least a part of them. There are eight different grades from the producer to the packer. There are twenty-four grades from the packer to the meat board, and from the meat board to the British food ministry there are two grades "A" and "B". If the hog that I produce is fit for export bacon I should get that export bacon price for it. The way it stands to-day it is to the advantage of the packer, not the farmer.
I should like to make another comparison. There is only an imaginary line between Manitoba and that portion of the United States situated to the south of it. The United States farmer raises hogs and sells them at from 200 to 300 weight. His hogs average 250 pounds. We have all these penalties on
this side of the line. If I get a hog up to 200 pounds, I can put from two and a half to three pounds a day on him. He will make very rapid gains at this weight. The United States farmer is paid $26.90 for his hog, and he has the extra weight. If you follow this hog along you will find that it could go to the same packing company as the Canadian hog and they are both sold to the British market at the same price. Because of the way grading is set up now, only about thirty per cent are select hogs. This new grading puts a penalty on the average producer. I am not satisfied with the new system. The hon. minister knows that. I have made quite a study of this problem. The man who grades a hog has only six seconds in which to do it. He has to satisfy himself that it is twenty-nine inches from the hip bone to the shoulder bone, that there is no more than two inches of fat on the shoulder. There has to be no more than one and a half inches on the loin and a little less on the hips. These hogs pass steadily before the grader. I have timed them repeatedly and the time is six seconds. I claim that is one of the reasons why when I send a lot of hogs in and the returns come back I get nine or ten selects, and from the very same boar and the same brood sows I get only two the next time. There is something wrong with the system. I have spoken to one of the big packers about it. He says that if he cannot kill 500 hogs an hour he will shut down his plant, Let us get two graders in there and give the farmer a square deal.
Another serious grievance that I should like to mention is the price of grain. There is a subsidy on grain. When a man is feeding his own grain he does not get that. I should like the Minister of Agriculture to do something about that, because unless that position is cleared up there will be fewer hogs by October. I know throughout my own settlement people are not going to feed the grain. It is at a good price, and they will not feed it to the hogs when they can get the price for it. I know arrangements have been made whereby a man who is feeding hogs can go and get the bonus back, but the man who produces the grain is not getting the benefit of that.
The hon. member for Macdonald spoke about the experimental farms. I have received quite a lot of benefit from them, but there is one thing I should like to say here. If those experimental farms could be brought more in line with the conditions that the average farmer has to face in producing his hogs they would be more educational. Hogs are raised by the agricultural college in Winnipeg, but they are pampered hogs. You
could not work in the field all day and give hogs care like that. If we had conditions on these experimental farms similar to. those on the average farm a better comparison could be made. I had the pleasure of taking one of my constituents around the agricultural college. I said to him, "How would you like this, or what would you do with it?" He said: "The wife and I would move in right away." The conditions to which I have referred must be improved so that they will be of some benefit to the rank and file in the country.
I should like to say to the hon. members who have spoken that I have not been one of fortune's favoured few since I came to this country. I sold hogs in some of these good years for S2.65 a hundred. I sold steers for two and a half cents a hundred.
Topic: IS, 1944