Our Cabinet got us into this, they must now get us out!
By Fred W Beeson
By Fred W Beeson
So much discussion, so many meetings by so many groups, so much fear expressed as to the outlook for poultrymen, that one wonders if this is the same country and the same industry that a year ago was girding its loins for an all-out effort to produce more eggs for Britain.
Going back to the meeting of the provisional National Poultry Industries Council at Saskatoon with the Rt. Hon. James. G. Gardiner, Minister of Agriculture, early in October, the gravest problems were to get the coarse grains flowing freely from the west to Ontario and Quebec, who had experience near-crop failures, and to secure assurance that price ceilings on grain would be maintained.
Mr. Gardiner intimated that in order to get grain flowing from western farms it would be necessary to remove price ceilings, and two weeks later this was done. Meanwhile ceilings on proteins had been removed and fish meal jumped one hundred per cent overnight.
Since then nothing that farmers’ organizations and the P.I.C.’s across the Dominion have been able to do has improved the position of the feeders of grains and proteins. Ontario and Quebec P.I.C.’s met and learned from W. A. Brown that future egg contracts with Britain might have to be made on a sterling instead of a dollar basis, and a hasty inter-provincial meeting was called in Winnipeg for the purpose of mapping out a course of action taking into consideration present and possible future prices of feeds and the use of sterling instead of dollars.
The Winnipeg meeting was not to be reported upon for several weeks, though why, when the whole matter was discussed previously at Guelph, Ont., between the Ontario and Quebec P.I.C.’s, is hard to understand. The Guelph meeting has been very fully reported in the farm press, and its publicity has not made the situation any worse.
British Columbia’s Poultry Industries Council has been exceedingly active and is in close touch with the provisional National chairman and secretary in Ontario. The problem is much bigger than just eggs and the British Food Mission is to be in Ottawa during the November and December to re-negotiate contracts for all food purchases.
The acceptance by us of sterling should open the way for far greater trading. Britain has many goods to sell us, textiles, films, machinery, china, automobiles, and a list that could be continued indefinitely. According to Mr. W. A. Brown, of the Special Products Board, she needs even more eggs than she is getting from us, and large quantities of dressed poultry besides. If we have to get down to a barter basis, well, so much the better. To restrict business between the two countries because of a shortage of American dollars will, no doubt, look extremely silly when this period of international upsets becomes history.
The worst feature of the present impasse is the time element. The hatching season is just around the corner and to-date there are fewer flocks’ blood tested than last year, and early orders for chicks are exceedingly slim, from all accounts. The industry is going through a period of jitters, and no wonder, with the price of feed so out of line with the selling prices of our products.
It is being openly talked about that with the opening of Parliament on December 5th the Cabinet will announce that a whole new schedule has been mapped out with Britain for the uninterrupted exchange of goods, among them our agricultural products.
If such is the case it will not be a moment too soon, to restore confidence among poultrymen and get plans underway for a chick season as heavy as last spring’s. Any lessening in production next fall will curtail egg shipments to Britain, disappoint her people of even the present meager supply of eggs, and send her looking elsewhere for supplies.
As it stands now we don’t know whether the removal of subsidies and ceilings was good politics or just plain bad business. Whichever it was, the results to date have been disastrous for our industry. All the careful planning of a year ago would seem to have been for nothing; the conferences in each province and periodically at Ottawa, to say nothing of the time given so unselfishly by the men within the industry, at this moment looks to be a complete waste.
Turning defeat into victory is nothing new for our people to experience. Getting the poultry industry back into high gear will not be impossible. But it cannot be done until cost of production is brought into line with selling prices. Deluged as they have been with protests and advice from every producing area, those responsible at Ottawa have all the facts before them to straighten out the mess their precipitous action got us into. They are the ones who MUST do it, or risk oblivion if they don’t.