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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - March 13, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta 1 Whelan says plan assures production Federal Agriculture Minister Eugene Whelan has promised a new program to assure grassland, beef and forage production. Referring to a question from Lethbridge dairyman Louis Pavan urging retention or expansion of a federal program of a incentive for planting farmland into grass, Mr. Whelan said he was concerned with some of the abuses in theold program announced three years ago. He said the government paid money for land that was supposed to be put into grass but which wasn't. The new program, he told a Lethbridge gathering of producers, will follow the general pattern of the former program, but will be broader in scope. It will be announced soon. Cyril Noble of Nobleford, a director for the Lethbridge Northern Irrigation District, told the crowd 20 per cent of Alberta's gross agricultural revenue comes from irrigated land which accounts for only four per cent of the arable land in the province. He said because many of the irrigation districts are at the mercy of river flow for their water requirements, upstream storage facilities are becoming more essential to agriculture in Alberta. Water storage needed Mr Whelan said he didn't know of any definite plans for upstream storage in Alberta. Pointing to a continuing program of water storage facility construction, including reservoirs and dams, to ensure adequate supplies for irrigation in Arizona, Mr. Whelan said, "If we're not doing that in Canada, we should be doing it. "We should be planning for that time to make sure that you have ample water because you have a much greater source than they do for water." Mr Whelan told local livestock and poultry feed manufacturer Bill Olafson it is his dream to make sure the inland gram terminals like the one on the eastern outskirts of Lethbridge are well used. "I can't see government money sitting there with millions of dollars invested and nobody using he said. "We have to realize that our elevator system in Western Canada is obsolete as hell when we compare it to the way we plant grain and harvest grain today." The system is still using the old elevators used when farmers hauled with horses to the elevators. "That's just damn nonsense as far as I'm concerned." He said some of the most modern elevators are in the east. They're not all wood and can't be burned down. Labor pools formed "Sometimes we've been accused of trying to burn them down and it wouldn't be a bad idea in the West sometimes." Labor shortages for agricultural production was a major concern of some representatives, both at the producer and processor level. Mr. Whelan said the formation of 30 labor pools throughout Canada to provide people willing to work in agriculture should help the situation. Seasonal labor requirements are the main concern of both farmers and government. He said there are people with two or three weeks holidays, young people who don't know what to do and people from other countries with work permits who can provided needed labor. "We need increased production." He said the people brought in from the Carribean, Portugal and other countries have to return when the seasonal work" is finished. They can't become landed immigrants. Butch O'Donnell of Brooks said there are six labor pools allocated for Alberta this year. He claimed sufficient farmers must make application for foreign labor to get the okay of the Alberta government. Potato crops may drop Mr. O'Donnell. representing the Alberta Potato Growers Association, cautioned the minister that the provincial potato acreage is likely to decrease this year to a point where the public will see increased food prices. He attributed a lack of protection for local growers from potatoes that can be dumped on the Alberta market, depressing the prices growers receive for their produce. Mr. Whelan assured the crowd that if any commodity is entering Canada and disrupting the local market, the federal government can institute a surcharge to increase the competitive factor for domestic producers. But if Canada were to do this, the country the surcharge was applied against could take the case to arbitration under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade if that surcharge seriously affected the market of the product. He said the United States is contemplating suing Canada under the provisions of the GATT agreement for surcharges placed on American cherries, tomatoes and beef entering Canada. Lalovee Jensen of Magrath, president of the Canadian Sugar Beet Growers Association, asked Mr. Whelan for a national sugar policy that will stabilize producer returns. Sugar policy needed Mr. Whelan said he hasn't changed his mind for a need for a proper sugar policy for Canada. Support for such a plan has increased in govetameat daring the past four months since sugar prices have sowed. He said he would like to see 25 per cert of the domestic sugar consumption produced in Canada, op from about nine per cent now produced. He said there are five sugar refineries in his part on Ontario that have shut down. U was a big loss to agriculture in Ontario because beets worked in well with livestock, crop rotations and drainage of the heavy clay soil in the region. Ed Shimbashi of Bamwell, a vegetable grower, told the minister a survey of growers this spring indicated production costs will increase about 45 per cent compared to 1973 levels. Decent income for farmers federal goal By RIC SWIHART Herald Staff Writer A decent and reasonable income for Canadian farmers is the aim of the federal department of agriculture, says its minister. Eugene Whelan, who claims he isn't yet czar of agriculture in Canada, told 310 persons at a Liberal fund-raising dinner at Sven Ericksen's Family Restaurant Tuesday farmers must be recognized financially for their long hours of work, huge investment and for management skills. He said some of this support can come from government policies, programs and services but the "most important part of that support should come through the prices we pay for the food our farmers produce." Mr. Whelan said if fanners need higher prices to stay in business and those prices put hardships on some members of society, then society should be willing to help those people through social programs and policies, not at the expense of the farmer. "If we try to stick farmers with the bill today, we won't have any farmers or Canadian produce to eat he said. Directing the main thrust of his talk to the beef industry, Mr. Whelan said the livestock "1 wonder where it is going to be asked. He said this type of economic environment discourages young people from catering agriculture and makes it hard for established farmers from staying in the business. The key is that it ties up capital when it is at peak prices. problem is one of the toughest facing agriculture Recognizing Alberta government incentive programs for provincial sheep, dairy and hog producers, Mr. Whelan said cattlemen didn't get any help because it is too big a problem for the Lougheed government to touch alone. The problem for cattlemen started last year, said Mr. Whelan. Consumer boycotts and consumer resistance resulted when the news media gave huge play to food price increases. U.S. President Richard Nixon then announced retail price ceilings on cattle sales which created a surplus situation and dramatically depressed prices. This caused a flooding of Canadian markets with U.S. cattle. On the production side, Mr. Whelan said grain prices took off "like a scared jack rabbit" when world demand put added strain on available supplies. The increased demand for wheat led to an increased demand for feed grains and record high prices for livestock feeds. "And farmers who have a choice between selling their grain or marketing it through beef cattle are quite naturally taking a long, hard look at the economic fact of life and some are selling out of the beef he said. The improving grain prices have also led to increased land prices across the Prairies, adding another source of pressure for the beef industry. Pointing to the future, Mr. Whelan reviewed actions he plans for the coming year. A long-term national feed grains policy will influence the amount of feed grain that is produced, influence the marketing system and improve the strength of the beef industry in various regions of Canada through more equitable grain and meat transportation rates. A grain income stabilization program will also have an effect because it will tend to encourage the grain producer to grow a more reliable amount of feed grain. Help is also forthcoming in the form of increased meat research, including packing plant location, size and distribution, consumer market studies and better technology for meat quality, processing and packing. An offer of financial assistance for veterinarian colleges to build additions still stands. The three institutions can only turn out 135 veterinarians per year when at least 250 are needed annually. He said one of the factors holding farmers back from an all-out investment in increased production is the uncertainty of short-term prices. "Price and income stabilisation programs are needed to reduce those uncertainties and to provide farmers with assurances that investments made today will pay off he said. The basic plan for income stabilization funds is to have farmers and federal and provincial governments put money into a fund when income is relatively high and let farmers draw money out of the fund when total income falls below a set point. Then for the individual cattleman, Mr. Whelan proposes a national livestock insurance program similar to crop insurance. The program would have the consumer, through tax dollars, sharing part of the risk farmers face when they invest in expanding their herds. "Consumers can't afford to lose top-notch beef producers any more than the beef producer can afford to be wiped out of business by what is called by insurance people an act of he said. SECOND SECTION The Lethbridge Herald Lethbridge, Alberta, Wednesday, March 13, 1974 Pages 13-22 Raymond Home changes in works Shop talk Eugene Whelan, agriculture minister chats with Joe Perlich and John Pahara, district cattlemen. need higher prices' Agriculture Minister Eugene Whelan says cattle producers must receive higher prices if they are to increase production, but at the same time, cattlemen say Canada's beef herd must be reduced if their industry is to thrive. 'Mr. Whelan said in Winnipeg before flying to Lethbridge Wednesday that beef prices may increase 30 to 40 cents a pound. He said ranchers, cow-calf operators and feedlot operators have been hit by the instability of the beef market and their problems affect consumers. The minister said Americans are taking over 20 to 40 per cent of the Canadian beef market and Canadian beef prices have to improve to entice cattle operators to stay in business. In Ottawa, spokesmen for the Canadian Cattlemen's Association said they reject the federal government's call for increased production but agreed consumers can expect higher prices, along with reduced supplies this year "If they're going to eat, they're going to have to pay for said association representative Chris Mills of Calgary. "The problem right now is too much production, not too little." The association said the country's herd has expanded too rapidly because of the government's incentive programs between 1968-72. In the last two years, however, world demand and prices for grain has soared and farmers now find it more profitable to sell grain, a reversal from the last few years when it was more profitable to feed cattle and sell meat. PREMIER A CCUSED OF MISREPRESENTA TION Farm credit programs okayed by all parties in legislature By AL SCARTH HeraM Legislature Bureau EDMONTON The government received all party support Tuesday to expand its farm credit programs by million but not before the premier was accused of misleading the legislature. Guided through second reading by Agriculture Minister Hugh Homer, the Government's promise to double to million the Agricultural development fund was given unanimous approval. The promise was contained in the Agricultural Development Amendment Act which now awaits formal approval. The government will spend the additional million in direct low interest loans to farmers during the next two to three years, Dr Homer said. He said 95 per cent of loans went to farmers with assets of less than and that the largest number of loans were made in the County of Vulcan. In all fields, the government had extended million of agricultural credit since it came to power in 1971. And the loans were primarily- being sought by people under 35 years of age, he said, a most important factor when the average age of farmers was approaching 60 years. In the course of the debate, former Agriculture Minister Henry Ruste (SC Wainwright) received a caution from the speaker not to refer to statements made in the house as lies. Mr. Ruste accused Premier Peter Lougheed of misleading members in his state of the province address at the fall session. At that time, Mr. Lougheed said the Progressive Conservative government had extended million in farm credit plans in only two years. The premier told the legislature that compared to only million in credit extended during the previous 10 years of Social Credit government. Mr. Ruste said that under two plans, feeder association loans and farm purchase credit, the government extended at least million in credit from 1961 to 1970. "So I submit Mr. Speaker." Mr Ruste said, "that if you get down to the short of it anything that says something intended to give a false impression, or something that misleads or deceives, Mr. Speaker, to me is nothing short of a lie. and anybody who makes that statement in this house, makes that statement a lie." Cautioned by Speaker Gerard Amerongen that he could quarrel the accuracy of a statement but not entitled to indicate that another member has lied, Mr. Ruste insisted the premier had intended to give a false impression. When the speaker said that amounted to the same thing, the former agriculture minister said he would like a correction made by the premier. Mr. Lougheed was not in the house during the incident Some of the bill's strongest support came from New Democratic leader Grant Notley. "If we are going to encourage young people to get into fanning on one hand and encourage agricultural processing on the other this bill is necessary and merits our full support" he said While supporting the bill, former premier Harry Strom