ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED | OCTOBER 1933 | THE FARMER
Recently one of the leading Toronto daily newspapers devoted two editorials to urging the people of this country to take advantage of the export trade with Great Britain opened up to them through the Empire agreements in Ottawa last year. The writer of the editorials particularly emphasized the possibilities open to the Canadian farmer through these agreements. As he phrased it “The Canadian farmer has the ball at his feet. Can he be induced to kick it and score a goal?”
This type of assessment might be all right--except that it presupposes the farmer is grossly ignorant of what vitally affects his business--but it totally omits mention of one side of these agreements that is a fundamental factor if they are to carry any hope of permanency, and without permanency it would be folly for the farmer in this country to base any extensive programme of production on them. We refer to the reciprocal nature of these trade agreements. The very basis on which they were formulated required that in return for a preferred market for products from the Dominions in Great Britain here should be a preferred market for British goods in the Dominions. It is hopeless, therefore, to attempt to build a permanent export trade for Canadian farm products in the United Kingdom unless we create a market for British goods here. We believe there is today an opportunity to export farm products to the British market that is decidedly in favour of the Canadian farmer, but producing farm products for export is not just a matter of turning on the engines in a factory. It requires time and some assurance that a year or so hence that same export opportunity will be open. True, many of the agreements run for a period of five years, but experience with international trade agreements heretofore has indicated that there are various means of getting around them when their operation becomes one-sided. Until those now urging Canadian farmers to make extensive plans for capturing a larger share of the British market show more concern than they have yet done for the reciprocal nature of these Empire agreements, we doubt if their pronouncements will get very much consideration. Trading must always mean, ultimately, an exchange of goods, not simply a one-way exchange of goods for money, as the events of the past few years have abundantly proven.