ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED | APRIL 15, 1922 | CANADIAN COUNTRYMAN
There is an insistent demand at the present time among Western farmers for the restoration of the Wheat Board. Mr. H.W. Wood, for the Canadian Council of Agriculture, while addressing the agricultural committee of the House of Commons recently, said that Western farmers were particularly hard hit by the fall in prices and that something must be one to assist the to get a higher price for their wheat. Western farmers were particularly hard hit by the fall in prices and that something must be done to assist them to get a higher price for their wheat. Western farmers did not ask a fixed price, but they believed that the wheat Board method of marketing their wheat would help them materially to get a better price. The crop would be controlled in its flow to market, rather than dumped on the market at threshing time in order that famers might meet debts. Mr. Wood estimated that if the wheat were marketed by the government, farmers would get $25,000,000 more for their wheat. Most of our wheat was marketed abroad, and he did not believe that under government control consumers in this country would pay one cent more for flour.
J.A. Maharg, in addressing the agricultural committee, said that people in the towns and cities of the West, as well as producers were in favour of restoring the Wheat Board. Speculators played the market at the expense of the farmer. The price of wheat on the Winnipeg exchange invariably went in an illogical direction, he declared. When crop reports in Argentina and Australia were bad, it was reasonable to suppose that Winnipeg prices would advance, but instead they dropped. he contended that if the wheat were delivered to the head of the Lakes gradually, and farmers would not be stampeded by the railways and the banks and other interest in rushing their wheat to market and taking whatever price they could get at the time. The restoration of the Wheat Board might injure a few people in the grain trade, but it would benefit manufacturers and others, because the purchasing power of farmers in the West would be increased.
We are absolutely in agreement with those farmers in the West who believe that the flow of wheat to market should be controlled, but very much question the advisability of having the government take over the marketing of their produce for them. The Wheat Board idea is sound in principle, but Western farmers should have their own Wheat Board idea and not ask the government to step in. A government to be a good government should govern as little as possible. The function of government is to hold the balance of justice evenly, and see that one class or group does not impose on other classes. “Equal rights for all, and special privileges for none” is the motto of the United Farmers, and is the motto of all good governments. If Western farmers want the Dominion Government to market their wheat for them, then dairy farmers in Ontario have just as much right to ask the Ontario Legislature to take over the marketing of milk, cheese and butter, and the Canadian Manufacturers’ Association is equally justified in asking the Dominion Government to take over the marketing of manufactured products.
Government control or interference in business is all wrong. It almost invariably in the long run injures the very people it is supposed to help. A government has no right to do for people what they can do for themselves - and there is no reason so far as we can see why farmers in the West cannot form a wheat pool and market their wheat in much the same way as it is propose to have it marketed by the government. The farmers in California some years ago were just as hard hit as are farmers in the West at the present time, but instead of asking the United States Government to market their fruit for them, they joined together, formed a central selling agency, marketed their own produce, and put the speculator out of business. This is what Western farmers should do.
Farmers who believe in government interference in business should take a trip down to North Dakota. They would come back firmly convinced that the less the government tries to help the better for them.
For some years now the Canadian Cooperative Wool Growers Company has been operating along much the same lines as the Wheat Board operated - and with marked benefit to wool growers. Wool formerly used to be dumped on the market in the spring and early summer just as wheat is dumped on the market in the fall now. Now, however, the wool handled through the Wool Growers Company is marketed during the entire year. Wool growers in the spring when they send their wool to be graded and sold receive an advance cheque from the company and then later on, around Christmas time, after all the wool has been marketed, receive another cheque. In this way they receive the full value for their wool. If wool growers which are scattered throughout Canada can join together and market their product successfully, then there is no reason why the farmers concentrated in the prairie provinces cannot join together and be equally successful in the marketing of their wheat.