HC Deb 29 July 1924 vol 176 cc1860-4


Friday, 25th July, 1924.

Agriculture at Home and Abroad. World's Wheat Supplies.

Preliminary official estimates issued this month of the wheat production of North America this season indicate a very substantial reduction as compared with last season, particularly in the case of Canada.

United States.—The Deport of the Department of Agriculture relating to the position at the first of the month, puts the total estimated production of winter and spring wheat at 396 million cwts., which compares with 421 million cwts. last year, and 472 million cwts., the average of the preceding five years. During the last few seasons the quantity retained for home consumption and seed has averaged about 325 million cwts. On the basis of these figures the surplus available for export from this year's crop would be over 70 million cwts. It appears to be generally accepted, however, that the crop has improved since the 1st July, and that the next official estimate should show an increase on the July estimate.

Canada.—The area under wheat is officially estimated at 21,616,000 acres, a reduction of a million acres as compared with last year. The first official forecast of the production is 171 million cwts. which compares with a final return last year of 253 million cwts. Recent weather conditions in that country have given a more favourable appearance to the crop, and the official estimate is now generally regarded as being too low, although the crop must fall far short of last year's yield. Home consumption and seed requirements in Canada average about 52 million cwts. annually, so that a substantial surplus will, on present appearances, be available for export to Europe.

As regards the Southern Hemisphere, although it is as yet much too early to attempt to forecast the yield, prospects so far are favourable. In Argentina the area under the crop is reported to have been largely increased, as much new land has been brought under cultivation, and the appearance of the crop is stated to be promising. In Australia, conditions generally are stated to be satisfactory, although in some parts more rain is needed. The surplus from the Indian crop harvested last spring is substantial, and liberal exports are anticipated.

In Europe, the outlook is lees encouraging. A severe drought in Rumania during May affected the growth of the crop, and it does not seem probable that much wheat

(As shown in the returns received by the Ministry of Labour and published in the Ministry of Labour Gazette.)
1921. 1922. 1923. 1924.
s. d. d. d. d.
1st January 1 10 9
(31st Dec, 1921).
1st February 1 9
1st March 1 10 9
1st April 1 10¼ 9
(31st March).
1st May 1 1½. 10¼ 9
(30th April).
1st June 1 10¼ 9
(31st May).
1st July 1 10 9
(30th June). 9
(7th July).
1st August 1 1½. 10
(2nd August).
1st September 1
1st October 1
(30th Sept.).
1st November 0 11½
1st December 0 10½

will be available for export from that country next season. Reports from Russia are contradictory, but on the whole it will not be safe to regard that country as a source of supply during the coining season In importing countries although snore favourable weather conditions have prevailed generally during the last two months it seems doubtful whether the production will come up to the average, and the import requirements during the twelve months may therefore be as large as in the season now closing.

The general position therefore is that, as compared with last season, there is a shorter crop in North America, but that the prospects in the other principal overseas sources of supply are on the whole not less favourable than they were at this time last year, and the quantities of the last crops still available for export are fairly substantial: while on the other hand the requirements of importing countries over the next twelve months will probably remain about the same as in 1923–4. The factor most influencing the outlook at present is the uncertainty as regards the Canadian crop, and to this is to be attributed the recent rise in prices aided, no doubt, as is usual in such circumstances, by market speculation. But there is no evidence at present that the world's supplies of wheat during 1924–5 will be under requirements, and although prices may for a time continue to be at higher levels than in the corresponding period of last year, and to that extent improves the position of our own producers, there is no justification at the present time for suggesting a coming shortage, still less a scarcity of wheat."


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will state the articles of food and comparative prices in December, 1923, and in June, 1924, which have shown any material alteration, and are comprised in the total food index figure of wholesale prices, namely, 159.7 and 159.3, respectively?


asked the President of the Board of Trade those staple articles of popular food on which, since the beginning of the year there have been increases of prices, together with the reasons therefor; and whether his official advices indicate that any such increases are to be expected in the near future?


As the answer contains tables of figures, showing many decreases of price as well as increases, the hon. Members will perhaps allow me to circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following are the tables:

The average price quotation for June, 1924, used for the purposes of the Board of Trade Index Numbers of Wholesale Prices, which showed a change exceeding 15 per cent. as compared with the average quotation for December, 1923, were as follows:

Increases of more than 15 per cent.
Increase per cent.
Potatoes, at Birmingham 132.8
Apples* 104.2
Potatoes, at London 98.1
Oranges 82.9
Mutton, English 22.8
Beef, port killed 21.6
Barley, Californian malting 20.1
Mutton, Scotch 19.2
Wheat, British, "Gazette average" 17.1
Bacon, Irish, green sides 16.8
* In the cases of apples and onions, the descriptions available in December and June are not identical. The December quotations relate to Nova Scotian apples and Spanish onions, the June quotations to Australian apples and Egyptian onions.

Decreases of more than 15 per cent.
Decrease per cent.
Cod 16.2
Butter, Danish 18.7
Cheese, New Zealand 20.0
Cheese, Canadian 20.6
Pork, British 21.1
Butter, New Zealand 21.9
Haddock 25.0
Bloaters 27.9
Sugar, Tate's cubes, duty paid 35.5†
Milk 36.5
Onions* 36.7
Sugar, fine crystals at Glasgow, duty paid 37.0†
Eggs, Danish 52.1
Eggs, Irish 56.9
† The reduction of the duty on sugar affects these figures. The ex-duty prices fell by 22.6 per cent. in the case of cubes and 24.0 per cent. in the case of crystals.

No trustworthy information exists as to the influences operating in the various markets to bring about such changes, nor am I in a position to forecast the course of food prices in the near future, either generally or in detail.

11. Mr. WELLS

asked the President of the Board of Trade if there is any increase in the quantity of wheat and flour imported into this country at the present time from the Argentine as compared with last year?


During the first half of this year the imports of wheat and wheat flour, registered as consigned from Argentina, amounted to 13,036,000 and 149,000 cwts. respectively. These quantities show increases, as compared with the first half of 1923, of 2,482,000 cwts. in the case of wheat and 52,000 cwts. in the case of wheat flour.