The Western Producer takes a weekly look at some of the stories that made headlines in issues of the paper from 75, 50, 25 and 10 years ago.
75 years ago: July 25, 1940
The looming grain storage crisis continued to hang over prairie farmers because of a wheat glut caused by the war. The prairie pools had four demands when they met with the federal government:
- The Canadian Wheat Board should handle all wheat.
- Work out a method to finance wheat stored on farms.
- Protect farmers from past debts because prices were too low.
- Set a domestic price for wheat.
Meanwhile, Manitoba MP H.W. Winkler asked the government to stop the railways from destroying obsolete boxcars so that farmers could use them to store grain.
The railways said they were selling obsolete cars to farmers for $25 each. As well, the Alberta government asked Ottawa to buy and market all wheat crops for the duration of the war, and federal agriculture minister J.G. Gardiner said the wheat glut would affect 300,000 farm families.
50 years ago: July 22, 1965
A grain handler strike that started at Alberta Wheat Pool’s Vancouver terminal was spreading to other terminals at the port and was also starting to affect railway operations. Canadian Pacific Railway switch crews had “booked off sick” after a crew was suspended for refusing to move a car from the AWP terminal. Grain movement at the port had sharply slowed because of the labour dispute.
A new and broader crop insurance scheme emerged from an agriculture ministers meeting in Winnipeg. The proposed coverage would amount to comprehensive protection against agriculture disaster, but a lot would depend on whether the expanded coverage could be provided without too great an increase in premiums.
25 years ago: July 26, 1990
Canadian canola oil exports to the United States had dropped to less than 100,000 tonnes from 139,000 tonnes in the previous year, and European subsidies were getting most of the blame. “The Europeans are quite smug about it,” said Al Huffman, chief executive officer of CSP Foods. “The Canadians developed the market and the Europeans are taking it over.”
The Canadian Wheat Board started to change the annual procedures that farmers followed to apply for permit books, which was seen as the first step toward doing away with the document altogether.
10 years ago: July 21, 2005
The U.S. border reopened to Canadian cattle following a 26 month closure because of the discovery of BSE in 2003. Federal agriculture minister Andy Mitchell said a load of cattle crossed the border in Eastern Canada July 18 just before noon and another load was expected to cross in Western Canada later in the day.
A quarter of Manitoba’s cultivated acres were without a crop because of excess moisture, and farmers were said to be close to despair. It’s a sharp contrast with this year, when the province is a bright spot in what is generally considered to be drought conditions in much of the Prairies.