MPs blame railways for shipping delays

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: Feb. 13, 1941

Bacon stocks were piling up in Canada to the tune of three million pounds a week, and the Canadian bacon board estimated that the country now had 30 million lb. on hand. Some of the supply would be used up in the summer when supplies were typically less plentiful.

An agriculture conference in Ontario recommended that the provincial government pay $3.7 million in subsidies for cheese and bacon producers and to help move feed grain from Western Canada to Ontario.

The conference also urged legislation “authorizing the department of education to make effective the effort the provide farm labour from schools and colleges” as a step to reduce the shortage of farm labour.

50 years ago: Feb. 10, 1966

Progressive Conservative MPs Dr. Hugh Horner and Cliff Smallwood of Alberta concluded after a two-day visit to the port of Vancouver that Liberal agriculture minister Joe Greene was right to blame the railways for the delay in grain shipments.

They said grain cars were backed up on sidings as far as Kamloops, B.C., while the terminals in Vancouver were nearly empty.

The Canadian Seed Growers Association wanted grading restrictions eased for Manitou wheat, a new rust resistant variety that seed growers were increasing. Forty thousand bushels of the new seed had rated only 35 percent germination in 1965, which would have normally categorized it as sub-standard seed grain and forced it into the commercial sales channel.

However, the association said the new variety was in big demand, and even 35 percent germination seed should not be wasted.

25 years ago: Feb. 14, 1991

U.S. president George H. Bush singled out the Canadian Wheat Board in a report to Congress, saying the lack of information on wheat board sales remained a thorny issue, despite the otherwise smooth implementation of the new Canada-U.S. free trade agreement. “Without adequate information of CWB sale prices in the U.S. and third country markets, we cannot verify Canadian compliance with FTA provisions in this area,” the report said.

Canadians led all other countries in foreign ownership of agricultural land in the United States: 23 percent of the 12.9 million acres owned by foreigners. The largest share was in Maine, and much of it was owned by Canadian logging interests.

10 years ago: Feb. 9, 2006

The share prices of Canada’s two publicly trade grain companies were climbing as Bay Street investors began paying attention to Saskatchewan Wheat Pool and Agricore United. More than one million Sask Pool shares had changed hands on 11 separate trading days, reaching a high of 3.03 million shares Jan. 31. The price of pool shares had increased 28 percent from $6.60 Dec. 28 to $8.45 Feb. 6.

A former construction company executive from British Columbia was prime minister Stephen Harper’s surprising choice for agriculture minister. No national farm leader could recall ever having personal contact with Chuck Strahl on agriculture issues during the MP’s 13 years in the House of Commons.

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