From The Archives: Dangerous rust strain threatened barley crop

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: April 10, 1941

The Saskatchewan government began the process of putting Sask-atchewan Co-operative Creameries into the hands of farmers. The plan was for the co-op to be 100 percent controlled by producers within 10 years. The first step was to increase the size of the board to allow for the addition of cream, milk, poultry and egg producers.

The federal government defended its policy of increasing feed-grain production at the expense of wheat by announcing that Great Britain planned to buy an additional 28 million pounds of ham and bacon from Canada. The policy had come under heavy fire in Western Canada. A.H. Bence, a Conservative MP from Saskatoon, said paying bonuses to reduce wheat production would benefit poor farmers and do nothing for farmers who scientifically regulated the cultivation of their land and operated according to market conditions.

50 years ago: April 7, 1966

After months of controversy over low grain shipments to Vancouver, the port shipped more than 25 million bushels in March, which was three million more than the previous record. The improved performance was attributed to railways, elevators and shippers working together to clear a backlog of orders that had kept six to eight ships at anchor at any one time waiting to be loaded. Only two ships lay at anchor as of April 1.

Manitoba Farmers’ Union president Herb Andresen said a new policy that would force cream shippers to ship whole milk instead of cream would hurt the thousands of cream producers who relied on cream cheques for their livelihoods. The policy was intended to allow processors to take over the complete production of butter.

25 years ago: April 11, 1991

A dangerous strain of stem rust called QCC was drifting north from Kansas and threatening prairie barley. Only one of the 62 varieties of barley grown on the Prairies and northern United States were resistant to the strain. Agriculture Canada scientist Mario Therrien said the Canadian barley crop, particularly on the eastern Prairies, was facing its worst threat of rust epidemic since 1948.

“There wasn’t much beer made in 1948,” Therrien said.

Alberta Wheat Pool bought Byers Flour Mills in Camrose. The mill, which made flour, pancake mix and Sunny Boy Cereal, was to be renamed Prairie Sun Grains and managed and marketed by CSP Foods.

10 years: April 6, 2006

Western Economic Diversification Canada stopped funding the Farmer Rail Car Coalition’s efforts to buy the federal grain car fleet, which coalition president Sinclair Harrison interpreted as a sign that the new federal Conservative government planned to withdraw its support for the venture.

The government denied that there was a political message in the decision.

The Inland Terminal Association of Canada drew the ire of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association when it wrote a letter to agriculture minister Chuck Strahl that, among other things, expressed support for keeping the Canadian Wheat Board’s single desk powers.

“A lot of our members were un-happy about the letter and unhappy about the lack of consultation between the terminals and their customers, farmers and shareholders,” said WCWGA president Cherilyn Jolly-Nagel. It was an early salvo in the final battle over the fate of the wheat board.

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