From the Archives: Consumers blamed for rising food costs

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: Oct. 16, 1941

Saskatchewan Wheat Pool was organizing 160 mass meetings across the province in support of its demands to Ottawa on how to improve farm income. Businesspeople were reported to be rallying in support of the farmers, and The Western Producer suggested that a 400 to 500 member delegation representing farmers and business should be sent to Ottawa in support of the proposals.

The Canadian Bacon Board announced a price of $19.90 per 100 pounds of Grade A No. 1 sizeable Wiltshire sides under a new bacon agreement with Great Britain. It was the highest price ever achieved for Canadian bacon.

50 years ago: Oct. 13, 1966

It was announced that the new dam on the South Saskatchewan River in central Saskatchewan would be named after the late James Gardiner, the former Saskatchewan premier and federal agriculture minister.

Don’t blame skyrocketing food prices on farmers, an assistant deputy minister of agriculture for production and marketing told a joint Senate-House of Commons committee looking at rising living costs.

S.B. Williams said farmers were barely keeping their heads above water and had been able to stay in business only because of increased efficiencies. He said consumers had themselves to blame for rising food costs because of their increasingly expensive tastes.

For example, they were eating more meat, eggs and fresh fruit and vegetables and fewer cereals and starches. As well, Williams said, consumers were demanding more elaborate processing of food and fancier packaging.

25 years ago: Oct. 17, 1991

The federal government promised to pay farmers $800 million in farm aid before spring seeding, but agriculture minister Bill McKnight warned Canadians that they would have to be prepared to pay for the aid package through higher taxes and reallocation of government spending.

Farm groups welcomed the money but said it fell far short of the $1.3 billion they were seeking. Meanwhile, thousands of farmers protested in Winnipeg to tell the government and the public how bad it was on the farm.

They dumped hundreds of loaves of bread in front of the Manitoba legislature to show that farmers received only four cents from every $1 loaf of bread. The loaves were later sold to passers-by for four cents each.

Repeated work stoppages in the grain transportation system prompted the Canadian Wheat Board to arrange for a cargo of grain to be shipped through an unidentified U.S. west coast port. “We are looking at putting together at least one cargo as a test case to see how all of the components fall into place,” said CWB chief commissioner Lorne Hehn.

10 years ago: Oct. 12, 2006

Al Scholz, executive director of the Saskatchewan Agrivision Corp. think-tank, warned that the major grain companies would be a major obstacle in efforts to set up an ethanol industry in the province. He said ethanol plants could one day use all the wheat that was being exported out of the province, which was shaking the big grain companies to the core. “They are heavily invested in the status quo,” he said.

Keystone Agricultural Producers, the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, Wild Rose Agricultural Producers of Alberta, the National Farmers Union and the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities joined forces to demand that any changes made to the wheat board be voted on first by farmers.

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