From the Archives: Prairie farmers planned Ottawa trek

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.

The Manitoba Federation of Agriculture threw its support behind the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool’s campaign to send a large delegation to Ottawa armed with a petition demanding a better deal for farmers. Producers wanted the government to revise its policies to establish a solid foundation for stabilizing Canadian agriculture.

The Wartime Prices and Trade Board said price controls would exempt some farm produce when farmers sold it directly to dealers or processors. The list of exempted items included livestock, poultry, eggs, milk, cream, dairy butter, farm-made cheese, honey, maple syrup and fish.

Farmers were arguing that they had very little to do with high retail prices, but the Dominion Bureau of Statistics begged to differ. Bureau data presented to a joint House of Commons-Senate committee investigating consumer prices showed that cattle and hog producers had received a large share of the increase in the retail price of pork and beef in the previous two years.

Protein levels in Manitoba’s oat crop were lower than normal, prompting Cam Brown, a livestock nutritionist with the provincial government, to warn livestock and poultry producers that they might have to adjust their rations. Test samples were finding 8.8 to 9.5 percent protein compared to the 10-year average of 11.3 percent.

Saskatchewan Premier Roy Romanow went to Ottawa looking for more federal aid for farmers and initially seemed to succeed with a commitment from Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. However, Agriculture Minister Don Mazankowski later denied that a commitment had been made for more aid and said he first wanted to see the impact of the $700 million that had already been promised.

The federal government vowed not to sign an international trade deal if supply managed farmers were opposed. The implication of giving one sector of the economy a veto drew accusations that the government was attempting to divide the agricultural community.

The Manitoba Pork Council threatened legal action against the provincial government’s proposed ban of hog barn construction. “Our industry has now become the scapegoat in the face of an upcoming election,” said council chair Karl Kinloch.

The Canadian Wheat Board and its minister, Chuck Strahl, appeared to be on a collision course over what the board was allowed to say in public. The government had earlier directed the board not to spend money on “advocating the retention of its monopoly powers,” but the CWB was refusing to remove a document from its website that responded to a federal government task force on how to eliminate the board’s single desk.

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