From the Archives: Manitoba farmers vote to strike

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: Dec. 18, 1941

The Canadian Wheat Board’s decision to fix the prices of barley and flax at 64 3/4 cents and $1.64, respectively, prompted a strong response from the prairie wheat pools, which were concerned it was the first step by the dominion government to establishing price ceilings on grain below the 1926-29 average. The pools wanted the government to delay establishing price ceilings until the Canadian Federation of Agriculture had an opportunity to discuss the issue with dominion officials.

C. Aubrey Weir, a dominion seed branch inspector from Calgary, warned that there was a “definite shortage of good oats and barley for seed for next year’s crop” because of a lighter than normal crop in Alberta. He urged farmers who expected to seed oats to obtain them as soon as possible.

50 years ago: Dec. 15, 1966

Manitoba Farmers’ Union members voted to strike as a way to “obtain just farm prices.” Michael M. Shwaluk of Oakburn, who introduced the resolution, said farmers should refuse to sell wheat until they received $2.50 per bushel. “Sell enough to pay for food and taxes and to heck with any more until we get the $2.50,” he said.

Saskatchewan Wheat Pool attempted to increase Canadian forage exports to Europe by exploring the possibility of growing European varieties under contract. Exports of Canadian varieties were declining, and it was hoped that European buyers would be more interested in buying from Canada if they could buy varieties with which they were more familiar. R.E. McKenzie, head of the pool’s farm service department, spent three weeks in Europe talking to private plant breeding institutions owned by seed companies. He said he had success with companies in West Germany, Sweden and Holland as well as with the state trading agency in Poland. Britain was also a possibility, he added.

25 years ago: Dec. 19, 1991

Proposed federal legislation would make it possible by 1993 for commodity groups to collect checkoffs for research and promotion. CFA executive director Sally Rutherford welcomed the move, but the National Farmers Union said the government was shirking its responsibilities to fund research and promotion. The government promised when introducing the legislation that it would not do so.

Dairy farmers were fearing the worst as the possibility of a General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade deal (a precursor to the World Trade Organization) in the next week appeared increasingly likely. Louis Balcaen, head of Dairy Farmers of Canada, said the government had all but lost its bid to strengthen provisions that protected supply management. He wasn’t alone. “It’s very scary, what’s ahead of us,” Miniota farmer Norm Morton said at a Manitoba dairy producers meeting. “There isn’t a person in this room that isn’t worried about this whole situation.”

10 years ago: Dec. 14, 2006

Four of the five directors elected in the CWB election supported single desk marketing. Farmers who were fighting federal government attempts to eliminate the single desk took it as a sign that Ottawa should back off, but CWB minister Chuck Strahl and farmers who supported the government’s efforts said the election results held little significance.

Provincial pork associations proposed establishing a national checkoff to fund the Canadian Pork Council. Provincial groups were voluntarily supporting the national organization, but it was thought that the CPC needed a better source of funding. Florian Possberg, vice-chair of the council, said it would mean re-allocating funds rather than increasing what producers already paid.

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