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A Capsule History

For more than 100 years agriculture has been the major economic force in the area of Canada’s central plains now known as Saskatchewan. The farmers, their families, the scientists and the public servants who built this industry in this region of harsh climatic extremes inspire admiration and awe. Here we have a listing of some of the landmark developments in that period.

Vegetables and some cereals grown around fur-trading posts to supplement meat diet.
1753-56 Chevalier de la Corne experimented with wheat growing in the Carrot River Valley.
1820 Wheat, barley, oats and potatoes grown at Carlton House.
1857-60 Captain John Palliser assessed farming potential of the Prairies. He saw good prospects for the parkland but warned against sending settlers into a triangle roughly from Estevan to Lloydminster and taking in Southeastern Alberta.
1857 The Province of Canada commissioned Henry Youle Hind to assess prospects for agricultural settlement and he was much more enthusiastic than Palliser. Worried about possible takeover by the Americans, the government chose to believe Hind.
1866 Rev. James Nisbet established a farm with livestock near Prince Albert.
1871-75 Indian treaties were signed that opened the way for immigrant settlement.
1872 The Dominion Lands Act gave homesteaders the right for a $10 fee to prove up a quarter section of land. Having built a house and cultivated a specified number of acres (this varied according to type of terrain) the farmer could receive title to the land after three years.
1883 Canadian Pacific Railway was completed from Winnipeg to Calgary, opening the way for easier shipment of agricultural produce.
Middle to late 1880s Rapid industrialization and population growth in Britain opened markets for food grains, notably wheat. It was soon discovered that winter wheat varieties were not suitable for the Prairies. Improvement in milling technology made hard red spring wheat the miller’s choice for bread and the farmer’s choice in what is now Saskatchewan.
1882 The federal government sought to increase the number of settlers by encouraging colonization companies. Development was slow with the total population of what became Saskatchewan at 33,000 in 1884.
1883 Settlers’ Rights Association near Prince Albert protested to government about the sectional survey and seizure of the land they had farmed since 1874. The land became part of land grants to the railway, the Hudson’s Bay Company and the Crown. William Miller made the submission.
1885 Metis under Louis Riel launched an uprising against the government over the feared loss of land on which they had squatted prior to the survey. The rising was put down by force of arms and Riel was hanged.
1886 General Middleton’s army fighting the Metis in 1885 had need of massive numbers of horses for transporting food and supplies. Angus MacKay of Indian Head didn’t put in a crop in 1885 because his horses were being used by the army. He noted that when he left 1885 fields in fallow they produced higher yields in the dry year, 1886.
1886 The Council of the North West Territories passed an ordinance to incorporate agricultural societies. Regina and Moose Jaw had held their first exhibitions in 1884 and Saskatoon held its first in 1886. Stated objective was to improve agriculture.
1887 Indian Head Experimental Farm was established with Angus MacKay as director. His experiments with summerfallow established a farm practice that is still being used by some farmers more than 100 years later.
1887 Sir John Lister Kaye launched his ranching empire in a number of large acreage tracts along what is now No. 1 Highway. He had 500 Clydesdale mares, 7,000 cattle, 700 pigs of three breeds and 10,000 sheep. He didn’t thrive but succeeding owners of his Crane Lake ranch kept it operating under the 76 Ranch name until well into the next century.
1890's First dairy co-operatives were formed to market farm-separated cream and dairy products. This was the base from which grew what is now Dairy Producers Co-operative Ltd.
1897 The federal government signed the Crow’s Nest Pass Agreement with the CPR under which the railway would receive $3,000,000 to build a branch line from Lethbridge to mining resources in southern British Columbia. In return settlers would benefit from low freight rates for shipping in their effects and for shipping out the grain they grew.
1898 James Douglas, member for Assiniboia, introduced bills in the House of Commons to establish the right of farmers to bypass commercial elevators in selling their wheat. He also sought an independent grain inspector to ensure farmers got a fair deal on grain grades. His bills resulted in the Manitoba Grain Act of 1900, “the Magna Carta of western farmers.”
1901 W.R. Motherwell of Abernethy and Peter Dayman of Indian Head organized the Territorial Grain Growers Association to seek a grain delivery system not so loaded in favor of the railways and elevator companies.
1902 The famous Sintaluta Trial saw the Territorial Grain Growers win a lawsuit against the Canadian Pacific Railway. The railway’s Sintaluta agent was fined for not allocating rail cars to farmers on an equal basis to elevator companies. This was a violation of the Manitoba Grain Act.
1904 John Brandt of Edenwold imported a number of Shorthorns from Scotland and launched what was believed to be the first purebred Shorthorn herd in Assiniboia (now Saskatchewan).
1904 Mossom Boyd of Prince Albert imported from the United States the first two Polled Hereford bulls to come to Canada.
1905 Murdo MacKenzie obtained a 21-year lease on six townships of land north of Swift Current where he established the famed Matador Ranch. In summer the ranch stocked 6,000 cattle and in winter, 4,000. It operated until 1921 when it became a provincial community pasture. In the 1940s part of it was turned into a co-operative farm.
1905 Saskatchewan became a province. With more than one million people settling on the Canadian Prairies between 1896 and 1913 this was an era of dramatic change.
1906 The TGGA was reorganized into the Saskatchewan Grain Growers Association. It set up a farmers co-operative elevator company called the Grain Growers Grain Company. Edward Partridge of Sintaluta was first president of GGGA. Convinced the Winnipeg Grain Exchange was working with major elevator companies to the disadvantage of farmers, Partridge bought an exchange membership. Line elevator representatives sought to have him expelled for paying patronage dividends to GGGA members but the grain growers mollified them by agreeing to stop paying such dividends. Out of the GGGA grew United Grain Growers and the Saskatchewan Co-operative Elevator Company.
1907 Local Improvement Districts Association was formed with S. Chivers-Wilson of Regina as president. The organization became the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) in 1911. Municipal organizations dated back to the 1880s but this was the first province-wide body. Legislation in 1909 established nine townships as the standard size for a municipality.
1908 The University of Saskatchewan was established in Saskatoon with Dr. Walter Murray of Dalhousie University as first president. It was decided its College of Agriculture would be equal in priority with the College of Arts and Science. First dean of agriculture was William John Rutherford who moved from his post as Saskatchewan’s deputy minister of agriculture. He laid great emphasis on research into better farming resources and methods.
1909 On March 25 concurrent meetings were held in Regina of cattle, sheep, swine and horse producers to form provincial associations. First president of the Saskatchewan Cattle Breeders was P.M. Bredt of Balgonie. Sheep breeders’ first president was F.T. Skinner of Indian Head. The 1909 swine breeders’ board was headed by A. B. Potter of Langbank and the Saskatchewan Horse Breeders’ first president was Alex Mutch of Lumsden. Secretary for each association in 1909 was John Bracken, later to become premier of Manitoba but then he was Saskatchewan superintendent of fairs and institutes. The livestock associations were concerned mostly with organizing sales, fairs and livestock events to promote their purebred industry.
1910 Canadian Council of Agriculture was formed with Saskatchewan representation from the SGGA. This organization, that included farm groups from Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, faded out in the 1920s. First women’s president of the CCA was Violet McNaughton of Harris.
1910 Discovery of Marquis wheat by Sir Charles Saunders in Ottawa gave Saskatchewan farmers a high quality earlier maturing crop that made it possible to avoid many of the frost problems that had been a recurring nightmare with Red Fife wheat. Marquis was tested at Indian Head before release.
1910 Import of purebred stallions from Britain by horsemen, such as Scotty Bryce of Arcola, improved the quality and performance of horses which were the chief source of farm power. Huge steam and gas tractors were appearing but it would be 30 years before they would dominate.
1910 Edward Partridge’s demand for federal ownership of terminal grain elevators and provincial ownership of inland elevators was supported in a farmers’ march on Ottawa organized by the Canadian Council of Agriculture. The proposal was not accepted but the federal government did build big inland elevators at points such as Saskatoon and Moose Jaw and the province did agree to provide aid in building country elevators.
1910 Teaching homesteaders to farm under Saskatchewan conditions was a priority with Commissioner of Agriculture W. R. Motherwell. In 1910 this task was turned over to the university’s College of Agriculture which pursued the task with vigor. Better farming trains supplemented by meetings and seminars reached as many as 68,000 people a year by 1914.
1911 Saskatchewan Co-operative Elevators Ltd., was formed to build a farmer’s elevator system. Its first general manager was Charles Dunning of Beaverdale. The following year it obtained a seat on the Winnipeg Grain Exchange and it rapidly expanded into the largest elevator company in the province.
1911 Saskatchewan Homemakers’ Clubs were launched when F. H. Auld, university extension director, invited 42 women to meet with him in Regina January 31. Members received the latest information on homemaking, gardening and poultry raising. They discussed social issues such as temperance, health and votes for women. This became a key organization for farm women.
1911 Seager Wheeler, a seed grower from Rosthern, won the first of his five world wheat championships in New York and was awarded $1,000 in gold. His first three wins were with Marquis, his fourth with Kitchener and his fifth with Red Bobs, the latter two varieties he had developed himself.
1912 Farmers formed a cooperative to supply hail insurance.
1913 Violet McNaughton of Harris attended the 1913 convention of the Saskatchewan Grain Growers with her husband, John, and was instrumental in organizing a Women’s Grain Growers Association. She was elected first president. This group convinced the SGGA to support women’s suffrage and kept the cause of equal rights for farm women to the fore.
1914 The First World War began and farmers, expecting to be home by Christmas, enlisted in large numbers. The crop was poor that year (74,000,000 bushels) so the government decided to suspend taxes on the farms of soldiers (who didn’t make it home by Christmas). The following year (1915) the Saskatchewan crop was a new record of 215,000,000 bushels, and put pressure on a system disrupted by war.
1916 University of Saskatchewan biologist Dr. W.P. Thompson proposed that Marquis wheat be crossed with lower quality emmer wheats. He had noted that while Marquis could be wiped out by rust, emmer wheats had rust resistance. Using this idea plant scientists produced a string of rust resistant wheats including Reward, Renown and, in the United States, Thatcher.
1917 The federal government, as a wartime emergency measure, set up a Board of Grain Supervisors Wheat Board) under Dr. Robert Magill with monopoly control over wheat sales. The futures market was shut down. With European agriculture disrupted by war, wheat prices rose to $2.21 a bushel and then $2.63 by 1919.
1917 Following representations from farmers the Saskatchewan government brought in the Saskatchewan Farm Loans Act to provide credit for agricultural operation and expansion.
1917 Grain Growers Grain Company amalgamated with Alberta Cooperative Elevator Company to form United Grain Growers Ltd.
1917 Saskatchewan government intervened to save cooperative creameries.
1918 Canadian Cooperative Wool Growers was formed to provide a promotion and marketing arm for sheep producers.
1918 The First World War ended and veterans came home to drought, hail and a severe grasshopper infestation. Wheat prices were good but the 1919 crop was not.
1919 The federal government shut down the wheat board and allowed the reopening of the Winnipeg Grain Exchange. Grain prices fell sharply to $1.50 a bushel in 1920 and 76 cents in 1921. Farmers began to lobby for re-establishment of the wheat board.
1919 The Cooperative Stockyards Act was approved in the Legislature and larger centres moved to establish sales yards for livestock.
1919 By Act of Parliament the Crow’s Nest rates on grain were suspended for three years as the railways claimed post-war inflation had made them uneconomic. The rates were restored in 1922 and enshrined in legislation when farmers and the Progressive party raised a storm.
1921 Saskatchewan’s population had risen to 757,610, and 65 percent of its people were on farms or in rural communities.
1921 Tuberculin testing would be required for all purebred cattle sales in future, it was announced at the Saskatchewan Livestock convention.
1921 Farmers Union of Canada formed at Saskatoon headed by L.C. McNamee of Kelvington and Louis Brouillette of Landis. It sought a commodity pool to market wheat. Such was farmer unrest that within two years it had 10,000 members and the SGGA membership had dropped to 15,000. The farm union sought a compulsory contract pool while the SGGA favored a voluntary, temporary pool.
1922 More than 9,000 farmers, faced with loss of farms in the postwar depression, received aid from a provincial debt adjustment bureau.
1922 Canada set up a grading system for hogs that encouraged bacon type production with a 10 percent premium on Selects. Since that time the policy has been fine-tuned on a continuing basis.
1923 The federal government refused to restore a wheat board so the drive began for a farmer-run contract wheat pool. Farmers union and SGGA agreed to work together to this end. California lawyer Aaron Sapiro weaved oratorical magic in convincing farmers a wheat pool would work.
1923 Wheat production set a new production record of 452,500,000 bushels from 21,700,000 acres. Another 7,900,000 acres was planted to oats, most of which went to feed horses.
1923 The Progressive, a weekly farm newspaper promoting pooling, began publication at Saskatoon August 24. A year later it became The Western Producer.
1924 Canvassers promoting pooling wheat succeeded in signing up more than 50 percent of the acreage of the province and the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool was launched. A.J. McPhail of Bankend was elected first president and George Robertson of Wynyard named first secretary.
1924 Enthusiasm for pooling led to a drive that resulted in organization of the Saskatchewan Livestock Pool and Saskatchewan Poultry Pool. In 1927 the Dairy Pool was founded in Saskatoon.
1924 Saskatchewan Seed Growers Cooperative Association was formed to market cereal and forage seed.
1926 Saskatchewan Wheat Pool bought out the Saskatchewan Cooperative Elevator system, acquiring 471 country elevators, two Lakehead terminals and a transfer elevator at Buffalo for $11,060,269.
1926 Farmers Union of Canada and Saskatchewan Grain Growers amalgamated to form United Farmers of Canada, Saskatchewan section. George F.Edwards of Markinch was first chairman.
1928 Canary Korndyke Alcartra, a four-year-old Holstein-Friesian cow owned by B.H. Thomson of Moose Jaw, produced a world record 26,396 pounds of milk and 1,080 pounds of butterfat in 305 days.
1929 Rapidly declining wheat price caught Prairie wheat pools with too high an initial payment and no reserves to cover losses. Federal and provincial government loans kept the organizations going but the federal government in 1930 took over the Central Selling Agency. Saskatchewan Pool continued as an elevator company.
1929 A Saskatchewan branch of the Canadian Seed Growers Association was organized with R. D. Kirkham of Saltcoats as first president. First meeting of members was in June, 1929, in Winnipeg during the CSGA annual meeting.
1930 System of Advanced Registry for swine quality improvement was approved. The AR swine test station was built at the University of Saskatchewan in 1937 by the federal government.
1931 After decades of campaigning by farm groups for grain handling facilities at the port of Churchill, this year saw the first shipment of grain. The initial shipment was wheat from northeast Saskatchewan, provided through Saskatchewan Wheat Pool.
1931 Saskatchewan Relief Commission was set up to relieve distress in rural Saskatchewan brought on by the depression. Between 1931 and 1933 some 577 carloads of relief supplies were distributed in Saskatchewan. SARM president Guy Hummel estimated rural municipal tax arrears at $30,000,000.
1932 Wheat prices fell to the lowest level in 300 years with No. 1 Northern yielding 38 cents, basis Fort William. Average price of Yorkshire bred sows at the Regina spring sale dropped to $18.33 compared to $52.42 two years earlier. Average price of Shorthorns was down to $139.76 compared to $198 in 1930, of Herefords $108.12 as against $167.22, and of Angus $115.71 compared to $188.43. In 1934 yearling steers at the Moose Jaw Feeder Sale averaged $2.35 per hundredweight and stockyard prices were below that. The dirty thirties were making their presence felt.
1933 The Canadian Council of Boys’ and Girls’ Club Work was organized with Dr. John G. Rayner, director of extension at the University of Saskatchewan, as a key charter member. Youth club work began in Manitoba in 1914 and quickly spread to Saskatchewan but 1933 saw the first formal national organization.
1933 The World Grain Exhibition and Conference in Regina attracted agricultural scientists from 40 nations, states and provinces. The show drew a total of 200,000 spectators. In the grain competitions 59 percent of the awards were won by Saskatchewan farmers.
1934 The federal government headed by R.B. Bennett passed the Natural Products Marketing Act by which a commodity could be marketed through one agency when two thirds of producers voted in favor of a marketing board. This led eventually to marketing boards for milk, chickens and hogs.
1935 Farmers, faced by rising fuel prices, opened their own Consumer’s Cooperative Refinery in Regina.
1935 Federal legislation provided statutory existence for a voluntary Canadian Wheat Board.
1935 Canadian Chamber of Agriculture (later Canadian Federation of Agriculture) was formed with J.H. Wesson, president of Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, as first chairman.
1935 The Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration was established to find means to rehabilitate farmland that was threatening to become desert and to help farmers on dried out land to cope. Much land that had starved out its homesteaders was converted to pasture.
1937 Crop failure (wheat yield averaged 2.7 bushels per acre) resulted when drought, heat, rust and grasshoppers combined to decimate cereals.
1939 Following farmer complaints about machinery costs, the Saskatchewan Legislature approved legislation incorporating Canadian Cooperative Implements Ltd. It wasn’t until 1945 that financing was in place to market tractors and to manufacture a limited line of machinery.
1939 The Second World War broke out and enlistment of young men drained off agricultural manpower. This accelerated the move to mechanization, although equipment was scarce due to wartime shortages.
1939 Ottawa implemented the Prairie Farm Assistance Act which provided some crop insurance. Farmers were charged one percent on their grain deliveries and could collect $2.50 an acre on half of their cultivated acreage when their yields dropped below five bushels per acre.
1940 With grain export markets disrupted by war a huge carry-over of grain forced institution of a quota system on grain deliveries based on acreage. It was believed this system would give farmers a fairer access to the available market. Initial prices were pegged at 70 cents a bushel.
1940 Fred S. Mendel, fleeing Nazi persecution in Germany, established Intercontinental Packers in Saskatoon.
1942 Four hundred Saskatchewan farmers traveled to Ottawa by special train seeking $1 wheat to compensate for a government order to limit deliveries to 230,000,000 bushels. They didn’t get the dollar but later the initial price was raised to 90 cents from 70.
1942 J. Gordon Ross of Moose Jaw began contracting the growing of rapeseed for industrial oil. The following year Prairie Vegetable Oils Ltd., built a processing plant in Moose Jaw that launched a new industry for Saskatchewan.
1943 Federal government gave the Canadian Wheat Board a monopoly on wheat trading in the west. In 1948, following farmer petitions, oats and barley were included under board control.
1944 Financially troubled Saskatchewan Cooperative Livestock Producers merged with Saskatchewan Wheat Pool.
1944 Dr. W. J. White at the University of Saskatchewan began rapeseed research on samples selected by H.G. Neufeld of Nipawin. This led 10 years later to the release of the first Canadian variety of rape, Golden.
1944 The drive to provide bacon for Britain reached its peak this year at 92,310,000 pounds. From 1940 to 1945 three and a half billion pounds of Canadian pork, mostly bacon, went to Britain. German occupation of Denmark and other former pork suppliers opened up this wartime market.
1944 Federal government brought in a “temporary” Agricultural Prices Support Act for farm products other than wheat. This included butter, skim milk powder, apples, dried fruits and dried beans. The legislation proved durable.
1944 A Horse Cooperative Marketing Association packing plant was set up at Swift Current to reduce the horse population made surplus by mechanization.
1945 2,4D, invented in 1940, came into general commercial use in 1945 as a weed control weapon for farmers in Saskatchewan. Use of farm chemicals for insect and weed control goes back to the 19th century.
1946 British Wheat Agreement was signed providing for guaranteed market volumes from Canada over four years totaling 600,000,000 bushels. The negotiated price was $1.55 a bushel for the first two years and $2 for the next two. This became an issue as open market prices rose above $2 a bushel.
1946 Saskatchewan Institute of Agrologists was organized with Dr. J.B. Harrington, head of the University of Saskatchewan field husbandry department, as first president.
1947 Saskatchewan Wheat Pool built a vegetable oil plant in Saskatoon and a year later a $3,000,000 flour mill to provide broadened markets for its members. Initially the vegetable oil plant processed flax but later focused on rapeseed.
1947 Sheep population dropped due to low prices and competition of imports. Where numbers had averaged 3,000,000 annually for Canada, they dropped to around 500,000.
1948 Restrictions ended against export of cattle to the United States and the U.S. quickly replaced Britain as major importer of Saskatchewan’s market cattle and calves. Prices rose in 1950 and 1951 to unprecedented heights. Canadian bacon also found a market. Whether meat animals moved south or north across the 49th parallel seemed to depend on the relationship between the Canadian and American dollars.
1949 Saskatchewan Wheat Pool paid off the final $465,000 of its $13,300,000 debt to the Saskatchewan government incurred as a result of the 1929 overpayment on farmers’ grain.
1949 United Farmers of Canada Saskatchewan section reorganized under Joseph Lee Phelps into the Saskatchewan Farmers Union.
1949 With strong support from Saskatchewan grain producer organizations, an international wheat agreement setting out minimum and maximum prices was signed and continued for 10 years. Such agreements, setting out maximum and minimum prices, faded out by 1971 when parties to the pacts decided rigid prices were not to their advantage. Canada supported continuance of the IWA but its major competitors did not.
1950 Census reports showed horse numbers in Saskatchewan had dropped to half what they were in 1921 and there was now an average of one tractor per farm.
1952 Farm Boys and Girls Clubs reorganized into the Canadian Council of 4-H Clubs.
1952 Foot and Mouth disease broke out in the Regina area and the United States promptly closed the border to Canadian livestock exports. To cushion the blow to farmers Agriculture Minister J.G. Gardiner announced assistance plans for producers as all infected animals and exposed animals were slaughtered. The border reopened six months after the outbreak.
1953 First importation of Charolais cattle excited a new trend in purebred cattle breeding, leading to the import of breeds such as Simmental, Maine-Anjou, Limousin, Chianina, Pinzgauer and Australian Murray Grey. Agriculture Minister Harry Hays in 1964 cleared the way for quarantine stations to ensure the imports were healthy. This made possible profitable breeding stock sales to the United States, where importing cattle from Europe was banned.
1955 Pedigreed cattle entries from Britain focused attention on the British Commonwealth Hereford Show and Sale in Regina.
1955 Saskatchewan Royal Commission on Agriculture and Rural Life under Prof. W.B. Baker brought in a blueprint for the province’s rural development
1956 Saskatchewan’s long love affair with Yorkshire bacon type pigs was reexamined when imports began of Danish Lambrace, and the Lacombe hog developed at the Lacombe Research Station (registered as a breed in 1957) gained a market share. Yorkshires remained dominant but big commercial operations began focusing on fast growing hybrids.
1958 Canadian Wheat Board negotiated sales of wheat to Communist China although Canada’s government didn’t recognize that country’s government. This led to large sales in 1961 and in subsequent years to China and the Soviet Union. An important share of this wheat came from Saskatchewan.
1958 After many decades of failed political promises, an agreement was signed to build the South Saskatchewan River Dam near Outlook. Dreams of massive irrigation projects proved premature.
1959 Four trains carried 1,100 farmers (the majority from Saskatchewan) to Ottawa to seek deficiency payments on wheat plus a two-price system. The government granted acreage payments and much later a two-price system was instituted.
1960 A crop insurance program was launched that involved contributions from the federal and provincial governments and producers. It was hoped this would reduce the need for government disaster aid.
1965 Dr. Clare Youngs of the National Research Laboratory and Bruce Cameron and Jack Reynolds of the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool in Saskatoon developed a processing method to make rapeseed more acceptable for human and animal consumption. By 1969 Saskatchewan farmers had 1 ,000 ,000 acres in rapeseed crop as new markets were opened up, especially in Japan.
1968 The first Canadian low erucic acid rapeseed variety, Oro, is released. It was developed by Dr. Keith Downey at the Agriculture Canada Research Station in Saskatoon. Later researchers also managed to breed for low glucosinolate rapeseed. This led to a major switch to rapeseed-based cooking oil and margarine, with a margarine manufacturing plant being built by Agra Industries at Nipawin in 1963. By 1971 rapeseed (later canola) had taken over the largest share of the Canadian vegetable oil market and two decades later had made strong inroads into the United States.
1969 National Farmers Union is organized with Roy Atkinson of Biggar as first president. The farm union in Saskatchewan became a region of the national body.
1970 Faced with what was regarded as a burdensome wheat surplus, Wheat Board Minister Otto Lang launched a Lower Inventories for Tomorrow (LIFT) program to pay farmers to take land out of production.
1970 Palliser Triangle Wheat Growers was organized with Walter Nelson of Avonlea as first president. In later years this was to become the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association.
1971 Gary Carlson of the Saskatchewan Federation of Agriculture called a meeting in Saskatoon to organize a Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame.
1971 Major western agricultural show, the Canadian Western Agribition, was launched in Regina with Chris Sutter of Redvers as its founding chairman. This became the largest beef cattle show in North America. Saskatoon Mexabition is annually scheduled for the week prior to Agribition.
1972 Prairie Pools bought Federal Grain Company, a publicly owned firm that handled 16 percent of grain marketed in the province. Saskatchewan Pool’s share of provincial grain handlings rose from 51 percent to 63 percent as a result.
1972 National marketing agencies were authorized for eggs, turkeys and chickens. Poultry production had moved away from small sideline operations on thousands of farms to large scale production in a few units. These specialized producers sought marketing boards to stabilize markets and returns.
1972 Saskatchewan Cooperative Creameries, headquartered in Regina, and the Dairy and Poultry Pool in Saskatoon amalgamated to form Dairy Producers Cooperative Ltd. First president was L.L. Gray of Weyburn.
1973 Saskatchewan Hog Marketing Commission was established and became the co-ordinator of market hog sales in the province. Manager Jim Morris, Saskatoon, became a spokesman for the industry.
1974 Railways were campaigning for abandonment of branch lines. The federal government ruled 12,423 miles of prairie lines would be maintained until the year 2000, 525 miles would be considered for abandonment and a Royal Commission headed by Justice Emmett Hall would assess a further 6,200 miles. Ottawa agreed to subsidize rehabilitation of guaranteed branch lines.
1974 Cargill Grain bought out the National Grain Company and announced plans to build an inland grain terminal near Rosetown.
1974 The federal government ended Wheat Board control over domestic feed grains. Feed surpluses and low prices had created a cross provincial border bootleg business in selling feed to feedlots so the government changed the law to make such sales legal.
1975 The Western Grain Stabilization Act was passed and this support program went into effect in 1976.
1984 Saskatchewan Federation of Agriculture was disbanded as a result of sharp divisions among member organizations over government plans to replace the Crow’s Nest rates on grain with a diminished subsidy to the railways. Saskatchewan Wheat Pool maintained its link with the Canadian Federation of Agriculture through the regional Prairie Pools Inc.
1985 Livestock producers negotiated national tripartite support programs financed by producers and the federal and provincial governments. The United States imposed a countervailing duty on hogs, claiming Canadian farmers were unfairly subsidized.
1987 Canada Agriculture Minister Bill McKnight and Saskatchewan Premier Grant Devine announced a billion dollars would be paid to grain farmers who had suffered from low export prices caused by the trade price war between the United States and the European Community. Payments were cost-shared with the provincial governments and continued until safety net programs could be instituted.
1989 Transport Minister Benoit Bouchard announced no grain would be moving through the port of Churchill in the crop year. Mass grain movement by large hopper cars was not possible on the Hudson Bay Railway.
1989 Canada and the United States signed a free trade agreement that provided for a panel to resolve trade disputes such as the countervail on hogs. Canadian hog producers promptly won a ruling in their favor but US producers continued to appeal and demand further countervails. Despite a 3.5 cent per pound duty on Canadian fresh, chilled and frozen pork, Canada shipped $634,000,000 worth of hogs and pork to the US
1990 Gross Revenue Income Program (GRIP) and the Net Income Stabilization Plan (NISA) went into effect. These safety nets were jointly financed by the federal and provincial governments and producers. The federal government said large budgetary deficits meant it would not be able to repeat billion dollar payouts such as occurred in the late 1980s.
1991 Farmers now comprised only six percent of Saskatchewan’s population as continued low grain prices over the previous five years had caused an exodus from agriculture. Average farm size was 1,091 acres compared to an average 296 acres in 1911 and 551 in 1951. In 1991 there were 47,000,000 acres suitable for growing crops. The 1991 wheat crop totaled 690,000,000 bushels.
1992 The North American Free Trade Agreement was signed between Canada, the US and Mexico. Agricultural sales from Saskatchewan to Mexico were relatively small.
1993 Summerfallowing advocated by Angus MacKay in 1886 has been questioned in recent years by soils authority Donald Rennie and others who claim it pulverizes soil. Statistics Canada reported 25.7 percent of Saskatchewan farms now practice conservation tillage and 10.4 percent zero tillage.
1993 Personal computers were used by 6,756 Saskatchewan farmers this year to help manage their farms.
1994 Saskatchewan’s beef cow herd rose to 932,000 head, second only to Alberta’s 1,700,000 head among Canada’s provinces. In all, Saskatchewan’s cattle population stood at 2,100,000. Hog numbers also rose from the 1,100,000 head of 1992. Average increase in hog population for the Prairies was 3.5 percent.
1994 A dramatic increase in special crops acreage resulted from reduced international demand for wheat. Field pea acreage jumped from 340,000 acres in 1990 to 1,150,000 in 1994. Canary seed rose to 500,000 acres and mustard rose by 300,000 acres to 700,000. Canola rose by 2,000,000 acres to 6,650,000.
1994 Subsidized exports of US durum left that country’s domestic market short of durum for pasta so Saskatchewan and other Canadian producers this year sold 2,500,000 tonnes into the US American durum producers demanded a tariff deterrent to slow Canadian durum imports.
1994 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade Uruguay Round is signed giving hope that massive US and European grain subsidies might not be such a big factor when seeking world markets for Saskatchewan grain.
1994 Federal-provincial-producer negotiations resumed on a farm program to replace GRIP, the gross revenue insurance program.
1995 Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame notes its 25th anniversary. The age of computer technology has arrived for agriculture and a new generation of farm leaders and innovators daily make history that will earn them recognition in the Hall.


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