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FarmScene, and the days of Manitoba Agriculture on CKY-TV

Our History: September 1980

This ad from our Sept. 25, 1980 issue reminds of a time when Manitoba Agriculture had its own communication staff which prepared weekly press releases and a TV program which was broadcast on CKY-TV.

Much of that issue was dedicated to reports and opinion on a rapeseed pricing controversy. The recently formed Grain Transport Authority, which had taken over car allocation from the wheat board, was being criticized for its producer car policy, and tempers had boiled over at an industry meeting on the issue that week. Only enough cars were allocated to meet sales, and a portion went to producers. But they could then store the rapeseed in Vancouver terminals, which meant grain companies had to pay them a premium in order to complete cargoes. This was blamed for driving the futures price artificially high — higher than the price of the canola sold to the customers. This made country elevator prices look worse in comparison, leading to demand from farmers to ship even more producer cars.

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After a drought that summer, rains had resumed in September, dropping much of the Prairie wheat crop to 3 CW. Swathing in Manitoba was estimated at 80 per cent complete, with combining only half finished.

Plans were underway to ship 10,000 tons of southern Manitoba corn silage to the feed-short Interlake.

The drought meant lower shipments through Churchill, and port officials said it would have the worst season since 1952, forcing a loss of $1.2 million. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Earl Butz, probably still smarting from the 1972 “Great Grain Robbery” in which the Soviet Union had cleaned out U.S. wheat supplies, had signed a long-term agreement to sell it six million tonnes. However, there was an escape clause if domestic supplies fell below 225 million tonnes.

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