Mobile phones of yesteryear and crops reach a “desperate” stage

Our History: June 1988

Mobile communication options today look different than those offered in our June 16, 1988 issue.

Last week’s Our History item was from 1961, which had been driest ever on the Prairies, even drier than the 1930s. That dubious distinction ended in 1988, and our front-page story described crop conditions as “desperate.” The Red River Valley was particularly hard hit, with grasshoppers munching on what was left.

The word “desperate” also appeared in a story on U.S. crop conditions. The same drought affecting Canada had scorched the Dakotas and much of the Corn Belt.

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We reported that some farmers were challenging changes to the Western Grain Stabilization Plan which was launched in 1976 as an insurance plan against low grain prices. Farmers who joined and made maximum contributions would have paid $9,925 in premiums but received $90,000 in benefits because of several years of low prices. The federal government had decided to write off $750 million of its deficit in the program, but some farmers who had chosen not to join argued that constituted a separate subsidy and that they should also receive a portion.

Another story said that scientists at Monsanto had “achieved a breakthrough in genetically modifying a soybean plant, which could, in the next decade, result in insect- and virus-resistant plants.” However, one scientist cautioned that this was “just an experimental result.”

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