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Seeding begins, then came a downpour

Our History: May 1999

As indicated on the front page of our May 13, 1999 issue, seeding was off to a good start that spring. But page two carried a story which would become all too familiar that year and for several years after. The previous week, seeding in the normally dry southwest corner of the province had been interrupted by an eight-inch downpour and farmers in the area would struggle with excess rain for the rest of the season.

The front page carried news of hope that was later realized — AAFC plant breeder Ron McKenzie had developed midge-resistant wheat that could be registered by 2003. While there are no statistics on return on investment into wheat research, this one must rate among the highest — his work had been funded by a $102,000 grant from the Western Grain Research Foundation.

Canada had cleared one round in a dispute with the U.S. over cattle imports. Acting on a complaint by the Ranchers-Cattlemen’s Action Legal Fund (R-CALF), the U.S. Department of Commerce had ruled that there was not enough evidence to warrant a countervailing duty on Canadian cattle. However, the department was continuing an anti-dumping investigation.

Another story on the front page dealt with a story that had surfaced in general media the previous week — it had been reported that a diet rich in canola oil could be hazardous to your health. It turned out that it had in fact been harmful to the research subjects, which were “spontaneously hypertensive stroke-prone rats,” a type bred specifically for research. Conventional rats or humans were apparently not affected.

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