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‘Operation LIFT’ to lower wheat surplus

Our History: March 1970

This ad from our March 13, 1970 issue advised producers that they would receive information on how to participate in Operation LIFT (Lower inventories for tomorrow) for the next season. The quota for the current year was announced to be no higher than four bushels per acre. With Canada sitting on almost a three-year wheat supply in addition to other surpluses elsewhere, the government was hoping to reduce the carry-over by paying farmers $6 per acre for summerfallow instead of wheat acres, and $10 for conversion to perennial forage. The program worked — prices did improve the following year, but they shot even higher in 1972 after the massive “Great Grain Robbery” purchases by the Soviet Union. Forgetting or ignoring that there was a two-year gap between LIFT and the 1972 purchases, many farmers later branded the program a failure.

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That month we also reported on the Manitoba legislature’s speech from the throne, which had several proposals to improve the farm economy. They included incentives for diversifying into livestock, establishing regional vet clinics, expanded crop insurance, a new accounting program and assistance with local conservation measures.

We also reported on a radical proposal by one of the authors of the report of the Royal Commission on Farm Machinery. It suggested that farmers, with government assistance, form a large co-op which would take over merchandising from local dealers. There would be just a few “machinery marts” where farmers could visit to see all makes and models, and then make purchases which would be shipped direct from factory to farm.

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