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Beef board rebuffed at ballot box

Our History: March 1977

It wasn’t even close. Our March 24, 1977 issue reported that of 12,204 ballots returned from Manitoba beef producers, 9,445 or 77 per cent had voted against a proposal by Agriculture Minister Sam Uskiw to establish a provincial beef marketing board. Our editorial in that issue suggested that the decisive result would end any plans by federal Agriculture Minister Eugene Whelan to have a national vote on the question.

That month Whelan did announce support level of $40.16 per hundredweight for cattle marketed in 1976, meaning producers would receive payments of $1.84 to $3, depending when marketed, for up to 2,500 animals.

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Uskiw was able to be mentioned in more favourable news — Manitoba government support for Dr. Baldur Stefansson at the University of Manitoba had led to development of Regent, a new variety of rapeseed with the best combination of oil and protein of any variety released so far. Regent yielded higher than Tower and equal to Midas.

At a meeting in Saskatchewan, Transport and Wheat Board Minister Otto Lang said that legislation to convert Canada to metric would be passed in two to three weeks.

Earlier that month, Lang said that after talks with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Bob Bergland, there was “renewed hope” that Canada and the U.S. could come to an agreement to increase wheat prices through a reserve system. The two countries at the time controlled about 75 per cent of world wheat exports. That month the U.S. Senate passed a bill to pay farmers $1 per bushel on up to 40 per cent of their acreage to reduce production by up to 100 million bushels.

A Manitoba Department of Agriculture report urged farmers to plant more licensed varieties. Of 427 wheat samples collected in 1976, only 76 per cent were licensed. Of the remainder, Selkirk accounted for 78, apparently because of its earliness compared to other varieties, the report said. A total of 18 farmers surveyed said they did not know which variety they were planting.

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