This is what a lineup at the elevator still looked like in 1991 — this shot in our August 8 issue was actually taken at Miami on July 31 but 1991 was one of several years in which that was the “longest day of the year.” That referred to elevator managers dating cash tickets (sometimes with permission, sometimes not) to allow farmers to get wheat board quotas delivered before the end of the old crop year and before initial payments dropped in the new one.
Which they did in 1991, perhaps one of the glummest on record for grain farmers. The CWB initial payment for top-grade wheat had dropped 30 per cent to $95 per tonne before deductions. That was in response to the record-high stakes in the U.S.-EU grain subsidy war. The previous week the U.S. had set a new record Export Enhancement Program (EEP) subsidy averaging US$64.55 per tonne on 299,400 tonnes of wheat to Algeria. Trade estimates put the net price after subsidy at about $65 per tonne, or $1.77 per bushel.
The good news was that it had been raining and the harvest looked at least average, with one exception — lentils. Because of high support levels under the Gross Revenue Insurance Program (GRIP), Manitoba farmers had doubled lentil plantings to 130,000 acres. A story that issue reported that the crop was taking a heavy beating from anthracnose. Acreage rose again to 165,000 in 1992 but declined afterward and Statistics Canada has not reported lentil acreage in Manitoba since 2004.
It may have been the first time readers read about it but not the last — our August 22 issue carried news of “alarming incidences” of a “harmful mould” called vomitoxin in Illinois, Minnesota and North Dakota wheat crops.