Westar was the “new star on the horizon” for canola growers when advertised in our January 1984 issues. But the news in our January 26 edition was not particularly good, other than news that the Soviet Union had agreed to purchase another million tonnes of Canadian wheat that year, which was over and above the five million already committed in a long-term agreement. Manitoba Agriculture’s analysis branch said provincial farm income was projected to drop 26 per cent from 1983. Federal Agriculture Minister Eugene Whelan told the House of Commons that he was working on plans to reduce FCC interest rates to farmers in difficulty — 2,214 farmers had received $340 million in refinancing loans during the previous two years.
News of Ontario’s plan to spend $62 million to implement a five-year marketing program for cattle and sheep was not being welcomed by the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association. President Gary Jones said that western support for a national tripartite stabilization plan had evaporated in the wake of the announcement.
The process was underway to form a new general farm organization following collapse of the Manitoba Farm Bureau due to disagreement over how to pay the Crowsnest freight subsidy. In questionnaires answered by about 1,400 farmers at 25 meetings, 97 per cent said they wanted some form of organization, with 87 per cent favouring dues, of which 58 per cent favoured a compulsory checkoff. The work of a committee chaired by Bert Hall of Manitou later led to the formation of Keystone Agricultural Producers.