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U.S. declares wheat war

Our History: September 1992

Our main front-page story in the Sept. 10, 1992 issue announced a “wheat war” with the U.S. Speaking while on campaign in South Dakota, President George Bush had announced another $1 billion would be authorized to subsidize 30 million tonnes under the Export Enhancement Program. Canadian Agriculture Minister Charlie Mayer called the move “stupid” and “ignorant” and Australian Wheat Board head Clinton Condon called it a “classic case of dumb marketing,” as the list of countries eligible for the subsidy included many that had paid commercial prices in the past.

There was even more bad news that month. In late August there had been widespread frost and snow in Western Canada. Western Manitoba reported temperatures as low as -2.7 Aug. 25, and 21 inches of snow fell at Pincher Creek, Alta.

China and grain politics were also in the news that month. China was threatening not to buy U.S. wheat to protest the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan, but analysts said the threat may be hollow because China had not bought U.S. grain since the previous November.

Russia is now our largest wheat competitor but was still our biggest customer in 1992. How- ever, it had run into payment problems and the wheat board had suspended vessel loadings for two weeks because it was $100 million in arrears on payments.

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