Economics and Emotion: The Ideological Debate Over Prairie Grain Marketing, 1973–1996



In 1943, the federal government proclaimed the Canadian Wheat Board the exclusive marketing agent for Prairie farmers’ grain. Prairie farmers and politicians from all parties strongly supported this action. Yet by 1993, the question of how best to market grain, cooperatively through the single desk or individually in a private market, increasingly divided the Prairie agrarian community. The 1973 rapeseed marketing vote, the continental barley market, and the 1996 border-running protests against the Wheat Board’s cooperative single-desk marketing show the rise in the rhetoric of individual freedom in grain marketing that divided Prairie farmers. These events demonstrate how the grain-marketing debate shifted from focusing on economic policy to ideological values.

Author Biography

Laura Larsen

Laura Larsen is a specialist in Western Canadian history with a particular focus on agriculture. She holds a PhD in history from the University of Saskatchewan.