From starting out in a community hall in Carseland, Alberta, in 1977 to successfully achieving an original goal of ending the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly 35 years later, the history of the Western Barley Growers Association is documented in a new book entitled Western Barley’s Legacy.
“We wanted to document the history of our association for future generations,” says Brian Otto, past president of the WBGA. “All of the members and directors over the years took a lot of pride in the work they were doing for farmers, so we decided to write a book and tell the story.”
Compiled and written by author and grain industry veteran Russ Crawford, the book not only covers the WBGA’s policy stance and events around grain marketing choice, but also transportation issues, the Crow rate, safety net programs, and farmer-funded research.
More than 50 people were interviewed for the book, says Crawford, in the interview below.
“I’ve put that all together in a story that is told in their words. It’s a great little piece of Canadian agriculture history, and a read that farmers and industry people in Western Canada in particular will really enjoy,” he says.
In many ways, the Barley Growers represented a move away from the Prairie wheat pool cooperative philosophy.
“The farmers back in those days relied on the Prairie pools to be their spokesperson. And in fact, they weren’t. They were more supportive of the Wheat Board stand, the Wheat Board approach to marketing and aggregation of grain and export, and it didn’t necessarily align itself well with some farmer needs. And so they were adamant in saying the pools really weren’t their voice, and they felt like they needed a different one that more accurately reflected some of the specific farmer needs. So they stepped away from the the cooperative group in terms of their philosophies,” notes Crawford.
The coffee-table style book (pictured) is available in both hard cover and paperback versions. It can be found on Amazon and ordered directly from most book stores.
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