June 3rd, 2015
Do you know why the government aids farming operation? Ontario has a long agricultural history tied directly to its changing population. Government funding entered the picture in the 1930’s after a century of swift upheavals in the global markets. Canada has a varied agricultural history across all of its regions, but we’ll focus on Ontario for now.
It began with aftermath of America’s War of Independence, which lasted from 1776 to 1783. Britain no longer controlled the thirteen colonies that made up the United States, which meant that it also no longer controlled their agricultural produce. The United States became a global competitor to Ontarian farmers instead of co-suppliers for the British Empire. The government tried to promote hemp farming, but this fell by the wayside in 1815.
Ontario focused on wheat production because of its popular demand. There existed guaranteed markets in southern Ontario’s high population centres as well as in Britain. Canadian farmers sold wheat at very low prices, both to businesses and military branches alike. The high amounts of farmland in close proximity to the Great Lakes allowed them to transport their goods along the St. Lawrence River.
Britain used Canadian colonies to expand its own wealth through the cheap purchase of the wheat, which was common for the era; however, British farmers successfully pushed for protection. The resulting Corn Law in 1820 devastated the Canadian farmers’ ability to make ends meet. Crop failures in the 1830’s made matters worse, and so did America’s protective tariffs on Canadian wheat.
Early agricultural associations formed in response to these conditions in the mid-nineteenth century. This happened elsewhere in Canada as well, not just in Ontario! These associations did not secure government grants or loans overnight, of course, but those groups formed the nucleus of today’s groups. They developed unified voices and more bargaining power as a result.
The situation improved for Ontario’s farmers until the Great Depression occurred. Specifically, farmers collectively sold about half of the produce in 1931 that they had sold in the 1920’s. The Ontario Marketing Board formed with the support of advocates and government representatives in order to remedy the situation. The Board amplified the reach of farmers seeking to sell their produce across Western Canada. The Prairie Provinces’ recent drought reduced competition West of Ontario.
Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta needed what Ontario produced. The government’s first foray into agricultural aid helped to direct the sale of produce where it was needed. The government also gave loans to Ontarian producers to let them update their facilities for a competitive edge. The Marketing Board went on to help farmers specialize their produce to find niches in Ontario’s market, which needed to accommodate a steady rate of urbanization. Dairy became an important facet of the program, in particular.
Who knew that a small group of citizens could change so much? The ‘Dirty Thirties’ marked the government’s first major steps for agricultural support, and the trend has continued into the twenty-first century. Call or email us today to find out how we can secure funding for your business!
Click here to visit INAC’s Agriculture page for more information on our past performance getting funding for agricultural businesses.