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From Farm Crisis to Food Crisis: Neoliberal Reform in Canadian Agriculture and the Future of Agri-Food Policy Open Access


Other title
Canadian Wheat Board
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Wipf, Kevin G
Supervisor and department
Whitson, Dave (Political Science)
Examining committee member and department
Epp, Roger (Political Science)
Barney, Darin (Art History and Communication Studies, McGill University)
Urquhart, Ian (Political Science)
Goddard, Ellen (Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology)
Department of Political Science

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
This dissertation begins by providing an overview of Canadian agriculture policy during the first half of the twentieth century. It examines the origins of railway transportation subsidies, farm income subsidies, and the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB), policy instruments that became structural features of the agricultural industry on the prairies. It then analyzes the structural pressures that led governments to rethink these features beginning in the 1970s, and the demographic and political context in which farmer support for collective institutions was eroded and neoliberal farm groups came to influence public policy over the decades that followed. Subsequent chapters examine the way that the federal government attempted to reform farm income subsidies in the 1990s and 2000s, in order to adhere to newly established international trade rules, and the relative success of those efforts. Two chapters are then devoted to the political struggle between the neoliberal and collectivist coalitions (farm groups, opposition parties, and governments) over the future of the CWB’s single desk. The second of these chapters focuses on the final political struggle that occurred once the Harper Conservatives won a majority government in 2011, and how the single desk was finally brought to an end. Two concluding chapters then examine the new politics that has emerged around issues pertaining to food security, food safety, and environmental sustainability in Canada, how these issues affect, but often fail to intersect with, the continuing debates about the future of Canadian farming. The dissertation ends by exploring ways that prairie farmers might make connections to these issues, and with the groups working on them, in order to ensure their involvement in the future of agri-food policy in Canada.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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