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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald (Newspaper) - March 31, 1971, Lethbridge, Alberta South Alberta's Bud Olson heads vast empire at Ottawa Agriculture department operates on $300 million budget By DOUG SMALL OTTAWA (CP) - The senior command of the federal agriculture department has a ninth-floor view of a tidy 1,200-acre experimental farm, now surrounded on all sides by Ottawa's urban spread. That may help Agriculture Minister H. A. (Bud) Olson, Deputy Minister S. B. (Syd) Williams and three assistant deputies keep their thinking close to the land, but in perspective. They work with 430,000 Canadian farmers, a total still dwindling in the steady erosion of rural population that once represented the most powerful economic and political force in the country. Their empire runs on a budget of more than $300 million with about 10,000 public servants and control over more than 50,000 acres of gov-eminent land. Activities range from pure research to supervision of race track betting; from potato grading and providing recipes for housewives to informing farmers of technological change provided by electronic data processing machines. The staff of less than 10,000 Is down from a peak of more than 12,000 in the late 1960s and compares with the 27 manning the first agriculture department on Confederation in 1867. KNOW THEIR SUBJECT There are 2,000 trained in sciences. More than two-thirds work across the country. Laboratories, inspection and regional offices and research and experimental stations lie close to the agricultural action in 210 cities and towns. Operations fall under the authority of more than 30 acts of Parliament including the one establishing the department and the Pesticide Residue Compensation Act. The department structure has three main branches headed by assistant deputy ministers. Dr. J. C. Woodward, 61, handles research, Dr. Rolland Poirier, 53, the economic arm that defines and recommends policy, and W. Esmond Jarvis, 39, both the divisions of production and marketing and of health of animals. The top command is farm-born to a man. Mr. Olson is an Albertan with a cattle and grain farm in the Medicine Hat area, first elected to the Commons for Medicine Hat in 1957 for the Social Credit. He was named minister in mid-1968 after switching to the Liberal party. DIRECTLY INVOLVED Mr. Williams was raised on a Quebec farm and his postgraduate work at McGill University was in animal nutrition. Mr. Woodward came from the Lennoxville, Que., area and has degrees in chemistry and animal nutrition. Mr. Poirier is a former dean of agriculture at Laval University, Quebec, and Mr. Jarvis served as Manitoba deputy agriculture minister from 1962 to 1967. Syd Williams, 58, bald and comfortably heavy-set, is administrative chief of a departmental operation that sprawls both directly below him and across Canada. He leans bear-like across his mahogany desk to say: "The agriculture depart-ment takes a less abstract approach than other parts of government because it is directly involved with the people it serves." But it typifies government as a whole because "government has regional problems and so does the department of agriculture." "We deal with 430,000 individual entrepreneurs-with the accent. on individual. Farmers, as managers and operators of their own businesses, are vitally aware of their problems. This makes them difficult to deal with-not that they're unreasonable - but they're more concerned and aware of their own interests." COSTS BALLOON This man-to-man approach is reflected in the depart ment's attitude, Mr. Williams says. Most members, including the senior ones, had worked up through the field and were aware of day-to-day farm prob lems. Farm problems have ex Isied since before Canada's first agriculture venture by Europeans, the settlement established in 1605 in New France at Port Royal, N.S. The Indians had theirs too. Sweeping technological change marks one aspect of agriculture today, with capacity for more production than ever and complaints that costs have been rising ahead of returns' for years. Small-farm poverty persists. Market vagaries that have rocked the prairie grain economy are ex- amples of farm complications. Today's farm total of about 430,000 compares with 733,000 in 1941. The farm labor force of 511,000 compares with 1.4 million in 1939 and 681,000 in 1961. Farm production last year accounted for $1.60 of every $100 worth of goods and services produced. In 1961, farm output accounted for $2.10 on the same basis. OUTPUT INCREASED Most significantly, farm output increased by 31 per cent between 1961 and 1969. Per person it rose nearly 67 per cent and per man-hour by 76.5 per cent. In other commercial industries, output per person rose only 21.4 per cent and per man-hour by 27.5 per cent. The department's organization is designed for modern needs. The research and economics branches are primarily concerned with countering problems and improving conditions. The production and marketing branch tries to put the efforts of the other two into action. The offices of Mr. Olson and Mr. Williams lie outside the branch system along with certain other units. The Canadian dairy commission, the Farm Credit Corporation and the Canadian livestock feed board report directly to Mr. Olson. The Canadian grain commission, the agricultural products board and the agricultural stabilization board are responsible to Mr. Williams, as are the department's administrative branches of finance, personnel and the information division. HAS DUAL ROLE Broken down, Dr. Woodward's research branch extends in four main directions -research stations, institutes and services and experimental farms. The job is to provide scientific information necessary to keep the agriculture industry "up to the frontier" in quality products. His branch aims at both taking the gamble out of farm production and promoting efficient production. At the same time, research efforts are directed toward encouraging individual farmers to do better, says the shaggy, bookish research head. Because he's responsible for about $50 million of the department's annual budget and 3,000 employees, Dr. Woodward says he has to keep his staff practical. "At times it's necessary to say to a scientist: 'Look, you've made a scientifically sound decision but this decision has to look sound too.'' There are 26 research stations, 14 experimental farms and eight research institutes across the country. The work is delegated down the line through a director-general, Dr. B. B. Migicovsky of Ottawa. An assistant director-general is in charge of western experimental farms, another for those in the east and one for the research institutes and services. A fourth assistant director-general is in charge of administrative services. The diversity of the farms and stations and the varied program of experiments may mean as many as 1,400 different projects at any one time. So a group of research co-or-dinators, each concentrating on a different phase of agricultural research, act as liaison between the field and the branch executives in Ottawa. COVERS ALL BASES The branch co-operates closely with the provincial governments, other federal departments-particularly the department of fisheries and forestry, the regional economic expansion department and the National Research Council-and with various international agencies, farm organizations and universities. Seven of the research establishments are on university campuses. The economics branch is a much smaller unit -w i t h about 150 staff, mostly economists, and an annual budget of about $2 million. But it packs bureaucratic punch. The marketing and trade division, for example, touches "all the functions in the distribution of agricultural products from the farm to the ultimate consumer." It develops and analyses policies and programs for marketing, distribution, trade problems and economic forecasts. The branch keeps an eye on international agencies such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and on international commodity prices, production and prospects. A farm management division and an economic research division round out the structure of the economics branch. The marketing and trade division formulated the controversial farm products marketing legislation-Bill C-176- long stalled in the Commons agriculture committee by Opposition criticism. COLLECTS DATA The farm management division is responsible for agricultural adjustment programs - Mr. Olson is expected to announce legislation regarding an adjustment policy shortly -and for cost-benefit analyses of current programs and policies. It also developed the Can-farm project, a national farm management system that collects and analyses data for farmers. About 5,000 farms are involved in the project. The research division works outside the day-to-day operation of the branch, handling requests from any part of the department. Esmond Jarvis, at 35 the youngest assistant deputy minister in the federal department, says his production and marketing branch is "geared to maintaining quality agriculture standards." The branch controls the biggest part of the department's budget-about $153.6 million is estimated for the coming year -and has six divisions. These are dairy, fruit and vegetable, livestock, poultry, plant products and plant protection. Mr. Jarvis is also responsible for the workings of the ag- ricultural stabilization board, the agricultural products board, crop insurance and the prairie farm assistance administration. Plant products division must ensure that seed, animal feed, fertilizers and pesticides are useful and safe and that they are appropriately labelled and represented to consumers. The branch supervises pari-mutuel betting during about 2,000 racing days an- nually. The authority comes under the Criminal Code. HELPED TO ADAPT Mi*. Jarvis is also responsible for the health of animals branch-one of the first programs undertaken by the agriculture department in the late 1800s. The annual cost is about $12 million and about $1.5 million of that is used to compensate owners of animals ordered slaughtered because of contagious disease. A veterinary director-gen- eral, Dr. K. F. Weus, oversees activities aimed at preventing the introduction and spread of serious animal diseases and the export of diseased livestock and livestock products. Services fall under the Animal Contagious Diseases Act, Canada Meat Inspection Act and Humane Slaughter of Food Animals Act. Three divi>-sions, contagious diseases, meat inspection and animal pathology, make up the branch. V* :\ ",� /' ;,,;*\? ~* > s * - ; � \ s>. If yon want to see the most beantifnl diamond rings in town...visit Peoples. Yon may even win yourself a honeymoon in the Caribbean just for looking! That's right! Each month starting April, 1971 to December, 1971, Peoples will be awarding some lucky couple a trip to Barbados, Antigua, St. Lucia or Granada including return airfare on BWIA International Boeing 707 Sunjet, hotel accommodations at the Holiday Inn and $250.00 spending money! Plus, 12 additional winners will be selected each month to receive exciting prizes... more than 100 winners... and one of them could be you! There's no obligation to buy. Just visit your nearby Peoples store. See Peoples renowned selection of beautiful Certified Perfect Diamond rings and complete a contest entry form. By the way, Peoples seffs only one quality, of diamond regardless of price - Certified Perfect - your guarantee that the diamond you select is flawless in clarity... pure in colour ... unsurpassed in brilliance. Visit Peoples and see the unlimited selection of diamond rings in a variety of styles and prices. You could win a dream honeymoon for two or any one of more than 100 exciting prizes. H 2nd Prize: Elgin Ladies Diamond Wrist Watch valued at $129.95. 3rd Prize: Elgin Man's Wrist Watch valued at $99.95. 10-4th Prizes: Beautiful Kotaku Cultured Peart Necklace. Each valued at $35. peoples^ jeweixeRS CENTRE VILLAGE MALL 2nd AVE. and 13th ST. N. OP1N DAILY 9 A.M. TIL 6 P.M.; WEDNESDAY 9 A.M. TIL 1 P.M.; THURSDAY and FRIDAY 9 A.M. TIL 9 P.M. TELEPHONE 327-1303 ;