UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A cent a pound or on the ground : Okanagan fruit growers and marketing, 1920-1935 Dendy, David


Between 1920 and 1935 "the Okanagan fruit industry was in almost continual crisis because of the problems of selling an ever-expanding fruit crop on Canadian and especially Prairie markets which were no longer growing as fast as they had been when the orchards were planted. Difficulties were increased because a minority of growers and shippers refused to cooperate in various schemes of market control devised to regulate supply to the market and thus to stabilize prices. Both a cooperative selling agency, Associated Growers, and several cartels including independent shippers failed in their objects because the portion of the crop outside their control prevented successful marketing strategies. The provincial Produce Marketing Act of 1927, passed at the growers' request, provided some stability but was invalidated by the courts in 1931. After the 1932 sales disaster, when most growers received less than cost of production, they took direct action. The Growers' Strike of 1933 used mass meetings, vigilante squads, and intimidation to force all growers and shippers in the Valley to cooperate in a stabilization scheme based on two novel principles: that growers should control distribution of their fruit until it was actually sold, and that it should not be sold unless a minimum price was achieved. The growers' economic radicalism was not a deep-seated political conversion, but only their reaction to economic frustration. When the federal government, at the behest of their representative, in 1934 passed the Natural Products Marketing Act setting up a marketing control board, growers readily abandoned direct action and direct control.

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