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Milk Control Board

The development of a viable Dairy Industry represented an integral part of national and provincial Agricultural Policy during the early settlement years. Assisted by various loan and grant programs, milk production and processing expanded rapidly throughout rural areas and made a significant contribution to agricultural diversification - an important objective of government settlement policy. However, the unrestricted and haphazard nature of the expansion activity soon led to market instability, cutthroat competition, and bankruptcies, as well as volatile prices for producers, processors and consumers. The first attempt to bring stability and order to the milk and dairy sector was to empower the Local Government Board in 1934. The amendment to the Local Government Board Act vested the Board with the power to inquire into any matter relating to the production, supply, distribution, or sale of milk; prescribe the area or areas within which Board orders had effect, and to require all persons who distributed, processed, sold or kept milk for sale to obtain authorization from the Board; classify milk producers and distributors and prescribe appropriate prices; and inspect records of milk producers and processors, imposing fines of $100 per day for each day the offender was in violation of Board orders.

The first efforts to establish orderly production and marketing came into effect on June 1, 1934. B.A. Cooke, of the Department of Agriculture, was transferred to the Board as Milk Administrator and charged with the onerous task of establishing within the Saskatchewan dairy industry a stable economic climate, conducive to future growth on a sustainable basis. The first steps taken by the Local Government Board consisted of licencing all distributors and setting milk prices at the producer and retail levels; in addition, distributors were required to pay producers twice monthly. During its first year of operations, the Local Government Board recognized that the task of stabilizing and bringing order to the chaotic milk industry would require more resources and specialized attention than was available to the Board, given the breadth of its overall regulatory responsibilities. The provincial government understood the difficulty the Local Government Board was experiencing in administering milk industry regulations: as a result, the Milk Control Act was passed in February 1935 and responsibility for administering the new Act was transferred from the Local Government Board to a newly formed Milk Control Board.

The new Milk Control Board, with B.A. Cooke as chairman and administrator, set as its objective the elimination of waste and duplication in the matter of milk distribution in the fluid markets. After a few years of operation, the Milk Control Board introduced in 1938 a production quota system as a necessary feature to ensure that the orderly marketing system established a stable balance between supply and demand for milk and milk products throughout the province. In the following decades production quotas and formula pricing became lasting features of the Milk Control Board's operating policies.

These continued to evolve over the post-war years, in keeping with changing market circumstances and technology. In 1972, Saskatchewan joined with other provinces and the federal government to develop and implement the National Milk Marketing Plan. This agreement recognized the national character of markets for industrial dairy products, and set out to establish national prices and a revenue pool for products such as cheese and butter. The Milk Control Board became the agency for administering policies within the province for fluid products, and the province's representative for managing the national system for industrial milk products. During this period of transition, S.H. Barber chaired and managed the operations of the Milk Control Board from 1973 to 2000 - the longest period of service. Other Chairmen of note during this period were J.E. Ridley (1955-62), S. Swanson (1962-66), and W.B. Motion (1966-73).

In 1997 the four western provinces joined to form the Western Milk Pool, in which the revenues from all milk sales are pooled and distributed on an equitable basis among western milk producers. This shift from provincial milk pools to a regional pool was necessitated by processor rationalization and consolidation, which in turn created opportunities for the interprovincial marketing of fluid products. The Milk Control Board continues to manage the production, distribution and marketing of milk on behalf of the Saskatchewan dairy industry by administering orderly marketing policies that ensure production and marketing stability within the dairy sector.

Gerry Gartner

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Further Reading

Church, G.C. 1985. An Unfailing Faith: A History of the Saskatchewan Dairy Industry. Regina: Canadian Plains Research Center.
This web site was produced with financial assistance
provided by Western Economic Diversification Canada and the Government of Saskatchewan.
University of Regina Government of Canada Government of Saskatchewan Canadian Plains Research Center
Ce site Web a été conçu grâce à l'aide financière de
Diversification de l'économie de l'Ouest Canada et le gouvernement de la Saskatchewan.