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Turner, Edward Kerr (1927–)

Ted Turner was born on April 6, 1927, near Maymont, Saskatchewan. After graduating from the University of Saskatchewan School of Agriculture in 1948, he became active in the Maymont Agricultural Society and the Young Farmers Club. In 1951 he was elected to the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool committee and became a district delegate in 1957; he was elected director in 1960, first vice-president in 1966, and president in 1969, a position he held until 1987. During his presidency, Turner fought tenaciously for farm programs more relevant to the needs of farmers. He voiced the concerns of farmers to governments and to other farm groups provincially, nationally, and internationally, and was consulted by key officials in Ottawa on Agricultural Policy.

Turner served on the Conference Board of Canada and as chairman of Canada’s International Trade Advisory Committee (ITAC) Task Force on Agriculture. He was advisor to the Canadian government delegation at International Wheat Agreement negotiations in Geneva in 1971 and 1978. Turner represented Canadian farmers at conferences of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers on six occasions. He served on the advisory committees to the Canadian Wheat Board (1969–82) and to the Economic Council of Canada. Turner headed the Pool at a time when there was a dramatic reduction in rail lines, and therefore a parallel reduction in country elevators: large centralized elevators were built, and the Pool launched into value-added manufacture of agricultural products. Sometimes unpopular decisions had to be made as a result of the changing scope of prairie agriculture; but Turner fought to maintain a basic structure of rail lines to serve prairie grain farmers and to preserve the powers of the Canadian Wheat Board.

When he retired as president of the Pool, Turner served two years as executive director of Prairie Pools Inc. In 1989 he was elected Chancellor of the University of Saskatchewan. He was named a Member of the Order of Canada in 1990, and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Saskatchewan, an honorary life membership in the Agricultural Institute of Canada, and the Saskatchewan Co-operative Order of Merit. In 1995 Turner was inducted into the Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame.

Diane Secoy

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