University of Saskatchewan
Room 2D27 - 51 Campus Drive
Saskatoon SK S7N 5A8

Agriculture & Resource Economics - The Early Years

Agriculture and Resource Economics—College of AgBio—The Early Years

While the College of Agriculture was established in 1908 it was not until 1925 that a Department of Farm Management would be established with the appointment of Dr. William Allen as first professor. A second position was created with Mr. Ernest C. Hope appointed in 1930.  In 1930 the Department began a program of post-graduate studies and the first Master’s degree was granted to J.B. Rutherford in 1931. 

During the 1930s the research program focused on the farm problems of drought and depression with emphasis on farm indebtedness, land utilization, financial progress of Saskatchewan farmers and studies of net farm revenue for the principal soil classes of Saskatchewan.

The Department would occupy space in the Field Husbandry building until it moved to Kirk Hall in 1970. 

In 1938 Dr. Allen resigned to take the position of Agricultural Commissioner in London only to go down with a ship in 1941. Dr. Hope was appointed as Head and Hadley Van Vliet was appointed as instructor after having completed his course work in Wisconsin for his Ph.D. When Dr. Hope resigned in 1943 to become economic advisor to Mr. John Bracken new leader of the newly named Progressive Conservative party Hadley Van Vliet was named Head, a position he would hold until his untimely death in 1968 at the age of 54.  He had carried out monumental work on appraising the feasibility of the long proposed South Saskatchewan River Dam and irrigation project. In 1955 Dr. P.J Thair was appointed associate professor coming from North Dakota where he served with the USA Dept of Agriculture at Fargo.

Research during the 1951-1961 decade focused on farm business studies, land classification, enterprise analysis, grain storage, livestock marketing, agrarian history and economic studies related to the development of the South Saskatchewan River Dam project.

The years 1961 to 1971 marked a decade of growth with the Dept expanding from a two-man to a nine-man department newly named Agricultural Economics to better reflect the expanded areas of research.  Dr. R.C. Nicholson in 1961, Dr. A.G. Wilson, and J.A. Brown in 1967 became some of the new faculty.  George Lee joined the department in 1968, and with Hadley Van Vliet’s untimely death P.J. Thair was appointed Head. In 1969 Mr. W. Turner filled a new 8-month teaching position for the School of Agriculture, and two new positions were filled by Dr. S.N. Kulthreshtra in econometrics and macro studies and Dr. G.G. Storey in grain marketing and resource economics.

The Department lost a position in 1973 after Dr. Wilson resigned to accept a position with the Canada Grains Council. In 1974 the marketing position that was lost was regained and was filled by Dr. Grant Devine.  In 1974 Professor Brown was appointed Dean of the College of Agriculture, his position being filled by in 1976 by Dr. Hartley Furtan.

Space does not afford a full account of the growth and changes from this point to the present.  Suffice it to say the department underwent numerous changes particularly in faculty composition and in its research program.

In 2007 the Dept was renamed: Bioresource Policy, Business & Economics and most recently in February 2016 renamed as: the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

The Department as of September 2016 has 213 students in the Bachelor of Science in the Agricultural Business degree program and 4 in Honours of this program.  There are 5 in the B.S.A Agricultural Economics degree program and 4 in the Honours of this program.  There are 49 in the Ag Business Diploma Program.  There are 29 in the M.Sc. and 10 in the Ph.D. program.  The Department has 14 faculty members.

Prepared by Gary Storey, ’63 C  Professor Emeritus