CBC Digital Archives

Farm Radio Forum: Too many farmers?

It was radio that got farmers talking. From 1941 to 1965, National Farm Radio Forum brought together groups of neighbours across rural Canada to listen to a weekly half-hour program on a single farm issue. Using accompanying printed study guides, the groups then discussed the broadcast and sent in a summary for follow-up on a subsequent show. Launched as an educational experiment by the CBC, along with the Canadian Association for Adult Education and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the show's motto was: "Read. Listen. Discuss. Act."

media clip
For farm families in Eastern Canada, there's a new reason to tune into CBC Radio on Monday evenings. Farm Radio Forum, or Farm Forum for short, is an experiment in agricultural broadcasting. In this 1941 episode - the second ever - a dramatized debate among farm folk in the fictional community of Sunnyridge considers whether there are too many farmers. The drama is followed by news on the public response to the Farm Forum concept.
Farm Radio Forum debuted on Jan. 21, 1941 and was heard only in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. The following autumn, the program was extended to Western Canada and was renamed National Farm Radio Forum
Men of the Soil, the Farm Forum theme song, was based on a Danish folk song. Some listeners interpreted its crusading lyrics as overly socialistic, and later in the show's run the producers changed it so that certain lines were only hummed, not sung. 

• The lyrics to Men of the Soil are, in part:
Men of the soil we have laboured unending
We have fed the world uopon the grain that we have grown
Now with the dawn of a new day ascending
Giants of the earth at last we rise to claim our own!
Medium: Radio
Program: National Farm Radio Forum
Broadcast Date: Jan. 28, 1941
Duration: 29:32
Photo: CBC Still Photo Collection

Last updated: January 25, 2012

Page consulted on July 18, 2014

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