Lettuce show you how we really feel: When fed-up farmers dumped produce in protest

British Columbia farmers were handing out fresh produce on the lawn of the legislature. 

B.C. farmers put fresh vegetables on lawn of legislature, then gave them away as part of protest

Produce protest

30 years ago
Duration 1:59
Farmers were upset at how U.S. competition was hurting their livelihood.

Thirty years ago, British Columbia farmers were handing out fresh produce on the lawn of the provincial legislature. 

But they weren't happy to be donating their hard-earned produce back on June 24, 1992.

The giveaway was part of a protest against U.S. vegetables that were being imported at a cheaper cost.

"The Americans are just burying us," one farmer told CBC News. "There's nothing more we can do. We need some kind of a protection from them."

A farmer is seen handing a head of lettuce to a woman outside the B.C. legislature on June 24, 1992. (The National/CBC Archives)

It was the latest step in an ongoing push to get politicians to act.

"Last week, the farmers invited the media to watch them plow produce under to bring attention to their allegation that U.S. exporters are dumping surplus [heads of] lettuce here below their true cost — at prices B.C. farmers say is unfair competition," the CBC's Ian Hanomansing explained to viewers on The National.

The farmers also pointed a finger at the provincial government, as there was provincial legislation in place that prevented those produce growers from using their farmland for purposes other than farming.

This farmer told CBC News that the Americans were "burying" Canadian farmers with their low-cost produce. (The National/CBC Archives)

Hanomansing said the farmers' activism seemed to have caught the attention of politicians, with Ottawa announcing a temporary increase in duties placed on U.S.-grown lettuce.

The provincial agriculture minister, Bill Barlee, told farmers he hoped "you don't suffer any more significant losses," noting he believed "we can cure the problem."

Farmers were hoping that Barlee would help sell the public on buying locally grown produce even if it was more expensive to purchase.

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