On June 20, 1955, five well-connected farm writers came together at the Agricultural Institute of Canada annual meeting in Edmonton.
Several meetings followed. Tom Leach of CBC, Dick Beamish of the Western Producer, Jack Cram, Western editor of the Family Herald, Frank Jacobs of Canadian Cattlemen and Don Baron of Country Guide became the founding fathers of the Canadian Farm Writers’ Association.
The organization of regional associations and a change in name to the Canadian Farm Writers Federation followed soon after.
The original vision of the organization was to have western and eastern associations under the umbrella of the national organization.
The Saskatchewan Farm Writers Association first met April 11, 1956, at Saskatoon’s Senator Hotel.
This seems auspicious given the role that senators play in the Canadian Farm Writers Federation.
A year earlier, the CFWF founding fathers had met in Edmonton to establish the western section of what was then the Canadian Farm Writers’ Association and provincial meetings followed.
The decision to form a Saskatchewan association was taken and a constitution was developed and adopted by June 9, 1956.
The first president was Dick Beamish from The Western Producer, who was also the provisional president of the western section.
According to the CFWF history book, written first by Jack McPherson and updated in 2005 for the 50th anniversary by Henry Heald, the aims and objectives were to use media to help improve and develop agriculture and rural life, secure better co-operation from news sources, and advance the status and welfare of the membership through exchanging material and ideas, establishing a code of ethics and “such other means as are deemed desirable.”
Full membership was available for any employee of a newspaper, farm journal, radio station or television station who worked primarily on agricultural content. Associate membership was given to anyone who was involved in disseminating agricultural information but didn’t qualify for full membership.
Perhaps most telling, the minutes note “an objective of the association, ‘to have one good drunk a year’ was suggested and members supported the idea enthusiastically.”
The SFWA has seen its membership wax and wane during the years since but has seen a strong resurgence through the late 1990s to date.