Virginia Torrie of the University of Manitoba Law School has posted "Farm Debt Compromises During the Great Depression: An Empirical Study of Applications made under the Farmers’ Creditors Arrangement Act in Morden and Brandon, Manitoba" on SSRN. The article also appears in volume 41, issue 1 (2018) of the Manitoba Law Journal. [This journal is open access.]
This article presents the results of an empirical study of the Farmers’ Creditors Arrangement Act (FCAA) in Morden and Brandon, Manitoba. Parliament enacted this federal insolvency statute to address the agricultural crisis of the 1930s colloquially known as the “Dust Bowl”. The express purpose of the Act was to “keep the farmer on the farm” by reducing debts to an amount that the farmer could afford to pay. This is the first article to engage in a substantive analysis of the FCAA, and it employs a novel methodology for studying farm debt compromises under the Act. This study uncovers notable differences in the way that FCAA applications played out in Morden and Brandon. It reveals that much farm credit was obtained locally, with roughly half of all claims being owed to individuals or estates, which in many instances were the mortgage lender. In addition, medical debts listed the FCAA files call attention to the privation of the “Dirty Thirties” and the financial costs born by individuals for medical care in the pre-public health care era. The empirical findings of this study thus add to historical scholarship about the experience of the Great Depression on the Canadian Prairies by shedding light on the social context of debtor-creditor relations in farming communities, and highlighting regional variations in the application of a federal law designed to help address the farm debt crisis.