Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration

The Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA) is a Branch of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada with a focus on western Canada. The agency was established by the federal government in 1935 in the midst of a prolonged and disastrous DROUGHT which saw an estimated 247 000 people leave the Prairies between 1931 and 1941. Until 1934 the federal government encouraged this movement, and a 1936 census reported a total of 13 900 abandoned farms encompassing almost 3 000 000 acres.

By 1935 the government was actively discouraging this out-migration. PFRA was established to deal with the problems of soil EROSION (and related SOIL CONSERVATION problems) and lack of water resources for agricultural development. Emergency programs instituted to deal with the devastating drought included on-farm dugouts for the conservation of water for livestock, strip farming to prevent extensive soil drifting, seeding of abandoned land for community pastures, and extensive tree-planting projects to protect the soil from wind erosion.

The PFRA's soil-conservation role was transferred to another agency in 1946, but work in the area of water development continued. To address the lack of water resources, PFRA was for many years heavily involved in large-scale water development and conservation programs, including the St Mary River Irrigation Project, the Bow River Irrigation Project and the South Saskatchewan River Irrigation Project. There are few Prairie communities which have not benefited from its activities.

The PFRA of today continues to be involved in large projects, but has broadened its mandate to meet the changing needs of the region it serves. Through its promotion of soil conservation activites and the development of water resources, it tries to maintain a viable agriculture industry and a sound rural economy. PFRA offers technical and financial assistance in a wide range of areas including: soil and water conservation; water supply development; irrigation; economic planning and rural development and environmental analysis. With its headquarters in Regina, Sask, PFRA also has 22 district offices throughout the Prairie provinces.