BC tree fruit growers are seeing extremely poor returns on their first pool advance from BC Tree Fruits Cooperative.
Payouts as low as nine and 10 cents a pound for Gala apples were reported by top growers for extra fancy pack-outs. These figures are being called the lowest ever in real terms and are well below the 30 cents a pound it costs to produce apples in BC.
This will be the third year of low returns, prompting significant discussion at the 131st annual convention of the BC Fruit Growers Association convention in Kelowna this week.
“The BCFGA is hearing that apple growers do not have resources to pay for the upcoming season’s agriculture activities such as pruning, thinning, fertilizer, and harvesting,” says association president Pinder Dhaliwal. “The provincial government needs to recognize the complex economics of our industry.”
Delegates will vote on a late resolution February 12 that directs the BCFGA board to pursue a special provincial per-pound payment to cover growers’ losses in 2019. This could be comprised of a cash payment and/or other proposals such as an increase in AgriStability coverage, a provincial sales tax exemption, an irrigation fee rebate, provincial guarantees and interest-free grower operating loans.
Duties against U.S. apples being dumped into Canada at prices below the cost of production are also proposed. Anti-dumping duties were last applied against U.S. apples in 1995.
“This industry is in dire need of help right now,” says Amarjit Lalli, in supporting the late resolution. “We just need short-term help and we will turn the ship around.”
Growers are also anticipating today’s report by Warren Sarafinchan, appointed CEO of BC Tree Fruits in October. In particular, they will look for an explanation of the 24 cents a pound the co-op is charging to process cull apples that are not suitable for sale.