The province is stepping in to assist BC’s struggling tree fruit growers.
“Our government is committed to the lasting sustainability of the tree fruit industry,” BC agriculture minister Lana Popham told the annual general meeting of the BC Fruit Growers Association, February 25. “That commitment means working with you going forward on a new tree fruit stabilization plan.”
While more than $35 million that has been invested in the industry over the last seven years through Production Insurance, the AgriStability enhancement program, the long-running tree fruit replant program and the Tree Fruit Competitiveness Fund, Popham said some growers are not seeing the benefits.
“We want to make sure that our programs are working properly, so we can help you become more competitive,” she says. “The entire BC tree fruit industry and the local economies that depend on it, deserve a chance to thrive.”
A recovery the new leadership at the BC Tree Fruits Co-operative has initiated played a crucial part in the government’s decision to provide further support to the industry.
The ministry was involved with efforts to improve co-op governance and operations last summer.
“The co-op has responded to the ministry’s efforts by taking leadership and ownership and consequently it now has an opportunity for success,” says Georgina Beyers, director of the ministry’s industry development unit.
Beyers says the stabilization plan will involve extensive stakeholder engagement. Research and analysis of the current situation will begin immediately with a view to having a report and draft plan ready by the end of July. A final plan will by ready for implementation October 29.
The role of the replant and competitiveness funds will be considered, as well as labour, new varieties, extension services, retail price structures, innovation and leadership.