The province has committed an additional $300,000 to extend the raspberry replant program for a third year.
“The new investment in this program will help more BC growers replant their fields with varieties that will support their businesses,” BC Agriculture Minister Lana Popham says.
Originally launched in late 2020, the initiative has received close to $400,000 in provincial funding to date. The latest allocation, which will support plantings in 2023, ups the total to nearly $700,000.
“The new funding allows growers to pre-order plants from the nurseries a year in advance,” a statement by the province says.
However, demand for replant funding by growers has largely fallen short of expectations.
The program was over-subscribed in 2021, with $104,000 disbursed versus a commitment of $90,000. But of an additional $300,000 allocated for the 2022 year, the province estimates that just $184,000 will be disbursed.
To date, the program has supported replanting on 120 acres. Varieties funded include those that grow well in BC’s coastal climate and are more suitable for the fresh market, IQF and high-value processed products.
The province has yet to renew funding for a replant program for apples, despite pleas from orchardists and strong support during the province’s budget consultations.
Georgina Beyers, who is overseeing the province’s vision for regenerative agriculture and agritech, told the annual conference of OrganicBC that future iterations of the province’s replant programs could mandate regenerative practices.
While the raspberry replant program is helping growers respond to the impacts of climate change, she says the ministry could provide specific direction to growers.
“[It] is certainly an area where the ministry could provide emphasis on the adoption of regenerative practices,” she says. “Not only could the ministry support replanting but also the way in which you replant and the way in which you care for that crop.”