BC Strawberry Growers Association members unanimously agreed to increase the per-pound levy on their fruit for the first time in decades during an April 9 conference call. Growers couldn’t attend their annual general meeting in person this year, but a videoconference still allowed them to make key decisions.
The levy for the coming year will increase from half a cent per pound to three-quarters of a cent.
“We haven’t had an increase for 35, 40 years,” says association vice-president Alf Krause. “Maybe 50 years.”
Without the increase, association president Ed McKim said he couldn’t see how the organization could continue operating. The association has operated with a deficit in recent years, and the 2020 budget members considered at the meeting included a shortfall of $40,000. This will be offset by the newly increased levy.
Also helping pare expenses will be a reduction in breeding and research activities as well as marketing initiatives thanks to restrictions designed to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Eric Gerbrandt, research director for the association as well as the BC Raspberry Industry Development Council and the BC Blueberry Council, anticipates a relatively short shutdown for the research and breeding programs.
“We’re doing everything we can to protect the plant material, keep the program moving forward and salvage as much as we can,” he says.