There were no ‘sacred’ apples in a recently released report on British Columbia’s tree fruit sector. The analysis said that too many growers were producing quantity rather than quality. And that if the sector is to become competitive, then governance has to change as well as business models for such programs as the Okanagan-Kootenay Sterile Insect Release Program. A new agency is recommended to corral and coordinate the many moving parts of the tree fruit sector, including a data strategy and labour strategy.
Lana Popham, BC’s minister of agriculture, food and fisheries, commissioned the report in February 2021, with some frustration that despite $67 million in support in recent years, competitiveness had not improved. Given the complexities of the province’s disasters in 2021, the ministry will no doubt integrate resilience measures – such as local irrigation systems and access to labour – in any future plan.
Some British Columbia growers have pointed to Washington state as an unfair competitor. However, the BC agriculture ministry’s Market Development and Trade Unit disavowed this notion with research that showed there was no deviation in price trends from August to December 2020. The USDA subsidy of $0.05/lb had no bearing on prices. Feedback from the BC industry revealed that any trade action could worsen the situation given the American appetite for tariff retaliation and investigations.
About 800 growers tend to 14,000 acres of apples and cherries. The BC Fruit Growers’ Association planned to review the report in late November.
To read the entire report, link here: https://bit.ly/3cZpR7h
Source: BC Agriculture, Food and Fisheries November 12, 2021 report