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Survey says: Fruit growers find the silver lining

The BC Fruit Growers’ Association released the results of a grower survey which indicated a positive shift in the outlook of those involved in the industry.

“We are very pleased to note that 48 per cent of growers agree that they would increase their overall amount of acreage replanted over the next five years if there was a similar version of the provincial government’s Replant/Renewal Programs as what was previously available," said said Glen Lucas, general manager of the BCFGA.

"We have been asking the province for such a program to get growers the resources to renew and become economically sustainable. This survey shows the impact that a Replant/Renewal Programs have on growers’ plans to renew.”

Results of the survey conducted by Ipsos Reid between March 12 and 20 showed several surprises to the association heads.

Among them was that 15 per cent of growers said they'd likely increase their apple acreate in the future, while only six per cent said they'd slim down operations.

There also appeared to be a general improvement in the outlook of tree fruit growers, as the percentage who plan to stay in the industry less than five years actually decreased from 30 per cent in 2005 to 22 per cent now, and percentage who plan to stay for five years to 10 years increased from 25 per cent in 2005 to 41 per cent currently.

Intentions for longer term plans  have stayed the same compared to seven years ago. Much of the positive change in outlook happened because people are more decided now than in 2005 – back then there were 14 per cent who did not know or refused to say how long they would stay in the industry. Today, onlytwo per cent are in the “don’t know/refuse” segment.

The BCFGA represents 575 commercial tree fruit growers in BC producing a 2011 farmgate value of $78.4 million on 14,800 acres, according to Statistics Canada. Most of the BC tree fruit production is located in the Okanagan- Similkameen Valleys, with Creston and Shuswap Valleys also producing commercial volumes of tree fruits.

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