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Province helps growers replant orchards
The Province is providing B.C. apple and tree fruit growers with $2 million to help replant low-value orchards with high-demand varieties. The program flows from the ministry's Agrifoods Strategy, and its goal to expand domestic markets through high-quality products by targeting the planting of premium varieties such as Ambrosia and red strains of Gala. The funding will help focus B.C. apple growers on a "right variety, right size, right grade" strategy to serve high-value fruit markets with apple varieties that thrive in B.C.'s climate. The program, which also includes a grafting and budding component, will operate for three years. Growers can apply to participate in the program at any time. The program will be administered by the BC Fruit Growers Association, in partnership with the BC Investment Agriculture Foundation. Applications will be reviewed by a small panel with representation from the Ministry of Agriculture, the B.C. Fruit Growers Association and independent growers. B.C.'s Agrifoods Strategy aims to expand domestic and international markets for B.C. foods by focusing on the production of high-quality products. The strategy is designed to lead B.C.'s agrifoods sector to a $14-billion-a-year industry by 2017. Quotes: Agriculture Minister Don McRae - "The replanting program will support B.C.'s apple growers' efforts to meet consumer demand for high-value apples, and lead to expanded markets in and out of the province." "The funding will help ensure British Columbians have fresh, local foods while bringing employment and business opportunities throughout the fruit tree value chain." B.C. Fruit Growers' Association president Kirpal Boparai - "Growers welcome the announcement of the replant program. Our association has been working with the Province on ways to bring sustainability to our industry, through the formation of the Tree Fruit Industry Working Group and its recommendation for a Replant Program." "The BCFGA appreciates the confidence the Minister of Agriculture and the Okanagan MLAs have shown through this investment in the future of locally produced, healthy tree fruits in B.C." Quick Facts: * B.C. produced 97,000 tonnes of apples in 2011, with about 75 per cent sold in Western Canada. B.C. also had apple exports of $11 million to USA, and $1 million to both Mexico and Vietnam. * In 2011, the Ministry of Agriculture created a Tree Fruit Industry Working Group with industry to identify the key issues impacting the profitability of the industry in B.C., and to make recommendations to ensure a strong, vibrant and sustainable future. The working group identified the benefits a replant program could bring. * From 1999 to 2011, B.C. tree fruit growers received more than $120 million from the provincial and federal governments in response to weather-related losses and income-stability programs, as well as more than $30 million in other funding. * Today's funding is in addition to the $5 million federal-provincial Tree Fruit Marketing and Infrastructure Innovation. Deliverables from that program include the modernization of the Okanagan Tree Fruit Cooperative packinghouse announced in January 2012.