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Ag minister accedes to grower requests

Agriculture minister Norm Letnick has committed to work on expanding the scope of the current tree fruit replant program.

He was speaking at the 124th annual meeting of the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association in Penticton today and said he has heard the requests from growers to make the program regular, annual, sustainable and bankable to benefit growers’ profitability and competitiveness.

As well, Letnick said the current $2 million program, announced last year to begin this year, will be altered—on growers’ request—to permit growers to plant from one fruit variety to another, rather than only from like to like fruits.

"The replant program supports growers who want to take advantage of the

marketplace's demand for high-value apples and other tree fruits, and

encourages growers who are planning to switch to higher value varieties

to make the change.

"My objective is still the same - to promote the growth and production

of high-value, high-quality B.C. fruit, and to develop a stronger, more

sustainable tree fruit sector that results in growers earning more

dollars.

"I have directed ministry staff to consult with the B.C. Fruit Growers'

Association to develop guidelines and criteria and anticipate they will

be completed and posted next month.

"I'd like to thank those I met with who expressed their ideas of

improvement and support and encourage them to continue our partnership

and efforts to support innovation, improved competitiveness, and new

market access for B.C. fruits."

jsteeves@kelownacapnews.com

 

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