Apple growers vote on research and promotion levy
Orchardists around the Okanagan will be receiving information in the mail this coming week encouraging them to vote on a proposal for an apple commission that would fund industry research and promotion from a levy on all apple production.
The B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association proposal for an Apple Research and Promotion Agency (ARPA) requires that 40 per cent of growers vote and than 60 per cent of those vote in favour of the initiative, explained manager Glen Lucas.
However, BCFGA board member Peter Simonsen says he was surprised at the response from growers at meetings at the end of November when the topic came up.
“I was surprised by the negativity,” he commented. There also seemed to be a lot of confusion about the proposal, which would involve a levy of 2/10 cent a pound or eight cents a box of apples and could result in far more money going toward industry research and promotion.
Not only could the fund attract matching funding from senior government, but if it became a national initiative, imported fruit would also be levied, meaning the fund would double as foreign growers contributed as well.
Already New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec have approved a similar levy, but until all fruit growing regions in the country approve it, it’s not a national council, so no levy would have to be paid by foreign growers selling their apples in the Canadian market.
Only Nova Scotia and B.C. have not yet approved it, and Simonsen said Nova Scotia growers have said they will if B.C. does.
Funds raised would go toward such research as how to reduce rot or spoilage in storage, and to promoting B.C. apples.
The levy would be collected from all apple producers growing more than two acres of apples, no matter where they pack, ship or sell their fruit, said Lucas.
Simonsen pointed out that growers shipping through the B.C. Tree Fruits Co-operative already pay 35 cents on every box toward promotion, and this proposal would likely save those growers money.
“We want growers to become informed on the proposal and to vote. We are confident that if growers take the initiative to vote, the outcome will be positive,” said Jeet Dukhia, president of the BCFGA.
Partial funding for the project has come from the Investment Agriculture Foundation.
Growers can vote by mail or at the BCFGA agm to be held Feb. 15 in Kelowna.
More information on ARPA can be found at: www.bcapplecouncil.org