The BC Fruit Growers Association is suggesting the provincial budget tabled Feb. 19 presents “little improvement” for the tree fruit industry.
The association sent out a release Friday stating the tree fruit industry needs an on-going replant program and assistance with environmental improvements on farms.
“We were hoping to get a positive future direction on these programs, but the budget contained no strategic, competitive help for tree fruit growers,” said Jeet Dukhia, president of the BCFGA.
The release goes on to say replacing old trees and varieties with new varieties and high-density plantings will increase productivity and marketability of tree fruit, but costs growers about $30,000 per acre.
The current program contributes up to $7,000 per acre for the renewal of orchards.
“We need continuity of replant in our industry. When we plan, orchardists look forward 15 or 20 years. The disruption of not having a long-term replant program is harming our industry,” said Dukhia.
“The replant program is currently funded for two years, but was disrupted in 2012 as no program was offered then.”
Environment programs, such as integrated pest management, deer fencing and septic systems for worker sanitary facilities, have been proposed by the BCFGA.
“Our program proposals are similar to, but at a much lower level of cost, than those provided in Washington state, our main competitor.
“We proposed the programs with the expectation that the government was interested in protecting and enhancing the environment and helping us to meet the competition. We were disappointed.”
Dukhia added the BCFGA is looking for “long-term direction” from the province to even the competitive playing field.
The release noted two items in the budget corrected errors in existing programs.
The carbon tax on purple, or marked, fuel used on farms was eliminated, such that the fuel for tractors and farm vehicles is not put at a disadvantage when compared to imported food.
Property purchase tax for farms was not charged for transfers to family members when the owner was alive. A change corrects an error that taxed the transfer of the farm property if the owner was dead.
The BCFGA represents 550 family operated farms.