To the editor:
Re: Fruit Growers Appeal For Publics’ Support, June 15 Capital News.
Let them eat grapes?
Over the years I have been told we should be growing ginseng, llamas, echinacea, ostriches and, yes, grapes also.
Most of the people who got into these things are long since broke because they were jumping on trends which is very different from finding a profitable niche. Grapes may not be a trend, but they are trendy and a prestige investment much like a hockey team; vineyards must compete with other vineyards that are prepared to lose a lot of money and they pay more for just about everything.
The future of apples is dark; there is a changing scale of economy and the consolidation for retail outlets has left producers powerless. But the idea that apple growers should plant grapes is insulting to the many growers who are going bankrupt. Some of these people work over 60 hours a week, have not paid themselves in years, have cashed in their RRSPs to pay their employees, and whose only big mistake was to be caught out by international powers beyond their control, and by the indifference of their own government.
Internationally grapes are doing worse than apples, yet locally prices for grapes are still reasonable because government protects the grape market by taxing foreign wines at a higher rate. Grapes are clearly privileged by local politicians, meanwhile this year the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is opening an office in China to facilitate the importation of large volumes of cheap apples—the Canadian government is kicking apple growers when they are down.
To simplify the issue and say apple growers should just plant grapes is yuppy nonsense. Furthermore, there is good land for tree fruits, good land for grapes, and good land for horses and subdivisions. To maximize our local economic health, these areas should be preserved for appropriate uses by the ALR. If land is not separated this way the future of tree fruits may be over, not because we make more money in tree fruits, but because there will always be people who want a vineyard regardless of the cost, and they are driving up the cost of land for everybody.