Tree fruit growers will be able to get financial help updating equipment and infrastructure through a new fund provided by the Province’s Ministry of Agriculture.
The BC Fruit Growers’ Association announced the new $5 million Tree Fruit Competitiveness Fund at their AGM on Friday.
“This fund will help family-run orchards and the sector as a whole with advancements that make B.C. tree fruit more competitive in the marketplace,” said Agriculture Minister Lana Popham.
The fund will be open to tree fruit growers, producers and processors to support three key areas of priority: research (cultivar, disease and pest research); marketing (export market opportunities and market development research); and infrastructure (sector-based infrastructure modernization such as new equipment).
“This funding is so important to the future of our industry. We need help controlling new invasive pests like the brown marmorated stinkbug, and marketing is an area where we need to invest in new varieties,” said Fred Steele, president of the BC Fruit Growers’ Association.
“This funding will also help with our very successful replant program. This investment, at a time when we are challenged in the marketplace, will ensure that we continue to make progress that leads to a bright future for the tree fruit sector.”
Portions of the fund can also be used to address any oversubscription of the B.C. government’s Tree Fruit Replant Program over the next four years.
This year, the Province provided an additional $300,000 in funding for the replant program, to meet the demand from tree fruit growers.
The B.C. government will be engaging with the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association and other partners to set up the fund and establish the process for awarding funding. It is anticipated the fund will be active for the next three to four years.