The Dissident Fruit Growers

The summer of 1973 was long and hot with many clashes between loyalist and renegade fruit growers. Aggressive dissidents deliberately violated the law and B.C. Fruit Board regulations, which designated B.C. Tree Fruits as sole sales agency: they sent truck convoys of fruit to the population centres of B.C. and Alberta. There were many ugly incidents and much publicity. The B.C. Fruit Board, even with assistance from the R.C.M.P., found it almost impossible to stop these marketing forays. The main recourse for the B.C.F.G.A. was expensive and time consuming law suits.

Although the malcontents were prepared to abide by a minimum pricing system, they were rebelling against the stringent requirements B.C. Tree Fruits imposed for grading and quality control. The demands of the disgruntled orchardists were fuelled by economic hardships which they saw as caused by the widening difference between what B.C. Tree Fruits received and what they, themselves, were finally paid for their crops.

There were two main groups of organized rebels: Allied Fruit Growers Ltd., founded in 1972, whose spokesperson was J. R. (Bert) Hume of Glenmore; and the more militant United Fruit Growers of B.C., organized in early 1973 and headed by Hans Rhenisch of Keremeos. Allied Fruit Growers had bought two packing house operations, R.H. MacDonald & Sons Ltd. of Vernon and the former Winoka plant at Okanagan Centre. Both renegade organizations, as they made clear in briefs to the Select Standing Standing Committee on Agriculture, wanted licences to act as sales agents for the B.C. Fruit Board and thus, to bypass B.C. Tree Fruits Ltd.

The deep and bitter schism between loyalist and dissident tree fruit growers had been made uncompromisingly clear in briefs presented to the Select Standing Committee on Agriculture as it toured the province during the spring and summer of 1973.

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