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Restructuring the Board of B.C. Tree Fruits Ltd. in 1985

The considerable unrest within the ranks of the B.C.F.G.A. membership led to a major restructuring of the Board of B.C. Tree Fruits Ltd. Packing houses were not satisfied with the way B.C. Tree Fruits was handling the marketing of fruit. Due to the poor weather of the past few years, the goal of house pooling (that good growers who produced better quality fruit would get a better price) had not worked. Commodity prices had been low for the past four years. Hard times, coupled with changes resulting from the end of mandatory one-desk selling and the implementation of house pooling, caused internal strife.

In May, 1985, the extreme tension became evident. B.C. Fruit Packers Ltd., which had one-third of the B.C.F.G.A.'s 1,800 members, and which handled 47 per cent of Okanagan apple production, gave serious consideration to withdrawing from the sales agency. The movement to disassociate from B.C. Tree Fruits was halted when the members of the B.C. Fruit Packers cooperative rejected 151 to 56 the resolution proposed by their executive.

Filling Handi-Paks at Kelowna Growers' Exchange.Courtesy Keloivtia Centennial Museum

To help resolve the crisis, on May 27, 1985, a restructuring resolution was passed at a Special General Meeting of the B.C.F.G.A. in Kelowna. Floping to ease the traditional bad feelings between B.C. Tree Fruits Ltd. and the packing houses, the Executive reversed a precedent which had been in place since 1939. The Executive voted that representatives of the packing houses would take over the duties of the Board of Directors of B.C. Tree Fruits Ltd. Rather than the Board being elected from the floor of the B.C.F.G.A. convention, it would be directly selected by the participating packing houses. The President of the B.C.F.G.A. was also eliminated as a voting member of the Board. This resolution was passed by the general membership at the subsequent convention. The packing houses then prepared to buy all the shares and assets of B.C. Tree Fruits.

The B.C.F.G.A. was to have less say in running its marketing arm and the packing houses were to have an increased role. Restructuring, which distanced the B.C.F.G.A. from B.C. Tree Fruits, would make it easier to open the membership of the Association to independents.

Theoretical harmony between the packing houses and B.C. Tree Fruits Ltd. was gained, but at the cost of losing some cooperation and coordination with the B.C.F.G.A. parent organzation. The prediction which the Roygold Reports had made in 1982 was coming true: unless industry integration occurred, autonomous packing houses would assume a dominant role.

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