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Chronicle: 1989

Laurie Hennigar, President of the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers and of the Canadian Horticultural Council, addresses the 1989 B.C.F.G.A. Convention. Seated are Kathy Brown, Gerald Geen and David Hobson.

We in the Fruit Industry recognize the large amount of economic activity created by our Industry as an extremely valuable contributor to the wealth of the province and the nation.

One of the positive aspects of the [Free Trade] Agreement is that commodity producers in Canada who do not currently have national marketing agencies, are entitled to develop such an agency if there is producer will. . . . The object [of a National Marketing Board for Apples] would be to stabilize the producer's income at a fair level, while at the same time provide the domestic consumer with a continuous supply of high quality apples at a fair price. (Report of Executive to the 1989 B.C.F.G.A. Convention)

  • In January, the federal government of Canada signed a Free Trade Agreement with the United States.
  • Establishment of a National Marketing Board continued to be actively discussed by representatives from the five apple producing provinces in Canada. Such a Board would be permissible under the Free Trade Agreement and would allow Canadians to apply quotas to imports and to control their own production.
  • The B.C.F.G.A. expected Free Trade to have a serious negative impact on the soft fruit industry whose seasonal tariff protection would be removed over the next ten years. It was expected that the only part of the soft fruit industry to survive would be that which served local markets.
  • John Schmidt, Chairman, Centenary Committee, and Margaret King, organizer, at the Centennial Picnic, 1989.
  • After heated debate at the Annual Convention in January, the B.C.F.G.A. membership supported a resolution calling on the province to dissolve the Agricultural Land Reserves. It was thought that the provincial government was not keeping its 1973 commitment to make farming economically viable.
  • Farmland prices had dropped because of low commodity returns and because of the land released from grape production due to Free Trade.
  • Gerald Geen, President of the B.C.F.G.A., and David Hobson, President of the B.C. Federation of Agriculture, warned that orchard renovations must be accelerated in order to produce high yields and high quality apples and to allow the farmer to survive. To do this effectively, increased government assistance would be needed.
  • James Kidston, President of B.C. Tree Fruits Ltd., stated that additional sales in the economically booming Far East were a good possibility for Okanagan apples.
  • The Executive of the B.C.F.G.A. planned to study better co-ordination of the various sectors of the Tree Fruit Industry.
  • The B.C.F.G.A.'s market-oriented response to growers' needs was rewarded handsomely. The Association was able to reassure a worried public that it had had the foresight to stop using the growth hormone, Alar, on its apples over a year ago. Many other apple producers in Canada and the United States had continued to use the chemical despite ongoing consumer concern.
  • The provincial government conducted Land Commission Review Hearings throughout the province. In Kelowna, the Minister of Agriculture, John Savage, was asked by members of the B.C.F.G.A. why the government was not keeping its share of the bargain to make agriculture economically viable.
  • Cyril Shelford, former Social Credit Minister of Agriculture, warned that British Columbia should safeguard its agricultural food supplies as the world outlook for food was bleak. In 1988, the United States had been unable to raise enough food to feed its own population.
  • Ted Swales, fieldman for the South Okanagan Co-operative packing house and former provincial horticulturist, called for the renovation, diversification and intensification of B.C. orchards if tree fruit farmers were to stay in business. He pointed out that in the next ten years Washington State apple production would get even bigger. The farmer, who could provide good financial and horticultural skills, also needed adequate financing from the government.
  • The spring budget of the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Foods and the federal Ministry of Agriculture failed to increase financial assistance to B.C. tree fruit farmers.

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