A Glimpse into the Future of the B.C.F.G.A.

by George Fraser (President 1979)

The B.C.F.G.A. has changed many times during its first hundred years as the needs of its members have altered. So too will it change in the future. If it doesn't, then it will be replaced by some other grower organization that functions better. This would be an unfortunate change since so many of the effective existing structures might be lost.

The key to the future role of the B.C.F.G.A. will depend totally upon the structure and needs of the fruit industry. These are quite likely to be different from the structure and needs of 1989. It is of course as impossible to predict the whims of future governments, as it has been to have foreseen 1989 from 1969, but certain trends seem likely. Government involvement in income insurance schemes will likely decrease. Government interest in keeping the "farming way of life" is likely to decrease. Changes in international trade patterns and agreements will have some effect on changing the industry as well.

What are these changes? Barring philosophical changes by governments towards agriculture in general, and fruit growing in particular, we are likely to see a move away from being an industry heavily involved in export, towards one which is primarily a supplier of the local, provincial and western Canadian markets. The distribution will probably be more heavily oriented to the type that has been on the increase over the past fifteen years: bigger and better fruit stands, and more and more independent truckers.

This in turn will cause a difference in orchard operations. Since it generally is easier to market a "reasonable" quantity of fruit by these alternate methods, more and more operators will return to the mixed orchards which are currently a remnant of the past. It is likely that the smaller operator will have the kind of flexibility that will be needed to meet the ever-changing whims of a capricious market. The days of a large operation growing nothing but apples are numbered. The grower who develops a different product and can market it effectively will do well. Those who attempt to survive as they have done in the past will not.

The B.C.F.G.A. has over the past fifty years been tied into central selling. The suggestion here is that this will have to alter. If more and more growers move into the alternate marketing pattern, then, to be viable, the focus of the organization will have to move with them. After all, if the role of the B.C.F.G.A. is to work for the benefit of the fruit grower of the province, and the effectiveness of such an organization depends upon the percentage of growers that belong to it, then it is axiomatic that the B.C.F.G.A.'s function and duties must change. This flexibility has been there in the past, and although changes are never quick and easy, changes will come in the future. The concern has to be one of whether or not the growers and their organization can respond to the changes quickly enough. The history of change suggests that this adaptation will be a continuous struggle and one which is claimed by many to be too slow, and by the rest, too fast.

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