Apple growers ask for assistance  


Summerland Review

Apple growers in Summerland say the market needs to change for their industry to remain viable.

Published: February 24, 2010 2:00 PM
Updated: February 24, 2010 2:41 PM

0 Comments Plagued by low prices, apple growers are asking for a little short-term and long-term help to make their industry viable once again.

“This is the second year in a row where we’re seeing very poor returns,” said Joe Sardinha, president of the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association.

Last year, the year-end industry average price for apples was 16 cents a pound. This year, it is 10 to 13 cents a pound.

That isn’t enough, Sardinha said.

The costs of production on a replant block work out to 22.5 cents a pounds.

Sardinha said the apple industry in British Columbia has been declining in recent years.

“We’ve shrunk by 5,000 acres in the last 10 years,” he said. “Our viability is shrinking too.”

B.C.’s apple industry is worth $130 million a year in revenues, while cherries bring in another $25 to $30 million.

“I think we have a pretty significant identity that has to be preserved,” Sardinha said.

In the past, recent immigrants have been farming, but there are now aging farmers who are getting ready to sell.

Sardinha said the industry needs some help in the short term, as well as changes to help in the future.

“In the long term, we need a system that will get us the cost of production out of the market,” he said.

He said dairy, poultry and eggs are all produced on a supply managed system. The industry is able to produce enough to satisfy the Canadian market, with farmers and consumers both satisfied with the arrangement.

“If we have a marketing system where we can meet our needs from the market, then we don’t need subsidies,” he said.

At present, Canadian apple producers can grow half the apples consumed in the country.

With a controlled pricing system, Sardinha believes local fruit growers would be able to keep farming.

“Imports would have to meet a minimum pricing,” he said. “They could not undercut the amount paid to Canadian farmers.”

While he advocates for a change in the farm marketing system, he believes the consumers should also take an active role in supporting the B.C. apple industry.

“If consumers outright refuse to buy foreign product, that in turn will drive the demand,” he said.

Farmers' Market Nutrition & Coupon Project Cancelled Due to Lack of Funding  


Farmers' Market Nutrition & Coupon Project Cancelled Due to Lack of Funding

Vancouver, February 17, 2010

The BC Association of Farmers' Markets (BCAFM) regrets to announce that the successful Farmers' Market Nutrition & Coupon Project (FMNCP) will be cancelled for the 2010 season, due to lack of funding. A province wide initiative of the BCAFM, the FMNCP has brought dollars to local farmers & farmers' markets and supported close to 3000 low income families and children in accessing local, nutritious food since its inception in 2007.
"The FMNCP excites me. In the three years that BCAFM has offered this program we have had only positive feedback. This is a sign of success! Our partners want the program to continue. The BCAFM is still looking for a champion to fund the FMNCP. If you are interested or have any ideas please contact Elizabeth Quinn, BCAFM Manager to get more information." Mary Forstbauer, BCAFM President
An innovative project, the first of its kind in Canada, the FMNCP provided low-income families with children and low-income pregnant women coupons to access fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, dairy or fresh cut herbs at participating farmers' markets across BC. Participating families were actively participating in a designated cooking & skill building program, allowing families to develop & build knowledge and skill in the preparation of healthy, nutritious meals using fresh, local foods.
The FMNCP coupons brought families to their local farmers' market and created the opportunities for families and children to connect with the people growing and raising their food. The coupon dollars supported local farmers and farmers' markets, often creating new opportunities and growth. The FMNCP also supported cooking and skill building programs for low-income families and low-income pregnant women. This support allowed many programs to expand their programming and to reach more vulnerable community members.
The success of the FMNCP is evident in the 2009 season redemption rate of 94%, and the of growth the project. Starting with five communities in 2007, the FMNCP grew to 10 communities in 2008 and 16 communities in 2009. View a video of the Farmers' Market Nutrition Coupon Project at
"Thankful for the program! In really tight financial situations I have been able to feed my family! This program has saved us this summer!" 2009 FMNCP participant
"What a fantastic program!! It works for health, for income and for the farmers!" 2009 FMNCP participant
"The vendors are very pleased with what they are seeing happen at the Market. One long-time vendor pulled me aside at the end of this market day and said she was seeing people she knew buying vegetables for the first time. She was thrilled to see young people buying vegetables..." 2009 Market Manager
The BCAFM celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2010 and will continue to work on the core projects Market Safe, Market Manager Training and Board Governance Training. The BCAFM will re-evaluate the FMNCP as the economic climate shifts and more funds become available.
Paula Luther, FMNCP Project Manager
Elizabeth Quinn, BCAFM Manager

Tough Times For Ranchers  


Kamloops This Week
Tough times for ranchers
By Jeremy Deutsch - Kamloops This Week

Published: February 11, 2010 11:00 AM
Updated: February 11, 2010 11:14 AM

By Jeremy Deutsch


The decade may have changed, but the problems in the cattle industry remain.

The outlook for the struggling beef industry in 2010 doesn’t look all that much better than the last few years.

It’s a bleak forecast that brought dozens of ranchers from across the province to a panel discussion on Wednesday on the “current cattle industry meltdown,” hosted by the Kamloops Stockmen’s Association.

While CanFax, a national resource organization for the industry, is cautiously optimistic the cattle industry will begin to rebound this year, one local financial expert sees more uncertainty ahead for ranchers in 2010.

Peter Aarestad, BMO’s commercial banking area manager for Kamloops-Shuswap and South Cariboo, believes much of the factors that have crippled the industry, like the high Canadian dollar and a struggling U.S. economy, will remain for this year.

He said the reality will force some ranchers to make hard decisions on their future.

Aarestad said he’s seen files come across his desk from ranchers who have simply run out of money.

In BMO’s case, he said, the bank will support ranchers to help buy some time.

“At some point, you have a bigger wave in front of you than you can climb over,” he said.

Though he said it’s been years the since the bank foreclosed on a ranch, that could change if present conditions continue.

One idea to help the struggling industry that came out of the day-long discussion is to create a provincial beef-marketing board that would control production and set prices.

The NDP would like to see the government set up policies that move the industry back into the domestic market.

Lana Popham, the NDP’s agriculture critic, suggested the industry is set up to be vulnerable because it’s being sent into the international marketplace.

She noted the province is consuming more beef than what it produces.

“Why are we not marketing this product to our own consumers?” Popham asked.

She argued initiatives like Buy B.C., a program to promote agricultural products produced in the province — which was cut in 2005 — is just one tool that could be used to save the industry.