The Province is committing $8.4 million for a seven-year tree fruit replant program that supports grower’s efforts to meet consumer demands for high-value, high-quality B.C. fruit.
Premier Christy Clark announced the details of the program today at a Kelowna orchard with representatives of B.C.’s tree fruit industry.
“It's about providing certainty for B.C. fruit growers,” said Premier Clark. “And making sure we continue to showcase the best tree fruits in the world, both here at home and internationally.”
Beginning April 1, 2015, through to the 2021 season, growers will be able to apply for the new program. It is estimated that more than 600 hectares (1,500 acres) of orchards will be replanted over the next seven years providing 2,600 jobs each year for the Okanagan.
“We are proud of the heritage of B.C.’s tree fruit industry and we look forward to continuing our partnership in promoting high-value, high-quality B.C. fruit so our growers can earn more dollars,” said Minister of Agriculture Norm Letnick.
The new program builds on the recent success of growers who replanted low-value orchards with high-demand and high-quality varieties like Ambrosia apples and late-season cherries. B.C. growers produced Canada’s second-largest tree fruit crop in 2013, generating almost $103 million in farm cash receipts. Program applications and criteria will soon be available on the BC Fruit Growers Association website.
“Growers are genuinely excited about the announcement of the replant program as the government set a goal of a sustainable, long-term replant program, and today this promise is delivered,” said BC Fruit Growers’ Association president Fred Steele. “The program matches the long-term nature of growing apples and cherries, as well as soft fruits, and it is not only appreciated, it is essential to our future. Thank you to the government MLAs and the Premier for making replant a priority.”
Focusing on high-value B.C. products are key to growing the B.C. government’s agrifoods industry to a $14-billion-a-year industry by 2017. The Ministry of Agriculture has already met 44 out of 49 targets, helping grow the overall agrifoods sector by eight per cent.
- In June 2014, Premier Christy Clark’s mandate letter to Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick directed him to create a long-term and sustainable tree fruit replanting program upon the expiry of the current program.
- B.C.’s two largest tree-fruit crops are apples and sweet cherries.
- In 2013, B.C. growers produced more than 103,000 tonnes of tree fruits including apples, sweet cherries, peaches, pears, plums/prunes, nectarines and apricots, as well as other tree fruits. This is almost a quarter of the total Canadian production.
- B.C. exported $41.7 million in cherries in 2013 with the top markets in Hong Kong, United States, Taiwan and China.
- B.C. apple exports have increased almost 30% in the past two years. In 2013, B.C. exported $19.1 million in apples and top three markets were the United States, Mexico and Taiwan.
- The B.C. tree fruit packing industry has just completed more than $5 million in upgrades to its fruit packing equipment and to help packinghouses modernize.
- In 2012, the Province provided $2 million to fund a three-year replant program, resulting in 214 hectares (528 acres) being replanted.
BC Fruit Growers’ Association: http://www.bcfga.com/
2013 Export Highlights - B.C. Agrifoods statistics: http://www.agf.gov.bc.ca/stats/Export/2013BCAgrifoodsExportHighlights.pdf
Office of the Premier
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Agriculture