B.C.’s 2021 budget is trending in the right direction to support farmers, says the BC Fruit Growers’ Association. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)

B.C.’s 2021 budget is trending in the right direction to support farmers, says the BC Fruit Growers’ Association. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)

BC Fruit Growers’ Association gives thumbs up to provincial budget

BCFGA general manager said budgetary investments put farming industry on a good trajectory for recovery

The BC Fruit Growers’ Association (BCFGA) is glad to see support for local farmers in the 2021 provincial budget.

Although the B.C. government is projecting a $9.7-billion deficit for this year, the provincial Agriculture Ministry will receive a $4.4-million increase to its core budget, which now sits close to $100 million.

BCFGA general manager Glen Lucas said the investment is a step in the right direction.

“It’s something that we’ve been working to, to change the direction. There were years where the agriculture budget went down,” said Lucas.

“Certainly, we’ve seen it stabilize and increase slightly here. That’s welcomed news.”

The lift will help to expand work on the Buy BC, Feed BC and Grow BC programs, with each initiative receiving $3.41 million over the next three years, totalling $10 million.

The Buy BC program promotes and markets a wide variety of local agriculture, food and beverage products, while the Feed BC initiative focuses on increasing the use of locally grown and processed foods in hospitals, schools, and other government facilities. Grow BC is designed to help young farmers access land, while also supporting fruit and nut growers and processors to expand local food production.

Around $35 million of the ag ministry budget will go towards supporting the centralized quarantine program for foreign workers arriving in the summer for the cherry-picking season.

“There’s some expenditure that’s already been made, not through the ministry of agriculture, but through a COVID-19 recovery fund, that has really helped out the free fruit sector and more generally the horticulture sector,” said Lucas.

“We get over 7,000 workers a year. They get quarantined in Richmond. That really helps out our sector and keeps the workers safe.”

After experiencing two years of challenges brought on by intense periods of rain and frost, he said that he expects the cherry sector to bounce back this year.

“There have been impacts there from those two tough years, but I think the cherry sector looks towards these programs and hopefully some of them enhance access to foreign markets and to develop new crop protection techniques and so on,” he said.

He noted the apple sector is also on a downturn, as work is being done with the government to develop a tree-fruit stabilization initiative.

“We are looking for more programs and help for that sector. We hope that there’s room within the agriculture budget to help out,” he said.

An additional $7 million from last year’s budget will go towards supporting the development of food hubs, farm innovation and food processing. $7.5 million is being allocated to agri-tech initiatives by the B.C. Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation.

“From an overall perspective, it’s a good trend and trajectory for the agriculture budget,” said Lucas.

READ MORE: B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

READ MORE: B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

“We’re looking forward to that continuing in the future.”

2021 B.C. BudgetBC politicsbudget

Just Posted

Kelly Servinski, of the Tutti Hotel in Clinton, climbs above the river. (Photo credit: http://www.sterlinglorence.com/)
Gravel is the new gold: Cyclist bumps new biking trend

There’s gravel in them thar hills around Clinton

Staff Sgt. Svend Nielsen, with the 100 Mile House RCMP, says it’s important for the various detachments in the area to have a co-operative working relationship in an effort to keep the South Cariboo safe. (Melissa Smalley - 100 Mile Free Press)
District-wide effort to keep South Cariboo safe

RCMP detachments collaborate, offer resources to tackle crime

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
One death, 39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 484 active cases of the virus in the region currently

Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)
Drier weather good for calving season in spring

This dry weather has allowed us to have our cows in a treed pasture

The District of 100 Mile House office. (File photo)
Tax rate for 100 Mile residents dips slightly

Average house assessment up, tax rate down

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

Brian Peach rescues ducklings from a storm drain in Smithers May 12. (Lauren L’Orsa video screen shot)
VIDEO: Smithers neighbours rescue ducklings from storm drain

Momma and babies made it safely back to the creek that runs behind Turner Way

Signage for ICBC, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, is shown in Victoria, B.C., on February 6, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
$150 refunds issued to eligible customers following ICBC’s switch to ‘enhanced care’

Savings amassed from the insurance policy change will lead to one-time rebates for close to 4 million customers

Police investigate a fatal 2011 shooting in a strip mall across from Central City Shopping Centre, which was deemed a gang hit. The Mayor’s Gang Task Force zeroed in on ways to reduce gang involvement and activity. (File photo)
COVID-19 could be a cause in public nature of B.C. gang violence: expert

Martin Bouchard says the pandemic has changed people’s routines and they aren’t getting out of their homes often, which could play a role in the brazen nature of shootings

Tinder, an online dating application that allows users to anonymously swipe to like or dislike other’s profiles. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. man granted paternity test to see if Tinder match-up led to a ‘beautiful baby’

The plaintiff is seeking contact with the married woman’s infant who he believes is his child

Nurse Tami Arnold prepares to administer a COVID-19 vaccine. (Kareem Elgazzar/AP)
B.C. adults 30+ now eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19

Health officials made the announcement Wednesday afternoon

Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner Andrea Inness walks beside an enormous western red cedar stump in a BCTS-issued cutblock in the Nahmint Valley. (PHOTO COURTESY TJ WATT)
Watchdog: logging practices put Vancouver Island old growth, biodiversity at risk

Forest Practices Board has issues with BC Timber Sales practices in Nahmint Valley near Port Alberni

Erik Christian Oun, who worked for the Coquitlam school district, has had his teaching licence suspended for half a year. (Pixabay)
B.C. teacher suspended after calling students ‘cutie’ and ‘sweetheart’ in online messages

Erik Oun’s licence has been suspended for half a year, a decision made by the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation

An Israeli attack helicopter launches flares as he flies over the Israeli Gaza border, southern Israel, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Singh calls for halt on Canadian arms sales to Israel as violence escalates in region

Government data shows Canada sent $13.7 million in military goods and technology to Israel in 2019

Most Read