producers. However, many producers remain skeptical about who is going to pay to have a sustainable food source that is environmentally friendly as well.
“And now we have this movement that wants gluten-free products. What is that all about?” asks Hughes. “During a recent visit to Australia I had got up early one morning and arrived outside a restaurant where I intended to have breakfast. There was a book store in the same shopping complex, and the owner was putting up his sandwich boards outside his store. I looked at one of the signs which stated that “gluten- free books” were available. I said to the owner, ‘I always thought you read books.’ He did not like my comment.” Health and well-being is a huge global concern, in Hughes’ opinion. “We have the World Health Organization’s boss, Dr.Ch
an. She’s a mean lady, saying that fish food, big soda and big alcohol are as bad as big tobacco. And we are also having to deal with demonization of sugar, which is a clear threat to most fruit juice products.
“I attended the world fruit juice conference, where I spent my entire three days trying to determine ways they could defend claims that all they were doing was selling sugar. “The industry was trying to find ways to offset a media claim that there is as much sugar in a glass of orange juice as in a bottle of Coca- Cola. As a result, fruit juice consumption in North America has dropped considerably, which is not good news for the fruit juice industry.”
Hughes told his audience that it is very hard not to be optimistic about the outlook for food production. However, with emergence of stronger segments of consumers wanting to eat healthier, there can be a tendency to over-produce. Matching supply to demand can be a serious challenge. A big problem for the food industry, according to Hughes, is the under-investment in research and development to create some unique new varieties of fruits and vegetables. Concluding his presentation, Hughes said that if he had one main criticism of farmers, it is they do not co-operate as well as they should. “You have to be able to form workable partnerships to advance your interests and allow you to compete successfully in our ever- changing world.”
Land prices still a major hurdle
Continued increases in the LowerMainland-Fraser Valleymake purchase tough if not impossible.
By Grant Ullyot F
armland prices have risen considerably during the past decade, making the purchase of an established family farm almost prohibitive. When you take into consideration the cost of the land and the cost of quotas (which often are in excess of the value of the farm itself), then add the cost of buildings and machinery it makes the purchase impossible for some potential buyers.
To get a better picture of what land prices are in and around the Fraser Valley- Lower Mainland, B.C. Berry Grower spoke with Henry Klop of Chilliwack, who has been selling farm lands for RE/MAX Nyda Realty for the past 18 years. Klop says when he first started in the business of selling farm properties there were a lot more farms for sale on a regular basis than there are today and not just because of the prices.
“There is an evolution taking place with a trend towards consolidation with bigger farm owners buying out smaller, less productive farms. Another major change is taking place where farm owners who have no succession plan in place wind up disposing of their farm as best they can, often times selling it by auction.”
Agricultural land prices in the Chilliwack area run around $50-60,000 an acre with buildings and equipment extra. Land in the Abbotsford airport area is currently selling for $100,000 or more an acre. This area contains a fine, well drained, sandy loam soil ideal for growing raspberries and blueberries and is home to one of the larger raspberry plantations in B.C.
However, Klop is of the opinion that the high cost around the airport is fuelled by investors who are banking on the land selling for a much higher price when it comes out of the land reserve to become development property for airport expansion.
Klop also noted there is a marked difference in the farmland quality and uses when comparing lands in the Chilliwack area to those in the Abbotsford area. “The Abbotsford area has a very diverse agricultural base with all the berry crops that are grown there. If you look at Sumas Prairie you’ll also find many
14 British Columbia Berry Grower • Summer 2015
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