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Central Agriculture Facility in Abbotsford. With the spectacular growth of the industry and the increased demand for services, the office area has become overcrowded. To exacerbate the situation, the staffing component has been enlarged this year by two more persons. The first isNina Rihal, who is the office manager and receptionist, who has been with the organization since July. The BCBC also recently hired Anju Gill, who will be assistant to executive directorDebbie Etsell, helping out with many of the meetings the industry generates and dealing with the many files it develops. Addition of the two new staff persons means the office is now fluent in English, French and Punjabi... By the time you read this,


strawberry, raspberry and highbush blueberry growers in Ontario will have finished voting on a plan to form a single association, to be known asBerry Growers of Ontario. The province’s two existing berry grower organizations, the Ontario Berry Growers’ Association and theOntario Highbush Blueberry Growers’ Association, received agreement from theOntario Farm Products Marketing Commission to conduct an expression-of-opinion vote among all eligible growers. The proposed board of nine directors would be comprised of three growers from each of the three crops. If growers vote in support of the proposal and subsequently the establishment of a new board is supported by the commission and ultimately the Ontario government,membership in the new organization will be mandatory rather than voluntary. Mandatory membership means every grower of two or more acres of any combination of the three crops will be required to pay membership fees each year based on the number of bearing acres in production. It is seen as a necessary step if the province’s berry producers wish to participate in a national checkoff plan. Funds raised annually would be used to provide market development and promotion, research, and government relations... A new on-line systemis in the

works aimed at helping new entrants achieve certified organic status, as B.C. farmers continue to meet the consumer demand for certified organic foods. The Certified Organic

British Columbia Berry Grower • Winter 2016-17 15

he B.C. Blueberry Council business office is currently located on the second floor of the

Associations of B.C. (COABC) will lead the development of the system, through $117,000 in funding from the federal and provincial governments. A pilot of the system will launch in 2017, with full implementation scheduled for January 2018.It is supposed to save farmers’ time through a more efficient and streamlined process and also be used as a source for sector-wide data to help provide reliable, up-to-date statistics about the sector. The data will also be used to help identify opportunities in value-added food production and encourage strategic growth. The B.C. government will require all food and beverage products marketed as “organic” to be certified under either a provincial or national certification program by 2018... Meanwhile, the province and the

feds are providing up to $1.6 million over two years to support efforts to improve on-farm food safety practices and meet emerging national and international food-safety traceability requirements. The On-Farm Food Safety and Traceability Program offers eligible B.C. agri-food businesses cost-shared funding to: • Conduct food safety and traceability assessments to identify and document risks, issues and opportunities to improve food safety and traceability capacity, systems and practices.

• Take training to increase the food safety and traceability expertise of their staff.

• Implement good agricultural practices, best practices and recognized hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP) food safety practices and traceability systems in their operations.

The program targets on-farm agri-

businesses producing food for human consumption and businesses seeking

first-time certification in internationally recognized HACCP- based food safety assurance programs. Additional information and applications for the new program are available at: industry/agriculture-seafood/ programs/growing-forward-2/ on-farm-food-safety... Mexico expects its berry

production to double in the coming four years with rising demand from China, the world’s second largest economy. Mexican exports, which include blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries, are worth about US$1.5 billion a year, up 20 percent every year,Mario Alejandro Andrade Cárdenas, vice-president of Foreign Trade of the National Agricultural Council, said in a recent interview. “We have seen strong growth of our berry exports to China after the signing of protocols for raspberry and blackberry in late 2014. We are expecting to close the protocols for strawberry and blueberry as early as possible,” he said. About 5,000 Mexican berry growers are based in Baja California, Jalisco, Michoacán, Guanajuato and Puebla, using 25,000 hectares of farmland and providing 120,000 permanent jobs. About 85 percent of their produce is exported to the United States, which has almost all its imported strawberries coming from Mexico. In November 2014, the Chinese government agreed to raspberry and blackberry imports from Mexico, with the first batch of produce arriving in Shanghai in January last year. However, competition from Chile and Peru remains a big hurdle for Mexican berry exporters...

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