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They’re getting the message

BCFGA president confident that public support will help spur politicians into doing a lotmore to support agriculture.

By Judie Steeves A

promotion and advertising campaign to get the public onside with orchardists lays the foundation for long-term economic sustainability for the industry, and is needed to stem the flow of farmers leaving farms.

Loss of acreage harms all the remaining members of a co-operative packing system, because it drives costs up for those still shipping fruit. B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association president Joe Sardinha is satisfied this summer’s campaign has been a success at reaching consumers and getting the ear of politicians, and he says the news media have been very attentive and interested in the industry as a result.

“The association can’t go it alone. We need public support. Not only are the public also voters, but they buy our fruit. They need to decide if they want the industry here for the long- term – along with all the jobs required to support the industry — and if so, they need to provide grassroots support,” he explained. “The public is key. The message is that we grow great products and we want consumers to choose local products. That goes a long way. The demand for local products influences retailers to source local fruit. It all builds on the buy-local movement,” he added.

With three years of “less-than-ideal returns,” Sardinha said the industry needs the support of voters with which to approach government for industry support.

Discussions are under way with the provincial governmen he said. Industry challenges have been identified and compared to other

12 British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Fall 2011


Joe Sardinha and the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association executive have been encouraging consumers to be part of efforts to ensure the industry’s long-term viability.

jurisdictions and the second round of talks, at the grower level, began in September. It’s a round-table format with a government-appointed facilitator to hash out what needs to be done and how government can

participate in programs which will lead to economic sustainability, said Sardinha.

“We don’t want to have to knock on government’s door, but growers must receive more than the cost of growing

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