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Nation needs a real farming strategy Up Front


By Bryden Winsby I


t’s a lament that has been heard for years, and perhaps with more frequency lately: governments just don’t seem to care enough about the present state and future prospects of agriculture in this country.


With fewer farmers in the general population, and the average age of those who remain rising closer to senior-citizenship in many sectors, something certainly isn’t right. In this province, the bitterness about perceived political indifference by the feds is often reflected in the comment that they don’t seem to think agriculture even exists west of the Rockies. Well, similar sentiments are expressed on the other side of those mountains, too.


Ask the politicians, of course, and they’ll tell you they certainly do care about farming and farmers. They’ll point to the millions of dollars that have been allocated for improving productivity and profitability, or the development of land-use policies aimed at ensuring that agriculture can co-exist with urban expansion. All well and good, but not enough. In fact, the issue is national in scope; it goes beyond provinces and commodity organizations operating in isolation. It is complex, and requires more than occasional R&D help or a promotional effort that has limited impact and short shelf-life. Protecting farmland is well nigh pointless if earning a decent living on it is too much of a challenge. From a consumer standpoint there is plenty of proof that high-quality, locally-grown food is hugely popular.


The time has come for


governments at all levels to heed the call for a national food strategy. The wine industry has become something of a poster child for agricultural success during the past couple of decades.


The level of its sophistication is reflected in our cover story, which describes how inspired design can be a huge factor in boosting on-site sales. Those sales, of course, are a big reason why the industry continues to ride the crest. Few tree


4 British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Fall 2010


fruit growers, meanwhile, can even consider the possibility of enhancing their operation with gorgeous buildings, manicured grounds and restaurants to attract customers who


will enjoy the ambience then cart off several boxes of premium product. It’s all about marketing, of course, and getting the public on board to help convince governments that they must do more than pay lip- service to the value of agriculture is a course being followed by the B.C.Fruit Growers’ Association. Results of a summer campaign to garner consumer support are described by Associate Editor Judie Steeves in an interview with BCFGA president Joe Sardinha.


Elsewhere in this issue you’ll find lots of upbeat stuff, from profiles of two young additions to the BCFGA


board of directors to a feature by Susan McIver on the positive state of soft fruit production. Susan also spent time at July’s


enology and viticulture conference in Penticton and came away with some insights into what the future might hold for fruit wines and ciders, and the somewhat surprising results of a nationwide survey on women’s wine preferences. On the technical side of things, Peter Waterman provides some tips on how to maximize apple quality at reasonable cost, while Gary Strachan delves into the intricacies of vineyard trellising — and how to survive hard drive crashes as you build your digital library. Enjoy.


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