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Pimm positive about replant


Newest agminister doesn’t have a farming background but says government is committed to helping ensure a long-term future for the tree fruit industry


By Judie Steeves B


.C.’s latest agriculture minister spent the summer touring the province, visiting different


regions and meeting with the diverse commodity groups, including tree fruit and grape growers in the interior. Peace River North MLA Pat Pimm


is the 12th agriculture minister in the past 20 years and the eighth in five years, but he gives it a positive spin, saying, “It’s good to see some former (agriculture) ministers in cabinet.” He’s hopeful that will give the portfolio more exposure and mean there’s a better understanding of agriculture issues around the cabinet table.


Former agriculture minister Steve Thomson was reposted to Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Don McRae got Social Development and Social Innovation after May’s Liberal party win in B.C. The most recent former agriculture minister and MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country, Norm Letnick, will not be at the table. Although re-elected, he was not appointed to a cabinet post, although he was named Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier for Intergovernmental Affairs.


Keeping in mind the importance


that a replant assistance program has for apple growers, Pimm commented, “The B.C. government is committed to working with industry in developing a regular, annual, sustainable and reliable replant program.


24 British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Fall 2013


“When I was appointed agriculture minister in June, I received a mandate letter with a clear list of expectations. “One of those


commitments includes creating a long-term and sustainable tree fruit replanting program upon the expiry of the current program. I look forward to working with the industry on this initiative and promoting the growth and production of high-value, high-quality B.C. fruit, and developing a stronger, more-sustainable tree fruit sector that results in growers earning more dollars.” B.C. Fruit Growers Association president Jeet Dukhia says he is hopeful the new minister will follow through on Letnick’s commitment to try to make a replant assistance program more permanent because it’s vital to the industry’s continued survival. The current program is


just $2 million over two years, and “It’s all gone and there’s a big waiting list,”


JUDIE STEEVES


Peace River North MLA Pat Pimm is the province’s eighth agriculture minister in five years.


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