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prunings


food and beverage processors and for emerging sectors in the agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products industries. Applicants in the latter category should be looking to introduce new production systems, products, markets, standards, processes, management practices or technologies. Eligible projects address gaps in applied scientific knowledge, technology adaptation and transfer, pre-commercialization exploration, skills, business development and collaboration with potential partners in order to seize new business opportunities. That includes projects involving small scale/lot agriculture, natural health products, Aboriginal agriculture, agri-tourism and direct farm marketing, bio- products, new environmental management practices, apiculture, small-scale food processing, women and mushrooms.“By aiding in expansion of both established and emerging agricultural and food processing sectors, the AFFF initiative has fulfilled a vital role in strengthening B.C. agriculture as a whole,” comments Investment Agriculture Foundation chair Ken Bates. The AFFF fund was established in 2001 with federal-provincial funding and has contributed more than $21 million to hundreds of projects. Funding is also available for projects that fit in these priority areas: enhance sectoral competitive position of B.C. food and beverage processors; build B.C.’s reputation as a leader in health and lifestyle-oriented products; build business relationships and collaboration with value-chain partners; or enhance communications and coordination among industry stakeholders. All applicants should demonstrate their project provides a broad benefit to the province’s agriculture and/or agri-foods sectors. It is a cost-shared program, with both financial and in-kind project contributions considered for matching funding. Application deadlines are Sept. 15, Nov. 14, 2017 and Feb. 9, 2018... Just days before Hurricane


T Ken Bates


here’s still $7 million available in the Agri-Food Futures Fund for small to large-scale


Harvey slammed into Houston, Texas, Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers conducted its fourth auction of the year in that city, selling more than 3,700 equipment items and trucks for US$49 million over two days (August 23-24), and setting a site record for online sales. More than 4,500 people from 58 countries registered to bid in the auction, including about 3,000 who registered to bid online. The world’s largest industrial auctioneer, it’s part of what is now a global asset management and disposition company that began life in 1958 as a small family-run business in Kelowna. The three Ritchie brothers — Ken, Dave and John —soon progressed beyond furniture and begin conducting more regular auctions. In 1963 they held their first major unreserved industrial auction in B.C., selling US$600,000 worth of equipment. During the early 1970s as demand for the company’s unreserved auction services increased, Ritchie Bros. began to expand across Canada and into the United States, holding its first auction there in Beaverton, Oregon... Maine’s wild blueberry crop


shrank considerably this year as growers contended with troubles such as disease and a lack of pollination. The New England state is the wild blueberry capital of the U.S., and in recent years crop sizes have soared and prices have plummeted, bringing uncertainty to a key industry. The crop grew a little less than one per cent last year to almost 102 million pounds (46 million kilograms), while prices hit a 10-year low of 27 cents per pound to farmers. But it was apparent as the 2017 harvest neared its end that things are changing, according to University of Maine horticulture professor David Yarborough. He said “mummy berry” disease, a crop-killing ailment caused by a fungal pathogen, and other factors could cut the crop as much as 36 per cent this summer. Yarborough said a shortage of pollinators, a lack of rain and some localized frost issues have also held back the blueberry crop. Another factor influencing crop size is that farming effort appears to be down this year, possibly influenced by the low prices to farmers, he said. Wild blueberries are smaller than their cultivated cousins and are often used in processed food products and smoothies. The vast majority of the crop is frozen. Canada also has a considerable wild blueberry industry,


and competition with this country has been problematic for American growers because of the weak Canadian dollar... Still south of the line, the cranberry industry there wants the U.S. Department of Agriculture to order farmers and processors to cut production for the 2017 and 2018 harvests. The Cranberry Marketing Committee, made up of growers, voted unanimously this month to seek volume reductions of 15 per cent this year and 25 per cent next year. “We’ve got to do something because we just keep adding and adding (to the surplus) and it gets worse and worse,” said Malcolm McPhail, a cranberry grower on the Long Beach Peninsula in Washington. “It’s just impossible to grow demand as fast as the fruit is coming.” Record crops in the U.S. and growth of the cranberry industry in Canada during the past decade have built up an inventory that now slightly exceeds one year’s demand. Even if Canada continues to produce cranberries, volume controls in the U.S. could be effective in halting the slide of prices, said Tom Lochner, executive director of the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association. “At the end of the day, it’s going to get fruit out of the inventory,” Lochner said. “It’s a pretty powerful tool to manage supply.” Lochner said volume reductions will provide only short-term relief. In the long run, the industry will need to sell more cranberries to such countries as China, India, South Korea and Australia, he said. The cranberry industry last used volume controls to reduce a surplus in 2000. The marketing committee again requested volume controls in 2014, but the USDA declined, saying it suspected the U.S. cranberry industry was conspiring with growers in Quebec to control the supply...


For the record


An estimate by Brian Mauza, scientist with Ocean Spray Canada in Richmond, was accidentally blown way out of proportion by type gremlins in the Spring Issue of the B.C. Berry Grower. His estimate that 250-500 acres of cranberries might be replanted this year, turned into much larger figures in print. Apologies.


British Columbia Berry Grower • Fall-Winter 2017 23


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