B.C.’s 2021 budget is trending in the right direction to support farmers, says the BC Fruit Growers’ Association. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)

B.C.’s 2021 budget is trending in the right direction to support farmers, says the BC Fruit Growers’ Association. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)

BC Fruit Growers’ Association gives thumbs up to provincial budget

BCFGA general manager said budgetary investments put farming industry on a good trajectory for recovery

The BC Fruit Growers’ Association (BCFGA) is glad to see support for local farmers in the 2021 provincial budget.

Although the B.C. government is projecting a $9.7-billion deficit for this year, the provincial Agriculture Ministry will receive a $4.4-million increase to its core budget, which now sits close to $100 million.

BCFGA general manager Glen Lucas said the investment is a step in the right direction.

“It’s something that we’ve been working to, to change the direction. There were years where the agriculture budget went down,” said Lucas.

“Certainly, we’ve seen it stabilize and increase slightly here. That’s welcomed news.”

The lift will help to expand work on the Buy BC, Feed BC and Grow BC programs, with each initiative receiving $3.41 million over the next three years, totalling $10 million.

The Buy BC program promotes and markets a wide variety of local agriculture, food and beverage products, while the Feed BC initiative focuses on increasing the use of locally grown and processed foods in hospitals, schools, and other government facilities. Grow BC is designed to help young farmers access land, while also supporting fruit and nut growers and processors to expand local food production.

Around $35 million of the ag ministry budget will go towards supporting the centralized quarantine program for foreign workers arriving in the summer for the cherry-picking season.

“There’s some expenditure that’s already been made, not through the ministry of agriculture, but through a COVID-19 recovery fund, that has really helped out the free fruit sector and more generally the horticulture sector,” said Lucas.

“We get over 7,000 workers a year. They get quarantined in Richmond. That really helps out our sector and keeps the workers safe.”

After experiencing two years of challenges brought on by intense periods of rain and frost, he said that he expects the cherry sector to bounce back this year.

“There have been impacts there from those two tough years, but I think the cherry sector looks towards these programs and hopefully some of them enhance access to foreign markets and to develop new crop protection techniques and so on,” he said.

He noted the apple sector is also on a downturn, as work is being done with the government to develop a tree-fruit stabilization initiative.

“We are looking for more programs and help for that sector. We hope that there’s room within the agriculture budget to help out,” he said.

An additional $7 million from last year’s budget will go towards supporting the development of food hubs, farm innovation and food processing. $7.5 million is being allocated to agri-tech initiatives by the B.C. Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation.

“From an overall perspective, it’s a good trend and trajectory for the agriculture budget,” said Lucas.

READ MORE: B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

READ MORE: B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

“We’re looking forward to that continuing in the future.”

2021 B.C. BudgetBC politicsbudget

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Gwen Spencer Hethey is one of four athletes being inducted into the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame this year. Here, she is pictured with her mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
Four new names added to Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame

Matt Pettinger, Gwen Spencer Hethey, Peter Lawless and Roger Skillings being inducted

The District of Saanich is accepting nominations for the 2021 Environmental Awards until June 1 at 4 p.m. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Nominations now open for Saanich’s 21st annual Environmental Awards

Awards recognize individuals and organizations making Saanich more sustainable

Rotary Club of Victoria-Harbourside president Angus Macpherson visited the Wear2Start Society boutique in Victoria to present a cheque to the society’s vice-president Alessandra Ringstad (left) and president Angela Mangiacasale. (Courtesy of Wear2Start)
Rotary club donates over $11,000 to Greater Victoria non-profit for women

Wear2Start Society provides clothing for women in need

Adrienne Rogers (LPN) and Tracy McConnell (RN) on the Victoria Hospice Unit. (Photo courtesy of Victoria Hospice)
Victoria Hospice bereavement counsellors dealing with a tsunami of grief

Last year, Victoria Hospice provided end-of-life care to more than 1,000 people

Paddles sit stacked and ready at a rowing regatta on Elk Lake in 2018. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria junior girls rowing team nabs first in national Row to Tokyo challenge

Young Victoria City Rowing Club members row more than 2,250 km

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Most Read