BC Fruit Growers' Association pleased with gains made in provincial budget

Budget good for farmers

The head of the BC Fruit Growers' Association says he is pleased with the direction the NDP government has taken in terms of agriculture in Tuesday's provincial budget.

BCFGA general manager Glen Lucas said the industry had hoped to see an increase in funding to bring it more in line with other provinces and jurisdictions south of the border.

"We were looking for an increase, and we saw that," Lucas told Castanet News.

He says the agriculture budget increased from $95.4 million to just shy of $100 million.

"We are happy to see that increase, given all of the various fires the government is dealing with - COVID-19, the opioid crisis.

"I would say it's also a positive from our perspective that the government has looked into stabilizing and committing to the sustainability in our food system."

Lucas pointed to several initiatives including food hubs and agri-tech.

A food hub gives an entrepreneur who is looking to get started in the agriculture industry a place to go by connecting producers and processors to supply chain partners, infrastructure, training and technology to support business growth

While food hubs have not yet made their way to the Okanagan, Lucas suggests announcements will be forthcoming in the future.

The government has also committed to continue the seasonal farm worker quarantine program, which provides 14-day quarantine for workers coming into the province in a central location.

"There are over 7,000 who come into B.C. every year. The government made an early decision to have a centralized quarantine for those workers. instead of quarantining in a bunch of farms around the province, they were on one or two sites in Richmond.

"That has really protected the workers, made it safe for them, and the communities where they get released to."

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