Agriculture policies are no help

Despite brave words to the contrary, it appears that agriculturalists in the South Okanagan – Similkameen are going to be left to fend for themselves in the wake of another disastrous return on apple prices this year.

With an average price of 12 1/2 cents per pound based on production costs of 22 cents, BCFGA Presdient Joe Sardinha noted recently that, “This is the third year in a row where prices are falling below production. You don’t have to be a math genius to know this isn’t sustainable.”

Low prices are a factor of oversupply problems, not helped by the fact that Canada seems totally unable to defend her suppliers from questionable trade tactics coming from foreign competitors such as the U.S.

The province isn’t offering much help to the industry in general, having gutted the agricultural budget over the last two years.

Agriculture Minister Ben Stewart (the eighth one in ten years) says the government wants to work with growers but he expects them to stand on their own feet.

A recent assault on local farm property assessment values has a growing number of farmers crying foul over what appears to be a money grabbing policy taking place (once again) at the expense of what Cloverdale-Surrey MLA Kevin Falcon, in Keremeos last week, called the “dirt” ministries.

Agriculturalists in the valley are finding themselves increasingly squeezed between markets that deliver insufficient or negative returns and a disappointing lack of comphrehension for the problerms they face at the provincial and federal level.

The most likely outcome of which will probably be a lot fewer farms in business in the coming years – and with international forecasts calling for food shortages and rising food prices in the near future,it’s difficult to view government agricultural policy – at any level – as vsionary.