N.B. orchards, vineyards get rehab funding

Tree fruit and grape growers in New Brunswick will get almost $773,000 in federal and provincial funds to pull up old plants and trees and upgrade to varieties that are more productive, more in demand or both.

“These investments will allow tree fruit and grape growers to be responsive to marketplace demands by removing varieties which are no longer required, and replanting with varieties that are in demand and grown under more efficient and productive systems,” said provincial Ag Minister Ron Ouellette in a joint release Monday.

Federal funding of up to $463,680 is being made available under the Orchards and Vineyards Transition Program in New Brunswick and is expected to help producers in the removal of fruit trees and vines and to help industry organizations develop strategic commodity plans.

Eligible producers must have an orchard or vineyard of at least 0.25 hectares (0.62 acres). Producers who take part in the program will also have to commit to keeping the land in agriculture, or available to agriculture, for five years.

Eligible producers who have removed fruit trees or vines as of Oct. 25, 2007 or later will receive financial assistance of up to $4,000 per hectare to cover some of the costs of removing plant stock.

Of the $463,680 in federal funds, up to $19,200 will be available to industry associations to develop strategic commodity plans, the government said in the release.

The province, meanwhile, is contributing up to $309,000 under the New Brunswick Apple Industry Development Initiative to help apple growers plant new varieties, improve their post-harvest apple storage systems, enhance on-farm food safety and quality control assurance requirements, and prepare orchards for replanting.

The first $100,000 of this funding was announced in May last year and is being used by the apple sector, the province said.

“Implementing changes to an orchard or vineyard is very costly because of the time it takes for trees and vines to mature and provide a good return on investment,” the two governments said in their release. “The funding being provided to these industries is aimed at helping growers with some of the costs associated with implementing the changes they need to make to remain competitive.”

New Brunswick is one of Canada’s five apple-producing provinces and last year yielded 300,000 bushels from about 740 acres in total, operated by 27 growers. The province’s small grape growers’ association has 30 members, growing white and red grape varieties on about 75 acres.

Similar programs are already in place for producers in Ontario, Nova Scotia and Quebec.

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