N.S. fruit growers backed for industry study

Nova Scotia’s fruit growers plan to put public funding toward an industry-wide study of the sector’s “future direction.”

The federal government’s Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) on Tuesday pledged $30,000 for the study from its Innovative Communities Fund, while the provincial government will put up a $5,000 grant and the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers’ Association (NSFGA) will kick in $9,525.

The NSFGA said it plans to consult “extensively” with its members as well as fruit industry stakeholders in both Canada and the U.S., the general agriculture industry and the Nova Scotia Agricultural College and “secure views and insight into the industry’s future.”

Fruit growers are under “significant” pressure from a global oversupply of commodities, “intense” foreign competition, weather-related disasters, static consumption and retail consolidation, ACOA said in its release Tuesday.

“This is an important initiative that will position Nova Scotia fruit growers for enhanced growth and development into the future,” provincial Agriculture Minister John MacDonell said in the same release.

“We have seen significant gains in new markets with unique and profitable apple varieties and in infrastructure that will ensure quality apples and apple products that consumers demand and expect.”

The province’s fruit industry is “critical to the economic success of the Annapolis Valley,” NSFGA executive director Dela Erith said in the same release.

The province produces about 10 per cent of Canada’s total apple production, Erith said, noting Nova Scotia fruit growers create about $14.7 million in farm gate sales and have an economic impact of about $72.5 million on the province’s economy.

Federal Defence Minister Peter MacKay, a Nova Scotia MP, said in the same release that the ACOA funding “supports the development of an effective approach that will help Nova Scotia’s fruit growers’ industry meet its full economic potential.”

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