For the Tree fruit Industry there is always a storm of one kind or another. Weather as in frost, hail, flooding, new pests and poor returns, there is always something. This year no one ever thought the perfect storm would gather in the clouds of mass uncertainty.
First the Cornavirus took a bite out of marketing. An early frost has decimated the cherry crops. I have spoken to farmers and people associated with the industry, I am getting different visual estimates none of them good. Some say the frost in early April destroyed from forty to eighty percent of their crop.
Others report around fifty percent damage. There are the lucky few that have a three quarter crop as well. The reason is the valley has many micro climates This is cherry production.
There are support programs out there crop insurance and those who say they couldn’t afford it now understand they couldn’t afford to be without it. Keep in mind crop insurance is not about income it is insured compensation for loss.
There is a program called Agri Stability which is based on net income after expenses, a program I never did have much faith in. It’s complicated, time consuming with very little in return in my opinion.
The government federally announced a two hundred forty-five million dollar program for the agriculture industry. If you are a tree fruit grower or a vegetable grower waiting to benefit, don’t wait by your mailbox. This money is for the cattle and hog industry and processors. Tree fruits and vegetables will see nothing in the long run.
The Canadian Federation of Agriculture said the figure should be two point six billion. In my opinion any program needs a criteria for disbursing the funds. If that kind of money were injected into the system it would be serving the livestock and grain sectors. Again tree fruits would see little, and closer to none.
Some in the past have said why don’t we just give up on the industry? Lets explore the impact of that. In two thousand fourteen the economic value of the industry was around five hundred and thirty million dollars. In two thousand twenty, the figure I last heard a few months ago is now seven hundred and seventy-six million. To put this into perspective think of the business activity and the jobs that depend the industry. Groceries, vehicles, retail outlets, recreation, the trades and more
The Valley would need to find three quarters of a billion dollars to offset the loss of what we already have. To be honest I think it will be a tough go as it is for everyone. The agriculture sector is going to feel pain not seen since the early fifties. That pain will trickle down to the rest of us.
The sad truth is the year is not over yet. Farming is and has always been the most expensive form of gambling. The coined phrase is “We’re in this together” it implies we share an equal burden. The problem is the money, short of what is needed suggests equal is a relative term in that it appears some are more equal than others.