The controversial proposal for an Apple Research and Promotion Agency is dead, despite winning just over 50 per cent support from growers with the BC Fruit Growers Association.
When the votes were counted, 135 growers voted in favour of the ARPA proposal, 133 voted against, and one vote was spoiled. The proposal required a 65 per cent majority for approval.
"Only 50 per cent voted yes, so the plan will not be forwarded to the Minister of Agriculture," said the BCFGA in a Feb. 19 press release.
The proposal was to create a new organization focused on research of various issues facing fruit growers, and also on launching promotional campaigns for their products. Growers would pay a levy of two/tenths of a cent per pound of apples produced.
BCFGA general manager Glen Lucas said prior to the vote that most people who have studied the details appear to support the ARPA project.
"It’s hard to say right now what the support level is like, because we’ve just started the process," Lucas said. "I would say that of the people I’ve met who have studied the proposal and are aware of what’s in the plan, I see huge support."
The levy was expected to raise about $316,000 per year, including matching funds from government. Of that total, $102,000 would be spent on research, and $89,000 on promotion of BC apples.
But the BCFGA did not succeed in turning that support into a winning vote. Only 43 per cent of growers actually voted, and many saw the proposal as yet another cost, with little direct benefit.
The voting started on Nov. 27 but concluded at the BCFGA Annual General Meeting on Feb. 15.
Newly elected Fred Steele was in favour of the plan, but said it failed to win the hearts and minds of the 550 growers in the BCFGA.