BCFGA President Jeet Dukhia Supports ARPA Plan
Jeet Dukhia, seen here in this file photo, is urging growers to support a levy to create the Apple Research and Promotion Agency.
By Gary Symons
Members of the BC Fruit Growers Association began casting ballots Nov. 27 on a controversial new levy to support apple research and marketing.
If approved, a new organization would be created called the Apple Research and Promotion Agency, or ARPA. Growers would pay a levy of two/tenths of a cent per pound of apples produced to support the agency’s work.
BCFGA general manager Glen Lucas says 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 says. “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.”
Lucas says it’s also important to be aware the project is eligible for matching funds from the BC and Canadian governments.
The levy is expected to raise about $316,000 per year, including matching funds. Of that total, $102,000 would be spent on research, and $89,000 on promotion of BC apples.
The voting started on Nov. 27 but does not finish until the conclusion of the BCFGA Annual General Meeting on Feb. 15. Growers may vote in person at meetings held November 27 and 28, 2013 and at the BCFGA Annual Convention February 15, 2014, or by mail.
“We want growers to become informed on the proposal and to vote. We are confident that if growers take the initiative to vote, the outcome will be positive,” said Jeet Dukhia, President of the BCFGA.
Lucas says the Association is providing a long period for the vote, because they want people to be well informed, and they also want to ensure the vote is representative of the 550 orchardists in the Association.
“For that reason, we’ve set a minimum threshold that must be met,” Lucas says. “First, we have to get more than 40 per cent of our members voting, and of that 40 per cent, we need 65 per cent majority voting in favour to pass.”
The BCFGA is the sponsor of the project and is investing its time and funding into the development of the proposal and the conduct of the vote. “We also appreciate the partial funding for this project provided by BC Investment Agriculture Foundation,” Dukhia said.
Growers can learn more at the newly unveiled website www.bcapplecouncil.org, and all registered growers who have not voted at the November 27 and 28 public meetings will receive an information package and ballot mail in the first half of December. Growers not receiving a package, but who are qualified to vote, may register by sending their name and contact information, along with a signed statement that they grow over two acres of apples, to:
P.O. Box 29044