Fruit growers rally in Osoyoos after couple tough years | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Fruit growers rally in Osoyoos after couple tough years

Sukhdeep Brar is the vice-president of the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association. He owns a farm near Summerland, BC.
Image Credit: Zak Vescera, Local Journalism Initiative

Fruit growers are rallying in Osoyoos Tuesday to raise awareness about the financial pressure on local farmers over the last few years.

The BC Fruit Growers’ Association is organizing the Stronger Together rally at Gyro Park in Osoyoos from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., May 28, according to a news release from the association.

Fruit growers, especially those who grow stone fruit like peaches, and grape growers have been significantly impacted by extreme weather over the last few years.

“The heat dome of 2021 was followed by back-to-back cold snaps, and these unprecedented weather events have been taking big bites out of the local agricultural community,” the association said in the release.

The association hopes the rally will raise awareness about the challenges facing food producers.

READ MORE: As Okanagan cherry trees begin to bloom, cold snap damage becomes visible

“I am very worried about the toll the last few years is taking on farmers. I am worried about mental health in an industry that doesn’t like to talk about mental health. I am worried about the number of orchards and vineyards that are going up for sale,” the association’s vice president Sukhdeep Brar said in the release.

“I’m worried that there’s not a future in Okanagan farming for my kids. We need to stand together as growers and we need to ask the people of British Columbia to support local and buy local now more than ever.”

The rally will have live music, ice cream and speeches from farmers and former agriculture ministers Corky Evans and John Van Dongen. The association’s president Peter Simonson wants to urge the public and politicians to support farmers.

“We were very fortunate that over 50 years ago a courageous group of politicians established the Agricultural Land Reserve with the goal of protecting food production for future generations," he said in the release. "That future has now arrived and we have protected the land but support for farming has eroded to unsustainable levels – slowly and under the leadership of various political parties.

"We once again need courageous politicians, of all stripes and at all levels, to bring support for the farmers back. Food production is too important to be a partisan issue.”

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