Fredericton, Tuesday, March 7, 2017 – In December, 2013, the Farm Products Council of Canada issued the New Brunswick Blueberry Order, a short document that gave Bleuets NB Blueberries (BNBB) the power to act as a marketing board and charge levies on all interprovincial and export sales.
This Order refers to BBNB as a Commodity Board, which at the provincial level it is not and never has been. Under the provincial Farm Products Commission it is an Agency, which limits itself to communications, liaison, research, and to develop efficient and competitive practices in the industry. Under the 2013 Order, the agency somehow has become a Commodity Board, with the powers to use the levies or charges for their own purposes. This could include the creation of reserves, the payment of expenses and losses resulting from the sale or disposal of any blueberries, and the equalization or adjustment among blueberry producers of money realized from the sale of blueberries during any period that they may determine.
While the Order itself is quite short, the rationale used to pass the order is quite lengthy. In the rationale, numerous one-sided arguments were made to convince the Farm Products Council. For example: “The commodity board received 100% of the support of producers during their annual meeting.” This statement is false, as members present at the meeting were in opposition. The rationale for the Order also states, “No groups, organizations or individuals have opposed any new orders made pursuant to the [Agricultural Products Marketing Act] in the past.” This statement is also false because, just nine months earlier that same year, the Northeast Blueberry Growers Association had put in a formal application to separate from BNBB and create a Regional Marketing Board in the northeast to better respond to their unique market situation.
It has been nearly four years since the original application was brought before the Farm Products Commission. It has been nearly a year since a plebiscite vote was conducted in the Northeast, one that resulted in overwhelming support for the creation of a Regional Marketing Board, and the group is still waiting for the government to give final approval.
The NFU-NB stands in solidarity with the Northeast Blueberry Growers Association in their efforts to create a better and more just system in the province for all blueberry producers.
The National Farmers Union in NB is one of two accredited general farm organizations. We are the only organization that has stood in solidarity with the Northeast Blueberry Growers Association since nearly 16,000 acres of Crown Land was traded with Oxford Frozen Foods in 2013. The NFU-NB has passed an official policy resolution supporting the creation of a regional marketing for the Northeastern growers. Find the New Brunswick Blueberry Order here: http://www.gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p2/2014/2014-01-01/html/sor-dors238-eng.php
Amanda Wildeman, NFU-NB Executive Director, 506 260-0087