Top News

Conservatives urge government to support ailing blueberry industry

Cumberland County's two PC MLAs are urging the province to purchase surplus blueberries and use them in government institutions.
Cumberland County's two PC MLAs are urging the province to purchase surplus blueberries and use them in government institutions.

Baillie introduces Buy Local Blueberries Act

HALIFAX – Cumberland County’s two MLAs are urging the province to help the blueberry industry through one of it’s biggest crisis by buying surplus blueberries to use in its facilities.

Cumberland South MLA and PC leader Jamie Baillie introduced the Buy Local Blueberries Act that will see the government purchase surplus berries when there’s an over-supply and the market price is depressed.

Most producers were only getting approximately 20 cents a pound this summer – down from 65 cents a pound just three years ago. Many producers feel the price has to be at least 40 cents a pound to break even.

“The government can play an important role in stabilizing the wild blueberry industry and providing healthy fruit in Government facilities, by buying more local wild berries, particularly when inventories are high and prices low,” Baillie said in a news release. “Buying local berries this way, there is no subsidy, as the government will purchase local berries at the market price.”

Cumberland County’s other MLA, Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, who is a nurse and business owner, said it’s a move that would not only help the industry, but promote healthy eating.

“Blueberries provide a powerful antioxidant with many health benefits. The government could purchase these blueberries and then distribute them in our hospitals, schools and nursing homes,” said Smith-McCrossin. “It becomes a win-win situation for all parties involved.”

The wild blueberry industry employs thousands of Nova Scotians and wild blueberries are the province’s largest agriculture export.

“It’s vital to protect the local wild blueberry industry. There are major benefits to buying local and supporting local jobs,” said the Cumberland North MLA. “The McNeil government needs to be doing more when it comes to protecting major parts of our agriculture industry.”

Peter Rideout, executive director of the Wild Blueberry Producers Association of Nova Scotia, said his organization supports this idea.

“We've reviewed the bill and our association is pleased to support this initiative," he said. "We are confident that it will be successful in boosting government procurement, as well as, raising public awareness of the availability, flavour and nutritional value of wild blueberries, and of our industry's significant role in the rural economy."

 

Recent Stories