The BC Fruit Growers Association has new leadership.
Pinder Dhaliwal of Oliver was elected president of the 550 member group at their annual general meeting in Kelowna, defeating former president Jeet Dukhia of Vernon.
Peter Simonsen of Naramata was acclaimed as vice president.
Photo: Jeet Dukhia and Fred Steele talk at BCFGA AGM in Kelowna (Courtesy of Country Life in BC/Twitter)
Outgoing president Fred Steele of Kelowna — who didn’t seek re-election after four years at the helm — says the highlight of the meeting for him was the 5 million dollar tree fruit competitiveness fund announced by the BC government.
He says it will help growers deal with invasive pests and to replant new fruit varieties.
“Some of it, I hope, will find its way to fixing the problem of the aging infrastructure of the packing houses as well. I really hope they go somewhat in that direction as well. A lot is needed there, and it’s a good start,” Steele tells CJIB News.
Steele says it’s difficult to increase capacity at some of the main packing houses using equipment that is, in some cases, 60 years old.
The board also approved two year terms for the president and some other positions, up from the current one year.
“Two year terms for the president and those that scored highest. This year, it will be one year for the vice president, and then it will be two years after that, so it will stagger. Half the board will be elected for two years, every year. It’s a major change,” says Steele.
Steele jokes the campaign for president was almost as long as the US race for president.
“You started in November and you campaigned until the middle of February, and you had to do that every year,” says Steele, who is leaving the apple growing industry, but plans to continue to follow BCFGA issues.
Steele says the members agreed to look at ways to control the deer population.
“They want to talk about bow hunters and a constructive thing. It’s not wholesale shooting in the orchards. It’s a regulated thing.”
Steele says the resolutions like that one, will be discussed by the board of directors in the coming weeks to decide which ones they move forward on.