by SUSAN MANN
Tender fruit grower representatives plan to meet with three Niagara-area MPs this summer to discuss the federal government’s decision to manage plum pox virus rather than ask growers what program they want.
Len Troup, chair of the Ontario Tender Fruit Producers Marketing Board, says in the federal budget, both in the one that didn’t pass before the election and the one that was passed after the Conservatives won a majority, “the amount of money they had in there was not anywhere near what they needed for eradication, which certainly tells me where they’re going.”
In a letter from federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, the tender fruit board was told the government plans to move away from eradication to management, he explains, and management “is really just watching it.”
Troup says the marketing board asked for the growers to have a vote “and for them to decide where they wanted to go.” There are three options being considered, one is a management-type program while the other two are eradication programs.
“We wanted the growers to have the opportunity to decide and that has not happened,” he says. “The decision was made arbitrarily by the federal government and it was not what we were looking for.”
Troup says they’re still discussing the matter with their local MPs and “we’ll see if that bears any fruit.”
Plum pox virus or Sharka is a serious disease of stone fruit. It reduces the yields and marketability of the fruit and affects the productivity of peach, plum, nectarine and apricot trees. The disease was first detected in Ontario in 2000. BF