Terry Farrell recently addressed the federal standing committee on international trade. During his remarks he reiterated the importance of the blueberry industry in northern Nova Scotia and its impact on the local economy.
“Cumberland County is the hub of wild blueberry production and processing in Nova Scotia,” Farrell said. “We're at the forefront of change, development, and growth in the industry. ”
According to 2015 provincial export numbers, blueberry exports total $122 million, over 30 per cent of Nova Scotia’s agri-food exports.
Unfortunately, Farrell said, one of the results of increased productivity has been low prices, resulting in a very difficult year that saw many Nova Scotia blueberry farmers leave their crops in the field.
“To counter this recent trend, we need the support to help us gain increased access to markets in places like Asia. This is how we're going to increase demand and reward producers for their hard work and innovation. This is something the industry has talked about publicly,” Farrell told the committee. “I am here to actively encourage the federal government to use its leverage in Asian markets to gain more access for our blueberries. This is what will start expanding market access through trade agreements. ”
The MLA said that since coming to office in 2013, the McNeil government has invested in the Nova Scotia blueberry industry by partnering with the governments of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island to invest $355,000 to help the blueberry industry by doubling the number of honey bee hives by 2025, while creating the Lowbush Blueberry Development Program - a $1.08-million investment over three years to improve production techniques. The program is cost-shared with the federal government.
He said the province is continuing to look for ways to partner with the blueberry industry to bring its exceptional product to markets around the world.