Cherries for China, Pits and Pollution for BC!

Lavington Industrial OrchardWhen I wrote the article below I had not realized the extent of the ravages to rural areas that are inherent in the 2014 Canada-China Cherry Agreement.  In order to grow the industry as much as predicted growers buy land in areas that are "suitable" only because deafening equipment such as helicopters and fans are used, making life unlivable for neighbours and because constant spraying pollute the air, water and nearby crops.

The 2014 agreement plans to cover the Okanagan (see map attachment) with industrial cherry orchards, although government acknowledges that growing cherries industrially conflicts with life in the Okanagan. This was admitted in the report written last week during the BC Farm Industry Review Board in Vernon where two complainants asked for a reduction of the incessant noise emitted from a Lavington orchard. See report and closing document of complainants below where they argue that this is NOT normal farming.

The report states:

"Unfortunately, the same factors (sun, water, soils, slopes) that attract the agriculture producers of the province to the valley also encourage non - farming residents to live, work and recreate in the valley.  These competing interests for a limited resource can lead to conflict and this conflict continues to grow as the population of the Okanagan grows and agricultural production continues to expand and change focus ( i .e . dairy to cherry) . " 

 They call "non farming residents" farmers who farm traditionally, without helicopters and other noise making technology.

"Add to the already conflict laden landscape, an influx of English as second language (ESL) farmers and farm workers and the situation becomes more tenuous. Differing social and economic values, an inability to communicate freely and a shortage of time to produce and harvest crop , leads to conflict that may be unresolvable without the assistance of Ministry of Agriculture Regional Agrologists and FIRB and its delegated authority ."   

And in case you're wondering whether you should worry before anything happens the answer is a resounding YES because there will be no protection for you, your animals, your crops or your peace of mind. When a complainant asked what the government suggest rural residents can do when faced with this kind of industry the answer they got was "move".  When he responded that he felt that allowing this kind of industrial agriculture was abuse, the lawyer for the industrialist responded "if you lived in a rural area and didn't expect abuse, you were naive".

To add insult to injury the KP's report includes this recommendation:

"The complainants should consider and potentially build soil berms near their houses/buildings to reduce noise reaching their properties."  

So the poor folks of Spallumcheen whose water is polluted by an industrial dairy are paying to buy water and the poor folks stuck with industrial orchards using helicopters and other noise makers will now have to pay to build berms. Profits are thus privatized and deficits socialized.

Read a summary letter compsed by Jane Weixl on the subject.