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NS farmers disappointed in strawberry virus response


August 16, 2013
By Marg Land


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Aug. 16, 2013, Truro, NS – The Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture is discouraged with the provincial government’s recent reaction to industry concerns regarding virus challenges facing Nova Scotia strawberry farmers.

The federation released a statement outlining its concerns the same day the provincial government announced interest free loans for strawberry producers affected by the virus.

According to the federation, members had discussed and requested the Nova Scotia government’s support in eradicating the virus and protecting the strawberry industry for future years.

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“We are very disappointed in their response,” said Dennis Boudreau, president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture. “They are offering an interest free loan that does very little to help resolve the issue of the strawberry virus in Nova Scotia.”

Boudreau calls the release a lack of support by the province’s agriculture department and feels not all possible avenues have been fully explored.

“We have discussed at length the details around the strawberry virus and what the sector needs to mitigate and protect the industry.”

“The government is well aware that the industry needs a unique Nova Scotia solution.”

The strawberry virus, spread through aphids, struck the province earlier this season, resulting in about a 50 per cent loss in strawberry production. According to reports, Greg Webster, a berry producer in Kings County, lost about $450,000 in gross sales due to the virus. Curtis Millen of Millen Farms reportedly ploughed down about 30 ha (74 acres) of strawberry plants trying to eradicate the virus.

The federation states it will continue to ask the provincial government to put pressure on their federal counterparts for a successful Business Risk Management program (Agri-Recovery) for Nova Scotia farmers.

“There is value in having a healthy, viable strawberry industry in Nova Scotia and the need for our government to come to the plate with real support is now.”