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Canadian fruit sector keeps close eye on EU fruit export decision

The EU is looking to stop the importation of fruits from Canada starting September 1st. Provincial officials are in discussion with Global Affairs Canada to see what impact an EU decision on fruit imports could have on Nova Scotia.

According to a document from the Canadian Government, the EU is looking to halt the imports - which includes apples, cranberries, blueberries, potatoes and other fruits. EU officials say they are attempting to enforce new import requirements related to pests.

In Nova Scotia, provincial officials say they are currently looking into what impact this could have on local growers.

There is just as much uncertainty for growers from British Columbia . Pinder Dhaliwal, president of the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association, said his organization was taken by surprise by the news, which they found out from media reports.

Dhaliwal said the new requirements are unclear. His group plans to co-ordinate with other associations, such as the B.C. Cherry Association and the Ontario-based Canadian Horticultural Council to communicate with the food inspection agency to get more information about the rule changes this week.

The new rules won’t affect this year’s cherry exports as the season has just wrapped up for the year, said Dhaliwal. The next season starts in June, giving the association time to figure out what prompted the restrictions, how to alleviate the EU’s concerns, and find solutions. “I think we’ve got ample time,” he said. “As we get more clarity, we will figure things out.”

In 2018, Canada shipped approximately $3.1 million in cherries to the EU, a growing market for cherry producers in B.C., which has worked to expand crop production to boost exports to the worldwide market overall. Blueberries remain Canada’s top fruit export, with B.C. producing the majority of the country’s cultivated blueberries.

Canada’s agriculture sector has already taken a hit from an ongoing trade spat with China, with excluded Canadian exports of beef, pork and canola from its massive market following the December arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver.

'Rules not unusual'
Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau also spoke out on the new EU rules, saying these rules apply to all countries and “was not unusual.” Bibeau’s office said the EU had agreed to work with the Canadian agency and industry “to establish a systems approach to certify fruit and maintain trade.”

“CFIA successfully uses a system approach for trade with other countries, and is well equipped to establish a systems approach for fruit exports with the European Union,” she added.


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