Okanagan fruit growers and the abandonment of orderly marketing: land use change, single desk selling and the coming of the agricultural land reserve
Garrish, Christopher John
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The creation of an orchard landscape within the interior of British Columbia was based upon a flawed settlement philosophy, geographic isolation, and the challenges of an inhospitable natural environment. Okanagan fruit growers became one of the first producer groups in Canada to establish a system of legislated, compulsory co-operation, single-desk selling, and orderly marketing. While their efforts p aralleled those o f farmers in many other regions, they also reflected local conditions including a flawed settlement philosophy, geographic isolation, and the challenges of an inhospitable natural environment. For over thirty-five years, and through the oversight of the British Columbia Fruit Growers Association, these marketing tools furthered the interests of growers in all matters directly connected with the production and marketing of their fruit. As coping mechanisms, however, the single-desk and orderly marketing did not allow growers to entirely master the limitations of the landscape in which they operated. During periods of low returns and climactic distress the unencumbered subdivision and sale of orchard land emerged as a safety valve necessary for the continued operation of the single-desk. When, in 1973, the provincial government of British Columbia introduced farreaching restrictions on the subdivision and conversion of farmland, a legitimate avenue of exit for many growers was closed. The subsequent unrest engendered by the new land use controls proved fatal to the marketing system as dissidents, opposed to the entire industry structure, succeeded in having the provincial government remove the monopoly status enjoyed by BC Tree Fruits. Relying upon a broad range of archival and secondary sources, this thesis explores the historical circumstances in which the Okanagan fruit industry became dependent upon regulated, co-operative marketing, and then abandoned the orderly marketing system.