N.B. blueberry growers upset by $184M deal with N.S. plant
New Brunswick will provide a $37.5M repayable loan and will exchange 6,200 hectares
Some blueberry growers in northern New Brunswick are not happy their provincial government has signed a deal for a major development with a Nova Scotian company in the Acadian Peninsula.
Nova Scotia-based Oxford Frozen Foods Ltd. will spend $184 million to build a new processing plant and develop fields in the area.
The New Brunswick government is providing a $37.5-million repayable loan and will exchange more than 6,285 hectares of Crown land for an equal amount of private land.
Jean-Maurice Landry, a spokesperson for the Northeast Wild Blueberry Growers Association, said he doesn't like the fact that a Nova Scotia company is getting access to land local growers would like to use.
"Put in place a processing plant where, basically, Acadians will no longer have the options of developing farms on Crown land but our options will be to sort and pack berries in processing plants for Oxford Frozen Foods," he said.
Landry said local growers want more control.
"We have a proposal to the government to put together a co-op to manage Crown land and then have a critical mass in order to be able to negotiate with processors,” he said.
But CEO of Corporate Research Associates Don Mills, a pollster who watches economic trends, said the rural area needs the jobs.
"You know, that's going to provide a lot of stable employment in that region. It's a game changer I think," he said.
Landry said his group will study the deal to see if the public interest is being served.
Construction on the multi-million dollar, 12,600-square-metre plant on the Acadian Peninsula is scheduled to begin in the spring.