New Brunswick

National Farmers Union points to glut hurting blueberry farmers

The National Farmers Union in New Brunswick calls it a "perfect storm" of challenges for blueberry farmers in New Brunswick this season.

Good crop reported this season but saturated market drove prices down for farmers

Blueberry growers took their concerns about low prices to the Saint-Isidore office of MLA Denis Landry in August. (Bridget Yard/CBC)

The National Farmers Union in New Brunswick calls it a "perfect storm" of challenges for blueberry farmers in New Brunswick this season.

There were lots of blueberries, but a saturated market drove down prices for farmers.

It's been a good season again, which normally would be a great thing but prices continue to drop as the market is quite saturated.- Amanda Wildeman

"It's been a good season again, which normally would be a great thing, but prices continue to drop as the market is quite saturated," said executive director Amanda Wildeman.

Some growers are even looking to sell their lands and get out of the business, she said.

"Many of them are not making even enough to cover their interest on the loans they've taken out to develop their land," said Wildeman. 

A child picks blueberries poured over the parking the parking lot of MLA Denis Landry's office in Saint-Isidore at a growers protest in August. (Bridget Yard/CBC)
Wildeman said there are still some blueberries in storage from last year that haven't been sold, reducing the need for this year's harvest. 

She said another problem is the new Oxford Frozen Food plant on the Acadian Peninsula didn't take on any new customers this year. 

"The plant just came online this July and at least at the very beginning of the season, no new clients were being taken on for that facility," said Wildeman. 

"And producers were noticing trucks coming in from Maine and Nova Scotia with berries to be processed at that plant." 

Not a unique issue

In an email response from the provincial government, Agriculture Minister Rick Doucet said these issues are not unique to New Brunswick.

"Blueberry-producing jurisdictions throughout North America have had record total production over the last two seasons, which has led to increased supply and lower prices," wrote Doucet.

"Our government is actively working with industry in increasing processing capacity, including value-added products, to make the best use of our resource."

With files from Information Morning Moncton

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