Blueberries being picked in B.C. (B.C. Blueberry Council/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Blueberries being picked in B.C. (B.C. Blueberry Council/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Province backs B.C. blueberry farmers in trade dispute with U.S.

The United States is investigating if imports are ‘harming’ U.S. farmers

Two B.C. cabinet ministers said the province will fight back against a U.S. trade investigation into imports of B.C. blueberries to the United States.

The majority of Canada’s exports of fresh blueberries to the U.S. originate in British Columbia, according to a joint statement by Ravi Kahlon, minister of jobs, economic recovery, and Lana Popham, agriculture minister. There are about 800 blueberry growers in B.C. who could see their livelihoods impacted.

At the end of September, United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer asked the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to begin a “global safeguard investigation” into whether increased blueberry imports were hurting American blueberry growers.

The investigation is looking at every kind of blueberry, from fresh to frozen to wild-picked.

The U.S. ITC could recommend tariffs or quotas if it finds U.S. blueberry growers are injured or are threatened to be injured by imports, the ministers said.

A significant number of blueberry growers are in Langley and the Fraser Valley.

The ministers promised B.C. will contribute funds towards an economic study to back up B.C.’s defense against the U.S. trade investigation.

The province is also working with the B.C. Blueberry Council, which represents about 75 per cent of B.C.’s growers.

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