Cumberland South MLA and Progressive Conservative leader Jamie Baillie wants the McNeil government to buy surplus wild blueberries to use in government run facilities when there is an over-supply, and the market price is depressed.
This week, Baillie introduced the Buy Local Wild Blueberries Act to help safeguard the wild blueberry industry. This summer, the price of wild blueberries hit an all-time low.
“The government can play an important role in stabilizing the wild blueberry industry and providing healthy fruit in Government facilities, by buying more local wild berries, particularly when inventories are high and prices low,” says Baillie. “Buying local berries this way, there is no subsidy, as the government will purchase local berries at the market price.”
Peter Rideout, executive director of the Wild Blueberry Producers Association of Nova Scotia, says his organization supports this idea.
“We’ve reviewed the bill and our Association is pleased to support this initiative,” says Rideout. “We are confident that it will be successful in boosting government procurement, as well as, raising public awareness of the availability, flavour and nutritional value of wild blueberries, and of our industry’s significant role in the rural economy.”
Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, who is the MLA for the people of Cumberland North, agrees.
“Blueberries provide a powerful antioxidant with many health benefits. The government could purchase these blueberries and then distribute them in our hospitals, schools and nursing homes,” says Smith-McCrossin. “It becomes a win-win situation for all parties involved.”
The wild blueberry industry employs thousands of Nova Scotians and wild blueberries are the province’s largest agriculture export.
“It’s vital to protect the local wild blueberry industry. There are major benefits to buying local and supporting local jobs,” says Smith-McCrossin. “The McNeil government needs to be doing more when it comes to protecting major parts of our agriculture industry.”
The Progressive Conservative Caucus urges all members of the legislature to support the Bill and protect a major industry within the agriculture sector. The Liberals can enact this legislation and immediately start to increase domestic consumption of wild, Nova Scotia blueberries.