U.S. investigates blueberry imports from Canada

Blueberry grower Gurprit Singh Brar at his farm near Langley, B.C. | Sarbmeet Singh photo

SURREY, B.C. — Gurprit Singh Brar is fighting to hold onto his farm’s vital blueberry markets in the United States after the U.S. International Trade Commission announced an investigation into Canadian blueberry imports.

The Vancouver-area farmer said he welcomes the support offered by the British Columbia government to assist farmers in fending off the trade challenge.

“As the U.S. is major market, this proposed tariff will have a negative impact on the blueberry growers in British Columbia” said Singh Brar, who farms 100 acres of blueberries near Langley, B.C.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer requested an investigation by the International Trade Commission in September following reports that U.S. farmers are being hurt by cheaper imported berries from Canada.

The B.C. government has contributed funds to the federal government for economic research designed to strengthen Canada’s legal strategy.

“We stand together with our B.C. growers to protect this valued industry and the family-supporting jobs it provides,” said B.C. ministers of agriculture and economy Lana Popham and Ravi Kahlon in a joint statement last week.

There are about 600 blueberry growers farming about 27,000 acres in B.C. The industry is concentrated in the Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland and produces about 160 million pounds of the berries each year.

Rajpal Singh also produces blueberries in the area. The Surrey farmer said times have been tight for growers and market losses would be serious if the U.S. initiates import controls.

“Blueberry growers are already facing losses. So the funding from the government will be a boon for the industry,” said Rajpal Singh.

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