|Workers package McIntosh apples earlier this year at the Okanagan Tree Fruit Co-operative. The B.C. Fruit Growers' Association executive budgeted for a $17,000 loss for the fiscal year ending Oct. 31, one-half of the deficit in 2010-11.|
2011-12 year in the red.
The association executive budgeted for a $17,000 loss in its $1-million-plus budget for the fiscal year ending Oct. 31, one-half of the deficit in 2010-11. But the deficit could have topped $100,000, said general manager Glen Lucas on Tuesday.
"It's not a good situation. We're not happy about it, but I think members accept that we've done everything possible. We told members at the regional meetings
(in November) that the association is quite financially healthy," he said.
"I've done a rough draft of next year's budget and I'm quite comfortable with it."
The BCFGA executive and delegates set aside $150,000 in reserve funds and it can't be spent without approval. The association also has cash reserves of $150,000, no debt and a number of sizable, unencumbered assets, he noted, "but we do have to address our operational deficit."
Several factors played a part, most notably membership fees funnelled through the Okanagan Tree Fruit Co-operative. The co-op introduced a new fruit contract this year and also decided which growers it would accept as members, said Lucas. As a result, co-op membership dropped by 20 per cent. The BCFGA currently has 595 members compared to 750 last year and about 2,000 in the 1980s.
Final membership numbers didn't arrive until June, more than one-half through the financial year, said Lucas, so "we only had a few months to react."
The association cut back on general expenses and completed projects as quickly as possible. Auditors are currently going through the books, so final figures aren't yet available.
The BCFGA operations budget is generally in the $300,000-$350,000 range, but the total budget includes what is called flow-through funds. The province has provided $1 million for a replant program and $200,000 for budding/grafting in 2013, for example. The association takes the funds and receives an administration fee to distribute them to growers who qualify.
The BCFGA also handled a federal grant for new cooling technology to be used at the co-op's packinghouses. It has been deferred to next year, so the BCFGA also lost that administration fee. Each of those two projects would have contributed about one-third of the $100,000 potential deficit.