Jeet Dukhia remains president of the B.C. Fruit Growers' Association.
Dukhia, who took over from Kirpal Boparai after Boparai quit last month, defeated challenger Fred Steele of Kelowna in elections during the association's annual convention Saturday in Penticton.
Dukhia pointed to the challenges the association faces during trying financial times.
He said the association needs to maintain a good relationship with Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick, the MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country.
Dukhia, who operates a farm in Vernon, said two priorities for the coming year include continuation of the replant program that allows farmers to restock their orchards with other varieties of fruit trees.
In the past, growers were required to follow a "like-for-like" method, meaning that if they wanted to replace a fruit tree, they had to replant with the same type. Cherry trees could be replaced only with cherry trees, for example.
However, Letnick announced at the convention Saturday that criteria will be developed to allow growers to replant with different types of fruit trees.
Provincial funding for the program is $2 million, but Dukhia said the association would like to see about $1.5 million per year dedicated to the program.
He added that growers spend about $30,000 per acre on the program and yet receive a $7,000 government grant.
"We are very happy with the minister's announcement on the long-term replant program," said Dukhia, adding that change has occurred within about the past month.
He said he feels the program will revamp the Okanagan fruit industry in only a few years' time.
Dukhia also commented on the Columbia River Treaty, signed between Canada and the United States in 1961.
The treaty called for development and operation of dams in the upper Columbia River area to provide economic benefits for both countries. A total of four dams were built under the treaty: the Duncan, Mica and Keenleyside dams in Canada and the Libby Dam in the U.S.
A champion of the treaty was former B.C. premier W.A.C. Bennett, who felt it would provide the province with the opportunity for hydroelectric development.
However, the BCFGA believes the treaty has most benefited the Wenatchee and Chelan apple-growing regions, which have seen their production increase substantially.
B.C.'s fruit growers believe that success has come at the expense of the province's fruit, vegetable and potato industries.
The treaty is up for review in 2014, and talks between Canada and the United States are set for September.
"We have to convince (Letnick) on our priorities," said Dukhia. "He mentioned the long-term replant program is a priority, and he wants us to have our act together and have all the facts and figures on the Columbia River Treaty."
Dukhia would like to see a compensation package from the government as a result of negative effects to B.C.'s agriculture industry.
The association is also mending fences with some of its members following turmoil surrounding former BCFGA president Boparai.
Boparai resigned from the position after news surfaced that had broken terms of a contract with Okanagan Tree Fruit Co-op packing houses by selling his crop to Ontario and bypassing the co-op. With his resignation, Dukhia, then vice-president, automatically became the new president until Saturday's elections.
The new president downplayed the controversy surrounding Boparai's resignation.
"I have some concerns from the growers, but it wasn't that bad," said Dukhia. "Everybody has mellowed out and everybody wants to work together. Everybody wants to forget the past."
Dukhia said he was happy with the turnout at the convention, which was reduced to a one-day event as a cost-cutting measure.
South Okanagan grower Bhupinder Dhaliwal was elected vice-president over Denise MacDonald. Vice-presidential candidate Joe Sardinha, who served as president of the association before Boparai, withdrew his name from the ballot Saturday afternoon.