Economic summit addresses future

By Ian Fairclough – Valley Bureau

WOLFVILLE – The economic future of Kings County and surrounding areas of the Annapolis Valley will still be in agriculture but it will be different than it is today, business and community leaders heard Tuesday.

Brian Lee Crowley of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies told 120 delegates at the Kings Economic Summit in Wolfville that agricultural tariffs and duties will inevitably be removed in the near future and the industry needs to be prepared.

“It’s going to be a good future, just very different,” he said.

Mr. Crowley said tariffs and duties that protect Canadian farmers from imports are not sustainable in the long run, but farmers shouldn’t fear their removal. When they’re gone, there will be an increase in agricultural commodities imported into the area but he said that can be compensated for by exporting high-quality products to markets that are not currently available.

He said the agriculture industry should not be afraid of change or get locked into doing things the way they have always been done. That means looking at what the consumer market wants and supplying that demand, even if it’s not what the industry has been doing or growing in the past.

He used the example of a local pie company that is now supplying Wal-Mart. Growth in value-added products will not only boost the agriculture sector, but also increase economic spinoffs.

The one-day summit was spearheaded by local chambers of commerce and economic development groups. It included a panel discussion on innovative approaches to local economies and a group discussion on possible development goals.

“We’re very pleased with the turnout,” said Scott Roberts, planning committee chairman of the Eastern Kings Chamber of Commerce.

(ifairclough@herald.ca)