HALIFAX: Nova Scotia’s Christmas tree growers will benefit from funding to strengthen their industry and help explore new export markets.

Agriculture Minister Keith Colwell joined the Christmas Tree Council of Nova Scotia for the announcement on April 24, in New Ross. The $751,000 in funding comes from the Building Tomorrow Fund, a three-year, $9 million provincial investment in agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture.

“Thanks to our popular Boston tree tradition, our Christmas trees are exported all around the world to places like Panama, the United States and the Caribbean,” said Colwell. “I’m pleased our Christmas tree growers will be able to open even more export markets and become stronger competitors against artificial trees.”

The funding will be provided to the council over three years for a research and development plan, field trials, the development of quality standards, market research, an operational efficiency study and the development of a sustainability plan for the council.

The funding will also give producers the chance to plant SMART trees on their lots. SMART trees were developed at the Atlantic Christmas Tree Research Centre in Truro and are healthier, longer lasting trees that have been naturally selected to hold their needles for up to three months, making them more attractive to international markets.

“Building from the strength of council’s strategic planning over the past year, this support could not have come at a better time,” said Angus Bonnyman, executive director of Christmas Tree Council of Nova Scotia. “We have strong demand around the world for our famous forest grown balsam firs, and plan to quadruple the value of our exports by focusing on quality and innovation.”

Half of the fund this year, $1.5 million, will be allocated to the agriculture sector to support the creation of new products and new market development to further drive export growth.