“Un­nerv­ing” crit­i­cism can’t shake con­fi­dence

The Glengarry News - Glengarry Supplement - - News - BY RICHARD MA­HONEY News Staff

Th­ese are good times for On­tario dairy farm­ers, in spite of un­cer­tainty on the in­ter­na­tional trade scene.

“Un­nerv­ing” is how Lan­caster pro­ducer Peter Van Sleeuwen de­scribes crit­i­cism of sup­ply man­age­ment. Yet, he is con­fi­dent about the fu­ture of the in­dus­try, and the quota sys­tem.

The year 2016 saw record growth in de­mand and pro­duc­tion.

“Con­sump­tion of cheese, but­ter, ice cream and yo­gurt is up,” notes the for­mer Dairy Farm­ers of On­tario di­rec­tor, adding that pro­duc­tion quo­tas have in­creased 15 per cent in two years.

Born and raised on a farm, Mr. Van Sleeuwen and his wife, Anne-Marie, own Mindy Farms Inc. and have four chil­dren with one, son An­drew, work­ing full­time in the farm op­er­a­tion.

An­drew, 30, is in the process of tak­ing over the 900-acre, 130milker farm, and is look­ing for­ward to his four-year-old son con­tin­u­ing the fam­ily tra­di­tion.

Start­ing from scratch in the dairy busi­ness can be daunt­ing, Mr. Van Sleeuwen notes. “Dairy farm­ing has a tremen­dous ap­petite for cap­i­tal,” he re­marks.

The price of quota has been capped at $25,000 per kilo­gram. Yet, land prices con­tinue to rise.

Fewer pro­duc­ers

For the fis­cal year end­ing Oc­to­ber 31, 2016, DFO re­ports there were 3,705 pro­duc­ers rep­re­sent­ing a de­crease of 2.5 per cent from the pre­vi­ous year’s 3,780 pro­duc­ers. Th­ese li­censed dairy farm­ers con­tin­ued to sup­port more than 9,600 On­tario farm fam­i­lies and gen­er­ated rev­enue of $2,085,365,719.

There is no tem­plate for farm­ing.

“Times have evolved. It de­pends on what life­style you want. You ob­vi­ously need crit­i­cal mass,” he says. At the same time, many farm fam­i­lies also rely on off-farm in­come.

Con­sumer con­fi­dence con­tin­ues to buoy the Cana­dian milk in­dus­try.

“Con­sumers know that we pro­vide safe, re­li­able prod­ucts con­sis­tently,” Mr. Van Sleeuwen says.

Milk mar­keters have re­ceived a pub­lic re­la­tions boost from grow-

ing ev­i­dence that dairy prod­ucts are good for you.

“Con­sumer de­mand for healthy food choices has con­tin­ued to in­crease, and dairy prod­ucts are among the lead­ers in healthy food choice,” DFO says. “In ad­di­tion, in­dus­tri­ally-man­u­fac­tured prod­ucts that pre­tend to be sub­sti­tutes can­not com­pare with ice cream and but­ter. The in­dus­try has ben­e­fited from re- search show­ing there is no as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween di­etary sat­u­rated fats and coro­nary heart dis­ease and low-den­sity lipopro­tein or LDL (bad) choles­terol.”

Con­sumers are more aware of the in­gre­di­ents in their foods, and are de­mand­ing sim­ple and nat­u­ral in­gre­di­ents.

New di­rec­tor

Mr. Van Sleeuwen had rep­re­sented Glen­garry, Prescott-Russell and Ot­tawa-Car­leton for three years on the DFO board.

He was suc­ceeded by Ham­mond pro­ducer Bart Ri­jke, who was elected in Jan­u­ary.

Mr. Ri­jke serves on the Au­dit and Plan­ning Com­mit­tee, the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Gov­ern­ment Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, the Gover­nance Com­mit­tee, the Qual­ity As­sur­ance Com­mit­tee, and the Re­search Com­mit­tee; as well as the DFO Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee for Milk.

Mr. Ri­jke and his wife, An­tje, be­gan farm­ing af­ter mov­ing to Canada from the Nether­lands. To­day, they milk 120 cows and crop 500 acres with their old­est son, Geert, and his wife, Danielle. Bart and An­tje have three chil­dren.

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