What man­ag­ing pro­duc­tion means

The Glengarry News - Glengarry Supplement - - News -

By Is­abelle Bouchard Dairy Farm­ers of Canada Much has been writ­ten over the past year about the on­go­ing global dairy cri­sis – a sus­tained glut of sup­ply on the world mar­ket lead­ing to world milk prices that are be­low the costs of pro­duc­tion for most farm­ers – we thought it would be the per­fect time to write about what man­ag­ing pro­duc­tion means here in Canada.

While other coun­tries comb the al­ready sat­u­rated ex­port mar­ket to find homes for their milk, Canada, un­der our sys­tem of sup­ply man­age­ment, has in­stead cho­sen to fo­cus chiefly on serv­ing our do­mes­tic mar­ket. Un­der sup­ply man­age­ment, Cana­dian dairy farm­ers act col­lec­tively to ne­go­ti­ate prices and ad­just milk pro­duc­tion to meet cus­tomer and con­sumer de­mand. By bal­anc­ing our sup­ply of milk based on the fore­casted do­mes­tic de­mand for our prod­ucts, we strive to pro­duce only as much as is re­quired so that farm milk al­ways has a home here in Canada. Fur­ther­more, by choos­ing to fo­cus on our do­mes­tic mar­ket rather than the sat­u­rated and volatile global ex­port mar­ket, Cana­dian far­m­gate prices re­main rel­a­tively sta­ble and our farm­ers are in a bet­ter po­si­tion to weather the global storm, cover their costs of pro­duc­tion and plan for the fu­ture.

The un­for­tu­nate events in Wis­con­sin lead­ing to 75 farms los­ing their milk con­tracts are a di­rect re­sult of an over­sup­ply of milk in the United States – and world­wide. This is not just rhetoric, this is re­al­ity. Rather than col­lec­tively man­age their sup­ply, the ap­proach the United States has taken to this prob­lem is to of­fer a risk man­age­ment safety net in the form of bil­lions in gen­er­ous sub­si­dies, avail­able through the U.S. Farm Bill. Mean­while, in Canada, no such sub­si­dies are re­quired, we sim­ply man­age our pro­duc­tion and fo­cus on serv­ing our own back yard.

This is not about a right, or a wrong, ap­proach. We firmly be­lieve that every sin­gle coun­try in the world has the right to food sovereignty, and to de­ter­mine their own do­mes­tic poli­cies; we would never be­grudge

an­other coun­try for the ap­proach they have cho­sen. How­ever, if U.S. Sec­re­tary of Agri­cul­ture Sonny Per­due had a sug­ges­tion box – we might just see fit to drop him a line about sup­ply man­age­ment as a po­ten­tial so­lu­tion to his prob­lems. It is a Cana­dian pol­icy – and it works!

Man­ag­ing pro­duc­tion is not just about weath­er­ing (and also not con­tribut­ing to) eco­nomic storms, it also has many other ben­e­fits. Be­cause Cana­dian dairy farm­ers can count on rel­a­tively sta­ble price it al­lows them to con­tin­u­ally make in­vest­ments into in­creas­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity and in­no­va­tion, and im­prov­ing best prac­tices on the farm. Farm­ers also in­vest, with farm groups and gov­ern­ment, into re­search and devel­op­ment, which has in­formed the con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment of farm stan­dards over the years. The end re­sult is more com­fort­able, healthy, pro­duc­tive an­i­mals pro­duc­ing higher qual­ity milk in a way that re­spects the en­vi­ron­ment.

The col­lec­tive na­ture of sup­ply man­age­ment has also al­lowed Cana­dian dairy farm­ers to vol­un­tar­ily im­pose a manda­tory cus­tomer as­sur­ance and sus­tain­abil­ity pro­gram. The aim of our sus­tain­abil­ity pro­gram is to demon­strate and en­sure that Cana­dian dairy farm­ers ad­here to the high­est prac­tice stan­dards, which goes above and be­yond reg­ula- tions in place at the pro­vin­cial and fed­eral lev­els. We have lever­aged our sup­ply man­age­ment sys­tem to make the pro­gram manda­tory and show that all Cana­dian milk fol­lows strict, but evolv­ing stan­dards for milk qual­ity and safety, an­i­mal health and care.

Dairy farm­ers are one of only two Canada agri­cul­tural sec­tors to achieve full of­fi­cial gov­ern- ment recog­ni­tion – at the fed­eral, pro­vin­cial and ter­ri­to­rial lev­els – for our au­ditable on-farm food safety as­sur­ance pro­gram, and we are build­ing on that suc­cess for the other as­pects of sus­tain­abil­ity: an­i­mal health and care, trace­abil­ity and en­vi­ron­men­tal stew­ard­ship. Each of th­ese in­vest­ments (time and fi­nan­cial) are a re­flec­tion of Cana­dian dairy farm­ers’ on­go­ing com­mit­ment to their fel­low Cana­di­ans; sus­tain­abil­ity is im­por­tant to us all. Af­ter all, some Cana­dian dairy farms have been op­er­at­ing in Canada on the same land for 150 years, this would not be pos­si­ble with­out sus­tain­able prac­tices!

Fi­nally, man­ag­ing pro­duc­tion doesn’t just work for Cana­dian dairy farm­ers, an in­de­pen­dent poll con­ducted by Aba­cus Data, pub­lished April 25, shows that sup­ply man­age­ment works for Cana­di­ans too - 92 per cent of Cana­di­ans stated they are happy with the range and qual­ity of dairy prod­ucts avail­able in Canada, while 77 per cent stated that they are happy with Canada’s dairy poli­cies as they are.

Whether you agree with our do­mes­tic sys­tem or not, the bot­tom line is this: it is an inar­guable truth that if the en­tire world matched sup­ply with de­mand, and man­aged pro­duc­tion as we do here in Canada, the global dairy cri­sis would not be hap­pen­ing, ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties would be in a bet­ter po­si­tion to thrive, and farm­ers around the world would not be strug­gling to make ends meet, search­ing for homes for their milk.

SIGNS OF STA­BIL­ITY: Cana­dian con­sumers are as­sured of re­li­able sup­plies of qual­ity prod­ucts.

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