by SUSAN MANN
Ontario Dairy farmers will be paying one cent per hectolitre more for their administrative licence fee starting Feb. 1, delegates at the Dairy Farmers of Ontario annual meeting in Toronto were told Wednesday.
The fee goes to 62.5 cents per hectolitre from 61.5 cents per hectolitre. This fiscal year, which started Nov. 1, 2014 and goes to Oct. 31, Dairy Farmers is projecting to raise $16.3 million from licence fees and bring in a total of $18.3 million in revenues. Expenses are budgeted at $18.5 million, and the deficit is projected to be $241,923.
Last fiscal year (Nov. 1, 2013 to Oct. 31, 2014), the organization raised $15.6 million from licence fees and had total revenues of $17.7 million with expenses at $17.68 million, according to a report on net program costs to Dairy Farmers stakeholders prepared by corporate services director Patrick Hop Hing. Dairy Farmers finished the 2014 fiscal year with a $6,176 surplus, which was far below the $66,620 surplus it had initially projected.
There are no changes to other deductions from milk payments, such as those for the on-farm food safety program (CQM), research, market expansion and CanWest DHI.
Some other numbers released at the annual meeting include:
- Dairy Farmers is projecting the amount of milk Ontario dairy farm operations produce will grow to 2.6 billon litres in the current fiscal year. Farmers produced 2.5 billion litres of milk in 2013/14.
- The farmgate value of milk sales in 2013/14 was $2.07 billion.
- 425 dairy farmers donated 853,901 litres of milk to Ontario food banks in 2013/14.
- There were 3,896 dairy farmers in Ontario in 2013/14.
Non-Grade A penalties jump
Dairy Farmers reported the number of non-Grade A penalties jumped a whopping 128 per cent to 146 from 64 when compared to the previous 12-month period.
The increase can largely be attributed to unannounced inspections. In August 2014, the Dairy Farmers board affirmed the use of unannounced inspections “to ensure quality standards are continuously met,” it says in the 2014 annual report.
For a farm to receive the Grade A rating, the majority of critical items during the inspection, which is related to the premises and also involves examination of items like milking equipment and animal care, must meet industry standards. Farms that are Grade A score acceptable on the majority of items inspected and any items that need improvement do not have the ability to significantly impact milk quality, says the Dairy Farmers raw milk quality program policies document.
The other ratings are: conditional Grade A (a few items don’t meet industry standards but those that don’t may not directly affect milk quality), non-Grade A (there are sections of the farm that don’t meet standards when the inspection is done) and unsanitary non-Grade A. A farmer with unsanitary conditions at the time of inspection is immediately shut off from the milk market until all items are brought into compliance. Examples of unsanitary conditions include dirty milk contact surfaces, dirty udder contact surfaces, a non-working milkhouse drain, deadstock in the laneway, concerns about animal health or inadequate animal care.
The Grade A inspection includes the farmyard and lane, the milkhouse, milking and housing areas and areas surrounding the farm premises. The condition of the cows is also reviewed.
Dairy Farmers production and regulatory compliance director George MacNaughton says the “oversight brings farms back up to standards.”
Politicians recognize Dairy Farmers anniversary
On Wednesday, Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced $3 million in federal funding towards the new dairy research centre being built near Elora.
The federal money is in addition to the $20 million contribution from the Ontario government, the $1 million contribution from Dairy Farmers of Ontario and the $1 million from other industry participants. Some areas of research the new centre will focus on include health, reproduction, nutrition, animal wellbeing and value-added components in milk.
The federal government money comes form the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation program.
Ontario Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal reiterated his government’s support for supply management during his remarks. In a written copy of his speech, Leal says supply management “represents an unwritten understanding between farmers and consumers that in return for safe, reliable food products, consumers will ensure producers can achieve a fair return for their work and investment.”
Leal says some people only focus on the cost of food but he considers that to be an “incomplete approach. We not only want affordable food, we also want food that is safe, raised or grown in a manner consistent with sustainable practices, and which has an appropriate regard for animal welfare.”
Ontario’s supply management system works to ensure all of this, he adds, noting “as I like to say: supply management yesterday, supply management today, supply management always.”
During his speech welcoming the 700 delegates to Toronto and thanking Dairy Farmers for having its annual meeting in the city, Mayor John Tory talked about the importance of food processing to the city and how he’d like to see the sector expand and grow. There aren’t any dairy farms in the city but food processing is a key industry, and Toronto is also the largest market in Ontario for dairy farmers’ products, Tory notes.
The recently elected mayor also says the city is open for business and Ontarians could help him spread that message by talking Toronto up. He acknowledged that asking dairy farmers from rural Ontario to talk Toronto up was a difficult request. He even quipped it would be easier for dairy farmers to reach into their wallets and give him money if he asked for it than to comply with his request to “talk Toronto up.” BF