by SUSAN MANN
More dairy quota is sold as part of on-going farm operations than on the monthly quota exchange, delegates to the Dairy Farmers of Ontario annual meeting in Toronto were told Thursday.
But one of the principles of the harmonized quota policies adopted in 2009 by the five provinces in the eastern Canadian milk pool, known as the P5, is to transfer as much quota as possible through the quota exchange. Currently that objective isn’t being met.
During the meeting, Dairy Farmers operations director George MacNaughton announced the organization is launching a quota policy review this year. The P5 will also be involved in the review because Ontario has harmonized quota policies with the other provinces in the P5 – Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
The five provinces in the eastern Canadian milk pool share revenues from industrial and fluid milk markets plus work cooperatively on other matters of mutual interest.
The first step in the quota review will be to develop the process that will be used to do the review and that will be brought to the Dairy Farmers’ spring policy conference for input, he says.
Iodine testing program launched
The quota policy review is one of several big projects Dairy Farmers is undertaking this year. Another is to launch a milk load testing program for iodine. Farmers have had milk samples tested for iodine as part of a national testing program since 2011 but that program ended last year.
The national testing program revealed that there were nine per cent of Ontario farmers with high iodine levels in their bulk tanks last year. That’s down from 15 per cent in 2012 and 13 per cent in 2011.
The goal is to have no more than five per cent of producers with iodine results in the high range.
“We want to make sure that when we’re delivering loads of milk they are at or below the Canadian safe level,” which is 300 micrograms per litre, MacNaughton says.
If a load is greater than 300 micorgrams per litre, Dairy Farmers will test the producer samples on the load to determine which farmers “are driving those results higher than the recommended level,” he notes.
Currently, there isn’t a penalty if a farmer has iodine levels higher than the recommended safe level in their milk. But “if we can’t get this down to a reasonable level we will actually look at a regulatory program” that could be part of the Grade A farm requirements or a separate testing program.
Milk quality stats and facts
In other milk quality news, the numbers of penalties for some quality parameters were up, while for others they were down. One that increased was farm bulk tank rejections. The number of farm bulk tanks rejected by the bulk tank milk grader was 24 from Nov. 1, 2012 to Oct. 31, 2013 compared to 16 for the previous year.
Inhibitor penalties were down to 23 for the 2012/13 year compared to 32 for the previous year. “This is an impressive accomplishment as there are approximately 764,000 bulk tanks of milk shipped each year,” it says in the 2013 annual report.
Loads rejected for quality problems, such as black specks or malty odour, decreased by 29 per cent to 37 for the Nov. 1, 2012 to October 31, 2013 period compared to 52 for the previous year.
But somatic cell count penalties soared by 108 per cent to 422 from Nov. 1, 2012 to Oct. 31, 2013 compared to the previous year. The annual report says “this is primarily due to the change in the regulatory standard” to 400,000 cells per millilitre from 500,000 cells per millilitre, which came into effect on Aug. 1, 2012.
Non-Grade A penalties were also down. For the 12-month period ending Oct. 31, 2013, those penalties were down by 22 per cent compared to the previous year.
For the dairy on-farm food safety program, called Canadian Quality Milk, 2,159 farmers were registered as of Oct. 31, 2013. Ontario is on schedule to have all of its farmers registered under the program by the end of September 2015. BF