by SUSAN MANN
The dairy industry needs to review its current provincial and federal structures to speed decision making, says Jacques Laforge, the Canadian Dairy Commission’s new chief executive officer.
For example, the dairy industry has been talking about forming a national pool since the 1990s, he says. Currently there are two pools – one for Western Canada and one for five eastern provinces: Ontario, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. From a decision-making standpoint, it would be simpler for the industry if there were a single pool. “It impacts everybody the same way,” says Laforge.
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced Laforge’s appointment as the commission’s chief executive officer Tuesday. The appointment is for a three-year term and is effective immediately. Laforge, the past president of Dairy Farmers of Canada, replaces retiring chief executive officer John Core.
Laforge says other priorities include improving the return for producers of surplus solids-non-fat markets, such as animal feed, and pushing the development of innovative markets and products “to grow the market size.”
Referring to complaints from groups such as the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association that the commission ignores their views when deciding on support prices for butter and skim milk powder, Laforge says the commission will explore their concerns and “try at least to improve the relationship.”
Laforge and his wife, Patsy, operate a successful 1,000-acre mixed farm in New Brunswick. He was chair of Dairy Farmers of New Brunswick from 1995 to 2000 and chairman of the Atlantic Dairy and Forage Institute from 1997 to 2000. He has served on the board of Dairy Farmers of Canada since the 1980s and joined the executive of that organization in 1999. From 2004, to 2011, Laforge served as president.
In 2011 Laforge received the Order of New Brunswick in recognition for his passion for agriculture and his work to ensure a bright future for Canadian farmers.
The commission is a Crown corporation established in 1966 to coordinate federal and provincial dairy policies and create a control mechanism for stabilizing milk production and revenues. BF