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Jennifer Hayes appointed chairperson of the Canadian Dairy Commission

Jennifer Hayes appointed chairperson of the Canadian Dairy Commission

The Quebec farmer is the first woman to hold the position

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

A dairy and beef farmer from Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula is the new chair of the Canadian Dairy Commission (CDC).

Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced the appointment of Jennifer Hayes, who co-owns PineCrest Farms with her father and uncle, as the new chairperson of the CDC on Jan. 4.

Her term officially began on Dec. 23 and will last for four years.

Her appointment comes after a previous attempt to become the chair.

“I actually applied a few years ago but wasn’t selected at that time,” she told

The CDC, established in 1966, coordinates federal and provincial dairy policies and manages multiple programs within the dairy sector.

As chair, Hayes becomes the outward face of the CDC and ensures it has a macro-level vision of the industry.

She previously served as the Crown corporation’s commissioner for four years. Her replacement hasn’t been named yet.

The CDC’s three-person board also includes a CEO. That position currently belongs to Serge Riendeau.

The dairy sector has multiple challenges in front of it. But Hayes identified one which stands out above the rest.

“I’m very cognizant that we’re in an environment of change and disruption,” said Hayes. “This is not unique to dairy but it’s the convergence of so many factors when you look at changes in consumer patterns, the pandemic and trade deals. These changes are coming fast and furious and there’s a pressing need to adapt."

Hayes’s appointment also comes with an added piece of history.

She is the first woman to be named chair of the CDC.

The recognition is nice but isn’t something she focuses on.

“It’s an honour to have it recognized but it’s not something I’m accustomed to giving a second thought to,” she said. “We have lots of women in agriculture doing amazing things and could have received the appointment. What’s more important to me is that I’m not the last woman appointed. I just happened to be the right person for the position at the right time.”

Hayes has always been interested in policy.

She’s been active with the L'Union des Producteurs Agricoles, defending regional interests in dairy, beef and agricultural development.

“I’m interested in how good policy doesn’t just impact farms but rural communities in general,” she said. “But what’s rural in eastern Canada isn’t rural in British Columbia. I’m fascinated by those dynamics and I’m a firm believer agriculture can be economic and social drivers in regions.”

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