Ralph Dietrich and Murray Sherk also serve on the board of Dairy Farmers of Ontario
By Diego Flammini
Two Ontario dairy producers travelled to Wisconsin last week to discuss the benefits of supply management with some of their American counterparts.
Ralph Dietrich, a producer from Mildmay, Ont. and chair of Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO), and Murray Sherk, a dairy farmer from Plattsville, Ont. and vice-chair of DFO, spoke at five Wisconsin Farmers Union information sessions throughout the state.
The information sessions come after some dairy processors have terminated individual contracts with producers.
However, a supply managed system means Canadian dairy farmers aren’t at risk of receiving similar notices.
“In Canada, a processor would never send letter cutting off production from individual farms because the processors are not negotiating individually with producers but rather buying from the (production) pool” of milk, Dietrich said during a presentation, according to Wisconsin State Farmer.
The U.S. dairy farmers were intrigued by Canada’s supply management system and farmers’ ability to receive fair pay for milk production.
“It is especially compelling to see what the Canadians have accomplished considering we have a complete failure of dairy policy in this country,” Darin Von Ruden, president of the Wisconsin Farmers Union, told Wisconsin State Farmer yesterday. “The biggest part of that failure is that we have no ability to control the supply of milk and match it to market needs.”
Representatives from the National Farmers Organization, Organic Valley and the Dairy Business Association (DBA) attended the meetings.
The DBA had concerns about supply management and Canadian farmers’ abilities to export milk.
But Sherk indicated the Canadian dairy industry is more interested in its domestic markets.
“Exports provide the lowest return, so we’re not interested in that” option, he said, according to Wisconsin State Farmer. “Yes, demand will grow as the world population grows but it will be in places like Africa and Asia and what will they be able to afford to pay?”