Dairy Farmers of Canada to introduce national traceability

© AgMedia Inc.


When will all the regulations (and the paper burden that goes with it) end. Why don't the farmers get some of that government money to help pay for the high cost of complying with all these regulations. And when will DFC and DFO use some of this new found money as well as the money we dairy farmers give them and start educating the public about the excellent job that dairy farmers do now, producing a safe, highly nutritious product. We have always had to meet grade A standards to produce milk and many of the new regulations coming down the pipe are already covered in Grade A compliance. It seems, however, that the general public has no clue as to what Grade A means so how will it be different after we spend a lot of time, money and effort complying with CQM, traceability, animal welfare, biosecurity and who knows what will be next?

I'm sitting here drinking a glass of Tropicana low-acid orange juice I bought the other day in my local grocery store. Other than the fact the package says it came from Tropicana Products, Inc. in Bradenton, Florida 34206 USA, and that it is "100 pure not from concentrate orange juice and low acid orange juice" there is no information as to where the oranges were grown, under what conditions, or anything else to inform me, the consumer about the product itself.

All I know, as a consumer, is that if I can trust Tropicana and our Canadian food inspection system to bring me safe, pure, wholesome, and delicious orange juice grown and packaged who knows where, and under what conditions, I, and over 30 million other Canadian consumers, can trust them to do the same with milk, and we would. In addition, when is the last time we've ever run out of orange juice, and when is the last time anyone has gotten sick from drinking orange juice?

Therefore, dairy farmers, suck it in, and get over it - if we don't need 200% tariff barriers to be able to trust imported orange juice completely, and we do, we don't need 200% tariff barriers to be able to trust imported milk, a "trust" given every day by cross-border shoppers when they make their milk purchases in the US.

More to the point, it appears dairy farmers, not consumers, are the ones who need to be "educated" - who cares about all of the supposedly-wonderful things dairy farmers do, as long as they hide behind 200% tariff barriers to do them?

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

First of all we can't grow oranges in Canada so if we want to drink orange juice it has to come from somewhere else. More to the point it seems our Canadian food inspection system seems to have a double standard when it comes to food safety. For other fruit and vegetable crops that are grown in both countries, the cost of production is cheaper due somewhat in part to the fact that certain pesticides which are deemed unsafe and banned in Canada are allowed to be used in the U.S. and the crops they are used on are allowed to come into Canada. Further more, in the U.S. the standards for complying to our equivalent of Grade A status are more relaxed i.e. somatic cell counts, bacteria and the use of certain hormones (bst) and for your information 7 to 9 % of our domestic market is filled by imported dairy products that are allowed in with no tariff at all. Products which are produced under these relaxed rules. If those cross border shoppers are comfortable with that then, I guess, so be it. As well, U.S. farmers are heavily subsidized by their government. And I hope you honestly don't think that after the processors and the retailers have their way, that dairy products in our stores would cost any less than they do now if more U.S. product was allowed in. Most Canadian dairy farmers would welcome the opportunity to compete head on with the U.S. and Europe and drop our tariffs if we were all on a level playing field.

Henry Hazeleger Embro, On

"Most Canadian dairy farmers would welcome the opportunity to compete head on with the U.S. and Europe and drop our tariffs if we were all on a level playing field."
I have always maintained that since we have essentially an integrated N.A. livestock and grains industry (including S.M.!!!) then Canada needs a level playing field for all commodities. Now if that means giving S.M. U.S. style dairy subsidies so be it. Unfortunately, other Canadian livestock commodities would most likely have to drop a lot of their camouflaged margin and direct support payments to be on a level playing field. So for those livestock commodities who voted against S.M. just be careful what you ask for as you may get it!

1. I don't think Americans would appreciate us implying that their food is produced under "relaxed rules". 2. Americans can go into a grocery store and buy milk that is BST free-or not. I have been there and seen it first hand. 3. If any sector of agriculture is to receive a subsidy, it should come from taxpayers, not consumers. 4. Processors here have plant supply quotas, they are just as guilty as the farmers for abusing the system-see Chobani. 5. Most Canadian dairy farmers would NOT welcome the opportunity to compete with the US and Europe, if that was true they would lobby the government to dismantle SM and implement a taxpayer funded program, but that is not happening. Raube Beuerman

Plenty of Canadian dairy farmers state that European dairy farmers are subsidized up to 40%, which is highly suspect, but anyway, even if it is, they still have 12% advantage on the dollar exchange. And they complain that the 17000 tonnes of cheese coming in is a threat LOL So just how much are they hosing consumers here? If the next generation of dairy farmers was not so busy paying off ludicrous amounts of quota $$, and land (inflated high since the capping of quota), we maybe then could compete with other countries. Raube Beuerman

The point is that supply management allows dairy and poultry farmers to be financial bullies in the farm community - and there's no way that 200% tariff barriers do not adversely affect the retail price, yet dairy and poultry farmers keep mouthing platitudes to the contrary.

I mean, really, nobody with an IQ bigger than their shoe size is ever going to believe that eliminating 200% tariff barriers (and therefore resulting in a drop in the farm gate price) somehow will have no effect on the retail price at all.

Back in the fifties, farmers, and probably a lot of consumers would believe that sort of fairy tale, but not now, not ever again.

And, please stop fear-mongering about relaxed US food standards - I still get good orange juice, and I've never had any complaints about US milk.

And, finally, for once and for all, please get over the Canadian dairy farmer propaganda about BST - it's legal in Canada to import BST for one's own use, and therefore, nobody knows how much BST is actually in Canadian milk, thereby giving Canadian consumers no choice in whether they consume BST or not. At least in the US, BST-free milk is labelled as such. Therefore, if anything, Canada has more "relaxed" rules about BST than the US, yet Canadian dairy farmers keep swallowing DFO propaganda, as if they were completely unable to think for themselves.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

Steve you are forgetting about a wee little market hiccup we had about 10 years ago in the beef industry called BSE. Farmers were delivering cattle to auction yards and literally giving the cows away (I got a cheque for $5, some actually got bills) and the price of hambuger didn't come down in the store. If you think food prices will go down you are simply dreaming. The price to the farmer will go down, but not in the store.

John Gillespie

Please feel free to correct me-but- at the height of the BSE crisis ,the DFO, took the advantage of the the plight of beef farmers to hike the price of milk by 5% because of their loss of income due to low prices for beef.
What percentage of a dairy farmers income is the sale of beef. Is it 5 %? BSE is gone -but the 5% increase remains.
Was this opportunistic?

With respect, not only is this example an irrelevant comparison, it is a silly comparison. There are few substitutes for milk, but lots of substitutes for beef - therefore the retail price of beef is affected to a greater extent than milk by cross-elasticities of demand, which addresses the extent to which consumption of one product is affected by a price change in another.

Retailers will always price products to clear - why, for example, sell beef for nothing, and leave the shelves empty, and nobody buying pork or other meats, if beef can be sold for something higher?

The only reason supply management "works" to the limited extent it does, is because the products produced by supply management have few, if any subsititues, thereby allowing gouging at the farm gate to not drive demand to zero.

And with respect, what part about even the Dairy Farmers of Ontario revealing, in late 2010, that Ontario consumers were paying almost 38% more for milk than US consumers, and that the farm gate price of milk in Ontario was within pennies per liter of the US retail price, can you not see to be almost entirely related to supply management?

"With respect, not only is this example an irrelevant comparison, it is a silly comparison. There are few substitutes for milk, but lots of substitutes for beef - therefore the retail price of beef is affected to a greater extent than milk by cross-elasticities of demand, which addresses the extent to which consumption of one product is affected by a price change in another."

Your quote makes my point. There are no substitutes for milk, it doesn't matter what price the stores buy it at, they can still sell it at the same price because consumers can't buy anything else to replace milk. Therefore cheaper milk on the farm will not mean cheaper price in the store.

As for the beef during BSE who cares about selling pork or chicken if they are going to sell X pounds of meat, and they can buy beef cheap during BSE and make more per pound selling it that pork or chicken, they have an incentive to move more beef. The price elasticity between beef, pork and chicken is likely fairly high relative to the elasticity of demand for meat vrs not meat in most consumers diet. Therefore if the consumer is going to buy meat and beef is cheaper, they will buy more beef, the point is beef didn't get cheaper when it was being given away at the farm.

I really hate it when farmers who know nothing about the beyond-the-farmgate marketing of agricultural products make statements which would guarantee them an automatic failure in any ag economics course I have ever taken, or taught, and the above posting is an excellent example of a failure in waiting.

The first, and largest, flaw in the argument is intuitively obvious - when milk is priced at rip-off prices, right from the farm gate, as it is in Canada, overall demand goes down, which is exactly what has happened - more to the point, the claim that a cheaper farm gate price of milk won't translate into a cheaper price at the store is the stupidest, most counter-intuitive, most self-serving, and most-incorrect, drivel I have ever seen in print, and is unworthy of being seen, and especially believed, anywhere. Milk is considered to be an price-inelastic product, and the basis of supply management is that because of this inelasticity, price gouging by farmers won't drive demand to zero the way it would for an price-elastic product like beef.

And, I mean really, at least one of the people on this site who apparently believes this economic and marketing alchemy, has a Bachelor of Commerce degree and who, by definition, either knows better, or at least should know better - this, at least when I was an undergrad, was an integral part of my introductory-level course in ag marketing, and this stuff is, therefore, too basic to even be open to this type of debate, or even discussion.

Come on, people, demonstrating an abject ignorance of basic marketing, especially the marketing of agricultural products, doesn't make the farm community look especially brilliant, and this is one of those times.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

Actually if you kept up in this world instead of referring to something past tense you would know that sales in Canadian dairy products are up not down.Due in part to the lower Canadian dollar and decreased cross-border shopping.

It also doesn't hurt that Milk,butter,yogurt and some cheeses have been on sale regularly the last little while at very comparision prices to the US even without the dollar.

constantly referring to some price difference that may or may not have happen 5 or 6 years ago..or some Pork farmer vote does very little to enhance your perspective.

I have every right to get cranky trying to point out errors in the logic of farmers who, by virtue of what they post on this site, couldn't pass even the most-basic post secondary course in economics.

That supply management screws consumers, and other farmers, isn't open to either debate or discussion, period, and those who claim it is, are just-plain wrong, and make the entire farming community look like imbeciles.

If supply management didn't screw consumers, DFO wouldn't have long-ago stopped their incessant cross-border retail price comparison studies - yet, in the past half-dozen years, the only information DFO has released in main-stream media on cross-border price comparisons, was this 38% figure in 2010.

When Canadian per-capita milk sales get to even within 10% of US per capita sales, tell us about it, but in the meantime, stop grasping at straws.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

enough of being cranky its getting old.

a non sm farmer

Even the most even-tempered person is allowed to get cranky when realizing that even some of agriculture's ostensibly "best-and-brightest" are still proffering the same sort of conjecture, clap-trap, and economic nonsense, after being well educated, as before.

Every generation is supposed to "raise the bar" when it comes to understanding the world, and our place in it - agriculture seems to be one of those industries where that goal seems to be absent, and agriculture seems to still be where conspiracy theories and economic voo-doo go, not to die, but to thrive. Alas!

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON


Your comments remind me a lot of my university economics courses, lots of theory that looked good on a chalk board (it was still chalk then) and completely separated from the real world. The fact is that with 2 major grocery chains handling most of the food sold in Canada, they get to set the price at what ever they want. Yes in a perfect world with perfect competition, reductions in farm gate price would lead to reductions at the store, but in the real world we have lots of examples where that doesn't happen, gasoline being one of the most visible where it rises quickly when crude goes up and then is very sticky on the way back down. Food products are the same, the price goes up in a hurry, and never seems to come back down, or the package gets smaller. There just isn't any proof that your dreams will ever become reality.

John Gillespie

With respect, you have a university degree in Commerce, yet your opinions about food marketing and food retailing, as evidenced on this site, are embarassing to anyone with a similar educational background, not only because they are sophomoric, and dead-outright-wrong, but because they are the sort of thing the NFU seems prone to believe - I'm sorry, but even oligopolies/oligopsonies are fiercely competitive, and you know this too.

There is no possible way you could graduate with a degree in Commerce, especially from the University of Guelph, and not understand how food prices are determined, and/or how various elasticities affect the pricing of, and demand for, food products.

I'm dealing with the real world, the world where food processing, distributing, and retailing, is fiercely-competitive, and margins razor thin, and always with the threat that a competitor could come from nowhere (Wal-mart) to upset any sort of status-quo.

The point remains that without 200% tariff barriers protecting dairy and poultry farmers, consumers, and the rest of the farm community would be far-better off - and somebody with only a grade school education could see it if they weren't blinded by 100 years of half-baked ideas continually being proffered by people in the farm community who simply don't know what they are talking about.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

'food processing, distributing, and retailing, is fiercely-competitive, and margins razor thin'

Loblaws earned $178M, up from $156M the previous year. Loblaws is Canadas most valuable retail brand

If that is what you call razor thin, what do you call a healthy profit? Who's profiting from the farm community?

Look at profit as a percentage of sales and other indicators of financial viability - food companies are not, and have not been for a long time, a good place for investors to put money. To look at it another way, even $178 million isn't a lot of money considering that some farmers probably own that much in quota

As validation, Forbes magazine yearly publishes data showing profitability on an industry-by-industry basis, and food consistently lags in almost every category.

Farmers, of course, refuse to believe this, and merrily continue to believe the food sector (other than supply managed farmers) is making a great return - not!

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

Grain farmers are the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to money . They have to compete against the SM monopoly and livestock farmers continued gov support . Now with record livestock prices I am sure that SM will not be the highest bidders for land any more . If they are even in the same league . Beef farmer just paid 16,000 per acre for a farm this week and hog farmer paid the same for one two weeks earlier . Then put in the land barons who are buying every thing else with profits from their non farm businesses .

Have grain farmers forgotten ethanol already?
Then what about RMP, agriInvest, agristability etc etc.
I suppose you don't know of any grain farmers that have paid big bucks for land purchases? Well I certainly do.
Ask any of the local businesses in your area if they get all the gov't help that grain farmers do.

So what about RMP , agriInvest and agristability is exclusive to grain farmers ?
When you can't come up with any more filling in your blank with etc, etc don't work work . Facts my boy Facts .
When have Canadian grain farmers ever had a buy out program to get out of production ?

The feds launched the Lower Inventories for Tomorrow (LIFT) program in, I believe, 1971 in western Canada which was, in effect, a short-term buyout program.

The problem was that when the Russians started buying grain in massive quantities about a year later, Canadian farmers were caught without a lot of inventory, and the program was scrapped, and many tried to forget about it completely.

But, the point is that Canadian grain farmers did at one time have a buyout program.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

So no program that you can think of from the recent past ( sya 10 yrs or so ) so now you have no other example other than to begin to dig into the past which you have so publicly told others was redundant , hog wash and morally wrong .

when you pencil it out , cattle will not pay the mortgage on land priced at $16,000 per ac. The cattle prices took 11 years to get to where they should be and they still are not in line with inflation and they don't make up for the loss equity of the last 11 years.
cow/calf is a land based commodity, cows need to graze and they need to eat in the winter.
if there are beef farmers that can afford to buy land at that price more power to them, (I'm sure they had no choice if they wanted the land, they must of had to compete with someone to drive the price that high?)
As for livestock support payments, we have 500 head of cattle here, the support payments wouldn't buy land at an 1/8 of that price, they don't even pay for a tractor repair. Get a grip, as a beef farmer, I'm competing with government ethanol support and SM.

Its taken 11 years to finally realize that less sometimes means more in the long run but as always the lesson will be short lived.

I will refer you to the posting titled Well Said .
Don't think that the US livestock producers are getting support even close to what the Canadian livestock producers are getting .
Milk and dairy here are suported by the consumer , not subsidies .

You write, "milk and dairy here are supported by the consumer, not subsidies." Only partly correct. SM here is supported by consumers, yes that is true, the subsidy comes from the consumer. Raube Beuerman

The marketing boards and the producers organizations need there to always be new regulations come out to keep their cronies employed, look at all the high paying jobs traceability has created for urbanites in the offices of farm organizations and besides were would past OFA presidents get a paying job after they have severed their max paid terms on the board ? They could never just return home to farm that would be back sliding on the hob nobbing and pay scale. The fat cat farmers become accustomed to their paid roles in these farm organizations and lose sight that they were elected by us farmers, to be our voice instead they get in bed with the politicians and are rewarded with paid jobs after their terms are over. Stable funding farm business organization fee and check offs are the evil that allows this to happen, all producer organizations should be run solely on paid memberships and then they would have to actually work for us farmers or we wouldn't join them and they would have no funds to operate. I am glad the PFO chose from day one to be a paid membership organization, this had allowed us to keep the farmers interests in mind first and foremost.

Sean McGivern

Post new comment

To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
We welcome thoughtful comments and ideas. Comments must be on topic. Cheap shots, unsubstantiated allegations, anonymous attacks or negativity directed against people and organizations will not be published. Comments are modified or deleted at the discretion of the editors. If you wish to be identified by name, which will give your opinion far more weight and provide a far greater chance of being published, leave a telephone number so that identity can be confirmed. The number will not be published.