I beg to differ with your article “U.S. farmers lose milk markets in Canada.” (I am a Canadian dairy farmer with 65 cows.)
I feel sorry for the dairy farmers who got a “stop receiving” letter from Grassland; I can't imagine the emotional and financial stress. Cows and farms cannot just shut down on such short notice.
But I disagree with the statement that Canada shut the border. We did not. The only thing we did is offer a competitive price to processors who wanted to use solids non-fat (SNF). The introduction of Class 7 is a domestic policy. It doesn’t change any import regulations, tariffs, or restrict American access. Everyone can chose their own supplier, just like before.
Cheese is made out of milk, right? And Canada has some rules about importing milk, right? So how is it that this ultra-filtered milk comes in as an “ingredient” and then magically turns into milk as soon as it is poured into the cheese vat?
After trying to stop this situation for many years we took a hit and lowered our price. That's what the market was willing to pay, so that's what we have to sell it for. As far as I can tell American SNF can still come in, if their price is right.
As I see it, Grassland and other American companies and co-ops found a way to build a business on export foundations, and as the article states, the going was good for 10 years. They enticed producers to grow on this plan and never warned their farmers there were clouds of volatility on the horizon. Grassland got a price above world market price for a while; let them be happy with that. Now, back to selling butter, and trying to sell the rest.
Unfortunately “with markets already overflowing,” to quote the author of the aforementioned Hoard’s Dairyman Intel.
Why do you think we in Canada have supply management? Exactly for this reason. The world market is just too scary a place to put all your hope on.
As I said before, my heart goes out to the farm families and employees who are caught up in this trouble. But I disagree with your editor.Anne Van Dijk, Alberta, Canada
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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2017
April 17, 2017