Report outlines 20 year modernization of Canadian dairy system

Originally set to be released in early 2020, but delayed because of the COVID-19 shutdown, a joint report between University of Guelph and Dalhousie University sets a path forward for Canada’s “ailing” dairy sector.

Co-authored by Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, Jean-Luc Lemieux, and Simon Somogyi, Arrell Chair in the Business of Food at the University of Guelph, the nearly 40-page report is predicated on a projected loss of half of the existing dairy farms by 2030, current dairy processing plant closures, decreased use of cow milk-based beverages at coffee shops, and consumer sentiment on dairy farm practices.

The authors outline four key steps to increase competitiveness in the dairy industry, a move, they say, is necessary to avoid consolidation and centralization of the dairy industry. These four steps are:

  • Create a voluntary program for dairy farmers to exit the industry, where the federal government sets up a voluntary quota buyback program of “equal value to the concessions made to foreign competition in recent trade deals.” Instead of subsidizing the industry, the authors propose that the government use earmarked cash for trade-deal compensation to initiate this program;
  • Make significant changes to the Canadian Dairy Commission, including transparency in quota and milk prices and how prices are set;
  • Remove interprovincial trade barriers on dairy products and create an innovation fund for the sector; and,
  • Initiate a 20-year plan to reduce general tariffs, develop an exporting strategy, create a Canadian brand and provide incentive for innovation.

“The Canadian dairy industry is facing challenging times. Recognizing the difficulties of Canadian dairy farmers, this roadmap provides solutions aimed at revitalizing dairying in Canada,” the authors say.

Download the full report: Agri-Food Suppy Management 2.0 Report.

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