Dairy standards defended

CALGARY — Canada has agreed in various trade agreements to allow the import of more dairy products from other countries.

Some producers wonder what standards are applied to those products, given the high standards expected of Canadian dairy farms and processors.

Yves Leduc, trade and policy analyst with Dairy Farmers of Canada, said that question arose after the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement negotiations ended.

DFC has been gradually implementing its proAction program across the country. Its six modules impose requirements on producers regarding milk quality, food safety, animal care, traceability, biosecurity and environment.

“Some farmers have questioned the value of proAction” now that Canada will import product without the same standards, said Leduc.

“And if you allow any products from abroad without enforcing similar standards on these products, why bother? That’s essentially I think where some of them are coming from, but my response to that is no, that’s not the proper reaction.

“I think you need to embrace proAction. You need to invest even more into proAction as a means to help differentiate Canadian milk and dairy products on the Canadian market in the face of increased competition from abroad.”

Leduc told producers at the Nov. 21 Alberta Milk general meeting that increasing demand for Canadian dairy products was a positive outcome from the USMCA and other trade agreements that, when implemented, are likely to increase foreign dairy imports.

Consumers have a generally positive image of the industry and its products, he added.

“One way to sustain that image is by embracing the proAction initiative that is being put in place across the country on all Canadian dairy farms.

“I think proAction is probably more important today or tomorrow than it was yesterday. If we want to better position our product, I think that’s a tool that we need to build on, and obviously we need to do a better job at promoting proAction.”

The program establishes specific targets in each of the six modules. DFC explains the vision as a way for dairy farmers to “collectively demonstrate responsible stewardship of their animals and the environment, sustainably producing high quality, safe and nutritious food for consumers.”

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