Remember that everything had to be built in the early days. We negotiated agreements with processors to regulate every aspect of the milk marketing process, such as supplying the plants, milk quality rules, and raw material prices. We also negotiated an Agreement with transporters to set the conditions for transporting milk from farms to plants. Our organization, Les Producteurs de lait du Québec, has been responsible for negotiating on our behalf and for overseeing the development of these tools over the years so that they continue to be effective regardless of the market conditions and changes we face.
The strength and success of our organization have always been rooted in the unity and solidarity of producers. Remember that individually, we would not have this negotiating power with highly concentrated buyers. Without regulatory intervention, it would be impossible to carve out a fair share of the market. If we had not made all of these collective efforts together, we would not have one of the most effective marketing models today, which ensures that our industry can develop and provide fair and stable revenue to producers, without government subsidies. We would not have such a robust, coordinated and reputable dairy product marketing and promotional program. We would not have a Canadian quality assurance program, proAction, which is an innovative way for us to meet all of the increasingly stricter requirements of processors and consumers together rather than separately. We would also not have developed niche markets, such as the organic milk market, by organizing special pickup routes, providing market setup assistance, and making marketing efforts.
Our regulatory framework has proven itself and provides potential opportunities to launch innovative initiatives that benefit everyone, including consumers, governments and the entire industry. Over the years, we have developed tools to invest in research and cheese production expertise centres for advisory services and training. One example is Novalait, a corporation half owned by producers and half owned by dairy processors in Quebec, which acts as a network for conducting research in the dairy sector through funding partnerships. Since its creation in 1995, Novalait and its partners have invested $54.9 million on 125 research projects in the areas of production and processing. Other examples include the CIAQ, a leader in bovine reproductive genetics, and Lactanet, formerly known as Valacta, a centre of expertise in knowledge, knowledge transfers and innovative solutions for producers and partners.
I am proud of our collective achievements in the last 40 years. I am proud to be the owner of one of the 4,732 dairy farms in Quebec that collectively market over 3 billion litres of milk, help create 65,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs, and contribute up to $5.3 billion to the gross domestic product.
In the coming months, we will need to carry out an important and meaningful democratic process together: updating the strategic plan of Les Producteurs de lait du Québec.
And don’t forget that all of this is made possible by a democratic framework that empowers producers to achieve their shared priorities. Together, we create the resources, tools and expertise we need to accomplish our goals. We have no reason to feel self-conscious about our gains or our place in Quebec society because they reflect our many years of collective efforts and investments.
In the coming months, we will need to carry out an important and meaningful democratic process together: updating the strategic plan of Les Producteurs de lait du Québec. This process will be an opportunity to gain perspective, reflect and rally behind one vision and clear objectives. It is a critical moment for us to stop and think about how we can meet our current needs and the needs of future generations.
I do not have to tell you that we have faced many changes and challenges since the last planning process in 2015. These events will be given due consideration in our thought process. I am referring to the three consecutive trade agreements that were concluded at our expense by the federal government. I am referring to our farm revenue, which has fluctuated considerably, in part due to significantly higher production costs. I am referring to social pressure and expectations that we must take into consideration. I am referring to market growth, which also comes with considerable structural challenges. For these and all other challenges before us, we will need to find opportunities to better position ourselves for the future.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks and months for more details about the process. You will all be invited to share your thoughts on the directions that our organization should take to keep our dairy sector strong and united. We hope that you will participate in large numbers!
Daniel Gobeil, Chairman