October 3, 2022: Election Time

During the electoral campaign, one by one, candidates will try to win your support in an effort to grab one of the 125 seats available at the National Assembly of Quebec. Let’s put this democratic process to good use and actively participate in it!

Now is the time to remind the various political parties that the dairy industry is a real economic driver in every region of Quebec. The proof: We contribute as much as $5.3 billion to the GDP, plus around $1 billion that goes back to our governments in the form of taxes, and we provide around 65,000 jobs. That is quite a lot! Our production tops the list of all agricultural sectors in Quebec, as we generate nearly one fourth of the total receipts. The presence of dairy farms is a core component of economic vitality in many regions because it helps bring in services that are useful not only to other agricultural sectors, but also to the population as a whole.

Beyond this economic contribution, let’s remind the political parties that we also contribute to our communities through social involvement. Thanks to our sponsorships, a whole range of cultural, sports and culinary events, to name just a few, are able to be held across the territory. We back initiatives that encourage healthy lifestyles and support young people, the next generation. We also have a generous milk donation program that supplies dairy products to citizens in need, entirely for free. Since 2002, we have worked with processors and transporters to donate over 12.85 million litres of milk to our communities.

Let’s also tell them just how much our production ensures food security for consumers. As we all know, the COVID-19 crisis and the war in Ukraine have made consumers more aware of the fragility of supply lines in many sectors, especially food supply lines. These events have also made consumers more concerned about buying local, sustainable products. We meet these needs with our product, milk. We produce an affordable, high-quality food that is part of a balanced diet. Our milk is produced here, where we care about and strive to protect the environment so that future generations can enjoy a greener Quebec and planet.

 

We must use this electoral campaign to get the candidates’ attention and demand that they not only continue to recognize the importance of the dairy sector, but also support it politically and tangibly.

 

Our accomplishments and commitments are the sum of collective actions taken by dairy producers, who have continuously worked to implement tried and tested collective marketing and supply management models. For nearly 40 years, our regulatory framework has made it possible to launch initiatives that benefit everyone, including consumers, governments and the entire industry.

We must use this electoral campaign to get the candidates’ attention and demand that they not only continue to recognize the importance of the dairy sector, but also support it politically and tangibly. They will need to commit to supporting supply management and not spare any efforts to ensure that the federal government keeps its promise to stop conceding additional access in upcoming trade agreements and to compensate producers for the Canada–United States–Mexico (CUSMA) Agreement. They will also need to support collective marketing. The next 125 members of the National Assembly need to be aware that it is important for our sector to act as a group, driven by solidarity, which not only gives us useful tools to meet consumer expectations, but also enables us to negotiate fair marketing conditions for all, given the various farm models present across Quebec’s territory. This system also allows producers to share the risks and not have to face market impacts alone, which is critical considering the problems that the industry is currently experiencing.

Furthermore, we expect the next government of Quebec to commit to creating programs that support investments in increasing dairy processing capacities, especially those that make use of surplus solids non-fat. As we know, the commercial context created by CUSMA has exacerbated the problem of structural surpluses that already existed in Canada and elsewhere in the world. The recent labour dispute at the Agropur processing plant in Granby is an example that perfectly illustrates Quebec’s precarious processing capacities. To avoid these types of situations, we must act collectively with all stakeholders in the sector, including the Quebec government, which must play a critical role in increasing processing capacities.

We also have challenges facing us in the areas of animal care and the environment, as society’s expectations continue to grow. Although we have already committed to the sustainable development process, including the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 that was announced by Dairy Farmers of Canada, and want to improve ourselves, producers should not have to bear the brunt of these changes alone. The government must also play its part by supporting our improvement efforts. It has a responsibility to act on citizens’ expectations and support producers in making the future changes. This means that it must also ensure that financial resources and expertise are available, specifically in research, development, technology transfers and training support.

The electoral campaign is an excellent opportunity to be proactive and make candidates – from all parties – aware of our concerns and the issues that affect both our production and the dairy industry. We need the commitment of our elected officials to face the challenges ahead of us. We need them not only to keep feeding the population with healthy products, but also to drive development, growth and vitality in Quebec.

 

SignatureDanielGobeil

 

Daniel Gobeil, Chairman

 

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