Dairy Farmers of Ontario has signed on Lactanet as the independent validator of the proAction quality assurance program in the province.
DFO had been using its own customer service people to validate the program, but there was concern that would be seen as not independent enough for validation of a quality assurance program. Indeed, in most of the rest of the country, proAction validation is conducted by external auditors.
Murray Sherk, DFO chair of the board of directors, said that Lactanet was the least expensive option, and that the organization understands the details of dairy farming. Dairy farmers, including at the 2020 annual meeting expressed concern about the cost of hiring external validators.
“We could employ an entirely third party group, but it would come at a lot higher cost,” said Sherk.
Lactanet was formed in 2019 to bring together herd milk testing services from across the country and the Canadian Dairy Network into one organization.
The Lactanet board of directors is comprised of dairy farmers and the organization also administers DairyTrace, the traceability part of proAction.
Sherk officially announced the appointment of Lactanet as proAction validator at Dairy Farmers of Ontario’s 2021 annual general meeting, held virtually Jan. 14.
Sherk was re-elected as chair of the board. Nick Thurler, a board member for Region 2, was re-elected as vice chair and Steve Runnalls, board member for Region 12 was elected as second vice chair.
In his address, Sherk recognized the dairy farmers who were lost in 2020 due to struggles with mental health.
“The community has an important role to play as citizens and neighbours,” he said.
COVID impact huge
Sherk and DFO CEO Cheryl Smith both said that supply management helped to smooth out the bumps in the road from COVID in the dairy sector.
The total cost to the sector was $300 million, said Sherk, and he said that supply management meant that the pain was able to be spread among all farmers.
Smith said that the organization had to throw out some of its careful planning as it learned to change quickly with the widespread effects of the virus.
“The plans we had just weren’t going to cut it in the new COVID world. We had to be responsive and creative,” she said.
First CUSMA dispute in U.S. court
The first dispute under the new CUSMA trade agreement with the United States and Mexico involves dairy and Sherk said that the next step is up to the United States.
The U.S. has concerns that the import quotas for milk in the agreement have been given to processors, not retailers. The U.S. believes that a fairer way would be give the quotas to retailers.
The U.S. made the request for the start of the dispute resolution process on Dec. 9, and then if the dispute isn’t resolved in 30 days, a panel for resolution can be requested. As of Jan. 14, the U.S. hadn’t requested that panel be created. The panel then has 215 days to deliver its report.