Protesting importation practices Pontiac farmers on Parliament Hill

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Robbie Beck stands with his heifer Lia and his mother Doris during a protest on Parliament Hill.

Allyson Beauregard



Robbie Beck stands with his heifer Lia and his mother Doris during a protest on Parliament Hill.

Allyson Beauregard

OTTAWA – June 2, Pontiac dairy farmers joined members of the PLQ (Quebec dairy farmers’ board) and other dairy producers from across the country on Parliament Hill to protest the the government’s disregard of the Chief Standards regulations that producers say is costing them thousands of dollars. A convoy of tractors lined Wellington Street as protesters chanted "forts et unis" (strong and united), waved signs, performed street art, and more.
Robbie Beck, a dairy producer from Shawville who also attended last year’s Parliament protest regarding the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), again took his heifer Lia. “There are existing policies regulating the minimum amount of milk protein that must come from whole milk for both cheddar and mozzarella cheeses…this is called the Chief Standards,” he said, noting that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is compromising these standards by allowing “diafiltered milk products” to be imported into the country tariff free. 
Diafiltered milk is skim milk fortified with 35% milk protein; it is being used in cheeses as a cheaper alternative to whole milk proteins. According to Beck, when diafiltered milk enters the country, it isn’t labelled as a modified milk product and this is affecting dairy producers.
“On average, each load of milk leaving my farm contains 3.4% protein and 4% butter fat. The demand for the protein isn’t keeping up with production, so there is an excess of proteins available across the country. When it is transformed into dry milk powder, it has a lower resale value. We’re piling these proteins up, yet diafiltered milk, which is competing with Canadian farmers, is rolling in freely,” explained Beck.  Simply put, said Beck, poorly-regulated diafiltered milk importation is making the protein surplus problem worse and is driving down the price of whole milk at the farm gate.
The protesters were not asking for changes to the regulations but for the
policies to be enforced. “Importation needs to be better regulated and monitored and diafiltered milk classified as a modified milk product,” he concluded.