It seems as though diary farmers will be soon facing more regulations to abide by after the recently held Fall Policy Conference held near Alliston, Ontario. Although the conference was closed to media and the public, Bill Dimmick and Sharon Laidlaw were able to put together an informative article in the November issue of the Ontario Milk Producer on the Canadian Quality Milk Program (CQM). Basically what is asked of farmers is to follow a ‘new’ set of regulations that the Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO) has come up with. Farmers will be trained in a hands on environment on their farm and then expected to implement the protocol in their day to day business. DFO decided that they will be enforcing a forgivable penalty to producers who do not comply to the program. Producers will be charged $1 per hectolitre for the first year of non-compliance and then the penalty increases by $1 per hL for every additional year thereafter. This program is new to the Ontario dairy industry, but it is nothing new to the rest of the Canadian provinces. Most of them have the majority of producers trained and now is just a matter of getting them to fully comply and registered.
Most of the ‘new’ regulations most producers have been following for quite sometime now, but a new aspect that they have introduced is record keeping. Many producers see this as an unnecessary step, but in every other business setting record keeping of everything that goes on in the business is mandatory. George MacNaughton, DFO’s production division director said that “our goal is not to penalize producers; that’s why there’s a forgivable component.” The program is expected to be taken up first by board members of DFO and milk producer committee representatives from each county in Ontario. They will be train first and expected to comply to the outlined regulations. In real life situations there will always be a group of individuals whom decided that they are being treated unfair and will resist accepting the required practices. And this is the basis of why DFO decided to implement a forgivable penalty in hopes that it would nudge producers in the right direction without causing too much of a ruckus.
My personal opinion is that yes producers will have to spend more time of their busy day keeping track of records, but all in all it is not that big of a deal. On the other hand I can also see the other side of the argument. Farming is not an easy profession as it entails long labour intensive days; by adding yet another daily task it is more of an annoyance to producers than anything. However, the food sector is extremely concerned with food contamination and therefore wants to know exactly what is happening at every level of production. Because dairy producers provide a large amount of raw milk to the market it is important that it is free of all contaminants. For years now producers have not had to record daily happenings on the farm and there have been very few problems as the result. But with an increasing concern on food contamination these days, the CQM program basically functions to ensure that producers have followed through on the protocol that they are supposed to. It will protect producers for being blamed for any possible mishap with the milk that is brought onto the market by Canadian dairy farmers. Regulations are becoming more and more common in agriculture today especially at the on farm level. There are numerous rules and programs that producers are expected to follow and typically they are for the concern of the farmer and in the long run will eventually payoff. I believe that the CQM program will do exactly that. Although producers are not the most willing to accept group they need to come to terms that agriculture is not the same as it was 50 years ago. I’m not saying that it is necessarily a good thing or a bad thing, but farmers today need to acknowledge that agriculture will continuously be changing whether they like it or not.