Nfld. & Labrador

Dairy farmer dumps $100K worth of milk, blames Marine Atlantic

A dairy farmer on Newfoundland's west coast says Marine Atlantic is using ice conditions as an excuse to make up for poor customer relations, and adverse weather is not a new problem for the Crown corporation.

Rough winter weather is nothing new, farmer wondering what the problem is

New World Dairy President Brent Chaffey says Marine Atlantic's ferry service has gotten worse over the last 30 years or so, but he doesn't understand why. (CBC)

A dairy farmer on Newfoundland's west coast says Marine Atlantic is using ice conditions as an excuse to make up for poor customer relations.

Brent Chaffey, owner of New World Dairy in St. David's, said ice delays forced him to throw out around 100,000 litres of milk over the weekend that he had intended for shipment.

"In the last 72 hours we've had to dump just short of 100,000 litres," he told CBC's Corner Brook Morning Show.

"That's slightly more than $100,000 in value."

Chaffey says while he agrees that this year has had the worst and thickest ice the Gulf has seen in 30 years, he doesn't buy Marine Atlantic's arguments.

According to Chaffey, the ferry service has become less reliable over the years.

"You can listen to the Marine Atlantic spin doctors all you want, they are going to put all kinds of fancy names as to what is happening and what is causing this problem."

He said the types of delays seen this year didn't exist 30 years ago, which to him seems like a big step back.

"Newfoundland has been experiencing these condition since the beginning of time," Chaffey said.

"We had far lesser technology 30 years ago providing a better service. So what's the problem?"

In need of a solution

Chaffey, who also runs a trucking company, sends his milk to mainland Canada to be processed.

That puts Chaffey in a position where the processing of his milk is dependent on the ferries running on time, because of the limited window before it spoils.

We had far lesser technology 30 years ago providing a better service. So what's the problem?- Brent Chaffey

According to Chaffey, he and fellow Newfoundland business owners are in a tough situation.

"The solution has to be a Newfoundland-unique solution," he said.

"We spend a lot of time on our knees these days, hoping for a higher power to intervene."

Chaffey has tried to voice his complaints to Marine Atlantic, but says he feels he simply isn't being heard.

"You can't even get a real honest answer out of these people if you are even able to get one of their managers on the phone," he said.

"I guess the biggest hurtful part of all of this is we believe that some of these items can be mitigated or minimized through a little greater level of service from Marine Atlantic."

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