Saskatchewan

Milk supply and trade highlighted with freebies in downtown Regina

A group of people expressing support for Canada's supply-managed system for the dairy industry were in downtown Regina Thursday handing out milk.

Supporters of Canada's supply-management system hand out milk in Regina

People in downtown Regina were given free samples of chocolate milk along with some information about a trade issue concerning the Canadian dairy industry. (CBC)

A group of people expressing support for Canada's supply-managed system for the dairy industry were in downtown Regina Thursday handing out milk.

It was one of several International Milk Day events organized to bring attention to the issue as the federal government ponders its trade policies.

In a news release, the National Farmers Union said many milk producers could be hurt by changes.

"Farmers ... call upon the federal government to take action to ensure a sustainable and prosperous dairy sector in Canada," the NFU statement said. "The federal government [should] enforce existing rules governing supply management."

During the Regina event about 1,000 small containers of chocolate milk, along with some literature on the trade issue, were provided to pedestrians.  Another lobby group, Dairy Farmers of Canada, also supported the Regina event.

Federal government consulting on the issue

The campaign was noted by federal officials, who issued a news release Thursday noting that the federal minister had met with members of the dairy industry to learn more about the issue.

"Our consultations have been very cooperative, productive and constructive and we remain attentive to the needs of industry," a statement from Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay said. "These consultations with producers, processors and regional agricultural associations from across the country allowed us to hear their views and help us to develop a long-term strategy for the whole sector."

The trade issues concern, among other things, the impact of imported milk products on Canadian producers. Questions have arisen over the definition of some products, such as concentrated milk protein.

According to the NFU, one product — known as diafiltered milk — may be used as a way to avoid tariffs.

"Diafiltered milk is a highly concentrated milk protein ingredient that is being produced by American dairy processors for export to Canada as a way to avoid tariffs," the NFU said. "Trade regulations define it as 'not milk', however, imported diafiltered milk is increasingly being used in cheese production instead of actual milk produced by Canadian farmers on Canadian farms."

now