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Dairy discussions continue

Dairy farmers are looking at quota harmonization across western provinces as a way to improve efficiency.

Henry Holtmann, chairman of the Western Milk Pool’s (WMP) quota harmonization committee, said the process of making recommendations is moving forward as representatives from the four provinces work to build trust and mutual understanding.

“I think we will move forward, but it takes time because this is a fairly complicated system,” he said during a dairy producer meeting in Stonewall.

Over- and underproduction credit days, which vary greatly from province to province, is one of the sticking points.

Producers in Alberta don’t want the window shrunk from 40 days to 20 days, he said.

Manitoba’s credit exchange system also differs from systems in the other western provinces. West of Manitoba, credit exchanges are done privately.

The harmonization committee will present its findings to the Canadian Dairy Commission’s milk supply management committee this August.

“Now that we are treated as a block we have to figure out how to interact amongst ourselves,” said Holtmann. “We work together well, but you have to make sure all the players are on a level playing field.”

Because Manitoba has higher production levels through the winter months and lower production levels over the summer, Holtmann said producers here stand to benefit if penalties and credits stay within the WMP.

“We actually go from the top of our band and to the bottom of our band within six months,” he said. “So by joining with the other provinces, we can allow that to happen without being penalized or assessed credits.”

This would give producers more flexibility and increase opportunities to maximize profits, he added.

“The multinationals go across the country, but we have these provincial policies that differ, so bringing it together makes sense,” said Holtmann, who is also Dairy Farmers of Manitoba’s (DFM) vice-chairman.

DFM chairman David Wiens said harmonization will also bring greater stability.

“We would become a larger pool for milk production purposes,” he said. “And I think the larger the volume of product brings stability, and also gives more flexibility in quota practices.”

The WMP is also looking at pooling resources to fund promotional campaigns that stretch across the P4.

“You get a bigger bang for your buck doing it this way,” Holtmann said. “If you advertise in Stonewall, you’re not going to get the exposure of advertising with a bigger budget in Winnipeg or Vancouver.”

About the author

Reporter

Shannon VanRaes is a journalist and photojournalist at the Manitoba Co-operator. She also writes a weekly urban affairs column for Metro Winnipeg, and has previously reported for the Winnipeg Sun, Outwords Magazine and the Portage Daily Graphic.

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