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Nova Scotia Dairy Farmers vote unanimously to continue to support a school milk program
January 14, 2015

Dairy farmers from across Nova Scotia voted unanimously Jan. 8 to continue to support a school milk program.

The province’s 226 registered dairy farmers will contribute $165,000 to $180,000 in support of the program this year.

“It’s important to get the kids drinking milk because that’s our target,” said dairy farmer Al Macmillan, of Charles Hill and Son farm in Onslow. He said supporting the program ensures milk is accessible and as children grow into adults, it hopefully will help them make healthy eating choices.

“There are more kids drinking everything but (milk) and they should be getting a more healthy choice.”

Guysborough dairy farmer Bruce Sinclair was one of about 86 producers in attendance at the Dairy Farmers of Nova Scotia annual general meeting held in Truro at the Glengarry to vote in favour of supporting the initiative.

He said it is important to support the program “to start young kids off with nutritious food and get them interested in milk,” along with demonstrating to the public that “we care about making a good quality food.”

John Vissers, Dairy Farmers of Nova Scotia board member, said the school milk program, which has national and provincial funding partners, has been re-engineered with an aim to revitalize it.

“It shows they are 100 per cent behind it,” he said of the unanimous vote. “They want it to go too. It’s something we take a little pride in. It’s something we have in the schools and we don’t want to loose it.”

Through this program students are able to purchase milk in school at a deep discount from retail prices with the cost difference covered by milk program funding.

Part of the re-engineering involved putting a committee together with producers, processors and government with representatives from both agriculture and education.

Government provides support equal to $400,000 per year, which only applies to 250 ml, 500 ml and 20 L containers. Nova Scotia’s dairy farmers voted to cover the cost of 15 cents per litre of white milk sold in schools. That amounts to about 0.15 per cent of the 120 million gross raw milk sales in the province.

This year the in-school cost of the milk will increase from 35 cents to 40 cents per 250 ml, the first increase since 1996.

“It gives us a foot in the door to help try and stimulate it,” Vissers said of the restructuring. “We don’t want to lose the program. Governments have continued to say they will continue to put those dollars towards it.

“I’m hoping we can do more with it over the next couple years. It may not be a lot this year but at least we can evaluate it and find out why things have basically stalled or gone stale and try to rebuild it. That’s our goal really, to become a full partner in the program.”

The dairy farmers want to find out why the program hasn’t grown in recent years and work on possible solutions to get more kids drinking milk.

“We know they get milk at home but if they drink it at school too it builds their mentality again that they’ll want to drink more of milk. It’s a health food, it’s a natural one.”

During the second day of the two-day meeting, Dairy Farmers of Nova Scotia members also voted unanimously to approve their 2014/2015 budget.

School milk facts

  • Of the 408 Nova Scotia schools (P-12), there is 90 per cent participation in the school milk program. About 122,643 students are in these schools.
  • In 2012/2013 there were 4,364,322 ml carton-equivalents, white milk only, sold.
  • 1,091,080 litres of white milk sold in Nova Scotia
  • 1,250,000 litres of white and chocolate milk sold in New Brunswick.
  • 110,000 litres of white milk in P.E.I.

 

Source:  TC Media


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