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Thousands of Dairy Farmers Rallied in Ottawa
June 8, 2016

Thousands of dairy farmers and supporters rallied in Ottawa last week amongst concerns about Canada’s supply management system.

Part of the concern was to do with the importation of diafiltered milk — a U.S. milk protein brought into the country as a substitute for Canadian milk in cheese production.

By law, Canadian cheese is required to contain a certain amount of actual milk, but as Dairy Farmers of Manitoba (DFM) chair David Wiens explains, there are some discrepancies when it comes to the importation of diafiltered milk.

“Canadian Border Services Agency has deemed diafiltered milk to be an ingredient, but what happens is it’s reconstituted when it reaches the (processing) plant, and then the Canadian Food Inspection Agency deems the same product to be skim milk,” Wiens says.

Due to this discrepancy, diafiltered milk enters the country tariff-free. Wiens says they’re asking the government to ensure consistency in these classifications.

However this discrepancy is also affecting processing demand for Canadian milk. By importing diafiltered milk for cheese rather than using only Canadian milk ingredients, there is a lopsided supply in Canadian dairy because the imports are cutting into skim milk demand.

“We’ve had strong growth both in cheese, but particularly in butter, in the last couple of years,” he says. “Butter comes from butter fat in milk, and so the skim portion of the milk is being removed, and then you’re left with cream, and out of that you make butter. So where, at one time, more of the skim would’ve been directed toward cheese production, there’s more and more of this surplus.”

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