MONTREAL – Ottawa must enforce existing rules governing how much real milk is included in cheese products across the country, Canada’s dairy producers said Tuesday.
Stakeholders in Canada’s dairy industry say a U.S. protein — known as diafiltered milk — is being used improperly in cheese products, as actual milk, costing them tens of thousands of dollars a year.
According to federal law, all cheese sold in Canada must be made with a minimum percentage of actual milk.
Milk from outside Canada has a heavy tariff imposed on it in order to protect the country’s domestic dairy industry.
Diafiltered milk, however, is not considered actual milk and therefore enters Canada traiff-free from the United States.
Canada’s dairy producers are upset because cheese companies are using the cheap, tariff-free milk protein to satisfy the actual milk requirement in their cheeses.
Marcel Groleau, president of Quebec’s main farmers’ union, said the domestic dairy industry is losing money because cheese companies are skirting the rules.
“About 8,500 families in Quebec live off of agriculture,” he said. “For the average family, they are losing between $15,000 and 18,000 a year. That’s about 30 to 50 per cent of their annual revenues.”
Wally Smith, president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada, said the country has rules in place that are not being applied.
“Our request is simple,” he said. “Canada needs to enforce its existing cheese standards. The government doesn’t need to pass a new law or regulation. This is not just a Quebec issue. All dairy farmers in Canada are asking the Canadian government to take action immediately.”
Canada’s dairy farmers are promising to increase pressure on the federal government until they are satisfied the rules are being properly enforced.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version stated dairy farmers were seeking tariffs