Nothing like waiting until the last minute
DFO demands for more milk with little warning leave farmers scrambling
The morning of October 1, 2022, the men here got up early and hurried to the barn, just as they had a month earlier on September 1, 2022 and on numerous other firsts of the month’s over the past years. Once again they had an important additional chore to perform before milking.
As they have practiced over the years, they went down the two lines of cows, whispered in each one’s ear and then reached down under the belly, just in front of the udder and turned something before moving on to the next.
What were they saying and doing you ask?
The answer is simple. Each cow was privately told that the P5 quota committee, via the Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO) was asking them for more milk starting that morning! They then reached under the cow’s belly and turned up the secret dial which controls the quantity of milk she would produce that month! It works every time, just ask the DFO and P5!
The email had been received by dairy farmers in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island (the P5) in the late afternoon on September 29 advising farmers that effective October 1, one day away, there was the need for a 2% quota increase to meet demands.
Previously, on August 26, there had been an email from the P5 advising of an increase of one Incentive Day per month for September, October, November and December due to, among other things, butter stocks being too low.
This happens a couple of times a year, demands for more milk with only a few days warning, leaving dairymen cursing and scrambling to fill it. How can it catch the powers that be by such surprise that we have only one day’s warning?
Our son has a friend, also a dairy farmer, who seems to rely on him for quota updates. Martin’s text on September 29 advising him of the latest increase, was replied to with expletives. He had just sold cows, thinking no more increases for the next month! Angry would be an understatement.
Speaking to some others in the area resulted in similar stories. Cows shipped, cows sold, cows dried, all to keep the milk shipped in line with one’s quota. Grumble, grumble.
Now those running the provincial milk boards claim to be dairymen themselves although many have retired from the industry and now sit on various boards and committees. Do they not remember the ups and downs of milking cows for a living? The frustration of being told you can ship more milk just days after cows left the barn or were dried early? And that increasing production is not an overnight thing?
I guess they have forgotten that shipping milk starts, and ends, with the cow. And that is what they have to remember. If they don’t improve their ability to have producers fill the demand then they will find willing suppliers in our friends south of the border and that is something that neither we nor our management boards can afford.
Buck up guys. Get your jobs in order and give us a fair warning of increases in the future.
Writer’s post submission: Last evening, October 25, we received an email from the P5, stating that they were adding an additional Incentive Day to both November and December leaving them with three and two extra days respectively. No mention of January, February and March which are currently at zero Incentive days. The reasons given were increased demand and lower butter stocks, as before. The day before we had shipped two cows.
Angela Dorie is a Jersey dairy farmer near