By Tom Collins
HAMMOND — The newest Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO) board member said dairy farmers have to expand current markets to replace what is being lost in free trade deals.
Bart Rijke was elected in mid-November as the DFO representative for region 1, which includes Ottawa-Carleton and the counties of Glengarry and Prescott-Russell. He noted that since consumers drink less fluid milk nowadays, marketing more flavours of milk could increase fluid milk sales.
“You still sell milk but it’s a little different,” he said. “Maybe that’s what people want and we should look at that and adapt to it.”
Rijke said supply management is here to stay but added it’s not the same as it was decades ago.
“We have to adapt to changing times in technology and processing,” he said. “I don’t think (supply management) is going to be lost but it will be different. The CETA deal (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Europe) is a good example. We’re losing some market share, but we have to adapt to it. It doesn’t mean that supply management is on its way out.”
Rijke — co-owner of Hamlane Farm in Hammond, just east of Ottawa — has been chair of the Russell County Dairy Producer Committee and is a delegate for Gay Lea Foods, a dairy co-operative with 1,200 Ontario members. The first-generation dairy farmer emigrated from Holland in 1983 and milks 120 Holsteins on his 500-acre farm.