By Farmers Forum Staff
GLENGARRY — One of the Glengarry dairy producers committee members who resigned in protest of proAction, among other things, was elected chair of the new committee last month.
The committee fired off a scathing letter to the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, criticizing proAction as a money-loser that hadn’t concretely benefitted the industry, as well as sharply critiquing the decision to go to third-party verification for the milk quality and animal welfare program.
The committee of seven resigned en masse, saying, “We have failed as a committee to represent the producers that have elected us on a number of areas that will greatly effect how dairy farmers will operate . . . and how our industry will survive with the coming trade changes.”
But at least three of the seven members who resigned have returned to form the new committee, according to one member. Thomas Kuipers was elected chair of the committee in its first meeting on Feb. 24. Arnold Reijmer and Kevin MacDonald both returned as well. The chair of the resigning committee, Melanie Trottier, did not respond to requests for comment from Farmers Forum. When reached by phone, MacDonald’s wife, Amy Berends, said “It’s done now. I think we need to focus on the future, not the past. Kevin will not be calling you back.”
One dairy farmer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the committee’s resignation reflects the growing frustration among dairy farmers. The biggest complaint about the DFO is a perceived “culture of secrecy. No one knows what’s going on.”
Another dairy farmer told Farmers Forum that the “DFO no longer represents the grassroots dairy farmer. I feel that and so do a lot of others. We’ve got the tail wagging the dog.
“The Dairy Farmers of Ontario logo says they work proudly for us. They just give us more work, more costs.”
The dairy farmer added that the committee resignation was not constructive. “I think tantrum is a good word for it. They didn’t change any minds. They would have been further ahead if they had joined forces with other committees to take on the DFO.”
The new committee members are: Thomas Kuipers, Kevin MacDonald, Arnold Reijmer, David Suter, Ben Oeggerli, Don Johnston and Peter Van Sleeuwen.
Van Sleeuwen and Johnston were both on the board in previous years. Van Sleeuwen said he’s hoping to “help (the committee) get some direction, guide them through what they should be doing, procedural stuff. Go back to doing what a committee should be doing, what producers in Glengarry are entitled to have.”
First-time committee member Ben Oeggerli said that there’s certainly sentiment out in farm country that it feels like the DFO tells producers what to do, not the other way around.
Three resigning members return to form new Glengarry milk committee
By Farmers Forum Staff