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As Canadian consumers are hit by generationally high rates of food inflation, an Ontario dairy farmer posted a viral video Monday documenting how he was being forced by federal authorities to dump a swimming pool’s worth of excess milk.
“I dumped 30,000 liters of milk, and it breaks my heart,” says dairy farmer Jerry Huigen in a five-minute TikTok video that has already been viewed more than a million times across various social media platforms.
“They make us dump it, and this time I’m going public,” he adds while standing next to a drainpipe pouring milk onto the floor.
Milk-dumping has actually been a regular feature of the Canadian dairy sector for at least the last 50 yearsand it is done very deliberately to maintain high prices for Canadian milk.
Ever since the 1970s, Canadian dairy farmers have been subject to a state-sanctioned cartel that artificially limits supply in order to drive up prices and ensure profitability for farmers.
Each month, the Canadian Dairy Commission dictates the precise amount of milk to be produced in Canada, which is then observed via a strict system of production quotas across the country’s 10,000 dairy farms.
“There are disciplines in place to ensure that producers do not produce excess of their quotas,” reads an official fact sheet published by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture.
At the same time, strict border controls shield Canadian milk producers from foreign competition.
Imports of foreign dairy products can be slapped with prohibitive tariffs of up to 400 per cent, and travelers face penalties and confiscation from the Canadian Border Services Agency if they return to Canada with too much cheese in their luggage.
In fact, it’s Canada’s insistence on these border controls that have proven to be the single largest obstacle to Canadian efforts to secure free trade deals with Europe and the United States.
It’s why Canadian milk is immune from the usual price fluctuations affecting grocery store produce. If Canadian cattle farmers experience a particularly good season for beef production, the surplus is reflected in reduced beef prices at the retail end.
But there’s no such thing as surplus Canadian milk. As Huigen showed, any milk produced beyond the quota is simply destroyed. And it’s this control of the supply that allows dairy farmers to fix prices.
Last year, the Canadian Dairy Commission raised milk prices by more than 11 per cent in 12 months, ensuring that even amid rampant grocery inflation, milk prices rose faster than almost anything else.
Huigen, who grew up on a dairy farm in Europe, said in the Monday video that Canada is the “only country” that forces farmers to dump milk when they have had an unusually productive season. “But we’re not supposed to talk about this,” he said.
The supply management system would be illegal in almost any other sector of the Canadian economy. In 2018, for instance, the Competition Bureau of Canada accused some of the country’s largest retailers of committing indictable offenses after they uncovered evidence of collusion to fix the price of bread.
But for milk farmers, they face sanctions if they do not participate in the price-fixing scheme. Any sale of milk outside a farmer’s set quota can result in steep fines and even the suspension of their producer licence.
“You tell me, if you’re in the pig business, the wood industry, any steel industry, if you’re 10 per cent over and times are good… your little bit of profit goes down the drain,” he said.
IN OTHER NEWS
As the decriminalization of hard drugs becomes the law of the land in BC, some Local governments are defending the measure by passing their own sanctions against open-air drug use. The Vancouver Island community of Campbell River – which has experienced a noticeable rise in drug-related crime in recent years – met the new decriminalization regime with a bylaw proscribing purposes for the consumption of illicit drugs on public property.
The Trudeau government continues to rack up new examples of spending scandals that are wildly beyond the usual boundaries of Canadian spending scandals. In documents obtained by Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner, it’s revealed that the federal government spent $6.8 million to rent out a Calgary quarantine hotel that was used by 15 people (so, about $450,000 apiece). This is the same government that somehow spent $54 million on ArriveCan, an app that freelance developers were able to replicate over the course of a weekend.
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