At a time when groceries are more expensive than ever, dairy farmers have been forced to dump two million liters of milk in just a few days due to the labor dispute at the Agropur cheese factory.
“Apart from the economic aspect, the main motivation is to feed the world. There, you pour your milk, throws Vincent Rainville, co-owner of the JGL Rainville farm. It’s pretty common in terms of motivation.”
Since Wednesday morning, the employees of the Agropur cheese factory in Granby, which processes 10% of Quebec’s milk daily in the province, have been on an indefinite general strike.
This forces Quebec producers to look for alternative solutions so that their milk is processed and then sold in different forms.
Thus, of the 70 million liters treated in total in a week in Quebec, two million were discarded, according to Yanick Grégoire, spokesman for Producteurs de lait du Québec.
Vincent Rainville has already lost 8,000 litres, the equivalent of two days of work.
Listen to Philippe-Vincent Foisy’s comment on QUB radio:
“If it continues, there will be additional costs, therefore a drop in income on the farm”, emphasizes the one who has his company in Marieville, in Montérégie.
In such a situation, farms have limited options to ensure their milk reaches retail outlets, according to Yanick Grégoire.
“In Quebec, as in Canada, the processing capacities are already almost at maximum,” he says.
Listen to Marc-André Leclerc’s interview with Bernard Cournoyer, Advisor to the Center of Democratic Trade Unions on QUB radio:
If not transported to factories outside of Quebec or used as animal feed, the milk may be used to create methane.
The surpluses also go to the pits and are used as fertilizer.
“We agree that this is a measure that is very shocking for producers who market milk to feed people,” insists Mr. Grégoire.
It is also a loss of income used to cover the cost of equipment or to feed the cows, adds Mr. Grégoire.
However, all recorded losses are expected to be shared among producers.
Sylvain Charlebois. Expert
Still, especially in a period of inflation, it should be illegal to throw away these “public good” productions, argues Sylvain Charlebois, director of Dalhousie University’s agri-food analytical sciences laboratory.
“We would force everyone to find new ways to store milk,” he says.
“If we keep the milk [au lieu de le gaspiller]the market price falls […] then the producers would earn less money”, specifies Mr. Charlebois.
Recall that the Canadian Dairy Commission announced at the end of June a 2.5% increase in the cost of products, be it yogurt, cheese or butter.
Agropur has indicated to Trunk be aware of the consequences of the conflict and expect a prompt solution.
For his part, the president of the cheese factory employees union, Daniel Chaput, stressed yesterday that he wanted the current hours of the employees to be maintained so that work can be resumed.
- Dairy product sales in Quebec reached 2,864 million dollars in 2021, an increase of 4.1% compared to the previous year.
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