A loss of udder: Ontario dairy farmers emptied thousands of liters of milk after holiday storm

Ontario dairy farmers face thousands of dollars in losses after a massive winter storm closed roads starting Dec. 23, preventing drivers from picking up milk and forcing farmers to empty their supply.

Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO), which represents the province’s 3,300 licensed dairy farmers, released a statement Dec. 24, advising farmers of unsafe road conditions and asking them to dispose of milk that could not be picked up by the drivers. .

« A cow produces milk, rain or shine. She always produces milk, and that milk has to go somewhere, » said Andrew Campbell, a farmer from Strathroy, Ont., who lost about 5,000 liters of uninsured milk on Saturday. worth about $4,000.

The dairy industry is tightly regulated in Ontario. All fresh milk is sold to DFO, which then handles transportation, processing, pasteurization and distribution.

Refrigerated trucks come to farms to pick up milk every 48 hours, which is why farms typically only have storage space for just over 48 hours of product, Campbell said.

With snow hampering the functioning of the supply chain, farmers had no choice but to drain what they had to make way for the milk their cows continued to produce.

Farmers from as far north as Thunder Bay, Ont., took to social media platforms on Christmas Eve to show what the process of disposing of thousands of liters of milk looks like. Twitter posts showed rooms full of cow’s milk flowing down the drain, straight from the tanks that are typically used to store and transfer milk to trucks.

Rob Vanden Hengel got up early Saturday to clear the driveway of his farm for the expected milk truck. At 12:30 p.m., he learned from another dairy farmer that DFO advised producers to throw away their product if their truck hadn’t arrived.

« We’re like, well, that sucks. There’s probably a few other words that came out that I can’t really say on the radio, » said Vanden Hengel, whose dairy farm is just north of Seaforth, in Ontario, to Huron. County, where all roads were closed during the storm.

Vanden Hengel lost about 3,400 liters or almost $3,000 in milk. Yet he is assured.
« I’ve been milking cows since 2005 and this is the first time I’ve had to do this, » he said.

Bernie Kamphof is another farmer feeling the impact of the storm. He has a 400 head operation, including 250 dairy cows near Thunder Bay.

The storm’s impact on driving conditions in northern Ontario was not as pronounced as in southern Ontario, Kamphof said, but his pick-up day was still delayed in due to a truck stuck behind a closed road hundreds of kilometers from his farm.

Kamphof not only had to drain the milk over the Christmas weekend, but also on Tuesday. This resulted in the loss of 24,000 liters of milk, worth nearly $20,000.

He says his farm hasn’t thrown away milk since his family first bought it in 1953.

“It was something unheard of for this farm,” Kamphof said. “As farmers, we produce a food product. I think I can speak for every farmer when we say we take pride in the fact that we feed people, and having to get rid of our product is not a nice feeling.

A statement sent by DFO to CBC News says some remote areas are still experiencing delays, although most roads in the province are operational. As dairy farmers without insurance face thousands of dollars in losses, the release says DFO is considering compensation for farmers.

« While it is good business practice to carry insurance, the DFO Board of Directors will review the issue of indemnification in the coming weeks, » the statement said.

Kamphof hopes the industry will come together to cover the losses.

« If you go through insurance, you’re going to pay higher premiums if you make claims on your insurance. We’re big enough to self-insure for risks like this. I think that’s something that we have to look seriously and consider it as an option,” he said.

Meanwhile, DFO says consumers are unlikely to see any effect from the past few days of turmoil at the grocery store.


Back to top button