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FEBRUARY 2019 • COUNTRY LIFE IN BC


11


Political engagement headlines dairy meeting Government politicians absent as producers discuss the industry’s future


by DAVID SCHMIDT


ABBOTSFORD – Interacting with politicians, whether they be local, provincial or federal, is a key role for and key accomplishment of Mainland Milk Producers. “We tried to impress upon


(federal politicians) that decisions made in Ottawa have an impact on the Fraser Valley,” MMP president Holger Schwichtenberg told members at their annual meeting in Abbotsford, January 11. “I’m not sure how successful we were,” he added. That was perhaps underlined by the fact that while several federal Conservative MPs and several provincial Liberal MLAs attended the meeting, neither the federal Liberals nor the provincial NDP were in attendance. Abbotsford mayor Henry


Braun reflected the views of the politicians who did attend, saying “Mainland Milk matters.” He acknowledged trade deals made 2018 a “tough year” for the dairy industry but applauded the work of MMP and other dairy associations to promote the benefits of supply management. “You’re now going to have to deal with the compensation issue,” Abbotsford MP and former Conservative trade minister Ed Fast added, saying “the government likes to call it mitigation but it’s really compensation.” David Janssens, who until


recently represented BC at Dairy Farmers of Canada, said mitigation is just one issue DFC is addressing with the federal government. He said that mitigation needs to have a different structure than the dairy investment program the federal government put in place as part of the European free trade deal, noting that program only “turned farmers against farmers. We want direct payments to farmers to be part of the compensation.” DFC also wants


government to be “more vigilant” on border controls and enforcement and wants a marketing and promotion levy applied to all imported


milk products so the imports “help develop the market they’re taking away.”


MMP


director Jared deJong, who is also vice- president of the BC Agriculture Council, noted almost 100 farmers


HOLGER SCHWICHTENBERG


attended last year’s Ag Day in Victoria. He called it a very successful event, noting farmers met with a total of 16 ministers, but said there should have been more participation from Lower Mainland dairy farmers. He called Ag Day a great


opportunity to bring farmers’ issues to the politicians,


DAVID JANSSENS


noting the politicians “rarely talk to us” outside of Ag Day. Schwichtenberg was


making his last presentation as MMP president, as he has moved up to become president of the BC Dairy Association. MMP directors then selected Kevin Mammel as their new president. Replacing Mammel as vice-


president is Stan van Keulen. Marc Dalton continues as secretary and Calvin Maarhuis remains treasurer. Schwichtenberg was most proud of MMP’s ongoing support of the Mainland Young Milk Producers, noting MYMP is “developing new leaders.”


MMP will continue to


provide base funding for MYMP and will also provide funding for two MYMP members to attend the Dairy Farmers of Canada annual meeting in Quebec this summer. MYMP director Aaron Neels noted they supplemented the base funding with over


$10,000 in sponsorships, allowing them to hold a wide variety of events, including evenings with the Milk Board, local MLAs and vets. MMP has also allocated $25,000 to a new Dairy Promotion Fund. Non-profit organizations will be able to apply for DPF funding to support projects promoting dairy in the Fraser Valley. Although initially a one-year pilot, MMP hopes it will become an ongoing program. Producers clearly approved


MMP’s actions of the past year, reelecting Dalton, Casey Pruim, Theo Stoker, Wally Tenbrinke and van Keulen to new three-year terms. They chose Mark van Klei over Brian Janzen to fill the position David Janssens vacated when he was elected to the BC Milk Marketing Board.


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