Jacques Lefebre, head of Dairy Farmers of Canada, is warning dairy farmers that they will be facing greater scrutiny from a critical public.
He told the annual meeting of Alberta’s dairy farmers that animal care is an issue that is a “hot topic these days.”
Cedar Valley Farms in Abbotsford, B.C., attracted national media attention after a video was submitted to the B.C. SPCA that allegedly included cows being beaten by objects such as wrenches.
It’s in that context of increased critical public scrutiny that the board of directors is awaiting the report from a working group on sustainability, he said.
“Based on its work, our board will soon consider robust yet realistic sustainability objectives and targets for our industry,” he said. “This will send a clear message that when it comes to environmental stewardship, dairy farmers mean business.”
There is also a strong emphasis on climate change mitigation in the DFC’s next five-year research strategy, he said.
“First, we want to educate consumers, in particular millennials and Gen Zs, but also decision-makers. We want to educate them on the good work that has and continues to happen on your farms.
“Second, we’re addressing our plan to continue to contribute to efforts in supporting sustainability. And finally, we’re working to debunk the myths and misconceptions about dairy, and we’re doing it head on.”
Lefebvre also highlighted the DFC’s expert working group on butter, which is looking at the use of cattle feed supplements containing palm byproducts.
Media coverage early this year outlined how butter was potentially becoming harder to melt due to such supplements.
“Given the concerns raised by consumers, this was an important step to maintain public confidence in the dairy sector,” he said.
“The working group will be publishing its final report in the near future, which could prompt some renewed public interest in this issue, and I want you to be rest assured that we’re prepared for it.”