The GOVERNMENT RELATIONS team acts as a liaison with all levels of the federal government. Through the creation and building of strategic relationships, it advances the understanding of, and the support for, DFC’s mission.
DFC officially kicked off its electoral campaign strategy at its annual general meeting in July 2015. The strategy began to unfold with the distribution of the 2015 Federal Election Kit to the Board of Director's members and provincial organizations’ staff. The kit's ultimate goal was to aid us in engaging with every candidate from the major parties in every riding across the country to ensure that if they were elected, they would already have a strong background on the Canadian dairy sector and our key issues. It was also a useful tool to convey our messages with regard to TPP negotiations. It provided candidates with an introduction to supply management; an overview of the importance of the dairy industry to the growth of our country’s economy; key facts and figures to counter the myths about supply management; and information about initiatives such as proAction. It also asked candidates to pledge their support for supply management and for help to raise certain challenges including defending the system’s integrity in any trade deals.
Throughout the summer, Canadian dairy farmers were encouraged to use the kit when touching base with their local Member of Parliament (MP) along with the Liberal, Conservative, NDP, Bloc and Green candidates in their riding to share facts pertaining to the dairy industry and to remind them how vital it is to the well-being of communities across Canada. Moreover, they were asked to visit canadianmilkmatters.ca to send a letter to their MP, the Minister of International Trade and leaders of the major parties in support of Canadian dairy during TPP negotiations. We are proud to report that dairy farmers from all provinces responded in impressive numbers to DFC’s call to action.
Ça prend un village...
Dairy Farming Brings Value
in Alberta (en anglais seulement)
Farms Help Other Local Businesses Thrive (en anglais seulement)
Local Milk Creates Jobs
in London Ontario (en anglais seulement)
DFC spent a great deal of effort keeping the lines of communication open between the country’s dairy farmers and each of the parties. Many discussions were had, questions were submitted for debate and support was provided upon requests for dairy farm visits.
In addition, DFC’s election strategy included an email campaign in which we sent seven distinct informative emails to more than 1,300 candidates; forwarded a congratulatory Twitter message to all candidates; and organized farm tours for the leaders of both the Conservatives and the NDP. In order to evaluate the results of our combined efforts, DFC also sent a survey to all candidates, asking them the same questions as were asked of the general public by Environics in a survey conducted in July 2015.
Canadian Milk Matters
Launched in July 2015, the "Canadian Milk Matters" campaign aimed to generate, solicit and consolidate support among Canadians for the dairy industry during TPP negotiation rounds.
This ambitious initiative enabled us to harness support and use it to apply public pressure on government officials heading into an electoral race. Throughout the campaign, DFC demonstrated to government that Canadians from across the country care about dairy, forcing it to take note of our industry during TPP negotiations so as to achieve a better outcome for our sector.
Partnering with Sussex Strategy Group, DFC created and ran targeted print, Facebook and Google ads in support of Canadian dairy during the summer. They encouraged the public to visit canadianmilkmatters.ca and sign their name to five individual and customizable letters, indicating their support for the dairy industry and supply management. These letters were addressed to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Opposition leaders and local MPs. The campaign also included a series of print ads during the Maui round of TPP negotiations. These endeavours were met with great success as a total of 216,000 letters were sent by 34,756 supporters!
Running from early August to October, the campaign’s second phase targeted Facebook ads seeing as, in the first phase, Facebook considerably outperformed Google. Moreover, the campaign included a series of print ads during the Atlanta round of TPP negotiations. We were told by those on the ground in Maui and Atlanta that the overwhelming public support shown for the Canadian dairy industry in this campaign had a direct and positive impact on Canada’s position in TPP negotiations.
The campaign was extremely successful compared to other third-party advertising campaigns.
We now have a database comprising 34,802 email addresses that we can use for other initiatives and campaigns. This outcome also came with a bonus: it significantly increased our Facebook community from 1,999 fans in July to 16,468 in August.
One Canadian in nine was reached through our campaign. And that represents an important gain!
To that effect, DFC, in collaboration with Sussex Strategy Group, won the Reed Award for Best Canadian Website, a prize granted by United States-based Campaigns and Elections, as well as Bronze for the Canadian Milk Matters campaign in the Government Relations/Public Affairs Campaign of the Year and the Best Digital Communications Campaign of the Year categories at the Achieving Communications Excellence Awards Gala held by the Canadian Public Relations Society.
Given the campaign’s success and recognizability, the Canadian Milk Matters logo will now be used as the logo associated with DFC’s political activities, and will be used as a rallying sign for all our future political events.
In May, DFC initiated a new phase of Canadian Milk Matters, sending an email with a link to a short survey to those who participated in the letter-writing campaign during the election. More than 30% responded to our invitation. These numbers demonstrate once again how committed our base is to supporting dairy in Canada. The survey results will help us gain a better understanding of the different priorities and opinions on the key issues facing dairy farmers and Canadian consumers.
Canadian Milk Matters was at the centre of activities held to mark June 1st’s World Milk Day. On June 2nd, DFC held a rally on Parliament Hill, where 3,000 producers from Quebec and Ontario, as well as representatives from each province, gathered together to ask the government to fulfill its responsibilities towards supply management. Satellite events were also held simultaneously in Saskatchewan and Prince-Edward-Island.
Canadian Milk Matters will continue to focus on the issues that resonate most with our dairy farmers—the very backbone of our rural economies—and with consumers, who want to be assured not only that the milk and milk products they buy are safe and of high quality, but also that they are paying a reasonable price when purchasing them.
Canada’s supply-managed system has been under a lot of pressure this past year due to international trade agreements, public criticism, the global dairy situation, and various issues related to the management of Canada’s borders.
In addition, some supply management critics, such as the Montreal Economic Institute, and former MP Martha Hall Findlay, took the opportunity presented by TPP negotiations and the 2015 Federal Election to re-emphasize their criticisms of the system. During the election, several news outlets printed Ms. Hall Findlay’s declaration that politicians needn’t worry so much about dairy, as only 13 Canadian federal ridings have a significant dairy presence — when, in fact, dairy has a significant presence in 44 ridings in Ontario and Quebec alone. DFC was able to set the record straight, leading to the use of the 44 ridings number across most media channels; it quickly became clear for politicians that in order to win the Canadian election, they could not ignore the dairy industry’s issues.
Throughout all of these challenges, DFC has defended Canada’s unique system tooth and nail. All of our ongoing communication and government relations endeavours have been aimed at promoting and defending supply management, and we have also taken every opportunity to collaborate with the supply management organizations (SM5) and business partners such as Holstein Canada and Agropur in these efforts.
The use of diafiltered milk is an issue that DFC has been attempting to resolve with the government for more than four years.
In 2015, the problem reached unprecedented heights—leading the previous government to mention diafiltered milk while announcing CETA/TPP compensation measures last October. However, with the change of government, this issue, which greatly impacts our farmers’ revenues, has not been resolved—despite DFC’s continued hard work.
THE DUTY DEFERRAL PROGRAM
The Duty Deferral program was designed for manufacturing sectors, not agriculture.
Some importers have used the Program to import dairy products and other foods and defer their duty payments for up to four years before they re-export. The misuse of the Duty Deferral program to import dairy products disrupts the management of our system.
In collaboration with our SM5 peers, we have petitioned the government to exclude supply-managed products from the Program as the Import for Re-Export Program already exists for those goods (dairy and poultry) when they are imported for the purpose of re-exporting valued-added food products.
Canadian dairy farmers have been investing in their own farms for years. The Canadian dairy industry's processing infrastructure has reached its capacity.
Modern ingredient plants could make a range of "customize" products to meet the customers’ requirements.
The dairy industry needs infrastructure money to stimulate investment into modern dairy processing plants. This will translate into jobs staying in Canada. If there is no investment support, processors will invest abroad and those jobs will be lost forever.
Consumers are interested in knowing what goes into their food. Food labels contain a lot of information. However, this information is not always clear and accurate.
Furthermore, the list of ingredients only states what the ingredients are and not their proportions. This makes it difficult for consumers to compare products and determine which ones best meet their needs.
To help consumers make smart choices, DFC believes that the Quantitative Ingredient Declaration (QUID) system, which identifies the percentage of each ingredient that a food contains, is the best labelling method.
As dairy farmers, we are proud of the fruits of our labour and their wholesomeness. We have therefore asked that the Canadian government require the QUID on all food labels.
Here are the three main issues raised with regard to milk products:
The Daily Value (DV) for sugars should be abandoned, and other options should be considered. Health Canada is proposing that the Nutrition Facts table include a percent daily value (% DV) based on a maximum intake of 100 g for sugars. However, this proposal does not differentiate between sugar that is naturally present in food and sugar that is added. The declaration of a % DV will highlight the natural sugar (lactose) content of milk products and mislead consumers into thinking that they should avoid them. For example, a 250-mL serving of plain milk would be labelled as providing 11% to 13% of the DV and a 175-g serving of flavoured yogurt would be labelled as providing 19% to 25% of the DV, while 15% of the DV is defined as “a lot”.
DFC supports the decision to abandon the mandatory declaration of the % DV for trans fat. DFC also suggests that Health Canada takes it one step further and no longer require the labelling of trans fatty acids in food products for which the fat originates exclusively from ruminant meats or dairy products.
The conditions for making “excellent source” claims should be revised for calcium, in the context of higher DVs for certain nutrients to support consumer education on key sources of these nutrients. This should apply primarily to the micronutrients that Canadians have an inadequate intake of and that are identified by Health Canada as being a public health concern (e.g., calcium and iron).
The CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS team enhances and protects DFC’s reputation as well as supports the unfolding of its strategic vision. In cooperation with all DFC departments, it promotes the organization’s values while advancing the understanding and recognition of DFC’s mission in the public eye.
DFC produces and distributes the bi-monthly newsletter Dairy Express, which we use namely to inform farmers on DFC initiatives and communicate messages from our partners to them. Dairy Express has also proven useful to share, for example, census information from the Canadian Revenue Agency or relevant facts pertaining to trade deal negotiations. The positive feedback we have received thus far has been an indicator that this publication is on the right track!
Over the past year, the Issues Management Working Group has met twice in person: once in December in Montreal, and once in May in Halifax. It also holds scheduled monthly conference calls, in addition to members reaching out to each other anytime there is a relevant matter to address. During meetings, they discuss local and national issues, and expand their knowledge on useful topics such as activism and animal welfare, which were discussed in Halifax.
In the fall of 2015, the DFC Board of Directors adopted a new crisis management communications protocol, which was shared with provincial dairy organizations. We now have a clear procedure with regard to the support DFC can provide to members in case of a crisis. Indeed, a mobile team will be available as needed to travel across the country and lend a helping hand.
The Communications team now has an Assistant Director in charge of communicating DFC’s policies in its midst. This allows us to better plan, and to offer more adequate services to the Policy and International Trade and Marketing teams.
WOMEN IN AG CONFERENCE
In its capacity as sponsor of the Advancing Women: Life Skills for Leadership—Women in Ag Conference held in Toronto last October, DFC’s Executive Director was awarded the opportunity to present the Fuelling Women Champions initiative.
Targeting women who aspire to be successful in their agricultural career, their family and community lives and secure their financial independence, this networking event showcased women who have been there and are willing to share what they have learned along the way. We might add that the crowd assembled thoroughly enjoyed Caroline Emond's presentation.
To give Canadian women dairy farmers the chance to take part in this rewarding experience, DFC organized the Advancing Women contest. We asked them to put pen to paper and tell us about the issues that affect them and the dairy industry for a chance to win a trip to Calgary to attend the Advancing Women West event that took place on March 28 and 29. DFC would like to congratulate Jennifer Veldhuisen, Rachael Verwey, Carol Boonstoppel and Lindsay Heer for their winning essays. Their applications stood out from the numerous entries received as part of the contest. Thank you to all the passionate and inspiring women dairy farmers throughout the country for their participation!
YOUNG FARMERS’ FORUM
DFC are proud sponsors of the Canadian Young Farmers’ Forum that held its national conference and general members meeting last February in Vancouver.
The Canadian Young Farmers' Forum connects young farmers from across Canada to provide the support, encouragement and resources that allow them to promote agriculture and become leaders in their sector.
CANADIAN DAIRY XPO
DFC also participated in the 4th Annual Canadian Dairy XPO held in Stratford, Ontario in early April.
This two-day commercial exhibit provided DFC with an opportunity to interact directly with producers, to answer their questions and to increase the number of subscribers to Dairy Express. On this occasion, DFC's President gave a presentation on international trade and the importance of protecting supply management in light of a deteriorating global dairy situation. He was also present for the inaugural ceremony of the Cow Coliseum, a new permanent structure at the XPO.