CANADA – Mark Hamel, a prominent Canadian dairy farmer has been elected as the new chair of the board for Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO).

The transition follows the departure of Murray Sherk, who stepped down during the DFO annual general meeting after serving on the board for 12 years.

Milk production stands as the largest single commodity in Ontario’s farm-gate agriculture, reaching a value of approximately US$3 billion in 2023.

During the annual meeting program and recognition banquet, numerous tributes were paid to Murray Sherk for his dedicated service and leadership during challenging times, particularly navigating the supply challenges brought about by the COVID-19 lockdown.

Lisa Thompson, Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs, praised Sherk’s direct and impactful leadership during critical moments.

Sherk’s tenure included addressing major issues such as the pandemic, trade deals like CUSMA and CPTPP, and the increased demand for butter products, leading to challenges related to solids-not-fat (SNF), which have less value than butterfat.

A policy change created a new pricing class for these products, sparking tensions with the United States.

Murray Sherk plans to spend more time on his farm and with his family. Roger Boersen, the DFO board member for Region 10, was elected as vice-chair, and Don Gordon, Board Member for Region 5, was elected as second vice-chair.

One notable challenge in the dairy industry, specifically dealing with solids-not-fat (SNF), may see some resolution with increased funding for processors.

The federal government has allocated US$333 million from CUSMA compensation funds to support processors in handling SNF.

The funding aims to address the surplus created when dairy fat is used for products like butter, leaving behind milk solids that aren’t fat. The increased demand for butter and processed dairy products has resulted in a larger surplus of SNF.

Additionally, a national market growth program, a collaboration across the P10 (national milk pool), will facilitate milk allocation and market growth, focusing on addressing challenges related to SNF.

In a structural change, Lactanet, the national milk and genetics recording company, will no longer have provincial delegates.

DFO, along with other milk boards across the country, will appoint one board member and one dairy farmer to the Lactanet board of directors, streamlining the communication and reporting process between the organizations.

Subscribe to our food and agriculture industry email newsletters that provide busy executives like you with the latest news insights and trends from Africa and the World. SUBSCRIBE HERE