A symposium, organized by Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) and titled “Building a Sustainable Dairy Industry,” featured guest speakers from different areas of the value chain and included a tour of two eastern Ontario dairy farms.

The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lawrence MacAulay, briefly addressed symposium guests, reiterating the government’s support for the dairy sector.

On Nov. 7, about 70 participants began their day at La Ferme Gillette, where they met dairy farmers Marc and Eric Patenaude. They toured one of the three Gillette barns, where show cows are housed, and learned about cow genetics, tiestall milking and cow genealogy.

The group then headed to Wilkridge Farm to meet Ken and Peggy Wilkes, fifth-generation dairy farmers who recently moved their cows to a newly constructed freestall barn that features the first two GEA Monobox automated milk systems in eastern Ontario.

The Wilkeses and their Ontario field staff answered questions about housing, cow comfort, feeding, proAction, the environmental farm plan and other data-recording and record-keeping necessities.


In the evening, DFC hosted a wine and cheese reception at the Château Laurier. Attendees took the opportunity to network and chat over Canadian wine, cheese and beef, thanks to the sponsorship of Canada Beef.

The event was attended by Jean-Claude Poissant, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Agriculture, as well as many other members of Parliament from different political parties.

Nov. 8 featured a full day of presentations and discussions.

Bob Chant, Loblaw, opened with a presentation about how food sustainability has become important to retailers due to growing customer demand about how food is produced; Brian Van Doormaal of the Canadian Dairy Network gave a passionate talk about how modern genetic and genomic technologies improve sustainability on Canadian dairy farms; DFC’s Joanne Gallagher discussed the role of milk and milk products as part of a healthy and sustainable diet; and Vice-President of DFC David Wiens provided an overview of DFC initiatives promoting sustainability, including proAction.

The afternoon began with a panel discussion featuring Gilles Froment, who talked about sustainability in a global context through the work of the International Dairy Federation; Cherie Copithorne-Barnes, who discussed the work of the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef; and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture’s Drew Black, who spoke about the public trust initiative, which aims to maintain consumer confidence in the food industry. DFC participates in all three initiatives.

Agropur’s Robert Coallier spoke of the economic, social and environmental story of his cooperative, and British Columbia dairy farmer Dave Taylor talked about how farming sustainably has allowed his family to produce high-quality milk for Canadians for three generations.

The symposium was a true success, creating valuable networking opportunities for members of the food supply chain and to learn what sustainability means to everyone now and for the future.

Presentations are available on the DFC website (Dairy Farmers of Canada).  end mark

Dairy Farmers of Canada
Founded in 1934, Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) is the national organization which defends the interests of Canadian dairy farmers and strives to create favourable conditions for the Canadian dairy industry.

Working in accordance with supply management principles, DFC promotes safe, high quality, sustainable and nutritious Canadian dairy products made from 100% Canadian milk through various marketing, nutrition, policy and lobbying initiatives.

Driven by a strong sense of community and pride, DFC and Canadian dairy farmers actively support a number of local and national activities. Visit Dairy Farmers of Canada for more information.