Wisconsin farmers learn about Canadian dairy supply management

Wisconsin Farmers Union brought two Ontario Canada dairy officials to Wisconsin to explain how their dairy supply management system works.

More than one hundred had questions for Dairy Farmers of Ontario Chairman Ralph Dietrich and Vice President Murray Sherk, who explained how the system started in the 1960’s.

Dairy farmers attending were members of different farm organizations including Farmers Union, Farm Bureau, and National Farmers Organization, along with several dairy cooperatives.  Durand, Wisconsin farmer Randy Kohler observed many shared the same general feeling.  “There’s no question from the sentiment you get from everybody in the room that something needs to change.  Something needs to be done.  You know, a different path needs to be looked at and, you know, this is one of the options.”

Gerald Croes from Deer Park, Wisconsin says the Canadian way of managing dairy is worth a look.  “Definitely.  It’s not going to happen overnight.  Like I said, I’m sixty years old and probably never see it but we’ve got to do something to control the system, I mean, it’s too much corporate business.  We’re losing the family farm as the minute goes by.”

Kara O’Connor with Wisconsin Farmers Union tells Brownfield making a change needs dairy farmers from all organizations working together. “Every organization that’s at the table thinking creatively about how do we make a system that’s good for farmers, good for processors, and good for consumers is how we’re going to move the ball forward.”

O’Connor says under the Canadian supply management system, producers supply their quota of milk to two national milk pools.  “Because they’re all marketing milk in common together, the buyers cannot afford to pick them off one-by-one and leave farmers behind, and that power of speaking together with one voice means farmers cannot be discounted.”

Dietrich confirmed that when quotas go up or down, it is adjusted across the entire system, so they don’t have farmers losing contracts like the recent Dean Foods decision to drop about 100 farms, or last year’s Grassland Dairy cuts impacting more than 70 farms.

Wisconsin Farmers Union hosted two Dairy Together meetings Tuesday in Eau Claire and Edgar, Wisconsin.  Three more are scheduled Wednesday (3/14) in Fond du Lac, Dodgeville, and Westby, Wisconsin to give more producers an opportunity to learn about the Canadian supply management system.




  • I’m appalled that these farmers would actually consider the Canadian system. Canada was a net Exporter of Dairy Products from the turn of the century (when records started to be kept in Canada) until 3 years after the implementation of Supply Management.
    Per capita consumption has plummeted, we became a net importer of Dairy to the tune of $1 Billion a year. We cannot even produce enough butter for personal consumption at massively inflated prices.
    Unlike New Zealand, who is able to continually produce and export more and more, Dairy, Lamb, Venison, and Wood ever since government regulation and subsidy were removed.
    Like all welfare recipients, everywhere, Canadian Dairy Farmers are hooked, once on the dole, it’s almost impossible to get off.

  • hello I am searching for Pieter Syrbrandi (Farmer from Alberta) Wisconsin.
    He is from Canada and has his roots in the Nerderlands (Friesland)

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