Ex-national dairy leader to head dairy commission

A former president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada will take the helm of the Canadian Dairy Commission from another former DFC president.

Jacques Laforge, who operates a 200-head Holstein dairy farm at St-Andre, N.B., was named Tuesday to a three-year term as the new CEO of the commission, which manages the support price and market-sharing quota mechanisms of Canada’s supply management system for dairy.

Chairman of the DFC from 2004 until last year, Laforge takes over at the CDC from John Core, a Lambton County, Ont. dairyman who’s been the commission’s CEO since 2002 and was DFC president from 1999 to 2001.

Laforge "has established himself as a driving force in the Canadian dairy industry," federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said Tuesday in announcing the appointment. "I am certain that his knowledge and passion for the industry will continue to serve our dairy producers and processors well as he takes on this important new role."

The CDC, a Crown corporation, co-ordinates federal and provincial dairy policies and handles the control mechanism for milk production to stabilize dairy farmer revenues and avoid surpluses.

The commission sets the support price of butter and skim milk powder, which are referenced by provincial milk marketing boards to establish the price of industrial milk in each province.

The national body also monitors Canadian production and demand and recommends adjustments where needed to the national production target for industrial milk.

The new CEO’s resume also includes stints as chairman of the New Brunswick Milk Marketing Board (1995-2000) and the Atlantic Dairy and Forage Institute (1997-2000). A member of the DFC’s board of directors since the 1980s, Laforge joined its executive in 1999.

Named last year to the Order of New Brunswick, Laforge was also appointed in 2009 by the province’s then-agriculture minister Ron Ouellette to the new Minister’s Round Table on Agriculture, a 28-member advisory board on a provincial ag strategy.

Current DFC president Wally Smith on Tuesday congratulated Laforge on the new post, hailing him as "an active farm leader at both the provincial and national levels in the last 30 years" and as "a progressive dairy businessman (whose) leadership and management skills were well appreciated while he was DFC president."

The Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, a longtime critic of Canada’s dairy marketing programs, said Wednesday that consumers’ and restaurateurs’ concerns about dairy prices "do not receive the attention they should" under the existing supply-managed system.

"We’ve recently had constructive discussions with the CDC, but the appointment of a dairy industry insider as CEO makes us question if we will make much progress," CRFA CEO Garth Whyte said in a release.

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