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Ont. cheese organization to go national

Members of the Ontario Cheese Society have agreed to remake the organization as a nationwide body to promote artisanal, farmstead and specialty cheesemakers across Canada.

The new name, the Canadian Cheese Society (and, in French, la Societe des fromages canadiens), and the organization’s new structure are to take effect Jan. 1, 2011, the group said in a release last week.

A national conference will follow in Toronto later in the spring, the group said.

“It became clear to us that cheese producers and cheese lovers in other provinces would be interested in — and benefit from — becoming part of a unique value-chain organization,” Gurth Pretty, the society’s chairman and president of the new Canadian body, said in the release.

The Ontario group’s board of directors presented a proposal to its members for approval at their meeting in April, said Pretty, who’s also the author of The Definitive Guide to Canadian Artisanal and Fine Cheese.

Since its inception as a provincial body in 2004, the Ontario group has expanded to over 100 active members in what’s billed as “Canada’s only value-chain-based cheese organization.”

The group’s membership includes “all levels of the value chain” from producers and dairy farmers to cheese marketers, retailers, distributors, food writers, academics and cheese enthusiasts alike.

The new society’s stated objectives will be to promote and support the artisan/farmstead/specialty cheese sector; organize networking and educational opportunities for members; provide co-promotion opportunities; advocate for the sector to policy makers and consumers; and facilitate professional development opportunities for members.

The new group is to include four levels of membership: Cheesemaker, Supporting Industry, Professional and Enthusiast.

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