At a time when groceries are more expensive than ever, dairy producers have been forced to throw away two million liters of milk in a few days due to the labor dispute at the Agropur cheese factory.
“Apart from the economic side, the main motivation is to feed the world. There, you throw away your milk, launches Vincent Rainville, co-owner of the J.G.L. Rainville. It's pretty common in terms of motivation. »
Since Wednesday morning, the employees of the Agropur cheese factory in Granby, which processes 10% of Quebec's milk daily in the province, have been on an indefinite general strike.
This forces Quebec producers to find alternatives for their milk to be processed and then sold in different forms.
Thus, of the 70 million liters treated in total in one week in Quebec, two million were thrown away, according to Yanick Grégoire, spokesperson for the Producteurs de lait du Québec.
Vincent Rainville has many his side has already lost 8000 liters, the equivalent of two days of work.
“If it continues, it will be additional costs, therefore a drop in income on the farm”, underlines the one whose company is located in Marieville, Montérégie.
In such a situation, farms have limited options to ensure that their milk reaches retail outlets, according to Yanick Grégoire.
“In Quebec, as in Canada, processing capacities are already almost to the maximum”, he points out.
If it is not transported to factories outside Quebec or used for animal feed, it is possible that the milk is then used to create methane.
Surpluses also end up in the pits and are used as fertilizer.
“We agree that this is a measure that is very shocking for producers who market milk to feed people,” insists Mr. Grégoire.
It is also loss of income used to cover the cost of equipment or to feed the cows, adds Mr. Grégoire.
Nevertheless, it is expected that any recorded losses will be shared among the producers.
Forcing the hand
Sylvain Charlebois. Expert
All in all, especially in a period of inflation, it should be illegal to throw away these productions which are a “public good”, argues the director of the laboratory of agro-food analytical sciences at Dalhousie University, Sylvain Charlebois.
“We would force everyone to find new ways to store milk,” he says.
“If we keep the milk [instead of wasting it], we lower the price on the market […] so the producers would make less money,” says Mr. Charlebois.
Remember that the Canadian Dairy Commission announced at the end of June a 2.5% increase in the cost of products, be it yogurt, cheese or butter.
Agropur told the Journal to be aware of the consequences of the conflict and hope for a quick settlement.
For his part, the president of the union of cheese dairy employees, Daniel Chaput, underlined yesterday that he wanted the current schedules of employees are retained so that work can resume.
Dairy product sales in Quebec reached $2.864 billion in 2021, an increase of 4.1% compared to the previous year.
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Katrine Johns has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Gal Post, Katrine Johns worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my firstname.lastname@example.org 1-800-268-7128