The Montreal-based Saputo Inc., which operates a manufacturing plant in Tavistock, is considering making acquisitions in Brazil that could be worth as much as $3.5 billion, according to CEO Lino Saputo, Jr. Saputo is one of Canada’s largest dairy processors, and its products include the Dairyland and Armstrong brands. Saputo is reportedly interested in buying cheese-making plants in Brazil, instead continuing to move its cheese into Brazil from Argentina. Saputo told the Western Producer that the global dairy industry is fragmented, which could prove to be an opportunity for them, but declined to say if they were in serious negotiations with a specific company. In 2015, Saputo made two acquisitions, North America’s Woolwich Dairy and Australia’s Everyday Cheese Business. The company’s shares have improved by about 18 percent in 2016. However, they reported lower quarterly earnings at the beginning of this month, which they attributed to weaker pricing around the world for dairy ingredients.
A recent article in the Cortez Journal out of Colorado highlighted a group that has displayed a somewhat unexpected resistance to presumptive Republican nominee for president Donald Trump’s call to deport undocumented immigrants and build a wall across the southern U.S. border. That group? Dairy farmers. The article relates the daily grind at Wisconsin’s Lake Breeze Dairy, which relies on the full-time employment of over 20 immigrant workers, accounting for about two-thirds of the workforce needed to get over 10,000 gallons of milk from the farm’s 2,650 cattle each day. Wisconsin farmers say that, even paying above minimum wage and offering benefits as they do, they have a hard time attracting local workers to put in the time. According to a Texas A&M University study, one third of all U.S. dairy farms employed foreign-born workers in 2014. Even in Canada-bordering Wisconsin, over half of immigrants working on dairy farms are undocumented, according to the president of the state’s Dairy Business Association. The Texas A&M study, funded by dairy producers, found that without immigrant labour, dairies would close, output would drop and consumers would pay almost twice as much for milk. Such events could cost the U.S. economy around $32 billion, shuttering over 7,000 dairy farms, eliminating over 200,000 jobs and increasing retail prices by 90 percent, they said. It could be enough to turn mid-western dairy farmers, ordinarily-Republican voters, to the other side come November. Trump lost the Wisconsin primary to Texas Senator Ted Cruz in April.
Canadian farmers rally in Ottawa in support of supply management
Earlier this month, thousands of dairy farmers made their way to the nation’s capital to express support for Canada’s supply management system, as well as opposition to the U.S.-produced milk protein diafiltered milk which is being imported into Canada. The American product has been brought into the country as a substitute for Canadian milk in cheese production. The diafiltered milk is reportedly treated as just an ingredient at the border, entering Canada tariff-free, but then at cheese plants it is reconstituted into skim milk, farmers said. These imports are cutting into demand for Canadian skim milk, they said. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has recently released a statement saying the government strongly supports Canada’s dairy farmers and supply management system, and will continue to listen to the dairy industry’s concerns about challenges including the Canada-Europe trade deal (CETA) and the use of diafiltered milk.
A list of Shur-Gain brand bags of feed remain on sale through the end of June at The Hitching Post (480 Queen Street West, St. Marys) including calf starter, dry cow and milk replacers. For more information, call 519-284-2360 or go to TheHitchingPost.ca.