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Local Dairy Producers Weigh in on the Import Restrictions Announced by Agriculture Minister

The Government has paused the importation of milk and cheese. Reports are that there is an urgent need to restrict, manage, and carefully monitor the importation of dairy commodities such as milk and cheese in order to properly balance the local competition. At Friday’s Sitting of the House of Representatives, Minister of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise revealed that there is an oversaturation of locally produced milk and cheese. As a result, the Government has paused its importation in order to give local enterprises an opportunity to vend their products. The Manager of Western Diaries, Roy Friesen spoke on the advantages that this would have on their company which is a local milk and cheese producer.

Roy Friesen, Manager, Western Dairies

Roy Friesen, Manager, Western Dairies: “Other countries subsidize their milk, a lot of it, so they can import it cheaper that there’s no taxes on that coming that affects us being able to compete with that price locally here I think that’s one of the big things for us. So this way if they level that for us then we have a better chance of competing. Most people would compare our milk with UHT which is the Lala mostly in the country, there are a few other name brands. Well yes ours is not a UHT product but the UHT once you open it it has no longer shelf life than our fresh milk does, you have to refrigerate it as well but yes before it’s opened you don’t need to refrigerate it and it has a longer shelf life so that part is different from the Lala UST milk and our fresh milk that we sell.”

Reporter: This move by the government would positively impact your company.

Roy Friesen, Manager, Western Dairies: “Yes absolutely, for sure it would.”

What does this mean for local producers? well, this seems like a  good move by the Government as explained by Friesen. It’s now up to the masses to keep their dollar at home.

Roy Friesen, Manager ,Western Dairies: “We have an excess of milk right now so the milk that comes in we still make cheese out of it so we’re trying to not dump any milk so that we make the extra cheese out of the milk coming in because our milk sales over all are much lower than what they have been in the past. One of the biggest things for us is the tourists. So a lot of resorts use a lot of fresh milk and then also restaurants like a lot of the restaurants if they cannot be fully opened they would use our fresh products a lot. Right now we’re making it into cheese in hopes to be able to sell more cheese and then we are working on doing a sale so we’re not sure how that will go yet but we’re working on some plans there to try to get rid of the more fresh milk and products like that quicker into the market. Production as far as in the milk coming in is about the same as in a normal year but obviously our fresh milk and those kind of products are less so then our cheese production increases so that we don’t dump milk. Most of our fresh products of course they have really gotten hit because of not being able to have the same sales like our chocolate milk, our strawberry milks, our fresh milks even the fresh cream and stuff like that going in the restaurants and the resorts also the cheese being able to be used in those that makes a difference as far as if the resorts are not as much tourists and then you have the restaurants not fully opened it really affects how much we can sell to them and then a huge part of our sales goes to restaurants and what they use in their stores and restaurants there and then I guess maybe some of the other things if there’s less movement in the country and stuff like that would affect as well on those but I would say the restaurants and resorts is one of the big ones.”

This decision by the Government was made to strike a balance between local production and importation of these commodities.