With sabres rattling across the border, local dairy farmers are rallying the troops.
The Regional District of North Okanagan board has written a letter of support for the Kamloops Okanagan Dairy Association backing the current supply management system for milk.
“We have to be very proactive as local government,” said Juliette Cunningham, an RDNO director.
“There’s so much unpredictability with what’s happening down south.”
Recently, the U.S. government has expressed concern about some of Canada’s trade practices, including supply management of dairy products.
“You get the rhetoric from President Trump and it makes farmers nervous,” said Henry Bremer, KODA president.
Under supply management, regional consumption of dairy is monitored and production is tailored to meet that demand.
Bremer insists the system provides producers and processors price stability and they don’t receive government subsidies as occurs in other nations such as the U.S.
“By supporting supply management, you are supporting the Canadian economy,” he said.
“We have a lot of generations of success.”
There are 80 dairy farms in the North Okanagan-Shuswap and they ship about 105 million litres of milk per year. There are milk sales of $83 million annually locally.
It’s believed the economic impact of the industry to the North Okanagan-Shuswap is $432 million and there are 800 full and part-time jobs.
“It’s a huge economic driver for the North Okanagan,” said Mike Macnabb, RDNO director.
Director Janice Brown points out, though, that dairy farms impact local roads with traffic and manure management influences water sources.
“I support the industry but it’s been taxing on our (municipal) staff and water,” she said.