“We will be needing more milk; it’s a matter of when and how much,” said Ralph Dietrich, a dairy farmer from Mildmay and chairman of Dairy Farmers of Ontario.

In the past processing capacity determined how much production could take place. That is changing with an added milk processing capacity with several plants, including the expanded facilities at Teeswater’s Gay Lea plant.

“Now with the processing coming online we have to be able to estimate when it’s going to happen and a nice problem is to try and ensure that we have the milk that those plants need at that time,” Dietrich said Thursday during an update on Ontario’s dairy industry at Farmers’ Week in Elmwood.

Dietrich said the demand for more milk will result in an increase in the amount of quota available to dairy farmers.

“Our domestic growth projections are good for the three, to four, to five per cent growth just from an existing capacity; the new capacity system would put in another three or four or five per cent,” he said.

Dietrich said it’s important to continue to work closely with both the federal and provincial governments to maintain a strong position during North American Free Trade Agreement talks with the U.S. and Mexico.

He noted the importance of Canada’s role in NAFTA with 35 U.S. states trading with Canada and 20 states trading with Ontario.

He praised the strong stance taken by Ontario’s Agriculture minister, Jeff Leal, to protect supply management during the NAFTA talks.

Dietrich said pressure by other milk-producing countries for Canada to give up its supply management system is an unrealistic expectation especially since Canada is such a small player in export markets.

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