Albert Kamps, Chairman of the Board
On behalf of the Alberta Milk Board of Directors, I am pleased to present the 2015-2016 annual report. Serving as chairman for the past year has given me an even greater appreciation for just how dynamic the dairy industry is and how the challenges we face continue to evolve our industry. I have also grown to appreciate the ability of our organization, in cooperation with our national organization and all of our partners and affiliates, to tackle these challenges. Despite that, a number of challenges we faced this year have been outside of our control, as they are external to Alberta Milk. Yet we were able to adapt and address them, demonstrating the leadership, partnerships and resources we have in the industry.
In July, we reached a successful conclusion to the negotiations with the processing sector on a comprehensive agreement that has the potential to change and strengthen our industry. The agreement includes the creation of an ingredient strategy. The vision of this agreement is of a flexible, market responsive policy framework that supports growth in markets for dairy products and ingredients, while maintaining the core features of supply management. The ratification of the agreement is underway, with an expected implementation date of November 1, 2016.
International trade continues to demand our attention. With the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) nearing the implementation date, we are closely monitoring the impact that the recent Brexit decision may have on the agreement. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) has been approved by the federal government and now needs to be ratified by all member countries. The Canadian government is seeking input from Canadians and industries affected. The dairy industry in Canada is active in providing input and as dairy farmers across Canada will be impacted by both CETA and TPP, it is essential for the mitigation package that was developed by the previous federal government to be adopted.
“In July, we reached a successful conclusion to the negotiations with the processing sector on a comprehensive agreement that has the potential to change and strengthen our industry.”
The introduction of Bill 6, now known as the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act, immediately changed the approach the agricultural industry and government were taking to address farm safety. We were working with the Government of Alberta (GoA) on an approach that consisted of risk assessment, extension and education. The passing of Bill 6 in December 2015 changed the approach to one of a legislative nature. As a result, we are working to help ensure the regulations that will follow recognize the uniqueness of the agriculture community. Alberta Milk has been active in the establishment of the AgCoalition – a broad-based industry coalition with the objective of having primary agriculture provide unified input to the GoA on farm safety, workers compensation and employment standards, and labour relations. The GoA also established six technical working groups to consult on the development of employment standards regulations, occupational health and safety (OHS) standards, and labour relations legislation. We have taken an active role in both approaches and expect that the GoA will release its report from the working groups by the end of 2016.
In support of the new marketing direction of Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC), Alberta Milk has made the decision to amalgamate our resources. Effective January 1, 2017, Alberta Milk will transfer funds for fluid milk and other programs to DFC. In the same manner and timeframe, we will also combine our nutrition education programs, resources, and staff with DFC. It has long been the goal of Alberta Milk to harmonize our programs nationally to gain efficiencies through increased collaboration. We will at the same time ensure that we retain a strong provincial presence in Alberta to educate consumers on dairy farming and the value of dairy products.
Having joined the Board in November 2007, I have now reached my stepdown. As I prepare to leave, it is comforting to know that there is a depth of experience and a passion among the board members that will serve us well into the future. I want to thank my family for their support, and my peers for their guidance, common commitment and words of encouragement, as well as the staff at Alberta Milk for their dedication to producers and the industry.