Additionally, the Canadian Dairy Commission (CDC) launched the Workforce Development Initiative (WDI) – a three-year, C$5m (US$4m) investment to support the attraction and education of a qualified workforce in the Canadian dairy industry.
The DFC announcement was made by Jean-Claude Poissant, Parliamentary Secretary, on behalf of Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay, at the Dairy Farmers of Quebec Annual General Meeting.
Two projects funded
The funds will assist DFC in rolling out two projects: an on-farm customer assurance program; and a national traceability system for the dairy sector.
The Growing Forward 2 AgriMarketing program provides support to national associations for the development of assurance systems or standards, such as food safety, traceability and plant and animal health surveillance systems, and market attributes/quality standards.
Under the first project, DFC received C$1,094,789 (US$871,400) to implement the ProAction Initiative, developed to help the dairy industry increase compliance, and responds to key issues for consumers today.
DFC received C$1,033,010 (US$822,250) for the second project, developing and implementing a national traceability program for the dairy sector, enabling dairy farms to meet national traceability regulatory requirements.
DFC represents more than 12,000 dairy producers across the country who account for more than C$6bn (US$4.8bn) in cash receipts.
The WDI workforce program is composed of four key funding programs.
A scholarship program has been introduced for graduate students in fields related to the dairy industry; the career promotion program will promote careers in the dairy industry; an education program will look to create government-certified, full-time educational programs to train qualified staff to work in dairy plants; and a continuing education program will create opportunities for continuing education for current dairy plant and farm staff.
Organizations eligible for funding include industry associations and learning institutions. The CDC will evaluate applications during the summer and funding will start in the fall.
Alistair Johnston, chairman of CDC, said, "When we consulted representatives of the dairy industry, they were quite clear that one of their major challenges now and in the years to come, is to attract and retain qualified workers, especially in the cheese plants. We hope that this initiative will help attract young people into this exciting industry."
The milk processing industry ships C$15.2m (US$12.1m) in products annually, and employs about 22,900 people in 471 plants.
The CDC helps design, implement, and administer policies and programs to support milk producers and processors. It is mandated to provide efficient milk producers with the opportunity to get a fair return on their labour and investment, and to ensure that Canadian consumers are provided with adequate supplies of dairy products.