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                CHRISTMAS 2021 ❆ BC HOLSTEIN NEWS 7
 In a Time of
On-farm Processing Proved an Advantage
Ray Gourlay
“Atmospheric river” is likely a new term for many of us, but it won’t be forgotten soon. While BC’s coastal area is no stranger to serious rains, the extreme Sumas Prairie floods that resulted from the addition of Nooksack River flooding in mid-November was beyond any prediction. The severity of the rains caused consequences felt all over the province. With landslides and flooding closing critical highways throughout BC, the transportation of goods ground to a halt and many dairy farmers found themselves cut off from processors, forcing them to dump milk. Stories and images of bulk tanks emptying down the drain were bewildering to the public but absolutely devastating to the farmers who produced the milk. As panic-buying in many regions ensued and grocery store milk cases emptied out, the idea that farmers were having to dispose of their fresh milk was understandably confusing for the general public.
The closures/consolidation in the processing sector over the last forty years led to relatively few, very large, plants on which most producers rely. Much efficiency has been gained by this consolidation, but resilience has been lost. The road closures served as a stark reminder to all that both the production and processing sides of the dairy industry rely on one another and that the system overall is not bullet-proof.
In the week following the flooding, several small-scale creameries and on-farm processors ramped up production as best they could to help fill the gap, especially as customers began to line-up at their doors.
Farms like Creekside Cheese and Creamery, The Farm House Natural Cheeses, Kootenay Meadows, Little Qualicum Cheeseworks, Blackwell Dairy, Grass Root Dairies, Cowichan Milk Co. and more were able to quickly adapt, and in the same way that many dairy farms made room for more evacuated cows, they made room for more milk in their plants.
As we shift into recovery mode from this flood, there will be time to consider the examples of resilience demonstrated by our dairy farming community. Can we say that we are as resilient on the processor side of the equation, should one or two major processors be incapacitated for any reason? A greater diversity of processors regionally distributed could be part of the answer. We should be considering how to encourage the growth of on-farm processors and build capacity across the province.
     May your Christmas and New Year
be filled with joy and blessings.
We would like to offer our sincerest gratitude for this past year’s business and the privilege of working with each of you.
 Merry Christmas!
From your friends at Island Dairy Services Ltd. (250) 710-1559 • [email protected]
is a registered trademark of Tetra Laval Holdings & Finance S.A. and “DeLaval” is a registered trade/servicemark of DeLaval Holding AB. © 2021 DeLaval Inc.

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