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Dairy Farmers of Canada: Canadian dairy: A year in review

Published on 31 December 2018

Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) kicked off 2018 welcoming our new CEO, Jacques Lefebvre. Under Lefebvre’s leadership, DFC engaged a review of its activities and structure, which led to a “right-sizing” followed by a “right-fitting” of the organization.

With direction and input from the board of directors, DFC then undertook a national consultation of our membership and a broader segment of dairy farmers. The input received provided the foundation for the development of “DFC 2.0,” a rethink of dairy farmers’ national association being led by dairy farmers themselves. Ensuring dairy farmers are in the “driver’s seat” is a core value of DFC 2.0.



In addition to our usual yearly activities, 2018 saw action on a number of other fronts. In regard to trade, 2018 saw the launch of the Dairy Farm Investment Program, the signing of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the signing of the USMCA.

Throughout the negotiations of USMCA, DFC maintained a presence at each round and met regularly with government officials.

Robust representations were made to government to ensure the deal did not impact farmers negatively, alongside a strong public relations strategy including individual videos, press conferences, media interviews, open letters and social media posts.

A letter writing campaign through generated letters from 26,000 individuals on the subject, each sent to government officials.

When the deal was announced, DFC published an immediate reaction, and DFC’s president met again with Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Freeland. In response to DFC’s representations, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada have created two working groups: one on mitigation and a second on a long-term strategy for the dairy sector.


These challenging trade negotiations have encouraged a swell of consumer support. Furthering the momentum, DFC launched a successful “Buy Canadian” campaign featuring print and digital ads promoting the certification mark of origin logo and encouraging consumers to look for it.

The campaign received largely positive comments online. Additionally, DFC launched an online store so consumers and farmers alike would have another way to show their support.

DFC’s ongoing strategy with respect to the various policies under the Healthy Eating Strategy continued throughout 2018.

In May, DFC made a comprehensive submission to government outlining our significant concerns with Health Canada’s proposal for Front-of-Package warning labels and the impact they could have on nutritious dairy products.

This submission included more than 90 peer-reviewed sources of evidence outlining the important role dairy plays in a healthy diet and its beneficial impact on chronic diseases.

Health Canada heard these strong messages and is now in close discussions with DFC and Dairy Processors Association of Canada (DPAC) aimed at finding a resolution.


In addition to navigating the political climate, DFC focused on educating consumers to ensure a successful logo transition on the market and leverage support for Canadian dairy.

The “Buy with Pride, Buy Canadian” campaign generated over 300 million impressions through in-store, online and flyers showcasing the DFC certification logo.

The message drove sales in dairy, deli cheese and frozen sections of the store. Meanwhile, the “Strong people get more out of life” campaign this summer aimed to motivate consumers to increase their consumption of milk, yogurt and cheese.

The DFC board and staff look forward to what 2019 holds.  end mark

Founded in 1934, Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) is the national organization which defends the interests of Canadian dairy farmers and strives to create favourable conditions for the Canadian dairy industry. Working in accordance with supply management principles, DFC promotes safe, high quality, sustainable and nutritious Canadian dairy products made from 100% Canadian milk through various marketing, nutrition, policy and lobbying initiatives. Driven by a strong sense of community and pride, DFC and Canadian dairy farmers actively support a number of local and national activities. Visit the DFC website for more information.