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3 Open Minutes with Caroline Emond

Karen Lee Published on 30 January 2015

On Jan. 19, Caroline Emond began her position as executive director of Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC). Emond is a lawyer and lobbyist with more than 20 years of experience, including a previous position at DFC from 1998 to 2006.

Before Emond had a chance to sit down in her new office, Progressive Dairyman Editor Karen Lee interviewed her to learn more about her experiences and what she will bring to the leadership of Canada’s largest dairy organization.

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caroline emond You’ve worked at Dairy Farmers of Canada in the past, correct?

Emond: Yes, I was an assistant director for international trade. When I started, we were getting ready for a round of negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

At the time, we wanted to inform dairy farmers so when the negotiation started in 2001 they had all the information they needed to know to be able to follow the negotiation. We built a WTO one-on-one training for the farmers, and it was part of my role, along with one of my colleagues, to develop that structure.

What additional experience do you bring to this position?


Emond: After working for DFC for seven years, the last five of which I spent in Geneva actually working on the WTO negotiations, I came back to Quebec and worked for a multi-national manufacturer, where I was in charge of government relations.

I had the opportunity to work again on trade negotiation from a different angle. Obviously, it was very important for the company to make sure we had the lowest tariffs as possible for our products, so that was something I was working on with the government.

I was doing a lot of lobbying in different parts of Canada, as well as in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world, trying to make sure we had the perfect legislation for our products.

Recently, I was working for almost two years in Brussels, representing the government of Quebec, managing a team and having representation on different aspects from culture, business and politics. All of those skills will be very useful in my work at DFC.

What interested you in the executive director position?

Emond: Actually, many things. First, coming back to DFC. It was early in my career, but I had a wonderful time working for DFC. I’ve always liked working for dairy farmers. It is an industry I am very proud of.

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Dairy farmers are very interested in collaborating with the team. I was also interested in the position itself. It is a combination of management and representation, things I like to do and for which I believe I have the skills and confidence.

Having been a lobbyist for almost 20 years and a lawyer by background, it’s kind of in my DNA to represent the interests of an organization or an industry. I also like the administration and management side of the role, working with and coaching people.

What would you like to accomplish?

Emond: It is a bit early to answer since I haven’t started the job yet. I have not been in the industry for a couple of years, so my first step would definitely be to listen, to observe what the current situation is, and to learn with the objective to have the most prosperous and sustainable dairy industry in Canada, for dairy farmers.

In a more detailed way for the organization, it is to work with the team and to support our board of directors.

What is the largest challenge facing the dairy industry today?

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Emond: Just like in many industries, there are several challenges. Broadly speaking, agriculture in general is in a transition time. We’re in the middle of a situation now where we want to have products at the cheapest price, while on the other hand, we want to have local food.

We have to find a balance between all of those interests – between health, environment and business. For the dairy industry particularly, challenges include international trade agreements and making sure we continue to provide the quality of products consumers are expecting.

How do you think you and Dairy Farmers of Canada can help solve those problems?

Emond: The vision I have so far is really taking the time to listen because I believe there are different views that will need some reflection. I believe we have a strong team at DFC, a strong board of directors and very committed dairy farmers.

We are at a crossroads, and having time for reflection will allow us to look out together to define our objectives and the ways to get there. The role of the organization is to support farmers in that process.

As you talk about listening, how could dairy farmers reach out to you?

Emond: The national organization has its role to play because all dairy farmers are members. We also make sure that every province has its say as well. I am definitely open to travel around the country, and I’m sure there will be many opportunities to engage with farmers.

DFC is also holding its policy conference in February where many people will be present, and then the general assembly this summer is another opportunity. With social media, blogs and emails, it is also possible to have more direct communication.  PD

Karen Lee
  • Karen Lee
  • Editor
  • Progressive Dairyman

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