Dairy producers’ fight to eliminate inequality that has been going on since 2015

After lengthy efforts to prove that they were harmed by unfair quota allocation in 2015 and 2016, a group of producers finally won their case before the Régie des marchés agricole et alimentaires du Québec. However, given that the judgment only partially compensates them, they continue to struggle to recover their full dues.

What we want to get more of is not a big deal and it will not double my quota, but it is a question of principle. We want to restore fairness once and for all, so we can move forward

Pierre-Luc Lajoie, dairy producer from Carleton-sur-Mer in the Gaspésie

The latter is one of the six farmers who went on their own to defend this complex issue before Reggie. Through his efforts, he ultimately induced the Producteurs de lait du Québec (PLQ) to grant “refund” quotas to 60 producers to compensate for decisions unfavorable to them in 2015 and 2016. Mr. Lajoie estimates a total of 80 hours of time and his five colleagues have dedicated to documentation and steps since December 2021 to win his case before the Reggie in June 2023.

two support programs

PLQ operates two support programs for young producers in the form of quota loans, one for those starting a dairy business from scratch, and the other for successors who take over an existing farm. In 2015, amendments to the regulation related to milk producers’ quotas harmed farmers who had benefited from the succession assistance program for the acquisition of farms in previous years.

The first group, which also included Pierre-Luc Lajoie, was loaned more quota that would have to be repaid later, while the second group was given a quota in a way that it did not have to repay.

In his decision, the REGI recognized this unfair situation and ordered PLQ to remedy it by returning an amount equal to the quota that should have been awarded to the six plaintiff farms at that time. He invited the PLQ to improve the situation for all concerned producers, without binding the federation, which the PLQ agreed to do. 1er In September, sixty producers were compensated by an allocation of milk quotas totaling 70.57 kg fat/day.

Another compensation requested

However, the fight is not over, as Reggie’s decision only answers a part of the producers’ demands. Since they should have had more quotas, in the years after 2015, they calculated that the increase in production rights granted to all farms based on the amount of quota should have been more generous towards them.

So a resolution asking the federation to pay other compensation to producers belonging to the federation was adopted in five regions this winter. On its part, PLQ admitted that in reality these 60 producers should have been given an additional 14.7 kg mg/day. However, the federation says making adjustments requires authorization from the Reggie, which pledges to take the necessary steps in the coming months.

While welcoming the good faith of the PLQ, Pierre-Luc Lajoie believes that what the organization is proposing is insufficient to “restore impartiality”. “I’m not satisfied. Before we submit anything to Reggie we have to talk to PLQ to make sure we agree with the requests,” says the producer, who will continue to follow the file closely.

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