The Gleaner
Agriculture

New program shines light on local farmers

Our community is one that is fueled by our connection to farming and the culture that surrounds it. In the past year, it has been really easy to skip over the achievements of people in the area. Recently, Sollio Agriculture, which includes the Uniag cooperative, launched a new performance recognition program: the Dairy Performance Club.

This new initiative has honoured many of our local dairy farmers. Uniag’s current top five in the new Dairy Performance Club are Ferme Nieuwenhof et Associés Inc. (Sainte-Agnès-de-Dundee), Bryhill Farm Inc. (Ormstown), Weeberlac Holsteins (Carlsbad Springs, Ontario), Suntor Holsteins (Ormstown) and Lukassen Farms (Huntingdon).

Director of sales for Uniag, Dominic Bélanger, stresses how impressive it is that Nieuwenhof et Associés Inc. is able to produce almost 46 litres of milk per cow per day as an annual average. “No other Sollio customer produces more milk in the entire network than Benjamin Nieuwenhof and Bryhill Farm. They were able to maintain an average yearly production of 3.25 and 3.05kg of fat and protein respectively. … Our region performs extremely well.”

Performance recognition

Uniag Cooperative is a member organization of the Sollio Cooperative Group network. It was created as the result of a merger of La Coop des Frontières and La Coop Uniforce and was augmented by the acquisition of La Coop AgriEst in 2017. The organization now includes more than 920 producers across Quebec and Ontario and focuses on four main agricultural sectors: animal production, field crops/ horticultural production, hardware stores, and grain production.

In the past, members have participated in the Superior Synchro Gala (a Sollio initiative) and the 2.5kg Club (a Uniag initiative). This year, Sollio launched the Dairy Performance Club which extends performance recognition and encompasses many more members of the farming community. Bélanger explains: “For a few years we had based the competition on official DHIA (Dairy Herd Improvement Association) data. We took clients’ official DHIA data, and those who had more than 750 BCA combined were part of the club. But this meant that people had to do official data collection. With new technology on farms, less people were doing that, because the technology did the same thing with more precision.” BCA stands for Breed Class Average and accounts for milk, fat and protein. Bélanger goes on to say, “Because of this we had really good clients who were no longer eligible because they didn’t have official data reports like this.”

With the new Dairy Performance Club, recognition of superior production is easier. Bélanger says, “For a few years now we’ve had a tool called the Lactascan. It’s an informative tool where each month we see the clients’ shipment to the federation … With this we can be really precise in the details. We divide the expedited products by the number of actual cows milked that month.” This helps measure performance and ultimately see who finishes at the top of the Dairy Performance Club. He mentions, “Everyone sends milk to their federation, so if they’re okay with us looking at their federation website, everyone is eligible to be considered.”

Inspiration

Recognition like this is good for both farmers and community pride. Julie Lefebvre, Uniag’s communications coordinator, touches on why moments like this should be celebrated: “It’s really important to us to show appreciation for our members and their hard work. At the end of the day, they’re the ones who feed us. When we’re able to see producers who are amazing entrepreneurs who can inspire others, we love to shine light on them.” Bélanger adds that it helps promote a positive attitude towards our local farmers. “The effect that we see when we publish such elevated performances is that people believe in us. It’s hard to argue with the importance of it.”

The hope is that in the future, our community continues to thrive in the Dairy Performance Club. Bélanger says, “When people see results like [those of] Nieuwenhof and Bryhill, it pushes many people to attain higher standards and make a bigger effort. It makes them question how they can be better and how they can change their practices to attain these standards.” Hopefully these results will continue to inspire other local producers.

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