What is the nature of CADA's advocacy work?
Canadian Artisan Dairy Alliance was formed to give Canadian consumer who want legal access to raw milk and milk products, a collective voice. Through educating law makers and other stakeholders we are working to have our laws updated so safe, legal raw milk is available in Canada. The laws are complicated, inconsistent and designed to not only prevent food borne illness, but also to prevent raw milk farmers from competing with supply managed quota holding dairy farmers and milk processors (i.e. the commercial dairy industry).
Many in the dairy industry and public health, who are invested in the maintenance of the status quo, oppose legalization. The Canadian dairy industry has actively worked to prevent our access to safe, legal raw milk. The Dairy Farmers of Canada lobbied to get the 1991 federal ban in place and in 2020 the Dairy Farmers of Ontario intervened in charter challenge brought by a raw milk consumers in Ontario Affleck et a vs. AG of Ontario . The Dairy Farmers of Canada are often described as 'the most powerful lobby group in Canada'. We are looking for open minded individuals within the dairy industry and public health to help us make our case to these stakeholder groups.
Our best chance of getting our laws changed is, however, through the support of elected officials. This ideally is an MP/MLA/MPP who agrees raw milk should be regulated instead of banned, or is just willing to help their constituent make their case to the appropriate officials. We want these officials to review and respond to the currently available information on health and safety. With this information, they should recognize that our laws are outdated, and out of step with most of the rest of the world.
Advocacy must take place at the Federal level and in each province. Below is some background and the status of current advocacy work, where we have it available. Come back to this section as we expand our activities to other provinces and document our progress.
Since 1991, the federal Food and Drug Regulation under the Food and Drugs Act has prohibited the sale and distribution of raw milk in Canada. For many years, Canadians have asked Health Canada to reconsider this ban on unprocessed dairy. Letters from individual citizens, a 2016 federal petition read in Parliament, and inquiries by elected officials have all met with the same answer: Raw milk is too dangerous based on evidence of outbreaks in other jurisdictions.
Despite the above-mentioned letters, petition and inquiries, in 2020 in response to a verbal inquiry from an MP on behalf of a constituent, a Health Canada official stated that no province had ever requested a change to the raw milk ban. Therefore, as part of its provincial lobbying efforts, CADA is asking provincial officials to tell Health Canada they do wish the federal ban to be lifted so provinces may regulate raw milk production and distribution themselves.
In July 2023, with the help of two federal MPs (Nathaniel Erskine-Smith and Julie Dabrusin), CADA provided a package of information about the health benefits and safe production methods of raw dairy to the offices of newly appointed Minister MacAulay (Agriculture and Agri-Food) and Minister Holland (Health). CADA is awaiting a response.
If you are a constituent in the ridings of Ministers MacAulay (Cardigan, Prince Edward Island) or Holland (Ajax, Ontario), we need your help. Please volunteer to help us get the attention of these Ministers.
In Alberta, the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation is responsible for regulating and enforcing milk laws. The most recent enforcement action that we are aware of occurred in 2018 and resulted in a legal case that was subsequently dropped by the government without going to trial. Details of this case can be found here: https://www.realmilk.com/david-rand-alberta-canada/. We are not aware of any more recent enforcement actions in Alberta.
On March 7, 2023, the Canadian Artisan Dairy Alliance (CADA) met with the Alberta Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation, Nate Horner, and presented current information about the health benefits and safe production methods of raw milk in support of our request for its legalization. Minister Horner directed the Food Services Branch to review research and legislation regarding the safe distribution of raw milk and its products. The new Minister, RJ Sigurdson, confirmed on August 14, 2023 that the Food Services Branch review is ongoing and that he would be happy to meet with CADA once it is completed.
Express your support for the legalization of safe raw milk in Alberta by contacting the Minister of Agriculture and Food and your MLA. Email Minister Sigurdson at AGRIC.Minister@gov.ab.ca. Tell him why you want raw milk and that you are pleased his Food Services Branch is seriously considering legalization. Please copy your MLA on your email. You can find your MLA by postal code here: https://www.assembly.ab.ca/.
Adding your voice will help make a difference!
Consumers in BC have been lobbying for legalization for over 20 years. The BC Herdshare Association (BCHA) incorporated in 2014 to carry on this advocacy work and met with representatives of the BC government. BCHA sent letters in February 2023 to request meetings with the Minister of Health, Adrian Dix, and the new Minister of Agriculture, Pam Alexis. Neither have responded.
In September 2023, the Canadian Artisan Dairy Alliance (CADA) submitted a package of information on the health and safety of raw milk to the New Brunswick Minister of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries, namely, the Honourable Margaret Johnson. In her response, Minister Johnson advised that the New Brunswick Farm Products Commission (NBFPC) is responsible for the regulation of dairy products in New Brunswick. She forwarded the information to Jim Mockler, the NBFPC's Acting General Manager. CADA will be meeting with Mr. Mockler in the coming weeks.
On October 23rd, local advocates met again with Minister Johnson who agreed to arrange a meeting with the NB Minister of Health to discuss raw milk health and safety. We are waiting for news of when this meeting will take place.
Ontario raw milk farmers and consumers have been fighting the ban on raw milk in the Ontario court system for many years. Several farmers have been charged, convicted or just settled under the offense of 'operating and illegal milk processing plant'. No charges have been brought based on food safety concerns. Do you know an MPP who can help us get a meeting with the Minister or Health or the Minister of Agriculture? Become a volunteer!