A rare request by the Dairy Farmers of Canada could see milk prices jump a second time in a single year due to rising inflation.
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Selena and Phil Prinzhaven, owners of Prinzhaven farms, stand beside one of their dairy cows on their farm in Bloomfield, Ontario. ALEX FILIPE

Like many in the province, dairy farmers are not safe from the rising cost of fuel. But some hope a conservative provincial government, and price hike, can right the ship.

Selena and Phil Prinzen, owners of Prinzhaven farms, have been running their dairy farm since 1999. Along with their two daughters, the family looks after more than 200 animals — many of them dairy cows. Because the price of milk is set by the Canadian Dairy Commission (CDC), farmers find that prices can’t keep up in cases of significant and quick inflation.

“It’s been a struggle,” said Phil. “We’re not growing as quickly as everything that’s growing around us.”

According to the Dairy Farmers of Canada, from July 2021 to March 2022, farmers have seen a staggering increase to daily costs like fertilizer up 44 per cent, fuel up 32 per cent and animal feed which is up eight per cent.

While Prinzhaven might save a few bucks by growing their own feed, they still feel the pinch. From grains to fertilizer everything has gone up, but where it hurts the most is the price of diesel — which they use to run nearly everything on the farm.

“We rely on diesel every day,” said Phil. “Our feed gets mixed with diesel powered tractors, our crops get harvested with diesel. Everything we do uses diesel to an extent.”

It is due to this record inflation not seen in a generation that the Dairy Farmers of Canada have asked the CDC to consider increasing the price of milk for a second time in the same year. Normally the commission adjusts dairy farmgate prices once a year to reflect changes in the production cost, but these increases are based on last year’s factors. The Dairy Farmers of Canada say that this creates a gap between the true costs of producing milk today and the next annual adjustment.

The commission has said it ​​will hold consultations later this month and issue its decision around June 17.

Phil and Selena also have hope that a recently re-elected conservative provincial government will take measures to protect farmers like them in the near future.

“They’ve been huge supporters and we hope for the next four years they’ll still be great supporters,” said Phil.

Two more local dairies are getting out after another tough year.

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