If you are of a certain age or had parents who were diehard fans of “Dragnet,” the popular 1950s police crime drama, you will remember Sergeant Joe Friday and the phase, “Just the facts, ma’am.” Surprisingly, according to the experts, he never said those words, although most will claim he did.
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Dairy farmer has to dump 11,000 pounds of milk due to storm

Facts are good but can be manipulated in a way that isn’t lying but leads people to believe what isn’t factual. Some call it being selective. It is called not telling the whole story, which is why the legal oath of “ ……the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” is more likely to give the complete story.

The video released and quickly yanked by dairy farmer Jerry Huigen about dumping over-quota milk went viral and was copied by many. Consumers and farmers alike have seen it or read about it and formed their own conclusions either against him or supply management.

Professor Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, is quoted as estimating that between 100 million and 300 million litres of milk are dumped annually in Canada. He blames not poor farm management but supply management. The question becomes how accurate are his estimates? Is this complete fact or are there more facts to be considered?

As a partner in an Ontario dairy farm, I believe the latter.

Charlebois never stated if this was saleable or un-saleable milk. From his suggestions as to how it could be used, he suggests saleable, milk that meets DFO regulations.

While the video showed saleable milk being dumped, I doubt very few dump similar quantities on a regular basis. The work and costs associated with keeping too many cows in the milking line-up only to dump production is not sustainable. For the farm’s economics it makes absolutely no sense, especially when doing it over and over again.

The only times in 40 years that we have dumped saleable milk was for a few days during the 1998 Ice Storm until we got a generator hooked up and then this past Christmas when roads were impassable and the processing plants had reduced staff. As much as I hate to say it, it had to be done.

That being said, we do dump un-saleable milk. Once when the bulk tank went on the fritz after an evening milking and we woke to its contents, three milkings, at 12 degrees!! Un-saleable, too warm. We dumped it.

All farmers have milk from treated cows who are still within their withdrawal period for whichever medication they are treated with. Most dump it, some feed it to calves. Whichever, it is not saleable milk and is just that cow’s production.

If, heaven forbid, a treated cow is not noticed as such at milking and her milk goes in the tank, then the entire tank must be dumped.

If a cow injures her udder or steps on a teat, there is likely blood in her milk. It is dumped as it is un-saleable.

After calving and feeding the colostrum to the calf, most wait at least three days before the milk goes in the tank. It is either fed or dumped. Some cows take awhile to clear blood out of the mammary system after calving, so their milk is dumped. All un-saleable.

I am sure there are other examples of un-saleable milk being disposed of on farm, but no one keeps a record of it. It is an accepted “cost” of being a dairy farmer. The aim of a dairy farm is to ship as much saleable milk as possible….. and to dump as little as possible.

I really don’t believe Charlebois’ estimate of 100 to 300 million litres being dumped annually. Not if his estimate is of saleable milk anyway. And un-saleable milk is of no use to anyone.

Angela Dorie is an agricultural writer and a Jersey farmer near Cornwall.

General Mills Foodservice is stepping up its presence at this year’s International Pizza Expo, taking place March 28-30 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. In addition to expanding access to its popular Pizza Crust Boot Camp featuring the Doughminators, its dedicated dough experts, the company will feature dough demonstrations throughout the expo (booth #807) and showcase its newly acquired line of high-quality frozen pizza crusts from TNT Crust (booth #1353).

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