Rising milk production costs force Manitobans to swallow year’s second price hike
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The price of milk is set to rise when new provincial government regulations kick in next month.
The Manitoba Farm Products Marketing Council approved the increase that takes effect Sept. 1. The retail maximum price of one-litre containers of homogenized milk will increase by four cents to $2.04. For skim milk, it’s $1.87.
The hike was recommended by the Canadian Dairy Commission to mitigate the cost of milk production that has increased significantly because of inflation, the provincial government said in a statement.
That’s led to the “exceptional circumstance” of a mid-year price adjustment after an increase in February.
The price of fluid milk paid to producers increases to $115.88 per hectolitre (100 litres) on Sept. 1, up from $114.04 in February.
Manitoba and the three other western provinces voted to accept the recommended price change for producers and share the same producer price of milk, the province said. Manitoba, it said, still has the lowest retail price in Canada for a litre of milk.
The NDP says with grocery prices rising, the provincial government should have set out to help dairy producers cope with inflation rather than pass along the cost of a food staple to consumers.
The (Progressive Conservatives) shouldn’t be increasing the price of a staple like milk for the second time this year,” said NDP Leader Wab Kinew.
“We all recognize that the price of so many of our groceries has gone through the roof this year, and we have a government in charge that throws up its hands and says there’s nothing we can do. We would’ve put the work in to try and come up with some kind of supports to help producers deal with the rising costs instead of passing them on to consumers.”
The price increases will help Manitoba dairy producers deal with soaring costs of production that started with supply-chain disruptions caused by the pandemic, said Dairy Farmers of Manitoba chairman David Wiens.
“Fertilizer costs have gone up by 44 per cent, fuel costs have gone up 32 per cent and animal feed has gone up by eight per cent,” said Wiens, who operates a 230-cow dairy farm with his brother near Grunthal. “Those are some pretty major factors.”
The price adjustment producers received in February and the one set for Sept. 1 will help to mitigate rising costs rather than cover them, he said Tuesday.
“We’ve also experienced extreme weather events as a result of climate change, and I would say Manitoba is probably one of the most affected provinces by that, going from extreme drought a year ago to flooding this spring and and very, very wet conditions,” he said, adding farmers will try to reduce their costs by patching equipment instead of repairing it, but “there’s not a lot of room to cut.”
“Cows have to be fed nutritionally balanced diets,” he said. “Our hope is that inflation is going to cool off and we can get back to more normal times where these kind of mid-year interventions do not have to happen.”
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.
Updated on Wednesday, August 10, 2022 8:27 AM CDT: Fixes typo
Updated on Wednesday, August 10, 2022 12:59 PM CDT: punctuation