Dairy

Agriculture in Quebec is dominated by the dairy industry. There are nearly 8,000 dairy farms in the province with an average of 55 head that produce three billion litres of milk per year- a sum which accounts for over 30 per cent of Quebec's total agricultural production. The numbers, though impressive, are in sharp decline from previous years (14,043 in 1990/91). This downward trend is due largely to the fact that farmers are encouraged to industrialize while small scale producers are unable to access government subsidies.

The province faces similar challenges as the rest of the country when it comes to new entrants to the industry. The average age of dairy farmers continues to rise as young farmers struggle to overcome barriers to their involvement in the industry- notably quota prices of over $30,000 a head.

These maps illustrate the concentration of cattle throughout the province:

Although dairy throughout the country is run on a system of supply management, there are exemptions that threaten local producers' livelihoods. The replacement of Canadian produced milk and cream with imported “milk protein concentrates” from heavily subsidized countries in the European Union is on the rise. As a result producers are losing market share- more than 50 per cent of the ice cream market was lost because manufacturers favour the cheaper imported concentrates.

Dairy processing is also heavily concentrated in Quebec with three large companies controlling 80 per cent of all milk processed in the province.