Directive based on ‘buttergate’ claims could cost dairy farmers, say experts News Staff

Experts say that a new directive issued in response to the controversy known as “buttergate” could make it hard for dairy farmers to keep up with consumer demand for the staple ingredient.

Dairy Farmers of Canada is encouraging its members to find alternatives to palm supplements in cattle feed as a working group looks into consumer concerns that butter has become harder.

The recommendation comes after media reports linked the purported change in consistency to the common practice of bolstering cows’ diets with palm byproducts, which federal authorities have approved as a safe ingredient in livestock feeds.

Animal science experts say there’s no feed supplement that’s as efficient or economical as palmitic acid, and warn that ruling it out could come at a cost to dairy producers and lead to an increase in butter imports.

While some dairy farmers are looking into alternative feed supplements, others say they’re sticking with palmitic acid because it’s best for their cattle and their bottom lines.

Daniel Lefebvre of Lactanet, which advises Dairy Farmers of Canada, says while buttergate is based on “unfounded claims,” a turn in public perception poses a greater threat to the dairy industry than asking farmers to eliminate a safe and effective method to maximize production.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021.

Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press

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