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07/07/2022

The Canadian Dairy Commission names new CEO

Veteran CDC executive Benoit Basillais replaces Serge Riendeau
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Several gallon jugs of milk for sale at the local grocery store
Shutterstock/Tonelson Productions

Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau announced longtime Canadian Dairy Commission (CDC) executive Benoit Basillais as CEO, replacing Serge Riendeau, who was appointed to the position in 2018.

Basillais earned a bachelors equivalent in agricultural economics in France and his Master's degree in rural economics from Laval University. He first joined the CDC in 2003 as an economist and has held various leadership positions, the last being director of policy and economics.

As CEO, it is Basillais's responsibility to deliver on the CDC’s mandate letter. That letter recognizes “the importance of a vibrant and sustainable dairy sector to Canada's economy, as well as the importance of dairy supply management for rural communities and farm families across the country… [and] to continue to advance the Government of Canada's ambitious environmental commitments and support climate resiliency.” The letter also outlines priorities in the areas of transparency, innovation, international trade, engagement, and inclusivity.

“I trust that [Basillais] will make a significant contribution to the success of the dairy industry while increasing the transparency of the pricing mechanism,” said Bibeau in a statement. 

Pricing has been an area of contention in Canada recently, with the Dairy Farmers of Canada seeking a second price hike on milk this year under the exceptional circumstances process. Dairy prices are normally reviewed and set once annually in Canada, but the Dairy Farmers say a mid-year hike will address the increasing gap due to inflation and supply chain issues between production costs and the current price .

Critics ask how a second price increase will impact already suffering consumers, and point to a general lack of transparency in the pricing process. They also wonder whether prices will return to lower levels if inflation eases and supply chain challenges recede.