Quebec and Atlantic dairy co-ops to merge

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The dairy farmer members of major dairy co-operatives in Quebec and Atlantic Canada are set to vote next month on their marriage proposal.

Agropur, the Quebec dairy co-operative whose products include the Natrel, Quebon, Allegro, Olympic and Island Farms brands, and Farmers Co-operative Dairy, which produces the Farmers and Central Dairies brands in Atlantic Canada, announced plans for their merger Feb. 11.

General assemblies of the two co-ops’ members, for a vote on the proposal, are to be held separately on March 12. Pending approval from farmer members and “appropriate authorities,” the co-ops’ “merger of activities” would take place April 2, they said.

“We believe that the new merged entity will be well equipped to ensure a sustainable dairy industry in the Atlantic provinces,” said Farmers Dairy chair Jeannie van Dyk, a producer at Noel Shore, N.S.

“The merger of our two co-operatives is a first for Agropur in decades,” Agropur chair Serge Riendeau, a producer from Coaticook, Que., said in the same release, referring to the consolidation of co-ops that formed Agropur over the past 75 years.

Agropur is by far the larger of the two co-ops, with 3,288 dairy farmer members and a total processing handle of over 3.2 billion litres of milk per year through 25 plants in Canada and the U.S., for annual sales of about $3.6 billion.

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