Moving milk from farm to dairy is one of the major responsibilities of Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO). But DFO doesn't own a single milk tanker truck. Instead, transporting milk is very much a co-operative effort between DFO and the independent milk transport companies that haul milk from farm to processor.
Dairy Farmers of Ontario plays many different roles in co-ordinating the milk transport system. It directs loads of milk to processing plants and assesses charges to producers to cover the costs of transportation. Dairy Farmers of Ontario appoints milk transporters as its agents and assigns individual producers to each transporter.
Through negotiations with the Ontario Milk Transport Association (OMTA), the transporters' trade association, DFO determines the formula by which transporters are paid for their services.
Each milk transport company, a number of which are producer-owned co-operatives, is responsible for its own business operations and decisions. Although all transporters are paid according to the same formula, there are no guarantees of profit. As in any business operation, the most efficient operations are the most profitable.
Every two days, for most producers, an insulated tank truck will arrive at the farm. The truck will arrive at approximately the same time for each pickup, with milk collection times generally being between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
At the farm, certified bulk tank graders check the milk before it goes into the tank truck for temperature, odour and appearance. A sample of the milk is collected and sent to the University of Guelph's Laboratory Services Division for raw milk testing. The truck driver takes the milk to a processing plant.
Each tanker driver must take a course on milk grading and hold a bulk tank milk graders' certificate from Dairy Farmers of Ontario.
Under Dairy Farmers of Ontario's Raw Milk Quality program, bulk tanks and tank trucks are regularly inspected.