Jennifer Hayes, the art of making your butter well

Jennifer Hayes, l’art de bien faire son beurre

The art of making your butter well

She was rocked by the Baie-des-Chaleurs, grew up near the stream that descends from the Chic-Chocs to flow into Shigawake Cove. She is the third generation of the Hayes family to take care of a land where the scents of hay, dairy cows and lobsters mix. On this dairy and beef farm — the easternmost in continental Quebec! — Jennifer Hayes could have led a very routine life in this village of some 300 souls. An existence regulated by the crowing of the rooster, the bells of the St James United and St Paul Anglican churches, the mooing of the cows and the hammering at the Gagnon forge.

But then, Jennifer Hayes is the entrepreneurial type. So much so that on January 4, the Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food appointed her to the presidency of the Canadian Dairy Commission (CCL) for a four-year term. A first woman at the head of this state company.

A great challenge for this very young fifty-year-old who wants to manage the turbulence that is sure to shake up the butter and cream industry. Climate change, adaptations to the pandemic, new consumer habits and changes to free trade agreements, Jennifer is ready to churn everything to better position the industry, ensure its sustainability and coordinate the management of milk supplies processing in Canada.

At the head of a team of 80 professionals experienced in acting quickly to meet the needs of the sector, the English-speaking Gaspésie has acquired a very good understanding of the issues. Holder of a master's degree in business administration from Concordia University, Jennifer defended regional interests in the development of the dairy, beef and agricultural sectors within the Union of Agricultural Producers.

Since 2012, she acted as a revitalization agent for the regional municipality of Bonaventure County. Those who have seen her work know that Jennifer has excellent communication, analysis and synthesis skills, and that she knows how to establish and maintain business relationships. For the past four years, she has served as a commissioner on the Canadian Dairy Commission.

“People think we are only here to defend producers, which is not the case at all. We manage the system so that the industry is sustainable. We want the consumer to have access to a good range of affordable and accessible products. We want processors to be able to innovate and develop new products. As for producers, we ensure that they have a good return on their investment. »

Since 2017, her two daughters, who are now 10 and 13 years old, have had to resolve to share their mother with the CCL, but COVID has been an unexpected ally for them. The confinement and restrictions forced Jennifer to reduce her trips between Gaspésie and Ottawa. Zoom meetings have taken up more space on the PineCrest farm, which has not displeased her children, her partner and her father, former mayor of the village and owner of a residue-based composting company. of fish.

Pandemic or not, Jennifer Hayes will continue to consult with producers, restaurateurs, retailers, distributors, processors and consumers to ensure that the industry does well. After all, all these beautiful people have well need to put butter in the spinach!

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