With the Canadian dairy industry under fire, the Schuurmans family is going through great lengths to raise awareness. Henk Schuurmans is continuing his cross-country milk tour in memory of his wife, Bettina Schuurmans, who died in a collision during the original tour in July.
“It’s just not right to not continue it,” said Henk Schuurmans. “We wanted to finish this trip, this unfinished adventure.”
Along to promote this message are Henk and Bettina’s daughters, Lize and Emily Schuurmans. The family is making the trip in a truck instead of a tractor this time around, with a cow attached and the same slogan as before: keep my milk 100% Canadian.
“Now that we’ve left Saskatoon I’m excited for the rest of the trip, to go out west,” said Emily Schuurmans in an interview on Monday. “My sister and I have never been there before. We want to continue this for my mom.”
Their message has not changed. U.S. President Donald Trump has long been vocal about his disapproval of supply management, an agricultural policy that ensures Canadian dairy, egg and poultry farmers receive set revenue for their products.
“We want to keep the high-quality standards we have in Canada and keep the rural community, rural,” explained Henk Schuurmans. “The message is to keep our milk 100% Canadian. It’s a very straightforward message.
“Right now, with the NAFTA talks going, it’s very concerning what the result will be. Trump is trying to dump his excess milk into Canada. So nothing much has changed with the message from the first time around.”
The community has shown the family plenty of support, with approximately $90,000, well over the $10,000 goal, raised on the GoFundMe page in memory of Bettina Schuurmans.
“We’re getting a lot of honks, waves, and a lot of videos being taken from the cars,” said Schuurmans. “I guess it’s quite unusual to see a cow driving along the highway. There are pictures everywhere. Not only do we get honks from cars, but also from trains.”
Schuurmans noted he is seeing many of the same people that he met on the first trip and that they are well aware of the Trump situation.
“A lot of people saw us with the tractor on the first stretch,” he said. “They know what’s going on. Especially at the gas stations, we saw the same people as we did before.”
“It’s fun seeing all the farmers that my parents went by the first time, and hearing their stories is great,” added Emily Schuurmans.
While the family makes frequent stops to continue the conversation, much of their exposure comes from social media and driving cross-country.
“Ninety-nine per cent of the exposure of our message is on the roads, obviously,” said Schuurmans. “Because we pass thousands and thousands of cars. With people taking pictures and videos, they’re going to be sending them all over the place. So the big exposure is on the road.
“With the stops – we can only talk to so many people before we keep moving. So it’s a small part of the trip, but it’s very important to do that too, of course.”
After Monday’s discussion, the family was leaving Saskatoon and travelling to Edmonton. For more information, check out @CdnMilkTour on Twitter.