Milk: Farm­ers are forced to desert in­dus­try in cri­sis as prices plum­met

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

was the mas­sive im­port of milk pow­der in 2013 by dairy pro­cess­ing com­pa­nies that first ac­cel­er­ated the drop in do­mes­tic milk prices, and sub­se­quently the col­lapse in milk col­lec­tion from farm­ers.

Song Liang, a dairy an­a­lyst, said grow­ing con­sumer pref­er­ence for im­ported milk has also been fu­elled by wor­ries over the safety of some do­mes­tic milk and milk prod­ucts, par­tic­u­larly milk pow­der.

In­dus­try an­a­lysts fear that if do­mes­tic rawmilk prices keep drop­ping this year, and the mas­sive in­ven­to­ries at some of the larger com­pa­nies re­main high, more farm­ers in more re­gions will be forced to pour their milk down the drain, or kill their an­i­mals.

Ear­lier this month, the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture in­structed farm­ing de­part­ments at all gov­ern­ment lev­els to help dairy farm­ers sell their milk. Th­ese in­cluded urg­ing pro­cess­ing com­pa­nies to closely mon­i­tor sales of fresh milk and of­fer sub­si­dies to farm­ers.

Lo­cal gov­ern­ments are also be­ing asked to of­fer fi­nanc­ing to farm­ers who have been af­fected by the slump in de­mand.

Ac­cord­ing to a min­istry cir­cu­lar, lo­cal dairy de­part­ments have al­ready been asked to set up re­port­ing sys­tems to record the weights and num­bers of dairy prod­ucts be­ing de­clined, col­lected, or poured away.

Li Shengli, chief sci­en­tist at the Na­tional Modern Dairy In­dus­try Tech­no­log­i­cal Sys­tem and a pro­fes­sor at the China Agri­cul­tural Univer­sity, said China’s dairy con­sump­tion should be dom­i­nated by pas­teur­ized milk, and not roomtem­per­a­ture milk prod­ucts which have a very short ex­pi­ra­tion pe­riod.

Shen Danyang, spokesman for the Min­istry of Com­merce, said on Jan 21 that im­ported milk pow­der should not be blamed as the only cul­prit for farm­ers’ dol­drums.

Shen also high­lighted the large gap be­tween prices of do­mes­tic and over­sea dairy prod­ucts, ris­ing im­ported dairy prod­ucts, and low lev­els of tech­nol­ogy used by do­mes­tic dairy pro­duc­ers, not­ing that the in­dus­try has his­tor­i­cally suf­fered from fluc­tu­at­ing lev­els of sup­ply and de­mand, in both do­mes­tic sup­ply and also im­ports.

For ex­am­ple, Shen said, dairy im­ports have been grow­ing at more than 20 per­cent over the past five years, even ris­ing 37 per­cent in 2013. Con­tact the writ­ers at wangzhuo­qiong@chi­ and zhaoruixue@chi­

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