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Ministry moves to protect dairy farmers' income
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Dairy farmers have begun pouring away milk after dozens of major companies suspended or cut back purchases of fresh milk following the eruption of the milk powder scandal.

On 21 September, the Ministry of Agriculture said measures to support the earnings of dairy farmers were needed to avoid a collapse in production. The priorities should be to minimize the amount of milk being poured away and to prevent the slaughter of dairy herds.

Keeping sales of fresh milk buoyant is a key task if dairy farmers are to avoid serious financial losses. Obliging dairy companies to stick to contracts is one method. But the ministry also said local governments should subsidize dairy companies to ensure continued purchases.

The ministry said dairy associations and trade organizations can play a role in preventing companies from forcing prices down. And associations can play a positive role working with government to reinforce inspection of milk quality.

The ministry also said the media has an important role to play in getting the milk safety message through to producers.

It said that teams of experts and technicians should visit dairy farms to offer support, and encourage larger scale production and standardization of techniques.

The ministry announced its intention to step up inspection and control. It said dairy farmers should keep feeding and inspection records for their herds.

The ministry statement said the most important task is to protect dairy farmers' incomes and maintain stability. A working group has been set up to inspect the entire milk industry and implement effective policies.

(China.org.cn by Wu Huanshu September 22, 2008)

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