Govt comes out with GR on milk, but with caveats

ST Correspondent
Sunday, 22 July 2018

The department of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development and Fisheries, came out with the GR on Friday, after farmers protest

Pune: Following up on its declaration to assure the dairy farmers a basic rate of Rs 25 per litre of milk, the State government has come out with a GR, laying down the official guidelines on which the plan to subsidise milk will be implemented, though with a long list of caveats. The department of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development and Fisheries, came out with the GR on Friday, after the state saw massive protest from milk farmers for four days.

Milk farmers from the state were demanding a relief in a substantial form to address the distress caused in the dairy sector due to the international crisis of milk powder. Sixty per cent of collected milk, goes into the manufacture of milk powder and butter, while only 40 pc is circulated as packet milk for daily consumption. The dairy sector was facing a huge crisis this year, as China, the largest buyer of milk powder, had given a miss to Indian milk powder in a policy snub, buying powder from New Zealand instead.

After multiple protests and negotiations with the government, the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna led by MP Raju Shetti, began a severe protest which lasted for four days and saw farmers spill thousands of litres of milk on the streets and damage milk collection tankers to stop milk reaching the urban consumption centres, creating a shortage of milk in cities, putting the government under pressure.

The government gave in to the demands of the protesters on Thursday, putting an end to the protests. The government has declared in its GR, that it will make it mandatory for the dairies to pay farmers a minimum of Rs 25 per litre of cow milk and it will pay the dairies a subsidy of Rs 5 per litre of milk and Rs 50 per kilogramme of milk powder, for next 3 months. 
The subsidy will be either available to the dairies which will produce milk powder or packed milk and milk products for the purpose of export to other countries. If the dairy provides sufficient proof of export, it will be able to avail Rs 5 per litre of milk exported and Rs 50 per kg of milk powder exported. This subsidy will remain on a trial basis for the next three months and continued based on the results.

The GR further goes on to explain the conditions for domestic milk production to avail the subsidy. This subsidy will not be applicable for milk sold in packets in the domestic market. It will be paid to either the processing company or the milk supplying body. To avail these subsidies, the dairies are required to submit an affidavit to the Dairy Development Officer of the region, promising to pay a rate of Rs 25 per litre of milk to the farmer.

The government has also directed the Tribal Welfare department, the women and child development department, social justice department and school education departments to allocate a certain amount from their budgets to purchase milk powder as a part of the mid-day meal and nutrition programmes. The subsidy will also be limited only to dairies which have a milk collection quantity of more than 10,000 litres per day.

Yogesh Pande, of the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna, said, “We are happy with the decision for now as the farmers will be paid more. We will keep a watch on whether the subsidy will be properly implemented.”

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