Jamaican dairy farmers are throwing away milk that they are unable to sell - thanks to a market flooded with cheap imports from Europe

"Dairy farmers are crying out for help. But we cannot offer them a market while processors have a choice of cheap imports. This is our opportunity to say to Europe: 'Export subsidies are killing the developing countries. Jamaican farmers are pleading with you.'"

- Fiona Black, Dairy Herd Services, Jamaica

Before the early 1990s, the Jamaican dairy industry was healthy, and growing. But when the Jamaican government opened up the dairy market to imports - in response to pressure from the World Bank - that changed overnight. Shiploads of cheap milk powder from Europe, produced and exported with the aid of massive EU subsidies, spelt disaster for Jamaica's dairy farmers.

Jamaican dairy processors - including the multinational, Nestlé - have turned their backs on the local dairy industry, preferring to use the cheaper, imported powder.

In spite of their efforts over the past ten years, Jamaican dairy farmers are losing the battle against subsidised imports. Less than one-fifth of what the country consumes is now provided by the local industry.

The effects on dairy farmers - many of whom are women running their own small businesses - are disastrous. They are literally throwing away thousands of litres of milk from overflowing coolers. Many are leaving the industry that has supported their families for generations.

Rich countries pressure poor countries to open up their markets - and then dump subsidised goods on them, wreaking havoc on local industries. At the same time, rich countries fiercely protect their own markets from poor countries' exports.


09/24/2012 16:00

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