Monday, May 23, 2016

I still don't understand the dairy industry (and a segue into Heat In India)

There are two recent articles about the problems with the Australian dairy industry:   one in Fairfax by Peter Martin, and this one in The Conversation:  Murray Goulburn and Fonterra are playing chicken with dairy farmers, but I still don't really understand what is going on.

To do so, I need to understand more about dairy internationally. What happens to all the New Zealand exported dairy, for example? And I thought that to a large extent, New Zealand's recent financial success had largely been built on the back of their cows. If there are some international changes hurting the industry there, how will it affect their farmers, and budget bottom line?

It's funny, though, how it would seem that the sense most people have probably had for a few years now, that the price of supermarket milk just seems too cheap to be viable, may finally be being shown to be true.

Or, I could be wrong on that, too. I mean, I also find the price of carrots hard to believe; and have my doubts about how asparagus farmers in California, Mexico or Peru could find it worth their while to fly produce to Australia.  The economics of food seems full of surprises, to me...

Update:  by the way, which country do you think would be the world's biggest producer of milk?   According to the Times of India:
NEW DELHI: Dairy business provides livelihood to 60 million rural households in India and the country continues to be the largest producer of milk in the world, but global warming could result in adversely impacting the overall output in the coming years. 
 Speaking of India and climate change:  did you see the new all time record set last week of 51 degrees?   It's hard to believe that this is not killing hundreds of people there, but that aspect of the recent heat is not getting much publicity.  

Oh, here we go, a recent news story confirming the deaths caused in just one city:
NEW DELHI: Even Dante would’ve winced. Since the last week, with temperatures climbing  to 47 degree Celsius, Delhi is hot as hell. Around  350 have died on the streets. Water shortage of 7,949 lakh litres a day is dehydrating the city; a family uses 225 liters of water a day. Power outages are up to five hours daily as a result of a 20 per cent increase in demand up to 6,044 megawatts. But “no sweat” is the attitude of the Delhi government, which has no on the ground to handle the situation. In 2014, the Delhi High Court constituted a Joint Apex Advisory Committee (JAAC) to look into lack of summer shelter homes, but the committee has not held a single meeting in the last two years. The reason being Delhi government officials are too busy in “some other work” to even participate in any initiative to address the issue. But Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who has promised to compensate those affected by unscheduled power cuts issued a threat to power companies and asked them to limit power cuts to two hours on Saturday. “I have copies of official communication from Delhi government where it has said that the JAAC meeting can’t be held as officials are busy in other work. It seems that government is not concerned about people dying on street because of heat,” said Sunil Kumar Aledia of Centre for Holistic Development (CHD).
A majority of heat related deaths were of the homeless, their bodies found on roads, pavements and other open areas like parks, says CHD. The organisation works with the state government’s Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) for improving the conditions in shelter homes.
 I get the feeling that the lack of news reporting about deaths caused by heat waves may be explained by a couple of things - that it happens to some extent most summers, and also, the politicians don't like it to be publicised.

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