Dairy giant Fonterra has been accused of «economic treason» after shipping thousands of dairy cows from Timaru to China. By HAYDEN WILLIAMS.
However, the company says it is important to be realistic about the scale of the Chinese market.
Fonterra shipped the live dairy cows from Timaru’s port earlier this month aboard the world’s largest livestock carrier, the Ocean Drover.
After collecting thousands more cows from Napier, the ship sailed for China on August 9, with a total shipment of 8000 dairy heifers bound for Fonterra’s Chinese dairy farms.
In 2013, a livestock carrier shipped more than 7000 live dairy cows from Timaru to China.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said this trend would «cripple our competitive strength» and exporting dairy cows to China was a betrayal of the nation’s economy.
Fonterra’s goal was to be producing one billion litres of milk annually in China by 2018, Peters said.
The company currently processed 15 billion litres of milk annually in New Zealand, but a gradual closing down of Fonterra factories was «death by a thousand cuts», he said.
«Would the houses of Champagne sell their grape stock and ‘know how’ to Chinese wine makers’ intent on duplicating Champagne or allow them to use the Champagne brand?» Peters asked a public audience in Dannevirke on Thursday.
«That would be economic treason and cause a French revolution.»
However, a Fonterra media spokesperson said the cows that left Timaru had not been sold to the Chinese, but they would be going to one of five farming hubs in China owned by Fonterra.
«We import our own animals to help us maintain our high standards of milk quality, which ultimately helps us secure a premium price for our milk in the Chinese market,» she said.
Rearing and grazing livestock for export also provided an important additional source of income for many farmers in New Zealand, she said.
«It is important to be realistic about the scale of the Chinese dairy market – there is no way we could meet all the demand from our New Zealand milk alone, so having additional supply is critical to being able to meet demand,» she said.
New Zealand had exported 43,517 live cattle since 2012, and 38,232 of these had gone to China, Peters said.
Numbers released by the Ministry for Primary Industries showed the number of live cattle exported to China for the calendar years from 2013 to 2015 was 48,437.
Calculating a dairy herd to include between 360 and 400 cows, 98 dairy herds had now been exported to China, and with breeding this would soon equate to well over 150 herds, Peters said.
However, the average South Canterbury dairy herd in 2013 consisted of about 750 cows.
Live dairy cattle export numbers reported for the 2009 to 2012 period stated 68,248 cows were shipped to China – roughly equivalent to 90 South Canterbury dairy herds.
Livestock exporters said in 2013 mortality rates were at 0.2 per cent for live dairy cattle exports, but the number of actual deaths from the 7000-plus cow shipment in 2013 was not released due to «commercial sensitivity».
Save Animals From Exploitation executive director Hans Kriek said death figures for live shipped cattle did not tell the whole story because they did not show how many animals would end up in factory farms or whether these animals would be treated well once their commercial value ceased.
Link : http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/dairy/83404772/shipping-dairy-cows-to-china-is-ecomomic-treason-winston-peters-says