Gandhinagar: There is an element of irony as India and Gujarat roll out the red carpet to welcome US President Trump. The Narendra Modi government move to give the US access to it's dairy and poultry markets may help bail out the US milk industry but is set to hurt the state and consequently the country the most.
As a big-wig of the co-operative dairy sector in Gujarat put it on condition of anonymity, a trade deal with India may help Trump in his election year, but it will be detrimental to the Indian dairy industry and the livelihood of over 10 crore marginal farmers whose sustenance depends on it.
Gujarat remains the nurturing cradle of the dairy cooperative industry in the country. Indian dairy cooperative company, Amul, a brand managed by the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation(GCMMF) which has 3.6 million milk producers as it's members enjoy a revenue of 380 billion rupees(2018-19,US$ 5.3 billion).The bulk of these are small and marginal farmers or landless labourers.
That the US milk industry is in trouble is borne out by a very recent Time magazine report about falling milk consumption in Trump's country necessitating urgent bail-out measures. Americans each drank 146 lbs of fluid milk in 2018,according to the USDA s Economic Research Service, which is 26 per cent down since 2000. It is such and other factors which have led to Dean Foods, America's largest milk producer, filing for bankruptcy protection last November. Borden dairy, another big name has followed suit thereafter. ”Declining sales in a thin margin business is not a good recipe for success', Mark Stephenson, director of dairy policy analysis at the university of Wisconsin has been quoted by the magazine as saying in it's January 20 issue. According to the report their were 605 fluid milk plants in America in 1990 of which only 450 were left by 2018.