By The Nation
Citing an intent to create market diversity, the ministry recently issued new criteria for the school-milk scheme, which now welcomes anyone to supply 1,300 tonnes of milk per day for schools.
The Milk Board has also joined dairy cooperatives to object to the new approach.
The group, led by Dairy Cooperatives Federation of Thailand executives Nairit Jamlay, Subin Pom-o-cha and Winna Srisongkhram, voiced their opposition yesterday, saying previous governments had applied fair criteria to the scheme, leaving no unsold leftovers. They said local dairy farmers were also allowed to export their produce to other Asean countries.
They noted that milk production was divided into three batches daily: the first batch of 1,300 tonnes went to schools, the second batch of 700 tonnes was sold commercially and the third batch of 1,400 tonnes was processed into powdered milk.
The new criteria, however, is causing problems because it allows anybody to supply for the batch meant for schools, which is resulting in some people who are either not producers or have an insufficient capacity to cover the batch by purchasing from other sources. Hence, this is adversely affecting the 30,000 dairy farmers, who now end up with 110 tonnes of surplus milk daily, which they cannot sell and are forced to dump it.
In a move to protest against this “unprecedented sabotage of dairy farmers’ stability”, the group said it will organise a milk-dumping event to raise awareness of their plight.
The Milk Board, meanwhile, has called for the ministry or authorised agency to review the controversial regulation and consider implementing three criteria:
- Allowing small cooperatives to join the school milk scheme, so pre-existing suppliers providing less than 60,000 bags of milk daily will not need to reduce their capacity;
- Prioritising the use of raw milk produced locally in order to prevent people from bringing substandard milk from elsewhere;
- Helping affected farmers as they do not have access to other markets to sell the excess raw milk.