Dairy Industry Likely to Get More Aid After EPA Deal with EU

JAPAN - Japan is expected to boost subsidies and other assistance to dairy farmers after reaching a broad accord on its economic partnership agreement with the European Union, informed sources say.
calendar icon 6 July 2017
clock icon 2 minute read

The two sides struck the deal at bilateral ministerial talks in Brussels on Wednesday by resolving thorny issues including Japanese tariffs on cheese imports.

The Japan Times reports that the result was announced after a bilateral summit on Thursday.

To ease the impact from the surge in cheese imports, the government and the Liberal Democratic Party-led ruling bloc will consider hiking subsidies to dairy farmers to help stabilize their incomes, the sources said.

“We definitely need measures for the domestic industry,” Toru Nakaya, next president of Japan’s Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives, or JA-Zenchu, told a news conference Wednesday.

To work out those shielding steps, Japan will remake its task force at the Cabinet Secretariat that was formed to discuss steps to reduce the impact of the stalled Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement for free trade.

European cheese commands a 23 per cent stake in the Japanese market, far higher than the 15 per cent held by domestic producers. An increase in imports from Europe will likely push down domestic milk prices.

At present, about 17,000 families run dairy farms in Japan. The number has fallen by around 4 per cent annually mainly due to the farmers’ aging and a lack of successors.

“An influx of low-priced European cheese would lead to an increase in dairy farmers who consider ending their businesses,” said a JA-Zenchu executive.

Livestock farmers are bracing for a fall in pork prices that would follow the tariff cut planned for European pork.

To reduce the negative impact of the TPP, Japan established a system to cover up to 90 per cent of the losses livestock farmers incur.The system was slated to take effect after the TPP is enforced. Now, the government will consider starting the system earlier.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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