Beijing allots 300m yuan for dairy farms
The Ministry of Finance has earmarked 300 million yuan (HK$343 million) in subsidies to help dairy farmers cope with the ongoing milk contamination crisis.
The subsidies would go to farmers in the six worst-hit provinces and municipalities - Inner Mongolia , Hebei , Liaoning , Shanxi , Shandong and Henan , Xinhua said yesterday.
The money is aimed at farmers who have been forced to dump their raw milk because many dairy firms have refused to buy it, since dairy products were found to contain the industrial chemical melamine.
The report said the money was a one-off payment to the six provincial and regional governments to be added to local subsidies.
To protect dairy farmers' interests, the ministry demanded lower-level governments report details of their relief plans to the farmers and ensure only farmers in need received money, Xinhua said.
The aid came as 14 provinces and municipalities issued various plans to help the dairy industry.
In Hebei, home of the Sanlu Group, the company first identified in the crisis, the provincial government has already announced a 316 million yuan plan to give farmers 200 yuan for each cow, to stop them from being slaughtered.
The Inner Mongolian government has also earmarked 100 million yuan in emergency funding to help dairy giants Yili and Mengniu deal with the crisis. Melamine was detected in products from both companies.
However, dairy farmers in remote rural areas said the subsidies would take a long time to reach them.
Feng Shengcai , who raises cows in his backyard in Changhanmutai village in Wuchuan county, Inner Mongolia, said he had not heard anything about the subsidies and no officials had notified him.
'They [my fellow villagers] said we should have gotten a 100 yuan monthly government subsidy for each of our cows since last month, but so far I have not seen any cash in my hands,' Mr Feng said.
He said he did not plan to check with village or county officials about the money because 'at the end of the day, it's still up to them to decide everything'.
Mr Feng said his milk supply contracts with Mengniu had remained in effect in the past month, even though many dairy farmers near Hohhot said dairy companies had stopped buying their milk for a short time last month.
Mr Feng said he was still selling milk at 2.6 yuan a kilogram, the same price as on September 5. Mr Feng said the price would probably go up slightly over the winter because cows produced less milk in cold months.
The tainted-milk formula has killed at least four babies on the mainland, and 10,666 children, including eight in a critical condition, are still in hospital.