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Dairy farmers oppose govt’s new rate card on milk price

Dairy farmers in Maharashtra are protesting against the new rate card issued after discussions between the state government and dairies about milk procurement price.

The new rate card, farmers said, would lower their earnings as deductions as per the card is both steep and unreasonable.

Milk procurement prices in Maharashtra had gone into a free fall after dairies talked about low demand for milk and milk products amid excess production. Procurement price per litre of milk with 3.5 per cent fat and 8.5 per cent SNF (solid-not-fat) had touched Rs 38-39/litre early in May, after which the prices went for a free fall.

Currently, milk prices are in the range of Rs 30/litre as dairies continue to talk about excess production and less demand. A shorter than usual summer saw the demand for ice-cream and lassi dip, which led dairies to file up on skimmed milk powder (SMP) and white butter

Following protests by dairy farmers, the state government held a series of meetings to come up with a new rate card.
As per the new rate card, the base price of milk has been fixed at Rs 34/litre. Further price would depend upon fat and solid-not-fat percentage of milk, which dairies measure at collection centres. Sachin Patil, leader of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana from Solapur, pointed out the new rate card has resulted in a decrease in almost Rs 0.30 litre per 0.1 per cent decrease in SNF and Rs 1/litre decrease in fat percentage.

“In the previous regime, there was a Rs 0.30 decrease uniformly per 0.1 per cent decrease in fat and SNF,” he said.
Anil Ghanwat, leader of the Swatantra Bharat Party, the political wing of the Shetkari Sanghatana, raised concerns over the veracity of the fat and SNF measurement machines used by the dairies at their collection centres.

“Tehshildars are supposed to calibrate these machines but they are never done.” On Saturday, Patil led an agitation in Solapur against the new rate card rolled out by the state government. It has given the state government time till August 1 to roll back the new rate card and declare a base price of Rs 34/litre and a uniform deduction of Rs 0.30/litre. “If this is not done, we will stop supplying milk to Mumbai,” he said.

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