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Hope fades TPP pact could end Japan's butter shortage

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By Yuka Obayashi

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with Tokyo wary of upsetting farmers the controls were designed to protect

Pathetic.

21 ( +23 / -3 )

Why am I not surprised?

12 ( +15 / -3 )

A prolonged butter shortage would be an embarrassment to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government

Even the current state of temporary yet frequent butter shortages, and regular butter rationing in a 'developed' economy like Japan's, should be an embarrassment to Abe's government, Japan's agricultural association JA, and Japan's dairy farmers in general.

They are dropping the ball when it comes to nearly all dairy products, with the possible exception of milk, and this situation will only get worse as Japan's aging farmers increasingly shutter operations.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Hopes look set to be dashed that a regional trade pact could end a butter shortage in Japan which has left shelves in some supermarkets empty and prompted others to ration customers to one pack per visit.

The Transpacific Partnership (TPP) deal agreed last month between Japan and other Pacific Rim governments does not do enough to loosen curbs on butter imports, with Tokyo wary of upsetting farmers the controls were designed to protect, said industry officials and analysts.

This is a joke, right? Over 130 million people held hostage because "Tokyo is wary of upsetting farmers". Hell, they raise cows for pity sakes. In the world's "third largest economy" no less. Well, all I can say is, enjoy your "one pack per visit". LOL.

9 ( +14 / -6 )

By the way, I would like to know if it is true, but I have heard there is no shortage of butter for JA members and those closely associated with it. Correct me, if wrong.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

“I came here to buy butter to make Halloween cupcakes as I couldn’t find any at another store,” Yumi Kano, a mother of two small children, said at a supermarket in central Tokyo.

Getting outside of central Tokyo is the answer. The TPP is garbage in any case. Too late now, though.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

So now we have a bunch of people ready to sell out the country for butter, and selling out the country won't even fix the butter shortage. Great.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

Getting outside of central Tokyo is the answer.

Incorrect. The same rule has been in effect in central Nagano prefecture for over a year as well. Whether it be Appleland, Matsuya, Aeon or Tsuruya, when butter has even been available (you better be willing to fight obaa-chan at 10AM for it), it's been 1 pack per visit.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Abenomics is a fiasco. The Abe government can't even manage something as basic as the supply of butter.

10 ( +14 / -4 )

TPP is garbage.

-4 ( +9 / -13 )

Now I see why another article on Japan Today talking about how Japanese farmers weren't afraid of the TPP makes sense. They knew that the gov't wasn't really going to let them experience any harm. They would be protected as usual, consumers be damned. What a joke this trade agreement has become!

10 ( +12 / -2 )

It's not just butter, but nearly all dairy products.

I paid Y220 (about $2) for a 90ml container of sour cream, which is practically bite-sized at less than half the volume of a single-serving yogurt. And items like buttermilk for cooking? I've never even seen it in Japan.

Costco has stopped selling their large (by Japanese standards) sour cream, presumably due to dairy shortages in Japan and trade restrictions. It is time to fix Japan's broken dairy industry.

10 ( +11 / -2 )

Most of TPP is not about trade. It's about protecting copyright (abolishing file-sharing) and, most of all, giving corporations the right to challenge governments in court over legislation that hinder profits. Raising the drinking age? That hurts profits. Going to court. Putting a higher tax on cigarettes? Hurts profits, going to court. Basically corporations can destroy democracies. TPP = Tyrannical Power Play Also, generic medication would disappear. Only the expensive brand-name meds would be available.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3O_Sbbeqfdw

8 ( +13 / -5 )

Consumers should start a "Don't buy butter!" campaign.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Never had a problem getting butter in Saitama.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

If the Yakuza had any brains, they'd bring in blackmarket butter and make a killing.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

So, they admit there are not enough dairy farmers in Japan to supply the local market and only make a very small increase in imports? What the heck wrong with fools? I only eat butter because I refuse to eat margarine. Margarine was developed in the US to fatten turkeys, but it started killing the turkeys with blocked arteries. So, they stopped feeding it to turkeys, put a yellow die in it and now sell it for human consumption. The way Japan is handling the TPP is nothing short of a joke!

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Amazon is your friend. A bit more expensive than buying in the super...regular butter 464 yen (limit of 10 per customer) , cultured butter for 518 (limit of 2 per customer) If you really need some in a pinch you can get it online. I buy unsalted cultured butter to make croissants, and regular for everyday toast etc. I started buying online after months of either no butter or making my own.

French butter is sometimes available but, yikes, over 2,000 yen for a tiny container. The tariffs on foreign butter are ridiculous.

Disillusioned, Americans started eating butter in WWII, my mother talked about these big bags of the stuff, you had to add the coloring and mix it yourself at home, there were pills of yellow food coloring in the bag. If you can find a margarine made with soy oil it won't be as bad as palm oil etc. Some cakes and breads call for margarine, so I use the Coop's cake margarine, as it's made with soy. I don't know about others, I haven't looked into them, but there may be alternatives to palm oil out there.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Disappointing, Japan in some respects still a Third World Country. SMH

10 ( +11 / -1 )

An agriculture ministry official said Tokyo would adjust supply and demand of butter through emergency imports.

How about just letting the free market adjust supply and demand instead of government interference?

“We all know the state-controlled system doesn’t work. We want free trade.”

It's heartening to see that some people here get it.

Abenomics is a fiasco. The Abe government can't even manage something as basic as the supply of butter.

No government can manage supply of anything, which is why free markets are better.

Consumers should start a "Don't buy butter!" campaign.

No, consumers should start a "Get the government out of our business" campaign.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

"The Transpacific Partnership (TPP) deal agreed last month between Japan and other Pacific Rim governments does not do enough to loosen curbs on butter imports, with Tokyo wary of upsetting farmers the controls were designed to protect"

So LDP is " wary" of upsetting a couple of hundred 70 year old butter farmers but has no problem upsetting millions of consumers with way overpriced butter products that face now regularly face shortages ? This is an advanced economy in 21st century? Emergency butter imports? This puts North Korea to shame. How pathetic .

11 ( +12 / -1 )

So now we are starting to see the "real" benefits of joining the TPP. And just two weeks ago, so many were boasting that they will finally get all the butter and cheese they've been waiting for. I can't wait to see all the details of the remaining "benefits" the TPP will bring.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

This is just pathetic. I refuse to believe Japan CAN'T organise a basic foodstuff like butter. It's like 90p a pack in the UK.

The real fact is Abe WON'T organise it because he and the Ag lobby are coining it hand over fist in their symbiotic arrangement. And the host of these parasites id the taxpayer, who won't dare vote for anyone else.

10 ( +10 / -1 )

Consumers should start a "Don't buy butter!" campaign.

Unfortunately, we're in year 7 of our 'We can't buy butter!' campaign ;-)

9 ( +9 / -0 )

I actually dont think prices will come down in our lifetime - correct me if Im wrong but Im sure Ive read that some products won't get a a tariff reduction for up to 18 years.....

7 ( +7 / -0 )

So wait, we're blaming the TPP for not fixing a problem the Japanese government created in the first place? You guys in the Diet do realize you don't need the TPP to undo your own backwards, special-interest-protecting policies, right? You can just hold a vote and unilaterally agree to import more butter.

10 ( +9 / -0 )

my kingdom for a stick of butter!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Margarine, anyone? I bought 400g of margarine for less than 150 yen the other day, and used it to make delicious chocolate chip cookies and scrambled eggs.

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

"some products won't get a a tariff reduction for up to 18 years....."

Indeed but the LDP is rushing out supplementary budget that will alllocate huge sums for the hopeless farming sector in a few weeks. Funny , how farmers need billions of yen straight away when so many products will only see a few % points chopped off over the next decade and a half. Oh, whats that you say - there is an election coming up next year?

9 ( +10 / -1 )

“Since last year, I’ve been trying to keep two packs of butter in our refrigerator.”

Ah ha! Caught red-handed! It's the mums & baasans that have been hording this stuff all along. They go in at the crack of dawn each day to get one for themselves or a family member. Just horde & horde, don't think about anyone else. Same happened over 3/11. That's the baasan way.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Genmaken; I live in Saitama and the four supermarkets I use; Seiyu, Yaoko, Gyomu and another Yaoko have all had limits (or no butter) for the past two years...

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I paid Y220 (about $2) for a 90ml container of sour cream, which is practically bite-sized at less than half the volume of a single-serving yogurt. And items like buttermilk for cooking? I've never even seen it in Japan.

I've noticed items like sour cream, condensed milk, and low-fat/no-sugar yogurt--all the "peripheral" dairy products--often disappear from the online supermarket I use. Buttermilk--it's never been sold (or even imported) in Japan, because the Ministry of Agriculture has never established product standards for buttermilk (I checked once). Simple enough to make your own substitute, I found out, with regular whole milk and a little lemon juice or other acidic.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I have bought butter in Japan twice in 5 years. Why? Just had a craving for grilled cheese sandwiches a couple times. I can pretty much take or leave butter. On the other hand, I wish I could import hemp oil to Japan, but it's banned even though it has zero THC

4 ( +5 / -1 )

@himajin

"Disillusioned, Americans started eating butter in WWII, my"

Surely you meant margarine, not butter?

@sensato

Japanese aren't familiar with buttermilk and I doubt you will ever see it in supermarkets (regardless of the dairy product supply situation) unless there is a concentrated PR push to familiarize people with it to the point it becomes popular.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Buy at costco, no problems what-so-ever.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I have a plan.

Oliver North can take the $100 million promised to the Syrian opposition and buy butter. North can sell the butter to a couple of distributors in Japan and then take those profits and buy some Toyota pick-up trucks and send them to Syria.

Win Win Win!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Is gogogo under the misimpression that everyone has a Costco nearby? I certainly am not able or willing to spend in the neighborhood of ¥45,000 for transportation and a trip of at least 1 1/2 days to shop at the nearest Costco. Not to mention that the butter would be melted before I got it home.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I'm guessing rice will fall under much the same 'protection despite entering the TPP' these oyaji farmers, who were just promised $3 billion in 'compensation', are depending on. The government are full of cowards who really have nothing but their own self-interests at stake, and this proves it more than anything. Abe is the biggest of those.

8 ( +8 / -1 )

This is a joke, right? Over 130 million people held hostage because "Tokyo is wary of upsetting farmers". Hell, they raise cows for pity sakes.

You're forgetting that superannuated yokels form a large bloc in the Jiminto voter base. Their voice must be heard even if the constituents happen to be three mangy cows, a small hen in its late forties, and a Dachtshund called "Colin".

In other parts of the world, these rural constituencies would be called "rotten boroughs".

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Actually, the shortage was exacerbated if not caused by demands from the govt for the culling of dairy herds in Hokkaido due to falling demand for dairy products. The problem w/ the law regarding import restrictions would not have ever come up if the govt had not engaged in Soviet-era type micromanagement of a tiny sector of the economy.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Screw TTP... the EU sits on a mountain of butter - how about talking to Europe, get the butter and related products for cheap? I can think of numerous Japanese products our markets would be happy to get! But then, I'm just a humble person knowing not a lot about economy and political deals kept as secret as TTP and TTIP... I know about ecology, but that's not of any importance concerning globalization and trade pacts I fear.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Tokyo wary of upsetting farmers the controls were designed to protect

Shouldn't that read; Mr.Abe wary of upsetting farmers who get multiple votes , surely ?

6 ( +7 / -1 )

TTP has a 4-5 year secrecy clause. Why do people know about butter? Also butter is just nothing compared to all the other aspects, if you believe wikileks.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

An agriculture ministry official said Tokyo would adjust supply and demand of butter through emergency imports.

Lol, emergency imports should be done when something unexpected happens. The fact that they are planning this now shows that they already know there will be a shortage (well there already is a shortage..)

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The Transpacific Partnership (TPP) deal agreed last month between Japan and other Pacific Rim governments does not do enough to loosen curbs on butter imports, with Tokyo wary of upsetting farmers the controls were designed to protect, said industry officials and analysts.

does the TPP DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO anything at all?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! Tokyo upsetting farmers!?!?!?! WHAAAAAAAT????????? How about the millions of upset consumers?!?!?!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

An agriculture ministry official said Tokyo would adjust supply and demand of butter through emergency imports.

Emergency anything imports is a sure sign that interventionist policies are failing.

The only way to get the ministers' attention would be to boycott Japanese rice.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

. The kome farmer will get out of growing Kome. Only because of the consumption rate has drop by 40%.over the last 20 years. Japan will only allow 10,000 ton from Australia and 50,000 ton from America per years for the next 10 years and the kome is inferior to the Japonica Kome. It will be used for rice crackers. The same with butter. The only way to make money out of exporting milk is to turn into milk powder and reconstitute it into butter or milk once it arrive at port. This make for a poor produce and will have a hard time competing the superior Japanese product. If they import solid butter it will be expensive and still a inferior puctuct to the Japanese butter. So you will see butter shortages until the Japanese milking herds are built up to take on the growing market demand for dairy products.

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

the kome is inferior to the Japonica Kome. Care to explain why the "kome" is inferior to Japanese "kome"?

If they import solid butter it will be expensive and still a inferior puctuct to the Japanese butter.

Again, please explain why imported solid butter is "inferior"?

6 ( +8 / -2 )

John - kome is 'rice' in English: http://eow.alc.co.jp/search?q=%E7%B1%B3&ref=sa

3 ( +3 / -0 )

crustpunker: Again, please explain why imported solid butter is "inferior"?

It doesn't have extra ribs and longer intestines.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Lol!!! I've honestly never had "bad" butter anywhere before. Butter is pretty much butter unless you are talking some straight up gourmet stuff. Generally the butter in Japan tastes exactly like the butter anywhere else....

Japan is certainly not world renown for their butter, or dairy, or cheese.....

There are like, 2 kinds of cheese that are made here "natural cheese" (lol) and Camabert (which of course actually isn't)

also plastic cheese in single slice and string form as well.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

The Kirkland house brand butter we got once from Costco in California tasted like pencil lead to me. Even if used for cooking. Don't know why, maybe it was a bad batch. But haven't tried it again.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

we have a glut of dairy products in Europe right now, so if Japan wants 5-6000 tonnes of butter, etc you can have it ASAP just place the order. it will be with you in a few weeks in a refrigerated containers.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

This make for a poor produce and will have a hard time competing the superior Japanese product.

If Japanese butter were preferred by the consumer, we wouldn’t need import tariffs to prevent imports.

Costco sells Kirkland butter as well as New Zealand butter. They're both fine. A major difference in butters is the salt content. Cheaper butter is oversalted to give it a longer shelf life.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

If the government want to run the economy the North Korean way they need to provide incentives too. Shoot one bureaucrat a week until the butter shortage is resolved. It shouldn't take more than a couple of weeks.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

What kind of leader do we have that he can't sort out a shortage of butter? What things that really matter can he also not sort out?

Form an orderly queue below….

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Most dairy produce in europe come from cow housed during their production life. In Japan they house they cow only 6 months of the years while in production. Have you notice the colour of the Europe butter to Japanese butter to Australian/ NZ butter. Europe butter is very pale in colour this is due to the housing factor. Butter in Australia / NZ is yellow in colour and they do not house their herds. It is the corifilm in the grass which make the butter yellow. THe herds in Europe eat silage which has lost its corifilm. THis make for less buttery taste make and pale in colour and inferior produce to Japanese butter. Australia butter is made from homogenise and pasteurise milk before hand. THis also make for a less buttery taste. Plus no one export milk they only export milk powder which i have stated. why? because of the weight fact and it deteriorates if not keep cold.THis is why I state that the shortage will continue until the national milking herd are built up to coup with the market demand. Strangerland: Yes, Kome is rice, gohan is cook rice and I have come to referring to rice, as kome because one is in Japan or have you forgotten where you are. Smith stated about Kome price will fall. I was referring to his comment.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

@sensato

And items like buttermilk for cooking? I've never even seen it in Japan.

I assume we're from different hemispheres, because I've never seen it either, and I haven't lived only in Japan. It just wasn't something we used when I was growing up - I barely know whether you're supposed to eat it, drink it, or cook with it. I had to actually look it up to find if anyone in my part of the world uses the stuff.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/7566654/What-happened-to-all-the-buttermilk.html

You might expect someone to sell it here because you're used to it in your home country, but I don't find such expectations entirely reasonable. When you move abroad, there are always going to be some blind spots - have you never heard Brits go on and on about HP sauce? People will sell an imported product if it's worth their trouble, but often, it isn't. And if they have no familiarity with it at all, the chances of them doing so go way down.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Crustpunker: 98% of Australia rice grown is medium grain. Japonica is grown but Australia have not the water quality like Japan nor have they develop a Japonica stain suitable for export. Australia grown two to three crops yearly when water is available. So the rice field do not have the time to be set aside to recoup. So ton of super is used to keep the quality of the rice up to export grade. I grow up in Australia on a 20,000 rice and cotton farm. I manage a dairy herd for the farm from when 13 years old to keep cost down feeding 200 plus empolyees. I used make my own brie from raw milk. THere is a huge difference in taste compare to the stuff sold in the supermarket. Also you are use to the cheese made in Europe. Under the EU health law where raw milk can not be used dairy product. Japan don,t have over the the health laws like like EU. that why it taste is different to you. Your are used to inferior product.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

Gogogo: Costco was completely out of butter 1 year ago in Sapporo.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I get my butter from Farm design just north east of Kushiro when I am living in Sapporo. alway got butter and the best butter in Japan also make a great cheese cake. The famous Choco Moo cheese cake

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I personally import my own, and will do around 25kgs of trade with a local cake shop here when I do my home country run next year........J govt"s mess is my pocket money

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@John-san

I used make my own brie from raw milk. THere is a huge difference in taste compare to the stuff sold in the supermarket. Also you are use to the cheese made in Europe. Under the EU health law where raw milk can not be used dairy product.

On the contrary, the only two officially certified Brie types in France, Meaux and Melun, are by definition made with raw milk, as are other protected name/origin cheeses. You can buy it across Europe. I have no difficulty getting it in England, where I can also get a large variety of locally made raw milk cheeses.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Educator60

No need to trek to a Costco outlet for butter - at least two online sellers in Japan will get Costco items, including butter, to your door. You don't need a Costco membership. Try Yoyo Market or The Flying Pig.

And if you're in Tokyo, Nissin Supermarket in Azabu Juban has a large selection of butter.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Sorry wipeout. I was of the thinking that buequie cheeses could not cross borders in Europe. OR has Meaux and Melun have special exception. I have always consider England separate to Europe. England still have the pounds and miles. Do they export raw cheese from England into Europe ?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@John-san

Most dairy produce in europe come from cow housed during their production life.

This is simply not true.

In the UK the percentage of dairy cows not grazed is only 10%... meaning 90% are grazed in pasture.

In France the percentage of dairy cows not grazed = 15%... 85% of dairy cows in France are grazed.

In any country, during the time the dairy herd is housed (usually in the winter months) and eats feed rather than grass, the color of butter will lighten.

You say that in Japan that cows are housed for 6 months.

OK... during this time, butter in Japan should be of a lighter color.

It's not?

Oh dear... artificial colorants...

It's funny... you think that Japanese butter is so wonderful but you don't realize that it uses artificial colorants.

Which colorant is used in Japanese butter? Tartrazine?

Anyway, what you are saying about the taste of Japanese butter is not true.

Butter in the UK and France tastes much better than Japanese butter.

Also we have much more choice... there are many different types of butter in the supermarket and it's not "sold out".

Imagine butter being "sold out"!! That's funny.

Furthermore, organic butter is very popular and available in many supermarkets in the UK.

Organic butter is very hard or impossible to find in ordinary supermarkets in Japan.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

@john-san

Sorry wipeout. I was of the thinking that buequie cheeses could not cross borders in Europe. OR has Meaux and Melun have special exception. I have always consider England separate to Europe. England still have the pounds and miles. Do they export raw cheese from England into Europe?

As there is no EU law prohibiting raw milk or raw milk products from being sold, raw milk cheese can freely be sold from one EU country to another.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Sounds like bad management. In Canada (one of the TPP countries) our supply-managed eggs, milk, dairy was opened up by 5% imports under the agreement. We don't have shortages though. Also we're not happy about TPP milk from the USA with HGH coming in, which was banned in Canada. So much for local laws. Anyway, it's not the system, it's how its run that matters.

For Japan with ever dwindling producers it was never going to end well. Enjoy your HGH butter imports I suppose. Unless younger people are interested in farming in both our countries our ability to grow the food we want to eat not what lawyers tell us to eat has been over for quite some time.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

StrangerlandNOV. 02, 2015 - 07:31AM JST So now we have a bunch of people ready to sell out the country for butter, and selling out the country won't even fix the butter shortage. Great.

That's not even the point. Nowhere in the discussions I've seen address why a nation that it is way down the list to begin with on per capita dairy consumption IS unable to meet the nation's rather modest needs. Japan should be able to provide for its butter needs, with or without trade barriers.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

What does that have to do with my comment?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The Transpacific Partnership (TPP) deal agreed last month between Japan and other Pacific Rim governments does not do enough to loosen curbs on butter imports, with Tokyo wary of upsetting farmers the controls were designed to protect, said industry officials and analysts.

Hmm, this must be a HUGE group of people in order to cause this much concern in Tokyo, right? Etou...

The butter shortage, which typically intensifies towards year-end as people make cookies and cakes for Halloween and Christmas, has been fuelled by a chronic lack of dairy farmers as the population ages and younger people move away from the countryside.

Oh my mistake! It's actually a small group of farmers that continually gets smaller as their children decide they don't HAVE to be smelling cow manure for the rest of their life and can actually do something ELSE besides mucking cow barns.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

giving corporations the right to challenge governments in court over legislation that hinder profits.

Nonsense, and stupid nonsense at that. The treaty gives the right for companies to sue because countries sometimes try to sneak around their promises. Example, agreeing to the moratorium on commercial whaling, but the calling the whaling expeditions "scientific research", and the continued annual slaughter of hundreds of whales. Or ending tariffs on things like cars, but then allowing the domestic manufacturers (who control the distribution of all cars in Japan) to jack up the price of imported cars higher than domestic cars. Japan has been the largest abuser of trade agreements in the past, and there was no way they were going to be allowed to be part of TPP unless there was teeth in the agreement to make them live up to their promises.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Sensato

I've never seen liquid buttermilk in Japan, but Amazon Japan has two different brands of buttermilk powder.

If it's specifically buttermilk pancakes you're after, TheFlying Pig has 10-pound bags of buttermilk pancake mix.

@Educator60

On the Amazon Japan website you can buy up to 10 packages at a time of Takachiho butter from Hokkaido.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

John-san: In 20 years in Japan I have seen cows outside, in a field, twice. Once was here in Tohoku and the other time was in Yamanashi. In most cases Japanese cows are kept inside 100% of the time. My wife's uncle used to keep beef cattle and they were always inside as he hardly had any grazing land.

Maybe Hokkaido is full of cows grazing in fields, but Tohoku certainly isn't.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Your are used to inferior product.

There is no accounting to tastes but, I guess only the Japanese are used to their superior cheese and butter?

Generally Japan is not world renown for award winning cheeses......

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Gogogo: Costco was completely out of butter 1 year ago in Sapporo.

They had plenty there yesterday.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

John san let me tell you that your miss guided, my friend own a farm in the uk and I work along side lots of other farmers, the cows are out side 90% of the time, its only in the winter time that they come inside for protection against the elements, and it might be even in the winter it may be dry, so they are let out side in the field, as for the quality you will not find any better made dairy products then the uk, the milk quality in the EU is still way behind the UK, as for your comments on the silage, its stored in one great big concrete walled pit, and its only covered in one big plastic sheet, which is made from recycled plastic, the large black plastic round bails that you have seen in a field id more likely to be HAYLIDGE this is freshly mown grass thats partly left to dry then wrapped in plastic as where silage is fresh mown grass, the nutrients are higher in the round bails and since its dryer it it lasts longer.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The dairy lobbyists sure have buttered up their elected officials.

But let's be serious for a minute. You have a declining farming community with an average age over 60 who can't keep up with demand for a pretty simple commodity that's widely available in the world market. Do you not consider the costs being passed on to the average Japanese families simply for your own political arrogance?

"sorry boys and girls, there will be no baked goods today"

1 ( +1 / -0 )

StrangerlandNOV. 03, 2015 - 02:52AM JST What does that have to do with my comment?

For a number of years I spent a lot of time studying the Japanese economy in general and land use issues in particular. When you look at land use in Japan, agricultural policy is part of this (suburban neighborhoods with the odd rice paddy between two houses?). Unless Japan's population drops about 30 million, it will never be able to reach even 75% food self-sufficiency. While this in part has to do with suitable arable land, it's mostly a function of how backward farming remains on Honshu and Kyushu.

Farms on Hokkaido very much resemble farms you see in NA and, yes, that's in part because the island is sparsely populated. However, it's also because there are fewer farmers per capita there farming larger contiguous acreage with larger equipment. As long as rice and vegetables are grown by thousands of oji-san and oba-san on single acre (or there about) plots of land that allow only for the use of what amount to "tractors" the size of overgrown riding mowers, productivity will remain low. Yield is probably high, but is so at the expense of inputs. Witness the way rice is first sprouted and then planted by a special attachment that has merely automated the stoop labor planting that was necessary for hundreds of years. Nice and clean, but far too labor intensive for a plant that needs little more than water and fertile soil. By comparison, rice fields in the U.S. are seeded by air on farms that average over 300 acres. While not all agricultural areas in Japan are ideal to this process, Japan has some 50K square kilometers of agricultural land still in use with most of it being used inefficiently.

Most Japanese farm land is cut up into small plots surrounded by roads and, in the case of rice, dikes, that if removed would make more land available and improve productivity exponentially as one farmer would now be able to work that much more land. And with the number of still too many farmers aging and declining, it behooves the central government to push for consolidation and, if still allowable under the TTP (though I'd just ignore it if not), offer subsidies to make the transition work. They've been paying unproductive farmers for years so it's certainly justifiable to subsidize productive farmers during a transition period. I can't imagine how they can otherwise reverse the decline due to aging and to make the "lifestyle" (it's so much more than an occupation) appealing. Not everyone wants to live in Tokyo.

So, Stangeland, getting back to your question, and my bewilderment at the shortage of butter (again, in a country that doesn't consume that much dairy per capita), the government hasn't "sold out" the consumer or producer so much as the latter, often like farmers everywhere, is maddeningly conservative and rather than pushing for improvement (because that means change) have felt safer working in a protected environment rather than seeking ways to be more productive and, hence, more competitive.

Japan, regardless of trade agreements and population shifts, needs to do a better job of feeding itself. Part of this will have to be from imports, but it needed be as much as it is now.

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Yeah, that still doesn't really have anything to do with my comment.

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