Peasant cattle farmers say current prices not covering costs

Since 2012, milk production in Moldova has dropped almost in half, to just over 295,000 tonnes in 2021. About 90% of this amount is produced in peasant households, and the rest by industrial farms. Cattle numbers also decreased. Rural cattle breeders say that they are finding it increasingly hard to make ends meet. Due to the droughts, they do not have enough fodder, and the price of meat and milk does not cover their expenses, so more and more peasants give up raising cattle, Europa Liberă reported.

Natalia Chiriac from the village of Călinești, Fălești district, wakes up early every morning to milk her four cows. Then, she takes about 55 liters of milk to the local collection center, where she has been working for 9 years, since it was opened. “This is what I do for a living. I have three children in school. They need shoes, clothes, we have to pay the bills and buy food. Even if we live in the countryside, we still need money. And thanks to this activity, we don’t have go abroad. We can stay here and watch our children grow”, says the woman.

The price paid at the milk collection center in Călinești starts at 4 lei and reaches 11 lei a liter, depending on fat content. For the people bringing the milk here, this is an important source of income.

Vera Velenciuc from Egorovca, Fălești, supports her entire family thanks to the five cows she keeps in the household. In her village, too, the number of cows has decreased in recent years, from a few hundred to 50, and this year another 25 are being sold.

The collection center in Călinești is one of seven of its kind managed by Ludmila Susarenco, where people from 14 localities bring milk. The administrator says that peasant milk producers face many problems and challenges: they do not have enough fodder due to the drought, they have ended up taking out large loans to cover their expenses, they receive little money for meat and milk, and they do not get subsidies from the government.

The entrepreneur believes that milk production from peasant households should be supported by the state, as is the case in Ukraine, one of the countries from which Moldova imports milk. According to her, home producers there are financially assisted based on a certificate issued by the local authorities confirming that they own cows.

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