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The finger on the sore. Forum on Milk Crisis and Mumps

The finger on the sore. Forum on Milk Crisis and Mumps


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The dairy and paper producers of San Pedro de los Milagros with their patriotic effort, are the material basis of the economic life of the region. Their existence is in serious danger from current and projected imports.

You can imagine, kind reader, what will become of San Pedro de los Milagros and the cold areas of Antioquia and the country, if the imports of powdered milk and potatoes, authorized by the Government, continue to threaten to liquidate the patriotic effort of entire generations of our peasants, entrepreneurs and workers.

Whoever does not take history into account runs the risk of repeating it with all its consequences. In order not to go too far, it would be enough to compare what they were two decades ago, the cotton, sorgueras, soy and corn areas of Cesar, Córdoba, Tolima, Huila, Valle del Cauca and Meta, with what they are now. One or two decades ago, what were the wheat and barley producing areas of Cundinamarca, Boyacá and Nariño with what has remained, with the massive imports of these products.

The dairy and paper producers of San Pedro de los Milagros with their patriotic effort, are the material basis of the economic life of the region.
Their existence is in serious danger from current and projected imports.

Between 1981 and 1996 an annual average of 3,336 tons of powdered milk was imported. They soared to an average of 18,466 tons between 1997 and 2001.
In this last year, 25,125 tons were imported. The transnationals Cicolac-Nestlé, Proleche-Parmalat and Laboratorios Wyeth Inc, imported 64.4%. In the first three months of this year, 5,864 tons were imported. With the rate of licenses that the Government is granting, 70,500 tons will be imported this year.

Cooperatives and processors of milk produced in the country have their warehouses stocked with the product. COLANTA, has accumulated 6,000 tons of powdered milk. According to their manager Jenaro Pérez Gutiérrez, they have no one to sell them to as a result of the imports. The cost of that stored milk is $ 36 billion. They are equivalent to their working capital in the 2001 balance sheet or to their accumulated share capital in 30 years by 5,000 associates who each have an average of $ 7.7 million invested (1).

Potato production is equally threatened. In 1997, 19,156 tons were imported and in 1998 they were 20,282 tons. In 2000, 35,000 of the 74,000 tons that the Government had authorized entered and that were denounced and rejected by the Forum of growers of July 16 of that year in El Carmen de Viboral. With the 10,000 tons that were imported in 2001, the industrialists and intermediaries of the fast food transnationals lowered the prices paid to the growers. With an import that cost less than US $ 1,000,000, they made a profit of more than US $ 46,000,000. They blackmailed the producers by announcing that they had their warehouses full of imported potatoes. In the first half of last year, prices of $ 70,000 cargo fell to $ 30,000, with extreme cases of $ 15,000 cargo.

Stocks of 4,800,000 tons of subsidized potatoes are now held from the US states of Idaho, Oregon and Washington, ready to invade Latin American markets at any moment. California milks that are subsidized at 45% of their production costs, are also available to do the same.

One difficulty they have is the 15% tariff that exists for potatoes and 44% for milk. With the FTAA, Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, promoted by the Government of George Bush, with the approval of the 34 Heads of States since the II Summit of Presidents of America, in April 2001, in Québec, Canada, it seeks lower those tariffs to 0%. It will be the worst disaster for dairy farmers, paper farmers, rice farmers, sugar farmers, poultry farmers, coffee growers and the rest of the country's rural producers. With the FTAA, the country is on track with the second stage of economic opening, which has brought us so many disasters.

To face these policies, the Association for Agricultural Salvation of Antioquia, in cooperation with the Mayor of San Pedro de los Milagros Héctor Darío Pérez, the director of the UMATA Zootecnista María Clemencia Tobón, the Manager of COLANTA Jenaro Pérez Gutiérrez, the member of The Board of Directors of Fedepapa Agricultural Engineer Alberto Caro, Veterinary Doctor Alfonso Fernández and prominent producers from San Pedro de los Milagros, has convened the First Forum of Dairy farmers and Paperos in the auditorium of the House of Culture of the municipality for Saturday 4 May from 10 am

All this problem will be analyzed and tasks will be defined that in a civilized and democratic way promote the mobilization of producers to demand from the National Government the definitive closure of imports of milk, potatoes and other agricultural products that we can produce sufficiently in the country, to supply our food needs, export the surpluses and avoid the bankruptcy of our production.

Let it not be repeated with milk and potatoes, the black history of wheat, barley, cotton, corn, sorghum, soybeans and other products that, being able to produce enough in Colombia, we import more than 6,000,000 tons annually, seriously affecting our economy and national sovereignty.
(1) Colanta. 2001 report and balance. Medellín.


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