A new vision for agriculture
momagri, movement for a world agricultural organization, is a think tank chaired by Christian Pèes.
It brings together, managers from the agricultural world and important people from external perspectives,
such as health, development, strategy and defense. Its objective is to promote regulation
of agricultural markets by creating new evaluation tools, such as economic models and indicators,
and by drawing up proposals for an agricultural and international food policy.
A look at the news

Unprecedented butter shortage in Japan

November 24, 2014


Japan is experiencing a new butter shortage; though this is not the first (there were shortages in 2008, 2011, 2012), it is unprecedented in scale. According to recently released figures, in late August stocks were 32% lower than the same month in 2013 and have not been this low since 1991. In one year, prices rose by 6%.

Consequently, the Japanese have rationed themselves to one pack of butter per person, pushing the government to import 3000 tonnes of butter in September in addition to the 7000 tonnes imported in May, chiefly from New Zealand.

The cause? The drought in 2013 led to low milk production and the heat caused a series of mastitis in dairy cows. But the shortage is even greater that it is exacerbated by structural movement. Japanese farmers are more numerous in discontinuing milk production. In 30 years their livestock has halved. The archipelago produced 7.45 million tonnes of raw milk during the fiscal year ended March, 5% less than in 2009.

This ultimately highlights the challenges facing Japanese agriculture. Geographically confined, Japan is the world's largest importer of food; food self-sufficiency rates do not exceed 40%, while agriculture represents less than 2% of Japan's gross domestic product, and less than 4% of jobs. Although limited, Japanese agriculture is still strategic for Japan and it receives a lot of support (it is the third most assisted agriculture in the world), which is why Japan refuses to liberalize its agriculture.

Several measures are now being considered by Tokyo. The Government wants to make Japanese agriculture more competitive especially in view of the signing of the Transpacific Partnership (TPP). It is putting forward measures to facilitate private company investments in this sector and to end the monopoly of the Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives (JA-Zenchu). However implementing the policy for the liberalization of Japanese agriculture could be tricky and widely unpopular because some of its components involve more deregulation.

It is however certain that the butter crisis has caused the acceleration in the lowering of customs tariffs, particularly because of the cost that such a shortage represents. Last April, a decrease in tariffs for Australian beef and cheese had already been cautiously initiated and will be spread over 15 years.


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Paris, 17 December 2018