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2014 May 14 - 20 [ECONOMY]

Tottori decides to provide local milk for school meals, not accepting cheapest one

May 15, 2014
Seeking to provide school children with locally produced milk for school lunches, Tottori Prefecture has decided to refuse a state subsidy on a school milk system which requires recipient prefectures to call for bids from milk suppliers, the governor said.

Tottori Governor Hirai Shinji on May 13 at a press conference announced that the prefecture will stop inviting tenders to choose dairy product suppliers to schools in Tottori and all of its municipalities will individually make contracts with local dairy-product makers.

The national government gives prefectures the school milk subsidy under the condition that the recipients should select milk suppliers by an open bidding process. In Tottori, the locally-based Daisen Dairy Farmers Cooperative had taken part in the bids, so all elementary and junior-high school students used to drink locally-produced milk at school.

This year, however, a major dairy product manufacturer made a successful bid for the supply of milk to schools in western Tottori. Since April, schoolchildren in some western municipalities, such as Yonago City, have been drinking milk produced outside the prefecture.

A number of parents are demanding local milk in the school lunch program. The Japanese Communist Party members of the Yonago City Assembly and a member of the prefectural assembly visited the Yonago City Board of Education. Citing pupils’ complaints that the current milk does not taste as good as the milk they used to have at school lunch, the JCP members called on the city to change the milk supplier back to Daisen.

Governor Hirai at the press conference referred to the state’s pro-free trade policies, including the recent conclusion of the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement and ongoing negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. He expressed his concern that cheap dairy products would flood into Japan in the near future and stressed that in order to defend local dairy farmers and cultivate a love of their prefecture in children’s minds, it is essential to provide local milk in the school lunch program.
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