Friday, June 18, 2010

Fine breed subsidy expanded

The Ministry of Agriculture announced that the central government will spend 990 million yuan ($144 million) in special funds for national livestock and poultry breed improvement in 2010. Funds will be allocated mostly to swine (650 million yuan) and dairy cattle (260 million) breed improvement, but the program has been expanded to beef cattle (20 million) and sheep (60 million).

The dairy breed subsidy was started in 2005. Over the program's five years the dairy breed improvement program has allocated a cumulative total of 715 million yuan covering 24.8 million cattle in four pilot provinces. It is credited with increasing milk production per cow by 568 kg. and raising incomes for 2.7 million farmers.

Since the hog breed subsidy was started in 2007 its funding has increased from 180 million yuan to 650 million yuan, and coverage was expanded from 200 counties to 400 counties.

In the case of hogs, the program subsidizes artificial inseminations of sows using semen of boars from improved breeds. Each insemination is subsidized at 10 yuan ($1.46), and one sow can receive up to four per year (two per pregnancy, two pregnancies per year). Boars are from an approved list that includes "foreign" breeds like Duroc, Landrace, and Yorkshire that grow faster and produce lean meat. The program standardizes breeds and reduces the number of boars that need to be maintained. However, Chinese consumers say they don't like the meat from "improved" breeds and some say the foreign breeds are not hardy enough to tolerate harsh conditions on Chinese farms, which contributes to the spread of epidemics. Then there's the potential loss of genetic diversity--China is home to dozens of different pig breeds.

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