By Dr. Stephanie Ostrowski, DVM
When cows fly: In the United States, we are fortunate to have a large dairy industry with milk surpluses, as well as an efficient distribution network. Taken together, these allow Americans to enjoy significant food security with regard to fluid milk and dairy products. Historically this has not always been the case, and many countries today struggle to assure adequate access to dairy products. Why are dairy products so important? In addition to being an important part of a balanced diet for adults, access to infant formula is essential in the modern era when most infants are raised on formula. And milk is an important source of digestible fat, protein, and calcium for growing children. The current boycott of the Sheikdom of Qatar by its neighbors and primary trading partners provides a timely illustration.
In June 2017, the Sheikdom of Qatar—facing a shipping boycott and blockage of its seaport and land routes by Saudi Arabia and other Arabian Gulf neighbors—had to scramble to establish alternate sources of supply for food and essential goods, including milk. The boycott that started on June 5, 2017, disrupted trade, split families, and threatens to alter long-standing geopolitical alliances. Until June 2017, most of the fresh milk and dairy products required to feed Qatar’s population of 2.7 million was imported from Saudi Arabia. The country is now importing Turkish dairy goods and has moved briskly to start up a planned 4,000-cow dairy development project to provide 30 percent of the nation’s milk and dairy requirements by September 2017.
Power International Holding (PIH) is the Qatari corporation responsible for construction of the dairy. The company is growing the irrigated crops required to feed the cows. As of July the project was well underway, with contracts for delivery of cows from Europe, Australia, and the U.S. scheduled during the second half of 2017. A total of 165 cows arrived in Qatar on July 11; they were the first of 60 air shipments. The implementation of the boycott by the Saudis required that the date for receipt of the cows be moved up, and that the animals come by air, rather than by freighter, at a cost of $8 million (five times the planned cost if they had been shipped by sea). Read more HERE, HERE and HERE.
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