Of all the crazy twists and turns in the dairy arenaand there have certainly been mmany over the last few yearsthe idea of importing milk from China to the U.S. would seem to be one of the craziest.
I actually use that idea as a throwaway line in an article I just wrote for The Nation, comparing the twin events of toxic loans and toxic food. In that article, I describe the campaign to change Californias arbitrary approach to regulating raw milk via AB 1735, culminating in the veto of SB 201 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger week before last. I raise the prospect that the states two raw milk dairies could be forced out of business, and joke that perhaps the regulators really would prefer to bring contaminated milk in from China.
And then I read today in USA Today about a Chinese-American who started a large dairy in China several years ago, and has as one of his goals to export milk to the U.S. Take a look at the second to last paragraph, about how this dairyman seeks to become the first Chinese dairy to be certified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
That may sound like a harebrained scheme, but I think weve all learned to take seriously the aspirations of Chinese businessesand the receptivity of American regulators to such craziness. American apple growers learned about that the hard way some years agonow more than half our apple juice comes from China. (If youre smart, you dont drink ordinary commercial apple juice, since it almost certainly contains juice from China.)
I presume the Chinese milk would come to the U.S. in either ultrapasteurized or powder form. Of course, it would be cheaper than the American variety, making it a serious market threat. My main question for the California Department of Food and Agriculture is this: What are you going to do for a living when our milk is coming from China?