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Got Milk? International Tensions Behind Building World’s Largest Dairy

Touch the Soil News # 139

Unable to produce all the milk products it needs, Russia has historically relied heavily on dairy imports from Europe. Recently, the EU extended economic sanctions against Russia. In Retaliation, Russia has worked out a deal with China to take their milk business to China. The deal is to build a 100,000 cow dairy in China and then create a farm in Russia to raise all the feed. The projects are financed by both Russian and Chinese investors.

European Union farmers are already uneasy. The proposed China dairy is under construction and will take away 30 percent of the EU’s dairy exports to Russia. The EU dairy farmers fear they will never get the business back.

For perspective, the largest dairy in the U.S. is in Fair Oaks, Illinois with 30,000 cows. Presently the world’s largest dairy in the world is in China with 40,000 cows and is owned by China Modern Dairy Holdings. A 100,000 cow dairy farm is 2.5 times larger.

For most, the undertaking is incomprehensible. The dairy is projected to cost over $160 million. To raise the feed for all the cows, the Russians are leasing over a quarter million acres (284,000 acres) to Chinese farming company Huae Sinban. Eventually, Huae Sinban expects to invest over $450 million and farm up to a half million acres.

To support a milking herd of 100,000 cows can require around 100,000 younger cows in various stages of growth to become the replacement cows as older cows are culled. All of the milk from the dairy is earmarked to enter into Russian markets.

Following is a short video clip of the 40,000 cow Chinese dairy that holds the title as the world’s largest. It provides some perspective of what a 100,000 cow dairy will look like.

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