Fascinating WSJ piece on China importing cows like crazy to build up its dairy stock.
Since 2009, China has become the world's most important buyer of dairy cows, driving up prices for calves world-wide and putting pressure on other markets such as alfalfa and bull semen. China has imported nearly 250,000 live heifers, or cows that haven't yet reproduced, since 2009, according to data tracker Global Trade Information Services. Last year it spent more than $250 million on 100,000 foreign heifers, about 25 ships worth.
China old cows were European and it has a cattle ban on North America since the mad-cow disease scare in 2003, so it's buying up stock in Australia, New Zeland - even as far as Uruguay.
Story describes the setting-up of modern American-style dairy farms (our cows outproduce the world on a per-head basis), but the trick is the amount of fresh water they require. All the places they import these cows from are relatively water rich (more global freshwater share than population share), whereas China is 22% of the world pop with 7% of the water.
Tricky business, that.
But clearly, the attempt shows how intent China is on continuing to try and remain food self-sufficient. China won't succeed, but it'll try like all get out.