Cheaper yen, higher energy costs push Japanese dairy farmers into predicament

Dairy farmers in Tochigi Prefecture, north of Tokyo, are facing an ever-tougher business environment due to the cheaper yen and higher energy costs.

Tochigi has been Japan's second largest producer of raw milk for more than 20 years.

One farmer says roughly half of the corn and grass he uses as feed for around 500 cows is imported.

Hasumi Shinya says feed costs and energy bills have soared because of the weak yen and Russia's invasion of Ukraine. He says in the past year, daily feed costs per cow have more than doubled to about 2,500 yen, or around 19 dollars.

Hasumi also says winter break for schools may impact the situation. In Japan, many elementary and junior high schools provide milk at lunch, but not when children are out of school.

Hasumi says it is difficult to adjust daily production, as cows fall ill if they are not milked every day. He says that as things stand now, his farm is milking cows but is losing money.

Hasumi is trying to cut cost by doing things such as purchasing feed and fertilizers from within the prefecture. He is also teaming up with other dairy farmers to launch efforts to increase demand for milk.

Hasumi says the critical situation has left him with nothing but worries. He also says some of his acquaintances have quit dairy farming.