Dairy farmers in the district allege that the state government has failed to check the supply of spurious milk. This has adversely hit their business, they claim. This was the common refrain of farmers at the inauguration of a two-day district livestock championship by local zila parishad chief, Kultar Singh Brar.
Most farmers claimed that such events were being organised since last year, but on the ground, the government had failed to make any substantial difference to a dairy farmers' life.
"The livestock championship is a good idea. However, for dairy farming to be successful, the government needs to focus on curbing the supply of spurious milk," said Amarjeet Singh, a dairy farmer from Aulakh village.
He runs a farm with 30 cows and was at the two-day livestock championship at Faridkot. He also claimed that the rates that farmers received for milk were even lower than input costs.
"The rates of cattle feed are between Rs. 2,000 and Rs. 2,200 per quintal. For us, milk sells at only Rs. 23 per litre. I pay more than Rs. 6,000 per head as labour, Rs. 10,000 power bills. The cost of medicines, straw all adds up. The government offers little to dairy farmers and spurious milk does not let the milk prices go up," Amarjeet added.
"I also do not see any chances of the milk prices going up due to the rampant supply of spurious milk."
Other dairy farmers alleged that the number of milch animals in villages is decreasing, while the demand of milk and its by products is increasing and the demand is reportedly being filled by supply of spurious milk.
Some, however, claim that the government was not doing enough to support hospitals.
"OPD fee at veterinary hospitals has been increased to Rs. 10 from Rs. 2. Artificial insemination charges have been nearly doubled from Rs. 30 to Rs. 50. In such a scenario, the organization of a live-stock championship is wrong," said Jarnail Singh Sangha, state vice-president, Veterinary Inspectors Union, Punjab.
"The government has also proposed to merge 13 veterinary dispensaries on the plea that they service a cattle population of less than 3,000. This is wrong," he alleged, adding that this decision might be taken after Lok Sabha polls.
The event also reportedly saw a poor response.
"By 1 pm, there were only 600 registrations. Only 15 animals, including cows, buffaloes and goats attended the milk competition," said an attendee.
Jagseer Singh, former sarpanch of Chahal village, however, said that the event was a good idea.
"I am here with two grandsons and one granddaughter and had bought his buffalo for competition. Our family is fond of keeping good-bred animals," he says.
"The government has provided Rs. 1.76 crore for renovation of nine veterinary hospital buildings and one dispensary. It has also given Rs. 80 lakh to repair the buildings of two hospitals and 11 dispensaries. The closure of dispensaries is a policy decision and so far, only a proposal has been mooted," said Dr Parminder Singh, deputy director, animal and husbandry, Faridkot.
He claimed that the livestock championships were a good initiative and promoted various initiatives.