Saturday, October 4

The Soviet Union Couldn't Handle Milk Production Either

China is not the only Communist nation to have problems with their milk supply.

This is what happened when you mix communism and milk production in the Soviet Union:
Something always seemed to happen somewhere along the road between impressive production statistics and long-suffering Soviet consumers. The Soviet Union had surpassed the United States in milk production by 1960, and in 1989 produced 43 percent more milk per person than the United States, despite a stunning inefficiency of production. But as with shoes, the big production figures did not payoff on the street. In the United States, despite lower production, I could go to perhaps twenty stores within a mile of my home and be confident of finding fresh milk-skim, 1 or 2 percent fat, or whole, in four or five different sized containers. Yet long before the economic disintegration of the late 1980s, even a Muscovite could not count on finding fresh milk every day in a nearby store, to say nothing of small towns or rural areas. Even if he found it, he might not want to drink it. Like most foreigners, my family came to rely mainly on milk imported from Finland, because most Soviet milk was either sour by the time you bought it or went sour within a day or two. You could figure out the reasons easily enough.

One state farm manager outside Moscow told me that about 10 percent of the milking facilities in the region had no refrigeration, so their milk always went sour, and it was mixed in with the rest. In addition, there weren't nearly enough refrigerator trucks, modern processing plants, or even refrigerators in retail stores. But why weren't there refrigerators at those 10 percent of the farms? Why was the sour milk mixed in? Again, the real customer, the state, was largely satisfied by the big milk production figures; there was no feedback via prices to make the satisfaction or dissatisfaction of those who actually drank the milk count for much. - Book: 'Dismantling Utopia: How Information Ended the Soviet Union' (pages 84-85) by author Scott Shane
Just another minor detail about communism the socialists certainly forgot to tell you about.

Why Russians Steal Toilets
Remembering the Soviet Union



Anonymous said...

My husband was born and raised on a dairy farm and was a dairyman himself for many years. Now he works as a lobbyist for dairy farmers. During the Yeltsin tenure, he and some others organized a charity donation of milk powder to orphanages in the former USSR (IIRC, the Jewish Defense Leage provided the air lift, gratis). You would not have believed it. The Russian Army had to guard the stuff. I wish I had the photos in my persoanl possession. The expressions on the soldiers' faces combined grimness with utter humiliation. So sad.

Thanks for the heads up on the book.


Fred Fry said...

Thanks for sharing your husband's story!