Several Chinese milk farmers have claimed that Swiss food giant Nestle has pocketed part of their pay for years, stating that local vendors working with Nestle have shortchanged them.
Zhao Yongwu, a farmer from the city of Shuangcheng in northeast China's Heilongjiang province, said he was shortchanged by 1 kg for every bucket of milk he sold to a purchasing station owned by the Shuangcheng Nestle Company, a subsidiary of Nestle.
A pact signed in 2002 between the city of Shuangcheng and Nestle said that the city, which is home to more than 20,000 milk farmers, should have no other dairy firms and that all milk produced in the city must be delivered to Nestle, according to the city's animal husbandry bureau.
"They are always shortchanging us. Some of us are so angry that we would rather kill our cows than send the milk to Nestle," Zhao said.
In another village, purchasers told a farmer surnamed Li that his two buckets of milk weighed 91.25 kg, while Li believed they were shortchanging him by 1.25 kg.
"I have gotten used to this, as it has lasted for many years and is known to all," he said.
Milk farmers in Shuangcheng also complained about the purchasing stations' rounding methods, which they say allows them to manipulate their measurements to make the milk appear to be lighter.
The farmers have also complained about the purchasers classifying their milk into four grades, with only "grade one" milk allowed to be sold at 2.97 yuan (0.46 U.S. dollars) per kg, a price set by the provincial government to protect farmers.
The farmers said that if someone supplies milk that is later rated as "grade four," he or she will "suffer from a low price of no more than 2.7 yuan per kg for a month."
"But they never show us the laboratory sheets. Even if you are reluctant to accept the results, you have nowhere to complain because they have a greater say," another farmer said.