How can an entire country run out of butter?
How can an entire country run out of butter? A shelf displaying butter is almost empty at a supermarket in Tokyo (AP photo / Thinkstock)
How can an entire country run out of butter?
Lexile: 720L

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When Japanese pose for pictures, instead of saying "Cheese!" some say "Butter!" These days, butter is more likely cause for frowning. It is being rationed.

Grocery stores are limiting each customer to a maximum of two packages of butter. Last week the government announced its latest plan to ease shortages of the spread.

The butter shortfall stems from several factors. They include stressed out dairy cows, aging farmers and rising costs.

The official reason for short supplies of milk used to make butter is lower output. That's due to unusually hot weather last summer. Fresh milk sells for more per ton than butter. So dairy producers are said to be giving butter short shrift. In grocery stores, butter sections are often bare on shelves.

Dairying is among many Japanese agricultural industries in decline. Farmers are retiring. Prices for feed and fuel have surged. That has cut into profits.

Japan had 417,600 dairy farms in 1963. As of February, it had 18,600.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has promised to modernize farming. But his government has made little headway.

Dairy farmer Shinjiro Ishibashi is raising about 300 head of cattle. He is counting on the government support.

"Mr. Abe says he will preserve our 'beautiful Japan.' And I expect him to do it," said Ishibashi.

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Assigned 18 times

  • GMauricio-Sti
    12/18/2014 - 10:13 a.m.

    calling chesse then calling it butter. Their are doing this becasue they have less fames is us to be 417,000 dairy farms in 1963 now in Februay is had 18,600. Japan is getting less and less dairy farms. So thats why they are calling chesse butter.

  • Tiffany0307-yyca
    12/24/2014 - 01:47 p.m.

    Just because saying butter on a picture makes them frown, doesn't mean they really hate butter right? But anyway, it does really make a person frown. But also the cows must be upset for some reason because something must have happened to them. ( Plus also, I think that cheese tastes better than butter, even though they're pretty much the same. ) At the end of the word butter it ends with an er so that's what makes the person frown. And when you say cheese you smile because it ends with an eese. I think also that Mr. Abe is nice because he is going to preserve Japan. Prime Minister Shinjiro is nice too ( I think ) because he is going to modernize farming. I think butter is still not sold in some places in Japan.

  • CamrynSchornak-Pet
    1/13/2015 - 01:23 p.m.

    learned: in japan there is a bare shelf's all over the stores. they are running really low on butter.
    connection: i used to love butter when i was Little. i only use butter to make stuff now.
    opinion: i think it would be horrible if u had no butter. i would scream =)

  • haileybr-Bla
    1/25/2015 - 01:56 p.m.

    This article is about the Japanese running out of butter. The people that work at the grocery store only allow people to buy 2 packages of butter. Their prime minister Shinzo Abe has promised to modernize farming. Did you know that when the Japanese take pictures instead of saying cheese they say butter? That is my article on How Can A Entire Country Run Out Of Butter.

  • jamesont-Wre
    3/09/2015 - 01:20 p.m.

    Personally I think its weird how when a photographer says butter you frown.I wonder why they ran out of butter.Less dairy farms?More people moving to Japan and buying butter?I am guessing less dairy farms because it says that in the text above that there are only 18,600 dairy farms so much less butter is produced to the public.

  • sydneys-buh
    9/22/2017 - 10:45 a.m.

    on the 16 2014 the whole country ran out of butter. grocery stores where limiting buyers to 2 sticks of butter.

    i think this is crazy and people could only get 2 sticks butter. plus some people buy a stick a day.

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