JAPAN | Gov’t announces contaminated beef buy-up plan

Posted on July 27, 2011


JAPAN | MAINICHI | 27 July 2011

Beef cows are pictured on July 10 at a livestock farm in the Fukushima Prefecture city of Minamisoma where radioactive cesium has been detected. (Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japanese farm minister Michihiko Kano announced Tuesday an emergency policy of buying up beef contaminated with radiation following the recent impounding of a slew of cattle suspected of being fed cesium-tainted rice straw amid the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

Subject to the measure is beef distributed to market and proven to be contaminated with radiation exceeding the government-set limit, with the buy-up cost to be shouldered by the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co.

The government said 50,000 yen will also be provided per head of cattle to livestock farmers suffering from the impact of the nuclear crisis at the power plant, which spewed radioactive substances after the March 11 massive earthquake and tsunami.

The release of radioactive material has led to fear of radioactive contaminated beef making it to store shelves after scores of cattle were discovered to have been shipped to market after being fed tainted straw.

With the measures, the government aims to alleviate such fear among consumers, as well as support farmers struggling with falling beef prices and suspension of cattle shipments.

“By making sure only safe beef is distributed to market, we intend to dispel worries of consumers,” Kano said at a press conference after a Cabinet meeting.

Beef prices have been falling across wide areas of Japan due to fear of such contamination. The government is looking to provide the compensation to livestock farmers in about 10 prefectures in northeastern and eastern Japan where beef prices are below the nation’s average.

Under the emergency policy, industry bodies will be in charge of buying up such animals and incinerating them. The buy-up price will be decided based on market prices before the March disaster.

Storage and other necessary costs will be paid for beef which has had its shipment suspended.

The 50,000 yen compensation will be paid by industry bodies for the utility known as TEPCO.

As of Tuesday morning, a total of 2,906 beef cattle possibly fed with contaminated straw were confirmed to have been shipped, excluding those retained at slaughterhouses. Among them, 23 beef cattle contaminated with radioactive cesium above the government-designated limit will be subject to the buy-up program.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries estimates costs required for the buy-up program and the storage support to be around 1 billion to 2 billion yen.

The government also plans to offer safe rice straw to livestock farmers as part of its effort to protect farmers from the impact of the nuclear crisis.

Posted in: JAPAN