JAPAN | Damages eyed for cattle farmers in 17 prefectures over tainted straw

Posted on August 3, 2011

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JAPAN | MAINICHI | 3 August 2011

Prefectural officials interview livestock farmers after radioactive cesium was detected in cattle raised in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, on July 10. (Mainichi)

TOKYO, Aug. 3, Kyodo

A government panel plans to recommend compensation be paid to cattle farmers in 17 prefectures for financial losses suffered as the result of the plunge in sales and prices of beef because of the discovery that cesium-tainted rice straw might have been sold as cattle feed in those areas, sources close to the matter said Tuesday.

The nine-member panel advising the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology is expected to incorporate the recommendation in an interim report it will compile Friday, specifying what sorts of damage should be compensated in connection with the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant crisis caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Cattle farmers in the 17 prefectures have incurred financial losses as a result of rumors over the safety of their meat, with customers canceling purchase contracts or refusing to purchase beef produced by them after tainted straw was found last month to have been fed to cattle, according to a report submitted on July 29 to the panel by the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry.

For example, prices of beef from cattle raised in Gunma Prefecture plunged by up to 70 percent per kilogram despite the fact no meat with radioactive cesium above the government-set safety limit has been detected in meat from cattle raised there.

The panel has concluded that it is difficult for consumers to know if beef at retailers is from cattle fed with rice straw contaminated with radioactive cesium, the sources said.

Thus it is rational, the panelists agreed, for consumers to refrain from buying beef from cattle raised in areas where farmers bought rice straw which might have been contaminated with radioactive cesium, the sources said.

The 17 prefectures where straw that might have been contaminated with radioactive cesium was sold are Hokkaido, Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Akita, Yamagata, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama, Chiba, Niigata, Gifu, Shizuoka, Mie and Shimane.

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