Sluggish Gov't response fuels spread of foot-and-mouth disease in Japan
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,
which is still awaiting an official request from the Japanese government for advice and support despite readying their experts to be deployed to Japan to assist,
have slammed the Japanese government's inability to respond swiftly enough to effectively identify and take the necessary measures to counter the rampant disease.（一部抜粋）
Gov't to compensate farmers for losses due to foot-and-mouth disease
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The farm ministry on Friday unveiled the government's additional measures over the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in Miyazaki Prefecture to compensate farmers for slaughtered cows and pigs at market values, rather than uniform rates as initially planned.
The government will also shoulder the cost of feed for the domesticated animals until their slaughter.
In Saito, Miyazaki, a cow suspected to be infected with the disease was found at a farm, the municipal office said. If the infection is confirmed in tests, it means the disease has spread to two cities and four towns in the prefecture.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries also decided to pay farmers 59,000 yen for each slaughtered cow as financial support for them until resumption of their operations and to pay farmers for rents of land lots used to bury the slaughtered livestock.
Farmers will also receive the state subsidy to lease cows and pigs when they restart their work.
While farm minister Hirotaka Akamatsu told a press conference Friday morning that he would like to begin vaccination on the same day, senior vice farm minister Masahiko Yamada said in Miyazaki that it would be difficult to start it Friday as no agreement has been reached with the local authorities.
Meanwhile, the Japanese government has declined a proposal by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization to send an expert team to contain the escalating infection in Miyazaki.
Japan told the Rome-based FAO through the Japanese Embassy there that Japan would like to continue taking proper advice from FAO.
(Mainichi Japan) May 21, 2010
Sluggish Gov't response fuels spread of foot-and-mouth disease in Japan
English.news.cn 2010-05-24 15:54:23 FeedbackPrintRSS
TOKYO, May 24 (Xinhua) -- Japan's cattle industry is currently on tenterhooks as its globally renowned breeding region in Miyazaki Prefecture, on the eastern coast of the island of Kyushu in southern Japan, is essentially on lock-down following a ferociously infectious outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), the likes of which have not been seen in developed nations since the 2001 epidemic in the UK.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, which is still awaiting an official request from the Japanese government for advice and support despite readying their experts to be deployed to Japan to assist, have slammed the Japanese government's inability to respond swiftly enough to effectively identify and take the necessary measures to counter the rampant disease.
In fact, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama admitted that local officials could have identified and prevented the epidemic far earlier had they not overlooked the highly contagious infection during an on-site inspection on a farm in Miyazaki Prefecture in March.
This monumental oversight may well have led to the number of cattle to be slaughtered ultimately reaching above 205,000 animals in the area, in a bid to prevent the further spreading of the highly contagious disease in the region and beyond, and although Hatoyama has pledged more than a billion U.S. dollars to help compensate local farmers, the actual price Miyazaki Prefecture will pay for this crisis will, undoubtedly, be far higher.
Miyazaki Prefecture is known for breeding stock solely to produce "Wagyu" beef. The beef, known for its tenderness and fatty, marbled texture, has a rich history in Japan, but over the past few years has attracted growing numbers of Wagyu lovers the world over and is enjoyed in top-notch restaurants from Paris and London, to Shanghai and Seoul.
It will come as no surprise that one kilogram of the top-grade beef can wholesale for more than 320 U.S. dollars, when considering the farmers feed their cows beer, groom them by hand and give them regular massages to keep their cattle's stress levels low and ensure the meat is as tender as possible.
With the outbreak of FMD and the subsequent evacuation of the region's and the country's six most prized stud bulls -- the only remaining breeding animals for the highly sought-after Wagyu beef - - in a bid to ensure breeding could continue once the disease had been eradicated, local farmers believed that although the highly contagious virus has brought a halt to all Japanese beef and pork exports for the past month and crippled the premium beef industry in Miyazaki, the future at least, had been safeguarded.
Not so. One of the six top seed bulls named Tadafuji was euthanized Saturday after testing positive for foot-and-mouth disease and the prefectural government has decided to observe the other bulls for at least ten days and conduct several genetic tests on them because they too are suspected to have contracted the disease, in which case they too will have to be culled meaning the Wagyu beef trade will be devastated.
Usually, all bulls and pigs kept with infected animals are culled, but officials have decided to keep the five remaining seed bulls under observation and have assigned them individual care managers to monitor their health and are being housed in separate stalls in a bid to prevent them contracting the disease, despite them all having been exposed to the highly contagious virus.
The future of Miyazaki's premium beef trade looks bleak and according to Susumu Harada, senior director at the U.S. Meat Export Federation, although the supply of domestic meat may become tight, Japan's imports of pork and beef have not been affected so far as the nation has large stockpiles from last year, when the economic slump cut consumption.
Miyazaki accounted for about 9.2 percent of Japan's total swineherd, which was estimated by the agriculture ministry at 9.9 million as of February 1, 2009. The prefecture also represented 10 percent of the country's total herd of beef cattle estimated at 2. 9 million.
However, although the figures reveal the nation is not overly reliant on Miyazaki's cattle for domestic and foreign trade, with just 35 tons of prime meat exported from Miyazaki every year, the prefecture's premium beef trade will certainly be hard hit this year after agriculture officials halted exports, a ban that will be in place for at least three months.
In addition, experts have been unable to pinpoint the cause of the outbreak of FMD, which was first detected in the prefecture on April 20, and although national and local authorities have increased their efforts to control the spread of foot-and-mouth disease, with an emergency task force charged with containing the disease by cordoning off parts of the countryside and ensuring agricultural vehicles undergo thorough disinfection procedures and a host of other safety protocols, questions still remain about the government's sluggish response to the outbreak.
Such questions are being asked by Yasukazu Hamada, a senior member of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party parliament affairs committee, who has criticized the government for being " very slow" in setting up a task force to prevent the spread of the disease after a suspected case was reported a month ago, the first in Japan since 740 animals were culled in Miyazaki prefecture and on the northern island of Hokkaido in 2000.
Hamada recently described the situation in Miyazaki Prefecture as "painful" and admonished the ruling Democratic Party of Japan government for having not taken the initiative in implementing countermeasures.
Hamada also criticized farm minister Hirotaka Akamatsu for making an overseas trip after the outbreak of the disease was announced, saying that Akamatsu himself should be held responsible for the crisis.
Further adding validity to suggestions of negligence by the local and central government, the Miyazaki prefectural government said vaccines for roughly 100,000 animals have not yet arrived and it could take at least three to four days to complete the shots for all 205,000 animals as there is a lack of manpower in the area to administer them.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations pointed out that the vaccination of the animals, even if they are already infected, slows down the spread of the disease to healthy animals as has been seen in a similar case in the Netherlands where vaccines were used.
As Hatoyama scrambles to contain a problem that could have been quashed a month prior to the official announcement of the outbreak of FMD in Miyazaki, the opposition LDP are taking aim at Akamatsu' s incompetent handling of the affair and will submit a no- confidence motion against the farm minister and a censure motion to the upper house if the no-confidence motion is rejected. Enditem