Miyazaki faces mass cow, pig cull

All livestock within 10-km radius of areas hit by foot-and-mouth disease to be put down

Kyodo News

All 200,000-plus cows and pigs within a 10-km radius of areas in Miyazaki Prefecture, known for its prime-quality meats, will be slaughtered next week to contain an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, the farm ministry said Wednesday.

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Hirotaka Akamatsu vowed that his ministry will do everything possible to prevent the spread of the devastating disease.

The 205,000 cows and pigs targeted will be vaccinated before they are slaughtered, ministry officials said.

The areas subject to the slaughter involve four towns and their environs, including Kawaminami. The government was making arrangements to pay farmers ¥600,000 per cow and ¥40,000 per pig.

In addition, buffer zones will be created beyond the 10-km radius and within a 20-km radius, and farmers affected will be urged to transport cows and pigs away from the area as soon as possible. The farmers will also be compensated for their losses.

Unless further infections are found three weeks after the mass slaughter, restrictions on moving livestock will be lifted, Akamatsu said, adding he hopes the situation will be back to normal then.

On Tuesday, the ministry’s expert panel on tackling the foot-and-mouth outbreak advised the government to consider using vaccines because preventing the spread by just slaughtering livestock appeared to be too late.

To contain the infection, the ministry has said it will be necessary to slaughter healthy cows and pigs in the area where the prefecture bans farmers from moving their livestock. Vaccines can control the symptoms and delay the infection’s spread, but don’t completely prevent livestock from contracting the disease.