Diet enacts law to cull cows in disease zone

Kyodo News

The Diet on Friday enacted a special law to allow the central government to forcibly slaughter livestock to prevent the spread of foot-and-mouth disease, after the House of Councilors unanimously approved the legislation at its plenary session.

The new law on measures against foot-and-mouth disease are expected to be promulgated next week and take effect immediately in the face of the rapid spread of the contagious ailment among livestock in Miyazaki Prefecture. The House of Representatives approved the bill Thursday.

Miyazaki Gov. Hideo Higashikokubaru meanwhile said Friday two of the 49 stud bulls that the prefecture had asked the state to spare have begun to show symptoms of the disease, including excessive salivation and fever.

All 49 stud bulls will be slaughtered soon, Higashikokubaru said at the Miyazaki Prefectural Assembly.

The new law will allow the agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister and prefectural governor to order the slaughter of even healthy livestock in an area designated by the minister, as the disease is rapidly spreading and can’t be contained by conventional countermeasures.

It also states that the government should compensate farmers for slaughtered livestock and establish a fund for local economic revitalization.

The expected funding requirement when the legislation takes effect, such as the cost of burying slaughtered livestock and financial support for farmers, is estimated to be about ¥100 billion.

Welcoming the new law, farm minister Hirotaka Akamatsu told a news conference that he will visit Miyazaki Prefecture on Sunday to explain the legislation to the public.

As the special legislation will be effective until March 2012, the government plans to drastically revise a law on contagious diseases involving livestock by the deadline.