Meat industry organizations will buy up all radioactive domestic beef that has been shipped to the market in a bid to dispel mounting consumer fears as well as provide financial relief to suffering livestock farmers, agriculture minister Michihiko Kano said Tuesday.
The government will have meat industry organizations buy all beef contaminated with radioactive cesium that exceeds the government limit of 500 becquerels per kilogram, and they will in turn seek to recoup their costs from Tokyo Electric Power Co.
The organizations will also pay the storage fees for beef that doesn’t exceed the radiation limit but has been barred from shipment, the agriculture ministry said.
Meat organizations will also give financial support to livestock farmers in Fukushima Prefecture by paying ¥50,000 for each head of beef cattle they raise, the ministry said. It is also considering aiding farmers in other prefectures who fed cesium-tainted hay to their cattle.
The plan calls for the organizations to seek compensation to cover all of their costs from Tepco, Shuichi Taikoya, an official at the agriculture ministry’s meat and egg division, told The Japan Times.
He said the ministry hasn’t decided which meat industry organization will play what role, including incinerating all or most of the tainted meat.
If they don’t have enough funds to cover all the costs, the organizations will get loans from banking institutions, Taikoya said, adding that Agriculture and Livestock Industries Corp. will subsidize interest payments.
“By ensuring only safe (beef) is distributed, (we) hope to ease consumers’ anxiety,” Kano told reporters after a Cabinet meeting Tuesday.
According to the agriculture ministry, 2,906 cows in 16 prefectures were fed contaminated rice straw before shipment as of Tuesday. Twenty-three out of 274 samples were found to contain radioactive cesium above the government limit.