FUKUSHIMA – Dairy farmers who were forced to suspend business following the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant plan to restart milk shipments as early as this year, with a new large-scale stock farm completed in the city of Fukushima on Friday.
Fully supported by the government and the prefectural dairy cooperative association, the stock farm, with 580 cows, is expected to become a foothold for rebuilding the prefecture’s dairy industry, hit hard by business closures and radiation-related rumors.
The farm is operated by a company established jointly by five dairy farmers from Minamisoma, Namie and Iitate. Kazumasa Tanaka, 44, from Iitate, has been appointed president of the company.
The company aims to produce 5,000 tons of raw milk annually under a computer-based control system on the 3.6-hectare (8.9-acre) farm.
“I have chosen to do this because of a sense of responsibility for the rebuilding of the dairy industry in Fukushima,” Tanaka said at a completion ceremony. “It will be the happiest thing to cheer up our peers by our stock farm getting on a growth path.”
Following the triple meltdown at the nuclear plant triggered by the massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, 76 dairy farmers had to evacuate and suspend their operations. Among them, only 13 farmers have restarted their businesses.
In the prefecture, annual production of raw milk remains sluggish at around 80,000 tons, down 20 percent from before the disaster.
The new stock farm was developed and is owned by the prefectural dairy cooperative, which is subsidized by the central and prefectural governments.