• Kyodo

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Hokkaido plans to introduce a system to provide farmers with around 1 million yen for each cow infected with mad cow disease in a bid to keep them from secretly disposing of animals suspected of having the disease, officials said Tuesday.

The Hokkaido government plans to submit a 30 million yen supplementary budget to the local assembly this month, they said. The system will be introduced as soon as the budget is passed.

Under the current system to control the disease, once a cow is found to have mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, many cows at the same farm are disposed of because they are considered to be “quasi-infected.”

To determine the route of the infection, the Hokkaido government determined that incentives are needed to persuade farmers to ship cows suspected of having the disease to market, where they can be tested, they said.

There are concerns that farmers may be secretly disposing cows they think may have the disease and are not shipping older cows to market, the officials said. Older cows are at a greater risk of the disease.

“We need to prevent a situation in which possibly infected cows are secretly disposed of,” a senior official said.

A Hokkaido cow was officially confirmed to be infected with the disease last month, in the fourth case in Japan since seeing its first in September.

The first, second and fourth cows were all born in Hokkaido, while the third was born in Gunma Prefecture. All were Holstein dairy cows.

Mad cow disease is believed to spread through cattle feed using recycled meat and bones from infected animals. Japanese authorities have yet to determine the source of the domestic infections.

BSE has been linked to the deaths of more than 100 people in Europe. The disease was first found in Britain in the mid-1980s. So far, about 180,000 cattle have been found with the disease in Britain.

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