• Kyodo

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A group of dairy farmers in Hokkaido will file a lawsuit next month seeking 200 million yen in compensation from the government over the losses they suffered in the wake of last September’s outbreak of mad cow disease, farming sources said Tuesday.

This will be the nation’s first lawsuit in which compensation will be sought from the state over an outbreak of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

The 63 farmers in question will argue that the government could have foreseen in the early 1990s that mad cow disease would break out in Japan and failed to take any preventative measures, such as banning imports of meat-and-bone meal, which is believed to transmit the disease, the sources said.

The farmers’ earnings were bludgeoned by the consequent plunge in beef and cow prices, the suit will say.

The suit will also state that damage to farmers’ livelihoods caused by the disease was exacerbated by the government’s negligence in failing to provide the public with adequate information on BSE, the sources said.

The compensation claims in the lawsuit will range from several hundred thousand yen for dairy farmers to a claim of 10 million yen by one livestock farmer.

Representatives of the group said they hope to get more than 100 farmers to join the suit.

The Hokkaido plaintiffs’ group was formed in April. Farmers in Miyagi Prefecture plan to file a similar suit, the sources said.

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