The government may soften its blanket testing procedures for mad cow disease next spring, limiting the tests to cattle aged 21 months and older, government officials said Tuesday.

Before blanket testing ceases, the government would set a notice period of about three months so it could publicize changes to the cattle-testing system, according to the officials.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry were to seek endorsement of the plan from a Liberal Democratic Party committee later Tuesday.

But opinions were divided within the LDP committee, and the ministries decided to postpone seeking feedback from experts in the Cabinet Office’s Food Safety Commission. This process was due to take place on Wednesday.

Despite the proposed change, the government says it would continue to provide subsidies to prefectural and municipal governments for up to one year to help cover the expenses of voluntarily conducting blanket tests for bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

Earlier this month, government officials said that if a large majority of prefectural and municipal governments were to continue receiving the subsidies, it would amount to maintaining the current all-cattle testing program.

It would take two months or more for the commission to come up with proposals related to the ministries’ plans, they said.

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