• Kyodo

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Cow auctions resumed Wednesday in the major livestock center of Miyakonojo, Miyazaki Prefecture, for the first time in about five months, after the prefecture declared late last month an end to the foot-and-mouth epidemic.

The Miyakonojo livestock market shipped the third-most cows in fiscal 2009 among domestic markets and the production value of its beef and pork topped all municipalities in 2006.

The auction started after a moment of silent prayer was observed by about 400 buyers and farm producers for the livestock killed since April to prevent the spread of the disease.

“I was worried, but a lot of buyers came,” said 58-year-old farmer Minoru Taniguchi from Miyakonojo, who sold two cows. “I’m satisfied that my cow brought a price higher than I had expected.”

Farmers in Miyakonojo and the neighboring town of Mimata are expected to ship around 2,000 calves through Saturday.

When some cows at a farm in Miyakonojo were suspected of being infected with the livestock disease June 9, it was feared the epidemic could spread to neighboring Kagoshima Prefecture. But the damage was limited in the city due to a quick response, including culling the affected animals.

Miyakonojo had planned to resume the auction of dairy cows on Sept. 2 but postponed it to Sept. 18 because a cow showing symptoms of the disease was found in Ebino, Miyazaki Prefecture, earlier that day. The cow later tested negative in genetic testing for foot-and-mouth disease.

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