Agony for Japan livestock farmers in nuclear crisis


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Agony for Japan livestock farmers in nuclear crisis
By Shingo Ito (AFP) – 2 hours ago

FUKUSHIMA CITY, Japan — As more people are forced to leave their homes around the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant, anger is growing in a farming community forced to make the agonising decision whether to slaughter livestock or face ruin.

The desperate lowing of starving cattle echoes out across the valleys surrounding Katsurao -- the only noise breaking an unearthly silence which envelopes the hamlet.

No one is seen during daylight except a few farmers making the difficult and dangerous journey back to their land to feed cows, pigs and chickens.

Katsurao, 25 kilometres (16 miles) northwest of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, is among the communities newly designated as no-go zones, meaning no one will be allowed in from as early as late May.

More than 10,000 cows -- prized for their marbled beef and rich milk -- have already been left behind in the scramble to escape Fukushima prefecture, many of them locked in sheds where they starved to death, farmers have said.

As the no-go zone spreads, ever more farmers are being forced to make agonising decisions over whether to move their livestock to safe areas and incur huge costs, slaughter their animals or -- perhaps the most unacceptable option -- leave them to their fate.

While local authorities have given no mandatory instructions, they are "strongly urging" Katsurao farmers to empty their sheds before the no-go zone is enforced, officials said.

At best they will earn a one-off payment for the meat but they will get nothing if their livestock are found to be highly contaminated.
AFP: Agony for Japan livestock farmers in nuclear crisis

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