"Reconstruction farm" offers hope for Fukushima dairy farmers(「復興牧場」完成 希望の一歩)

Staff from the Fukushima Prefectural Dairy Cooperative Association check cows for abnormalities after they arrived at a new barn at the “reconstruction farm” in Fukushima.(牛舎に入った乳牛に異常がないかどうかを確認する県酪農業協同組合の担当者ら)

 FUKUSHIMA - A "reconstruction farm" has begun operations in Fukushima Prefecture, run by five local dairy farmers who were forced to give up their own facilities following the March 2011 nuclear crisis.
 60 cows had moved into barns on the site as of Friday, and there are plans to eventually keep 580 of the Tohoku region's largest type of dairy cows there.
 About 120 people in the Fukushima dairy industry participated in a ceremony on Sept. 25 to celebrate the opening of the cutting-edge farm.


 "I chose this path because I feel we have a mission to reconstruct the dairy industry in Fukushima Prefecture. I'd like to use all my experience to do this work," said Kazumasa Tanaka, president of the farm's operating company, Feliz latte. Tanaka spoke on behalf of the other four participating farmers, who are from the Soso area of the prefecture.


 The farmers aim to establish an advanced model of dairy farming at the facility by introducing a joint-management system that is currently uncommon in Japan. They also plan to restore the prefecture's production base for raw milk, which was badly damaged by the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Company's Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. The farmers have set an annual target of 5,000 tons of milk.
 They also plan to grow pasture grass in idle farmland in neighboring areas.


 At a total project cost of \1.52 billion, the 3.6-hectare facility features three milking sheds and three sheds for cows to give birth in. There is also a storehouse for foodstuffs.


 "Now we can finally begin operating the farm," Tanaka, 44, said at a completion ceremony held on the same day. Tanaka is from Iidate in the prefecture and went on to express strong faith in the other four farmers, who make up the company's board members. "I want to see great success together with my colleagues."


 Also on the board are Kenji Tadano, 44, from Minami-Soma, and Yoshimune Hasegawa, 36, from Iidate. They have been busy preparing for the start of operations, with Hasegawa saying, "We need to carefully examine whether the farm is well put together."


 "We'll be using large machinery for the first time because we will keep quite a number of cows here. I have some worries, but I'm also looking forward to feeding them," said board member Yukio Miyata, 53, from Namie in the prefecture.


 Properly managing cows' health is essential to producing raw milk efficiently.
"It's the cows that will be working hard from now on," said Hideaki Monma, 52, the remaining board member. "Our job is to help them grow in good health."

( Translated by The Japan News )


 【 2015年9月26日、10月3日・本紙掲載 】