December 10, 2019
Japan to boost wagyu beef production to 300,000 tonnes
Japan said that it hopes to double the country's output of wagyu beef, known for its tenderness and marbled fat, to 300,000 tonnes by fiscal 2035 amid rising overseas demand.
Under the goal, which is part of a government programme to support domestic farmers and boost agricultural exports, Japan will aim to increase wagyu beef production from about 149,000 tonnes last year by offering financial incentives to introduce breeding cows.
To expand beef exports, Japan will also upgrade meat processing facilities in the country to comply with stricter US and European safety standards.
Tokyo worked out the programme in the face of recent trade deals with the United States, other Pacific Rim nations and the European Union.
A trade pact with Washington is set to take effect on January 1 while an accord with 10 other Pacific economies and the European Union entered into force on December 30 last year and February 1 this year, respectively, opening the domestic market to cheap farm imports from those countries.
Meanwhile, wagyu exports to the United States are expected to grow with the increase of a low-tariff quota on Japanese beef under the bilateral trade deal.
In 2018, Japan's agricultural exports reached a record ¥906.8 billion (US$8.4 billion), hitting an all-time high for the sixth straight year, with Hong Kong the largest buyer of Japanese farm produce, followed by China and the US.
"There will be more opportunities for Japan's safe farm produce to make inroads into overseas markets," Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a meeting to adopt the farm strategy.
The programme also includes measures to bolster the preparedness of farm facilities against typhoons and other natural disasters, as well as the smooth vaccination of pigs to prevent the spread of classical swine fever.
Japan has struggled to contain the swine fever epidemic, which has forced farmers in a dozen prefectures to cull their pigs since last year.
The strategy also calls for promoting the use of innovative technology such as crop-dusting drones in agriculture, particularly in mountainous and disaster-hit areas.
Funding for the measures will be included in the supplementary budget for fiscal 2019, which ends in March 2020, and the initial budget for fiscal 2020.
Additionally, a legislation, which the government plans to submit to next year's parliamentary session, will also include tougher restrictions on the smuggling of wagyu DNA in fertilised eggs out of the country.
- Kyodo News