The shipment ban on meat cows in Fukushima was finally put in place on July 19, but on July 20 they already outlined the conditions for lifting the ban.
Fukushima Prefecture hopes to lift the shipment ban placed on the cows in the prefecture by the end of July, according to Fukushima Minyu Shinbun (7/21/2011), a local paper in Fukushima Prefecture.
From what Fukushima Minyu Shinbun describes, the conditions for lifting the ban have been already agreed upon between the parties involved (the national government, the Fukushima prefectural government, and the cattle industry groups).
So what is the plan? Fukushima Minyu is rather vague on that, so we'll go to Asahi Shinbun that has a bit more details. The plan, as it is right now, will serve to obfuscate, give sense of "security" where there's hardly any, and most of all, doesn't cost much because they won't be doing things much differently from what they are doing right now. All parties involved - the national government, the Fukushima prefectural government, the industry groups - are eager to resume shipment, so it will resume as soon as people forget about it. (And stuff those blogs with safety message about cesium!)
Asahi Shinbun (12:33AM JST 7/21/2011):
The Headquarters for the Nuclear Disaster Countermeasures (headed by Prime Minister Naoto Kan) ordered the governor of Fukushima Prefecture to halt shipment of meat cows in all areas of Fukushima. At the same time, the procedure by which the shipment ban would be lifted was also announced. First, Fukushima Prefecture would submit the management plan for the meat cows to the Headquarters, which would approve the submitted plan. Then the each cattle farm would undergo the testing as specified in the plan, and the cows would be shipped.
The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare disclosed the outline of the management plan as contemplated by the Headquarters and Fukushima Prefecture. In the planned evacuation zone and the emergency evacuation-ready zone where the high levels of radioactive materials have been detected, the prefectural government will conduct testing on all cows after they are processed into meat.
In other areas, all cattle farmers will be surveyed to make sure if the contaminated rice hay is not used, among other things. The survey will be repeated every 2 months. After the shipment ban is lifted, at least one cow will be selected from one cattle farm, and the prefectural government will test the meat for radioactive materials [cesium]. If the amount of radioactive materials is less than the provisional safety limit, all the meat cows at that particular cattle farm will be allowed to be shipped for a time. The farm will be allowed to ship outside Fukushima Prefecture. After a certain period of time, at least one cow from the farm will be tested again.
Fukushima Prefecture has only one meat processing facility in Koriyama City. However, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare thinks it is possible for this facility to process and test the meat, as it has the capacity to process maximum 9,000 cows per year.
The meat cows have been found outside Fukushima Prefecture that were fed with contaminated rice hay. However, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare would only consider the shipment ban if the rice hay in the region where the cows are raised is contaminated. Even if cattle farms in a particular region use contaminated rice hay purchased from distant locations [like Miyagi Prefecture], as long as the rice hay in that region is not contaminated the cows would not be considered for the shipment ban.
Well, needless to say, the "health, labor and welfare" that the Ministry worries about is not of the rest of the Japanese who are not in the cattle business.
Koriyama City, where the rice hay was found to contain 500,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium, or Motomiya City, where the rice hay was found with 690,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium, are OUTSIDE ANY evacuation zone.
On reading the article, I have little doubt that the radioactive beef will be sold just as it has been sold, without much added control at all. There will be less recourse to the consumers, because the beef will be considered "safe" because it will be sold in the marketplace after "vigorous test" approved by the national government and conducted by the Fukushima government.
Next to come? Maybe fine consumers for refusing to eat Fukushima produce, be it beef or vegetables.