Nothing coming out of Japan makes sense any more, so this news is simply adding to that growing list.
The national government will lift the ban on sales and shipment of meat cows raised in Fukushima and Miyagi Prefectures because the government is satisfied that the radioactive rice hay is now separated from other feed - either under the tarp or buried - so that it will not be fed to the cows.
If I remember right, the worry was not the rice hay but the meat itself, which tested high in radioactive cesium all over Japan as the cows from these two prefectures (and several more in Tohoku) had been sold far and wide because of the suddenly "affordable" price. They were particularly favored by certain cost-conscious municipalities (most notably Yokohama City) that fed the suspected meat to the kindergarteners and school children in school lunches, ignoring protests from the parents.
Humans eat beef not rice hay, as far as I know. But now the ban will be lifted because of ... rice hay storage procedure?
From Mainichi Shinbun (8/18/2011):
So the Ministry of Health and Labor lost. This is the Ministry that's supposed to protect consumers.
政府は１８日、福島県と宮城県で飼育されている肉牛の出荷停止を両県全域で解除する方向で検討に入った。早ければ１９日にも両県知事に解除を指示す る。肉牛から国の暫定規制値（１キロあたり５００ベクレル）を超える放射性セシウムが検出され、政府は７月１９日～８月２日、福島、宮城、岩手、栃木の４ 県に出荷停止を指示したが、解除すれば初めてとなる。
The Japanese government started to prepare for the total lifting of the shipping ban on meat cows raised in Fukushima and Miyagi Prefectures on August 18. The government will instruct the governors of the two prefectures as early as August 19. As radioactive cesium exceeding the provisional national safety limit (500 becquerels/kg) was found in the meat, the government banned the shipping of the cows in Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate, and Tochigi Prefectures between July 19 and August 2. Fukushima and Miyagi would be the first to have the ban lifted.
農林水産省と厚生労働省、福島、宮城両県は、汚染された稲わらの管理や解体後の牛の放射性物質検査の体制などを協議してきた。その結果、汚染稲わ らを他の飼料と明確に区分してシートで覆ったり、地中に埋めて餌として使用できない状態であることが確認され、食肉処理後のセシウム検査で暫定規制値以下 であれば、出荷を認める方向。
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, Fukushima Prefecture and Miyagi Prefecture have been discussing the ways to store the contaminated rice hay and to test radioactive materials after the cows are processed into meat. As the result, [the government is satisfied that] the contaminated rice hay has been confirmed to have been clearly separated from other feed and covered with plastic sheets or to have been buried in the ground so that it cannot be used as feed. As long as the meat tests below the provisional safety limit, the government will allow the shipping.
As soon as the same condition is achieved in Iwate andn Tochigi Prefectures, the government will lift the shipping ban there.出荷再開の条件として、厚労省は畜産農家に保管されている汚染稲わらを農家の敷地外に移すよう求めていた。一方、農水省や福島、宮城両県は、保管場所の確保が難しいことを理由に農家の敷地内で牛と隔離した場所に置く方法を主張していた。
The Ministry of Health and Labor wanted the contaminated rice hay out of the cattle farms as a condition to lift the ban. On the other hand, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fukushima/Miyagi Prefectures insisted the rice hay remain within the farms as long as it was separated from the cows, because it would be hard for the farms to secure the storage space outside the farms.
Will they test all the cows? No they won't. Not even in Fukushima. They only test the meat of the cows raised in the planned evacuation zone and evacuation-ready zone right outside the 20 kilometer radius from Fukushima I Nuke Plant. For everywhere else in Fukushima Prefecture, the first cow to be shipped from a cattle farm will be tested. If that passes the test, all cows can be sold.
Even when they do test, they will just do the simple test using "affordable" instruments that cost only a few thousand dollars and take only 15 minutes to test, and as long as the number is below 250 becquerels/kg they won't test further. Only if it goes above 250 becquerels/kg, they will use expensive instruments that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and take 1 hour to test.
What about the news at the end of July that radioactive cesium is NOT distributed evenly in the meat, not even within the same part?
Well, that's not in the manual of elite bureaucrats in these two ministries, and Fukushima and Miyagi would be the last ones to alert them.
So here we go again. Radioactive beef will be force-fed through social pressure, now that the government declares safety. No way to test all meat, and even if they do, one piece of meat may test differently from another piece of the same part. And they won't even tell you whether it is 244 becquerels/kg or 2 becquerels/kg, as long as it is below 250 becquerels/kg.
Fukushima Prefecture, probably in anticipation of the lifting of the ban, has launched a new campaign to push Fukushima produce - vegetables, fruits, meat - using celebrities. "Fukushima Shin Hatsubai (new product launch)" is the campaign.
The governors of these two prefectures will no doubt do the ceremony of "declaration of safety" of their own, and eat the beef in front of the press to appeal safety to the nation and the rest of the world. If they are so brave as the governor of Shizuoka, they will go to a gourmet Japanese restaurant in New York and host an event with some celebrities who (used to) love Japanese cuisine and eat the safe beef that tested below the provisional safety limit of Japan.