Japan’s agriculture minister Tsutomu Takebe has told parliament that the current outbreak of BSE in the country is expected to cost Japan’s farmers and food industry more than ¥200bn (US$1.5bn).

Butchers, for example, have lost sales worth ¥90.7bn between last September, when the first case of mad cow disease was confirmed, and January this year.

In its Thursday evening edition, local newspaper The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, said that farmers have already borne the brunt of losses totalling ¥63.3bn between September and December last year. The paper added however that government subsidies worth ¥46.6bn have reduced the burden on farmers.