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Hidetoshi Nakata travels around Fukushima <#10> Arriving in Fukushima – “livestock industry”

Hidetoshi Nakata travels around Fukushima <#10>
Arriving in Fukushima - “livestock industry”

Fukushima beef has a great reputation for the texture of its meat. There is an individual who is known to have started the brand in Ootamamura, located at the foot of Mount Adatara. Hironao Suzuki has been raising cattle for half a century, receiving many awards and is known as one of the expert producers in Fukushima. He reveals “Great tasting beef results from the water, air and quality straw.”

Grand nature of Mount Adatara raises quality Fukushima cattle

Mount Adatara was referred to as the “true sky” in a song written by Kotaro Takamura called “Chieko Sho”. Farmland spreads out at the foot of the mountain range. Hironao Suzuki runs a cattle farm in this area with his wife.
Nakata looks at the wall of rice plants along the wall in Suzuki’s living room and inquired, “Is there a special meaning?”
Suzuki explained that it was 50 years’ worth of rice plants, collected from the time he became a farmer at age 20.
“I started livestock farming around the same time, so it’s been about a half century…”

There are two types of famers who raise cattle for beef. Those who breed them and raise the calves until they are around 9 to 10 months, and those who raise them for fattening over a period of about 20 months. Suzuki is part of the latter group and represents Fukushima cattle breeders. He was awarded the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries award at the Beef promotional gathering 肉用牛枝肉共励会sponsored by the national beef promotion organization 全国肉用牛振興基金協会 in 2017. He was also given highest honors at the XXX第19回全農肉牛枝肉共励会 in addition to the many other awards he has received over the years.
“Fukushima beef has a great aroma and the fat is very light.”
Suzuki is humble about his own achievements, but he is very proud of the quality of beef he raises with great care.

“It’s often said that the quality of beef depends on their lineage, but what are the conditions that bring out the characteristics unique to Fukushima beef?”
Suzuki replies quickly to Nakata’s question “It’s definitely the feed.”
“Each farm used to prepare their own feed, but the quality was inconsistent. So, we came up with a feed that we could all agree on, and it helped raise the overall quality of the beef in the entire area.”
He continued to explain that one of the most important elements of the feed is the straw.
“If you associate it with human food, the straw is the rice and the other ingredients are the side dishes. No matter how delicious the side dishes are, you must make sure you get your main staple. Each variety of straw has a different texture, and I believe that Koshihikari is best choice for the digestive system of cattle.”

As the reputation of Fukushima beef is enhanced, the cattle that used to be sold for around 500,000 yen are now about twice as expensive. Suzuki was very concerned many farmers were leaving the industry due to old age, yet he remains positive even with the TPP and EPA which were issued in late 2018 and February 2019 respectively. It his view that farmers should continue raising great cattle even with the challenges posed by free trade.
“Competition will be fierce as cheaper foreign beef become available. But there will always be consumers who will choose quality beef that is delicious.”
Nakata encourages Suzuki by commenting that free trade will provide new opportunities, and not just challenges.
“When I travel abroad, many people ask about “wagyu” beef. To me, that means that many people have an interest in Japanese beef. It’s an opportunity to expand the sales market overseas, which you should definitely take advantage of.”
Suzuki broke out in a big smile as he commented that he would not be retiring anytime soon.

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Mount Adatara