A month after a deadly earthquake damaged the Japanese seaboard, agricultural exports are still facing significant snags. The March 11 earthquake devastated northeastern Japan, damaging infrastructure, ports, and crippling a major nuclear reactor which continues to leak radiation into the surrounding countryside.
While the initial quake severely disrupted trade patterns, the continuing impact is causing significant confusion. The radiation leaking from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plants has damaged region farm production and the continued leaks of radioactive material into local seawater has done nothing to assuage consumer fears, nor did the most recent aftershock which occurred on April 7.
The initial quake halted agricultural exports to Japan. Tom Gotelli, manager of OP Packing in Stockton, California, claimed that the quake paralyzed asparagus shipments to Japan. The priority given to humanitarian aid and vital supplies bumped agricultural trade, shutting down many farm exports.
The difficulty in shipping has only been compounded by what will likely be a significant increase in demand. The damage done to surrounding agricultural land has crippled significant amounts of Japanese agricultural production. This increased demand has proved beneficial to some growers. Blue Diamond Almond, for example, has seen increased sales and orders, and predicts that as Japanese consumers look for non-contaminated foods, they will increasingly turn to U.S. growers. California’s Department of Food and Agriculture, however, cautioned that the quakes and aftershocks could continue to disrupt American growers, particular those growing luxury farm goods like cherries, blueberries, and pomegranates.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer