Japan: Support payments for farmers seeking feed substitutes for pest damaged corn silage

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/kochievmv
© GettyImages/kochievmv
Japan is seeing an outbreak of the crop damaging pest, Fall Armyworm (FAW), with silage corn the primary crop affected by the disease, but also at risk is corn for grain, writes the USDA’s FAS office in Toyko in a report.

Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF) confirmed Japan’s first outbreak of FAW in July this year.

MAFF has since announced support payments to offset costs associated with pesticide application, fermentation accelerants, substitute feed purchases, and additional storage for imported feed, noted the FAS attaché in a review​ of the current situation. 

While MAFF does not currently have information on the quantity of damaged silage corn or the impact on yield, the USDA expert did not anticipate dramatic losses:

In many of the silage corn producing prefectures in southern Japan silage corn is harvested twice a year, and the first harvest had already been completed before the FAW outbreak. With pesticide application and early harvest, damage on whole crop silage corn is expected to be limited. In a worst-case scenario, assuming FAW spread to all prefectures except Hokkaido, approximately 1.8 MMT of whole crop silage corn could be in danger of FAW damage."

The Fall Armyworm (FAW), or Spodoptera frugiperda, is an insect that is native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas, according to data​ from the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).

In the absence of natural control or good management, the pest can cause significant damage to crops. It prefers maize but can feed on more than 80 additional species of crops, including rice, sorghum, millet, sugarcane, vegetable crops and cotton, noted the FAO. FAW was first detected in Central and Western Africa in early 2016 and has quickly spread across virtually all of Sub-Saharan Africa. In July 2018 it was confirmed in India and Yemen, it said.

By December 2018, it had been reported in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Thailand. As at June 2019, it has been reported in Myanmar, China, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia and Vietnam, Egypt and the Republic of Korea, with Japan reporting its presence then in July this year.

Forage, including corn silage, is biologically indispensable for the diet of cattle to stabilize digestive functions, added the USDA expert.

MAFF will provide a support payment of a 5,000 yen ($46.76) per metric ton if farmers need to purchase a feed substitute for corn silage.

“MAFF expects most dairy farmers to substitute corn silage with other forages, such as hay or hay silage in the event FAW damage results in corn silage shortages. Hay and hay silage do not have the same nutritional breakdown as corn silage, so producers would likely have to increase compound feed, which includes grain corn, to balance out the diet for their herds.”

On August 30, the Japanese agriculture ministry, in response to the FAW outbreak and to prevent a feed supply shortage, said it was preparing to provide financial support for storage costs for imported feed materials.

The support payment would go to private sector feed grain buyers to support storage costs and interest fees associated with purchases. MAFF is prepared to provide storage costs for advance purchase of up to 2.75 MMT, equivalent to three months of Japanese annual imports of corn 11 MMT. MAFF is considering allowing the support payment to be used for storage overseas, perhaps due to a lack of storage capacity in Japan.”

The FAS/Tokyo attaché said, however, a significant increase in demand for corn for feed from the US as a result of the outbreak is not expected. 

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