TOPEKA – The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that beginning this Friday, February 1st, Japan will ease restrictions on imports of U.S. beef and begin accepting U.S. beef and beef products from cattle.
Today’s announcement would allow imports of beef products from beef cattle 30 months of age or younger.
USDA estimates the change in terms and conditions with Japan, which are closely aligned with international standards established by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), will result in hundreds of millions of dollars of increased U.S. beef and beef product exports to Japan.
“This announcement is great news for Kansas beef farmers and ranchers and for the Kansas economy,” said Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Dale Rodman. “In 2012, Kansas exported more than $314 million of beef and beef products to Japan. This announcement will allow more Japanese consumers more access to safe, wholesome and nutritious U.S. beef.
“With more than 99 percent of the world’s population living outside our state’s borders and with the population expected to reach 9 billion in less than 40 years, Kansas farmers and ranchers will play an increasingly important role in feeding the world’s population. As demand for high-quality protein continues increasing, this announcement will result in more beef and beef products from Kansas and across the United States reaching our customers in the largest market for beef in Asia.”
And Kansas Senator Pat Roberts today said Japan’s announcement that it will ease restrictions on U.S. beef imports is great news for Kansas beef producers and the U.S. beef industry as a whole.
“I am pleased our Kansas ranchers have additional access to this critical market,” Roberts said. “After two years of drought, this is certainly welcome news, especially in the long term, for U.S. beef producers.”
"Japan closed its market to U.S. beef in December of 2003, after the discovery of one cow infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the United States. At that time, Japan was the largest export market for U.S. beef, valued at $1.4 billion. Since then, Japan has had restrictions in place on U.S. beef imports, and currently only allows imports of beef from cattle aged 20 months and younger. These restrictions were not based on sound science nor are they consistent with international guidelines.
The United States has spent years putting in place an effective system of interlocking safeguards that has led to the virtual elimination of BSE in the U.S. Because of these efforts, the U.S. has been classified as a controlled risk country by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), which indicates that U.S. beef products are completely safe for export and consumption.
“While this is a big step forward,” Roberts said, “I encourage Japan to reopen its markets to all U.S. beef products regardless of age or boneless status in order to be consistent with internationally recognized standards.”
Senator Roberts is a member of the Senate Finance Committee which has jurisdiction on trade matters and is a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.