N.C.B.A. applauds resolution on Japan beef trade

by Bryan Salvage
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WASHINGTON –Senators Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) are being commended by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (N.C.B.A.) for their resolution calling on the Obama administration to insist Japan immediately grant increased market access for U.S. beef. The resolution focuses on Japan’s arbitrary and unscientific trade restrictions on U.S. beef imports, NCBA relays.

In 2003 following a detection of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in the U.S., Japan slammed its doors to U.S. beef. Today, Japan only allows boneless beef products from cattle under 21 months of age, which is limiting the U.S. to only 25% of the potential market for U.S. beef in Japan. American beef producers have been losing about $1 billion annually because of this ban, NCBA claims.

“Japan’s trade restrictions are completely unjustified,” said Steve Foglesong, N.C.B.A. president and rancher from Astoria, Ill. “It isn’t based on sound science, and it is in violation of international guidelines.”

B.S.E. was virtually non-existent in the U.S., one 2006 U.S.D.A. study found. It is likely B.S.E. will be fully eradicated from globally within the next 10 to 15 years. The World Organization for Animal Health (O.I.E.), has classified the U.S. as a controlled-risk country for B.S.E.—the same designation as Japan.

“Senator Johanns brought this trade imbalance to the forefront by questioning how Japan would respond if the U.S. were to ban all imports of Japanese cars because of safety issues with some Toyota vehicles,” Mr. Foglesong said. “The U.S. would never consider such a heavy-handed and excessive measure, but that’s essentially what Japan has done to U.S. beef. I’m pleased that Senator Johanns demonstrated the inconsistencies and flawed thinking behind this ban.”

The administration is being called on by the bipartisan resolution to immediately work to end this trade imbalance.

“This issue is critical to beef producers, but it goes far beyond our industry,” Mr. Foglesong said. “Ten-percent, or approximately 12 million American jobs, depend on exports. In this economy, we simply cannot afford to allow our closest trading partners to unfairly restrict market access. N.C.B.A. is urging Congress to support this resolution, and encourages the Obama Administration to begin work to end this ban immediately.”

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