OMAHA, Neb. – President Obama was asked by Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson in a Nov. 5 letter to include the beef trade issue in Obama’s upcoming meetings with the prime minister of Japan and the president of South Korea. The president is beginning a trip to Asia, which will include stops in both countries.

“Despite the fact that US beef is the highest quality and safest in the world, Japan and Korea have placed restrictions on trade without any scientific basis,” Nelson said. “My hope is that the president includes this important trade issue on his agenda during his trip to Asia.”

Japan and Korea banned US beef imports in 2003 after discovering a US cow infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Both countries resumed limited beef importation in 2006 but have not lifted certain restrictions despite the fact that the World Animal Health Organization has declared US beef safe for export and consumption.

Beef exports between the US and the two countries have dropped nearly two-thirds since 2003. Nebraska is one of the country’s largest beef producers and exporters and Nelson has been a long-time proponent of reinstating full and open beef trade with the two countries.