WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and 21 of his Senate colleagues asked President Obama on Sept. 22 to address beef trade during his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan later this week. Japan closed its borders to all American beef products in 2003 after the discovery of one cow with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (B.S.E.). Japan now restricts imports to only beef from cattle aged 20 months or younger.

Japan was the largest market for U.S. beef prior to the ban. Since the original ban, the annual average has been drastically less than the 2003 level, even though the World Organization for Animal Health determined in 2007 that U.S. beef derived from cattle of all ages is safe due to safeguards undertaken by the U.S.

Japan’s unfair and merit-less position is costing U.S. beef producers billions of dollars, Grassley said.

“Countless jobs across Iowa revolve around beef production. Iowa is one of the leading agriculture exporters in the country,” he added. “In general, this means better-paying jobs and more money in the pockets of Iowans who help support our main street businesses. Continued inability to export this product could lead to further unemployment, and I hope the President will take the opportunity to make the case for American agriculture.”