Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, issued the following statement today regarding the announcement that the United States and Japan have agreed on new terms and conditions which will pave the way for expanded exports of U.S. beef and beef products to Japan. Chairwoman Stabenow urged U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in August of 2011 to work closely together in addressing barriers imposed by Japan, which have been in effect since 2003 and have decreased U.S. beef exports by nearly $1 billion below their pre-2003 levels.
“I applaud the administration for working closely with our trade partners in Japan to address barriers on U.S. beef exports and pave the way for creating new agricultural jobs here at home,” Chairwoman Stabenow said. “We produce the world’s safest and highest quality beef and countries like Japan represent significant export opportunities, bolstering the brand of American agriculture around the world. Today’s announcement represents a major and promising step forward.”
Japan will now permit the import of beef from cattle less than 30 months of age, compared to the previous limit of 20 months, according to the USDA. It is estimated that these important changes will result in hundreds of millions of dollars in exports of U.S. beef to Japan in the coming years. The U.S. adopted extraordinarily rigorous safeguards against bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), after an occurrence of BSE was discovered in 2003. Despite the conclusion by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) that U.S. beef of all ages is safe, Japan maintained an unscientific ban on U.S. beef over 20 months of age. As a result, U.S. beef exports to Japan remain nearly $1 billion below their pre-2003 levels.