News Releases

Date: 3/11/2010

Title: NCBA Commends Senators Johanns and Lincoln for Bipartisan Resolution on Beef Trade with Japan

WASHINGTON – The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) applauds Senators Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) for their resolution calling on the Obama Administration to insist that Japan immediately grant increased market access for U.S. beef. The resolution calls attention to Japan’s arbitrary and unscientific restrictions on U.S. beef trade.

Following a detection of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the U.S. in 2003, Japan closed its borders to U.S. beef. Today, Japan only allows beef products from cattle under 21 months of age, which is limiting us to only 25 percent of the potential market for U.S. beef in Japan.American beef producers have been losing about $1 billion annually because of this ban.

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

A 2006 USDA study found that BSE was virtually non-existent in the United States. Internationally, it is likely that BSE will be fully eradicated from the planet within the next 10 to 15 years. The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), has classified the Unites States as a controlled risk country for BSE—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,” Foglesong states.“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 bipartisan resolution calls upon the Administration to immediately work to end this trade imbalance.“This issue is critical to beef producers, but it goes far beyond our industry.Ten-percent, or approximately 12 million American jobs, depend on exports,” Foglesong says.“In this economy, we simply cannot afford to allow our closest trading partners to unfairly restrict market access.NCBA is urging Congress to support this resolution, and encourages the Obama Administration to begin work to end this ban immediately.”

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