Japan Must Open Border or Face Consequences
WASHINGTON - The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) has released the following statement from NCBA President and Missouri cattle producer Mike John, following today’s Senate action regarding the Japanese embargo on U.S. beef:
“For two and a half years, U.S. cattle producers have heard every possible excuse from Japan in defense of its embargo on U.S. beef products. We strongly support the bipartisan legislation introduced today by Senators Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), and we applaud their actions along with those standing up in support, including Senators Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) Jim Talent (R-Mo.), Wayne Allard (R-Colo.), Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), and Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.).
“This legislation would require the U.S. Treasury to impose tariffs on Japanese exports if Japan does not re-open its domestic market to U.S. beef by August 31, 2006. We’d much prefer that a border-reopening to occur before then. But if not, we will continue to rally our troops across the nation in support of retaliatory tariffs.
“Although sanctions are not the preferred method to resolve these issues, those within the Japanese government favor protectionist standards over science-based standards for international trade. Our preference is free, fair and reliable trade based on sound science, but at this point they have left us with no other viable option.
“Ranchers are tired of hearing reports from countless meetings and investigative visits between the two nations, dragging out for weeks, then months, and now years and ending with announcements of unfulfilled promises. This is not called fair trade, its called ‘crying wolf.’
“Our industry has paid a tremendous price for the continued delays by Japanese officials. Each day the Japanese market remains closed, the U.S. beef industry suffers a negative economic impact of approximately $6.7 million. Since the border was closed following the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the United States in December 2003, our industry has lost an estimated $6.07 billion.
“At this point there is absolutely no legitimate reason for Japan’s reckless, continued embargo on U.S. beef. In fact, Japan should be reminded of their responsibilities as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO is built upon the principles that govern international guidelines for trade such as those established by the CODEX Alimentarius Commission and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
“Japan must recognize that the United States far exceeds all OIE guidelines for freely exporting beef and beef products from cattle 30 months of age or less. These science-based BSE guidelines were endorsed by more than 160 countries at the latest meeting of the OIE last month.”
“Who are the Japanese officials to insinuate that U.S. beef is less than safe, when they’ve had 26 cases of BSE in a cattle herd that is roughly 3.5 percent the size of the U.S. herd? It’s just plain outrageous. They refuse U.S. beef because they refuse to stand for science-based trade policies and instead prefer political stonewalling.
“We expect Japan to provide American beef producers equal opportunities in their markets. Since June 1, 2004, USDA’s Enhanced BSE Surveillance Program has tested 740,169 cattle at highest risk for BSE and has found only two confirmed cases, evidence that our safeguards are working and the prevalence of BSE in the United States is extremely low.”