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Senators Want U.S. Beef Restrictions Lifted by Japan

Senate Resolution Calls on Obama to Intensify Help to End Import Restrictions

March 11, 2010

Washington, DC-More than a dozen U.S. Senators, including Idaho's Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, say that Japan is not abiding by internationally recognized standards by restricting U.S. beef exports. They are calling on Japan to open its markets to more U.S. beef and say the Obama Administration should do more to ensure that American beef producers are being treated fairly by the Japanese.

A Sense of the Senate Resolution introduced today notes that in 2003 Japan was the largest customer for American beef producers, importing $1.4 billion in U.S. beef before concerns over Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) from one Canadian-born cow resulted in Japan restricting beef imports from the U.S. While the U.S. developed and implemented a multi-layer system of safeguards to ensure beef safety, Japan did not reciprocate in fully restoring trade.

"The Japanese market for U.S. beef producers is now less than 15 percent of what it once was," Crapo said. "This comes at a time when the World Organization for Animal Health has classified the U.S. as a controlled risk country for BSE. There is no reason for the Japanese to continue to block American beef."

"The world authority on animal health has declared American beef safe and Japan should move forward by lifting its unjust trade restrictions on American beef," Risch said.

Crapo and Risch noted the National Cattlemen's Beef Association has reported the Japanese restrictions have cost U.S. producers more than a billion dollars annually in lost exports. The Senate resolution calls for the Japanese to "immediately expand market access" and for President Obama to "insist on increased access for United States exporters of beef and beef products to the market in Japan."