The American Farm Bureau Federation's Board of Directors Thursday, in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Michael Johanns, unanimously condemned the Japanese government's failure to resume beef trade with the United States.
"There is a growing frustration and anger in the U.S. agriculture community regarding the deliberately slow response of the Japanese government," AFBF's letter states. "Given the overwhelming evidence that U.S. beef is safe, Japanese officials must move now to reopen its market to imports of U.S. beef. Otherwise, we will be convinced that their actions on this issue have gone beyond careful scientific certainty and now function as an active trade barrier."
The AFBF Board called on the administration "to work at the highest level of government to resolve the issue by November 2005." AFBF told Johanns that Japan's ban on U.S. beef imports has directly affected American beef producers and has cost the U.S. beef industry more than $1.7 billion a year.
Since the United States and Japan reached an agreement nearly one year ago to facilitate the resumption of U.S. beef exports to Japan that nation's Food Safety Commission has been reviewing the safety of U.S. beef. Despite aggressive negotiations on the part of the U.S. government and extensive scientific information that has been provided to Japan, the date for a final report from Japan's FSC is uncertain. According to AFBF, without a decision from Japan's FSC, trade remains halted and economic losses to U.S. beef producers continue to mount.
"The United States has provided all the scientific and technical data necessary to demonstrate that U.S. beef can be safely imported and enjoyed by Japanese consumers," AFBF stated. "In order to move the process forward, the U.S. government accepted the Japanese demand that imported U.S. beef come from animals 20 months or younger. This is a first step toward meeting the internationally accepted OIE (Organization of International Epizootics) standard for meat from animals aged 30 months or younger for BSE safety in beef trade."