Japanese officials are unhappy with the USDA's attempt to lift beef bans. One official says the two countries differ greatly on how to the ban put in place after the United States' first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), according to a senior Japanese agriculture ministry official.
Kyodo News reported that Mamoru Ishihara, vice minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, said at a news conference that "we now see no prospect" for moving negotiations forward toward removing the ban.
Last week, Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman sent a letter to the Japanese government outlining a cooperative approach to work with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) to make a judgement by the end of April to scientifically address the ban.
Last week in a news conference Ishihara said Tokyo wouldn't back the idea. He was quoted in wire reports saying it was inappropriate to involve OIE and it was also "unrealistic to seek a solution to the issue by the end of this month."
In the latest comments from Ishihara, he expressed disappointment that Veneman's letter did not guarantee private companies could test for BSE, which the USDA has not made an official decision on yet. Kansas-based plant Creekstone has requested permission from the USDA to test all cattle for BSE so they can resume trade with Japan and other markets.