The U.S. government and the government of Japan have set up the conditions under which two-way trade of beef and beef products can resume. Some details and conditions remain to be worked out by "experts and working-level officials in both countries" before trade can resume, according to a joint statement.
Under the agreement the United States will permit Japanese export of beef and beef products following "relevant domestic rule-making procedures." The U.S. has not allowed the import of Japanese beef since that country's first outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) several years ago. And it marks the first time the U.S. has agreed to resume trade with another country where a BSE outbreak has occurred.
For U.S. exports to resume to Japan, the Beef Export Verification (BEV) Program managed by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will be further worked out by U.S. and Japanese officials. Here are the main points to be worked out:
- Specified risk materials (SRMs) must be removed from animals of all ages.
- Beef items including offal and variety meats must be derived from animals verified to be 20 months of age or younger - Japan had been a strong market for variety meats in the past.
- Bovine animals included in the BEV Program for Japan must be traceable to live animal production records which indicate that they are 20 months of age or younger at the time of slaughter. Records used to verify this requirement by the U.S. government must meet at least one of the following criteria: Individual animal age verification; group age verification; insemination age verification; USDA process verified animal identification and data collection services.
- Experts of both countries will continue to consult on carcass grading and quality attributes with a view to verifying physiological age to evaluate carcasses to be 20 months of age or younger.
The joint statement points out that the necessary modifications "to U.S. and Japanese regulations would be completed expeditiously so the United States and Japan will resume two-way beef trade immediately after their respective domestic procedures." Both countries say they'll work to get domestic procedures in place "as soon as possible."