The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is pleased with the news of U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s trade mission to Japan.
“We appreciate Secretary Vilsack’s efforts to strengthen the relationship between the U.S. and Japan when it comes to trade in agricultural products between our two countries,” said Steve Foglesong, NCBA president. “Japan is one of our top trading partners and it’s critical that the U.S. continues to engage with Japan and all of our international trading partners about the necessity of abiding by science-based international guidelines in beef trade.”
Following a detection of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the U.S. in 2003, Japan closed its borders to U.S. beef. Today, Japan only allows beef products from cattle under 21 months of age, costing U.S. producers roughly $1 billion in lost export revenues each year.
Since 1990, USDA’s BSE surveillance program has resoundingly demonstrated that BSE in the U.S. cattle herd is virtually non-existent. Internationally, it is likely that BSE will be fully eradicated from the planet within the next 10 to 15 years. The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), has classified the Unites States as a controlled risk country for BSE—the same designation as Japan. This classification means that all beef products, regardless of age, can be safely traded as long as specified risk materials are removed.
“We are encouraged to see that the Obama Administration has announced that it intends to engage Japan in discussions about science-based import standards. Japan’s failure to apply the OIE guidelines continues to result in significant losses for the U.S. beef industry—limiting us to about 25% of our potential market there,” said Foglesong.