Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is being urged to make the resumption of beef trade with Japan the "highest economic priority" in a bipartisan letter signed by 18 U.S. Senators. "The Japanese maintenance of this embargo is causing significant economic damage to cattle producers, beef processors, and rural communities, and threatens to cause permanent losses to many of our constituents."
Signatories, who include Sens. Wayne Allard, R-Co., Trent Lott, R-Miss., Conrad Burns, R-Mont., Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Patty Murray, D-Wash., Jim Talent, R-Mo., Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., Ben Nelson, D-Neb., Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, John Thune, R-S.D., James Inhofe, R-Okla., Gordon Smith, R-Ore., Sam Brownback, R-Kan., Larry Craig, R-Idaho, John Cornyn, R-Texas, Kit Bond, R-Mo., and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga. note that the U.S. beef industry is losing $100 million each month that the Japanese market remains closed. They urge the Secretary to "engage your Japanese counterparts to resolve this important bilateral matter at the United Nations Summit later this month."
The Senators explain that since the diagnosis of an initial case of BSE 20 months ago, USDA has "implemented new, scientifically sound BSE controls and substantially expanded its surveillance program. These new actions complement other BSE controls dating back to 1989." Yet despite numerous personal contacts with Japanese officials, including the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Nobutaka Machimura, the Japanese market remains closed.
The Senators point out that despite the fact that "the U.S. has the safest food supply in the world," the U.S. has lost 10,000 jobs, mostly attributable to lost exports. "That is why we must do all we can to ensure stability in the market and trade based on internationally accepted scientific principles, which includes resuming trade with Japan as soon as possible. Making the resumption of trade your highest economic priority with Japan will send a clear signal of the importance of resolving this bilateral economic issue."