Patience has run out on Capitol Hill for Japan's nearly two-year ban on U.S. beef after the first identified case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Wednesday Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D. and Pat Roberts, R-Kan., introduced a bill that would require the President to impose tariffs on Japanese products if Japan does not re-open its domestic market to U.S. beef by the end of the year.
Before the ban, Japan was the top importer of U.S. beef. Currently American beef producers are losing $3.14 billion a year because of Japan's refusal to reopen its markets.
The United States and Japan did negotiate an agreement, signed in October 2004, dictating the steps for Japan to open its market to U.S. beef. Since then, however, little has happened to implement the agreement.
Conrad serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee, which oversees agriculture legislation and policy, as well as the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees trade. Roberts is a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
Cosponsors of the legislation include Senators Wayne Allard, R-Colo., Max Baucus, D-Mont., Kit Bond, R-Mo., Sam Brownback, R-Kan., Conrad Burns, R-Mont., Norm Coleman, R-Minn., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Larry Craig, R-Idaho, Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., Tim Johnson, D-S.D., Blanche Lincoln, D-Ariz., Harry Reid, D-Nev., Ken Salazar, D-Colo., Jim Talent, R-Mo., Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., and John Thune, R-S.D.