Japan eases trade restrictions on US beef; Good for Texas cattlemen

Joe Parker Jr., president of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, made a statement Jan. 28 following the announcement by U.S. Trade Rep. Ron Kirk and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that the U.S. and Japan have agreed on new terms and conditions to expand U.S. beef exports to Japan.

According to a USDA press release, Japan will now allow imports of beef from cattle less than 30 months of age, as opposed to the previous limit of 20 months. The agreement also addresses long-standing restrictions Japan imposed in response to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

The new terms will go into effect Feb. 1, 2013.

“Historically, Japan was the number 1 market for U.S. beef exports at approximately $1.4 billion,” Parker said. “Ranchers across the country are relieved to see these restrictions finally lifted, so they can again begin providing Japanese consumers with more of the safe and wholesome beef they want.”

Parker warned that, while improving trade relations with Japan is a very good thing for beef producers, it is still crucial that the U.S. aggressively pursue expanding market opportunities in other countries, such as China, Taiwan and the European Union.

“Global demand for American beef continues to rise,” Parker continued. “People overseas want American beef on their dinner tables, and we must continue to work to provide our products to the rest of the world.”

For more information regarding trade with Japan, visit www.usda.org.