Beef Buzz News
Japan Makes Progress Towards Opening Market to U.S. Beef
Mon, 10 Sep 2012 13:55:53 CDT
Ron Hays talks with Phil Seng about Japan opening its markets to U.S. beef
There are reports circulating that the Japanese are finally making some real movement toward relaxing restrictions on American beef imports.
Phil Seng is president and CEO of the U.S. Meat Export Federation. He's delighted with the movement going on in Japan. In an interview with Ron Hays, he says a public comment period is now open and, following a public hearing, the Japanese Ministry of Health will make a final decision.
"There will be a public hearing and at that public hearing they'll take a look at all those comments. They'll kind of sift through those, if you will, and then they will make an announcement. So, we're looking at the fourth quarter of this year that hopefully Japan will open up."
Seng says the 30-month barrier has been one of the biggest issues with the Japanese.
"It's an issue for them from the standpoint of their retailers, their food service. They're all being stressed because they just can't procure the product. They want to get more U.S. beef, but it's been difficult to get that. So, to their regulatory authorities, it's important that they continue with all haste to move on this. But, from what we understand from a scientific standpoint, they do not have any concerns about our SRM removal. They didn't have any concerns about our feed ban. They understand the atypical cases of BSE. They understand that BSE is definitely declining dramatically around the world. And, so, when you look at all the indicators, everything looks very, very positive for us."
The Japanese banned U.S. imports in 2003 after "the cow that stole Christmas" up in Washington state-a Canadian dairy had come across the border and tested positive for BSE. In 2005, the Japanese government allowed imports of beef from animals 20 months of age or younger, citing the fact that they had had a case or two of young animals with BSE.
Animal disease experts that knew all about BSE questioned the science the Japanese had used to justify their 20-month rule, but it stood the test of time and has been in place for several years.
Seng says that by moving to the 30-month standard will mean a more consistent year-round supply of beef accessible by the Japanese.
Some experts say the impact to the U.S. economy with the opening of Japanese market could total nearly a billion dollars a year.
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