Iowa Public Television


Japan Still Unsure about Opening Borders to U.S. Beef

posted on April 22, 2005

Cattle interests on both sides of the border took steps this week to try and hasten the re-opening of the U.S. border to Canadian beef.

Twenty-four organizations in Canada have requested their government seek some kind of dispute settlement through existing trade mechanisms, like NAFTA. And in the States, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association said it will file papers in federal court supporting the science behind USDA's approval of the border re-opening. That re-opening was to take place on March 7th, but was blocked at the last moment by court order.

Efforts to re-open the Japanese market to American beef also have been troubled, including this week's snag over acceptable testing for Mad Cow disease.

Japan Still Unsure about Opening Borders to U.S. Beef The nation's cattle industry faces yet another setback in its efforts to open the Japanese market to U.S. beef. According to DTN, Japanese farm officials this week now claim maturity tests designed to ensure cows are less than 21 months old may not be enough.

In response to the latest delay, USDA is sending a team of experts to Japan next week with the hope of affirming the safety of U.S. beef. Earlier talks set the 21-month age limit as a cutoff acceptable to the Japanese. Now, officials at Japan's health and farm ministries and USDA disagree on whether additional tests requested by Tokyo will be conducted. The country has been under pressure by the U.S. since imposing a ban on American beef. Japan's ban came after the first case of BSE was confirmed in Washington state in 2003.

Meanwhile, two more cows in northern Japan tested positive for mad cow disease in preliminary exams. Samples were sent this week to confirm what would be the country's 18th and 19th cases of the fatal disease.

Tags: agriculture animals beef cattle diseases food safety industry Japan livestock Mad Cow meat news trade