President Bush and Prime Minister Koizumi of Japan met this week for talks on a broad range of issues, including resolving the two nations' beef trade dispute as quickly as possible.
Japan, you'll recall, banned imports of U.S. beef after a single case of Mad Cow disease was discovered in Washington State last winter. Negotiations to get the ban lifted have yielded ground rules and working groups, but no tangible results.
Meanwhile, U.S. beef producers are left counting the losses.
Last year, the U.S. lost the equivalent of $4.8 (B) billion dollars in export opportunities for beef, and other ruminant products, because countries closed their borders following the discovery of one U.S. case of mad cow. That estimate comes from USDA chief economist Keith Collins, who also noted the U.S. basically has seen no growth in meat production in 2004.
Meanwhile, during a meeting at the United Nations this week, President Bush and the Japanese Prime Minister agreed to begin negotiations in a bid to resume U.S. beef exports to Japan. Japan may fear contaminated U.S. beef, but is not without its own domestic cattle problems. The Asian country confirmed its own 13th case of mad cow disease since 2001 ... when an 8-year-old dairy cow tested positive for the disease.
In 2001, Tokyo began checking every slaughtered cow before it entered the food supply.