Iowa Public Television


Japanese Use Press To Deal on Mad Cow

posted on September 17, 2004

The damage assessments from Ivan aren't even under way, and Southerners already are looking over their shoulders at Tropical Storm Jeanne ... now meandering across the Atlantic on a track that could lead it right to Florida.

Congress is debating how to funnel aid to hurricane victims, including Florida citrus growers. In fact, election season seems to always put lawmakers in a giving mood. The Senate, for example, passed a nearly $3 billion aid package this week for farmers and ranchers hit by drought and frost.

Providing help to the beef industry may prove a tougher sell. There have been tantalizing rumors in recent weeks of a breakthrough on the Japanese ban on U.S. beef. That ban went into effect, you'll recall, after the discovery last winter of a single case of Mad Cow disease in the U.S. Talks have failed to reopen the largest overseas market for American beef. But with meetings set for next week between President Bush and Prime Minister Koizumi, hopes for that long-awaited breakthrough are on the rise.

Japanese Use Press To Deal on Mad Cow After five months of negotiations, it appears the Japanese have softened a bit on testing for Mad Cow disease. Earlier this week, a high-ranking Japanese government official confirmed Japan would allow animals younger than 20 months into the country without being tested for the brain-wasting disease. This is a break from the original demand of 100% testing for all U.S. cattle. Even so, DTN is reporting that Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman flatly denied any deal had been struck.

Despite the denial, the Japanese press continues to report various aspects of the negotiations. These include:

- a rumor Washington is pushing for a mandatory testing threshold of 24 months instead of 20 months

-that even with the 20-month exemption, the Japanese want proof the animals are as old as claimed

-and, if the animals turn out to not be 20 months or younger, some compensation must be paid.

Even with this new development, the best guess still calls for the opening of the Japanese market sometime early next year.

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