Japan Relax Beef Standards

Earlier this week, the Japanese government announced that it is relaxing restrictions on US beef exports, a decision that could boost US farm exports by hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

In 2003, Japan banned all beef imports from the United States in the wake of the detection of a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, better known as mad cow disease. Mad cow is a fatal neurodegenerative that causes damage to the brain and spinal cord. Unlike many other animal illnesses, mad cow can be transmitted to humans (typically through eating infected brain, spinal, or digestive tissue) and can then develop into Creutzfeld-Jakob disease.

Following the detection, Japan banned all US beef imports, a ban that was relaxed in 2006 to allow cows younger than 20 months into the country. Despite the ban, Japan is still the second largest export markets for US beef, totaling 130,000 metric tons last November.

The recent announcement by the Japanese government would increase this restriction to allow cows younger than 30 months into Japan. In the words of US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, “This is great news for American ranchers and beef companies, who can now — as a result of this agreement — increase their exports of U.S. beef to their largest market for beef in Asia.”

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer