Japan Opens Door To Beef Imports

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts and the Nebraska Cattlemen issued statements following news from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that Japan would eliminate all remaining non-tariff barriers limiting the imports of American beef.

“For Nebraska, our trade relationship with Japan is one of our most important,” said Governor Ricketts. “This announcement is a great step forward, and will create more demand for the best beef in the world raised by Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers. Thank you to our friends in Japan for working with President Trump and Secretary Perdue to eliminate non-tariff barriers and to negotiate a new bilateral trade agreement.”

According to the USDA, the new action by Japan to eliminate non-tariff barriers could lead to an additional $200 million in American beef and beef product exports to the country. Since Nebraska is Japan’s second largest U.S. beef supplier, the state is especially well-positioned to benefit.

“Today’s announcement is great news for Nebraska’s cattle producers, particularly since Japan is our state’s top export market for beef,” said Mike Drinnin, President of Nebraska Cattlemen. “Non-tariff barriers like age-based restrictions are what really impacts the beef industry when it comes to determining market access. Today’s victory underscores the safety of the U.S. beef herd and will hopefully send a signal to other countries that non-science-based trade barriers should be eliminated entirely.”

With $412.1 million exported in 2018, Japan is Nebraska’s top market for beef exports. This was an 11% increase over 2017. Japan is also Nebraska’s top direct international investor. More information can by found by clicking here.

Governor Ricketts recently announced plans to lead his third trade mission to Japan. More detail can be found by clicking here. Last year, Nebraska hosted Japanese business executives and public officials for the 50th Annual U.S. Midwest-Japan Association Conference in Omaha.

BACKGROUND FROM USDA

In December 2003, Japan banned U.S. beef and beef products following the detection of a BSE-positive animal in the United States. In December 2005, Japan restored partial access for U.S. beef muscle cuts and offal items from cattle 20 months of age and younger. In February 2013, Japan extended access to include beef and beef products from cattle less than 30 months of age.

In April 2017, Japan eliminated its age-based BSE testing on domestic Japanese cattle, paving the way for similar age-based restrictions to be lifted on negligible BSE-risk trading partners, including the United States. On January 15, 2019, Japan’s Food Safety Commission (FSC) concluded eliminating the age restriction for beef from the United States, Canada and Ireland posed a negligible risk to human health. Based on the FSC risk assessment, Japan began consultations with the United States to revise its import requirements in order to align with the BSE guidelines of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

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