WASHINGTON D.C. — Wednesday night, Congressman Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) was Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae’s guest at the residence of the Ambassador of Japan. Japan recently raised the age cap on its beef imports from 20 months of age to 30 months. The U.S. Meat Export Federation projects this change will increase U.S. beef exports to Japan by 45% in 2013.
This is important because in 2003, the Japanese government initially prohibited all beef imports from the United States following the discovery of mad cow disease (BSE or bovine spongiform encephalopathy) in a Washington dairy cow.
The U.S. responded by banning the feeding of animal byproducts to cattle, goats and other ruminants. In December 2005, Japan began allowing U.S. beef imports from cattle younger than 20 months of age. Since then, public perception in Japan has been a tough hurdle to overcome, and the age cap stayed in effect.
According to Huelskamp staffer Paul Nelson, Congressman Huelskamp has been actively involved in this process by advocating for raising the age cap if it could not be completely lifted. In February, the Japanese government raised the cap.
Congressman Huelskamp issued the following statement:
“I’m especially grateful more Kansas beef will now be served on the dinner tables of Japanese citizens. I’m a farmer from Western Kansas who represents the nation’s most prominent beef producing congressional district. I thanked Ambassador Sasae for his government’s decision to open the Japanese market to more Kansas beef. We agreed to continue working together to improve our trans-Pacific partnership.”
This is good news to Kansas beef producers who are feeling the squeeze after prolonged drought.
According to John Harrington, DTN Livestock Analyst reporting for Alliance Agra, domestic demand has gone down because U.S. consumers think beef is too expensive, and producing more tonnage is both elusive and long-term.