Japan ends longstanding restrictions on U.S. beef exports

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KENTFIELD, CA – MAY 08: Ribeye steaks are displayed at Woodlands Meats on May 8, 2013 in Kentfield, California. With U.S. cattle and calf herds at their lowest levels since 1952 and corn feed prices on the rise, beef prices hit an all-time high this past week when the wholesale price of USDA cuts of […]

For the first time since 2003, U.S. beef producers will be able to export beef to Japan without restrictions.

The U.S. and Japan agreed Friday to new terms and conditions that eliminate Japan’s longstanding restrictions on U.S. beef, paving the way for expanded sales to the United States’ top global beef market.

The new terms, which take effect immediately, allow U.S. products from all cattle, regardless of age, to enter Japan for the first time since 2003.

“This is great news for American ranchers and exporters who now have full access to the Japanese market for their high-quality, safe, wholesome, and delicious U.S. beef,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “We are hopeful that Japan’s decision will help lead other markets around the world toward science-based policies.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that this expanded access could increase U.S. beef and beef product exports to Japan by up to $200 million annually. The agreement is also an important step in normalizing trade with Japan, as Japan further aligns its import requirements with international standards for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

Japan banned U.S. beef and beef products in December 2003 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).

Texas Department of Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller issued the following statement on the agreement:

“This is a homerun for Texas beef producers.  Thanks to the hard work of President Trump, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and U.S. trade negotiators, Japan has lifted its age restrictions on imports of Texas beef for the first time since 2003.  Now, U.S. products from all cattle, regardless of age, can enter the Japanese market for the first time in sixteen years.  Texas ag producers grow the food and fiber the world needs every day, so when Texas farmers and beef producers win here at home, America wins around the world.”

“During a recent trip to Washington, I had the opportunity to meet with Japanese agriculture officials to discuss lifting the restrictions on Texas beef.  I’m pleased to see those discussions followed by today’s announcement from Secretary Perdue and USDA.”  

“The USDA announcement today of course has a sizeable economic impact, potentially adding $200 million in annual U.S. beef sales to Japan.  However, equally important is the strong statement this sends about the health and quality of U.S. — and in particular — Texas beef.  Texas cattle raisers produce the best beef on earth, and I’m glad to see Japan will once again enjoy Texas beef.”

“Finally, thank you to President Trump and his administration for yet another victory for American agriculture.  This is exactly what President Trump meant when he said that America will win so much we’ll get tired of it.  Well, as an eighth-generation farmer and rancher I’m here to tell the President we’re not tired of it yet.  Let’s keep winning with deals like this one.”

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