Japan eases restrictions on imports of American beef
BY Associated Press
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
1/29/13 at 3:44 AM
Ranchers welcomed Japan's decision Monday to ease restrictions on U.S. beef imports, saying it will provide a boost to the American meat industry but cautioning that it will take time before exports to the Asian nation to reach levels of a decade ago.
Japan is one of the biggest importers of U.S. beef, despite restrictions that for years have not allowed the import of beef from cattle older than 20 months instead of the industry standard of 30 months. Those restricted imports were adopted after Japan banned U.S. beef altogether in 2003, citing the U.S. recording its first case of mad cow disease, which can cause a fatal brain disease in humans.
The news of the expanded export market is especially welcome now because the beef industry has been hurt by several years of high feed prices and the drought that hit cattle country hard for two years, said J.D. Alexander, president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
"It's a great shot in the arm," said Alexander, of Pilger, Neb. "This is going to help the profitability of the beef industry."
Japan was the United States' biggest beef customer in 2003, buying 918 million pounds.