Bennet Calls for Japan to Lift Partial Ban on U.S. Beef

Backs Senate Resolution Urging Japan to Expand Market Access for U.S. Beef Products

Ban Currently Results in $1 Billion in Lost Exports for American Producers

Washington, DC - As Colorado's beef producers struggle through the current economic downturn, Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator for Colorado, joined Senate colleagues today in calling for Japan to expand its market to U.S. beef products.

Bennet cosponsored a bipartisan resolution introduced by Senators Mike Johanns (R-NE) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) pressing Japan to immediately lift the partial ban on U.S. beef products that dates back to 2003 and urging the Obama Administration to insist on increased market access from Japan.

"U.S. beef has long been proven to be safe by internationally recognized, science-based standards," Bennet said. "Japan's unwarranted objections and non-tariff trade barriers unfairly limit access to a critical market that is important to Colorado cattle producers, Colorado's beef industry and Colorado's economy."

Japan first closed its borders to all American beef products in 2003 citing Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) concerns. Today, Japan limits its imports of U.S. beef to boneless beef from cattle aged 20 months and younger. Increased access to the Japanese market would be a boon for producers in Colorado, which ranks second among all states as a supplier of beef to Japan and accounted for 20 percent of total U.S. beef exports to Japan in 2008. With the partial opening of its market to U.S. and Colorado beef, Japan's imports of beef from Colorado grew 122 percent to $76 million.

Before the ban, Japan was the largest market for U.S. beef, with exports valued at $1.4 billion. Since the ban was enacted, from 2004-2009, U.S. beef exports to Japan averaged approximately $196 million, less than 15 percent of the 2003 level. According to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Japan's ban on U.S. beef results in approximately $1 billion in lost exports annually for American producers.

The internationally recognized authority, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), has classified the United States as a controlled risk country for BSE, which means that U.S. beef is safe for export and consumption.