May 17, 2019

Japan lifts U.S. beef restrictions

Topic: Issues

By Seth Estenson, NDFB Northeast Field Representative

I’m extremely pleased to see long-time restriction on U.S. beef lifted, giving me – as a beef producer – full access to the Japanese market. This has been a fifteen-year process going all the way back to 2003, when I was just starting college. And unfortunately, over these many years the issue became a political football within the government. This process of the USDA and the Japanese government working through the deal to re-open full access is a good reminder to all of us how sometimes the internal politics of our trading partners or international politics in general, can have a direct and long-lasting impact on farmers in America.

When bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or what is commonly called mad cow disease, first emerged in England in the late 1990’s, it was rightfully taken as a serious concern. Since those days, sound science has taught us a lot, and the disease has been virtually eradicated worldwide. Within just a few years the disease and efforts to combat it were well understood and the risk to human health was seen as minimal. But quick action by our USDA and scientists around the world, does not always lead to the lifting of restrictions. Particularly when those restrictions were put in place as a reaction to global alarm bells generated by headlines and not backed by sound science.

Read the rest of Seth's post on My NDFB Life.