U.S. beef gains full access to Japan

beef cattle feedlot
(Farm and Dairy file photo)

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

Earlier in May, on the margins of the G-20 Agriculture Ministerial Meeting in Niigata, Japan, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue met with Japanese government officials and affirmed the trade rules.

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.

In December 2003, Japan banned U.S. beef and beef products following the detection of a BSE-positive animal in the United States. Prior to the ban in 2003, Japan was the largest importer of U.S. beef. U.S. exports in 2003 totaled $1.4 billion.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates this expanded access could increase U.S. beef and beef product exports to Japan by up to $200 million annually.

“We are hopeful that Japan’s decision will help lead other markets around the world toward science-based policies,” Perdue said.

The agreement is also an important step in normalizing trade with Japan, as Japan aligns its import requirements with international standards for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).


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 Jan. 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.



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