Lincoln Calls on President Obama to Address

Washington — U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today joined 21 Senate colleagues in sending a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to discuss Japanese trade barriers on U.S. beef exports during his upcoming meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan. Japan closed its market to U.S. beef in December of 2003, after the discovery of one cow infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the United States.  At that time, Japan was the largest export market for U.S. beef, valued at $1.4 billion. 

“Japan’s restrictions on U.S. beef imports are not based on sound science and are not consistent with international trade guidelines,” Lincoln said. “Our nation’s cattle ranchers have done tremendous work ensuring that our beef meets the strictest safety standards and they continue to produce the world’s safest beef products. Because Japan represents a major export market for Arkansas’s beef producers, and producers across the nation, we must press to restore uninterrupted trade.” 

 Currently, Japan only allows imports of beef from cattle aged 20 months and younger.  The co-signed letter urges President Obama to press for immediately easing age restrictions to 30 months as an interim step on a pathway toward eventually reopening the market to all U.S. beef products, regardless of age or boneless status.