News Update

Japan Reiterates Trade Concerns

Japanese officials released a report April 15 stating that the country remained undecided about when it would lift its beef ban, Japan Today reported.

“Japan cannot predict a specific time frame of the resumption at this juncture of the review of domestic measures to detect mad cow disease,” the report said, referring to the concern as a “food safety issue.”

Reuters reported that the statement, which was submitted to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), was in response to a report issued last month by the USTR detailing unfair trade barriers for American goods and services. The article said that although a subcommittee of Japan’s Food Safety Commission previously conducted a review condoning some trade with the United States, several more steps must be cleared before importation of U.S. beef or cattle is possible. Japanese officials also said that an understanding reached at bilateral talks last October — calling for the eventual resumption of beef imports from animals aged up to 20 months — was not an “agreement.”

“Nowhere in the (Oct.) statement does it say that it is an agreement,” a Japanese Farm Ministry official stated in the article.

E. coli on Decline

Foodborne infections, including those caused by E. coli O157, declined in 2004, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in collaboration with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The study showed that cases of E. coli O157 infections reached levels below the national Healthy People 2010 goal. From 1996-2004, the incidence of E. coli infections dropped 42%; camplyobacter infections decreased 31%; cryptosporidium dropped 40%; yersinia decreased 45%; and overall salmonella infections dropped 8%.

The study reported several factors contributing to the decline, including new recommendations by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to combat E. coli and listeria, new technologies adopted by establishments, and industry efforts to reduce E. coli in live cattle and during harvest.

To view the full report, visit

Johanns Addresses Cattlemen

Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns discussed the importance of expanding exports and international trade April 15 at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) spring conference in Washington, D.C.

According to an NCBA release, Johanns noted that 27% of U.S. agricultural income results from exports. “If you operated a business and I told you I wanted to implement policies that would jeopardize 27% of your gross receipts, you would probably want to run me out of town — and maybe even out of the country,” he stated.

Johanns also noted his desire to achieve normalized trading relations with key partners by the end of 2005. “Unfortunately, we are tied up in litigation by those who simply do not support trade,” he said. “But I’m not letting up. I’m not going away. I am going to remain absolutely focused on this effort to normalize trade and re-open export markets for U.S. beef.”

— by Crystal Albers, Angus Productions Inc. assistant editor

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