Waiting for Japan to reopen its borders to U.S. beef is beginning to seem like some existentialist play titled “Waiting for Koizumi.”
Japan, once the biggest importer of U.S. beef, imposed a ban in 2003 after mad cow disease was discovered in Washington state. After two years of frustrating negotiations, Japan appears to be finally moving toward lifting the ban.
Then again, Kansas ranchers shouldn’t hold their breath: That’s how it looked about this time last year.
Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and other farm-state senators are talking tough, threatening to back tariffs against Japan if it doesn’t lift the ban by the end of the year.
They’re right to put on the pressure. But even if Japan soon reopens its market, U.S. producers will have a big job convincing wary Japanese consumers that American beef is safe. They’re demanding country-of-origin labels. And better testing. It still comes down to reassuring consumers about safety.
Posted by Randy Scholfield
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