The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced yesterday that Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will travel to Japan to promote U.S. exports next month.  

Secretary Vilsack will meet with Japanese Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, Hirotaka Akamatsu, as well as U.S. exporters and Japanese importers while in Japan April 5 to 9, according to a release from the agency.

“We are determined to increase export opportunities for our farmers and ranchers,” said Vilsack. “My mission on this trip will be to continue to push hard to open markets and to bolster an open, rules-based international trading system that will benefit both consumers and our farmers and ranchers, who supply agricultural products around the world.”

The agency’s notice did not mention specifically whether Vilsack will push for lowering trade restrictions on U.S. beef, but at last week’s Commodity Classic in California, Vilsack stated that the Department of Agriculture was “dealing with the previous administration’s approach to Japan–which was a non-starter–which was that they had to reopen the entire market.  And, it’s very apparent they’re not willing to do that.”

Japan banned all U.S. beef in 2003 when a cow with BSE was found in Washington State.  Three years later, the ban was lifted, but strict restrictions were put in place to defend Japan’s meat supply against bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).  Currently, Japan bans shipments of spinal columns, skulls and brain tissue, eyes, and tonsils from cattle and only allows entry of beef from animals that are 20 months old or younger.

U.S. trade officials have argued age restrictions are imposed by Japan without a scientific basis, and should be eliminated or at least raised to the more common 30-month and younger standard that many other nations have in place.

On his Agriculture News Conference Call yesterday, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) told reporters, “I’m also sending a letter, with Senator Baucus, to the Japanese ambassador urging Japan to base its beef trade policies on science and open its markets to all U.S. beef.  Japan continues to place scientifically unwarranted restrictions on imports of U.S. beef due to alleged concerns about BSE.
“Our letter notes that the World Organisation for Animal Health … determined in 2007 that our beef, derived from cattle of all ages, is safe due to safeguards undertaken by our country, yet Japan still limits imports of U.S. beef to beef from animals age 20 months or younger.

“Since 2004, Japan also has prohibited imports of U.S.-produced gelatin from cows for human consumption.
“Japan’s scientifically unfounded ban on imports of this beef product and the restrictions placed on U.S. beef are negatively impacting Montana and Iowa cattle producers, and it has led to the loss of jobs in Iowa’s gelatin manufacturing center — sector.”

Vilsack is from Iowa, the nation’s second-largest agricultural producing state.  He was governor of Iowa from 1999 to 2007. 

Japan is the United States’ third largest export market with sales of more than $11 billion in FY2009. The top five U.S. agricultural commodities shipped there are coarse grains, red meats, soybeans, feeds and fodders, and processed fruits and vegetables.

On April 8, Vilsack will travel by train to Yamanashi to help commemorate the 50th anniversary of a 1959 ‘hog lift’ when Iowa farmers sent 36 hogs to Yamanashi after Japan suffered major livestock losses caused by two typhoons. Three years later, the original 36 hogs had multiplied to more than 500. Iowa and Yamanashi established a sister-state relationship after the ‘hog lift.’ A delegation from Iowa will accompany Vilsack to Yamanashi.

“The ‘hog lift’ symbolizes the start off a flourishing agricultural relationship,” Vilsack said. “For more than 50 years, U.S. grains and soybeans producers have worked with Japanese importers to develop strong and reliable markets that have benefited producers and consumers alike.”

Vilsack will give the keynote address at a Global Food Security Symposium sponsored by the U.S. Grains Council on April 7 and will meet with students at the University of Tokyo in a Town Hall meeting.  He will also give a speech at the Foreign Correspondents Club on April 9.  

  • I would be curious if these officials will be discussing this in their discussions on beef trade ??? nothing like force feed the globe our different strains of TSE…
    Monday, March 29, 2010
    Irma Linda Andablo CJD Victim, she died at 38 years old on February 6, 2010 in Mesquite Texas
    >>> Up until about 6 years ago, the pt worked at Tyson foods where she worked on the assembly line, slaughtering cattle and preparing them for packaging. She was exposed to brain and spinal cord matter when she would euthanize the cattle. <<<
    14th ICID International Scientific Exchange Brochure –
    Final Abstract Number: ISE.114
    Session: International Scientific Exchange
    Transmissible Spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) animal and human TSE in North America
    update October 2009
    T. Singeltary
    Bacliff, TX, USA
    An update on atypical BSE and other TSE in North America. Please remember, the typical U.K. c-BSE, the atypical l-BSE (BASE), and h-BSE have all been documented in North America, along with the typical scrapie’s, and atypical Nor-98 Scrapie, and to date, 2 different strains of CWD, and also TME. All these TSE in different species have been rendered and fed to food producing animals for humans and animals in North America (TSE in cats and dogs ?), and that the trading of these TSEs via animals and products via the USA and Canada has been immense over the years, decades.
    12 years independent research of available data
    I propose that the current diagnostic criteria for human TSEs only enhances and helps the spreading of human TSE from the continued belief of the UKBSEnvCJD only theory in 2009. With all the science to date refuting it, to continue to validate this old myth, will only spread this TSE agent through a multitude of potential routes and sources i.e. consumption, medical i.e., surgical, blood, dental, endoscopy, optical, nutritional supplements, cosmetics etc.
    I would like to submit a review of past CJD surveillance in the USA, and the urgent need to make all human TSE in the USA a reportable disease, in every state, of every age group, and to make this mandatory immediately without further delay. The ramifications of not doing so will only allow this agent to spread further in the medical, dental, surgical arena’s. Restricting the reporting of CJD and or any human TSE is NOT scientific. Iatrogenic CJD knows NO age group, TSE knows no boundaries. I propose as with Aguzzi, Asante, Collinge, Caughey, Deslys, Dormont, Gibbs, Gajdusek, Ironside, Manuelidis, Marsh, et al and many more, that the world of TSE Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy is far from an exact science, but there is enough proven science to date that this myth should be put to rest once and for all, and that we move forward with a new classification for human and animal TSE that would properly identify the infected species, the source species, and then the route.
    International Society for Infectious Diseases Web:
    Wednesday, February 24, 2010
    Transmissible Spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) animal and human TSE in North America
    14th ICID International Scientific Exchange Brochure –
    Sunday, March 28, 2010 Nor-98 atypical Scrapie, atypical BSE, spontaneous TSE, trade policy, sound science ?
    Tuesday, March 16, 2010
    COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA Hansard Import restrictions on beef FRIDAY, 5 FEBRUARY 2010 AUSTRALIA
    Proof Committee Hansard
    RRA&T 2 Senate Friday, 5 February 2010
    [9.03 am]
    BELLINGER, Mr Brad, Chairman, Australian Beef Association
    CARTER, Mr John Edward, Director, Australian Beef Association
    CHAIR—Welcome. Would you like to make an opening statement?
    Mr Bellinger—Thank you. The ABA stands by its submission, which we made on 14 December last year, that the decision made by the government to allow the importation of beef from BSE affected countries is politically based, not science based. During this hearing we will bring forward compelling new evidence to back up this statement. When I returned to my property after the December hearing I received a note from an American citizen. I will read a small excerpt from the mail he sent me in order to reinforce the dangers of allowing the importation of beef from BSE affected countries. I have done a number of press releases on this topic, and this fellow has obviously picked my details up from the internet. His name is Terry Singeltary and he is from Bacliff, Texas. He states, and rightfully so:
    You should be worried. Please let me explain. I’ve kept up with the mad cow saga for 12 years today, on December 14th 1997, some four months post voluntary and partial mad cow feed ban in the USA, I lost my mother to the Heinemann variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). I know this is just another phenotype of the infamous sporadic CJDs. Here in the USA, when USA sheep scrapie was transmitted to USA bovine, the agent was not UK BSE—it was a different strain. So why then would human TSE from USA cattle look like UK CJD from UK BSE? It would not. So this accentuates that the science is inconclusive still on this devastating disease. He goes on to state:
    snip…see full text 110 pages ;
    for those interested, please see much more here ;
    Terry S. Singeltary Sr. P.O. Box 42 Bacliff, Texas USA 77518