Walden Applauds Japanese Government's Decision to Reopen Border to High Quality, Safe American Beef
Decision follows persistent advocacy by Walden, Administration officials, and others
In response to an announcement today by Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns that the Japanese government has reopened its borders for the importation of American beef products, Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) today issued the following statement:
"This is terrific news for the U.S. cattle industry and the hard working individuals who produce safe and high quality American beef, including many family farmers and ranchers in central, southern and eastern Oregon. Our food safety standards are second to none, and I'm pleased that the Japanese government has finally recognized this and reopened its borders to American beef and beef products. Our voices and strong reasoning have been heard.
"The barrier to trade imposed by Japan was unfair and it cost American cattle producers and the U.S. economy more than $6 billion in lost activity. The cattle industry in Oregon alone is valued at more than $500 million, making it our state's second most valuable commodity.
"I joined with colleagues from both sides of the aisle to press for legislation that would impose tariffs on Japanese goods equal to the loss felt by the American economy as a result of the ban if it were not lifted by the end of this year; we can now withdraw such pressure. Today's announcement will allow us to resume normal levels of beef exports to our largest importer in that industry.
"I applaud President Bush, Secretary Johanns and Trade Representative Rob Portman for their diligence and continued work to return U.S. beef exports to normal levels throughout the world. Resumption of beef trade with Japan is a major step forward, and by lifting its ban, hopefully Japan has set a precedent for other Asian countries whose markets remain unjustly closed to American beef."
According to the Department of Agriculture, the United States is able to export beef from cattle 20 months of age and younger to Japan under the agreement announced yesterday. In 2003, the U.S. exported $1.4 billion worth of beef and beef products to Japan before the country closed its borders to American beef in December of that year following the first case of BSE found in the United States.
Walden has remained aggressive in efforts to encourage Japan to lift its ban on American beef. After learning last week that the Japanese Food Safety Commission was going to recommend lifting the ban to the Japanese ministries on Agriculture and Health, Walden wrote to Japanese Ambassador Ryozo Kato urging swift action by his country's government in making a final decision to remove this barrier to trade.
In addition to this and previous correspondence with Kato on this important issue, Walden also kept consistent pressure on President Bush and his administration urging that this issue remain their top economic priority in dealings with Japan. In October, Walden cosponsored legislation introduced by Rep. John Salazar (D-CO), H.R. 4179, which would have imposed tariffs on Japanese goods equal to the estimated $3.14 billion in annual lost economic activity as a result of the ban if it were not lifted by the end of 2005.
Walden is in his fourth term representing the people of Oregon's Second District, which covers twenty counties in central, southern and eastern Oregon. He is a member of the House Committee on Energy & Commerce, Committee on Resource, Western Caucus, Rural Caucus and the Congressional Beef Caucus.