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Letter to President Obama

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, U.S. Senators for Colorado, today joined 20 of their Senate colleagues in urging President Obama to discuss the issue of the beef trade during his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan. In a letter to President Obama, the Senators urged him to call on Japan to change its beef import rules to be fair to U.S. beef producers.

"Japan has had restrictions in place on U.S. beef imports, and currently they only allow imports of beef from cattle aged 20 months and younger," the Senators wrote. "These restrictions are not based on sound science nor are they consistent with international guidelines...their actions with regard to beef trade are not consistent with fair trade practices, or with U.S. treatment of Japanese imports. We encourage you to discuss U.S.-Japan beef trade with the Prime Minister."

Many Coloradans depend on U.S. beef exports to maintain their living. Colorado is home to more than 13,000 beef producers. In nearly one-third of Colorado's counties, the cattle industry serves a key economic role.

The text of the letter is included below.

Dear President Obama:

We write to ask that you include the issue of beef trade on the agenda for your meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan later this week.

As you know, 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.

Since then, Japan has had restrictions in place on U.S. beef imports, and currently they only allow imports of beef from cattle aged 20 months and younger. These restrictions are not based on sound science nor are they consistent with international guidelines. The United States has spent years putting in place an effective system of interlocking safeguards that has led to the virtual elimination of BSE in our country. Because of these efforts, the U.S. has been classified as a controlled risk country by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), which indicates that U.S. beef products are completely safe for export and consumption.

Japan and the U.S. share an important friendship and trade relationship, and we were pleased to see that you arranged to meet with Prime Minister Kan this week. However, their actions with regard to beef trade are not consistent with fair trade practices, or with U.S. treatment of Japanese imports. We encourage you to discuss U.S.-Japan beef trade with the Prime Minister. At the very least, Japan should agree to immediately relax its age restrictions to 30 months as an interim step on a pathway that would amend its import protocol to be consistent with OIE guidelines, and reopen its market to all U.S. beef products, regardless of age or boneless status.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.


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