This week Japan announced it would relax its restrictions on the importation of U.S. beef. Specifically, Japan will accept cattle up to 30 months of age; the previous limit was 20 months. For nearly ten years, Japan had imposed severe limitations on the imports of U.S. beef.
According to the most recent data collected in the USDA Census of Agriculture (2007), Kansas' First Congressional District ranks first in the nation for the value of sales in cattle and calves. Tim Huelskamp, who represents the First District in the U.S. House of Representatives and who serves on the House Small Business Committee's Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade, issued the following statement praising the decision:
"Japan's announcement relaxing restrictions on U.S. beef imports is a great victory for Kansas ranchers, for our state's entire economy, and for sound science. This sends a strong message to the rest of the world that the U.S. offers safe and high-quality food."
"The Big First economy is highly dependent on exports, so I am excited about the prospects for growing the markets for Kansas products in other parts of Asia, including in Vietnam, and even further in Japan. Across the globe, people are rising out of poverty and into the middle class -- due in large part to trade -- and it is a tremendous opportunity for the U.S. to establish a footprint for selling our products."
One market of particular interest to Huelskamp is Vietnam. In August 2011, Huelskamp hosted the Vietnamese Ambassador to the United States for a visit to Washington County, Kansas. During the visit, Huelskamp and the Ambassador toured a pig farm and a processing facility. Huelskamp is working on efforts to expand U.S.-Vietnam trading relationships in order to provide additional markets for Kansas products.