U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill released the following statement after the Japanese government announced this week that it would relax its current restrictions on U.S. beef imports:
"This is a big win for Missouri's ranchers, who for too long have had to comply with restrictions that were simply unnecessary. I'm glad that the pressure applied has made Japan rethink a position that never made much sense."
This week's action follows years of pressure from McCaskill urging a change in Japan's beef import policy prior to the Obama Administration negotiating any future bilateral trade agreements with Japan.
Japan was the largest foreign consumer of U.S. beef before 2003, when Japan sharply restricted imports of U.S. beef after a single case of "mad cow' disease in a Washington dairy cow. Under the new agreement, Japan will accept imports of U.S. beef from cattle less than 30 months of age, compared to the previous limit of 20 months. The changes go into effect February 1, and are expected to result in hundreds of millions of dollars in exports of U.S. beef to Japan in the coming years, creating jobs in Missouri and across the United States.