Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) today called on America's overseas trading partners to drop remaining barriers to U.S. beef exports based on bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). His call follows the news that the Scientific Commission for the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) is recommending that the rating for risk of BSE in U.S. beef be upgraded to the lowest-possible risk -- negligible.
"The scientists at the World Organization for Animal Health are confirming what we already know -- U.S. beef is as safe as any in the world," Senator Baucus said. "As we work to strengthen our trade ties in Europe and across the Pacific, our partners must accept the science and drop unjustified barriers to our beef exports. Every bit of market access we gain overseas means more exports for our ranchers and more jobs here at home."
The OIE is a trusted standard-bearer on food safety for the World Trade Organization's (WTO) 158 member nations. The OIE's recommendation will be reviewed before the OIE General Assembly meeting in Paris this May, when it will officially be up for consideration and adoption.
Senator Baucus has long been a strong advocate for U.S. cattle ranchers. After he met with Japan's prime minister and economic and trade leaders and pressed them to adopt science-based import measures, Japan announced it will accept more U.S. beef exports this year. Japan had previously maintained severe limits on U.S. beef exports based on BSE-related concerns. Senator Baucus urged European leaders last fall to bring their policies in line with sound science and accept more U.S. agricultural products, including beef. He worked with the administration to secure a commitment from South Korea to accept more U.S. beef as part of the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement, which went into effect last March. He has consistently called on China to end its restrictions on beef exports, including during a trade mission when he met with then-Vice President Xi Jinping. And the United Arab Emirates, Taiwan and Chile all recently dropped limits on U.S. beef exports after Senator Baucus pushed them to do so.