Hoeven Welcomes Japan's Decision to Import More U.S. Beef

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today commended Japan’s decision to important more U.S. beef and beef products. Effective Feb. 1, the U.S. and Japan will begin a new agreement that includes an adjustment to Japan’s age-based beef import limits. Japan has agreed to adjust its rules to allow the importing of U.S. beef from cattle up to 30 months of age following a previous restriction that limited imports to cattle less than 20 months of age.

Senator Hoeven has been working to expand opportunities for U.S. beef producers to trade with Japan. In 2011, the senator joined a bipartisan group of senators in writing President Obama to encourage the Administration to press for more open Japanese markets for American agricultural products. The letter called on the Administration to focus specifically on changing Japan’s overly restrictive and inconsistent regulations related to importing beef, noting that the country’s restrictions did not match international standards and were not based on scientific criteria.

“This decision is a real gain for North Dakota ranchers,” Hoeven said. “More broadly, it is an important step forward in our ongoing efforts to foster a stronger trade relationship between the U.S. and Japan. By changing its age-based import limits, Japan now has access to a much larger amount of high quality, safe U.S. beef, and in turn our producers will have more opportunities to expand their exports and grow their businesses.”

Today’s decision follows a number of changes Japan has implemented during the past decade related to its importing of U.S. beef and beef products. While Japan historically has been one of the largest markets for U.S. beef, the country stopped importing U.S. beef products in 2003 before adjusting its rules in 2005 to allow for the importing of beef products from cattle ages 20 months or younger. USDA estimates show that Japan currently ranks as the third largest export market for U.S. beef and beef products.

North Dakota is home to more than 9,600 beef producers.