FORT WORTH, Texas, Oct. 27, 2005 – Two major Texas beef groups expressed strong support today for bipartisan legislation that calls on Japan to open its borders to U.S. beef by Dec. 15 or face stiff economic sanctions.
Senators Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) introduced the legislation in order to jump-start a process for resuming exports of U.S. beef to Japan. The United States and the Government of Japan concluded an understanding on the process on Oct. 23, 2004, but progress has been stalled by the Japanese Food Safety Commission.
“We wholeheartedly support the bill introduced by Senators Conrad and Roberts,” said Dick Sherron, president of Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, and John Gillcrist, chairman of Texas Cattle Feeders Association, in a joint statement.
“This is the first legislation that has established a definite deadline for ending Japan’s seesaw deliberations on an unscientific two-year ban that has cost U.S. beef producers nearly $1.7 billion a year. That’s a loss of about $65 per head on the value of fed cattle.”
The two Texas groups led the call last February for government-imposed sanctions to stop the drain on member profits.
The Senate legislation will require the U.S. Department of Treasury to implement additional tariffs on goods grown, produced or manufactured in Japan unless the U.S. Trade Representative certifies that Japan has reopened its market to American beef by Dec. 15, 2005.
“There is no scientific basis for Japan to continue to block our exports,” said Sen. Conrad. “If Japan does not accept our beef, we will impose tariffs to compensate for the damage they have caused our ranchers.”
“Despite the efforts of even the highest office in our nation’s government, Japan continues to keep American beef out of their country,” added Sen. Roberts.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) is a co-sponsor of the bill and has been working on lifting the ban. He met with the Japanese Ambassador in February and has communicated with Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, expressing concern over the Japanese delay.
Most recently, Sen. Cornyn signed a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman encouraging the administration to impose retaliatory economic sanctions on Japan in light of their ongoing embargo.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) has also been personally involved in the effort.
“We need to break down the trade barriers that threaten this vital industry,” Sen. Hutchison said. “In an earlier letter, I told the Japanese Ambassador that if the Japanese government fails to lift the ban expeditiously, the U.S. Congress may be forced to purse equitable, retaliatory economic actions against Japan. This legislation is a critical step to support our livestock producers and our economy.”
“TCFA and TSCRA thank the senators for their support,” said Gillcrist and Sherron. “Government and industry leaders agree that it’s time for Japan to live up to its commitments and reopen its borders to American-grown beef.”
Source: Texas Cattle Raisers