At least one US producer group understands that the US HAS BSE and is trying to deal with it by getting the truth out there.
NCBA Statement: Continued Japanese Ban on U.S. Beef Exports is Unwarranted Trade Barrier
Washington, D.C. (September 28, 2005) - National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) President and Texas cattle producer Jim McAdams is testifying today before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means and has issued the following statement regarding the continued ban on U.S. beef going into Japan:
"Access to the Japanese market for U.S. beef exports remains shut off nearly two years after a single confirmed case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) was detected in the United States. There is absolutely no scientific explanation for this continued ban on our U.S. beef products, and today we ask Congress to work with us to take the necessary steps to regain this critical market.
"Not only does this full, unwarranted ban on top-quality U.S. beef continue, but in recent weeks Japan's Food Safety Commission has made false claims regarding the safety of U.S. beef. Such impeding deferral tactics reveal that this export freeze has become nothing more than an unjustified trade barrier, and these false statements must be addressed.
"The U.S. beef supply is the safest, most regulated and revered in the world. Fifteen years ago, we were the first country without BSE within its borders to begin a series of interlocking safeguards to prevent this disease from ever taking hold in the United States. We were also the first country without BSE to test cattle for the disease. Eight years ago, the United States instituted a ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban when it was determined that this was the vector that allowed for the spread of BSE between cattle. After December 23, 2003, the United States began an aggressive policy of specified risk material (SRM) removal to ensure additional levels of safety.
"The fact is the Japanese did not put comparable measures into place until they had identified their first case in 2001; to date, they have identified 20 positive cases of BSE in a cow herd that is only 3.6 percent of the U.S. cow herd size.
"Since June 2004, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Enhanced BSE Surveillance Program has evaluated more than 471,691 cattle in the highest risk category, confirming that U.S. firewalls are working. The size of the U.S. adult cow herd is about 43 million, with only two confirmed cases of BSE. To put things in perspective, the worldwide total number of BSE cases found is around 189,000, and more than 89 percent of these cases occurred before 1997.
"We are extremely proud of all that has been done in the United States to keep beef safe from BSE. Extensive U.S. leadership regarding this disease is directing us toward the worldwide eradication of BSE.
"Cattle producers consider October 2005 a significant milestone in the push for resumption of U.S. beef exports to Japan. Nearly one year ago, October 23, 2004, the U.S. Government and the Government of Japan issued a joint press statement outlining the conditions and modalities by which the two countries would begin resuming two-way trade in beef and beef products. We saw the implementation of this agreement as an interim step in resumption of trade with Japan and believed it would lead to science-based trade consistent with the World Organization for Animal Health guidelines in an expeditious manner.
"The U.S. government has fully responded to all requests for information in a science-based manner. The United States has been extremely patient with Japan, giving them a generous amount of time to work through internal processes. But we have yet to see a timeline regarding re-opening of Japan's borders to U.S. beef. Quite simply, Japan has not followed through on what it committed to in October 2004.
"As NCBA President, I speak on behalf of hundreds of thousands of ranching families from across the United States. It is unacceptable that almost two years after a single confirmed case of BSE was discovered in the United States, Japanese borders remain closed to our beef products. Japan was once the most valuable export market for beef, with exciting growth opportunities. Now we remain at this stand-still.
"The future sustainability of the valuable U.S. beef industry depends greatly upon our ability to create international demand for our product. Japanese consumers are eager to enjoy our high-quality beef, just like U.S. families do each night, as soon as possible.
"The National Cattlemen's Beef Association supports the recent measures taken by members in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate to ensure fair treatment for our product in this trade agreement. With no end in sight, we encourage our lawmakers to evaluate every measure possible to regain access to Japan for U.S. beef and beef products. The United States has played by the rules and honored its commitments. Now it is time for Japan to do the same and to lift the ban on U.S. beef."