Here is one statistic that the U.S. beef industry shares in reference to the continued ban of our beef products entering into Japan, as a means to illustrate the need to get that market reopened.
BOYLE: Every month that they succeed to use b.s.e. as a non-tariff trade barrier to protect their own Japanese beef producing interests, it costs the American beef industry $100 million dollars.
That's Patrick Boyle of the American Meat Institute. And you are correct in hearing that he considers the ban is in a continuing shift more from a food safety issue to an out and out trade ban. But then again, Boyle's sentiments are increasingly being shared by members of the beef industry, members of Congress, and members of the Bush Administration. For the last two months, U.S.D.A. Secretary Mike Johanns has warned Japan that those groups would soon run out of patience with that country if it is did not expedite its regulatory process to consider lifting its ban. In what has been two weeks of developments, it appears the pressure from the U.S. is paying off. A panel within Japan's Food Safety Commission earlier this week announced if strict import guidelines are met, the risk of b.s.e infected beef from the U.S. coming into Japan would be low. In fact the panel acknowledged the risk of our nation's beef being infected with Mad Cow Disease may be less than the same risk from Japan. Now understand that the last two years, to many U.S. beef industry supporters, has been full of false promises about when Japan would reopen its border, so the F.S.C. panel's announcement comes with a guarded optimism. However, considering the events that transpired over the last two weeks, the announcement was a sudden and almost unexpected change in direction. It started with the U.S. Senate adding amendments to the 2006 Ag Appropriations bill that would in effect continue to keep Japanese beef out of the U.S. until that nation opened its border to our beef. That was partially a response to a U.S.D.A. proposed rule to allow Japanese whole boneless beef from cattle twenty months of age or younger into the U.S, and partially a message to Japan that they should strongly consider reopening their border to our beef. Among those applauding the passage of the amendments was Michael John of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
JOHN: It's time for the Congress to step up the heat. I can't imagine why we would want to bring anything in from a country that wouldn't want to take the same thing from us so I think we are going down the right road there.
But then days later, Japan's Food Safety Commission had a direct, or indirect, answer to events in the U.S. It had decided it needed more time to evaluate U.S. b.s.e. safeguard measures before deciding whether or not to lift the ban. That and other comments that drew the ire of Congress are shared in our next program.