Thursday, August 4, 2011

Udall to Officials: Keep Pushing to Open Markets in Japan , China to Colorado Beef

In Letter, Senators Urge Full-Court Press to Encourage Market Access Abroad

Today, Mark Udall joined Senator Debbie Stabenow and 37 colleagues in calling on Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk to press China and Japan to relax their barriers to U.S. beef imports. Click HERE to view the letter, which Senator Michael Bennet also signed.

In the letter, the senators ask the administration to keep up the pressure on China and Japan to encourage them to end the unfair and unscientific barriers preventing U.S. producers from selling beef in the two countries. Japan has restricted U.S. beef imports ever since a 2003 mad cow disease incident, and still only allows imports of beef from cattle younger than 20 months. China remains the only major market completely closed to U.S. beef due to mad-cow concerns. U.S. beef is scientifically proven to be safe, and it surpasses international standards. Udall believes U.S. products should not face unfair treatment in foreign markets, especially when the restrictions are not based on scientific criteria.

" U.S. beef exports to Japan remain nearly $1 billion below their pre-2003 levels. Similarly, China has been the fastest growing market for U.S. exports overall during the last decade but remains the only major market completely closed to U.S. beef due to BSE," the senators wrote. "To maintain and expand the global market for U.S. beef, there must now be stronger, sustained outreach to China , Japan , and other countries that continue to limit access to our beef."

In Colorado , beef production accounts for about 50 percent—$2.6 billion—of the total value of agricultural receipts. Fewer barriers to trade would allow Colorado beef producers to bolster the industry’s worldwide and domestic competitiveness, thereby supporting job creation in the state. Earlier this year, Udall sent a letter asking the administration to direct U.S. negotiators to press Japan on beef restrictions if they entered Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations.