An announcement in Japan gives great hope to Nebraska beef producers.
The Japanese government has announced an agreement with the United States to lift most of its restrictions on the importing of American beef.
State Agriculture Director Greg Ibach says the announcement is very good news for Nebraska.
“Japan is a very important market. It’s our number one beef market,” Ibach tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN.
The move by Japan could boost beef profits by 20-to-25%, according to industry calculations.
Japan banned American beef imports in 2003 over fears about mad-cow disease. It relaxed them in 2005, allowing the importation of cattle up to 20 months old. The Foreign Ministry has announced that beef cattle up to 30 months old will be allowed into the country, beginning February 1st.
The change applies to beef imports from the United States, Canada, France, and the Netherlands.
Ibach says the work the United States and Japan put in to resolving worries about mad-cow disease should bring benefits in the long run.
“And so if the steps that they’ve gone through to assure that consumer confidence is there and that Japanese citizens will buy our product, then it’s probably been a good exercise,” according to Ibach, “because, at the end of the day we need consumers, wherever they’re at to have the confidence to purchase.”
The change is expected to cover about 90% of the beef processed in the United States.
Jane Monnich, KLIN, contributed to this story.