Song in my head: O'er the land of the free..........Lorene
MAD COW UPDATE
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Cheney makes headway in Japan beef trade impasse April 13, 2004
Japanese and U.S. agriculture experts are expected to meet next week to discuss Japan's trade embargo ban on U.S. beef, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney said Tuesday.
Addressing a symposium in Tokyo, Cheney said beef trade with Japan "is an important issue from the standpoint of the United States. And for U.S. producers, the Japanese market is a very important one. I'm pleased to announce that the Japanese government has invited the U.S. experts for consultations next week," the Kyodo news service reported.
Agriculture Department spokesman Ed Loyd said USDA Undersecretary JB Penn will lead a delegation to Japan on April 22 and 23 to reopen talks with their Japanese counterparts. Loyd said a roster of who would be accompanying Penn was incomplete Tuesday morning, and the meeting's agenda has not been formalized.
Cheney said he is hopeful next week's talks could lay the groundwork for a resolution to the trade dispute. Japan and more than 50 other countires banned the import of U.S. beef after the Dec. 23 discovery of a single case of BSE found in a Washington state cow, and the Agriculure Department has remained steadfast in its refusal to bow to Japanese demands that all U.S. beef bound for export to that country be tested for the brain wasting disease.
Japan's consumers are reeling from high beef process, and in March, domestic beef prices hit a record high late due to the prolonged ban which has already forced some big Japanese fast food dealers to fremove some beef dishes from their menus.
Negotiations between the two countries broke down earlier this month. Japan Agriculture Minister Yoshiyuki Kamei sent a starkly worded letter to Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman demanding the U.S. make "appropriate" proposals if it wants Japan to restart imports of U.S. beef, and criticized USDA for proposing the negotiating impasse be resolved through international arbitration.
Madness of untested beef
Norman Oksman of Katonah, N.Y., writes regarding, "U.S. Won't Let Company Test All Its Cattle for Mad Cow" (news article, April 10), to say is this government bureaucracy gone amok or simply another example of the failure of public servants to protect the interests of the American public?
How can testing of all cattle for mad cow disease, a potentially fatal illness, be bad for consumers? |link|
Creekstone seeks to ship brain stem samples to Japan for BSE testing April 14, 2004
As Creekstone Farms mulls its legal options in the wake of the Agriculture Department's refusal to allow the company to test all of its cattle for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, the Arkansas City, Kan.-based processor is now seeking approval to ship brain stem tissue from product harvested at Creekstone to Japan for BSE testing.
In a three page letter dated Tuesday and addressed to Undersecretaries J.B. Penn and Bill Hawks, as well as Dale Moore, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman's chief of staff, Creekstone CEO John Stewart and COO Bill Fielding said the company will challenge USDA's refusal to allow the company to test for BSE all the cattle it slaughters. Stewart and Fileding said they are "analyzing our legal options" and that the company is now losing about $200,000 per day because of the Japanese embargo on U.S. beef.
The issue has become an industry and political hot potato, and it appears that Creekstone may be gearing up for a media campaign targeting the agency. The letter addressed to Penn, Hawks and Moore advised the officials that Creekstone intends to share the letter with the media on Wednesday. It also reminded the agency that Japanese Vice Agriculture Minister Mamoru Ishihara said the "U.S. government's decision not to accept [Creekstone's] offer is, frankly speaking, regrettable."
The USDA rejection "has blown hopes for an early resumption of beef imports, unless Japan drops its demand for all-cattle checks," said another senior Japanese agriculture ministry official.
Closer to home, Creekstone has won some support among a group of U.S. lawmakers and at least one former USDA official.
Last week, Duane Acker, the agency's former assistant secretary for science and education, wrote to Veneman urging that USDA swiftly approve Creekstone's request to test all of the cattle it slaughters, noting that Creekstone was seeking the approval as a customer requirement.
"Rule number one for selling a product, whether the seller be a company, an industry, or an exporting country, is to provide what the buyer wants," Acker said. "It is clear Japan and some other countries want beef product from tested animals."
Japan, the United States largest beef export market, is the only country that tests all of its cattle for BSE, and is alone among the more 50 countries that closed their borders to U.S. beef after the Dec. 23 discovery of a single case of BSE to demand that the United States test all beef for export to that country as a precondition to resume trade.
Creekstone's desire to test all of its cattle also won the support of Kansas Agriculture Secretary Adrian Polansky. The Associated Press reported Tuesday afternoon that Polansky believes Creekstone's ability to test its product is "a basic tenet of a free-market system."