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From: TSS ()
Subject: Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns Gaggle regarding Japanese Beef Issues
Date: June 27, 2006 at 6:37 pm PST

Release No. 0221.06
Press Office (202)720-4623

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns Gaggle regarding Japanese Beef Issues.

June 27, 2006

SEC. JOHANNS: The audit teams are here in the United States, and every indication so far is that things are going just fine. I think they've been in three plants if I have my information correct, and as I've said it appears like we're moving along well through the audits, and everything is on track. I haven't been made aware of any significant problems that have developed either in the audits or in the process moving through the audits. I do want to indicate also that I just think the comments from Japan are very encouraging these days, and it's especially encouraging to see the comment that one problem with the shipment would not stop trade, that they would deal with the individual plant. That's a message that we talked about before many, many months now. So I am very encouraged. We're anxious to get through the audits, deal with whatever issues are there. But so far so good.

REPORTER: Any further assurances when Mr. Koizumi --

SEC. JOHANNS: I think we're in good shape. I'm not sure if it will come up or not. I certainly have not raised the issue with the President. They've worked together for five years, and I suspect they have a wide range of issues to talk about. But I think so far so good. I think we're doing well, and like I said the audits seem to be going fine.

REPORTER: -- right after the agreements (unclear) in their work and that you're not satisfied. Can you elaborate?

SEC. JOHANNS: The only point I wanted to make is that the agreement was a step. It was, I didn't want anybody to have the impression that somehow beef was heading back to Japan. We still have some process to get through here. So that's the point I wanted to make. I especially didn't want anyone on the Hill, House or Senate side, to feel like they were being misled that somehow I had reached an agreement and beef was moving back into Japan. It is not. We've got a ways to go yet.

REPORTER: Mr. Secretary, if when the audits are complete if they find any problems with individual plants, would you, A, go ahead with trade? Or B, wait until all the plants are approved?

SEC. JOHANNS: We faced that issue with Korea as you know, and we believe very, very strongly in our system. And so what we are doing is working through those individual plant issues. And that' what I would intend to do with Japan. Now again I will stress to you, Bill, if we find a plant that is not ready for shipment into Japan, we simply are going to take action on our own to make sure that they are not part of the original group. But that really I see as a United States decision. I don't see that as anything like that. So the point is we see our system as a whole system. This is not about individual pick and choose and we'll take this plant but not that plant. We really want to move this full process all at once. If in the process the United States finds a plant that's problematic and not ready for shipment, we would set them to the side. But I don't think we're going to see that.

REPORTER: -- curing the problem, the whole market is shut down because of one plant.

SEC. JOHANNS: Well, if the plant is not ready, we'll solve that problem.

REPORTER: But how do you deal with it in the future if we have a single or double plant problem, Japanese want to shut down the whole market?

SEC. JOHANNS: Well, that becomes a very serious problem. I mean this time we decided it's best to work through it, but my hope is we don't go that way again any more than I would argue we should shut down their whole automobile market because we find a defective car.

REPORTER: But they've not agreed to anything?

SEC. JOHANNS: Well, the indications are positive. But the indications are that if they are wiling to work with us then that is positive.

REPORTER: Are you satisfied with the conditions set by Japan?

SEC. JOHANNS: So far so good. I mean we're still working through issues, and so give me some leeway there. But so far so good. I think we're headed toward successful audits and markets reopening.

REPORTER: Mr. Secretary, what was your reaction to Canada's imposition of its strict feed rule yesterday?

SEC. JOHANNS: I talked to the Minister of Agriculture over the weekend, and he indicated to me that that's where they were headed. And so first thing I would say is, that it was not a surprise. They gave us a heads up and indicated to us why they felt they needed to do this. As you know, they identified some cases of BSE in Canada, and so I guess beyond that my reaction is that it's a decision Canada can make and I was pleased to be forewarned.

REPORTER: Mr. Secretary, do you think that the Canadian feed rule is an advantage in exporting to Japan? And has FDA given you any indication of when the U.S. will come out with their revision?

SEC. JOHANNS: I don't know when the FDA will come out with a revised approach here. I don't think so. You know, we have found so little BSE in the United States. It's just virtually nonexistent. Plus international standards. I do think the world is moving toward (unclear) international standards, and so I don't think it gives them a particular advantage.

REPORTER: Mr. Secretary, for the nonbeef crowd I just wondered if you anticipate following the same model as you followed with Korea, meaning waiting for all U.S. plants except for the example you gave?

SEC. JOHANNS: We want all plants approved.

REPORTER: So (unclear) the same with Japan?

SEC. JOHANNS: Well, I hope we don't face it. But if we do we will work to get all plants approved. Again, if there's a single plant that's not ready for shipment we make that determination here in the United States, that's a different matter. But we see our whole system as a system that approves all plants and that's where we want to --

REPORTER: How would you decide a plant is not ready for shipment?

SEC. JOHANNS: Oh, I think there would be some obvious examples. If they just simply don't understand the system, haven't done the training, haven't followed the steps that we put in place, then that's pretty obvious to us that they're not ready for beef shipments to Japan.

REPORTER: -- adjust on policy, standards, would that be (unclear) disqualify them?

SEC. JOHANNS: I think we'd walk through the specifics here because it gets so hypothetical. But here's my point. My point is that if Japan sees some paperwork issues and the issues have been solved, readily solved, then we want all plants to move together. If on the other hand we say look, we found training deficiencies, we found employees that didn't understand the rules, and this is just not going to work, and we looked at it and said, yeah, they're not ready for shipment to Japan, we're going to let that happen. My belief is that plants that wanted a certain (unclear) be ready. Okay.!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB/.cmd/ad/.ar/sa.retrievecontent/.c/6_2_1UH/.ce/7_2_5JM/.p/5_2_4TQ/.d/2/_th/J_2_9D/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB?PC_7_2_5JM_contentid=2006%2F06%2F0221.xml&PC_7_2_5JM_parentnav=TRANSCRIPTS_SPEECHES&PC_7_2_5JM_navid=TRANSCRIPT#7_2_5JM

Japan would be very very irresponsible to it's consumer to start importing TSE from the USA. ...TSS

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