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From: TSS (
Date: January 27, 2005 at 2:51 pm PST

U.S. Seeks `Date Certain' to Resume Japan Beef Sales (Update2)

Jan. 27 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, less than a week into his new job, said he pressed Japan for a ``date certain'' to resume U.S. beef purchases that were suspended 13 months ago after a case of mad cow disease.

The request that Japan address the matter ``immediately'' was made today to Ryozo Kato, Japan's ambassador to the U.S., Johanns said during a press briefing in Washington. Kato didn't say when beef trading might resume, the secretary said.

``I very specifically requested of the ambassador that a date certain be set for the resumption of beef trade,'' Johanns said, according to a transcript provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Japan bought more than $1.5 billion in U.S. beef in 2003, the most of any country.

Tyson Foods Inc., Cargill Inc. and other U.S. meat producers were hurt when Japan and more than 40 other nations suspended imports of the meat in December 2003. Johanns, who was confirmed by the Senate Jan. 21, said this week that resuming beef trade with Japan will be his top priority.

While Japan agreed in October to allow U.S. beef from cattle under 20 months old, there has been no agreement on how to determine an animal's age.

`Working 24/7'

Johanns, 54, said he told Kato that he would do everything possible to get Japan to ease its ban on U.S. beef, including stationing a team of USDA experts in Tokyo ``working 24/7.''

Kato's response was ``along the lines of, `We understand the importance of this issue (and) we're going to do everything we can,''' Johanns said.

The Japanese diplomat ``did not come prepared to say the date will be Feb. 1 or Feb. 15, but I certainly felt the willingness to work with us and to get this behind us,'' Johanns said.

U.S. Senator Ben Nelson today called on President George W. Bush to get involved in negotiations. Bush ``has to engage personally on a diplomatic level that it's time to move forward,'' Nelson said in an interview. Nelson, a Democrat, represents Nebraska, which sold $4.96 billion in cattle and beef last year, second only to Texas, according to USDA figures.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Republican from Virginia, yesterday called on the Bush administration to ``redouble their efforts to get an agreement.'' The Japanese government is ``paying too much attention'' to the age verification issue, and the standoff threatens to disrupt other trade agreements, he said. ``I don't think it's in their interest to risk that over something that is very important to the United States,'' he said.

Tyson Foods in November said fiscal fourth-quarter profit in its beef business plunged to $40 million from $189 million, partly because of the drop in its export business. Earlier this month the company said it was limiting beef production at five of its U.S. packing plants for five weeks, affecting about 2,100 U.S. workers, in part because of weak exports.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Daniel Goldstein in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Steve Stroth at

Last Updated: January 27, 2005 17:15 EST

IF i were a consumer of Japan, i would kindly tell Japan's
Ambassador to the U.S. to tell U.S. Agriculture Secretary
Mike Johanns to stick it where the sun don't shine, until
the USA moves to a more scientific approach to the problem
and test ALL CATTLE for human consumption AND CONFIRMING
RAPID TEST WITH WB, instead of cherry picking the healthy ones,
while letting the CNS ones that are stumbling and staggering
to go to render, as we do in TEXAS...


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