U.S. beef exports in the first half of 2009 are running at about the same pace as last year, despite significant declines in exports to Mexico and Canada, according to USMEF (U.S. Meat Export Federation). Beef exports to Japan have been a notable bright spot, increasing by more than 20 percent over their 2008 pace.
Cattle producers continue to be frustrated, however, by the 20-month cattle age limit that still hinders U.S. beef exports to Japan. The restriction originated several years ago as a compromise measure for reopening the market after the first U.S. case of BSE. But Buffalo, Mont., rancher Jim Peterson, who serves as chairman-elect of the U.S. Meat Export Federation, says this restriction has been in place far too long, and the time has come for expanded market access. He believes the United States would benefit from an incremental approach to its negotiations with Japan, rather than insisting on immediate access for beef from cattle of all ages.
Source: U.S. Meat Export Federation