State ag commissioner praises Japan’s decision on beef

Colorado Department of Agriculture Commissioner John Salazar said Friday that he welcomed a new agreement for increased exports of Colorado beef to Japan.

The state’s beef industry lost $350 million in export sales in the six years following Japan’s 2003 decision to ban U.S. beef imports after the discovery of mad cow disease. Japan decided earlier this week to lift some restrictions on U.S. beef.

“Japan is our second largest export market for beef already, and with this new agreement we anticipate even more opportunities to sell Colorado beef in Japan,” Salazar said.

Japan will allow beef from cattle up to 30 months of age, up from cows 20 months of age or younger. The move increases herds eligible for the Japanese market from 20 percent to around 90 percent.

Colorado supplies more than 17 percent of all beef exported to Japan.

Beef exports to Japan represent more than 43 percent of the state’s total exports to the country, Salazar said. Colorado saw more than 40 percent growth in beef exports to Japan in the first 11 months of 2012 vs. 2011.

“With the expanded market access resulting from this agreement, we can look forward to further robust sales in Japan,” he said.

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