Last week's decision by Japan to amend a nine-year restriction on certain beef imports is a promising sign for Nebraska beef producers.
Beginning in February, the Japanese will be able to import high quality American beef from animals aged 30 months old or younger.
Japan halted its U.S. beef imports in 2003, when a single case of BSE was detected in the United States. In 2005, Japan resumed limited imports, only allowing beef from animals 20 months old or younger. Lifting these restrictions opens opportunities for Japan's import of more safe, quality U.S. beef, and is a move toward science-based trade standards.
Sen. Johanns said "I look forward to a day when all animal age limits are lifted from U.S. beef universally, consistent with international standards. Until then, I applaud this step forward."
This change could mean millions of dollars in new exports for Nebraska. For every dollar in ag exports, $1.31 in economic activity in generated.
Ag exports totaling more than $5 billion per year translate into $7 billion for the state, and more than 19,000 jobs. Nebraska leads the nation in red meat production and beef processing, so a greater beef market with Japan is especially good news for Nebraska's economy.
Improved trade relations offer opportunities for nearly all U.S. producers and manufacturers, as well as industries such as transportation and finance.
In 2012, the United States worked to implement trade agreements with Colombia, Korea and Panama. These steps have resulted in new and expanded markets for machinery, irrigation equipment, feed grains and meat exports.
Johanns said "I am confident Nebraska farmers, businesses and workers can compete with anyone in the world if given a level playing field."