Sec. Vilsack and Japanese Ag Minister
Akamatsu agree to hold beef trade talks
By Stewart Doan
© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.
April 8 – Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack met with Japanese Ag minister
Hirotaka Akamatsu on Thursday and came away with an agreement to begin
discussions on opening more beef sales to Japan, while recognizing that “this
is a difficult and sensitive issue for the Japanese people and the Japanese
government.” While Vilsack said he would like to start the discussions as soon
as possible, no timeline has yet been established.
had a frank and candid conversation about the differences that have separated
us on beef for a considerable period of time,” explained Vilsack in an
exclusive interview with Agri-Pulse after
his meeting with Akamatsu. “At this point the two countries are sort of on
parallel tracks: the Japanese concerned about safety and the United States
trying to make the case that we’ve improved our protocols, that we’ve not had
an incident in the last three years and just a small number within the last
twenty years, and that it’s time for us to reopen the trade in a meaningful
Japan resumed American beef imports in 2006, but
restricted trade to meat from cattle 20 months old or younger – a limit that U.S. officials say
has no scientific basis.
said he needed, in a sense, to “reset the table.”
expressing some degree of flexibility…. there’s now a commitment on the part of
the United States and Japan.
. . On our part, to send a team of people to Japan to have continued dialogue
about the issues and on the part of the Japanese government, to receive those
individuals and to engage in dialogue. We’re still on parallel tracks. We’re
trying to figure out through this increased dialogue how we get on the same
said the next steps include talking with USTR Ambassador Ron Kirk, to begin
identifying the people that the U.S.
would send over to Japan
and then make arrangements for them to travel back here to begin discussions.
more on Vilsack’s trip to Japan,
listen to the daily audio updates on www.Agri-Pulse.com