LUBBOCK, Texas -- Japan's decision to reopen its market to U S beef brought joy to the nation's cattlemen and some hand-wringing by its meat processors, upset that their plants would be open to Japanese inspection as part of the deal.
Japan agreed yesterday to lift the ban, pending inspections of U S plants. Japan's market was worth $1.4 billion annually when it banned imports after a Canadian-born animal in the United States was found to have mad cow disease in 2003. Two other U S cases, in Texas in 2005 and in Alabama this year, were found in native-born animals.
``It's USDA's job to regulate our processing industry, not Japan's," said Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association spokesman Matt Brockman. ``Inspections are fine. The Japanese picking and choosing is not."
Japan dropped its two-year ban on U S beef in December, but halted imports two months later after finding a shipment that contained backbone, which Asian countries consider at risk for mad cow disease.
Inspectors will arrive in the United States this weekend to begin examining plants authorized to ship beef to Japan. Inspections should be done by July 21.