Recent Press Releases

Sioux Falls, SD —  Senator John Thune today made the following statement regarding the announcement by Japan to lift their ban on U.S. beef:

"It looks like our efforts to pressure Japan to reopen its market have finally paid off. This long-overdue decision by Japan to open their market to U.S. produced beef is great news for ranchers here in South Dakota and across the country," said Thune. "For too long Japan unfairly blocked American beef from their market."

Japan imposed a ban on U.S. beef and beef products in December 2003 following the discovery of the first case of mad cow disease in the United States. That particular cow was born in Canada. Before the ban, Japan was the top importer of U.S. beef. Currently, American beef producers are losing $3.14 billion a year because of Japan's refusal to reopen its market. The United States and Japan did negotiate an agreement, signed in October 2004, dictating the steps for Japan to open its market to U.S. beef. Since then, however, little has happened to implement the agreement.

"Our cattle and ranching industries are a source of pride for South Dakota and America and a key component of our economic growth and global competitiveness. I am glad the Japanese leaders finally agreed to honor the good-faith commitment they made last year to resume this fair trade."

Since taking office, Senator Thune has worked tirelessly to resolve this issue. Please find below a partial list of actions taken by Senator Thune to pressure Japan to reopen its market to U.S. beef:

February 18 – Letter to Japanese Ambassador Ryozo Kato from 20 Senators, including Senator Thune, requesting a quick resolution to the issue and stated if the market is not opened, Congress may pursue economic actions.

March 11 – Senator Thune and Senate colleagues meet with Japanese Ambassador Ryozo Kato on the issue of opening up its market to U.S. beef.

March 17 – Senator Thune introduces S. Res. 87, a resolution that directs the U.S. Trade Representative to seek economic sanctions against Japan if it does not reopen its market to U.S. beef.

September 9 – Senator Thune signed letter to Secretary Johanns requesting that U.S. not import Japanese beef until Japan opens its market.

September 13 – Senator Thune signed letter to Secretary Rice urging her to work with her Japanese counterparts on the restoration of beef trade.

September 19 – Senator Thune signed letter to President Bush urging him to make resumption of beef trade with Japan his highest economic priority with Japan.

October 6 – Senator Thune signed letter to United States Trade Representative Portman requesting him to employ economic sanctions on the import of Japanese goods into the U.S. at a level comparable to the losses incurred by the beef industry.

October 26 – Senator Thune co-sponsors S. 1922, legislation which would require the president to impose tariffs on Japanese products if Japan does not reopen its domestic market to U.S. beef by the end of the year.