Recent Press Releases

Washington, D.C. —  Senator John Thune (R-SD) today joined Senate colleagues in unveiling bipartisan legislation to encourage Japan to open its domestic market to American beef.

"After the discovery of a single case of BSE in this country back in December of 2003, Japan has blocked imports of U.S. beef," Thune said. "On March 17th, I introduced a resolution, expressing the sense of the Senate that unless Japan opened its borders to U.S. beef, the U.S. Trade Representative should take retaliatory economic measures against Japan.

"It is now October 26th, seven months after my colleagues and I introduced that resolution and nearly two years since Japan slammed its border shut, and nothing—absolutely nothing—has happened.

"Ranchers in my home state of South Dakota, and those around the country, produce the highest quality beef in the world and deserve better. Our standard for excellence is respected by nations worldwide, and Japan should be no exception. I have lost my patience with the government of Japan on this issue, and on behalf of South Dakota and America's livestock producers, I am proud to support these additional tariffs on Japanese products as a retaliatory measure."

The bill would require the President to impose tariffs on Japanese products if Japan does not re-open its domestic market to U.S. beef by the end of the year. 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 markets. 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.

In addition to this legislation, Senator Thune has also introduced a resolution that directs the U.S. Trade Representative to seek economic sanctions against Japan if it does not reopen its borders to U.S. beef. Senator Thune's resolution calls on Japan to meet its trade obligations under an agreement reached on October 23, 2004. If Japan fails to abide by the agreement to reopen its border, then the U.S. Trade Representative should initiate immediate retaliatory economic measures on Japan.