Recent Press Releases

Washington, DC —  Senator John Thune (R-SD) today issued the following statement regarding Japan’s decision to halt U.S. beef imports, following an incident in which animal spine was found in a beef shipment at Tokyo International Airport:

"This unfortunate incident is a serious matter that we cannot take lightly," Thune said. "Secretary Johanns has already taken swift action to de-list the responsible party, dispatch a team of inspectors to Japan to reexamine every shipment awaiting approval, and increase the number of inspectors examining all U.S. beef shipments to prevent any future violations of the US-Japan agreement.

"While this incident is serious and must be corrected, it’s important to keep in mind this is an isolated occurrence. The U.S. produces some of the highest quality beef in the world, and our cattle and ranching industries are a source of pride for South Dakota and America. Our ranchers and cattle producers adhere to a strict standard for excellence that is respected by nations around the globe, and I urge Japanese leaders to recognize this and resume trade with the U.S. as soon as possible."

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has already taken the following actions to address and correct the incident:

  • The processing plant that exported this product has been de-listed and therefore can no longer export beef to Japan. The appropriate personnel action will be taken against the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service employee who conducted the inspection of the product in question and approved it to be shipped to Japan.

  • A team of USDA inspectors is being dispatched to Japan to work with Japanese inspectors to reexamine every shipment currently awaiting approval, to confirm compliance with the requirements of the United States’ export agreement with Japan.

  • Additional USDA inspectors are being sent to every plant that is approved to export beef to review procedures and ensure compliance with our export agreements. Two USDA inspectors will now be required to review every shipment of U.S. beef for export to confirm that compliance.

  • These additional inspection requirements in the U.S. will be applied to all processing plants approved for beef export and all beef shipments designated for export from the U.S.

All USDA beef inspectors will be required to undergo additional training to make certain they are fully aware of all export agreement requirements