Iowa’s beef producers are celebrating today’s news that Japan is reopening its doors to U.S. beef after a two-year ban. Bill Scheitler is president of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and lives in LeMars. Scheitler says the announcement Japan is easing its ban is very welcome. Scheitler says “Japan was a huge trading partner for Iowa” and for the Midwest, adding, Japan had been the U.S.’ largest trading partner for beef. While the turnaround won’t be immediate, he says “We’re gonna’ work at it. I think it’s great news that we can at least get started.”
Scheitler says Iowa ranks fifth in the nation for beef production with about 40-thousand cattle producers in the state. He says American consumers have been buying beef at record rates during the past two years, allowing some of the blow from Japan’s ban to be lessened. Still, Scheitler says Iowa did feel the effect from Japan’s embargo after the discovery of the so-called “cow that stole Christmas,” the single Mad Cow case found in Washington state in December two years ago.
He says “There was a huge impact. Our cattle market and the volume of beef that we moved has been pretty good but if we’d have kept that Japanese market open, it would’ve been much better.” The new agreement with Japan allows only meat from cows younger than 21 months and requires U.S. producers to certify the cow’s age.