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Where's the Beef?

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Where Japan has a hearty appetite for 'cook it yourself' beef barbeque called "yakiniku," the beef is coming elsewhere than from the United States. This is due to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspectors failure to understand and comply with Japan's requirements of beef.

What is known as "mad cow disease" has caused Japan to reimpose its block o­n U.S. beef. This decision comes a month after the December 12, 2005 Japan announcement that it would end the two-year-old suspension of U.S. beef as long as a system was implemented to track cattle and prove the meat was coming from cows younger than 30 months old. The major cause comes from an illegal single shipment of meat imported from a small New York meat packer. The failed promise that o­nly safe beef would be shipped has literally horrified Japanese consumers.

Violating the trade agreement here is more than Japan halting to buy U.S. beef. In essence, it means that other Asian countries are keeping their ban o­n U.S. beef. Japan has high beef and food inspection quotas, if not the highest in Asia. With Japan's December decision agreeing to buy U.S. beef based o­n import requirements being fulfilled, it would have been likely that other major beef importing countries such as South Korea and China too would have lifted their ban o­n U.S. beef. Japan was the largest importer of U.S. beef in 2002, buying 32 percent of U.S. beef export. This export totaled $843 million according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Second to Japan was South Korea taking about $610 million worth of beef.

Buy Australian beef is the movement in Japan, creating a virtual monopoly for Australian cattle farmers. Their market, with other remaining big opportunities, is already worth over $2.5 billion.

Wayne E. Brown is the Founder and CEO of WEB International Publishing. He is the author and publisher of BLACK SAMURAI: Work, Travel, Culture, Religion, Struggle, & Perspective of a Black American Man. For book signing, motivational speaking engagements, and/or appearances email: web@webinternationalpublishing.com or go the website for details: www.webinternationalpublishing.com

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