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Walden Cosponsors Bill Saying Japan Needs to Open Its Border to U.S. Beef or Face Economic Sanctions

Legislation to impose tariffs on Japanese goods to offset the more than $3 billion in annual lost economic activity due to the country's ban on U.S. beef

Redmond, OR - As part of his continued effort to encourage Japan to lift its ban on the importation of American beef, Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) today announced to a group gathered for the annual convention of the Oregon Cattlemen's Association and the Oregon Cattlewomen that he has cosponsored bipartisan legislation that would impose tariffs on Japanese goods entering the United States until that ban is lifted. 

H.R. 4179, introduced by Congressman John Salazar (D-CO), would impose tariffs equaling $3.14 billion per year, the annual economic loss to the American cattle industry as a result Japan's ban, which was imposed immediately following the discovery of our nation's first documented case of BSE in December of 2003. 

"Keeping U.S. beef out of Japan has gone from being an issue of safety to being an unjustified barrier to trade.  The quality and safety of American food products is unparalleled, and the intolerably slow action of Japanese officials in reopening the border has left us with no choice but to impose these tariffs.  Ranchers and families throughout rural America are paying a tremendous price and the overall economy of our communities, states and nation are impacted as a result," said Walden, a member of the Congressional Beef Caucus, Rural Caucus and Western Caucus.  

Walden's support for H.R. 4179 follows his cosponsorship in March of a resolution introduced by Congressman Jerry Moran (R-KS), H. Res. 137.  This resolution states "That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that if the Government of Japan continues to delay in meeting its obligations under the understanding reached with the United States on October 23, 2004, to resume beef imports from the United States, the United States Trade Representative should immediately impose retaliatory economic measures on Japan."

In September, Walden joined more than 100 members of the U.S. House in signing a letter to President Bush urging him "to make restoring market access for U.S. beef to Japan [his] highest economic priority" with that country.  The letter acknowledged the diligence of the President and his Cabinet in discussing this issue with Japanese officials, including the Prime Minister personally, but noted that the hardships the industry has faced since the border closed.  "Congressional patience is exhausted and legislative remedies are becoming more likely" given the importance of this issue to so many communities and families throughout the United States," the letter stated.

"In the twenty months since an initial case of BSE was diagnosed in America, Agriculture Secretary Johanns and former Secretary Ann Veneman have implemented new scientifically sound BSE controls and substantially expanded the Department of Agriculture's surveillance program, testing more than 500,000 of the highest-risk American cattle.  Additionally, U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman has remained committed to working with Japanese trade officials.  My hope is that this legislation will help advance their efforts and get the Japanese border open soon."

Walden received a letter last week from the Ambassador of Japan stating that the Japanese Food Safety Commission was working on a report to verify the safety of U.S. beef, but the letter indicated there were several steps that had to be completed before such verification would occur with no clear indication of a timeline or anticipated lift of the ban.  

"Having the border closed to Japan takes dollars out of our local economies.  We feel that our country has protocols in place to guarantee that no one will be harmed by beef they receive from the United States, and we believe they need to open the borders - it's time.  I cannot say how grateful I am for Congressman Walden's continued support for the ranching industry and its families," said Sharon Livingston, president-elect of the Oregon Cattlemen's Association. 

"Japan is playing trade politics.  There is no scientific reason for them to keep their border closed to U.S. beef," added Bob Skinner, a rancher from Jordan Valley and past-president of the Oregon Cattlemen's Association.  "We are lucky to have someone like Greg Walden in Congress willing to play hard ball when it comes to the issues that are so important to the folks in his district."

Walden is in his fourth term representing the people of Oregon's Second District, which covers twenty counties in central, southern and eastern Oregon.  He is a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the House Committee on Resources.





Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM  Pacific

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