Barriers to Eating Kobe Beef

One normally thinks of American exports of beef to Japan. Japan has decided to cease purchases of American beef with a mad cow scare being their excuse for trade protection. It turns out I had enjoyed a meal this weekend with Kobe beef not even thinking about where it came from. And now we learn that the politicians wish to limit imports of Kobe beef from Japan:

WASHINGTON (AP) – Kobe beef should stay off U.S. menus if Japan won’t buy American beef, the Senate has decided. Senators retaliated Tuesday against Japan for refusing to lift a mad cow-related ban on U.S. beef. On a 72-26 vote, the Senate adopted an amendment prohibiting importation of Japanese beef until Japan lifts its ban. Japan’s stalling is unfair, said Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska, who offered the amendment.” There have been two cases of mad cow disease in the United States, one from Canada,” Nelson said in a Senate speech. “Statistically, it’s nonexistent, in terms of the millions of head of cattle that are sent to slaughter every year.” Lawmakers adopted a similar, nonbinding measure by Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colorado, on a voice vote. Once the biggest customer of American beef, importing more than $1.5 billion worth in 2003, Japan has refused to allow the purchase of U.S. beef since the nation’s first case of mad cow disease was confirmed in Washington state almost two years ago. Japan agreed last fall to lift the ban but still hasn’t done so.

While Senator Nelson may be correct about the Japanese trade restriction, his remedy is a poor idea in my view.