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      New Japanese Beef Export Standards May Give Nebraska Producers More Opportunities

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      Japan has revised its beef export protocols making it easier for the U.S. to export beef to the country.

      The Agriculture Department announced the change Monday.

      Japan has recently had beef restrictions that only allowed animals 20 months or younger into the country because of concerns about mad cow disease.

      Starting Feb. 1, Japan will allow U.S. beef shipments to come from cattle up to 30 months old, which is a widely used standard.

      In a statement following the announcement of the revised standards, Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Greg Ibach shared that he believes Nebraska will be a leader in the industry with the new opportunities presented with the under-30-month protocol.

      He said, "The plan will expand access for Nebraska beef into one of our most valuable trading markets. The Department will work in conjunction with agriculture industry partners to take advantage of the new opportunities that this announcement provides. We will show Nebraska's ongoing commitment to providing Japan with safe, wholesome beef."

      Sen. Johanns also issued a statement declaring what good news this is for Nebraskans.

      He said, "This is great news for Nebraska's economy and cattle producers. Revising these restrictions on American beef recognizes our producers as some of the best in the world. Our farmers and ranchers have always produced the highest quality beef and our internationally renowned food safety system has protected consumers for decades."

      "While I would prefer that all of our trading partners fully align their policies to meet international standards," added Johanns, "This move by Japan was a significant step in the right direction and I applaud it. Japan is an important trading partner to the U.S. and I appreciate this strengthening of our trade relationship."

      Congressman Adrian Smith also weighed in saying, "America's farmers and ranchers are among the mostproductive and efficient in the world, producing high quality agricultureproducts sought by consumers across the globe. The agreement announcedearlier today will expand export opportunities for Nebraska's beef producersand is a step in the right direction to bring down long-standing barriers toU.S. beef."

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