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Iowa beef producers complete trade mission to Japan

By Staff | Dec 8, 2011

AMES – Japan has been increasing its purchases of U.S. beef, and two Iowa beef producers just returned from a trip to ensure Japan keeps Iowa beef near the top of its sourcing list.

Daryl Strohbehn, of Boone, and Dean Black, of Somers, were part of an Iowa Meat Trade Mission to Japan, in November.

Strohbehn and Black represent different areas of the beef checkoff program.

Strohbehn, who raises seedstock, is a director on the Iowa Beef Industry Council. Black, a cattle feeder, is one of Iowa’s representatives on the national Cattlemen’s Beef Board.

They were part of an Iowa trade team that included Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and representatives from the Iowa Economic Development Authority, the Iowa Pork Producers Association, and the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

In September, Japan imports of beef were up 7.4 percent in volume (12,188 metric tons) and 18.1 percent in value ($69.5 million) from a year ago.

“The Japanese meat industry is proud of its tradition of supplying a healthy and high quality beef product to its customers and find that U.S. beef fills that need,” said Strohbehn.

“We visited with high level executives of the four major Japanese meat companies and they all look forward to increasing sales with U.S. beef suppliers.

“These Japanese companies are analyzing their marketing plans to expand U.S. beef sales if and when the 21-month age restriction is changed,” added Strohbehn.

Japan has required that U.S. beef imports be from cattle younger than 21 months since discovering one cow with BSE in the U.S. in December, 2003.

“Lack of supply of U.S. beef was also a consistent comment from the four major Japanese companies,” said Black.

“Limitations on age under 21 months make it difficult to provide U.S. beef throughout the year. Importers and retailers are very hopeful that the change to 30 months will allow them to increase purchases of U.S. beef.

“Japan has a population of more than 127 million people who have been increasing their taste for beef.”

“This trade promotion trip was an opportunity to continue to promote Iowa beef with a key trade partner.

Japan has been a great market for U.S. farmers as they appreciate the high quality, corn-fed beef we produce,” Northey commented.

Partial funding for the trade mission was provided by the $1-per-head beef checkoff.

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