Japan has agreed to ease age restrictions on beef from Canada, which could lead to a doubled market value of exports resulting in up to C$150m annually.
The new deal will see the age restriction on Canadian beef increase from 21 months of age to 30 months of age, the Government of Canada and Japanese authorities confirmed on Monday (28 January).
As Canada’s third-biggest export market for beef, Japan’s decision to relax restrictions will lead to a huge financial gain for Canada, resulting in a potential C$150m per year as opposed to its previous C$70m-C$75m per year.
The announcement was made by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and International Trade Minister Ed Fast and the new regulations will come into effect on 1 February 2013.
Commenting on the new regulations, Ritz said: “Our government welcomes this expanded access for Canadian beef into the valuable Japanese market.
“This agreement will put more top-quality Canadian beef on Japanese store shelves while strengthening our producers’ bottom lines and growing our overall economy.”
Fast said: “Today’s announcement is proof that these efforts are getting results, and we look forward to taking our trading relationship with Japan to the next level through an Economic Partnership Agreement, which would provide additional export opportunities for Canadian businesses.”
Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) president Martin Unrau said the new agreement was “welcome news” for Canadian beef farmers.
“Japan is an extremely important market and this expanded access will breathe new life into the Canadian beef cattle sector,” he said. “I want to thank Minister Ritz for the priority he has placed on working with the Japanese to deliver this outstanding result for Canadian producers.”
Unrau added that all Canadian beef was safe, due to the country’s close BSE surveillance and strong control measures.
A restriction on Canadian beef was first put into action when the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) disease broke out in Canada in 2003. In 2005, the market for export was reopened, but because of the tight requirements on age, the amount of Canadian beef eligible for export has been severely cut down.