Asian Markets A Top PriorityEditor’s Note: The following letter to USDA Under Secretary of Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Alexis Taylor was sent on behalf of ASI, Mountain States Rosen, Superior Farms and the U.S. Meat Export Federation in April.
We would like to thank USDA for elevating access for U.S. lamb exports as a market access priority and for making meaningful progress for lamb access in Taiwan and Japan over the last year. You and your agency’s hard work has put the U.S. on the cusp of gaining access to valuable export markets for the lamb industry.
With that in mind, we are writing to ask that the USDA act as expeditiously as possible to finalize the restoration of access for U.S. lamb exports to Taiwan and Japan.
The U.S. lamb industry has identified regaining access to the Taiwan and Japan markets as two of its top three market access priorities. The value of Taiwan’s lamb imports increased by approximately 80 percent from 2003 to 2012. Japan was a top five market for U.S. lamb prior to the market closing in 2003. If the U.S. were to capture just 10 percent of Taiwan and Japan’s lamb import market, the value would be $7 million and $13 million, respectively. The added revenue that would result from resuming exports to Taiwan and Japan would contribute to the profitability of the lamb industry and further diversify the industry’s portfolio of available markets.
Taiwan banned imports of lamb from the United States since December 2003 when the first case of BSE was recorded in the U.S. cattle herd. In 2014, the Taiwan Food and Drug Authority conducted audits of U.S. lamb packing establishments, which began the process that continues to this day for re-establishing access for U.S. lamb exports to Taiwan.
The industry understands that finalizing the export certificate language with TFDA is the primary remaining hurdle to completing the market opening. We ask that USDA move expeditiously to reach agreement with TFDA on the export certificate language so the industry can begin to capitalize on this market that continues to grow in its potential.
Japan also banned exports of U.S. lamb since December 2003, and work began on restoring access in 2015 when the government of Japan initiated a scientific assessment, via the Japanese Food Safety Commission, of the public and animal health risks associated with lamb exported from the U.S.
We understand that the FSC has completed the risk assessment and provided its recommendation on restoring U.S. lamb access to the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, and that MHLW has targeted July 2016 as the timeline to reopen the market. The industry asks that USDA work with the government of Japan to complete the terms necessary for re-establishing Japan as an export market for U.S. lamb so the industry can recapture a lucrative export market.
Thank you for your attention to this matter, and please do not hesitate to contact any of us if we can be of assistance as you engage your counterparts in the governments of Taiwan and Japan.