Lambert Opening Statement at May 2006 Beef Talks

Dr. Charles Lambert
Acting Under Secretary of Agriculture, Marketing & Regulatory Programs
Japan-US Expert Meeting on Resumption of US Beef Imports
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tokyo, Japan

May 17, 2006

ACTING UNDER SECRETARY LAMBERT: Thank you, Mr. Nakatomi. I am pleased to be back in Tokyo with members of the technical team to present a very favorable audit report. The report shows that U.S. packers have implemented additional measures that were announced by Secretary Johanns in January and that the packers can meet requirements of the Japanese market. USDA officials have audited all 35 plants that have applied to export beef to Japan. We've responded to Japan's questions and requests for information and are here to answer any additional questions about our findings and determine when and how trade will resume.

We also have some exciting new scientific evidence that I will share with Japanese officials. We have completed an analysis of seven years of data that shows the prevalence of BSE in the United States.

The analysis shows that the most likely number of BSE cases in the United States is somewhere between four-to-seven head in our herd of 42 million adult animals. This is an exceedingly low level of BSE, and the interlocking firewalls that we have in place more than assure that food safety and herd health are being protected.

OIE guidelines for trade from negligible-risk or controlled-risk countries would allow for trade in products from animals of any age and with fewer restrictions than are currently required for Japan. U.S. beef is safe, and we look forward to working with our Japanese counterparts to finalize this process so that trade can resume soon under the agreement that we have with Japan.

Thank you very much.