Waiting for Japanese beef trade to open for either Canadian or U.S. beef is like watching a ping pong match. Lots of bouncing back and forth, but no forward action.

Recent visits of Japanese trade personnel in Kansas and in Alberta, Canada, suggest that the Japanese won't be buying North American beef anytime soon. 

According to a Reuters' news report, a Japanese official said his government is unsure about the timing of authorizing beef imports from the United States and Canada. Specifically, he said the United States must establish a standard to certify cattle's age and origin. He also said that Canada, while further ahead in terms of tracing origin, has nothing in its database to indicate an animal's birth date.

"We still need to work on many little things, but we are headed in the right direction," the official told Reuters.

The government is still awaiting the Food Safety Commission's approval of its plan to exclude cattle less than 20 months of age from universal testing requirements for bovine spongiform encephalopathy. However, a suspected case of BSE found in Japan in an animal just barely 20 months old, could change those plans. If the animal is positive for BSE, Japan could back away from its planned suspension of universal BSE testing.

 Source: Reuters, Meatingplace.com