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John Reddington, vice president for trade at the American Meat Institute, told an International Trade Commission panel last week that the way foreign countries such as Japan have expressed their concerns about mad cow disease “is a case study in overreaction.”

According to a Reuters story, “U.S. beef producers, feedlots and processors have lost nearly $12.5 billion in revenue alone to South Korea and Japan since the bans were first put in place. Before mad cow disease, the United States annually exported $1.4 billion in beef to Japan and $519 million to South Korea, making them the first and third largest customers for U.S. beef … This year the U.S. will export about 5 percent of its beef, compared with 10 percent in the past.”

KC's View:
Apparently, “the customer is always right” is a philosophy lost on the folks at the American Meat Institute.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter whether their reactions are proportionate or not. They are what they are. Trust has been lost, and must be regained. Charging other people with overreacting probably isn’t going to help. Especially when shipments to other countries continue to occasionally include banned materials, which must make other countries wonder if the US is serious about mad cow.

Ironically, the New York Times reported this weekend that “Canadian cattle over 30 months of age will be allowed into the U.S. market starting Monday, despite criticism from some domestic ranchers worried about mad cow disease. No one knows for sure how the decision will affect U.S. ranchers or foreign markets, which have yet to fully recover from the discovery of an infected cow in 2003.

“One cattlemen's group didn't wait to find out, filing an emergency request Friday for a temporary restraining order to block the rule from taking effect.”

Not sure how this is going to play in foreign markets…though I guess that whatever happens, it will be their fault.