Last month Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, announced his upcoming trade visits to China and Vietnam with part of his agenda focused on increasing beef trade with both of those Asian nations.

"Its an opportunity for us to take advantage of the recently signed pre-trade agreement with Korea, Colombia and Panama."

The US Department of Agriculture is reaching out with the message that, since Korea is willing to fully accept U.S. beef products based on current international standards for protection against Mad Cow Disease,  other Asian nations should follow suit.

Vilsack says, "Its an opportunity for us to send the same message to Japan."

Apparently the Japanese are considering that message, as earlier in the week the Japanese government announced it would review current restrictions to U.S. Beef from cattle over 20 months of age. The restrictions on beef trade to Japan have been in place since a case of BSE was reported in the U.S. in late 2003. Prior to that Japan was the United States' largest export beef customer.