The United States and Japan have agreed to lift Japan's longstanding restrictions on U.S. beef exports.

Back in 2003, the ban was put in place after a cow was identified with mad cow disease, a fatal disease which attacks the adult cattle's central nervous system.

"In Japan, they maintained a restriction that a cow or calf had to remain under 30 months of age," said Colter Brown from the Northern AG Network. "That restriction has been in effect for what's been 15 or 16 years now and it really did limit the industry, but now it's a big step forward that they say will increase exports to Japan by 7 to 10 percent. "

Many factors played into the ban being lifted, one of them highlighting science based restrictions.

"The science tells us that it doesn't really matter if the calf is over or under 30 months of age because of the high restrictions in the U.S. here to prevent BSE or mad cow disease from developing so the beef is safe," added Brown. "So, there's really no need to have that type of restriction."

With about $2 billion dollars worth of beef sent to Japan in 2018, Brown said the United States will be able to send an estimated $200 million dollars more this year with the ban now lifted.

"So, that's just more access to our beef that not only helps Montana ranchers, but ranchers all over the country because they have more access to that market," said Brown.

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