Local Ranchers says Japans Decision to Lift Ban Comes at Perfect Time - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Local Ranchers says Japans Decision to Lift Ban Comes at Perfect Time

YAKIMA, Wa -  Japan's decision to reopen its borders to US beef is welcome news to local ranchers here in the Yakima Valley.  And, they say Japan is only the beginning with other countries along the pacific rim likely to follow suit.

Justin Waddington is a cattle rancher from Brownstown.  He says Japan's decision to lift the ban on US beef couldn't have come at a better time.  "i'll say it's great," he says bluntly.

Waddington says cattle numbers were down when Japan first imposed the ban on US beef two and a half years ago, and that helped to soften the blow.  But now, the US has lifted its ban on Canadian beef and cattle number here are going up.

"Ranchers are building their numbers up. And if we don't have that export market, more cattle's going to be produced and it's going to stay here," says Waddington.

Japan was the number one exporter before the ban, taking in $1.4 billion in US beef a year.  It's decision to lift the ban will have a domino effect.

"It's a huge first step," says Jack Field of the Washington Cattlmen's Assocation, "Many other countries in the Pacific Rim have taken a wait and see approach.  In January, when Japan opened it's borders, many smaller countries fell in line and allowed a resumption of trade."

Ranchers like waddington say they'll see an impact in just a few months if the ban is lifted.

"I'll sell my calves in september or octover and the price shoud be stronger or as strong," says Waddington.

Japan has not set an official date on when it plans to allow US beef back in.

Japanese inspection officials still have to audit US processing plants.  They're supposed to be finished in late July.