Japan's Ban Raises Questions

The beef industry took a hit Friday, when Japan decided not to take beef imports from the U.S. because of fear of Mad Cow Disease.

That comes less than six weeks after the country lifted a previous ban.

No Mad Cow Disease has been found in any American beef, but Japanese importers did find a bone in some beef they fear could carry the disease.

"While this is a not food safety issue, this is a unacceptable failure on our part to meet the requirements of our agreements with trading partner Japan. As I said, we take this matter very seriously, recognizing the importance of beef export markets. We are acting swiftly and firmly," said Mike Johanns, the secretary of agriculture.

U.S. inspectors have been dispatched to Japan to make sure there are no problems.

But there is fear that this ban could have a major impact on local cattle farmers. Beef prices are at an all-time high right now. But some fear that may change with this latest news.

Cattle sales are held every Monday at the Meridian stockyard. Over the last several months, prices have been high and cattle farming has been relatively prosperous.

But some believe this latest scare may change that, at least in the short term, for local farmers.

"If packing houses can't sell the beef, then we don't have the orders from the order buyers to sell cattle at the Meridian Stockyard. It comes home to every single farmer," said Jerry Nelson,

A local vet says more than 6,000 dead cattle in Mississippi have been tested for Mad Cow over the three years and none have tested positive for the disease.

This is a big worry because Mad Cow can have an effect on the people who eat infected beef.

Here are some of the symptoms: hallucinations, muscle problems, nervousness, speech impairment, and deterioration of brain functions. Experts say these symptoms affect only a small number of people who eat beef infected by Mad Cow.


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