Serving Japan's PM a T-bone Could Help End Trade Dispute (Sen. Max Baucus)

The old saying is that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. That may or may not be true, but I do think the way to resolve America's current "beef" with Japan could be one tasty meal. For too long now, Japan has maintained an unscientific and unfair ban on U.S. beef imports. This week, President Bush will have a great opportunity to knock down that trade barrier for America's ranchers when Japan's new prime minister comes to town.

International standards show that all U.S. beef is safe, regardless of the age of the cattle. I have worked hard to convince Japan of this. I've gone to Japan and I've had Japanese trade ministers out to a Montana ranch to sample Montana beef. I've weighed in with the Japanese Food Safety Commission -- in Japanese. These efforts have moved the ball forward for U.S. ranchers. Japan's total ban on our beef is now gone. But Japan still blocks U.S. beef from cattle more than 20 months of age. We need a little more dinner-table diplomacy to get American ranchers the market access they deserve.

I've asked the President to work on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during Abe's first visit to the U.S. this week. My colleague Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and I also asked the White House chef to serve Prime Minister Abe a delicious Montana steak as proof that our ranchers grow the safest, most delicious beef in the world. The President should press the case this week for Japan to accept all U.S. beef, and he should do it over a big T-bone. It could be the meal that seals the very best deal for U.S. ranchers with Japan.