Japan is loosening regulations on beef imports from the U.S. that had been in place for about a decade due to worries over mad cow disease.
Once the biggest buyer of U.S. beef, Japan has agreed to allow imports of cows up to 30 months old, according to the Associated Press. Previously only meat from cows up to 20 months of age were allowed into the country.
Lighter restrictions will be a boon for American meat exporters who had lost market share after Japan laid down safeguards following an outbreak of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, in 2003. The disease can be passed onto humans who eat meat from infected cattle.
Imports of U.S. beef into Japan had dropped 60% from 2001 to 2011, according to Reuters. Now U.S. suppliers can compete with Australian exporters who had stepped in to fill Japan's appetite for beef.