A news release from the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association announced the recent lifting of restrictions on U.S. beef exports to Japan should be good for Texas cattlemen. According to the USDA, Japan will now allow imports of beef from cattle less than 30 months of age, as opposed to the previous limit of 20 months.
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Obviously, the eased regulations are good for those who make money on the beef industry throughout the States, not just cattlemen in Texas, but I have to wonder, what's this going to do to Texas' fajitas?
When Robb Walsh wrote about fajitas in an article that was syndicated here at the Observer he noted the following about outside skirt steak, the preferred cut for authentic fajitas...
In 1988, the U.S.-Japan Beef and Citrus Agreement reclassified outside skirt, the cut that started the fajita craze, as tariff-free offal. The Japanese, who used to pay the equivalent of a 200 percent tariff on U.S. beef, now buy our outside skirt steak with no tariff at all. They are currently importing 90 percent of it.
The eased restrictions can't be positive for the domestic availability, and subsequently the price, of outside skirt steak. The small cut is prized over inside skirt and other cuts for its tenderness. Inside skirt, the cut that's more commonly sold at Tex-Mex restaurants already, is so tough it often needs to be chemically tenderized before it's grilled.