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SYDNEY — Australian cattle farmers staged an Aussie-style barbecue Friday outside the Japanese Embassy in Canberra to protest a tariff increase introduced by the Japanese government earlier in the week.

“This is about sending a strong message to the Japanese government that it’s just not on,” Cattle Council of Australia President Keith Adams told Kyodo News.

The tariff on imported beef rose to 50 percent from 38.5 percent Friday under a World Trade Organization rule that allows an automatic hike if imports rise by over 17 percent.

Beef imports surged in the April-June quarter after plummeting in the same period last year following the detection of mad cow disease — or bovine spongiform encephalopathy — in Japanese cattle in September 2001, causing consumers to shun all beef products.

Australian beef farmers recognize the tariff rise, which will last until next March 31, is legal under the WTO provisions, Adams said.

“But when you look at it a bit closer, the so-called market surge is only a partial recovery from the effects BSE had on the market,” he said.

The council believes the tariff increase is not only unjust, but “certainly not in the interests of freeing up trade in world agriculture.”

It will also push up the price of the product for consumers in Japan, he said.

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