FORT COLLINS, Colo. (Kyodo) Japan and the United States started two days of working-level talks Monday on scientific measures to verify cows’ ages that may lead Japan to remove its ban on American beef imports.

The meeting, the first official working-level talks on the beef issue since July, will focus on a system for confirming American cows’ ages at farms and whether the U.S. government can verify its accuracy.

U.S. and Japanese experts who are participating in the meeting visited ranches and cow-fattening facilities in Fort Collins, Colo. later in the day.

Japan has banned beef imports from the United States since mad cow disease was found in a Canadian-born cow in the state of Washington last December.

The government is now inclined toward easing its requirement that all slaughtered cattle for beef be tested for bovine spongiform encephalopathy. It is considering removing cows aged 20 months or younger from the testing.

As most beef cows are slaughtered before 20 months of age in the United States, an accord between the two countries on how to verify age may pave the way for resuming imports of American beef.

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