DIAMOND, Mo. -- Japan relaxes a decade-old restriction on imported beef from the United States, allowing cattle producers to send more beef overseas.
Feeding 200 head of cattle during an extreme drought hasn't been easy for cattle producer Robert Bullis.
"Oh, it's been tough," he says. "Feed costs are higher, and it just takes more out of our pocket."
But, now he's seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.
"We're in good shape now."
Japan, once the biggest importer of U.S. beef, lifted a decade-old ban put in place after a mad cow disease scare in the U.S. Initially, it denied all beef imported, a decision that relaxed in 2006.
"Japan only took cattle from the United States if it was 20 month of younger," says Jackie Moore, owner of Joplin Stockyards.
But the new regulations now allow ranchers to export cattle 30 months or younger.
"That's probably going to double the amount of exports that we can have to Japan."
Allowing Bullis to keep more money is his pocket. Cattle prices are expected to spike due to the demand
"You're looking at $75 maybe $100 a head more," he says.
Helping improve Missouri's economy.
"There's more cattle within a 150-mile radius of where you're standing than probably anywhere else in the United States that's turned outside. A lot of those are beef cows. It's going to impact our part of the world and the money that those producers have in their pockets to spend in a huge, huge way."
But, ranchers say the success of the new regulation depends on something they can't control.
"We just gotta have the weather. We gotta have rain."
"If we have normal moisture this year, we'll have one of the most profitable years that we've ever had in history in the cattle business."
Japan expects to beginning receiving shipments in mid February.