Despite strong demand for U.S. beef in Japan, beef exports to Japan have been slowed by regulations and hesitant packers. The president of the Cattleman's Beef Association said, "Our perspective is that the demand in Japan for U.S. product is higher than the supply right now." As part of an agreement to restart the trade, Japan restricted imports from the U.S. and Canada to cattle under 21 months old. This has made it difficult for exporters to get large volumes of product flowing through the system. Japan first reopened its market in December 2005 to U.S. beef then shut it again a month later following the discovery of prohibited spinal material. U.S. exporters were left grappling with major losses and now see the Japanese market as unreliable. As a result, when the trade with Japan restarted in August, U.S. exporters decided against immediately gearing up for and preparing the huge volumes of beef. The U.S. exported 623 metric tons of beef to Japan in January. In August, these exports totaled just 105 tons.