Industry Pleased with S. Korea's Decision to Resume Imports of U.S. Beef

R-CALF says U.S. import standards are still the lowest in the world.

Published on: Sep 8, 2006

After a final tour of our U.S. processing facilities this month, Korea has agreed to begin accepting boneless beef from cattle younger than 30 months. Members from the beef industry voiced support from the announcement, but said it is a first step in full trade resumption.

"We will not rest until South Korean consumers have access to all the same beef cuts they enjoyed prior to December 2003," states National Cattlemen's Beef Association chief economist Gregg Doud. "Bone-in beef and variety meats historically accounted for roughly half of the total value of U.S. beef exports to South Korea. A continued ban on these top-selling products in Korea is unacceptable."

In 2003, the United States exported more than $814 million worth of beef to Korea, with boneless beef accounting for $449 million.

U.S. Meat Export Federation President and CEO Philip M. Seng, says USMEF believes that the last two years and nine months were a valuable period for the U.S. to complement and reinforce the domestic safety system to further minimize the BSE risk and to ensure Korean consumers are supplied wholesome and safe beef. "The U.S. has strict safety measures in every producing process to ensure the greatest safety," Seng says.

R-CALF disagrees with Seng's view of U.S. import requirements, calling them "the lowest import standards in the world."

R-CALF USA says import requirements from BSE-affected countries such as Canada and Japan and South Korea's standards bring to light the discrepancies in the U.S. safety system. "South Korea had delayed even this partial reopening of its border precisely because it viewed U.S. import requirements for Canadian beef and cattle to be inadequate," says R-CALF USA President Chuck Kiker.

R-CALF says USDA should permanently withdraw it's over 30-month trade rule with Canada; end its practice of granting access to the U.S. market before the U.S. fully regains all of its lost export market and it continues to call for country-of-origin labeling.

"These reforms are necessary in order for the U.S. to regain full access to our export markets," Kiker explained. "Like South Korea, other export markets that have reopened also have imposed stricter standards on U.S. exports than the U.S. requires for imports. Egypt, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Philippines, for example, have also opened their borders to U.S. exports of only boneless beef from cattle under 30 months of age. Japan will accept U.S. beef imports only from cattle 20 months of age and younger.