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South Korea to Import Only Younger Cattle

Public pressure on the country's government is going to hit U.S. beef exports.

This week, as expected, the South Korean government issued a statement noting that while it knows beef 30 months of age and older is safe, it will only import U.S. beef from cattle younger than 30 months. In the statement, the South Korean government also requested that U.S. beef exporters ask the U.S. government to verify that U.S. beef exported to that market meets this request.

To meet the desires of the Korean customer, three associations representing the U.S. beef industry delivered the following letter to Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer and U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab today:

Dear Secretary Schafer and U.S. Trade Representative Schwab:

We are writing to you today on behalf of the U.S. beef industry regarding access to the Korean market. The U.S. beef industry recognizes that concerns have been expressed in Korea about the safety of U.S. beef from cattle thirty months of age and older and that these views are having an impact on perceptions of U.S. beef in the Korean market.

While the U.S. beef industry is confident that all beef produced in the United States is safe regardless of age, at the request of Korean meat importers to address consumer concerns, the U.S. beef industry is prepared to limit exports to Korea to only products from cattle less than thirty months of age under a program verified by USDA as a transitional measure to full market opening consistent with OIE guidelines.

To facilitate this commitment, the U.S. beef industry requests that, as soon as the "Import Health Requirements for U.S. Beef and Beef Products" (signed on April 18, 2008) become effective, the U.S. Government establish an age verification Quality System Assessment Program for Korea that will be in place until the conditions in the Korea market support the restoration of exports of all U.S. beef products to Korea.

Following publication by the Republic of Korea of the "Import Health Requirements for U.S. Beef and Beef Products," the U.S. Meat Export Federation will undertake a communication program to respond to questions that have been raised about the safety of U.S. beef and address the concerns that have been expressed in Korea, and we request the support and cooperation of the U.S. Government and the Government of Korea in this effort.

The U.S. beef industry respects and is responsive to the marketplace, consumer demand, and the principle of consumer choice. We value our relationships with our Korean customers and are committed to meeting their needs and addressing their concerns as U.S. beef returns to the Korean market.


Philip M. Seng

J. Patrick Boyle

Barry Carpenter

President & CEO

President & CEO

CEO & Executive Director

U.S. Meat Export Federation   

American Meat Institute

National Meat Association

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