Last week at the Cattle Industry Convention, Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer spoke about the importance of reopening international beef markets that have been closed since 2003 and how that is a priority of USDA and the Bush Administration.
Resuming full beef trade with South Korea is a primary focus of that effort right now. Beef trade has been one of the major stumbling blocks standing in the way of Congress approving a pending free trade agreement with South Korea.
Schafer says progress is being made on both issues from the South Korean side. That stems from policy's of the new South Korean President Lee Myung Bak, who will be sworn in later this month.
"The president in his election cycle supported the free trade agreement and understands that there won't be a free trade agreement with the United States unless we see movement on the beef," Schafer says. "I believe the communications from the new president have indicated that we need to agreement on this if we are going to see the free trade, he feels it's an important issue and we hope to see the new assembly pass the FTA on April 9."