On Friday, the U.S. and South Korea announced an agreement that will open that market to all ages and all cuts of U.S. beef. According to USDA undersecretary Mark Keenum, it won't take long to start moving beef into South Korea.
"We expect the products that are in the pipeline already will be allowed to enter South Korea under this new protocol," Keenum says. "The details and specifics of the protocol we anticipate will take effect sometime around mid-May when this will be fully in compliance."
Before the 2003 ban, South Korea was the third largest customer of U.S. beef. Keenum says it has taken several years to reach this point, but with Korea's acceptance of World Health Organization guidelines, it opens opportunities to pursue other markets in Southeast Asia and around the world. In particular, Keenum says they are excited about Japan, China and Taiwan as potentially significant buyers of U.S. beef.