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A Letter in Response to Korean Beef Worries

23 June 2008

US - On June 20, 2008, the Korea Import Beef Association released a statement declaring that while the importers believe that U.S. beef from cattle of 30 months of age and over is safe, as a transitional measure in response to current market conditions, they will only import U.S. beef from cattle less than 30 months.

In the statement they also requested that U.S. beef exporters ask the U.S. government to verify that U.S. beef exported to Korea meets this request by the importers.

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

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 (QSA) 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.

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