FTA Threat Enough To Hurt Beef Producers

US - South Korea and the United States have yet to ratify a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA), but South Korean beef producers are already in a state of collapse. Wholesale prices of South Korean beef, or hanu, continue to plunge as producers dump beef on the market, fearing over an influx of American and Canadian beef.
calendar icon 4 May 2007
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» A cowshed of Sim Seong-gu

According to data by the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation (NACF), the average wholesale price of a female hanu calf dropped 27 percent, to 2,101,000 won, as of May 2, compared 2,878,000 won in January. The price of a 600-kilogram female hanu fell 13 percent to 4,767,000 won from 5.48 million won. The price of a male hanu calf declined 13.3 percent to 2,012,000 won from 2,321,000 won.

The plunge in wholesale prices is seen a reflection of fears by livestock farmers after the South Korea-U.S. FTA. Typically, it takes two to three years for a calf to grow to a 600-kilogram hanu. So, the price decline is affecting female calves, male calves, cow and bulls, in that order.

In fact, the mass-selling of hanu is a nationwide phenomenon. Sim Seong-gu, 54, a livestock farmer at Hongseong in South Chungcheong province, said, "Farmers are struggling to sell cattle. In general, a bull is castrated after two years. But, prices are falling further as farmers are selling bulls without castration." Min Jae-gi, head of the Hongseong Hanu Association, said, "Some even butcher cows in pregnancy. Farmers aren't willing to raise cattle due to the worries." Jang gi-su, 49, who has raised cattle for 13 years in Namwon of North Jeolla province, said, "In the past, I can buy three calves after selling two cows. But now, I can buy four calves when I sell two cows."

Source: HankYoreh
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