Australia's beef exports to Japan, South Korea may be lifted by new report of mad cow disease in U.S., industry group says

LOS ANGELES , April 25, 2012 () – Australia's beef exports to Japan and South Korea may increase following a new report of mad cow disease in the U.S., according to the Australian Beef Association, Bloomberg reported April 24.

Australian Beef Association Chief Executive Officer David Byard said that the effects of the report on the Australian beef industry will depend upon how South Korea and Japan respond to the news.

In 2011, Australia passed Brazil to become the largest beef exporter in the world. Australia’s three largest beef markets are Japan, the U.S. and South Korea.

In an emailed statement, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said that it is currently monitoring the situation, and that Australia does not import either U.S. cattle or beef products made from U.S. cattle.

On April 24, Chief Veterinarian John Clifford of the USDA announced that bovine spongiform encephalopathy, more commonly known as mad cow disease, had been found in central California. Meat from the infected dairy cow did not enter the food chain, he added.

Park Sang Ho of South Korea’s farm ministry said that South Korea will not grant customs clearance for any new U.S. beef imports.

Minoru Yamamoto, the animal health division director at the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, said that Japan is not currently planning to suspend beef imports from the U.S.

This is the fourth confirmed case of mad cow disease in the U.S since 2003. Following the first discovery of mad cow disease in the U.S. in December 2003, dozens of countries either banned or placed restrictions on U.S. beef imports. Some countries including China and Japan still have some of these restrictions in place.

According to the International Trade Commission, U.S. livestock producers and meatpackers have lost between US$2.5 billion-$3.1 billion annually during a four-year period that ended in 2007.

In a March 6 report, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences estimated that the value of Australia’s beef and veal exports may rise 1.6% in 2012, up from an estimated A$4.3 billion (US$4.4 billion), driven by production gains on heavier carcass weights.

The primary source of this article is Bloomberg, New York, New York, on April 24, 2012.

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