Korea Battles Foot-and-Mouth Disease, US Exports Expected to Continue

U.S. exports to Korea may be slightly affected by a recent bout of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), but not to the point of great concern, the U.S. Grains Council said.

On Nov. 29, 2010, an outbreak of FMD was first detected in the Republic of Korea and has since spread throughout the country. With more than 100 confirmed cases, this outbreak marks the country’s worst battle with the disease since 2002, which resulted in the slaughtering of 160,000 head of livestock.

The Korean government, led by its Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), has been aggressively engaged, taking significant measures to halt the spread of FMD.

“The Korean government is taking this current outbreak very seriously,� said Byong Ryol Min, USGC director in Korea. “Last week, the government instructed all Korean feed millers and dealers to interrupt feed production and delivery for over 24 hours and implemented a full scale bio-security measure to mitigate or stop further outbreak of FMD.�

“According to news reports, about 1.5 million animals have been slaughtered thus far, including 120,600 head of cattle or 3.6 percent of the country’s total inventory. About 1,375,000 hogs have been culled and 4,400 goats and deer. MAFF also decided to vaccinate 210,000 hogs in the infected concentrated hog farming areas.â€�

While the numbers may seem alarming, Min projected that if no further outbreaks occur in Korea this year, the nation’s total mixed feed consumption will be decreased by 2-2.5 percent compared to 2010. While this is certainly an unanticipated, short-term disruption in Korea’s demand for feed grains, longer term demand for U.S. grain remains strong.

“Korea imported 5.9 million metric tons (232.3 million bushels) of corn for feed use during January – November 2010, 5.4 million tons (212.6 million bushels) or 92 percent of which came from the United States. The country also imported 1.9 million tons (74.8 million bushels) of corn for food and industrial use during that same period, of which 1.2 million tons (47.2 million bushels) or 64 percent is from the United States,� he said.

“Considering the fact that Korea imported nearly 2 million tons of feed wheat during the first 11 months of 2010 and the fact that feed wheat prices will be quite strong in 2011, the disease alone may not badly affect Korea’s feed corn imports from the United States.�

About the U.S. Grains Council

The U.S. Grains Council develops export markets for U.S. barley, corn, sorghum and related products including distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and ethanol. With full-time presence in 13 key markets and representatives in an additional 15 locations, the Council operates programs in more than 50 countries and the European Union. The Council believes exports are vital to global economic development and to U.S. agriculture’s profitability. Detailed information about the Council and its programs is online at www.grains.org.