“We need to see how this affects the Korean and Japanese markets,” David Byard, executive officer of the Australian Beef Association, said by telephone today. “It all depends on how the Japanese and the Koreans take this.”
Australia last year overtook Brazil as the largest shipper of beef, with its three biggest markets, Japan, the U.S. and South Korea. The government is monitoring the situation, the Department of Agriculture said in an e-mailed statement, adding Australia “does not import beef or beef products from cattle of U.S. origin.”
The brain-wasting disease has been found in a dairy cow in central California, John Clifford, the USDA’s chief veterinarian, told reporters in Washington yesterday. Its meat did not enter the food chain and the carcass will be destroyed, Clifford said. South Korea will halt customs clearance of any new U.S. beef imports, Park Sang Ho, an official at the Asian nation’s farm ministry, said by phone today.
Japan has no plan to suspend U.S. beef imports “at the moment” even after the discovery, Minoru Yamamoto, director of the animal health division at the farm ministry said by phone.
It was the fourth confirmed case of the disease in the U.S. cattle herd since the first was discovered in December 2003 in an animal that came from Canada. Dozens of countries shuttered their doors to U.S. shipments following that discovery and nations including Japan and China have maintained some restrictions ever since.
Losses to livestock producers and meatpackers ranged from $2.5 billion to $3.1 billion annually from 2004 through 2007, according to the International Trade Commission.
Australia’s beef and veal exports, valued at A$4.3 billion ($4.4 billion) during fiscal 2011, may increase 1.6 percent next year as production gains on heavier carcass weights, according to a March 6 report from government forecaster the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences.
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