Tag Archives: South Korea

South Korea is one of the largest and most loyal U.S. grain markets, but there is always something new to learn and see in the U.S. corn belt. Continuing 47 years of market development efforts, the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) organized a team of South Korean feed grain executives to travel to Illinois, Iowa and Louisiana in early September to explore the U.S. grain export system and get a firsthand look at the current year’s corn crop.

“We hoped to reassure the team members of the ability and commitment of U.S. farmers and agribusinesses as reliable grains and co-products suppliers,” said Haksoo Kim, USGC director in Korea, who accompanied the team.

“The team was initially concerned about considerable reductions to U.S. corn yields due to late planting this year. After seeing the corn growing conditions in major production states, they concluded the crop was much better than expected and expressed intentions to purchase the new U.S. corn crop.”

In addition to corn fields and farms, the team visited a grain trading house, local river elevators, grain inspection field offices, terminal export elevators, ethanol plants and life science companies.

“This program provided the leaders from our important customers the opportunity to build closer business relationships with the U.S. feed and food grain industry,” Kim said. “The team members all agreed that this mission helped them understand the value chain of U.S. corn and co-products from A to Z, and they decided to meet regularly to share market information in the future.”

The Council has worked in South Korea since 1972, and USGC programs have been instrumental in the growth of the livestock and corn-processing industries in the country. Today, South Korea is one of the top five grain-importing markets in the world, producing just 200,000 tons domestically of the 12 million tons consumed each year for animal feed, corn milling, alcoholic beverages and other uses. Corn accounts for roughly 83 percent of this overall demand.

South Korea is now considered a mature market, meaning growth in feed demand will increase more slowly. At the same time, competition from other major exporters in South America and the Black Sea is intensifying.

Under these circumstances, USGC programs and activities – like this trade team – play an important role in not only protecting existing markets for corn and distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), but also in increasing demand for other products like U.S. ethanol.

South Korea ranks as the fourth largest buyer of U.S. grains in all forms in the current marketing year (September 2018-July 2019), ranking as the third largest buyer of U.S. DDGS at 1.08 million tons and fourth largest buyer of U.S. corn at 3.74 million tons (147 million bushels). Notably, imports of grains in all forms have increased 78 percent since the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) went into effect in 2012.

South Korea said Friday that it is investigating more suspected cases of African swine fever in farms near its border with North Korea, as fears grow over the spread of the illness that has decimated pig herds across Asia.

South Korea’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Gyeonggi provincial government said officials are testing samples of three dead pigs from two farms in Paju, a city where the country’s first case of the disease was confirmed Monday. Test results were expected to come out Friday night.

The two Paju farms, which raise more than 7,000 pigs combined, were also within 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) of a farm in the nearby town of Yeoncheon, where a second case of the disease was confirmed Tuesday, said Park Byeong-hong, an agriculture ministry official.

“We dispatched quarantine officials to the farms to prevent the movement of people, animals and vehicles and to disinfect facilities,” Park said in a news conference in Sejong City. “If the cases are confirmed as African swine fever, we will immediately conduct quarantine measures required under our standard procedure, such as urgent culling operations.”

African swine fever is harmless to humans but highly contagious and fatal for pigs as there is no known cure. It has decimated herds in China and other Asian countries.

South Korea has stepped up efforts to contain the disease, which may have crossed from North Korea, where an outbreak was reported near its border with China in late May. South Korean workers had culled some 10,400 pigs at border area farms as of Friday morning and were in process of killing and burying about 5,000 more, the agriculture ministry said.

The ministry said quarantine officials were testing blood from pigs at some 100 farms within 10 kilometers (6 miles) of the infected farms in Paju and Yeoncheon, and that samples from 56 farms had come back negative.

About 6,300 farms in South Korea raise more than 11 million pigs. South Korean officials have said the next three weeks would be crucial for fighting the outbreak, considering the disease’s incubation periods.

Officials have stepped up efforts to disinfect farms and vehicles. They imposed temporary bans on farms near the border from transporting their pigs to other areas and began inspections of some 200 slaughter houses, feed factories and artificial insemination facilities that deal with large numbers of pig farms across the country.

More traps and nets will be installed to capture wild boars that roam in and out of North Korea, which some experts see as a potential source of the outbreak in South Korea. South Korea’s Defense Ministry has dispatched soldiers to support quarantine efforts and monitor areas along a river that flows through the border between the Koreas, searching for wild boars that may swim across from the North.

“It’s crucial to strictly restrict the movement of people, cars and animals and also prevent (pigs) from contact with wild boars,” Park said.

North Korea in recent months has virtually scrapped all diplomatic activity and cooperation with South Korea amid a standstill in nuclear negotiations with the United States, complicating efforts at preventing the North Korean outbreak from spreading to areas near the border.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which deals with affairs with the North, said Friday that Pyongyang is continuing to ignore Seoul’s calls for joint quarantine efforts to fight the disease.

South Korea has now joined eight other Asian countries in becoming positive for African swine fever (ASF). This comes after pigs were found positive for ASF near the nation’s border with North Korea, which has been positive for the virus since May.

Kim Hyun-soo, South Korea’s agricultural minister, said the country’s first case of the highly contagious disease was confirmed on Sept. 17 based on tests conducted on five pigs that died earlier this week on a farm in the city of Paju (see red dot on map). Another case is suspected in the nearby town of Yeoncheon.

The government has strengthened efforts to disinfect farms and transport vehicles and ordered a 48-hour standstill on all pig farms, slaughterhouses and feed mills across the country to prevent the spread of the disease. South Korea and has ordered about 6,000 farms that produce more than 11 million pigs.

South Korea does not import any pork products or live pigs from China due to that country’s animal disease status. It mainly imports from the United States and Germany, and pork imports account for about a third of the country’s total pork supplies.