December 30, 2008


South Korea to invest KRW531 billion in domestic beef sector next year


Seoul said on Monday (Dec 29) it will spend KRW530.9 billion (US$413.4 million) in 2009 to help domestic beef producers cope with cheap imports and fluctuating livestock numbers.


The plan will run from 2009 to 2012, and will call for a fixed number of hanwoo cattle to be raised and the securing of a minimum domestic market share which will be key for ensuring consistent profit levels for local livestock farmers, said the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.


Lee Sang-kil, head of the ministry's livestock policy office, said the targets are to have at least 2 million heads of hanwoo cattle, 40 percent market share, as well as bringing down prices to 2.5 times that of imports.


The average price of hanwoo beef is about three times that of imports, while hanwoo cattle numbers are expecting to decline to 1.5 million heads with market share falling to 35 percent in 2012. There are currently 2.4 million hanwoo cattle with a market share of about 50 percent.


South Korea has fully reopened its market to US beef imports in June, resulting in the decline of local beef prices, reduced farmers' profits and forcing the producers to raise fewer cattle, which could lead to an imbalance of supply and demand.


Aside from the KRW530.9 billion allocated for 2009, Lee also said KRW570 billion (US$443.2 billion) could be earmarked each year up till 2012.


The four-year plan aims to encourage production increase among small cattle farmers to support efforts to improve meat quality, and to streamline distribution and slaughtering facilities to cut distribution costs, said Lee.


Other measures will aim to improve self-sufficiency in feed and bolstering marketing efforts.


The ministry has also said it will buy calves and milk cows for the first quarter of 2009 to curb price falls.

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