When Sam Carney, former president of the National Pork Producers Council, heard that Congress had approved a new free-trade agreement with South Korea that will end duties on U.S. pork by 2016, he knew that a compromise he made last December was worth it.

Back then, Carney, an Adair pork producer, had agreed to delay the effective date of the trade agreement by two years to 2016, according to a report in the Des Moines Register.

“You wouldn’t believe the number of calls I got on that one,” Carney said. “I had to do a lot of explaining. But we had to do it. We took one for the team and it was worth it.”

The compromise soothed the U.S. automobile industry and its workers, concerned about what it feared would be easier access of Korean automobiles to the U.S. market.

For Iowa’s 8,300 pork producers and hundreds of workers in eight major pork processing plants, the Korean market has been worth the four-year wait since the trade agreement was negotiated in 2007.

U.S. pork sales to Korea soared from $25 million in 2001 to $284 million by 2008. But the H1N1 virus scare in 2009 set in motion a decline to $190 million last year.

However, South Korea is once again a bright spot for U.S. pork as August exports more than doubled last year’s volume total (10,268 metric tons) and more than tripled the value ($31.2 million), according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. For the year, exports to Korea were 142 percent higher in volume (146,627 metric tons) and 192 percent higher in value ($374.5 million).

These totals have already set new full-year records for Korea, topping the previous highs set in 2008 of 133,532 metric tons valued at $284 million.


Source: Des Moines Register, USMEF