The Republic of Korea has decided to inspect only a sample of U.S. pork exports versus 100 percent of them and to lift a ban on live-hog imports from the United States. The restrictions were originally put in place this spring in the wake of the Type A H1N1 flu outbreak.

“South Korea’s decision is good news for U.S. pork producers,” said Don Butler, National Pork Producers Council president. “NPPC has been working closely with U.S. and foreign government officials to terminate all remaining (Type A) H1N1 restrictions on U.S. hog and pork exports. Korea is a top market for U.S. pork exports and an important destination for swine breeding stock. Our producers are enduring very difficult financial times, and the removal of these restrictions by Korea is appreciated.”

September 2007, the U.S. pork industry has lost nearly $4.5 billion, and producers have lost an average of more than $21 per hog marketed since then. While high production costs – mostly feed-grain prices – are the primary culprit for the industry’s economic woes, restrictions on U.S. pork and hog exports put in place in early May by several countries that cited fears of Type A H1N1 influenza have only exacerbated the problems.

In 2008, South Korea was the sixth largest market for U.S. pork, with exports valued at $284 million. Through May this year's exports to Korea were down 10 percent by volume and 7 percent in value. Breeding stock exports to the country also have declined this year because of the Type A H1N1-related ban. Korea was a top destination for U.S. live hogs in 2008 with exports of $1.1 million.