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South Korean Livestock Farmers Hit Hard

South Korea's livestock farmers are being forced to pay more to import animal feeds from abroad in line with soaring international grain costs.

In a survey of 1,400 farming households producing beef, pork, milk, chicken and eggs, released by the National Statistical Office (NSO) Wednesday, farmers breeding pigs earned an average of 56,000 won per head in 2007, down 41.7 percent from 96,000 won a year earlier.

The pig farmers spent 183,000 won on average to produce 100 kg of pork, up 5.2 percent from 174,000 won, while making 221,000 won from the sale of 100 kg of pork, down 10.9 percent from 248,000 won.

Surging animal feed prices and other production-related costs played a role in aggravating the profitability of livestock farming, but the resumption of American beef was the main culprit behind their worsening bottom line, the statistical office said.

Avian influenza
Korean livestock farmers are bracing themselves for the avian influenza which is sweeping the nation. An NSO official stated that the prices of imported grain-based animal feeds have surged in line with other international commodities, and projected that the public fear over the avian influenza and the safety issue of U.S. beef will keep meat consumption low and further aggravates the earnings of livestock farmers.

"More farmers have begun breeding cows, pigs and chickens in recent years to generate greater income on rising meat demand from wealthier Korean consumers. But the oversupply has put downward pressure on meat prices and made livestock raisers poorer," he continued.

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