In a major victory for American poultry producers, South Korea has officially agreed to reopen its market to fresh and frozen poultry from the United States. The Korean government, based in Seoul, initially quarantined American poultry products at the beginning of 2015 due to food safety concerns. Being regulated out of the South Korean market took its toll on American poultry manufacturers, as a $122.3 million export business in 2014 shrunk to $21.7 million in 2015, a striking 82% decline. However, with the issue resolved, any poultry processed in the U.S. after June 1 of this year is eligible for export to South Korea.
Seoul clipped the wings of the American poultry industry due to a series of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI, commonly known as "bird flu") outbreaks across the American Midwest. The quarantine was originally scheduled to end in January of 2016, but another HPAI outbreak in Indiana over the winter convinced the South Korean government to extend the ban. The USDA negotiated with the South Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety for months, eventually satisfying its Korean counterpart with assurances that poultry from outbreak-affected regions would never enter the market.