The free trade agreement agreed upon by the United States and South Korea did not include any changes to the Korean restrictions on U.S. beef imports, which only permit beef from animals aged 30 months or younger. South Korea’s trade minister has ruled out holding further talks on changing those age limits.

“It is our government’s firm position that there is no room for further discussions on it,” said Kim Jong Hoon in an interview with KBS radio in Seoul, reports Bloomberg. He said he hoped the trade accord would take effect on Jan. 1, 2012.

Meat associations and industry leaders had called for the agreement to be passed without further negotiations on U.S. beef, and several organizations have already called for a quick passage of the agreement. They maintain the FTA will increase the amount of U.S. meat products exported to Korea, and they argue that a quick ratification would give U.S. producers an advantage over other countries that are also working on trade agreements with Korea, such as Australia.

Source: Bloomberg

BBQ chain experiments with spicy cheddar sausage

For the first time in decades, Texas-based Dickey's Barbecue Pit may be adding a new signature meat to their menu— Spicy Cheddar Sausage. The chain, with 134 locations in 32 states, is testing the sausage at its location in McKinney, Texas. According to the chain officials, the product has been a hit so far and could end up as a seasonal LTO product system-wide.

"This spicy sausage is delicious and is a great opportunity for us to offer something different for our customers," Dickeys Barbecue Restaurants Inc. President Roland Dickey, Jr. said.

Dickey's hasn't added a signature meat to its menu since 1952. The sausage is the first “spicy” item that the restaurant has offered its customers.

"It's time to try smoking something new. The spicy cheddar sausage is delicious and we are confident all our customers will feel the same" Dickey, Jr. said.

Dickey's put the task of creating a new and exciting limited time offer to its corporate chef, Tyler Riddle.

"Down here in Texas we love a few things with great passion; blazin' hot peppers and Texas-sized loads of melted cheese," he said. "When we went to the drawing board to design the new limited time offer we let our passion and pallets lead the way which brought us to proudly offer spicy cheddar sausage.

"Our spicy cheddar sausage carries a lot of the same flavors as our polish-style sausage, but with a kick," Riddle added. "Hints of roasted garlic, cracked black pepper, and old world spices can be tasted, but we also loaded it with a fiery mix of fresh peppers, hearty chunks of cheddar, and a tantalizing blend of smokin' spices!"

Source: Dickey’s Barbecue

Canada launches small meat pilot projects

Fulfilling a promise made at the Agriculture ministers' meeting in July, the Government of Canada will invest up to $3 million for a series of pilot projects that will investigate and help better position provincial meat processors to move their safe, high quality product across the country while keeping with Canada's high federal food safety standards.

"Producers and processors can be proud of their safe, high quality meat, but are often unable to sell to customers just kilometres away because of a provincial border," said Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. "We are working with the provinces to inject some common sense into interprovincial trade so that producers and processors can share their world-class product with more Canadian consumers."

As part of the ongoing work by federal and provincial Ministers to create market opportunities for farmers and producers, these pilot projects are part of a roadmap that would expand interprovincial trade in meat. Officials will work with industry to validate new inspection procedures, collect samples and information, and determine what technical procedures could be adapted to better reflect the operating environments of meat processors of all sizes.

"Breaking down interprovincial trade barriers will benefit our producers, processors and packers, who will be able to expand their markets," said Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister Bob Bjornerud, who was the co-chair of the Ministers' meetings this year. "Consumers in Saskatchewan and across Canada will benefit from a sound science-based approach to reducing red tape and interprovincial trade barriers."

Facilities interested in participating in the pilot project are invited to submit their application by January 7th to their respective province. Information about this project, including the list of participating provinces/territories, and how to apply, is available at

"One of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association's principles is free and competitive trade, both internationally and interprovincially," said Canadian Cattlemen's Association President Travis Toews. "The domestic market is our biggest market; removing barriers to improve interprovincial trade is a worthy undertaking."

This federal investment is being delivered through the Agricultural Flexibility Fund. The Agricultural Flexibility Fund provides up to $500-million to implement new initiatives that will help the agriculture sector adapt to pressures and improve its competitiveness by funding projects that reduce production costs, improve environmental sustainability, promote innovation and respond to market challenges.

Provincial governments and industry will be invited to contribute to those selected pilot projects.

Source: Canadian Food Inspection Agency