Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has announced the government of South Korea has lifted the suspension of six U.S. meat plants.

"We are pleased that Korea will allow the resumption of shipments from these plants," said Johanns. "USDA has taken action to ensure compliance with Korean import requirements here in the United States and Korea recognized these efforts. Despite some start-up problems, beef exports to Korea are rapidly increasing."

U.S. exporters have sold more than 500 tons of U.S. beef to Korea this year.

Johanns also announced that a U.S. delegation is in Japan to begin technical discussions, the next step in the process to more fully open the Japanese market to U.S. beef and beef products.

Since the United States was classified as a controlled risk country by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the United States has been urging its trading partners to reopen export markets to the full spectrum of U.S. cattle and beef products.