South Korea said Wednesday it will delay resumption of U.S. beef imports after finding some operating problems with U.S. meat processing facilities, the Korea Times reports.

South Korea's Ministry of Ag and Forestry said its inspections of 37 U.S. meat-processing facilities last month revealed shortcomings to be addressed. The announcement is expected to push back the resumption of U.S. beef imports, banned since late December 2003, at least into July. The South Korea-U.S. agreement reached in January allows only boneless products from animals 30 months of age and younger.

In its latest announcement, South Korea cited inadequate separation of U.S.-raised and foreign beef, and over-30 beef from under-30 beef.

Only Australia, New Zealand and Mexico currently export beef into the country.

In other U.S.-Korea news, negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries began this week. The goal is to complete the FTA by the end of the year. Contentious issues include automobiles, rice and, of course, beef.
-- Joe Roybal