South Korea and Hong Kong are leading the way as growing importers as the U.S. experiences a 14 percent boost in beef exports this year. According to a quarterly report from Rabobank, year-to-date beef exports through June are up 14 percent, with South Korean imports jumping 41 percent and sales to Hong Kong increasing 11 percent. The ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and China has heavily impacted the pork sector, but the report notes the beef industry has been more insulated from the conflict since the Chinese market was only opened to U.S. beef last year. Export markets will need to remain available in the near future as Rabobank predicts 2019 beef production increasing by 2.5 to 3 percent. Droughts in part of the U.S. are also having mixed results for domestic protein production; Corn yields are expected to experience a slight (1 percent) dip, but pasture conditions are suffering as 15 states have extreme to excessive drought conditions. Half of the U.S. beef cattle herd resides in those states.

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