During 2008, Colorado was the No. 1 supplier of beef and beef variety meats to Canada, the No. 2 supplier to Japan and Mexico and the No. 1 supplier of fresh chilled beef to Korea.

For the first time, beef exports from Colorado exceed levels reached prior to the closure of most major  U.S. beef markets during the 2003 discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

The beef industry accounts for more than half of the state’s cash receipts from crop production and livestock.

Last year, exports of beef and beef variety meats jumped 55 percent from 2007 levels to $497 million, while total U.S. exports increased 42 percent to more than $3 billion.

A spokesman for the Colorado Department of Agriculture also said that some products and cuts of beef are sold in international markets at higher prices than in the U.S.