EU-US beef trade set to increase

The European Parliament's agriculture committee has backed a plan to increase US hormone-free beef imports by 25,000t in exchange for the removal of trade sanctions on other EU products. All MEPs will vote on the motion in March, but the industry has already welcomed the move as a step towards the end of the hormone trade war between the EU and the US.

US agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack announced that he was looking at new Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) rules that could open up the market for EU beef, in response to a report by Scottish MEP George Lyon urging the EU to increase US beef quotas.

The National Farmers' Union (NFU) said: “Overall the Lyon report represents an inevitable step towards freer trade as global markets continue to open. This must be seen as an opportunity for our producers and not as a threat. It is right that hormone-treated beef will remain prohibited and we will continue to work with the European Commission to ensure all imports adhere to our very high standards of production.

“In return for our reduction of restrictions on US beef imports the US must remove its sanctions on European beef as soon as possible. To that end we are pleased that Mr Lyon has received assurances from the US Agriculture Secretary that EU exports of beef and veal could soon resume.”

North America applied sanctions to a number of EU products after Europe imposed a ban on hormone-fed beef in reaction to the 1990s BSE outbreak.

> Scots appeal to US to lift import ban

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