Ireland to restart beef exports to US

Ireland will export beef to the US for the first time in almost 16 years, following the lifting of a ban on European imports last year.

European beef imports have been banned from the US since the BSE crisis in the late 1990s. The ban was lifted last year, but Ireland is the first country to gain full access for its beef products.

“This is the culmination of two years of intensive work between my department and our US counterparts to prove our credentials as a supplier of highest-quality premium beef,” announced Irish Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.

The Department for Agriculture in Ireland reported it had already been working with interested Irish plants “to assess their readiness and suitability for export” to the US.

Marketing activity can now begin for Irish beef products, which will involve a dedicated website to promote Irish beef to US consumers, Coveney reported.

Coveney added: “This announcement by the US is a huge endorsement of Irish beef and our production and regulatory systems. It complements the other market access outlets we have secured in the past two years – all of which are a key element of our Food Harvest 2020 strategy to expand the overseas opportunity for Irish beef. It’s clear that diversifying our international beef markets as an exporting country is key to the long-term sustainability of our beef sector.”

English beef and lamb levy board Eblex said that it, too, was preparing the UK beef sector for access to the US, including showcasing US cutting methods and performing mock US-style inspections on British beef plants.

Dr Phil Hadley, Eblex head of supply chain development, said: “While we do not currently have access to the US market for ruminant meat, we felt it was prudent to ensure our industry is as fully prepared as possible. We anticipate an official inspection visit in early 2015 and this will hopefully enable access should an agreement be reached.”

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