Ireland first country in EU to export beef to US since the BSE crisis
Ireland will be the first country in the EU to export beef to the Unites States since the BSE crisis.
The European-wide ban, in place since in the late 1990s, was lifted last year with Ireland passing inspections by the US authorities of our beef production systems in July.
“This announcement by the US is a huge endorsement of Irish beef and our production and regulatory systems,” said Mr Coveney.
“It’s clear that diversifying our international beef markets as an exporting country is key to the long-term sustainability of our beef sector.”
Beef from the EU has been banned from the US since it imposed its ban for BSE reasons over 15 years ago, and was only formally lifted in March 2014.
Ireland had been consistently calling for the US to lift its ban, with the minister rising the matter with his US counterpart, Secretary of State Tom Vilsack, citing the high demand for Irish beef around the world as proof of its quality and reliability.
This US decision clears the way for the Irish authorities to approve individual beef plants here to export to the US, approval for which will be based on agreed criteria with their US counterparts. The Department has been working with interested Irish plants to assess their readiness and suitability for export for some time and this work will intensify now in order that the trade can formally commence as soon as possible.
“This US market is a huge prize given the size of the market and the demand we know exists there for premium grass-fed beef,” the minister added.
“We now have first-mover advantage as a result of being the first EU member state to gain entry.
“There is also the large Irish-American community which will be a key target of our promotional efforts for Irish beef now.”
Meat Industry Ireland (MII), the Ibec group that represents meat processors, said industry chiefs have been working on this for several years.
MII Senior Executive, Joe Ryan, said: "While we are awaiting clarification on some aspects, it is important now to get an agreed certificate in place as soon as possible so that trade can commence. Individual Irish beef processing companies have been working on developing new customer contacts and potential outlets for some time.
"USDA approval is important from the perspective of Irish beef's international reputation. This is a further endorsement of our food safety standards and our quality management systems.
"It is positive from an overall trade perspective and our ongoing work in improving international market access for Irish beef."
Department officials and Bord Bia will announce a number of initiatives in the coming weeks including a dedicated website aimed at American consumers and buyers highlighting the quality of Irish beef.
“This announcement marks a fantastic start to 2015 for the Irish beef sector,” Mr Coveney added.
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