The opening up of the US market for Irish beef is good news for the Irish farm sector on a number of fronts.
It is a positive endorsement of Ireland's food safety standards and our quality management systems. It can only enhance our reputation as a producer of prime beef. More importantly for beef farmers and processors, getting Irish steak onto American menus opens up an alternate outlet for Irish produce. Ireland is a major player in the global beef market, with 80pc of the country's output being exported each year and earnings totalling €1.9bn.
However, Irish exports have traditionally crossed the Irish and Celtic seas, with Britain taking around 50pc of 500,000 tonnes produced here each year, while mainland Europe takes most of the rest. North America could now offer a lucrative new market, particularly as there is growing demand in the US for what is termed 'grass-fed beef' or meat cattle raised on natural pastures. Hopefully Ireland will make the most of this opportunity.