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US Market Re-opens For EU Beef Imports

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US Market Re-opens For EU Beef Imports

US Market Re-opens For EU Beef Imports
January 06
10:19 2015

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) has announced that the US will progressively re-open its market to exports of beef from the European Union, starting with the Republic of Ireland.

This re-opening of the market is welcomed as a first step to abolish the disproportionate and unjustified US ban that followed the BSE crisis of the 1990’s, and to re-establish normal trading conditions.

The US market has been closed to any EU beef, including deboned beef, since January 1998, when the US introduced import restrictions on beef, sheep and goats (ruminant animals) and their products on the basis of BSE concerns. These measures went beyond the standards of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) according to which, for example, deboned skeletal muscle beef is safe and can be freely traded from all countries, regardless of their BSE status.

In addition, the OIE has evaluated the BSE risk status of EU Member States. In recognition of the EU’s enormous efforts and investment to control and eradicate BSE, almost all EU Member States have the same or a better risk status than most countries in the world. EU beef is safe. These standards were established in 2005.

Ireland has become the first EU member state to achieve access to the valuable US beef market. This follows a successful inspection by the US authorities of Ireland’s beef production systems in July of last year.

The US decision clears the way for the Irish authorities to approve individual beef plants to export to the US, approval for which will be based on agreed criteria with their US counterparts. The Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine 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.

Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, comments: “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. 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. My Department and Bord Bia have been planning for this announcement for some time now and 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.

The EU expects that restrictions remaining in force on other EU Member States will soon be lifted. Also in line with international standards, the EU expects that remaining import restrictions on EU sheep and goat meat will be lifted soon as well and the US import conditions will soon be fully aligned with international standards.

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