UK exports beef to the US for first time in over 20 years

Following the USA’s longstanding ban on EU beef introduced in the wake of the BSE outbreak in 1996, the first shipments of UK beef are to depart for the USA today (30th September), following market access for UK being granted in March of this year, marking a historic moment for UK farmers and food producers.

The news means the sector can now begin to reap the economic benefits of trade with the US – with industry estimating beef exports will be worth £66 million over the next five years.

The first shipment of beef originating from Foyle Food Group, Foyle Campsie in Northern Ireland is to be dispatched to the USA, with further shipments from across the UK expected to commence in the coming weeks.

In March of this year, the US Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) Audit Report, a crucial step leading to British exporters being able to sell to the US, was published, and confirmed that UK meat hygiene systems and controls are of ‘a suitable, equivalent standard for products to be imported to the USA’. The report noted that the whole of the UK meets the US’s production requirements, therefore beef from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is eligible for exports.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said this landmark milestone means more people around the globe can enjoy our produce: “This is great news for our food and farming industry, who have estimated it will bring a £66 million boost to beef producers over the next five years alone, helping the sector go from strength to strength.”

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss called it an historic moment for British farming, and one which could bring in massive new opportunities for the UK:  “This could be just the tip of the iceberg. The free trade deal we are negotiating with the US will create a host of export opportunities for British agriculture. We are seeking an ambitious and high standards agreement that benefits farmers and delivers for consumers.”

AHDB international market development director Dr Phil Hadley said they are proud of the UK’s farming industry, which has a reputation for producing high quality beef to some of the best welfare standards in the world: “The US represents an important potential market for our red meat exports and today’s first shipment is the result of the hard work and persistence of industry and government to bring about this crucial next step.”

And Karen Pierce, British Ambassador to the USA, said: “American consumers already have an appetite for a range of quality British products, including fine cheeses, whisky, salmon and biscuits, and beef is sure to become popular in the States. As we continue our current negotiations toward the UK-US free-trade agreement, I look forward to seeing how we can increase opportunities for Americans to experience the best of British products.”

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