U.K. begins exporting beef to the U.S. for the first time since 1996

12 Oct 2020

After over two decades of prohibiting the importation of beef into the U.S. from the U.K., the government of the United States lifted the ban this October to allow for U.K. beef producers to trade across The Pond.

The first shipment of beef will come from Foyle Food Group of Foyle Campsie in Northern Ireland. In total, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) cleared four producers to export their product, including Kepak Group in Merthyr, Wales, as well as WD Meats and Granville Food Care in Northern Ireland. Further expansion of the exportation of British beef is expected in the coming weeks.

U.K. begins exporting beef to the U.S. for the first time since 1996
Image via Charlie Solorzano on Unsplash

British beef was originally banned from the United States in 1996 due to the concern of the spread of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) or Mad Cow Disease. Restrictions were also placed on sheep and goat meat.

This authorization to buy British beef comes after the U.S. lifted its ban against the product in March 2020 following a three-week inspection during summer 2019 where it agreed to an equivalence of standards on the UK’s disease control measures. In a report, the United States Department of Agriculture determined the equivalence of standards by qualifying UK meat hygiene systems and controls as a suitable, equivalent standard to measure the safety of products imported to the U.S.

In a statement, International trade secretary Liz Truss said the agreement marked a "historic moment" for British farming. The government estimates that the exportation of beef to the United States could total £66m ($85bn) over the next five years. Shipments of lamb and goat are not yet authorized.

Dr. Phil Hadley, a director on the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board said, "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.”

That next step will intertwine with the U.K.’s exit from the European Union which is scheduled to complete by the end of the calendar year. Already, the U.K. government is in talks to forge other trade deals, including a U.K.-U.S. free trade agreement.

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