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US decision to review beef bans welcomed

“This will pave the way for allowing access for EU and Irish beef to the very valuable US market,” said the Minister for Agriculture.

Image: Julien Behal/PA Archive/Press Association Images

A DECISION BY the US Government to review its current import regulations on beef has been welcomed in Ireland.

At a press conference yesterday, the US Department of Agriculture said it is to open public consultations on a draft bill which would “modernise the agency’s import regulations” which had been set out since the BSE scare of 1997.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney welcomed the publication of the bill to bring trade rules for beef in line with “accepted international scientific norms”.

Under the proposed rules, the USDA would adopt the same BSE risk criteria for categorising countries as the world organisation for animal health.

“This will pave the way for allowing access for EU and Irish beef to the very valuable US market,” said Coveney.

Ireland has been to the forefront in pressing for a level playing field for EU beef in the US. This is a very important first step in a process which I believe will ultimately provide a tremendous opportunity for high quality, grass-fed beef.

Coveney will travel to the US in May and promised to raise the issue with his American counterpart.

In turn, the US said the proposed legislation will assist it in future negotiations to reopen trade markets that remain closed to US beef.

The 60-day consultation has also been welcomed by the Irish Farmers’ Association.

James Gleeson, vice-chairman of the IFA’s National Livestock Committee hailed the move, stating it was “very positive news” for Ireland.

“About 90 per cent of Ireland’s beef is exported and this provides another great opportunity,” he told TheJournal.ie. “It is always good news to see new markets opens up and it would be a great thing to get into the American market.”

Henry Burns, a farmer from Laois and chairman of the IFA committee said demand for beef from traditional, grass-fed breeds such as the Hereford and Angus is huge in America.

He said the IFA hopes that the US market will be open to Irish farmers at some point this year.

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