UK beef exports to US resumes after 2 decades ban due to Mad Cow Disease

UK – UK beef exports to the US have finally been resumed after a 20-year ban, which was introduced in 1996  due to the BSE outbreak of Mad Cow Disease, a fatal disease that slowly destroys the brain and spinal cord in cattle, in 1996.

The move comes after a process of negotiations between the UK government, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and industry groups.

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UK ministers highlighted that the US market will be worth £66 million (US$84.6 million) over the next five years.

“It is great news that the US has reopened the market to British beef. This is a win for our farmers and I look forward to seeing high-quality British beef enjoyed on tables across the US very soon,” says Liz Truss, UK international trade secretary.

“It is great news that the US has reopened the market to British beef. This is a win for our farmers and I look forward to seeing high-quality British beef enjoyed on tables across the US very soon,”

Liz Truss – UK international trade secretary

“The UK’s farming industry will benefit from a free trade agreement with the US because we can create wider opportunities for farmers locked out of the largest consumer market on the planet. A stronger trading relationship is a win-win for both sides.”

Following inspections conducted by the US in 2019, shipments from Foyle Food Group in Northern Ireland will be the first to leave. UK ministers highlighted that the US market will be worth £66 million (US$84.6 million) over the next five years.

“Our beef is renowned as some of the best in the world for its high quality, food safety and welfare standards, and this landmark milestone means more people around the globe can enjoy our produce,” UK Environment Secretary George Eustice.

“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.”

Through the Food is GREAT campaign, the UK government aims to raise the international profile and reputation of food and drink from across the UK and help more food and drink companies export their produce abroad.

“We are delighted to see the first shipments of beef heading to the US today for the first time in more than 20 years, representing a historic moment for UK farmers and producers. We are rightly proud of our industry, which has a reputation for producing high quality beef to some of the best welfare standards in the world,” AHDB International Market Development Director Dr Phil Hadley

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 in March 2020, 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.

Prior to this announcement, FSIS inspected multiple premises across the UK between July-August 2019. This inspection visit had in turn been preceded by years of numerous market access and technical discussions between the USA and the UK.

A similar two-decade ban that prevented UK beef exports to China came to an end in June 2019. The re-opening of this market was valued at an estimate of £230 million (US$290 million) for British producers in the first five years alone.

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