Northern Ireland’s Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO), Robert Huey has welcomed the announcement that the UK has received approval to export beef to the Philippines.
Hailing the announcement - made by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) - as a major boost to the Northern Ireland agri-food industry, Mr Huey said: “I am delighted that the Philippines has granted approval for Northern Ireland plants to export beef to their markets.
“I look forward to our exports being able to commence shortly, once Export Health Certificates have been agreed between DEFRA and officials in the Philippines.
“This welcome step follows concerted efforts by DAERA’s Veterinary Service Animal Health Group over the past few years, working closely with DEFRA colleagues in London and Manila to negotiate approval, and with the industry in Northern Ireland which hosted inward inspection visits by Filipino veterinary officials. This joined up approach between Government, industry and key stakeholders is central to this announcement today.”
Mr Huey continued: “By recommending approval for Northern Ireland, the Filipino authorities have recognised the rigorous standards we have in place to produce our high-quality, safe and wholesome meat. We place a clear emphasis on traceability at the heart of our production and processing and recognise that a joined up, safe and efficient food supply is essential.”
DEFRA said the opening of the new export market will be worth around £34million to the UK beef industry over the next five years.
The UK currently has approval from the Filipino authorities to export pork, lamb and poultry, however, the UK beef industry has been lobbying to gain access to the beef market. Beef exports to the Philippines are already a significant trade for the UK’s European competitors and the industry here in Northern Ireland is keen to benefit commercially.
Following a joint Department of Agriculture/DEFRA visit to the Philippines in March 2015, the Filipino authorities agreed to schedule a visit to inspect premises in the UK. A successful inward inspection of UK controls was carried out in November 2016.
The CVO added: “DAERA continues to invest much time and energy into opening new markets to expand the agri-food industry in Northern Ireland and this approval to export beef represents a further achievement in line with the Going for Growth initiative.
“This is further good news for our beef exporters who can now trade with the lowest level status available for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). Northern Ireland’s risk status was recognised by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) in May 2017 and formally endorsed by the European Union last month allowing exporters to take full advantage of the new trading opportunities it offers.”
Commenting on these developments, UFU deputy president Victor Chestnutt said: “This is another positive development for the beef industry following the approval of BSE negligible risk status.
“Access to a market where there is a strong demand for manufacturing beef has been a key objective for some time. It will help add value to our beef. Balancing returns for the whole carcase, from steaks to cheaper cuts, maximises the return for processors and farmers. The more markets we have to sell parts of the carcase not in demand in the UK, the more value we can add to our livestock.”
Mr Chestnutt added that the DAERA officials involved deserve credit for their efforts and have the full support of farmers in the continued pursuit of new markets.
DUP MP David Simpson also welcomed the announcement, describing it as ‘a much needed boost and encouragement to our agri-foods industry’.
“This decision recognises the high standards we place on all of our exports. We are proud of the quality of our meat and I have no doubt that Northern Ireland beef will be enjoyed by consumers in the Philippines,” he added.