The mission to get British lamb chops back onto American dinner plates has moved a step nearer, Farming Minister George Eustice has announced at the National Sheep Event.
Speaking at the opening of the flagship National Sheep Association (NSA) show in Malvern, Worcestershire, the Minister of State will confirm the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has published proposals for consultation to relax import restrictions on lamb that could generate an extra £35 million for the UK economy.
“The US decision to press ahead with proposals to lift export restrictions on British lamb is great news for our farmers who are one step closer to gaining access to the lucrative American market, worth an estimated £35 million a year.”George Eustice, Farming Minister
This significant step forward means that British lamb is on track to be available for US consumers by early 2017.
The move is the latest in ongoing efforts to allow Britain’s farmers to start exporting sheep meat to the United States’ 300 million consumers.
A 1,000-page dossier was submitted to the USDA detailing the safety and quality of British beef and lamb ahead of April’s trade talks with US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in Washington.
Speaking at the NSA Sheep Event, Farming Minister George Eustice said: “The US decision to press ahead with proposals to lift export restrictions on British lamb is great news for our farmers who are one step closer to gaining access to the lucrative American market, worth an estimated £35 million a year.
“Our world-leading food and drink industry is a key part of our nation’s economic success and in addition to forging good trade deals with our European neighbours, we want to secure more export opportunities in the States as well as with our close friends in the Commonwealth and other countries around the world.”
Defra is now co-ordinating UK farming industry comment for the 60-day consultation and liaising with relevant US trade associations to gain support for proposals.
NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: “Increasing the number of export destinations for British sheep meat is vital for our industry, ensuring there is demand for our quality product in as many markets as possible.
“It is very encouraging that the USA is interested in opening its doors. Lamb sales in the USA have dropped over the years, as a result of a falling domestic production base, and NSA would like to see British lamb exported and promoted to boost consumption. It could be a real opportunity for our sector.”
NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe said: “Re-opening the US beef and lamb market to UK imports would be a positive move and an important confidence building measure for the British livestock sector. The US is potentially a huge and affluent market that has strong links to the UK as we share history and language.”