Ireland is the first EU member state to gain access to the valuable US beef market in 15 years. The news follows a successful inspection by the US authorities of Ireland’s beef production systems in July of last year.
Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney said “This is the culmination of two years of intensive work between my Department and our US counterparts to prove our credentials as a supplier of highest quality premium beef. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my US counterpart Secretary of State Tom Vilsack with whom I’ve worked very closely on this issue”.
This clears the way for the Irish authorities to approve individual beef plants here to export to the US, approval for which will be based on agreed criteria with their US counterparts. The Department has been working with interested Irish plants to assess their readiness and suitability for export and this work will intensify so the trade can formally commence as soon as possible.
IFA President Eddie Downey has welcomed the news saying “This is a positive development and its significance will be judged by farmers securing improved beef prices from the market place in 2015”.
Mr Downey said the major increase in US beef prices, up by €1/kg in the last year and now at €4.70/€4.80/kg, presents a real opportunity for Irish grass-based beef exports. Irish cattle prices are also rising and combined with much tighter supplies in 2015, he said price prospects in 2015 look much more promising.
ICSA President, Patrick Kent, has given a guarded welcome to the news. “This could be a very important development for hard-pressed beef farmers, provided that the meat industry and Bord Bia market Irish beef as a premium product with a view to improving returns to farmers,” he said.
“However, farmers will remain sceptical given the ruthless downward manipulation of prices by the meat industry over the past 12 months. They are still waiting to see concrete benefits from previous announcements of new markets.
“Ireland should be ambitious in its plans to attract a significant share of the US market, given our reputation for producing premium beef through predominantly grass-fed systems, and the added advantage in the 40 million Americans who claim Irish heritage.” However he noted “There still remains a concern as to the negative impacts from a potential quid pro quo under the TTIP negotiations”.
Sligo/North Leitrim TD, Tony McLoughlin, noted “This decision is yet another indicator of the quality of Irish beef product and also the dedication of the Irish farmers.”