UK lamb could be shipped to the US in the New Year

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Lamb exporters in the UK will have access to the American market – worth an estimated £37 million in the first five years of trade – as we head into 2022.

After extensive risk evaluations, US authorities have today removed the small ruminant rule, which was introduced more than 20 years ago banning imports of lamb from countries where scrapie had been identified.

Work has been ongoing to finalise this important piece of legislation in the US, effectively allowing UK processors to be eligible to ship lamb following final agreement on the Export Health Certificate.

The four UK red meat levy bodies, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and Livestock and Meat Commission Northern Ireland (LMC), will continue to work with government and the UK Export Certification Partnership (UKECP) on this to support the commencement of commercial trade.

AHDB International Market Development Director Dr Phil Hadley said: “This is fantastic news for our sheep producers and exporters, and we are delighted that US customers will have the opportunity to experience our high-quality lamb products in 2022.

“The US market is estimated to be worth £37 million over the first five years of trade – a tremendous boost for the UK sheep sector. The new legislation also unlocks opportunities for quality UK sheep genetics which presents a further valuable opportunity for the UK sheep sector.

“Today’s announcement means lamb exports will complement our existing pork and beef trade to the US, which was worth an impressive £22 million to industry in the first nine months of 2021.

“Gaining access to the US further cements our reputation as being world renowned producers of high-quality lamb and we look forward to seeing our products on US plates in the New Year.”

Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) Market Development Manager Rhys Llywelyn said: “Securing access to the US market for lamb has been a priority for the Welsh meat and livestock sector for many years, with HCC and Welsh Government first raising the issue with the American authorities over a decade ago.

“This legislative hurdle has been a crucial barrier to exporting Welsh Lamb to the USA. Now that this has been overcome following much hard work, we’re hopeful we can look forward to exporting in 2022; our market research shows that there could be a significant demand for high-quality lamb cuts, particularly on the east coast and especially in the hotel and restaurant sector.”

Tom Gibson, Director of Market Development at Quality Meat Scotland, said: “QMS welcomes the news that the US has lifted its ban on British lamb, providing a new export market for Scotch Lamb PGI.

“Scotland produces some of the world’s highest quality sheep meat products, sustainably farmed, to the highest animal welfare and environmental standards. This exciting new opportunity will be one our exporters of Scotch lamb will be keen to grasp and maximise trade opportunities with potential customers in the US. QMS will be working closely with industry and the government to support the development of our export trade to the US.”

The announcement is the result of industry and government working together and ongoing collaboration between AHDB, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), the Food Standards Agency, Food Standards Scotland, DAERA, and the UKECP as well as the devolved nations red meat levy bodies.

Inward inspections carried out in August 2019 were funded by all four UK meat levy bodies.

In spring 2022, AHDB be asking all eligible levy payers to shape our work and priorities. Your views will help guide what we deliver over the next five years. Have your say on the vital support we offer your business and the industry. Registration opens December 2021.

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