WASHINGTON — Nicaragua will allow live U.S. cattle, as well as beef and beef products from cattle of all ages, to be exported to that Central American country, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced. The agreement became effective May 5 and under its terms all of Central America, except for El Salvador, is now open to U.S. cattle, beef and beef products.

"With this agreement, it’s clear Nicaragua recognizes the outstanding quality of U.S. cattle, beef and beef products and respects the sound science behind the internationally developed standards for cattle safety to which we all adhere. We applaud Nicaragua for taking this critical step," Mr. Vilsack said. "U.S.D.A. will continue to press for full market access for American cattle and beef all around the world in keeping with international trade standards."

U.S.D.A. officials have worked with Nicaragua’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to restore the market for live cattle exports, which was closed to U.S.-origin animals in 2003 following reports of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (B.S.E.) in the U.S. The U.S. has not exported live cattle to Nicaragua since 2000, when the Central American country accepted live cattle valued at $4.9 million.

In reaction to the 2003 B.S.E. discovery, the Nicaraguan market for U.S. beef and beef products was restricted to boneless beef and other products from animals less than 30 months of age. When the market partially reopened in 2005 and in 2008, the U.S. exported more than $600,000 in beef and beef products to Nicaragua. With the new agreement, the age restrictions are now lifted, allowing beef and beef products from cattle of any age to be exported as long as the cattle were slaughtered after May 5.

More than 100 countries currently allow U.S. beef and beef products to enter their countries.