DUBLIN – More than two years after US trade officials formally lifted a ban on beef imports from European Union member states, which was triggered by concerns about the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy there 15 years ago, Ireland has gained improved access to the US market. Agriculture Minister, Michael Creed announced in a July 6 statement that the increased access is the result of US trade authorities recognizing that Ireland’s food-safety system for supplying raw material for ground beef was equivalent to the systems used in the US. Ireland was the first member state to secure access to the US market in January 2015 and is still the only one exporting beef there currently. It was in 2015 when raw, intact beef from Ireland was permitted into the US, but since then, there have been numerous fits and starts that have hindered progress. Creed says the US decision is a major step in allowing trade to resume on a more robust basis.

“This is the culmination of over a year of intensive work between my Department and its US counterparts. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my US counterpart Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and his officials for their collaboration in helping to reach this milestone,” said Creed.

“This announcement by the US is a huge endorsement of Irish beef and our production and regulatory systems. It complements the other market outlets we have secured in the last two years, the development of which is a key element of our Food Wise 2025 strategy. Recent events in markets closer to home have highlighted once again the importance of diversifying our international beef markets,” Creed said.

There are currently six plants in Ireland approved to export beef to the US.