DUBLIN- Ireland's Minister of Agriculture Charlie McConalogue announced on April 24 that meat from Irish lamb and sheep will now have full access to the US market.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and its Irish counterpart recently agreed to a veterinary health certificate for the export of Irish sheepmeat. This came after the US ban on sheepmeat exports from the European Union was lifted in December 2021.

McConalogue is scheduled to lead a trade mission to the United States, including stops in Chicago, Ohio and Washington, DC.

“The speedy agreement on certification conditions comes after many years of preparatory work; in particular, UDSA recognition in 2019 of the equivalence Ireland’s sheep meat inspection system with US domestic standards,” he said. “It is, therefore, very much a testament to the high standards and reputation of Irish sheep farming. Our sheep farmers are world class producing a safe, sustainable and healthy product that is in demand in markets across the globe.”

McConalogue added that the agreement is a step toward diversifying the overseas market for Irish meat in line with the country's Food Vision 2030 goal of accessing and developing new market opportunities.

Bord Bia (the Irish Food Board) also praised the opening of the US customer and how crucial it will be for its business going forward.

“There has never been a better time for Irish companies to export lamb to the US, with Bord Bia research showing that lamb consumption is growing amongst consumers, particularly in the younger age categories in North America,” said Tara McCarthy, chief executive officer of Bord Bia.

The company said that in June 2022 it plans to start a three-year EU beef and lamb promotion in the United States called “Working with Nature.” The campaign will invest €1 million in marketing and promotional seminars, events and promotional activities from 2022 to 2025.

McCarthy said the United States is Ireland's second-largest export market behind the United Kingdom.

“This trade mission sees Bord Bia engaging in a series of strategic buyer meetings that will support Irish food and drink companies in their efforts to deepen existing key trade relationships and to create new business opportunities,” McCarthy said. “Our focus this week is on business generation and conversion, building the reputation of Irish food and drink exports and identifying value-added opportunities for exporters.”

According to Bord Bia's, import volumes of sheep meat to the United States have increased from 103,527 tonnes in 2015 to 166,165 tonnes in 2021.