WASHINGTON – The European Union will continue to grant US beef producers zero-duty access to the EU market for beef not treated with certain growth-promoting hormones, the US Department of Agriculture announced Aug. 1.

The US and the EU are planning a two-year extension of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in 2009 related to the US' long-running dispute with the EU over its ban on beef from cattle treated with certain growth-promotants. Under the extension, the EU would maintain its duty-free tariff rate quota for the beef until August 2, 2015. The quota is 45,000 metric tons per year.

"Since 2009, this agreement has greatly expanded opportunities for US beef producers to export high-quality products to the European Union," said Agriculture Secretary Vilsack. "By working together with our EU partners to extend this agreement, we have maintained access to a key market for beef products, and set the stage for further progress. USTR and USDA will continue working closely with our trading partners around the world, including the EU, to further expand trade access for US agricultural products."

USDA reported that US beef shipments under agreement were an estimated $200 million, an increase of 300 percent from the value of exports in the year before the MOU went into effect.

"I am very pleased that American ranchers and meat processors will be allowed to ship substantial quantities of high-quality US beef into a market worth millions of dollars to their bottom lines," said US Trade Representative Michael Froman. "Before the memorandum of understanding was signed, the EU's beef market had been largely closed for far too long. The substantial market access that we have achieved since 2009 shows what we can accomplish with practical, problem-solving approaches to trade barriers."