THE United Kingdom has announced her first beef exports to the United States in more than 20 years as the batch left Northern Ireland today, six months after Washington lifted the ban.
This was disclosed today by the Environment Secretary, George Eustice while appreciating the resumption of beef marketing again after the Mad Cow incident in 1998.
“This is great news for our food and farming industry, who had estimated it will bring a £66 million ($85 million, 72 million euros) boost to beef producers over the next five years alone,” Eustice said.
Washington imposed restrictions on all EU beef exports due to concerns about mad cow disease but has gradually eased them as it tries to negotiate a free trade deal with Brussels.
It has permitted Irish beef imports since 2015 and granted the Netherlands approval to renew its exports the following year.
Britain, which left the European Union on January 31 after the 2016 Brexit vote, received permission to restart its transatlantic beef shipments in March.
It will be recalled that British herds were badly hit by mad cow disease, officially known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in the late 1980s and 1990s.
More than four million cows were slaughtered, then burned on huge pyres across the countryside, in an effort to contain the spread.
Experts say, eating infected beef can cause the degenerative brain condition variant Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease (vCJD) in humans which had caused 24 deaths in Britain in year 2000.
Britain is aiming to strike a free trade deal with the United States as the country tries to take advantage of life outside the EU from 2021.
Although the country formally left the bloc earlier this year, it is still abiding by EU rules in a standstill transition period until December 31.
International Trade Secretary, Liz Truss said the resumption of beef exports to the US could be just the tip of the iceberg.
“The free trade deal we are negotiating with the US apart from seeking an ambitious and high standards agreement that benefits farmers and delivers for consumers, will create a host of export opportunities for British agriculture.”