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Important Step Taken Towards Opening US Market to Sheepmeat Exports

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D. has welcomed an announcement that the US market ban on sheepmeat exports from the EU has been lifted.

Minister McConalogue said, “this announcement represents the removal of a major impediment to access to the US market. This development is very significant and paves the way for full market access for Irish sheep meat. My Department, in collaboration with the Embassy of Ireland in Washington, has worked hard over several years to ensure that the ban was lifted. We will now engage with US authorities on the next steps to full access and to ensure that Irish sheepmeat exports to this valuable market will be able to commence as soon as possible. This is an important recognition of the hard work our sheep farmers carry out in producing a top-quality product.”

Minister of State for new market development, Martin Heydon TD, commented, “having recently met with a delegation from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) this market access for sheepmeat is welcome news for our sheep sector. In preparation for this key step, and to ensure Ireland was well positioned to take advantage of this opportunity in a timely manner, a number of important actions have been taken by my Department, in cooperation with Bord Bia and industry, over several years”.

The key steps included:

• In September 2017, the US Competent Authority conducted an onsite audit of Ireland’s meat inspection system, including sheepmeat.

• In May 2018, the report of that Audit was finalised and detailed discussion followed towards securing equivalency for Irelands sheepmeat inspection system.

• In April 2019, the US Competent Authority notified DAFM that it was reinstating the equivalence of Ireland’s sheepmeat inspection system.

A focus on the key importance of this issue was also maintained at both Ministerial and official level meeting on both trade missions to the US and incoming visits, and through the Embassy of Ireland in Washington.

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