Industry reacts to proposed US lifting of UK lamb imports ban
The meat industry has responded positively to the government’s announcement that the US market will open to UK lamb products for “the first time in decades.”
“Another opportunity to maximise trade”
The National Sheep Association (NSA) has welcomed the lifting of the ban, saying it will help maximise trade opportunities for UK sheep farmers. NSA believes the announcement will increase demand for British sheep meat within the US.
NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said the development would have the potential to create “another opportunity for our industry to maximise trade opportunities and we have always seen the US as being a potentially important market.”
He noted the wider opportunities presented by the lifting of the ban: “We shouldn’t expect to see any sudden surge in volumes going to the US, but we do know there is strong demand for UK sheep genetics – semen and embryos. Many British sheep breeds are in the US but are numerically too small to have a strong gene pool so the demand for our genetics is strong.”
He added: “We also believe we can tap into British heritage that is appreciated in the US through our many breeds and their connections to our heritage landscapes and culture.”
“Ready to grasp the opportunity”
Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) also welcomed the prospect of the ban being lifted. According to HCC, the potential market for PGI Welsh Lamb in the USA has been estimated to be worth as much as £20 million a year within five years of the export restrictions being removed.
HCC chief executive Gwyn Howells said: “Achieving market access for lamb to the USA has been a long road, and it looks as if we’re nearly at the end of the journey.
“Lifting this ban would be good news for Welsh sheep farmers and processors. We look forward to hearing the details behind today’s announcement and are ready to grasp the opportunity should it arise.”
“A fantastic boost for the sheep sector”
The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has reacted with cautious optimism. AHDB’s international market development director, Dr Phil Hadley, said: “We have been working with the UK government for a number of years to see our lamb back in the US – a move which is estimated to be worth £37 million in the first five years of trade.
“Alongside opportunities for our superior genetics for US sheep breeders, this would be a fantastic boost for the sheep sector and we look forward to seeing the detail in the coming days.”