An announcement that PGI Welsh beef could soon be on its way to the US for the first time in more than 20 years has been welcomed by NFU Cymru’s Livestock Board.

The NFU Cymru Livestock Board was, however, clear that the focus of the UK government must remain on securing a tariff-free and frictionless trade with the EU.

The group also said that any future trade deal with the US must not compromise the UK’s high standards of production.

Earlier this week (Wednesday, September 30), the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for International Trade announced that UK beef was being shipped from Foyle Food Group, Northern Ireland, to the US.

It is the first time in more than 20 years that the US market has been open to UK beef producers because of the US’ long-standing ban on EU beef, introduced in the wake of the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) outbreak in 1996.

Industry levy body the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) estimates beef exports to the US could be worth £66 million over the next five years.

With Merthyr Tydfil-based Kepak Group listed as one of those suppliers officially approved by the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Food Safety Inspection Service as eligible to export UK beef, the hope is that Welsh beef will soon be on the plates of consumers in the US.

Speaking after a meeting of the NFU Cymru Livestock Board, chairman Wyn Evans said:

We are pleased to hear that UK beef exports are on their way to the US beef market for the first time in over two decades and I very much hope that PGI Welsh beef will soon be on the menu for American consumers.

“This development also brings an exciting opportunity for our Welsh red meat levy body, Hybu Cig Cymru, to develop and grow opportunities over the Atlantic Ocean.”

‘Free and frictionless trade with the EU’

Evans continued:

While the fruits of this market opening in the US, and the recent trade agreement reached with Japan, are of course good news for Welsh livestock producers, we still need the UK government to focus its attention on ensuring that we can maintain free and frictionless trade with the EU.

“The EU remains far and away our biggest and most important market for our sector where export links and our markets are well established.

“It is vital to the prosperity of our sector that an agreement is reached that allows this trade to continue.

“It is also important to note that while the UK government remains excited about the prospect of further trade with the US through a free trade agreement, Welsh farmers do not want to see any deals brokered that would compromise standards here in the UK,” Evans concluded.