The UK has moved a step closer to exporting beef and lamb to the US following talks between the two nations this week, according to the National Farmers Union (NFU).

During the week, DEFRA Secretary of State Liz Truss announced that the UK is moving closer to opening the market, which could be worth £60m (€76m) to the UK’s agricultural industry each year.

The NFU believes accessing the lucrative US beef and lamb markets would be beneficial for British livestock farmers.

The NFU also says that the UK submitted a 1,000 page dossier last week, detailing the safety and quality of British beef and lamb.

If successful, UK beef exports could compete with Irish beef, which gained access to the market in 2015.

Irish beef exports to the US to date have been in the form of primal cuts, as the Department of Agriculture is still awaiting clearance for manufacturing beef (mince) exports.

Irish beef exports to the US were valued at €6m during 2015, while exports during the first three months of this year reached €11m.

Accessing the US beef market

Re-opening the US beef and lamb market to UK imports would be an important confidence building measure for the British livestock sector, said NFU Livestock Board Chairman, Charles Sercombe.

The US is potentially a huge and affluent market that has strong links to the UK as we share history and language.

“Securing access is one thing but building the market is another.

“We know we have a great product and story to tell and that our grass-fed beef and lamb is up there with the best in the world,” he said.

Sercombe also called on all those interested in selling beef and lamb to the US to be offered as much help as they need from the UK government, AHDB and producers to market the product to US consumers.

“We are currently well placed to exploit any US/EU trade deal and negotiating on our own could delay access,” he said.

However, he also said that the average lamb consumption in the US is relatively small, so promotions need to be targeted at the right customers and areas.