The National Sheep Association (NSA) is pleased to hear the news of the USDA publishing a final rule which lifts the BSE-related restrictions on imports of sheep and goat products to the USA.
British lamb exports to the USA have been banned since 1989, following the first outbreak of BSE in Britain. According to the Federal Register (the daily journal of the USA Government), the regulations are to be amended to remove BSE-related import restrictions on sheep and goats and most of their products because they are no longer warranted. The change comes into force on 3rd January 2022 and should pave the way for the UK to gain market access for lamb.
NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker said, “We are extremely pleased to hear this ruling as the small ruminant rule has blocked the way for exports of lamb and sheep genetics to the USA for many years. This will help expand trade opportunities for UK sheep farmers and exporters and should see British sheepmeat having access to the USA as early as Spring 2022, to complement their domestic product and that of other nations. Credit should be given to AHDB who have been working on this issue for many years and it’s a good example of the value of our lamb levy, the UK Export Certification Partnership, but also to the Government and Dept of International Trade who have invested in opening negotiations between the UK and USA.”
The importance of this development shouldn’t be underestimated and achieving market access for British lamb, alongside opportunities for British sheep genetics to the USA, will, the NSA believes, help both the UK and USA sheep sector. The Association looks forward to seeing more detail and next steps in the weeks to come.
Mr Stocker continued by highlighting the broader opportunities presented by the lifting of the ban, “We are getting closer by the day to having access to the USA market. I believe there are great opportunities in the USA that will benefit British sheep farmers but also benefit the appreciation of lamb by USA consumers as a quality, tasty, and highly nutritious food produced to exacting environmental and animal welfare standards.
“We also know there is a strong demand for UK sheep genetics in the USA – semen and embryos. Many British sheep breeds are present there but are numerically too small to have an adequate gene pool, so the demand for our genetics is strong and is already being asked for by USA sheep breeders. This is also the case for our commercial meat breeds and for many of our heritage/native breeds and will be of benefit to the global sheep farming sector.”