Opportunities for British livestock farmers in the US
Published:  25 April, 2016

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has recognised opportunities for British livestock farmers by accessing beef and lamb markets in the US. 

This follows an announcement from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) secretary of state Liz Truss that the UK is a step closer to opening a £60 million a year export boost, after further talks between the UK and US to negotiate a deal.

“Reopening 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.”

Just last year, NFU’s president Meurig Raymond was in the US pressing the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to open up the borders for beef and lamb trade. Upon returning, Raymond urged Truss to travel to Washington to resolve any concerns with the US.

“Securing access is one thing but building the market is another,” added Sercombe. “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.

“The NFU asks that all those interested in selling beef and lamb in the US are afforded as much as they need from the UK Government, AHDB [Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board] 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.”

To help encourage the US to open up its borders, the UK has submitted a 1,000-page dossier explaining to the US Department of Agriculture why British beef and lamb is safe and of high quality.

“We call on the UK Government and authorities to resolve any technical issues as soon as possible and to involve the whole supply chain,” said Sercombe.

“This might involve inspections to processing facilities. Timetables need to be as short as possible. Lamb in 2017 is encouraging – let’s not let a lack of ambition or government support hold this up or delay it. However, average lamb consumption per head in the US is relatively small so targeting our promotion of both UK beef and lamb will be critical to identifying the right consumers and areas of the US.

“Strategic planning should start now which involves talking to retailers, food service and import agents.”